The 3 Stages of Polyamory: Caterpillar, Chrysalis and Butterfly

If you find yourself feeling that you might be polyamorous, you may be at the beginning of going an incredible transformation. Our mainstream culture teaches us that we are all monogamous, and that this is the only “appropriate” way to behave. Nevertheless, an ever increasing number of people are discovering that monogamy is not the only way to express love. Like the character Neo in the film The Matrix, you may begin to sense that something is wrong with the story you have been told to believe. If so, you will experience a transformation similar to the caterpillar who presumably has little idea how very different life is about to become.

  1. Caterpillar Stage

You’ve been trying to behave as you’ve been told is morally correct. You’re playing the game by the rules, and despite periodic sexual frustration, you can’t imagine your partner being with anyone else, so you’re willing to restrict yourself. As during the Cold War, you embrace the idea of “Mutually Assured Destruction” in the sense that nobody dares bring up the topic of attraction to others for fear that their partner may have similar feelings. And if anyone does bring up such feelings, society supports you shaming your partner because they are only “supposed to” be attracted to you. How could they possibly love you and be attracted to someone else? Only a “bad” person would have such feelings.

If you’re single, you most likely long to be in a relationship because you desire the feeling of love in your life. If you’re in a relationship, you may often miss the freedom you had when you were single. You feel that you must make a sacrifice to be loved, but you don’t mind it too much because at least your partner also has to practice self-suppression. This trade-off appeases your ego since the thought of your partner being sexual with someone else seems unbearable.

You probably deny any feelings of attraction for others that arise, or perhaps sublimate your sexual frustration by trying to attain greater wealth, power, or fame. Of course, these pursuits never satisfy you fully, so you flirt with others when your partner isn’t around…or perhaps have an affair. You tell yourself, “what they don’t know won’t hurt them,” but your deception creates distance, and you begin to project your guilt upon your partner. You realize that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, because the only choices you feel you have are to extinguish your desire to be with others, or deceive your partner. You sense there must be another way. Then, you discover polyamory, and feel relieved that freedom and love no longer have to be “either/or” experiences.

2. Chrysalis Stage

You’ve decided to break free from the constraints of monogamy, but still feel some resistance…particularly about allowing your partner to be with whomever they want. If you’re single when you make the transition to polyamory it may be a little easier in the sense that there is nobody in your life with whom you have a pre-existing sense of ownership. If you’re already in a relationship when you make this transition, you may be more likely to spend some time in the chrysalis stage.

It is common to try to “have it both ways” in this stage. You want to feel both free and loved, but your insecurity and jealousy still have a grip on your behavior. The desire to limit others can be just as powerful as when you were in the caterpillar stage, but you can tell yourself you’re “open-minded” because (for example) you “allow” your wife to have threesomes with you and another woman. Typical limitations in this stage include telling your partner which gender they can date, demanding “approval rights” regarding a potential lover’s personality, restricting another’s frequency of contact, or creating a myriad of “rules” designed to reduce your discomfort.

However, life has a way of breaking down our fears, so even if we try to maintain a safe little womb-like chrysalis around our relationships, we almost always begin to see cracks as another’s butterfly nature begins to emerge. Wherever we place restrictions, we attract threats to our rules. It soon becomes clear that just like in the caterpillar stage, nobody is satisfied with having to make a choice between freedom and love. Therefore, there is no choice but to liberate one’s self from fear. It is time to become the butterfly you were born to be.

3. Butterfly Stage

Life lessons have taught you that you’re already whole as an individual, and that being loved is an enhancement, not a necessity. You love to be loved, and you love to love others, but are no longer willing to allow your fears to restrict others, or the fears of others to restrict you. You understand that attachment to the form life takes leads to suffering, and you would rather let someone go their own way than to try to hold them back for your sense of security.

You are free to fly, and to reach this stage you have been able to see the true beauty in allowing those you love to be who they truly are. If love flutters your way and magically lands in the palm of your hand, you admire, in amazement, the beauty of this other being, and would not dare clutch your hand as this would only lead to damage.

You no longer try to force others into roles in order to appease your ego. Everyone is writing their own story, and where there is overlap with your own, there is joy. You want others to be happy because you love them, whether it involves you or not. Your deepest goal is peace, and you understand that this can only be attained and maintained by letting go of control. When your fears arise, you take full responsibility for them, and no longer use insecurity as an excuse to limit another person.

Your existence is no longer a 2-dimensional crawl. It is a 3-dimensional flight. In the air there is nothing to hold on to as there was upon the ground, but you have such complete faith in yourself and your journey that you are willing to surrender fully without regressing due to fear of flying. Your heart is the force that powers your wings, and love no longer feels so heavy, so needy, so desperate. Instead, love is a light, gentle, healing force that systemically transforms the world from an abrasive battleground of competition to an empathic global community. You no longer use the fear-inducing metaphor of “The Butterfly Effect” as tiny wings creating a distant, destructive hurricane. Instead, you envision this effect as one of love spreading from being to being, until the entire planet is glowing with the beauty of compassionate, abundant love.


Check out Chris’s (pen name, Mystic Life’s) book Spiritual Polyamory

Intuitive Guidance — Ethical Sites at

Exploring polyamorous perspectives and questioning the norm of monogamy.

    Chris (Mystic Life)

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    I'm an author on personal & spiritual growth. I enjoy sharing concepts from spirituality & psychology that increase well-being.

    1 + 1 + 1… = Polyamory

    Exploring polyamorous perspectives and questioning the norm of monogamy.

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