It's not like that. Some people do work from a primary/ secondary model in which one person holds the main place in their lives and all others are secondary (or tertiary, etc.). However, most people consider these terms not as a ranking system, but rather as an expression of the level of commitment in the relationship.
1.5. (a variation on #1) If you had to choose, who would you
Maybe I didn't make this clear... Part of the point of polyamory is that you DON'T have to choose.
2. Don't you get jealous?
Sure, everyone gets jealous sometimes. But I think I get jealous less often than many people in monogamous relationships. A distinction is commonly made by poly people between "envy" - i.e. wanting something that someone else has and you don't have - and "jealousy", i.e. wanting to be the sole possessor of something. My friend Honeyblossom's theory is that while everyone feels the former, some people simply don't feel the latter, or feel it to a lesser degree, and that it's mainly these people who get involved in multiple relationships (for obvious reasons).
So the answer is no, I don't generally get jealous unless I feel that I'm not getting what I need from someone. Actually I usually feel this warm fuzzy feeling that poly people call "compersion" (I personally think it's kind of an ugly word which does not do justice to the nice warm fuzziness of the feeling itself, but it's the only word that exists). It means the opposite of jealousy - the positive feeling that comes from seeing someone you love together with someone they love.
About jealousy: it is easy to become obsessed with the idea that two other people are sharing something that they're not sharing with you. One of the wonderful things about polyamory is that it allows you to get different things from your various relationships, to share something special and unique with each of your lovers. In order to enjoy this, it's important to accept that your lovers are doing the same thing. If this is hard for you to deal with, try thinking of it in terms of friendship. I know that I like spending time with my different friends because I relate to them on different levels and in different fields. Yeah, I'm hurt occasionally when a friend chooses to spend time with another friend instead of with me, but that's something that happens no matter what when you get close to people. I think it's worth it.
It's really, REALLY important to talk to your partners about jealousy you're feeling, first of all because polyamory is all about communication, and second because jealousy can be a signal that there's an imbalance or a problem in the relationship.
Here's some good suggestions for coping with jealousy.
3. Why polyamory?
4. Isn't that immoral?
Do *you* think love is immoral?
5. I don't get it. Can you draw me a diagram?
6. How do you find the time?
Well, see, poly people get this special extension: in addition to the usual 24 hours, we get an extra two hours per day per lover. We can add it into the day wherever we need it. It's really convenient.
No, but seriously, there's this scientific phenomenon called the Time Warp (kind of like the one in Rocky Horror); when two (or more) poly people are rushing toward each other at half the speed of light, they are immediately warped into another dimension where time has no meaning and they can spend as much time together as they want, until they decide they have gotten as close as they're going to get in that session, at which point they are warped back to normal Earth time and find themselves once again rushing toward the health-food store, although now at slightly less than half the speed of light.
Um, yeah. Anyway. There's no way of getting around the truth: scheduling is a pain in the ass. It can be the hardest part of poly relationships, and it comes with a politics of its own. Ick. Next question.
7. Does that mean you'll have a threesome with me and my boyfriend/
girlfriend/ partner/ husband/ wife/ pet/ household object?
8. I understand about your boyfriend and your girlfriend [or your
two girlfriends, or whatever], but when are you going to settle
It seems that you *don't* understand. Polyamorous relationships can be lasting just as monogamous relationships can be. It's more complicated and it's hard to make it work because of the number of factors involved. But it is possible. It's a matter of trust and communication, and being willing to spend time working things out. And finding people who want the same things you want in a relationship.
9. What if you want to be monogamous some day?
That's entirely possible. If so, well, then, I'll be monogamous. And I'll do it because I want and choose to do it, not because it's what my partner/ my parents/ society expects of me.
10. Polyamory just doesn't work. I have friends who tried it and it
didn't work out and it destroyed their relationship and they had a
horrible breakup and now they hate each other.
I have three responses to this:11. What if I want to be polyamorous and my partner doesn't?
1. Polyamory, like most other good things in life, takes work. It will not always "work" the first time, or the second. Imagine if you judged all relationships from the ones you had in high school...
2. Polyamory is all about communication. It is more than possible that your friends did not take adequate time to talk about their needs, wants, and boundaries before opening up their relationship or entering into polyamory. If you don't take the time to do this, or if you are not willing to be truly honest and open with each other, then yes, somebody usually will get hurt.
3. Have you seen relationships which broke up because one partner kept cheating on the other? This was a case of failed monogamy, which is a fairly common occurrence. The cause of this failure is usually considered to be the people or circumstances, not the institution itself.
Well, that works differently for different people. Some people find that they can't work it out and need to break off the relationship. Some people choose to try and work it out. Either way, any situation where two people are looking for different things from their relationship can be difficult.
12. How can I fuck up my polyamorous relationship(s)?
The alt.polyamory people have an excellent guide for How to Fuck Up.
Read Dangerous Liaisons, by Choderlos de Laclos, a 19th century French novel which is a detailed manual for how to manipulate people and maintain multiple relationships with the ultimate amount of dishonesty.
Stuff on My Pages:Here are my definitions of different kinds of polyamory.
Is polyamory a choice?
Another rant: Being Single.
Three poems by Marge Piercy
And here is my own list of poly fiction. There are more comprehensive lists out there, but *mine* is annotated. So there! :)
I've also made an annotated list of poly movies.
Other People's Pages:For more information, you can look at the Frequently Asked Questions from the alt.polyamory newsgroup.
Kathy Labriola's descriptions of Models of Open Relationships - this is clear and well-written, explaining different styles of polyamory and the pros and cons of each.
Benefits of Polyamorous Relationships.
Information on Polyamory from LA Poly Support.
Howard's polyamory page is a great and comprehensive site which includes all kinds of resources, including lists of books, songs, movies, and information on how polyamory is viewed in the context of religion, laws, biology, sociology, and so on.
Stef's poly page is really good - I haven't had time to read the whole thing but she has lots of stuff about how to handle problems that come up for poly people.
Loving More is a cool poly magazine. They also sell poly books, so if you want to buy some, consider supporting them...
Poly-Friendly Professionals - national and international listings of therapists, counselors, doctors, lawyers, and so on
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