A few weeks ago, I discovered that one of my friends is polyamorous, and that it seems to be making her quite happy. Poly relationships are on the rise, with up to half a million Americans involved in one at some point in their lives. As a currently monogamous woman, I don’t feel qualified to add to that conversation, however I do have some thoughts on love and affection, and the many types there can be between consenting adults.
One of the big reasons people report becoming polyamorous is because they’ve realized that one partner cannot meet all of their needs. That may seem like an obvious fact to some. While I do believe that some people can be happily poly, I’d like to discuss, for the rest of us, how to have deeply fulfilling, loving, and even somewhat physical relationships with multiple people at once without entering into a fully sexual relationship with them. If deeply loving more than one person at a time sounds impossible, think about what happens when people have children ~ they love all of them at once, none of them more than the other, yet all differently.
I believe that it is possible to have emotional intimacy with more than one person at a time while remaining sexually loyal to one person. Sexual loyalty can take many forms ~ let’s use a heterosexual relationship as an example. A couple may choose to allow their partner to do everything but actual sex acts involving penetration with another person, or they may choose limits as strict as only snuggling with other people.
One couple I know, who lives in a more liberal country than ours, chooses to allow ‘energy sharing’, meaning they are allowed to be emotionally intimate with someone else, snuggle, caress, and even kiss, but that’s as far as they go. They focus more on the sharing of energy and of healing touch modalities than on becoming sexually aroused. The couple is aware of what their partner does, and sometimes with who, although they do not talk too much about the other person. And it goes without saying that they are sensitive to each other’s feeling foremost.
There are many ways to love someone. A few terms I came across when people described their non-sexual loves with whom they reported having an emotional and physical attachment to were: soul sister, confidant, lover-of-my-soul, my mirror, other half, soul-mate. The woman who used the term ‘soul-mate’ was careful to mention that the way she felt about that person was complete different than the way she felt about her husband of ten years. She reported feeling like he was her ‘other half’ and that she could not image life without him, but that she needed to have her female ‘soul-mate’ in her life as well. She said that her soul-mate and she would snuggle, caress, and sometime kiss, but they were never intimate beyond that, and both of them (and her husband) were happy with the arrangement. This same woman also reported having a man in her life whom she felt a deep compassion, love, and care for, but whom she had never shared more than a hug with. She described their relationship as ‘playful and fun’ and that her husband didn’t mind.
The biggest hurdle to having these kinds of relationships is usually jealousy. In Lover Girl’s opinion, couples should be happy if their partner is getting their needs met, so long as everyone’s boundaries and comfort are taken into account. Perhaps we should re-think why it is that we get jealous when someone besides us can make our partner happy, and be glad that they bring that good energy that they receive back to the primary partnership. If you catch yourself feeling jealous, remind yourself that although it can be painful, these are normal human emotions. Having them doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that your partner is a bad person if they are the one having those feelings. Sit down with each other and work out what it is that is making you feel badly, and see if there’s a way to fix it. Sometimes, just talking about things openly and feeling heard can make all the difference.
Remember, there are all kinds of ways to love and be loved. And no one should ever be made to feel badly for being brave enough to ask for what they need. Stay hot my dearest readers, and I’ll see you next month!
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