Relationships are undergoing a revolution. As society is leaning more and more toward a freer environment when one can design their life the way one likes instead of adhering to social rules, people are experimenting with all the new choices that they have. With new genders and whole new formatting of different types of relationships, there is a lot to explore. And one chapter from that book is on polyamorous relationship rules.
It’s hard to say when polyamorous relationships really came into play but at the moment, we are seeing them more often than ever. But before we get into all the rules, let’s understand what exactly a poly relationship is.
How Do Poly Relationships Work?
A poly relationship basically stems from the school of thought, that one can love and cherish multiple people at once. That finding the one or spending your life with a single partner is actually unnatural. This school of thought paves the way for people to try a non-monogamous relationship where they are free to have multiple partners. However, it is nothing close to cheating since it is consensual and something that both parties are very well aware of.
One might say that a polyamorous relationship sounds quite like an open relationship. While the two are close in nature, there are a few differences between them. In open relationships, one still has a greater level of commitment to a primary relationship or partner. The purpose of open relationships is to try new things and to see what’s out there. But for polyamorous couples, there is no primary relationship as such. They can cultivate strong emotional connections with anyone they meet.
Being a poly couple takes some work
But before we get right into the polyamory boundaries checklist, it is important you cruise through this story to get a better idea of how to navigate certain polyamorous relationship rules. This true account will really give you an edge in understanding how do poly relationships work. Since there are multiple people involved, it is important to do it right and understand the polyamory dating rules so that nobody gets hurt. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Thoughts Around A Polyamorous Relationship
I was on a bus on my way to work, and her voice was almost inaudible over the phone. I walked to the front of the bus and asked her again, “So, what’s your deal with Mark?”
“I have huge respect for him,” she said, “And I know that without me in his life, he will not live.”
Before I could recover, she said, “I love you though. No wait, I should phrase that better, I love you, too.”
Either she loves me or she doesn’t. How can she say she loves him and also me, in the same breath? As soon as those words left her lips, things were falling apart around me, my world was crumbling, and I missed my stop.
When I fell in love with Monica a year ago, we were both married and both our marriages had reached a plateau. It’s like we were both in a dead-end relationship with other people. We found each other in a group of common friends, found common interests, and when she pointed out that the white balance was off in my nature photography, I started considering her as a guru. And then came the lenses and our trips to various jungles together. We were sharing a lot more than our lives…and then this happened.
I was left utterly confused
And she was quietly explaining it to me, like a teacher explaining the third dimension. Mark had been in her life for almost a decade, and it wasn’t a romantic relationship all this while. But now he has expressed his desire to meet her in Chicago. And she said she had to go, without a thought.
“How can you go to Chicago and see him? You know what he possibly wants. Will you go all the way and then not make love to him? Will you just lead him on?” I said to her while I was fuming. It felt like she loved me but she was just trying to keep this guy around and interested.
“Why are you only thinking of sex? Why is that important at all? And let’s say I do make love to him. Does that really mean I don’t love you? Am I not always with you on the phone? Telling you stories of my daughter and my husband, about what happened at work, and where I went for a walk in the evening? I tell you everything. Even those awkward nights when under the influence of alcohol, I find the courage to sleep with my husband,” she responded.
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She explained how they needed each other
“You see, Aidan, Mark is like the Pacific. He is so vast in his knowledge, its application, and his philanthropic reach that it is difficult for mere humans like me to fathom him. He loves to share every little detail with me, from a project plan to its execution. I’m like his life support. How can I take it away? The last time we fought, he went suicidal. We have cultivated a lot of emotional safety in our relationship. I can’t just walk away from that.
“If I love my husband, he will look after my family and ensure the equilibrium in my life is maintained. He is like the lake Mondsee, calm and still, dependable. At every turn, you can always expect to see the lake, calm even on a rainy day. If I love you, you will love me back like nobody else does and write me poems. You’re like a brook, happily flowing, never to settle, spreading happiness with your touch. Who else can do that?
“Now tell me, which love do I sacrifice? I love the three of you for three different reasons.”
I wanted a bigger place in her life
“You don’t have to sacrifice any, but shouldn’t Mark know about my presence in your life? It’s only fair, isn’t it, Monica? If I have to cohabit with him in your mind, he should have to do the same.”
“He won’t survive if he finds out about your presence. You’ve been in many other relationships, Aidan. You’ve been emotionally battered at times, and also have witnessed nonchalantly the slow decay of love. You’ve come out of everything unscathed, haven’t you? You have the ability to regenerate, to bounce back. For Mark, I am the only one he’s relied on all these years. I can’t disown him, Aidan, I just can’t!”
It was difficult for me to come to terms with her love for three men but the only thing that mattered was that I love her and wanted to be with her. It was tough, but I could finally wrap my head around this concept. If I don’t mind her husband, why should the presence of another man matter? And then she told me how Mark didn’t have many years to live because of his failing health. Amidst his busy schedule, he could find time only for Monica, his love, the companion of his soul.
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I decided to comply
I chose to look away when she went to visit him in Chicago and didn’t ask if she slept with him after all. She came back sad and clung to me even more. Suddenly very needy, she sought me out in the middle of the night, just to hear my voice. In our electronic communiqué, in that virtual hug we shared at 2 in the morning, the weight of her third dimension bore heavily on me. Unbeknownst to me, I had somewhere accepted Monica in her entirety. “I’m here, love,” I heard myself say.
(As told to Arijit Ghosh)
(Names changed to protect identities)
5 Important Polyamorous Relationship Rules
Now that we’ve heard first-hand the rationale behind wanting to be in a polyamorous relationship, there are also some polyamorous dating rules to truly reap the benefits of it. This kind of relationship can be complicated and get very messy, very quickly if you do not do it right.
But if you really want to make sure that your polyamorous dynamic is healthy, well then, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the 5 most important polyamorous relationship rules that you need to know.
1. Don’t ignore one for the other
Even though you are seeing multiple people, it is important that you respect the time and space of everyone involved. Don’t blow one off constantly for the other. They will see it right away and start feeling insecure. Remember, that you chose this life of seriously dating multiple people at once. You must try to do it in the best way possible.
2. Polyamorous couples should keep communication open
Be open in discussing boundaries in your relationship and what kind of space you all may need from one another. Remember, that honesty and good communication are keys to making a polyamorous relationship work. Don’t hesitate when expressing what you want and what you desire to them. Formulate a polyamory boundary checklist if you need to but keep things as open and real as you can.
3. It’s not a competition
Feelings of jealousy can make you go into overdrive and start seeing your poly relationship as a competition. Maybe your boyfriend just mentioned a new woman that he’s starting to fall for. This does not mean that you start swiping aggressively on your dating apps to find someone new too. Try to be happy for them and trust the process.
4. Don’t share too much information
Sounds contradictory we know, since we just told you to be as honest as you can be. Honesty is important but you do need to be careful about how much information and what kind of details you share. You really don’t want to upset your partner too much. Similarly, don’t pry into your partner’s lives and try to get too much information about their other partners. Maintain a healthy understanding of how much information you need to share.
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5. Don’t lose yourself in the process
When you have more than one partner, your time and your day can start feeling very exhaustive very soon. Breakfast in Central Park with Duncan and then Roy drops by work to bring you lunch! Spending quality time with all of them is essential but spending all your time with your partners can quickly make things feel difficult for you. This is a bit of personal advice not necessarily one of the hard and fast polyamory dating rules. Make sure you take out sufficient time for yourself and have enough me-time to get through the week.
With that, we hope you now have a better understanding of the important polyamorous relationship rules to truly make the best of your relationship dynamic. However, if you’re struggling with a lot of feelings and emotions around the same, you can always opt for therapy and seek more advice that is fit to your personal context and needs. If you’re considering getting help, Bonobology has an incredibly skilled panel of therapists who are only a click away.
Cheating in a polyamorous relationship is basically when you are practicing polyamory and either one or all of your partners are not aware that you are poly.
Yes, they can if they are dishonest, evasive and try to have secrets from their partners.
To understand a three-person relationship better, you are going to have to find yourself a throuple relationship checklist.