loving more than one(ce)

Now and then I get asked about polyamory concept. Rarely I can find a source to recommend, so here it comes, in my words, through my experience.

Glossary and history

Monogamy is a concept that survives for centuries. All the core myths of the most of large cultures are infused with it. Beginning with Adam and Eve and ending with any of your series or movies heroes, talk show characters, tabloid impeachment of "sinners", or coffee machine gossip at work. Since the early childhood we observe the interaction of our parents, siblings, neighbors. We are impregnated through fairy-tales, novels and contemporary media – most of the stories are said to be about war and love, monogamous love. No wonder that this omnipresent concept feels so natural, native or even innate.

We search for our perfect match, who will understand us, who will always listen to us, who will always be there for us for better or worse, who will help us, who will have eyes for no one else. Quite a load of conditions, right? A bed/kitchen/party-robot with predefined functionality. We fall in love, do a first date, first kiss, first sex (often in proper order), exchange rings and wows, marry, have children, get older and die. And it is considered beautiful! No other model of beauty and co-habitation was ever presented or considered seriously. It’s the land of monogamy and beyond there be dragons. As technocratic folk - we execute the program of relationship by the instruction code – taking mortgage, buying house, moving in, hunting for furniture, evening in front of TV, BBQ party, introduction to family. We expect the same joke to entertain us till death. If we fail in any of those requirements, we dramatize betrayal, cheating, unfaithfulness - we call each other monsters, criminals, losers.

The alternative models are discussed with suspicion, sneer and often disgust. The polygamy, particularly polygyny model – in some sense biological, exaggerating male possessive and aggressive characteristics – does not resonate well with post-feminism sensitivities. Polyandry is rarely heard of. The concept of orgy is still childishly mystified, though at the end often rebuked with disdain. It’s considered just pure sex, lustful and greedy – with no emotional background whatsoever. An enactment of pornographic fantasies. Finally, whatever the hippies, flower communes and sexual revolution attempted at – is simplified in drug abuse, empty youth rebellion, artificial smiles and sectarianism – and at the end dismissed as a failed experiment.

Nowadays, queers are proud to be queers, witches feel safe to call themselves witches, slut are not ashamed to embrace their slut-hood. Some of the sluts developed a sense of ethics. Polyamory is quite a new word and often confused with other poly-terms and particularly the orgies. Though the word itself suggests a significant distinction of meaning: multi-fold love. Not just sexual, but particularly emotional engagement with multiple people, yes – simultaneously. It is not that far from serial monogamy – the way that the most of the monogamous humans lead their life. Even worse – the orderly folk do know what it is to relate to and to love several people in the same time – we love husband and wife, children, parents, friends and mentors – it’s just different kinds of love, different intensities, different expectations. Surprise - that is quite a close approximation of polyamory as well. Just the poly relationships – while different in type and intensity and culture too – are full-blooded, involving uninhibited romantic and sexual dimension.

Reality versus romance – monogamy deconstructed – mechanics of relationships

The following analysis of monogamy can sound harsh, if not extreme and somewhat critical. On one hand, my intention is to unveil some less pretty motivations beneath the perfect façade of romance. Even seemingly functional and successful monogamous relationship may be built on or run on inconspicuously selfish calculations, tactics and wants - that their participants themselves may not realize. On the other hand, my intention is not to convert as many folks as possible to polyamory – which is an uncharted territory and a model that requires above-average-intelligent, mentally-mature users who are clear on their motivation and probably resonate with this model even before they have heard of it. Finally, this critique can provide a reflection on how monogamy cliches work and how to rebuild this ancient model of co-existence on a bit more healthy fundamentals.

"Simple is beautiful" mantra, in many erroneous translations (simple is correct, simple is good, simple is smart) rules the world of simple people, who are lazy to, or not endowed enough to deal with complexity. Instead of approaching each person and situation individually, considering multi- variable conditions, they want one simple rule to follow – reliable to provide the correct results. Of course, the rule can be arbitrarily set, it gives some result (sometimes bitter, painful or monstrous), but they are labeled "correct" because the rule was blindly followed – and that is considered the essence of correctness. Ironically, models respecting complexity of the reality can generate simple solutions – unlike the simplified models that in clash with the reality tend to rather complicate life.

"Only you" sounds more than right – natural – in the beginning of the relationship. The time loaded with excitement and newness. Those are key triggers of sexual attraction but they also tend to fade away the fastest. The infatuation and romantic love follow the suit in several years. What remains? Habit. Familiarity. Reliability. Stability. Mutual help. Shared property. Responsibility (mortgage, children). These quite practical (i.e. unromantic) elements are expected to sustain one till the end of life. Looks reasonable, proven, safe. But is that enough to make us feel alive, satisfied, wholesome, happy or genuine?

Science is the opposite of "how to get to the wanted results" approach. It doesn’t proscribe outcome, it follows an experiment and genuinely asks about "how is it, what can be proven, with what reliability, repeatedly?", accepting any possibility. The "science of relationships" mysteriously avoids this basic distinction between the science and the faith. Hundreds of articles, programs and relationship specialists are eager to advise how to make the relationship work, how to make it last. Relationship is axiom. Long-term equals good. Being single is sick. Cheating is wrong. Breakup is a failure.

The fact is we – as species, as animals, as beings – are sexually attracted to multiple people. Our interest fluctuates. We attach emotionally to multiple lovers. Just the norm commands us to consciously resist, suppress and uproot feelings those other ones, focusing on single partner, on the longevity and security. Encouraging this habit through peer pressure (retelling stories, friendly couching, bachelor stigma, marriage fetish), community judgment (gossip, rejection), societal tools (financial support of families, laws). Therefore, we force (and rape) ourselves to love only one person – and if the body, spirit and soul resits, we despair and feel inadequate, we try to fix the perfectly healthy selves.

The relationships follow storylines. The stories begin, intensify, climax, fade and end. The Abrahamic culture is unfortunately trapped in good/evil dichotomy. Light/dark, life/death – it all falls on one or the other side. Though there is nothing wrong with the ends. The end of pain, suffering, abuse – is quite welcome. The end allows a new beginning, to refresh, rethink, recreate. New iteration in a continuous process of learning. The so-called romantic "forever" sounds counter-intuitive. What does not die cannot really live. Accepting the natural course of relationship saves us not only unnecessary hysteria, but allows us to live them more genuinely and truthfully.

The fashion of dating apps fools us with searching for perfect (or at least acceptable) match. Comparing and evaluating parameters, we find ready-to-use partner and jump into the cohabitation routines. Zero-to-one, click, the love starts, the trust starts, the relationship starts and the rules start to apply. Resisting the storyline (with possible end awaiting on the hazy horizon) we rob ourselves the best of the relationship, the juice that actually keeps it alive and renewing. Most of the folks try to "mend the broken" as it is, as it was in one mythical point of relationship, preserve the ideal static state – rarely one can hear of an approach, when relationship is considered a living and breathing entity, continuous process of mutual discovering, learning, coming closer and apart.

It is quite inevitable that in the dense society sooner or later we tumble upon someone else who evokes butterflies. We are torn between still existing love or care for the existing partner and arising interest for someone new. We navigate between shoulds of the culture and our genuine feelings. If we dare to explore, our partner is entitled to righteous rage and tears. It does not mean that he feels all that, but he can. It is usual to show those reactions. There is quite stunning ability to sport expected "feelings" instead of genuine ones. Who would not use opportunity to indulge in grievance and outrage, emotional extortion, laying conditions, winning some "just compensations", being entertained by someone’s atonement. Simply put: being on top of the other. Competition and winning are cultural idols.

The vocabulary used is through and through inadequate. "Cheating" makes sense if relationship is considered a competitive game of rules. If we talk about two free beings who voluntarily share a part of life together, engage in mutual exploration, create a safe space for each-other to be genuinely oneself (no censorship, no acting, no pretense, no judgments, no external recipes to fit in). How else could there be an advantage of being together over being single? Investing time, energy, effort into making it work with someone – must make some sense at all. One can be "deceived" if the other party does not fulfill the terms of contract, steals valuables. Acknowledging one’s genuinely existing interest in someone else does not fit this concept. Being "unfaithful" begs the question – faith in what? Promises never made (being above one’s human nature) or promises unrealistic from the beginning (a seer knowing this will never happen to him in the future). Loyalty is a weird concept meaning "sticking to one idea or person or group" no matter what. Whether we lose trust in them or they do wrong, we stubbornly stand on the same side, in the same camp – and pretend there’s honor in that. This is what many families, mafia and boys clubs are built upon. In the same logic, "betrayal" is a dramatic term of ideologues, zealots, soldiers, nationalists, autocrats – who don’t philosophy over the pros and cons, but fight for their wolfpack. Last but not least there are accusation of "failure". Machines fail, human beings make mistakes. What do we consider our partners to be? Functional device, along the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and fridge? Even in softer version - should admitting and acting upon other attractions – that simply are – be called a "mistake"?. All of these labels expose legal, contractual and ideological thinking – without any love in sight. The relationship seem to be contracts, games, a trade.

The nuances of doing business are covered by several scientific fields. Love on the other hand remains in the realm of myths, poetry and superstition. No wonder, that the humans resort to the next available model. The relationships are plagued by mercantile terminology, reminding us of past times when brides were literally sold, as much as slaves. The possessive language reveals the essence of doing love business: we have relationship, we have partner, we have something together, we have family, we have kids. We cheat on the contract, we do sex - it all sounds quite technical. The border between loving and owning blurs when we respond to concurrence (!) by jealousy and not seldom violence. "Something that was mine was taken from me." "I have right to it." "He stole my wife. " Following the literary tales in literal way, we win our love in romantic tournaments … and what then? Romantic stories usually end with weddings and "they lived happily ever after". The paradise and hell that comes afterwards is tactfully avoided, the ending credits roll. What to do with the trophy? We have it, we own it, we protect it, we show off to the others, we withhold it from the others. We treat our partner as an object.

Subject-object relationships were a provocative perspective on straight world presented by more radical queer philosophers. We have partner in order to – appreciate us, listen to us, make us happy, help us, make us feel worthy, normal, adequate around all the coupled and married peers, make us proud, complement us and make us complete, represent us, elevate our social status, feed our children, pay off mortgage, be our personal bodyguard … so many expectations. So many "in order to". Is it possible to be with a person for his own intrinsic worth, for the fascination with his unique self, to co-create a space to allow our uniqueness blossom? Treating each-other not as tools, providers, or applicants – bus as sovereign beings - in subject-subject relationship?

Jealousy, in its "benign" forms is considered a romantic symptom of love. Of course, losing someone we like, need or want evokes disappointment, frustration, anger, makes us question our own worth and aptitude. So far the feeling are real. However, by all available sources of information and examples, we were taught to pamper and exaggerate this feeling. Hurt male honor (an imagined concept treated as real), its female counterpart, revenge and even murder are the extremes of the same worshiped concept. Jealousy-like feelings may be spontaneous and real, wallowing in them and worse - acting upon them – can be poisonous. In two decades of education, one does not learn at all that we never truly "have" the partners – because they are not things to apply the possessive case to. In human verbs: we meet partners, we get to know them, we resonate with them, we invite them to share part of life with us, to create a shared space, to support each other. They can’t be taken from us, we can’t lose them – because we never have them in the first place. (S)he is never mine! (S)he is around me, with me, close to me.

BDSM is quite a good example of a constellation play, when the possessive dynamics (master-slave) is enacted intentionally, with a consensual awareness of its liminality. Such game actually delimits the extremes – presenting a space between the total independence and ownership. A person acquiring this perspective is compelled to seek the sweet-point of vanilla interaction in the middle, away from the objectification - that has come into clear focus thanks to this role-play.

The bizarre ideal of love demands to "tell each other everything", "do everything together", "us against the world". Relatives are sidetracked, other possible lovers dramatically turned down, even friends are not needed anymore. Sport, walks, movies, eating, vacation, conversation, advise, support, cuddles, sex – one person is expected to cover all our needs.. The partners close themselves off into a claustrophobic bubble, that becomes airless as soon as the romantic infatuations gets consumed. The initial I and you – are annihilated – and become "us". We like. We don’t want. – the usual couple responses. In the beginning, when two unique beings meet and fall in love, I am attracted to you, you are attracted to me. Because our similarities, differences, complementarity – the fascinates is born. Whom can the "us" be attracted to? How can those two individualities feel attraction, if they are no more?

Shared bedroom, living room and other intimate spaces are iconic for the modern relationship folklore. In some cultures, the married couples cohabit in a home with separate rooms or even houses for the husband and wife. They may reflect different roles, status, tasks - but still provide privacy, where the individuals can claim their time, space, body, dive inside their soul, reflect, be alone – the less discussed needs of the successful relationships. Things that the members of couple do on their own. The society of lonely people dreams of "being together" – but that is just an opposite of "being alone" – sometimes the partners can experience loneliness too. Ironically, anxious seekers of partnerships are chronically lonely. Paradoxically, there’s an underappreciated value of being alone, a skill and state and act vital for the successful fulfilling nourishing relationship that can resist loneliness. For the sake of contrast and balance – coming out and coming in.

Secrets are often shunned as dangerous and toxic for the relationships. "No secrets" is an amplified mantra of making up. It is rare to hear them being considered a value. It sounds blasphemous – to keep one’s private life, one’s own friends, one’s own set of favorite activities that he does without his partner. The value lies in preserving the sense of individuality, contact with the outside world, opportunity for external inspiration, healthy balance of freedom and commitment that refreshes both. Perhaps even an air of mystery, that teases and attracts. The same way as the early lovers felt the magnetism of the unique individual unknown other one. The private spaces allow us to feel "out of relationship" – in order to keep it precious and to willingly return to it. Live on the borderline of shared world and the individual self. To bring in new knowledge, inspiration, experience to talk about. The hermetic relationships usually die out of suffocation of any topics, sense of individuality, freedom, curiosity or interest in the partner who is just always there. Everything lived simultaneously by two bodies, two pair of eyes - at least one of the constituents of the couple becomes redundant. If we grasp the healthy nature of private space that the partners leave regularly, to meet and interact and after sharing an experience to retreat again to (so that they can reflect upon the individual and mutual qualities) - is it so difficult to imagine enlarging the mystery, the outside impulses and learning, with one’s own private love adventures?

The nature of love is not so much demanding (taking), more wishing well to our beloved (giving). If we love someone, we want the best for him. Sometimes, his best may be exploring love and body (also) with someone else. Sometimes, his best may be leaving us. Is my love generous and genuine enough to grant him his best? Not my best. Art of letting go is a capability of mature love. The relationships begin in the same spot, where archetypal tales insert the ominous "The End". Is the eternal Nirvana expected then? Is the story of relationship suspended in time? The appreciation of ends gives meaning to the beginning and all that value in-between. It is quite stunning how our culture lies about "what comes after" (the same as its immature treatment of death) and never prepares us to anticipate the fading, not only to fight it, but to know when to accept it, withstand it with dignity, deal with it and move on.

What if you lay down all your preconceptions of how relationships are "supposed to be", how "everyone does them", unquestioned recipes what you "should want" - and just invent it from scratch, to suit you and your partner? Not to demand, expect, bind with rules, accuse and punish – but to give more space, options, to allow, to liberate, to give protection and appreciation of your unique and odd individuality. A relationship that does not oppress you with evaluations, bore with routines, force you into compromise with some integral part of yourself – but lets you relax, grow, blossom? Love that allows I and you to flourish and not vanish? A situation where you are continuously compelled to search, rediscover and win your partner? An institution that makes your life more rich, satisfying, meaningful, wholesome and expressing your unique talents – than if you would be alone?

"Toxic monogamy culture."
(Credits): Tumblr - nankingdecade

Polyamory questions

Polyamory (multi-love) is a model of relationship, when we engage emotionally, intimately and sexually with more than two people simultaneously. Acknowledging feelings and desires that we have for new people that enter our life while not severing the connection with the existing ones. There are multiple variations – in borderline arrangement the partners can all live together, or never know each other. Those particular connections may be romantic and/or carnal, of different intensity, quality, or specific curiosity. The condition is that all the involved partners know about this arrangement and consent to it. This way it differs from cheating in monogamous arrangements. By involving heart, approaching all the partners as emotional multi-layered being (not just as mechanical bodies, sexual toys) it stands far away from the orgies.

Polyamory starts with overcoming the superstition that a person is capable of loving only one person – that 100% of our love must be divided among different people. While this may be valid for our body or attention and time, the feelings are no shares. As we love parents, children, siblings, friends and mentors – in different way, in different intensity – polyamory is quite similar in terms of variety, but allows to engage romantically with our consenting chosen partners and express these feelings sexually without artificial guilt, shame or inadequacy. It requires a certain maturity of the personality – where intimacy of emotional and sexual nature is accepted as another dimension how to be with people, lacking any procreative, delusionaly romantic or contemptuous attitudes towards sex as such.

Love is a multi-dimensional concept – it becomes and acquires meaning as an emotion, as a story, as a physical attraction and a carnal connection. Sex is a just a physical expression of interest, curiosity, liking. In that sense it is integral part of experience of love, as much as sharing time, going out, listening, caring, protecting, kissing, other forms of intimacy, rituals and perceptions. If we acknowledge having feelings for other people, there is no reason to evade the physical touch, excitement and consummation – especially with people who are capable of making us feel safe.

The doorstep to polyamory is similar as an archetypal experience of "cheating". Minus anxious secrecy, minus guilt, minus hysterical scenes. So called "stable partnership" with one person transforms continually – interest differs from infatuation, falling in love from love. Sexual charge diminishes over time, what remains is often a routine, reliability, comfort of the co-created home. A partner that is with us for a long time knows our quirks, sometimes "reads our mind", makes us feel secure, we don’t have to act around him, we can relax. Even sex is less performative, "failure" is possible and can be accepted with love. The sense of stability and familiarity is highly valued, sometimes contrasted with "vulgar sex". Why to destroy what was built over years by a casual lust? The usual response is mental resistance, carnal asceticism, the trade: stability for adventure. It carries a trace of heroism, moral status, social approval. On the other hand slipping (into human nature!) is labeled inadequately as failure (machine), betrayal (war, sides, loyalty), infidelity (distrust).

What if those feelings are artificial, habitual, socially imprinted? What if one does not intend and even cause harm by showing love also to someone else?

The allure of love and sex with a new partner may be its reviving and refreshing nature. The excitement is high, there is a sense of adventure, discovery, conquering. Maybe a forbidden fruit attraction. One can perhaps try things that a stable partner does not like or would even judge. Even without specific kinks, this new love is certainly more passionate. Seeing our long-term partner so entranced would certainly cause hurt feelings - jealousy and loss. But can we see our partner as human being, not a property that is supposed to lie on a shelf? Can we see that we never owned him, nor "had" him – he is a free being consensually deciding to share some part of life with us? … while preserving his individuality and privacy to some extent. What we don’t have – can’t be really taken.

A love is neither possession nor a total dependence. Love in its definition – a genuine interest in well-being of another person – should fill us with joy if we see the beloved experiencing excitement, rebirth, pleasure. What is jealousy then? "It’s not me." Hurt ego? "He is stolen from me." Possession? "Taken away from me." Pure fear of loneliness? Those feelings are authentic and don’t need to be battled or swept under the carpet. They just need a bit of perspective, distanced analysis, growing above ones childish self-interest. Expressing love as it is – wishing all the bliss to the person we care about.

Not few monogamous relationships feel like "as good as it gets, for now". Temporary arrangement, where both partners silently wait for something better. If a new person appears on the horizon, they start to calculate and compare. Who gives me what. Who wins in a total sum. They terminate the old hermetic relationship – sliding quickly (anxious about being alone just for a day) into next hermetic relationship. Expecting the superior results from the same model, by acting the same. The dynamics of breakup are tricky too. Can we leave someone with a bit of dignity? Or not leave, just accept someone new without a drama of cutting off all the ties towards the old relationship?

Most of the monogamy-worshiping advice aim at forceful survival of one relationship as long as possible, because long is good. But long is not good, long is long and short is short. How to compare one-hour flirt that both parties indulge in with full presence, love, making each other feel attractive, worthy, loved, self-confident, joyful – and fifty years of marriage that both partners suffer through, fight, extort each-other, judge, humiliate and laugh at each-other, provide no understanding, feel miserable - trying to stay together for the sake of children or shared property or security while getting old? We tend to respond in awe to statements of people staying together for a decade, or two or more. "Wow! Beautiful! Admirable!" Really? Relationships should not be measured in length – the quantity – but rather in content – quality. How do they make all involved feel? Safe, satisfied, more authentic, letting their unique personality blossom, loved?

The ends are not bad either. Living things have a storyline – and they hardly can be called alive if they never accept finality. Relationship where "the end" is not an option, rather a looming vision of tragedy and failure, remind of corpses held breathing by a machine. Accepting the possibility of the end, not wasting energy and personal strength in a frantic effort to push it away, allows us to enjoy what is now - more fully. The transient nature of relationship increases its value. It becomes more precious, but also realistic and real.

The stable partnership offers relaxing from performance, deeper trust, sense of stability - but can suffocate with routine, chains of exclusivity, asexuality (less care of body, dress, settings, words). The romantic affair smells of passion, adventure, excitement – but can lack trust, sensitivity, stress one out with a need to perform well, then dress up and go, no extension of the connection into the everyday life. Can we have the better of the both? The culture of exclusive monogamy often refers to a sense of decency, modesty, self-restraint. Asking for more than one partner is perceived as "too much". "You have to choose, you can’t have it all." "What is more important for you?" Comparing the incomparable, or even suggesting "more" is a false dilemma.

If you like bread, but also eggs – do you decide once and for all which one you will buy all your life? What is more important – the bread or eggs? Choose! Don’t be greedy! What if you don’t need whole loaf of bread or whole carton of eggs, but a slice and piece of each? To make your food nutritionally diverse and complete and even tasty. Of course, a person’s time must be divided. But we don’t need to dedicate all our life to one person – sleeping, workout, work, shopping, cooking, eating, showering, sex. We share it anyways – visiting family, meeting with friends, claiming our time alone. The same approach can be applied to romantic and sexual life as well.

We are multi-fold personalities with many interests and needs. We live romantic, sexual, spiritual, adventurous, professional life. Do we expect this all to be answered by one person? Certainly he can’t – and so some "feel" betrayed that their expectations were not met and the partner "failed" to satisfy them, some in a pose of "maturity" invoke the cult of compromise: suppressing some part of our personality and satisfying the others. You can’t get it all! Thought the expectations from our partners decrease just slightly – to satisfy as many needs as possible. We have no right to demand this from the person. The person is not obliged to change to our taste. Polyamorous relationships allow us to satisfy different needs with different people, while not asking any one of them to be superhero, to be something else than oneself. We appreciate them as unique and complete beings, who do not "become better" by compromising their wholesome nature.

It is important to note, that all the partners should benefit, not just one consumer. In the simplified open-relationship example – experiencing adventure with a new lover, we learn to respond to a new body, new personality. This leaves us more open, sensitive and perhaps even skilled. Something that we can bring back home and that can enrich the stable relationship’s routines. We are not so frustrated by the boredom and we do not demand that our long-term partner entertains us every moment. We do not focus so much on what he doesn’t provide, but more on what he is good at, what works with him, what are the reasons for staying with him. We do not force him to the areas he is not willing to enter. On the other hand, meeting our new lover with a solid background of safety at home, we do not expect from this one too much either. We can focus on the positives of the flirt – freedom, non-attachment, playfulness - stay calm, enjoy the moment, with the safety net of stable relationship in mind.

Polyamory is a consensual arrangement. All the involved partners are aware of what is going on. There is no shame, the concept of cheating become meaningless relic, every connection happens out in the open. The stress of anxious hiding does not apply. The secrets, if they are present, appear in a positive quality. The fact of our partner having his own private part of life, something that we do not share or have full access to, leaves him mysterious. He is not under control, a phenomenon not a furniture. We are compelled to stay curious, rediscover him as he changes, attempt to win the partner. There is no safe "and now we are together" when no effort is needed anymore. This way we can continue to appreciate make each-other feel desirable.

Of course, we are not the polar beings only, we have multiple needs aside of adventure and stability. There is a person we love communicating with, but we would not take him to a dance. There is person who is amazingly cuddly, but not that sexual around us. There is someone we trust to explore BDSM interactions with, but he does not need to cover all our romantic needs. Someone we can stand for a short time, someone we can imagine sharing the household with. Someone is exciting adventure-buddy and someone else is reliable. Those are all realms that together create us. And they all can be enjoyed sensually, sexually, emotionally – without labeling people as "only friend", "partner", "husband", "fuck buddy" – but honoring them as equally worthy beings, as much s we honor those integral parts of ourselves.

The worshipers of monogamy often point out that it is sort of inability or incapacity to love a person. The lazy users often note, that one is not skilled to "make" one relationship right, how could he indulge in multiple ones? Both can be opposed: Isn’t the person who is barely capable to love one person – lacking something? Isn’t the problem of "fixing" one relationship rooting exactly in the fact that it is just one person (with too many tasks)? Some consider polyamorous relationship – or just satisfying all one needs – selfish, if not even greedy. But wanting one person only for oneself, no sharing, wouldn’t that qualify as a definition of selfishness? Polyamory requires us to share our partners with other people, beyond jealousy – and that sounds more far from the egotism. Multiple relationships do not split us in parts. They can be grasped as multiple threads or faces of one relationship – of wholesome me – towards the other people.

Sharing itself is a tricky part. More than a couple challenges a usual concept of heterosexuality. Whether that happens in one bedroom, or in separate spaces, there are more men or more women involved. Especially for modern men, it is important to question the various shades of homophobia. This does not limit itself to a hate of other (separate) couples of same sex, but also hate of other people and bodies of same sex. Not to forget ones own. All these are artificial, culturally imprinted. It starts with parents, priests and through compulsory jokes within boy’s peer groups – where by constant repetition of funny or hateful allusions one proves his malehood. Since it does not exist, it is invented and therefore must be proven. Not being coward, not being feminine, not being homo. In mercilessly competitive male world, it feels like an unimaginable challenge to be observed by other men in the most intimate moments. This evokes performance evaluation, judgment, sneer, labels, gossip, status loss – the most important trade unit in the macho world. Polyamory seems to challenge the self-confidence. But if a person lacks it, can he really engage in healthy relationships to the others?

But men do not only compete and fight, but also socialize and befriend each-other. Sometimes these are tactical subject-object relationships (what I get out of it), sometimes it is a preference to be around beings that are mentally wired the same way. Technical thinking, joy of toys, preference for less communication and emotional sharing and more doing, physical life, sports, war, combat. For many men it is easier and more comfortable to live homo-social, because so many aspects of life are resonant, except the sexual desired focused on women – whom they otherwise communicate and live with in epic discord (call "war of sexes"). There are many cultures, where men do not fear mutual touch and where even bromantic intimacy is not frowned upon.

Sexual preference says which sex we are attracted to, not which one we are puking over. The acted disgust over the shape, texture or smells of the similar body – is not biological. It is an acquired habit, a social ritual, a pose. Heterosexual has no need to think of intercourse with the same sex, as much as homosexual (by his nature) does not reflect upon the other bodies in penis-to-vagina context. It takes a challenge to distance oneself from this theater of physical repulsion towards someone of the unwanted body constitution, imagining him "touching my lover". Abandoning the possessive case, exclusive rights. Not considering the other people of the same sex as competitors, challengers – but as complementary to the intimate life of our shared partner. Acknowledging the third person and the others as human beings, lovers, with personalities and characteristics, not just ugly bodies. Human beings experiencing desire and love same as me.

So how does the polyamory happen? How does one organize his private schedule? What web calendar does he use? While we talk of multiple relationships as an arrangement, this does not mean one arranges them. The participants are not things, with a purpose to quench our thirst. Remember, the polyamory was meant to treat ourselves, but also the other as humans. Less expectations, but also less objectified. Giving John the Mondays, Jack the Tuesdays and Alice the weekends – is not that. As natural as the monogamous relationships happen – within a story – so do the polyamorous ones. We do not make them, we allow them to happen.

Most often we start with one person. As we pass the phase of infatuation and reach the stereotype, we start to recognize missing something, parts of our personality that were not satisfied, needs that were not answered. We may intentionally seek to make ourselves more complete – or we just let life bring another person into our path. It may happen around our partner, or in the solitary moments. In the cinema, gym, at work, in a party with friends, clubbing. Someone gets into our sight and makes and impression. We approach, get to know him, find shared interests. This new and the old relationship changes on the way. Some people claim more time and space, some less. Some come into focus, some retreat to the background. Maybe all will get the same attention. Some are specific (kink, cuddling, doing sports together), some more general.

Sometimes the partners want to know about our other relationships. Sometimes they want them to happen only in the thruple. Sometimes they want them banished out of the shared home. Sometimes they consent to them, but under condition of never hearing about the details. For some transparency and openness is required, some prefer discretion. There are polyamorous arrangements with primary relationship and "the others" – flirts, fun, just sex, little romantic affairs. Others do not find this ranking dignified and treat their multiple partners as equals. Some enjoy a total relationship anarchy, with multiple flavors and shades of connections.

How do we call our polyamorous partners anyways? "Husband and wife" send quite a clear message of the closeness between them and the distance from the rest, the limits they expect to be respected. Partners may be confused in terms of business and other non-romantic endeavors. I personally like a word "lover". Even if colloquially it evokes casual short-term affairs, lightness or even superficiality, I like to reclaim the term, same as queer/gay/faerie changed the meaning in new hands. Lover roots in love – and that corresponds with polyamory - the emphasis on emotional engagement with multiple people.

The real healthy relationships, whether monogamous or polyamorous, are consensual. They welcome disagreement, create space of conflicts. They do not avoid frustration, sadness, anxiety, anger, sadness. This is no recipe for painless paradise. Quite the opposite, polyamory is an uncharted territory, with few guidelines, and almost no presence in archetypal stories, no political support and tools as the monogamy. Who will care for me when I am old? How to raise children – who will be the father and the mother? One needs to reinvent the whole world from the scratch. Therefore polyamory invites rather adventurous, brave and experimenting-positive characters.

The reasons to try polyamory instead of monogamy is to feel more wholesome, real, true. Therefore it is crucial to stay authentic with ones feeling, whatever they may be. Inviting success means being comfortable with mistakes. At any moment, you "should" not feel something. You ask what you feel. If a jealousy comes, ask more: What I feel. Why. What does it arise from. How I am conditioned to see it this way. Does it hurt really? What part of me is offended? How does he feel? What does he want? How does that resemble my own experience?

If polyamory is to be seen as more challenging, it requires more flowing communication. Emotional transparency. Care and interest and sensitivity towards each-other. Accepting the natural change of states. The dramatic arch with beginning and ends. A maturity. No wonder that the polyamory correlates with polyglots and other features of the higher end of the intelligence range of the society.

As fancy as the polyamory sounds now, don’t be too eager to establish it here and now. Open up slowly. Explore. Retreat. Reflect. Retry. At the end, it must be your thing. See if you feel the natural attraction towards the concept – as much as the need to connect with other lovers.