Nadine Thornhill gives some great advice to someone thinking about polyamory

Couple talkingIn her column on Nadine Thornhill gives some of what I think is great advice to someone thinking about a polyamorous relationship.  It’s always refreshing to see a positive look at open relationships on the World Wide Web since usually the landscape seems so littered with uber-conservative groups demeaning anything opposite of their particular brand of relationship and sexuality through posting and reposting the same tired articles written by someone else.  Of course, that saves having to think for themselves…

Here is what Nadine had to say:

Dear Dirty Laundress,

What’s your take on polyamory? Have you seen it work? Is it a pipe dream?

The More The Merrier

Polyamory is one form of non-monogamy. In her book, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, Tristan Taormino defines polyarmory as, “The practice of maintaining multiple, significant, intimate relationships simultaneously.” Bear in mind this is one broad definition. The specific characteristics of polyamory are as diverse as the people involved.

As for my personal take, I think that polyamory is as valid a relationship construct as any other. I have seen it work. I’ve also seen it fail. But if statistics on marriage are to be believed, monogamy also fails at least as often as it’s successful. Speaking strictly anecdotally, poly relationship seem to work best when the people involved are honest with themselves and their partners about what they want and need. Negotiating and respecting clear boundaries seems imperative for a polyamorous relationship to thrive, as is open communication.

If monogamous relationships are slightly more “successful”, I suspect it’s because twosomes have almost absolute social support on an institutional level. Everything from our tax structure to our frozen entrées validate a two-lovers-at-a-time kind of relationship. Meanwhile, non-monogamy is stigmatized. It’s weird. We accept plurality in love for our parents, our siblings, our children and our friends, but for some reason if love for a partner is not exclusive it’s often regarded as invalid or worse, immoral. As such, some people who find themselves attracted to, perhaps in love with, someone other than their chosen partner will repress that desire. Or worse, they will indulge the desire but without their partner’s knowledge or consent.

I believe that love, desire and sexual expression are expansive. If you so choose, you can make room for more than one lover in your life. Do it with honesty and integrity. You might make mistakes. You might fuck it up entirely and have to try again. But this is true of all relationships, no matter how many people are involved.

If you’re intrigued by polyamory or other forms of non-monogamy, TMTM, I suggest your start with some research. Taormino’s book on non-monogamy is one the best I’ve read. Other resources include, The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities by Dossie Easton. Also, there are polyamory discussion groups around the city that welcome newcomers regardless of their relationship status.

Read the original column here: Dirty Laundry: Hair-y situation and polyamory? | Apartment613.