I have had multiple partners most of my life. There have been a few brief unsuccessful attempts at monogamy but I am at heart polyam. This week one of my partners expressed an interest in someone else. This is a relatively new experience for me, while i have partners who have existing partners, and have had play partners who have had a number of new partners, I haven’t been in an established relationship where someone new has come along.
Her big worry was that her liking someone else would make me like her less. That her liking someone else would make her disloyal and be read by me as an indication that she cares less about me. Having come from a mono background, she felt guilty for liking someone else, for getting those flutters in her stomach.
For me, I have no fear of her liking someone else, no fear of her being with someone else, instead the fear is always that someone will like us less – that by her liking someone else she will in someway like me less. This is not how it has ever worked for me though. When i like someone new, i dont stop liking, loving, lusting after my existing partners.
Having more than one partner does not reduce feelings. We don’t run out of love or care. Likewise when a relationships comes to an end, the blow is not softened by being in other relationships. The heartbreak of break ups remains just a deep, and is based on your feelings for the person that a relationship ended with. While you may have someone to comfort you when a break up happens – being in multiple relationships does not spare you from feeling pain or loss.
I think it’s interesting where we put our focus. When I talk to people about polyam there first assumption is that they will struggle with jealousy – I would never want my partner to kiss someone else, or go out for a meal with someone else, or whatever it happens to be. When you did deeper the real fear is that their partner will no longer want to kiss the, go out for a meal with them. What we fear most is that we will become less interesting, less desirable, that we will become boring – or have already become so.
This doesn’t have to be the case. There is a fine line to be walked between sharing information about your new relationship – and co-opting it. I asked my partner to share with me things that make her happy, things that excite her about her new interest, and I also offered to be talked to about things that worry her, times where she is feeling insecure. It’s important to note that this is an offer to share – not an obligation to do so. I am not asking her to share her bedroom secrets, or the things that are whispered in her ear, but i am inviting her to go “WOW ! Look at the flowers that he brought me!! They are amazing! I am so happy!” In sharing those things instead of keeping them a dirty secret, where we feel guilty about sharing our lives with our partner, we are able to find a new topic of conversation, we can celebrate and commiserate with our partner, and we grow closer not more distant.
Our fear is always based on the idea that we will lose something, that we will become less, but there is no reason for this to be true. We don’t respond to this in the same way with friends, or with children, or any other area of our life. We don’t say ahhh because i have a new child i don’t care about my old one anymore, this one will replace that one. When we form a new friendship we dont look around to see which existing friend we can get rid of. Instead the new person in our life enriches us – and that is something which hopefully everyone we know will indirectly benefit from.
When we take the time to celebrate our partners desires, to take pleasure in the things – and more importantly people who interest them our lives and our relationships are enriched.