In polyamorous relationships where one person considers themselves monogamous, and the other person considers themselves polyamorous (mono/poly or poly/mono), things can get complicated fast.
- 1 Here are a few things to consider:
- 1.1 All parties need to be on board
- 1.2 Show up and Speak up
- 1.3 Commitment to finding a mutual understanding, even when it seems impossible
- 1.4 Openness to trying new things
- 1.5 Clear understanding around boundaries and agreements
- 1.6 Go a little deeper
- 1.7 Be resourceful
- 1.8 Listen to your heart, not your head
- 1.9 Know your limits
- 1.10 What about your experience?
Here are a few things to consider:
All parties need to be on board
In order for any kind of relationship to work, all parties need to be in agreement on the kind of relationship they are co-creating. They need to share, or at least understand, each other’s definitions of relationships too. This is different from “my way or the highway” or “I’m not okay with this so you need to stop.” A monogamous/polyamorous relationship, like any other relationship, is about actively choosing what you want and creating the kind of relationship that works for everyone involved. I like to see it as a process unfolding. We have to be willing to be a part of the process in order to see the ultimate product. We need to stay process-oriented, rather than outcome-oriented. Staying in the process of things, keeps things more present and more alive. Looking at monogamous/polyamorous relationships in this way, offers people more space to experience, explore, and discover the relationship as it unfolds.
Show up and Speak up
Communication is essential for the health of any kind of relationship. When considering a monogamous/polyamorous relationship, there’s a lot to talk about. This is good. It’s important that both parties ask questions, address concerns, share intentions, and express feelings. Creating and holding space for each other to be seen and heard clears a path for mutual understanding. The poly relationship lifestyle is ripe with intricacies, potential challenges, and growth. I cannot stress how important it is to actively engage in every aspect of the process.
Commitment to finding a mutual understanding, even when it seems impossible
I want to be clear here that mutual understanding may not mean agreement. We are not aiming to create polyamory rules, but keeping ourselves open to understanding the other person’s perspective. It’s possible that both parties will not be in 100% agreement with each other. A monogamous person may struggle with accepting polyamory for themselves. They may be okay with it in theory; however, it might not work for them in practice. On the other hand, a polyamorous person may feel challenged by the feelings their monogamous partner experiences. It may be hard for them to sit with these feelings because they may feel responsible. Understand that feelings are a natural part of being human. They are an indicator of underlying needs. When the underlying need is addressed, then both parties have more clarity on how to meet that need. Remember, we always have a choice. We need to be willing to see the other person’s point of view without changing who they are. If this is not possible, then it may be best to move on.
Openness to trying new things
This is what I call exploring the edges of our comfort zone. This is where I encourage my polyamorous relationship coaching clients to take things slow in order to stay in connection with each other. This does not mean anyone needs to let go of their desire to do different things. When we go slow, we actually make more room for our desires to be in the space. When we allow ourselves to try new things, we see how something threatening can be liberating. Something once thought as a barrier to intimacy, can become an opening to deep connection and understanding. Polyamory is an invitation to open and be open. Polyamorous relationships can be challenging. This comes with the territory. Some like it, and some don’t. Either way, it’s okay.
Clear understanding around boundaries and agreements
This is where we ask ourselves and each other the following:
- “What’s okay?”
- “What’s not okay?”
- “How can we best support our individual needs and desires and stay in connection?”
This is where I encourage my polyamorous relationship clients to brainstorm, to write lists, to get things out of their head and on paper. Clearing your head keeps stories at bay. This allows us to speak from our hearts and make choices that serve our highest intentions.
Go a little deeper
Whenever we are faced with a challenging situation, I encourage my Poly-Coach clients to pause and go a little deeper. When we pause and take a moment to check in with our experience, we allow ourselves to shift from reactive mode to responsive mode. We are then able to ask questions like:
- “Where am I?”
- “What’s happening?”
- “Why do I feel so triggered?”
- “What do I need right now?’’
- “What (mature, adult) action can I take to get that need met?”
Pausing to go a little deeper is the best way to create a new experience in any kind of relationship, especially in a relationship that is as unique as a monogamous/polyamorous one.
Remember, we who are venturing into the world of polyamorous relationships and mono/poly relationships are not alone. There is always support available. When considering something new, there will be challenges. There will be fears to face. This is normal. We always have a choice. We need to remember to ask ourselves the following questions:
- “What are the challenging patterns?”
- “How can I set myself up for success to move through challenging times?”
- “What specific activities can I do to engage my body and let go of the fear-based stories my mind wants to create?”
- “Who can I reach out to when my partner is not available?”
Making a list of available resources to help us, though challenging times, is incredibly helpful.
Listen to your heart, not your head
Remember, you are in charge of your experience. You always have a choice. Trust yourself.
Know your limits
Get clear on what works and what does not work for you. Look for a full body yes. If it’s not a full body yes, then it’s a no or an “I need some time to be with this,” which is another way of saying no, not now. Remember, it’s always okay to say no.
What about your experience?