Similar to bisexuality, polyamory is often misunderstood as a selfish endeavor. However, indulging in this alternative lifestyle myself for a number of years suddenly revealed to me why I grew increasingly unhappy in my long-term monogamous relationships. Before I understood this about myself, I was intensely isolated by my confusion and complete lack of joy within my invariably badly-patterned relationships. As an abundantly loving person who has zero difficulty facing accountability, this became increasingly painful. So, what does it mean to be polyamorous?
Your Google dictionary writes, “Polyamory is the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.”
While pretty self-explanatory, polyamory relies heavily on consent and communication when compared to single suitors. The difference is that the individuals within polyamorous dynamics are communicating on a level of greater magnitude with more individuals, and a great deal of consideration for the other party. Some relationships celebrate dual dynamics or triads, while still others may engage in the pursuit of romance with the same individual- but not necessarily with each other. Some of these dynamics may include multiple sexual orientations, genders, and/or produce children, others may not.
The topic of consent includes the knowledge or awareness of their lover’s involvement with others and therefore, does not fall under the umbrella of infidelity or polygamy. Instead, it is accepted and embraced that one may love more than one person at the same time. Still more, some choose to participate in social hierarchy’s that celebrate a primary partner, while others choose to disperse equality evenly among their amorous partnerships.
A common misconception is that polyamory is a way to have your cake and eat it too. However, this lifestyle narrows in less on diversified sex and more on intimate open relationships. This juggling act often requires highly evolved maturity, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Likewise, the personal labels, definitions, and dynamics vary greatly within the community itself, and therefore seemingly can not be netted into a true north.
Rachel Kieran from GoodTherapy writes, “Terms used to identify such relationships are as numerous as the individuals who endorse them, continue to evolve within cultures, and are often dependent upon the particular configuration of the couple, triad, or family at a given moment.”
In a world where we are talking about the various levels of sexuality, gender, and relationships it is important to remember that the perspectives and definitions therein are highly susceptible to context and subjective reasoning. Personally, I have found that dismissing labels or social explanation altogether while exploring my own happiness has served me greatly since I find them to be great exacerbaters of confinement.
Kieran continues, “We must challenge ourselves to confront our own values and stereotypes around sexual and relational diversity.”
So, what are the mental health benefits of an open relational dynamic? Perhaps the most obvious, expanded dynamics relieve the singular pressure often placed on one person in a conventional relationship to protect, provide, perform, and compromise. Also contributing to a healthy psychology is the emphasis on human communication, empathy, and a deeply intentional consideration for others. The awareness that multifaceted relationships produce toward one’s own truth and desire can offer a great sense of peace and freedom that may nurture any previously held depression or anxiety associated with the experience of embracing only one partner. Likewise, there is a great sense of community that may strengthen one’s sense of familial ties or resourcefulness in times of hardship for those participating in polyamory.
In short, polyamory explains the idea of free love in modern times albeit with a bit more depth and sophistication. It celebrates the power of permission and full-disclosure in our understanding of romance. It promotes self-examination and accountability. It challenges any previously held notions and relieves us of the chains of traditionalism while contributing to our intellectual wellness and sense of community.
Even for those who have trouble grasping this, the fundamental message that we love often, more than once, and in many ways seem to remain universal.
Visit the Source: Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD
Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD
What are your thoughts, opinions, and experiences regarding polyamorous identities?
**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!**
For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!
In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!