This morning, I received this question from a client:
“Poly: is it learned or is a person born poly (or not)?”
And here is my reply:
What a great question! I feel that everyone is born poly. After some research into different cultures, the animal kingdom, and the evolution of sexuality and relationships here in the western world over time, polyamory seems to me our natural state. We have a huge capacity for loving others, and an equally big appetite for variety, and to be loved. Then we get a lot of social conditioning layered on top of it, that has more to do with creating structures that make us feel “safe.” We make a contract, that you will provide for me, always be there for me, you will desire only me, and we will seek to fulfill ALL of each others’ needs and desires. In exchange, I will be a right woman (whatever that is) and love and desire only you, and make our lives fun and pleasurable, including always being ready for sex. You can see how well it works – 50% divorce rate, 41% infidelity in marriages. Having said that, not everyone wants to express themselves in a poly-relationship structure and that’s totally fine too. Consciousness of the “contract” in the relationship , is the key.
So, to be successfully poly takes:
1) unlearning the rules and restrictions that you adopted in the past
2) being clear about what you want and where your deal breakers are and
3) learning to work through the feelings, thoughts and beliefs that come up when you get triggered or challenged, for your own highest good. Jealousy, hell yeah. Not good enough? Not chosen?”
Notice, this last one serves in ALL relationships, not just poly ones.
I recently learned this excellent modality for getting out of being triggered. It comes from understanding that events are just events. Then we make up a story about what the event means. Believing the story cause us to feel a certain way, and the feelings lead to actions. Sadly, the usual actions we take when triggered lead to the exact opposite of the outcome we desire.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works. You list the circumstances, for example, someone you are dating begins spending time with someone else. Now look at your thoughts. What are you making this circumstance mean? Third, when you think those thoughts, how does it make you feel? For example, I think him taking another woman out means I’m not enough for him, and that makes me feel inadequate. Next, how do you act when you feel that feeling? Perhaps go into your shell, retreat, lash out? And what is the result of your behavior? If you decide the results are not what you were wanting, then you get to go way back to the beginning and change your thought. Because an event or circumstance is just that. it can mean whatever we make it mean. I suggest that you play with some other possible thoughts, even if you don’t believe them right away.
Here are some possibilities:
Him dating someone else, leaves me free to meet someone else, and someone who might be even more fulfilling than him.
Him dating her, gives me an opportunity to meet her, and maybe make a new best girlfriend
Him dating her opens up the possibility of my exploring a dormant attraction to women and a group play experience (Just saying, be creative without worrying whther you actually would take advantage of the possibility
If it’s possible that the situation could serve you, then chances are that is why it came about. It’s up to us to make the most of it.
Loving you from here… and you ….and you … and you