Polyamory – It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Communication Swing

Polyamory Communication

Many are quick to judge lifestyle choices which deviate from the so called norm. That’s all very well if your standpoint is inherently superior. However, where monogamy vs. polyamory is concerned, with divorce and adultery rates still climbing – it appears increasingly hypocritical for fans of the former to criticize the latter.

I have had a few relationships that ended because of cheating. Why? Because a monogamous relationship is built on assumptions that leave little room for development or change. As time passed, my needs altered. The very nature of a monogamous relationship is based on the belief that neither partner have other sexual relationships. I came to the point where I was not being fulfilled sexually by my partner – I occasionally bought up the topic, but sometimes this frank communication came too late or my deviant sexual needs simply didn’t appeal to them. If I had been involved in a polyamorous relationship I could have been upfront and considered getting an extra sexual partner. I wasn’t – so I had affairs. My behavior was deceitful.

The primary message I attempt to put across in my sex blog is that communication within a relationship is vital – how can partners fulfil each other’s sexual desires if they do not discuss their innermost feelings and needs? This seems logical to me but it is surprising how many monogamous couples find it extremely difficult to be upfront and honest with their lover. The fact that a monogamous pairing is built on assumptions is a weakness, which mitigates against honest communication, as you assume you know what the other person thinks. However, honesty and communication are paramount within a relationship – if you cannot promote these virtues, then all other areas within the alliance will eventually fail. This must surely be a contributory factor in the high divorce rate.

It seems odd that even though the monogamous archetype appears laden with faults, it is still held up as the principled model for people to follow. On the other hand polyamory – where communication is a necessity – is frequently viewed as immoral with the potential to be emotionally harmful for all involved.

Many years ago I met a man who I instinctively wanted to be open with. We tentatively began a relationship but I was sleeping with others. I suspected he was too so I raised the subject and we openly discussed our various liaisons and continued with our own, eventually going our separate ways. Without realizing it we were attempting to act in a polyamorous fashion. Many years passed by and that very same person is My Man now. In general we have an extremely intense monogamous bond. Sometime ago I nonchalantly asked him what his reaction would be if I had sex with another man. In hindsight I wanted him to express his distaste for such a scenario – feeling that this would be an indication of his desire for me. But he didn’t. He very simply replied that he hoped I wouldn’t do anything without discussing it with him first. I was surprised but thinking back to how we originated, and the honesty we try to keep alive within our relationship, I shouldn’t have been.

Morning Glory Zell coined the phrase POLYAMORY in the early 80’s and defined it as the practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual, loving relationship at the same time – with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.

Though it has to be said that no single definition of “polyamory” has enjoyed universal acceptance.

The difficulties many monogamous couples have with regard to communication and honesty simply cannot occur within a polyamorous relationship. Polyamorists need communication to work out the confines of their relationship, examine feelings, and resolve disputes. Communication and honesty are such intrinsic aspects of polyamorous life that it is difficult to over play their importance. These are the coping mechanisms that assist polyamorists in dealing with current or prospective hitches in their intricate lifestyle.

Polyamorists must confront the likelihood of jealous feelings and misinterpretation among multiple partners. While monogamists experience similar difficulties they are often too scared to raise a delicate issue for fear of hurting their partner’s feelings. For polyamorists, the emphasis is on flexibility via negotiation, practiced through communication. To deal with potential pitfalls they use radical honesty, a practice of being completely honest in all situations, even when it is neither “nice” nor convenient. To a novice like me this appears respectful and considerate not immoral or insensitive.

Conventions such as monogamy exist to free people from having to think or make decisions by avoiding confrontation. This can lead to a restrictive, closed existence where neither person involved is satisfied. An honest polyamorous relationship by its nature is not conventional. It leaves room for a person to change and develop. It allows for the people involved to be unencumbered, and open to explore their lives without deceiving those they love – and that can only be a positive thing.

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May More
May More lives in the UK and has her own sex blog to highlight that people have a choice how to express themselves sexually. She advocates that sex should be liberating and not bound by social conventions. Her writing is inherently personal – with posts describing her own sexual ventures into bondage – plus other more earnest articles pertaining to topical lifestyle issues. Visit Sex Matters for more information.

3 Comments on Polyamory – It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Communication Swing

Rick Ansell said : Guest Report Subscribe 11 months ago

This article hits the nail on the head. Anyone who wants their unorthodox sexual arrangements to be taken seriously has a duty of care to everyone involved, as desires and emotions cannot be expected to evolve in tandem. If nothing 'serious' is intended by exploring the sexual possibilities of multiple partners, that itself must be made clear from the outset, whether you are entering this arena as a solitary individual or attempting to expand from a pair-bond. If you haven't properly discussed it, you can't complain when it goes wrong.

May said : Guest Report Subscribe 11 months ago

Hi Pete - I totally agree with your comment - ownership is still at the core of monogamy. And the success of a family unit be it poly or monogamous - depends largely on the way in which the adults conduct themselves in their relationships. At the end of the day surly one of the most important things in life is to behave in a manner that is considerate to those we love and also contributes positively to nurturing the children...


Pete Symes said : Guest Report Subscribe 11 months ago

Your piece touches on a couple aspects of out existence and how we manifest expressions of those basic drives. Our need to consume and the pleasure we take in new and exciting experiences sampling all we can as we proceed through our lives. The exploration and passion of taking a new lover is what drives the polyamory out reach. Now when the drive to reproduce is expressed in the desire for sexual intimacy and satisfaction, no matter how far removed from the actual reproductive result, it is still at it's root a expression of out sensual and sexual selves. But our drive to eliminate reproductive competition runs deep within us no mater how civilized we may be on the surface. Monogamy is by it's nature a defense of an ownership and privilege of sorts. With all those competing forces swirling in our limbic systems you rightly pointed out communication is our only hope to reach an accord with those we are sharing such deep and intimate intercourse. Needless to say your piece have given me much to ponder out here in left field. (American baseball reference )

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