After my primary partner and I decided that polyamory would be good for us, we immediately felt a rush of excitement and nervousness at the thought of what could be. It’s a vulnerable thing to put your heart out there and invite all these extra feelings into your life, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. One area polyamory has forced me to improve on pretty quickly is in communication.
When folks are first learning about polyamory they seem to get hung up on the sex. While that can be a very appealing benefit, there’s one crucial element that needs to be acknowledged if you want successful polyamorous relationships. You gotta love to communicate! Or at least be willing to practice and put in the work. Like I used to say to the children when I was a preschool teacher, “Use your words!” Here are some things I have learned about communicating in my polyamorous relationships.
The first time one of my partners and I found ourselves in long and deep conversation about communication, we looked at each other and laughed. “You realize we are talking about talking, right?” Communication is an art. If you’re interested in polyamory, or already in a poly relationship, chances are you have listened to podcasts about it, read books, or blog posts such as this. Learning to communicate about love and feelings is complex on its own without the addition of multiple partners, which brings me to my next point.
I am the kind of person who wants to lay all of my feelings out on the table right away, as soon as I feel them. It doesn’t matter if I’m upset, jealous, or irritated I want to stop and talk about it ASAP. Both of my live-in partners do not feel the same way. They prefer to walk away and cool off before engaging in a conversation. This has made for some challenging lessons for all of us. We have had to learn to make compromises to feel heard and validated without overwhelming each other. To be completely honest, we are just now making progress on this after 6 months of trial and error. Remember those podcasts and books I mentioned above? Those are great in theory, but as much as you try to prepare, things usually have an adjustment period.
Part of the progress we have made in my relationships is realizing the underlying issues that need to be addressed. I don’t like my partners walking away from me because it triggers a feeling that they will abandon me, and they feel a need to walk away from me to make sure they don’t overreact or say something they regret. Now that we know this we can make a pretty easy compromise. They assure me that they WILL come back, and I can write a letter or a note in my phone expressing my feelings in the moment which they read later when they’re ready. Sounds easy, right? But it took many unpleasant disagreements before we got to this solution, and this is just one example of the many difficulties we have had.
This was brought up earlier when I mentioned respecting your partner’s communication style, but another significant lesson I’ve learned is to respect boundaries around what you communicate. Just like I want to put my feels out in the open right away, I am always tempted to give details that one of my partners doesn’t want to hear. She has told me time and again she doesn’t need juicy details about what I do with other partners or on dates, and as tempted as I am to spill all the beans, I learned stop myself.
When we opened our relationship there was an expectation that I had that to be “truly” poly meant to be able to tell each other EVERYTHING… but that doesn’t work for everyone, and that is ok. One of my partners wants me to kiss and tell, the other doesn’t, and it does not mean one is a better poly-partner than the other. There is not a one-size-fits-all to this.
I’ve learned so much with my two partners because I have been with them for almost two years. There’s been lots of time to identify and work through some things. Outside of them, I usually prefer dating out of town. Since I cannot see my out of town interests as much, that means setting up times to skype or use the phone. In an already busy week, that can become quite complicated, so I have to check myself to make sure I can give another relationship the time and energy it deserves. My out of town partners & I haven’t had many issues except schedules and timing, so I’ll have to fill you all in after 6 months or so and let you know what I’ve learned then.
Communication can be challenging, just like most other things in life. Even though it takes work, the benefits have far outweighed the drawbacks for me. Being polyamorous has given me the permission and inspiration to dig deeper into issues that I used to tune-out in the past. It has all been worth it.
Some great poly books:
*This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.*