Bringing Nonmonogamy into the Open

Are you looking for that special someone? Your one and only? The person to be everything to you? That is a lot of pressure to put on someone you haven’t even met. What if I told you that finding for “your lobster,” as Pheobe from Friends might have said, isn’t real?

We’ve all been there before, something happens and we’re left to say goodbye to another relationship. But there is another option: nonmonogamy. Nonmonogamy means “never having to say goodbye,” says Spyce, a former PVD resident, sex educator, relationship expert and love empowerment coach. When something goes awry in a relationship, instead of saying “goodbye,” the people in the relationship can ask, “What does this mean for us?” Spyce wants nonmonogamy to no longer be taboo and be a viable alternative to monogamy.

“It’s a spectrum,” says Spyce. “Polyamory [multiple loves] refers more to people who want to have deeply committed relationships. Nonmonogamy [multiple relationships] is a really good word that represents the whole of any kind of relationship that is not monogamous. Something that people like to say in the poly world is that there are as many different configurations of nonmonogamy as people practicing. It’s really about finding your boundaries with your relationship and with the person you are with and figuring out how to make that relationship work in a way for every person involved.”

People who practice nonmonogamy have to put a lot of time and effort into working on themselves and building good relationship skills. They have to be good communicators who are in tune iStock_000014186302Mediumwith their emotions, desires and mental well-being. Time management and respect for others’ time and needs is another area where they tend to excel. “Something that’s said in the poly community is ‘Love is infinite but time is finite,'” sayd Spyce. “Sure we may want to love and have however many partners, but how many people do you really have time to connect with and be intimately connected to? Because that’s a whole other level of support, time and effort that people may give each other. You have to know within yourself what’s going to be a good amount for you or what you have the capabilities to do.”

The idea that one person can have multiple caring and loving relationships may be hard to understand, especially for people who struggle to maintain one relationship. But a lot can be learned from people who are nonmonogamous. How about jealousy? Jealousy is the number one topic brought up when the mainstream thinks about multiple relationships. Jealousy is often seen as a bad thing, but according to Spyce, it’s not.

“Jealousy is a feeling, and it’s an indicator of something else that’s going on in your life and in your psyche,” she says. “Usually, it means something like you either have a fear in yourself or you have a fear in the relationship. So when jealousy comes up, it’s a really great opportunity for people to ask, ‘What’s really going on here, why am I jealous? Is there some way where I’m not feeling good about myself, or I’m feeling deficient or I’m feeling like this person really doesn’t love me? Am I feeling something else in the relationship that we need to address?’ [Jealousy is] a really wonderful way for people to look at themselves and become clearer with who they are and their relationship skills.”

In most monogamous relationships when jealousy occurs, the partners identify what is making them jealous and eliminate it. If it’s not there to make them feel jealous, then they won’t feel jealous. Problem solved, right? But just because we can’t see the ice cream in the freezer doesn’t mean we don’t know it’s still there waiting for us.

Being honest about your feelings or understanding why you are feeling jealous is part of self-work and becoming a better communicator and partner no matter what type of relationship style you prefer. Understanding your sexuality is also essential. “When you start being open to different relationship styles and to be with different people, you start learning different things about yourself. Sexploration leads to discovery.”

Polyamory and nonmonogamy are more than just ways to have safe sex with multiple partners. They are a step toward self-enlightenment and happiness in relationships in all forms. It’s about finding your strengths and working on your weaknesses in the areas of communication, time management, honesty/emotional depth and caring. And when there’s love, we shouldn’t think it taboo to love more and be happy.

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