36 Polyamorous People Share Their Best Relationship Advice, Because Even If You're Monogamous There's A Lot To Learn


OK, I'll just put it out there: Being monogamous is hard. While that’s usually a comment that my polyamorous friends get when they come out about their relationships (including, I’ll confess, from me), the truth is that it’s not like monogamy is a helluva lot easier. Sure, polyamory comes with the added stress of multiple relationships but monogamy is straight up fighting against our natural instincts so… There’s that.

But let me take a step back for a second and do a little term-defining. Monogamy is what most of you are probably doing if you’re in a relationship or have done in past relationships if you’re not currently partnered. It’s when two people commit to a sexually-exclusive relationship. Monogamy has been the foundation of millions of whispered promises between teenage lovers and hundreds of millions of wedding vows. It is, essentially, what our culture bases our conception of romantic love on.

Polyamory, however, is an alternative romantic structure that has been practiced by plenty of people, mostly in private, for probably millennia. It has been gaining mainstream attention recently as more and more poly folks come out of the closet and start talking about what their lives look like. And while the definition of polyamory is still evolving, even amongst those who practice it, it’s generally understood to describe having more than one sexual or romantic partner.

“Polyamory come from the greek word for many and the Latin word for love,” Polly Superstar, author of Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary, told Bustle. “It refers to the practice of having more than one sexual or intimate relationship.”

So, yeah, I’d imagine having multiple boyfriends and girlfriends could get a little tricky. But you know what’s also tricky? Dealing with having a crush when you’re in a monogamous LTR. Not cheating on the partner you’ve monogamously committed to, even though statistics show that the majority of us will cheat and be cheated on. Feeling smothered by a monogamous partner’s jealousy and possessiveness. Yeah, all of those are hella complicated too, aren’t they? Monogamy is starting to look a little less simple every second.

I reached out to a couple of polyamorous communities (including Polly’s, which is mainly based around her sex positive organization Mission Control) to see what lessons they think monogamous people could learn from polyamorous people in order to make relationshipping just a little bit easier. This is not to say that either lifestyle is “better” or “worse” — whatever works for you and your partner(s) works for you and your partner(s). It’s just to say that there are certain things we could all learn from each other in order to make life more enjoyable all around.

1. B, 59

2. J., 37

3. Amanda, 40

4. Mogli, 42

5. Judah

Healthy relationships engage the issues that arise in that particular relationship. Poly relationships, by definition, have more relationships engaged and so tend to have more things that come up.

I'd point out a couple of areas that this tends to impact (every relationship set being its own beast, obviously, with its own quirks):

1. A more acute awareness of managing finite resources (time, attention) versus non-finite resources (love).

2. More focus on the notion of no individual having to be the end all/be all with their partner, avoiding the trope of "one true love that completes me."

3. Following on #2, a greater understanding of relationships as individual interactions with their own set of dynamics that are not always neatly covered by a common term like "wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend" which brings about the need to create more individual-focused narratives and labels instead of societal short cuts.

4. Perhaps a greater acceptance of non-traditional family structures that bring in more "chosen family" even when they may not be romantic/sexual partners. Once you've gone the route of tossing aside traditional notions of how a relationship/family has to be, it opens up a lot of possibilities about making things the way you want, not just in the sexual arena.

6. Diane, 32

7. Rachel, 29

8. Nicole

9. Karl, 31

10. Anselm, 48

11. Katie, 26

12. Jeff

13. Connor, 24

14. VSL, 30

15. Elaine, 19

16. Judy

17. Casi, 34

18. Sheldra, 45

19. Carly, 31

20. Lauren

21. Josh, 37

22. Maxwell, 27

23. Ky, 24

24. Donald

25. Sam, 33

26. Eric, 38

27. Ruthless, 22

28. Robin, 29

29. Max

30. Anon, 37

31. Emily, 24

32. Jana, 38

33. Becci, 33

34. King, 35

35. Trixie Shiksa, 27

36. R.d.

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Images: Giphy (13); Emilian Robert Vicol/Flickr