Dating, finding the one and settling down, in comparison with the standard arranged marriages that happen in India can seem out of the box. But anything other than this can be downright earth-shattering for many. The idea of a polyamorous relationship can feel a lot different to the standard romance trajectory. We’re living in an age where we talk more openly about the sexual spectrum than ever but polyamory, the practice of having an intimate relationship with more than one partner at a time, can be difficult to understand and accept for many. The problem isn’t with enthusiastically consenting adults deciding to enter into a polyamorous relationship but with the narrative we’ve been told to play into. And though awareness, conversations and education are changing attitudes, there are several things you need to know if you want to try and embrace a polyamorous life.
We connected with Psychiatrist & Sexologist Dr Sanjay Kumavat of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to understand the true meaning of polyamory. Here, he shares 8 vital things to know to have a safe and healthy polyamorous life.
1. Honest, responsible and ethical = a healthy polyamorous relationship
Polyamorous means to have an open intimate relationship with more than one person at a time. In such relationships, partners can be included from different sexual orientations. Unlike open relationships, polyamory involves emotional connection as well as sexual or romantic intimacy between partners. Key values for a healthy relationship are to be non-possessive, honest, responsible, and ethical in practically loving multiple people simultaneously.
2. If you can handle multiple relations at once, you can adopt a polyamorous lifestyle
You can know if it is right if a person can handle multiple relations at the same time, which are based on love, trust, mutual understanding, and consent from their partners. It allows a partner to explore relationships with people who fulfil their emotional needs and build stronger bonds over different interests.
3. Polyamory thrives on openness, trust, care and integrity
The point of polyamory is not secrecy but openness, immense trust, acting with care, integrity, and sharing love. It requires a willingness to overcome insecurities and deal with our own, and our partners’ deep emotions, keeping the relationship transparent. Thus, a vast number of failed relationships might be avoided and some new options of love, joy, and wonder will open.
Some rules to maintain a healthy polyamorous relationship are:
- Set boundaries: Establish how much you want to share with your partner. Don’t be suspicious about his or her intimate moments with another partner. If not comfortable, avoid sharing any details
- Make time for partners separately: Spend some quality time together and indulge in activities or things that are meaningful to both of you
- Respect and value the time you have: Set aside time for undivided attention
- As multiple partners are involved in the relationship a balance needs to be maintained without any jealousy, accept others the way they are, without being judgemental. You may keep a respectful distance, focusing on the success of your relationship
- Keep your expectations realistic: Try to be pragmatic of the fact that such a relationship is difficult to handle, and therefore requires a balancing act from all parties involved. The relationship can fizzle out at any moment; be ready for that too
- Maintain constant, transparent, and open communication with the partner: Inform the partner about your true feelings; if you feel trapped in an unhappy relationship and feel happy with being in a relationship with someone else, talk about it
- Make the most of your me-time: Maintain a healthy and constructive space for yourself that can be used most qualitatively—rather than brooding over thinking about the partner and his or her whereabouts
4. Work together to set the ground rules
Emphasise the importance of respect for each other. Trust, honesty, dignity, and respect are cardinal features in this kind of relationship. Right from the beginning, both partners will have to work together on setting the rules. If the intimacy is deep and affectionate, deeper will be the understanding between each other. Self-knowledge and sensitivity will be experienced. There is no room for jealousy at any time during the relationship but more integrity and care for each other. During intimacy time, do not force yourself onto each other. Tell each other what you like and dislike. Experiment with new things but with the full understanding and consent of your partner, or partners.
5. Consent is vital for navigating the transition to polyamory in a healthy way
As this kind of relationship provides a different option for love, joy, and a compatible connection, it is important to believe negative emotions such as jealousy, personal insecurity, or fear of loss. A crucial aspect of polyamory is time management and learning what one wants and prioritising life accordingly. Being transparent and open with your partner while discussing sexual preferences is a must. Consent is very much essential to keep relationships healthy and honest.
6. In polyamory, the partners are already in agreement on the relationship’s nature
Sharing is caring but it’s also cheating; it involves feelings of betrayal. In polyamory, the partners are already in agreement with the relationship’s nature.
Some of the most popular myths about polyamory are:
Myth: They are commitment-phobic
This means they are afraid of real commitment. In fact, they are committed to more than one person at a time which takes even more from you emotionally
Myth: They are just horny and just want to have sex with many people
Almost all of them have a one-at-a-time policy and are not involved in any group sex
Myth: Polyams have different values
They simply have the same human values as expected in civilized human beings. Over the years, monogamy as a practice has become a largely acceptable way of being because of cultural and societal expectations. But almost all ancient civilizations have proof of polyamory in their scriptures, architecture, paintings, poetry, books, art, and more.
Myth: They all are sex addicts
It is not actually about sex but to get solace, healthy bonding and good companionship which is the primary aim of such relationships
Myth: There is a higher risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in such relationships
As trust is the basic pillar of such a relationship precautions to protect each other are already taken into account. But precautions must be taken and sexual hygiene must be maintained
7. Use consent and trust to ensure a safe and healthy sex life while engaging in polyamory
Consent, trust, and avoiding comparison with a partner is the ideal way to ensure a healthy relationship. For a healthy sex life:
- Use a condom and other methods of protection
- Know the risk of getting STDs, therefore act accordingly
- Get tested routinely for STIs/STDs
- Talk to your partners about your sexual likes and dislikes
- Experiment with consent
8. Hygiene, STI screening, and honesty are the best practices to adopt in polyamory
Understand clearly what creates a sense of romantic safety and happiness for yourself. For physical and sexual satisfaction, it is important to maintain sexual hygiene, screen for STDs from time to time, be truthful about your sexual preferences and be honest about what you feel. All this will help you to build relationships that feel supportive and satisfying.
Polyamory is a choice. It may be unacceptable for some, and for others, it may be the only way they experience love, joy, and fulfilment. As with everything, remember to own your choices and also, to behave responsibly with them.