Today's post comes from May (follow her @readheadgirl) a writer and artist.
For the longest time when I heard “polyamory,” I thought of hippies in the 70s having orgies at drug parties. I blame my misconception on why I took so long to realize that I am a polyamorous person. Like me, many people have the wrong idea about polyamory and what it means. So before I define what polyamory is, I’d like to take a moment to say what polyamory isn’t.
It isn’t hooking up; it isn’t “free love;” it isn’t an excuse for cheating on, disrespecting or marginalizing a partner; it isn’t a rejection of commitment, and it isn’t an experiment to try while deciding whether or not to break up with your partner.
Polyamory literally translates as “many loves.” It is a system through which people can create multi-partner relationships and families with the full consent of everyone involved. Full consent is crucial. Only through respectful and honest communications can polyamorous relationships flourish (in this way polyamorous relationships are very similar to BDSM relationships and the two categories often overlap).
I like this Wikipedia explanation as it captures how polyamory is about what is in someone’s heart – not whom they're having or not having sex with:
“Polyamory can refer to the practice or status of a relationship at a given time, or used as a description of a lifestyle, philosophy or relationship orientation (much like gender orientation), rather than of an individual's actual relationship status at a given moment. It is an umbrella term that covers many orientations and modes of relationship. There is fluidity in its definition to accommodate the different shades of meaning which might be covered. Polyamorous relationships are themselves varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals concerned.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory)
Polyamorous relationships take many forms and can include many different levels of intimacy. In some relationships, a couple will have a single dedicated partner with whom they share a series of affairs. Another person may be actively “single” while participating occasionally or often in the committed relationships of others. A couple may be committed to each other and to a third… or to another couple. One person who is part of a couple may be dedicated to another person who is also in a committed relationship, without the involvement their significant others. The possibilities are limited only by the needs and desires of the parties involved.
The sex in a polyamorous relationship is what most people think of first, but it is not the most important component. Many desire intimacy and excitement that cannot be met by a single person. This is, to me, the ultimate reason for polyamory: to accept your desires and your partners’ desires for intimacy fully while you assist or allow one another the expression of those desires.
Every polyamorous relationship I have witnessed grows stronger on a daily basis because of how all involved recognize and respond to the innate needs of the others in a loving, giving way.
In many ways, polyamory is whatever you want it to be. But what it must be is honest, loving and accepting. The rest is up to you…
May is a writer, artist, feminist, geek, book-nerd, bisexual, polyamorous, ex-Baptist, pagan, environmentalist, vegetarian who lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her cats and the greatest boyfriend ever. You can follow her on Twitter as @readheadgirl or find her poems, photography, and art at readheadgirl.deviantart.com/gallery/.