Make a success of your first polyamorous relationship, thanks to polyamorous advice
Multiple love is not as simple as that. For those who would like to try, it is better to follow some advice. And the best to provide them are those who have already experienced these relationships.Advertisement
Often, love is “You + Me”. Then one day, like in a bad song, sometimes “everyone who wants it” arrives (if you don't have the ref, the clip is there). And on that day, we can find ourselves helpless. How to get out of a model in which we grew up, which is often that of our parents, our grandparents, our idols and our class friends? The exclusive couple is certainly a model that can work for a large part of the population. But when the temptation of polyamory (or relational anarchy) arrives, we sometimes need a few keys. We asked those who have tried it, sometimes successfully, sometimes less, what advice they would give to avoid screwing up your first polyA relationship.
Know why we do it
When Renée, intrigued by a friend in a free relationship, went to a meeting of polyamorous people, she found that all these people were not very like her. Until she had this dream: a meeting of polyA where everyone is mixed race. Metis, like her. Where everyone is like her, in fact. It's a sign, a revelation: “I felt 'this is what I am', explains the 34-year-old young woman for whom polyamory is an identity, an orientation. “It denotes a way of living, of loving, which affects everything. I discussed it with a friend who said "but you know, when you were 17, you were already talking about it."
Same evidence for Jean-Baptiste, the same age, who has only been practicing it for a few months. "I have the feeling that I have always been, and it has ruined all my monogamous relationships", recalls the Brussels resident. For some, like them, it's obvious and in this case, jump in with both feet. For others, an obligation and in this case… danger!
"A lot of people find themselves embarked on it without having a complete choice", estimates Amélie *, polyamorous for more than 3 years, today in questioning. I had read Simone de Beauvoir a lot, contingent loves with Sartre, it seemed to me madly speaking. So I felt like I was setting up something that I had believed in for a while but had never really been able to experience. Paradoxically, I never really believed in monogamy and I had said so to several of my relations, teenager or adult, while being one. Except that it doesn't work, or at least only for a while.
At 24, Kendrys is convinced that it even takes “a certain strength” to embark on a polyamorous relationship. “It's important that it's not to camouflage your emotional weaknesses, by going to see several people because you don't know what you want. You need a pretty solid base.” The student and director now lives in a polyamorous relationship with a pivotal relationship, and secondary partners.
“We must not be mistaken about the stakes, abounds Renée, who defines herself today as “polyamorous at heart, in a monogamous relationship of indefinite duration”. With her ex, they opened up to polyamory after a long relationship of more than 10 years, before everything exploded. “Yes, I had desire for other people, but otherwise we had problems and I ran away from them. If you are in a hurry to go elsewhere, you have to ask yourself two minutes: is it because you met someone, or because you have structural problems? Knowing why we are going there involves a demanding work of introspection.”
This is also the first piece of advice given by Raphaël, 23, who also lives with a pivotal relationship and other secondary relationships. “Just because you're in a relationship and you meet someone doesn't mean you're necessarily polyamorous. Take the time to reflect, to question yourself, alone. You must already know yourself to know if it is what you want for yourself before exposing it to someone else.
Do not feel forced (and do not force the other)
Amélie lives in a lesbian, militant, anarchist environment. And for her, it's difficult to reproduce the dad-mom pattern (even if it's with mom-mom) without coming across as a supporter of the system. “I have the impression that in my milieu, it has become somewhat necessary, or in any case presented without much hindsight, as a way of fighting against the heteropatriarchal system. I remember the festival Getting out of heterosexuality, there was a series of proposals, and "being in a non-exclusive relationship" was part of it, as if the non-exclusive relationship was necessarily liberating and revolutionary and not carrying other other forms of power dynamics.” Except that these power dynamics, in polyamorous people, also exist. They are simply different. Diving headlong, Amélie listened to her political ideals, but not necessarily her emotional needs. And today, she calls everything into question.
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Kendrys also feels that he was more ready than his boyfriend. “It's a bit like the couple, impacting the other”, he admits, believing that we must also make the difference between proposing and imposing. “You have to be careful not to take him in a direction contrary to his interiority, to impose his relational vision.”
Raphaël couldn't say it better, he is the extravagant with multiple encounters, while his girlfriend is more discreet. When he met another partner two months ago, his darling did not feel ready. They talked a lot, and he thanks her for following him, as long as it's not at all costs. “A breakup is not necessarily a bad thing. If the person receiving this proposal thinks they can give it a try, fine. But if she does not feel it, in no case should you create feelings, because it creates an unbalanced relationship with suffering, it always ends badly, he believes. Conversely, the person who feels polyamorous should not hold back and sacrifice that part of themselves for someone they love, for the same reason: it will not work.
So yes, it's hard to admit, but sometimes you just have to recognize that it's not for us, and that if the two partners do not have the same vision of relationships… well, never mind. “When I meet someone who does not share my vision, we see each other once, or else we become a friend”, philosopher Jean-Baptiste.
Discuss. And discuss again (but well).
If dialogue is the basis of the couple, it is the essence of the polyamorous relationship. "It's important in all relationships, summarizes Raphaël, but since you can't do without in poly relationships, it's even more present." Present, but not always obvious, so sometimes you have to force yourself. "My rule is that when you want to talk about something and the other person thinks it's going to be complicated... then you have to talk about it", details Kendrys. He opened up his couple to polyamory a few months ago, and he realizes that there are a lot of patterns to review. “My current boyfriend has always had heteronormative patterns, I've shaken things up a bit. We had to think about issues like jealousy, which is not a show of love but a show of insecurity or lack of self-confidence."
And to discuss, it is still necessary to discuss well. “For me, it's above all about listening to others,” says Raphaël. You have to take the time not just to give your point of view and say what you feel, but also to try to understand the fears and anxieties of the other.
Finally, do not believe that it is enough to tell each other everything for it to slip. Words are weighed. “The idea is not to go back to a 1950s bourgeois couple mode where everyone makes mistakes without ever saying anything, but there may be other methods that work,” Amélie tempers. For example "we don't have to talk to each other about all our hookups but when it gets serious we do", or "I want to be there to help you in the event of a breakup, or conversely I can't" .” For Jean-Baptiste, on the contrary, this new type of relationship was an opportunity: “by relating with people accustomed to polyamory, it is easier to talk about everything, very quickly, all the time.” He enthuses: “Being able to ask a lover for advice about my relationship with another lover is too good.”
“I have the impression that we have made absolute transparency a value in itself, warns Amélie. But for some, it's too insecure to hear about certain topics, at some point in their life or forever.” Set your limits. Thus, for Raphaël, “I think it's good to communicate the main lines, for example "who", or how many people, if only if we meet one day. But I don't want to know the ins and outs of another relationship." It's up to you to know what you can hear without creating discomfort... And to hear what your partner is ready to receive.
It is up to each relationship to find its rules and to define what should or should not be said. But for that, you have to start by talking, if only to know what not to talk about.
Renee, who currently lives in a monogamous relationship, knows that she will one day return to polyamory. But not anyhow, nor at any price. “The first time I went there as a kid in a candy store, I wanted to eat everything. I like men. Today, I see very interesting guys but I know how to reason with myself and say to myself "there, what counts?" There is no problem in going elsewhere, but in what area, and with what intentions?", asks the young woman who wants to return there "in full consciousness, wondering what is important, what is less".
“You also have to ask yourself how you can have 4 relationships at the same time, warns Amélie. How much time do we give to whom? And do we have time left for friends, for ourselves? There is sometimes a collecting side. If the term "polysaturated" exists, it's telling, isn't it?
The objective of polyamory is therefore not to accumulate conquests, but to leave room for each of them to flourish. And for that, you have to prevent your love life from looking like a treasure hunt.
“J. [son ex, ndlr] stayed until the end, he damaged himself crazy, he damaged me, and I couldn't say stop”, remembers his side Renée for whom his first polyamorous relationship was complex precisely because of this absence of limit. “Knowing how to say no is super important, but also knowing how to receive a no. My problem is that I didn't know very well. I wanted my thing so much, I got selfish about it, and I did some bad stuff.” She concludes, philosopher: “Limits are more important than desire, because we damage ourselves less by listening to our limits than by following our desires.”
The advantage of discussion is that it allows the rules to evolve. In the present moment, according to everyone's desires, so that relationships remain as fluid as possible. “There may be rules, but you shouldn't say to yourself 'if you break this one, it's irreparable', thinks Kendrys. These are not so much rules, but the limits of each, and these limits can move.
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At some point in the relationship, you can allow yourself to go elsewhere for a night, but the holidays remain with the main partner. Ok for a weekend, but not for Grandma's birthday. And at another, all of that has to change, because the relationship itself has changed. Kendrys: “It's a tough sentimental plate tectonics report. The movement is done very slowly and in a certain form of coherence and softness, but sometimes it can rub, there can be emotional or relational earthquakes. So you have to prepare the relationship for that, and it takes two. That is the most important."
Finally, when your relationships begin to settle, do not forget that you have human beings in front of you. With expectations. And therefore, a need for a minimum of attention.
“One of the big failings of poly is dispersion, concedes Renée. And it's basically mine. So I learn to concentrate, not to be afraid of boredom, time passing, silence.”
Don't rush, and remember to give everyone the space they deserve. Amélie recognizes it, the hardest thing to manage in polyamorous relationships is the schedule. "Everyone has their own techniques, shared calendar, fixed dates at the beginning of the week with a machine and end with a thingy, etc.", she explains.
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After all these steps, you are ready to invest in new relationships, keeping your head on your shoulders. Polyamory is not the solution to all our love difficulties, just another way. “My emotional needs are rarely met, concedes Jean-Baptiste. But I have friends that I cuddle with and that fills part of it. Besides, it wasn't better in a monogamous relationship.”