Sure is sweet having multiple lovers, but can you really handle the work?
Ever wonder if you could handle an open relationship?
Most of us know people who are in one (or maybe it's you), a couple who screw anyone they want to on the side and seem perfectly happy and in love, or who have parallel ongoing erotic commitments to other people.
Must be something to this: more variety, more insights, more sex, more security. And polyamory has got to be better than plain old cheating, which apparently about a quarter of us do, men more than women.
But how do folks do it? How do you get poly and stay poly? It certainly has its appeal, but then again, I've got one romantic interest and he's more than enough work. Can't imagine having to do maintenance on a second or third.
What the Experts Say
"Nearly 85 per cent of cultures in the world allow for polygamy, but within those societies only a small portion of people are polygamous. Rich men are the ones who can afford the price. Polyamory is a Western cultural invention. It involves a special kind of negotiation, and many who think they want to do it realize it's more than they bargained for. Poly people endeavour to be truthful, and that's a challenge. It's a fine line in terms of being present and loving and telling your partner the amount of truth that's comfortable to share. The process can burn you out.''
LEANNA WOLFE, anthropologist, sexologist, Los Angeles
"You have to be truthful about what you're feeling, wanting and not wanting. You don't need to go into details about your sexual experiences, but you do need to be transparent. One of the biggest mistakes people make in polyamorous situations is that when jealousy inevitably comes up - even if everything is consensual - they don't ask for support. Instead, they try to tough it out and end up getting in over their heads. You can't tell your partner the truth if you don't know it yourself, so you need to develop the ability to know what you're feeling.''
DEBORAH TAJ ANAPOL, relationship coach, author, Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits, Hawaii
"We looked at male deer mice that pair bond, and a closely related species that is non-monogamous. We found that the non-monogamous males were not able to regulate their blood sugar as well as the monogamous males. Similar correlations have been found in other mammalian species, including primates. Monogamy seems to indicate better stress tolerance."
PAUL VRANA, University of California School of Medicine, Irvine, California
"We are probably biologically inclined to seek multiple partners, and people can try to live out those desires, but it's extremely difficult. Polyamory is almost a monastic discipline; it requires being absolutely honest with everybody and spending lots of time on communication and negotiation. If you want to sign up for that, okay, but sustaining one sexual relationship and family is often enough work."
JAMES J. HUGHES, executive director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Hartford, Connecticut
"A lot of poly people will tell you it feels natural to say ‘I love you' to multiple people. There's not as much difference between a poly relationship and a monogamous one as people think. The fundamentals are the same. Time management skills are important. Making sure everyone gets the attention they deserve is a lot of work, but the rewards are worth it."
VINCENT M. WALES, author, founder of the Polyamory Awareness & Acceptance Ribbon Campaign, Sacramento, California