Polyamory: Fostering Human Connection
Why is falling in love once a blessing, but twice a curse?
Human Connection gives purpose to my life. It entails the development of deep bonds with other human beings. Sometimes those bonds stay friendly, while some other times they become romantic and/or sexual.
Polyamory is a great way to explore romantic human connection. It requires work though, just like anything worth trying.
Human Connection 🏻
Why is falling in love once a blessing, but twice a curse? How come the idea of loving two human beings at once became so unhinged?
To me, it never made sense that you can miss all your family members, fear all kinds of spiders, be excited about all your trips, but only love one person.
The reality is that love has a myriad of definitions, many of them contradictory. For that reason, I prefer using the word connection.
Throughout my life, I've connected profoundly with a handful of people.
So profoundly, we exchanged gazes that made us believe we were one. So deeply, we devoured each other in slow kissing. So fervently, we turned into one during sex. So kindly, we felt peace in each other's presence.
I call that Human Connection, and I find it one of the most beautiful things in life.
Trying Polyamory 👫
Except for my first partner, I always had open relationships. It simply made sense to me. And my partners, despite being new to the idea, felt comfortable with it.
In our open relationships, we could see other people just as long as no romantic feelings were developed. In other words, we could flirt, make out, and have sex with strangers, but not hold hands in the street, meet them regularly, or spend the night cuddling together. Any form of emotional attachment was not allowed.
But to me, it was just a matter of time before I met someone I didn't want to let go of, someone I wanted to cuddle with, someone whose eyes I wanted to deeply gaze into. Simply put, it was a matter of time before I met someone who I also wanted to love (or better said, connect on a deep human level).
So in 2021, I told my partner (Florence 👩🦳) I wanted to turn our open relationship into a polyamorous one. She agreed. And a few days later I opened a Tinder account:
Many dates went by until I met Sophie 👩🏽
Sophie was polyamorous, therefore we had a common understanding of what we were looking for and we were excited about it. After a few messages, we decided to meet for the first time.
Around the same time, I also matched with Alice 👱🏻♀️
Alice was not polyamorous. She was rather unfamiliar with non-monogamous relationships, but she was open-minded. We agreed on a date and went for a walk.
Little by little, I started seeing Sophie and Alice regularly.
Falling in Love 💛
Getting to know Sophie and Alice was an experience in and out of itself. First of all, it's refreshing to fall in love again, it's new, exciting, and it moves you.
I felt the butterflies, the tickling, and the thrill. I felt their skin, their kisses, and their touch. All of it was novel and arousing. I was marveled.
But I was also pretty calm and still. The support I had from Florence reassured me. I had nothing to worry about because I knew she was there for me. Falling in love with Sophie and Alice felt like a pop song but without the attachment. I was vulnerable but I couldn't get hurt. I was fearlessly loving.
And if you had a heart that can't be broken, who wouldn't you dare to love? And to which extent?
Put another way, polyamory didn't only allow me to further human connection, it supported me in doing so.
Emotional Transference 🎈
In game theory, zero-sum games refer to situations where one player's gain implies another player's loss. Think of sports competitions, either you get a medal, or you don't, but there's no win-win scenario.
In contrast, positive-sum games refer to situations where the reward is not limited to one player. Think of learning. If you learn a lot about a given topic, nothing is stopping the next person to learn just as much.
Love is often portrayed as a zero-sum game. A competition. Either you get your partner's love, or somebody else gets it, but there's no sharing.
And it makes sense (when your mindset is that of an athlete). If you sacrifice sleep, food, and parties for the gold medal, then you certainly don't want to share it.
But if your mindset is that of a learner, then you see love as you see knowledge, inexhaustible. You approach partners as you approach books, with curiosity and passion. And those who enjoy the same books, are no threats, but companions.
I believe human connection is a positive-sum game because the love I felt for Sophie and Alice didn't exhaust the love I felt for Florence, instead, it boosted it. I was so happy, so in love, so enamored, that I simply radiated those feelings back to those around me.
Challenges in Polyamory 🤺
Not everything in polyamory was easy and effortless. We faced a lot of challenges that jeopardized our constellation:
- Time management
1. Time Management 📆
While love might be an unlimited resource, energy and time are not.
The not-so-exciting part of polyamory is the amount of planning you need. As a very spontaneous person myself, I found it a little unromantic to plan our dates throughout the week.
The privilege of having a part-time job made it easier for me, but it can still be difficult to manage. Especially when the full constellation involved other people as well:
2. Jealousy 🦹🏻
When I tell people that I'm polyamorous I often hear them saying: "Nice! So you don't get jealous, right?"
I do get jealous, and my partners as well.
Jealousy is not something to be avoided but understood. Jealousy is often rooted in fears and somebody who is afraid needs consolation, not discouragement.
But of course, it's hard to console someone who is unconsciously reacting to their fears. They might use nasty comments, grumpy faces, or emotional blackmailing.
In such scenarios, the best recourse is to shift the attention away from the reactions and toward the emotions. Ask your partner: "What emotions do you feel right now?"
You'll find it easier to comfort someone that feels abandoned, than someone who's acting resentful.
3. Communication 🤝
I like to think of polyamory not only as an opportunity to meet other people but to meet yourself.
I recall having a hard time being honest about my desires because I was afraid of acknowledging them. I felt ashamed of loving other people because I felt like I was doing something wrong.
But I wasn’t. Emotions are actually harmless. What makes the difference is how you act on them. Sharing your feelings early and often, and jointly acting on them, makes a big difference.
Overall, communication is paramount. You know that already anyway. In a future post, I will cover our specific tactics and techniques. Follow me to be notified 😉
Analog Relationships 🤸🏻♀️
We all have friends with whom we grew apart, they were perhaps less available, or you didn't have common interests anymore. Regardless, it's usual to see friends come and go. It happens slowly and gradually. Like an analog value going from 1 to 0, one decimal at a time.
Romantic relationships, on the other hand, tend to be discrete. Either you are together, or you are not. You are a 1 or a 0. There's little room for anything in between. Often, breaking up with someone entails blocking each other and never meeting again.
Imagine your partner telling you he wants to be just friends with benefits because he doesn't love you as much anymore. How unbearable such a scenario would be?
As polyamory normalizes loving more than one person, relationships become more flexible, they expand and shrink with great ease, less drama, and more love.
Geographical circumstances, for example, made Alice and I loosen our relationship temporarily to give her the mental room to discover new people.
When relationships are seen as analog instead of discrete, it’s easier to navigate the intricate ways of dating and love.
Human connection gives purpose to my life. Striving for it through polyamory was definitely the right decision. If humans have the capacity to love more than one person, then I'm happy I went to the lengths of exploring it. I will never forget what I felt; it will stay with me for life.
As of the writing of this post, Sophie and I have amicably ended our relationship, whereas Alice and I remain together. Florence remains my primary partner.