By Sarah Fader
Updated January 02, 2019
Polyamory is officially defined as "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." Although this form of dating is somewhat unconventional and unorthodox, many people engage in this type of relationship. However, polyamorous dating is very different from exclusive dating and comes with its factors and potential pitfalls. Individuals in polyamorous relationships or considering entering into polyamorous relationships should be aware of some very important things.
The Reason For Polyamorous Dating Matters
Many people willfully enter polyamorous relationships for various reasons. Some people chose this version of dating out of curiosity. Other people engage in polyamory for other reasons such as sexual gratification, personal satisfaction, etc. While consensual adults are more than within their rights to enter into whichever relationships they so choose, YourTango affirms that those who partake in polyamory for the wrong reasons are unlikely to fare well.
For instance, one of the worst reasons to engage in polyamorous dating is for the sake of attempting to heal a relationship by bringing in more people. Sadly, some people enter into these type of relationships for a reason above and, suffice it to say; it rarely ends well. There is nothing inherently wrong with polyamory and individuals who engage in this form of dating should not be shamed or maligned at all.
However, understanding the reasons for entering this relationship, and furthermore making sure that these reasons are constructive is paramount.
If a current relationship is in peril, that is an indicator of an already existing problem. Before any relationship can be healed, the root of the problem must be addressed and dealt with. Simply bringing in a new person or new people is highly unlikely to solve the problem. Each person in the relationship should be on the same page and ensure that polyamory is not being used as an avenue of avoidance. One of the greatest equalizers between both monogamous and polyamorous relationships is that communication and handling issues as they arise matters and will greatly determine whether or not the connection lasts and succeeds.
Jealousy And Polyamory Do Not Mix…At All
Many people experience feelings of jealousy when their partner appears to be romantically close or affectionate with another individual. In moderation, a degree of jealousy is fine (and even sometimes desired). However, jealousy and polyamory are like water and oil: they simply do not mix.
In polyamorous relationships, involved persons are usually dating and sharing intimacy with more than one person. If one or more party is unable to handle this without becoming angered, hurt, or envious with the reality of their significant another being with another person, polyamory may not be the best dating style for them, and that is OK.
Everyday Feminism cites various methods of curtailing jealousy in polyamorous relationships such as acknowledgment, discovering the underlying cause, communicate, and self-assurance, etc. However, while addressing jealousy can sometimes prove helpful, if one or more polyamorous individuals are continuously experiencing ongoing jealousy, they will do well to sit down and truly evaluate whether or not they are in a relationship that is healthy and beneficial to their health and well-being.
Polyamory is not for everyone; rarely do relationships end well if one or more parties is not suited for polyamorous dating. As a rule, everyone should be on the same page and comfortable with the interrelationship.
Honesty Is Paramount In Polyamorous Relationships
Another great equalizer between monogamous relationship and polyamory relationships is the paramountcy of complete honesty. As previously stated, all parties involved in this type of dating should be on the same page. Truthfulness is important for polyamorous relationships to succeed. Although some people may view this as an obvious sentiment, not all individuals abide by it, and failure to engage in openness and honesty can engender many problems.
A lack of honesty, or furthermore, a lack of comfort with being honest with all involved partners, can signify deeper problems within the relationship. If one or more people find themselves struggling to be forthcoming and communicative with all of their partners, they should ask themselves why. What is causing their discomfort and lack of honesty? Are they truly comfortable in the relationship? Does one person put them on edge? What is preventing them from being truthful and open with all parties at all times?
Ultimately, regardless of whether someone dates exclusively or dates polyamorously, all relationships depend upon trust and communication. Without the qualities above, relationship longevity is virtually impossible.
Self Awareness Is Paramount When Dating Polyamorously
When dating polyamorously, it is extremely critical for each person to have high degrees of self-awareness. Before someone can enter a relationship with one partner, let alone multiple partners, they need to truly know who they are, what they want, and what their limits are. This is especially important when multiple people are involved, as they are within polyamory.
Wright moreover affirms that self-awareness is linked to critical elements of self-such as personality, values, habits, needs, and emotions. It is virtually impossible for a person to succeed in any relationship, let alone a polyamorous one if they are unable to identify and understand the elements above of self. When multiple parties are dating each other, multiple personalities, values, habits, needs, and emotions are coming into contact with one another.
What happens if one or more party has a personality type that clashes with others. What happens if values contrast with one another or vary in certain situations or under certain circumstances? How will all parties in the polyamorous relationship feel if the habits of one or more partner irk or fail to mesh with the habits of others? What happens if all needs are not being met in the relationship? How does each polyamorous person handle themselves emotionally under times of stress or duress?
Each of the preceding hypotheticals is very real and present themselves every day. For all parties to be able to answer the questions above honestly, they will first require self-awareness and an understanding of which personalities, values, habits, needs, and emotions are and are not compatible with their own. Many people in polyamorous relationships take time to sit down with all involved parties and have this very critical discussion.
There Are…Or Should Be… Dealbreakers In Polyamory
Many people view the polyamorous relationship as essential free-for-alls where involved parties simply do as they please with little care, though or regard. However, this is not…or should not be…the case in any relationship, polyamorous, or not.
In any relationship, there should be dealbreakers. While dealbreakers are not inherently negative, they do set a precedent and allow each partner to know where the limits are and what will and will not be tolerated. Regardless of whether or not one chooses to engage in monogamous or polyamorous dating, each person should still have their limits and behaviors which they will not tolerate.
This goes without saying, but abuse or mistreatment of one, or multiple, involved parties is and should always be unacceptable. Abuse and mistreatment are signs of control or, in worst case scenarios, narcissism, sociopathy, Machiavellism, or psychopathy. Whether one or more party engages in physical, mental, emotional, or psychological abuse, it is never OK and should stand out as a huge red flag. Whether the abuse is directed towards one person or multiple persons is immaterial. Anyone involved with an abuser needs to cut the cord for the sake of themselves and others who may be in the relationship.
Next comes contempt. Interestingly enough, The Huffington Post cites contempt in relationships as a problem that "you just can't fix." Respect is a critical factor in any successful version of dating. Parties who harbor contempt for one or more persons in the relationship do not respect the subjects of their disdain. Contemptuous individuals, by definition, view the person or people at hand as beneath them. This does not contribute to the makings of a successful relationship, be it monogamous or polyamorous. Therefore, like abuse or mistreatment, contempt should swiftly fall into the dealbreaker category.
A Final Word
Life can be tough and complicated. Relationships can be especially tough and complicated, especially when multiple parties and factors are entered into the equation. This does not mean that polyamorous relationships are doomed to fail, however, as previously stated, respect, communication, and self-awareness are paramount. Entering into a polyamorous relationship is almost guaranteed to do more harm than good. All involved partners should be happy, comfortable, communicative, and honest. If everyone is not on the same page, problems are virtually guaranteed.
Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing the best quality of care, assistance, and guidance. We will always be here as an option, regardless of whether one is single or in a monogamous or polyamorous relationship. Contrary to somewhat popular belief, the ability to reach out to others and seek help is indicative of strength and self-awareness, not weakness. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you ever feel inclined to contact BetterHelp for any reason, you can do so by clicking here.