Polyamory and Polyamorous Relationship Coaching Tip: “Dealing with Competition in Polyamorous Relationships”

Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, Offers Coaching Tips for Open Relationships, Polyamorous Relationships, Poly Dating, and Ethical Non-Monogamy.


I often have conversations with Poly-Coach clients about competition in polyamory and polyamorous relationships.  The notion of he/she has what I want, and he/she wants what I have;  “I have to do (x,y,z) because that’s what my partner is doing… and in order for things to work they have to be balanced, … and balance means, same for me, same for you, right?”

Not necessarily.

This is a tricky one for me, and I see my polyamorous relationship coaching clients having similar experiences.  What I have learned is that when it comes up, it’s best to nip it in the bud, get it out in the open, talk about what’s going on, and create healthy ways of moving through the potentially destructive energy, so that all parties can feel at ease again.

Here are some tips on how to deal with competition in polyamory and polyamorous relationships: 

  • Get Present:   Drop anchor, get centered, ground yourself to what is happening in the here and now.  Take ten deep breaths.  With each inhalation and exhalation, allow the sensations in your body to come alive.  Be curious. Listen to your body is saying, “my skin is warm, my chest feels tight, my jaw aches.”  Be a silent witness to your body, and to your experience, and BREATHE.  Allow your body to settle.  See what feelings you can identify, see what thoughts and stories are brewing.  Just witness, letting go of attachment to meaning, letting go of any judgment.  Get present, listen, and watch.
  • Reach out:  If you are with someone when the feelings come up.  Reach out to them.  Invite a loving presence to hold space for you as you move through this energy.  Make a request:  “I’m wondering if you’d be willing to sit with me for a few minutes.  I’m experiencing (name it.. sensation, feeling, emotion), and I’d love to work through it, while staying in connection with you.  Would you be willing to sit with me?  Wait for their response.  Breathe.  You’ve taken a very powerful step in asking for support.  Stay with yourself as you wait for a response.  More often than not, when you address someone this way, the person you are addressing will be open to spending some time with you.  And if they are unable to, there’s probably is a good reason, and they will tell you.  Stay present.
  • Connect:  Sit face to face.  Make eye contact.  Breathe.  Allow yourself and the person you are with to feel the energetic quality of connection.  This is, in and of itself, is an amazing practice, and can allow great healing to occur.  The act of seeing and being seen is very powerful.   You may want to physically connect with someone.  You may not.  What’s important here is for you to feel comfortable and safe in this connection.  Let yourself connect with this person.
  • Communicate:  This is where we use words.  Keep it simple, keep it clear.  Use the observing mind to describe your experience in words.  For example:  “I’m aware that I am feeling this tightness in my chest.  I think I might be feeling that competitive energy.  I’m familiar with this energy and it feels like it has to do with competition.  I don’t like it, and it’s here.  I just want to name it, so it can be seen.  I’m not asking you to change anything.  I just want to let this out, so that I can work through this, in a way that will serve us both.”  Again, keep it short.  Keep it present.  Keep it real.  Refrain from going into story.  There may be time for story later.  But to begin, keep it simple.
  • Ask for impact:  Ask for feedback.  Ask for support.  Now that you have this person’s attention, ask him/her for support.  If we approach our loved ones with sincere desire to be who we are, without asking them to change who they are, then magic unfolds.  Of course, there may be times, when you may want to ask someone for a specific change in behavior and/or consideration, and that’s okay.  Keep in mind, that addressing a change in behavior might be a separate conversation.

Chances are, if you follow the above 4 steps, you will have created yourself a safe place to move through whatever energy you are feeling.  I use competition in this example because it’s something that shows up frequently in polyamory and polyamorous relationships.  I could go into story about why I think we have those feelings, and what they might mean about anyone who experiences competition in poly relationships.  What’s more important to me is what to do with the things that come up in polyamorous relationships.  We all have different stories, and backgrounds, and although it can be incredibly and informative to get the details.  However, more often than not, I think the value is in what we do with what comes up, rather than trying to piece apart from the story or stories behind it.

For more information about open relationship coaching and polyamory coaching services, and to schedule a Free Exploratory Poly-Coach Session, contact Laurie Ellington, Poly-Coach, today.

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Laurie Ellington

Polyamorous Coach at Poly-Coach
I teach people how to break through false beliefs and negative behavior patterns. I offer my clients tools that empower their life and their relationships.
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