What being Poly has taught me

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com.

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Looking back over the past few years, I forget just how much I’ve learned about myself in that time. Leaving a long-term relationship determined to be better, finding a partner who wanted the same and who was patient and understanding, knowing we were both on a similar journey has been a revelation.

So a lot of what I’ve learned since we decided to embrace polyamory is an extension, or at the very least a focusing, of things I’ve already been aware of, and working on.

For example:

  • Balance is more important to me than I ever realised
  • I have capacity to love more than one person
  • Communicating expectations is important
  • The more you make hard decisions, the easier it gets (although it’s never “easy” but that’s ok too)
  • It’s ok to be happy

And that’s just what has popped into my head whilst writing this post, there is much more.

Finding the Balance

For me, the most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to remember to include myself when looking at plans. The upside of being poly is that I have two amazing people in my life and, naturally, I want to spend as much time as possible with both and it would be easy to spend every night with one partner or another. But that means there isn’t enough time for me.

There is also the realisation that sometimes the balance between partners might not be quite right but that it should (and I think it has) level itself out.

Capacity to love

When we started down the ‘poly road’, we didn’t set out looking for love. It wasn’t something we’d ruled out either, we discussed the possibilities and I knew I felt comfortable with the premise of being in love with more than one partner but when the reality came chugging along the tracks (choo choo!) it was a little, wonderfully, surprising.

I guess part of me figured the first relationship or so would be more casual, or clearly defined against a specific dynamic that Kirsty and I don’t perhaps have (and the discovery of a new dynamic is one of the possibilities of polyamory). Of course that didn’t take into account finding, and falling for, Clare.

Setting Expectations

This is the simplest but hardest thing that I still struggle with at times.

It can boil down to the smallest thing, a misconstrued text message, or a presumption left unspoken. It’s tripped me up in the past and whilst I’m much more aware, it’s still something I need to keep an eye on.

It works both ways of course, and remains one of the things which, quietly and subtly can be quite damaging. Although that is partly tied in to the next topic.

Making hard decisions

The simplest way I can state this would be to slightly reverse that statement. It’s easy to make emotionless decisions based on fact and practicality.

But as we all know, people are not without emotion and practicality doesn’t allow for desire.

So, deciding who to spend time with, who to take to the cinema to see a new movie, who to try that new restaurant with… all these decisions have an extra layer of difficulty. We all know that our decisions are made with best intentions and thoughtfulness, but that doesn’t make it any less easy to choose between two people that, I think I’ve mentioned, I love.

It’s ok to be happy

Reading through this post, it might be easy to presume that polyamory is a lot of hard work with not a lot of upside. So let me clarify something.

Being able to realise you are happy, loved and in love, is an amazing thing. That’s not the sole remit of the polyamorous I know, but sometimes, among all the other things that we need to balance out across all of our relationships, it’s good to take a step back and realise that, yes, I am happy.

Yes, I love Kirsty. Yes, I love Clare.

And it’s this that should be focused on. Yes, it takes more work than monogamy, but not that much more and given that I’ve learned so much about myself (and I’m still learning) I wouldn’t change a thing.

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