First things first. Go read the alt.polyamory FAQ before I get going, just so we can start somewhere resembling the same place! *grin*
Polyamory is not for everyone. As I "come out" about it, both to myself and to friends, I'm finding that even the concept of it is too much for some. That's been difficult to run into, but, I suppose, not entirely unexpected. We're not raised to think non-monogamously. We're so often taught that jealousy is proof of love, that possession of the romantic other is the goal of a lifelong romatic relationship, that if you love a single partner, there's no way you can love another. Of course, a moment's thought shoots that theory all to hell, because most people 'love' their friends, and have more than one friend. Many, if not most, people have a romantic partner and friends! *gasp* (concept, huh?) Different friends answer different needs in me, and bring out different aspects of myself. The same is true of my partners. When I first heard about polyamory, I was pretty sure it was something I was interested in only academically, not personally. But I've never been one to close doors arbitrarily, and, as it happens, I've stepped through this one rather than simply looking into the room. And so far it's been a highly challenging, highly rewarding and extremely fulfilling exploration.
A lot of folks've had problems basically relating to the question of commitment. The general feeling seems to be that being open to multiple relationships necessitates a lack of commitment in one or all of them. I can see where this idea comes from (good old social norms and mores), but it doesn't really factor into the way I think about poly relationships. For someone who wants to avoid committment, polyamory might be attractive, but a lot of poly folks are in very committed relationships, and polyamory on its own is not a barrier to committment unless made to be so by the individual practitioner. Because adding people to an equation makes it that much more complicated, I actually think that a working poly relationship requires more commitment than many monogamous relationships. That is, to be successful with one person, one has to be caring, open, honest, trusting, loving, etc. To be successful with more than one person, one has to be all those things to all of his/her partners. It takes a real investment of time and energy to pull it off. Being polyamorous isn't about playing the field forever, but rather, it's about being open to opportunities for happiness, growth and fulfillment. If having more than one relationship, or being involved with someone who was involved with more people than just yourself, would not make you happy, then polyamory is not for you. It's quite simple. :-)
But that's just my two cents worth. There's a lot out there, and it's almost all interesting. Poke around some; you never know what you might find ...
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© 1999 Rosa Carson