For thousands of years, the vast majority of humanity has been brainwashed with the codependent idea that the key to wholeness awaits within a dyad. The magic number for feeling complete, we’ve been told, is 2. Given this emphasis upon finding ourselves in others, it’s understandable that many polys would continue this trend, but slightly modify the magic number (to 3, 4, etc.). The problem with trying to maintain a static number is that you run into the exact same problems as you did in monogamy: clutching, controlling, and subtle manipulation designed to avoid your fear of loss.
The only way to be polyamorous without drama is to love yourself to the point where everyone in your life is free to be themselves…even if it means you must let go. If you can be comfortable with whatever form love takes in your life (be it zero, one, or many lovers) you will achieve a level of peace that few have ever known. Although self love may sound simple, it is the greatest challenge of all. Most people feel lost without someone loving them, and wander through their emotional lives like zombies (searching for the consumption of love instead of brains). “BRAINS! BRAINS!” becomes “LOVE ME! LOVE ME!”
Why do we feel so empty without being loved? It’s usually because we don’t really accept who we are. For the first eighteen or so years of our lives, we are captive to the rules of our parents and/or other guardians. Love, we are taught, is highly conditional…and “good people” are those who behave in accordance with the system’s rules. Dare to challenge authority, and you become bad…and will be punished. So when we venture off into our adult lives, we are in a habitual pattern of expecting nothing more than conditional love. For most people, this is played out within the rules of monogamy, but the same dynamic can be played out within polyamory when everyone is tentatively loved based upon who else they may love. Rigid polyamorous systems can, and often are, developed based upon concepts of limitation and rules such as, “You can love a woman, but not a man.” or “You can love everyone in our closed system, but nobody else without permission.”
Sometimes we may be drawn to a certain poly configuration because it symbolically represents unresolved issues with our family. For example, on a symbolic level: she represents mom, he represents dad, she represents a sister, and he represents a brother. Until our family of origin issues are healed, we unconsciously act them out with other people because we innately desire understanding any emotional scars that remain from being raised by people who aren’t self-aware (an incredibly miniscule percentage of us were raised within conscious families).
If we unconsciously believe that those we currently love are our symbolic family of origin, we may deeply fear that losing them will leave us out in the cold without food or shelter. Children quickly learn that they must comply to rules in order to feel safe, and this can carry over into our adult relationships. The antidote to this fear-based tendency is threefold:
1. Learn to take care of yourself (financially, emotionally, and psychologically) so your relationships arise out of joy…not out of need.
2. Resolve your issues with your family of origin. This will require direct, honest communication about any issues that remain unfinished. Even if they can’t handle your truth, you will grow by learning who can actually accept you for who you really are.
3. Understand that you are already complete. Although self love may take years to learn, you always feel lost and insecure without it. Learn to be who your true self, and embrace that even if nobody else currently loves you, you’re still better off than trying to be loved via playing a role.
The author James Redfield has observed that when we don’t feel connected to our inner divine core, we will feel powerless, and try to get energy from other people. The four strategies through which we attempt to get power are: Aloof, Poor Me, Interrogator, and Intimidator. Because these are so crucial to understanding how we manifest drama in our lives, I’ll describe each of these in the context of polyamory.
Aloofness can be reflecting in the words, “You can do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to me.” If this statement truly arises without defensiveness, and from a place of self love and contentment with what is, that’s wonderful. However, it’s often from a self-protective place that disallows any true emotional connection. If we’ve been badly hurt in the past (and who hasn’t?) it is understandable that we would want to avoid feeling more pain. However, it is much more healthy to express our fears vulnerably. Our fears do not give us a right to limit others, but feeling jealous or fearing loss are completely understandable until we feel whole. Being transparent with our feelings can lead to greater closeness, and a sense of true connection with others. That doesn’t mean that we must give energy to every little fearful thought…but if they’re not going away on their own, it’s certainly better to share, rather than suppress, your emotions.
If you embrace this strategy, you can be assured that drama will permeate your existence. Being a “Poor Me” can effectively manipulate others who don’t have good boundaries because they won’t want to see you suffer. So if you say, “If you start dating him it’ll destroy me.” or “I might go crazy or hurt myself if you even talk to her again.” the other person might believe it’s because you love them…but this is really about control. Trying to be a victim might influence others, but it’ll make it impossible to attract anyone with self-esteem. Learn to take responsibility for your feelings.
By interrogating another person you are attempting to shift attention away from your vulnerable feelings. So if you find yourself sounding like a lawyer during cross-examination, chances are you’re being an interrogator. Examples of this strategy would be, “So do you love him more than you love me?” or “What was she like in bed? Is she a better fuck than me?” If you can make another person feel defensive, this can give you a sense of power. Instead, examine what your fears may be, and try to express yourself openly without trying to make the other person “the problem.”
This is the most aggressive and unacceptable form of getting energy from another person. An intimidator uses threats of violence to control another person’s behavior that they find threatening. When they feel upset they will make threats, raise their fist, or even do actual physical harm to another. If you see this tendency in a partner, leave. If you see this within yourself, get help and commit to working on yourself. There is no place for intimidation in love. Beneath the rage awaits unresolved pain which needs to be healed before a healthy relationship is possible.
If you want to reach a high level of peace and love in your life which few people have ever attained, the new magic number must be 1…because it is about yourself. Mellen-Thomas Benedict has stated that we are actually our own soulmate, and that others are in our life to help us further develop our own wholeness. This is a powerful insight that few embrace due to the constant message reinforced by the media that we are incomplete unless we are loved. Polyamory can be a healthy sign that we are ready to love without control, or it can be an attempt to get multiple people to try to fill an empty space within us.
We must eventually make it our life’s work to develop an identity that is grounded in being complete. It will take working through all of our wounds, and forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. It will take setting boundaries, being honest, and learning how to be vulnerable. Until we achieve self love, it doesn’t really matter if we are monogamous or polyamorous because we will always feel that our well-being is based upon the choices of others.
On a very deep level, we all desire the experience of both freedom and connection. The inherent restrictions of the monogamous paradigm has left most people believing that they must choose one or the other. Polyamory opens the door to having both of these experiences, but only if we’re willing to do a lot of work on ourselves. As long as we are trying to prevent anyone from loving others (or making any choice that threatens us) it doesn’t matter if we have one, two or many partners. True love requires allowing…and after 16 years on the poly path, I have learned that letting go of control and power games is the highest form of love to which I aspire.
No matter how long it takes, or where you’re currently at on your journey, learn to love yourself so that others are free to be who they are. Only then will you experience love without drama.
Check out Chris’s (pen name, Mystic Life’s) book Spiritual Polyamory
Intuitive Guidance — Ethical Sites at LiveReaders.com