Just because I am an experienced role model for successful polyamory, does not mean everyone should do it my way. But here are some helpful distinctions, no matter what your relationship practice looks like. This blog post is dedicated to the poly-curious people who fill my inbox with questions such as:
- How does that work?
- Do all your lovers know each other?
- Do you have sex with all your lovers?
- And my personal favorite question: What’s the application process?
By now, You’ve probably heard that “Poly” is a Greek term that means: Many, much or more than one. According to some definitions (and people, like my mom,) it can also indicate having an excessive or abnormal number or amount. The Suffix “Amory” is Roman and means loves.
Polyamory is NOT an anthropological term, which means it is defined by it’s culture not by the outside, and within the context of the Poly community, Poly implies honest, meaningful, long term connections with friends and lovers with an explicit agreement that everyone is openly informed of all other parties involved.
When “Poly” is combined with a variety of suffixes, it can form the following words which indicate distinctly different intentions, so being “Poly” can include and transcend the following:
- Polyamory: It’s about Love.
- Poly Sensual: It’s about pleasure
- Poly Sexual: It’s about group sex
- Polyfidelity: It’s about commitment
- Polycuriousity: Its about exploring possibilities
In different relationships, at different times, I may define myself as any combination of the above. This short list makes it easy to see that someone who is polyamorous could even be celibate and is not necessarily polysexual.
Polyamory is NOT Polygamy
Polyamory is also mistaken with Polygamy: one man married with multiple wives usually related to a fundamentalist religion. Unfortunately, historically, this arrangement doesn’t always involve consent of all parties involved. There is also Polyandry which is one woman with multiple husbands.
Even more confusion arises when the prefix Poly is confused with Pan, Omni or Bi. Pansexuality or Omnisexuality is when someone has the potential for sexual attraction towards all sexual identities, genders or orientations. Also referred to as gender blind or gender queer. Which is different still than Bisexuality because it transcends the attraction to two genders and includes people who fall outside the gender binary.
Also note, people can be Polyamorous and single, or in primary relationship with self or spirit.
Are You Poly-curious?
And finally, I want to celebrate the Poly-curious. If you are looking for alternative relationship paradigms, and thinking outside the box, it may take some experimenting to find out what really turns you on. It is OK to think you MIGHT be polyamous, and as long as your honest, I think everyone could benefit from trying it out for a month, a year or a lifetime.
Facebook does not have “Polyamory” as a option for your relationship status (Yet, but we are working on it.) You can be married, or in an open relationship, or in domestic partnership, but you cannot say your polyamorous, or list multiple partners. This becomes a problem for the poly community because many people are forced to chose between lovers. Who do I publicly announce?
I recently made a public declaration of my relationship status and tagged 9 of my poly lovers as “partners.” (In truth I have over a dozen, but only 9 are comfortable enough with our lifestyle that they would let me link them to my public profile.
Do You Have Sex With All Your Lovers?
Personally, I tend to be polyamorus with everyone, but am very selective about who I move into sensuality or sexuality with. If you must know, I’m only having intercourse with a handful of my lovers, but enjoy cuddling, kissing, petting and sometimes even oral sex with others. In my heart, I am open to the possibility of moving deeper into sexuality with any of my poly lovers if the desire arises.
My highest ideal of Poly is to show up in every moment open to the truth of the relationship and letting that unfold organically in consideration and consent of all parties involved. In this model, the relationship is authentic instead of an obligatory fulfillment of social expectations.
In practice, I am simultaneously engaged in emotional, sexual,intellectual, and/or spiritual relationships with people who also know and love each other. My style of relating tends to look like a cloud, a pod or a constellation. I especially enjoy being included when my lovers are sharing love and sensuality with each other.
New Family Paradigm: Pod & Super Pod
About a dozen intimate lovers and I have been casually but consciously re-defining family. Together we work, play, process, do spiritual practice and occasionally make love. We’ve been calling ourselves a Pod since new years of 2011.
Pod- noun. A small school or band of marine animals that play together, especially used to describe whales, seals and dolphins. (Not to be confused with an mp3 player, or the modern acronyms: Passed Out Drunk, Print On Demand or Payable On Death.) Dolphins are social creatures that swim with up to a dozen individuals for protection, hunting and mating. Sometimes Pods temporarily join others for a frenzy of food and play, forming a super-Pod.
As it applies to our polyamory, a pod is an tight group of friends who spend a lot of time together, sharing dreams, meals,inside jokes, and even lovers. (Sex is not exclusive or required among friends, but it is not frowned upon, either ;o) We gather several times a month for brunch and Forum which is a communication process that we learned at the “Free Love” commune at Zegg, Germany.
Poly-Inclusivity: Lovers In and Out of the Pod
Of course, not all of my lovers consider themselves as part of a pod. Each individual has unique and dynamic inter-relationships. Some of them have limiting restrictions and boundaries with the others (such as between the straight men.) Some of them have never even met (especially since I’ve got lovers in LA, San Francisco, Portland, New York, Sedona.) Conversely, my lovers may have other lovers I have never met, or (gasp) I don’t like. At different times, my lovers may chose to practice polyfidelity (aka polyexclusivity) where they agree to be sexually active only with certain members of the group. This beautiful and sometimes necessary structure is a closed system that may help lovers build or restore trust and/or experience. Currently, I am practicing Poly inclusively and am open to expanding my deep authentic connections.
I recently made a public declaration of my relationship status and tagged 9 of my poly lovers as “partners.” (In truth I have over a dozen, but only 9 are comfortable enough with our lifestyle that they would let me link them to my public profile. Facebook does not have “Polyamory” as a option for your relationship status. You can be married, or in an open relationship, or in domestic partnership, but you cannot say your polyamorous, or list multiple partners. This becomes a problem for the poly community because many people are forced to chose between lovers. This can cause a hurtful hierarchy.
What’s the Application Process?
The running joke on my fan page is: So what’s the application process? As a minimum requirement, my pod members have to be experienced at:
- Honest and deep communication
- Inclusivity and comfort with my existing partners
- Safer sex
- Connection to Self and Spirit
Beyond these bottom-line pre-requisites, it’s a matter of chemistry, timing and fate. Though on paper, I may be open to more lovers, in practice I am not actively seeking, I am deeply satisfied with the inmate connections within my pod and it is important for me to spend a deep one-on-one time with my husband, son and each of my lovers. And yet, love keeps finding me, whether I seek or not, I attract amazing people into my life and my heart just keeps expanding.
Obviously, there are many variations on types of agreements used by different relationships and I have no intention to speak for all “poly” individuals and families. There are even disagreements about terms and labels amongst my lovers. Ultimately it is up to each lover to define themselves, and custom design their own relationships.