#050: Is Your Loved One Polyamorous? Here’s What You Need to Know
December 3, 2018
It’s our 50th episode! Thank you so much for your support, questions, and just generally being awesome.
For today’s show, we wanted to do something a bit special. We know that when you’re polyamorous it can be difficult to explain things to your family and friends… so we decided to do that for you. This episode isn’t for you, but for your loved ones. In it, we answer the most common questions that folks have when their loved ones are poly, and clear up some common misconceptions.
This episode is meant to be shared with those you love, and we realize that you may not want to send them our entire podcast. You can share the links below instead:
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When a loved one tells you that they’re polyamorous, it’s natural to feel a little shell-shocked. Even once the initial shock has worn off, it can be hard to know what to do next. The combination of concern about their well being and a lack of good information can make it impossible to have a productive conversation around an already emotionally charged topic.
To help you out, we’ve put together six essential facts that you should know when someone you love is polyamorous including about what exactly polyamory is, why your loved one may want to be poly, common misconceptions, and much more. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to navigate a pivotal moment in your relationship with your loved one.
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- TOF #033: My Poly Family: A Teen Answers Your Questions
- On the Margins: Considering Diversity Among Consensually Non-monogamous Relationships
- Prevalence of Experiences With Consensual Nonmonogamous Relationships: Findings From Two National Samples of Single Americans
- Perceptions of primary and secondary relationships in polyamory
- What Do Polys Want?: An Overview of the 2012 Loving More Survey
- What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory (references a number of relevant studies, particularly around marital stability and happiness)
- Children of Polyamorous Families: A First Empirical Look
[3:26] Right off the bat, we want to thank you for your time and interest in this subject. Often times, we understand that issues stem from the fear that this choice will hurt your loved one and that you want the best for them. Much of what is depicted on TV and in movies is not what polyamory really looks like, and our main job for years has been to inform, educate, and coach people on a multitude of issues that come up with this topic with themselves, their partners, and their loved ones.
[5:01] Polyamory comes from two roots: poly (many) and amory (love). Polyamory is more common than you may think. About 4 to 5% of folks currently identify as non-monogamous.
[6:18] When there is discrimination or hurt, it usually comes from loved ones. According to the study from Loving More and the NCSF, an internet-based survey of 4000 self-identified polyamorous people showed that ¼ of the people said they felt discriminated against in their lifetime, and the biggest source of discrimination came directly from their loved ones.
[10:23] What is consensual non-monogamy? Our definition: Having multiple simultaneous romantic relationships with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamory is not cheating, nor do we ever condone cheating. One important thing to realize is that every polyamorous relationship looks different.
[17:17] Number One: Polyamory is not all about sex. While that certainly can be a great benefit, polyamory is more about the ability to freely cultivate meaningful ongoing relationships. A huge part of what folks like about it is the ability to express different parts of themselves with different partners.
[21:35] Number Two: The choice to be polyamorous comes from an inner desire of your loved one, not as a result of something you did (or didn’t do). Their decision to be non-monogamous is about how they prefer to care for others, and the enjoyment they get from experiencing different things with loved ones. It’s a part of who they are at their core.
[24:35] We’ve heard many times that poly is a millennial thing, a fad, or a trend someone will grow out of. However, it is not a new concept and in fact has been prevalent in diverse cultures for thousands of years.
[29:04] Number Three: We must trust and have faith in our loved one to follow what makes them happy and healthy. It is common to feel that in order for polyamory to happen, someone is either manipulating another, or they are getting taken advantage of. However, we ask that you have an open mind that your loved one is taking time to research their choice and find out if it is really right for them.
[34:39] Being non-monogamous doesn’t equal a fear of commitment or inability to be loyal. Multiple partners actually require more commitment, and loyalty doesn’t come from relationship exclusivity.
[37:52] Number Four: Polyamory is about your loved one finding happiness and love within themselves and their relationships, and the ability for them to grow. Whether or not your loved one is polyamorous or monogamous, what matters that they are in the right kind of relationship for them and pursuing partners that are bringing out their best.
[44:02] Polyamorous breakups are real, and they hurt just like monogamous breakups. Poly folks break up for the same reasons as monogamous couples – they grow apart, lose attraction, long distance, etc.
[45:51] Number Five: What about the children? As poly folks, we have definitely considered our kids and want nothing more than to grow and expand into awesome members of society. We would personally like to see more research involving people growing up in poly families. We have what’s called a nesting triad, and the three of us have a teenage son (Mancub). We have also had partners with children ranging from 18 months to 16 years old.
[55:02] What are the kids seeing? They are seeing what they normally see in monogamous relationships. You don’t lose your moral compass and sensibilities once you turn poly, and it’s just like regular parenting with an extra set of hands and eyes. The biggest complaint of children who grow up in polyamorous households? Too much supervision.
[56:10] Number Six: Yes, our partners are our family, and our relationships are very real and connected. When a loved one asks us to cut out our poly relationships, it often backfires for them. Our poly relationships are a huge support and a source of happiness and fulfillment. It’s a part of who we are. We don’t need you to change us, just to accept us pursuing the love that makes us the best versions of ourselves.