Messy is Okay
by Ginger (with Rebekah whispering in!)
I’ve seen a handful of romantic triads and non-monogamists represented in books, movies, fan fiction, and tv shows, and they always seem to present in one of two ways: everything comes together perfectly, or jealousy festers until the relationship violently implodes. But these scenarios are caricatures of nonmonogamy, and most fail to represent the beauties and hardships present in real-life polyamorous relationships.
We at Pleasure Evolution do not push any relationship model over another: our priority is always, first and foremost, for you, Dear Readers, clients, and community to pursue your passions and find fulfillment in your partnerships and lives. But for those individuals who have either been curious about trying an open relationship, or have been burned by such situations before, the title statement is so important to remember:
Polaymory is often messy. Life is messy, sex is messy, and that’s okay. What have we made so valuable about controlled and orderly, and how is that limiting our choices? In the case of open relationships, intention is important. Are you looking for a band-aid or a hall pass, or are you genuinely seeing the way a relationship could work for you? An open relationship is a lifestyle, and choosing that path is as difficult as it is rewarding.
Myths of Non-Monogamy
The first myth I always want to abolish is that “if you get jealous, non-monogamy isn’t for you.” News flash: everybody can get jealous. Some people experience it more keenly. Some people are so jealous, they can’t admit it. Jealousy is an emotional response, and often a natural reaction when we feel insecure or threatened. How we respond to our own feelings of jealousy, then, becomes paramount. Suppress them, and the feeling festers into resentment and paranoia. Dismiss them, and they’ll return at fuller force than before.
Honor your jealousy. That feeling is trying to tell you something, maybe about your partner or maybe about yourself. When we are insecure about our own worth, it is easy to believe that a third party stands poised to break your relationship asunder. When we are insecure about our partner’s love and commitment, there are often ways both of you can reaffirm your relationship and its importance.
The one thing I can never stress enough is this: You and your partner are on the same Team. It is not a competition for number of casual fucks or to see who can care less about what the other does; Those can both be signs of unhealthy non-monogamy. Nor should it ever be an imposition for your partner to sit you down and say “this has been happening lately and I’ve been feeling this way about it”.
As a Team, your first priority is emotional honesty. We can’t be shy about our feelings, cower in awe of them or hide them from our partners. The process of finding this level of honesty can be brutal and petrifying and lead you to unexpected places.
But in many ways, I believe that for love to be worthwhile, to blossom into a strong and sturdy partnership, it has to get scary, get real. Talk about the worries you’ve had from the beginning, the ways you’ve been hurt, the things you would want if you were allowed to want them. Speak it all out loud, and you’ll be surprised what you find. Love is, inherently, a risk, and that’s why its so unbelievably terrifying.
Where trust comes in
Trust. It’s an ephemeral concept, hard to identify, but harder to live without. For those of us who have been hurt by love before, wounded and damaged and left ragged on the steps, this part comes hardest, and it takes practice, like everything else. Trust takes many forms but to me, the core of it rests in safety: providing a sanctuary for your partner, that they feel safe in expressing themselves fully. The stupid and irrational, the ambitious, the foolish, the passionate, the fear. To suspend judgement and offer support.
Polyamory lives and dies by trust.
There is nothing more personal than sharing your heart with someone. And it’s even scarier to share it with more than one, or to watch your beloved open up to a new person. We all want to feel special. But what the two of you have is totally unique. It cannot be replaced or subsumed.
It’s okay to feel scared, to feel jealous, that’s part of the mess, part of the chaos. If you are honest and work through it, there’s so much beauty on the other side. There’s security in knowing that, despite your partner’s options, they’re still choosing you. There’s joy, watching them light up at the prospect of something new. There’s intimacy and even eroticism in sharing the details of your other relationships. Done with intention, these things bind people closer together, not wrench them farther apart. With trust and communication, your relationship moves into a world of infinite possibility.