Polyamory, or consensual non-monogamy, has gained increasing recognition as a valid and fulfilling way to love and connect with multiple partners. However, like any relationship structure, polyamory relationships have their challenges. In this post, we’ll delve into the worries that can emerge from different situations. We will also explore strategies for addressing these concerns. Equally while maintaining a healthy and balanced polyamorous dynamic.
1. Understanding the Concerns
A common concern that can arise in polyamorous relationships is when one partner has more intimate encounters than the other. It is natural for individuals to experience emotions like jealousy, insecurity, and fear of missing out. Especially when they perceive a disparity in the number of intimate encounters their partner is having. Furthermore, these feelings are not unique to polyamory. These feelings can be magnified due to the complexity of multiple relationships.
2. Open Communication
Open and honest communication is crucial in all relationships. Encouraging an environment where all partners feel safe expressing their thoughts and emotions can help to address concerns before they escalate. Set aside time for regular check-ins to discuss thoughts, perceptions, feelings, boundaries, and concerns. I wholeheartedly support the podcast – Multiamory’s “RADAR” as a good tool for this.
3. Exploring Individual Needs
Each person in a polyamorous relationship will have their own emotional and physical needs. It is important to acknowledge and validate these needs and not make comparisons. Discuss what each person wants from the relationship and how they could balance the connections.
4. Establishing Clear Boundaries for Polyamorous Relationships
One of the first things I work with clients is helping them establish clear boundaries. Boundaries are paramount to maintaining a healthy dynamic. These boundaries might cover the frequency of intimate encounters, communication about new partners, and the involvement of each partner in decision-making processes. Particularly work to reassess and adjust these boundaries on a regular basis. I generally ask clients to make more boundaries than what is necessary. As it is easier to walk back a boundary than to heal a hurt. Lastly, I do caution about veto rules. This is, for example, where one partner may deny their partner having an intimate encounter outside of their relationship without any discussion or reasoning.
5. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Focus on the quality of each interaction rather than on the number of intimate encounters. Encourage partners to share their experiences, thoughts, emotions, and connections without creating an atmosphere of competition. Competitions and comparisons are a source of tension in relationships. It is about the quality of the relationships.
6. Managing Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships
Jealousy is a common experience in polyamorous relationships, especially when there is a perceived imbalance in intimacy, despite best efforts. Acknowledge the feelings of jealousy without judgment and work together to find strategies that can manage a balance meeting all partners’ needs. This might involve practising self-care, seeking therapy, or engaging in constructive self-reflection.
7. Equity in Attention
It is natural for the intensity of connections to peak and drop in any relationship. In polyamory, it is smart to work for equity in attention. Allocate your time and energy to partners based on their needs and your capacity, rather than simply trying to match numbers. Beware of polysaturation which is overextending yourself with how many connections you have and exhausting yourself. Often this results in having no time for any of them, let alone your own personal commitments.
8. Cultivate that Trust:
Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and polyamorous relationships are no exception. Building trust requires consistent and transparent communication including listening to understand, reliability, and honouring commitments made to all partners.
9. Personal Growth Powering Up
Polyamory offers opportunities for personal growth. Encourage your partners to explore their own passions, interests, and self-improvement with and without other intimate partners. This can help alleviate worries about perceived imbalances. Individual time is as important as relationship and partner time.
10. Seeking Professional Support for Polyamorous Relationships
This post is no substitute for real therapy. If concerns about intimate encounter imbalances persist and are causing distress, consider getting support from a relationship counsellor or therapist experienced in polyamory. We can provide help and provide valuable tools and perspectives to navigate these challenges that you may not be able to see when you are distressed. At Sex Life Therapy we have a number of poly-friendly therapists.
The worries about intimate encounter imbalances are common in poly relationships, despite our utopian hopes and proclamations. By nurturing open communication, mutual understanding, and a commitment to personal growth, partners can work together to address these concerns and build a stronger, more balanced polyamorous dynamic. Remember that every relationship is unique, and finding what works best for your specific situation may require patience, adaptability, and a genuine dedication to the well-being of all involved.
Ashley Macklin is a Psychosexual and Poly-friendly Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy. Ashley has appointments available in Collingwood, Frankston and online.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please see an appropriate practitioner if you have any concerns.