Sunday, February 15, 2015

Guidelines for the Poly Man

The body of work on polyamory is now large enough that the same core material can be found in many different works.  Thus, the ideas and concepts presented here are by no means original.  I have read about them often from many different authors.  Far less common is gender-specific writings.  Knowing much more about the male than the female psyche, I decided to fill this void by writing to heterosexual men, hopefully in terms men understand.  I have some credentials for doing this: Firstly, I am a man, and secondly, I come from the school of hard knocks and have learned many what-not-to-dos from personal experience.  Of course, with the exception of some obvious guy stuff, much of what is written here can apply equally to any relationship consisting of any persons of any sex, gender or orientation.

I.  Polyamory transcends common perception and is often misunderstood.  Polyamory is defined as having or desiring multiple simultaneous romantic relationships, with the knowledge and consent of all concerned.  While accurate, this definition fails to convey a complete understanding.  Polyamory is heart-driven and about allowing love to flow freely in whatever direction or form and to whomever the heart desires.  It is about loving radically.  In her book, Redefining Our Relationships, Wendy-O Matik says it this way: “Radical love is the freedom to love whom you want, how you want, and as many as you want, so long as personal integrity, respect, honesty, and consent are at the core of any and all relationships.”

The point here is that polyamory is not about goal setting.  Do not predetermine the number of partners or poly configuration you might want and then try to make it happened.  And for god’s sake, ditch the elusive unicorn fantasy.  Bringing a young, single, hot, bi woman into your existing relationship, providing a convenient plaything for you and your partner/s is not likely to happen.  (Demand far exceeds supply.)  Instead, love radically.  Allow your heart to lead the way and you will find the place where you are supposed to be.

II.  Women are complex, at times confusing, and always amazingly awesome!  She will likely find fault with you more frequently than you would like, justly or unjustly, so don’t overthink the situation.  Don’t sweat the small stuff and accept constructive criticism gracefully.  Own your shit and fix yourself as needed.  Offer her well-deserved compliments whenever possible.  When you are physically together, be sure you are emotionally present.  Always act with integrity – always.  Love with reckless abandon and fuck her to smithereens, then love her even more.  She is well worth it or she wouldn’t be your partner.  And if you are fortunate enough to have more than one partner, treat each fairly and love each with reckless abandon.  Your partners are precious and you are damn lucky to have them.

III.  Relationships are like water - they naturally seek their own level.  Any healthy, happy and fun relationship with a woman is better than no relationship.  Relish the relationship for what it is and don’t worry about what it is not.  You can very successfully be friends, lovers or partners, so long as you honor her and act with integrity by allowing growth to happen (or not) naturally.  If a relationship fails to meet all of your needs (and it can’t be expected to do so), find additional complementary relationships to fill the void.  In the monogamous world, the grass is always greener and a mostly satisfactory relationship can be trashed in the hope of finding a better one, and this unseemly cycle often repeats.  Never lose sight of the fact you are privileged to be polyamorous. 

IV.  Our cultural conditioning must be reevaluated.  Our churches, schools and parents pile on us large mounds of shit that run counter to nature and become the source of enormous pain to many later in life.*  Mature, thoughtful adults have a responsibility to rise above the stench and reject the fairy tale ingrained since birth about soulmates, sexual exclusivity and living happily ever after.  Monogamy, as the sole societal norm for relating romantically and sexually, has a long and tragic track record of failure.  Nonetheless, monogamy, consciously chosen, as opposed to a cultural default, is a valid love-style.**

So, love and cherish your monogamous friends, even if their love-style doesn’t work for you.  There’s a better than even chance yours won’t work for them.  Further, there’s a better than even chance they are really only socially, not sexually, monogamous – it’s called cheating.  Cheating is so pervasive that in the majority of committed dyadic relationships (married or shacked up), one or both partners cheat.  Unfortunately, cheating is not limited to the socially monogamous couple, and cheating can and does occur in poly relationships as well.  Always honor all agreements with your partners.  Always be ethical – always.   

*Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jeth√° makes a very strong case that humans, like almost the entire animal kingdom, are non-monogamous by nature.  Mother Nature wants us to fuck many and often; monogamy, both the good and the bad, is culturally programmed.

**Deborah Anapol, author of Polyamory in the 21st Century, makes the point that even a monogamous relationship is poly if this is the direction love is allowed to flow freely, bearing in mind that culturally imposed monogamy is forced, involuntary and certainly not poly. 

V.  Your partners are goddesses.  All forms of ethical non-monogamy, whether it be polyamory, swinging, friends-with-benefits and so forth, are always about the women in our lives.  In our society, they have far more cultural bullshit to rise above than we do; and, because they have a higher mountain to climb, they are deserving of our awe, reverence and admiration for allowing us into their romantic and sexual lives.  Never take for granted the privilege of vaginal access, without which, we would be doomed to a life of solitary dick stroking.  Your partners have faults, just as we do, but at their core, they are goddesses and amazingly awesome.

VI.  A successful relationship is founded on trust, integrity, honesty and consent.  If you fail to build trust, you will likely live in fear, which is the most common core emotion underlying jealousy.  If you fail to own your shit and instead project it on her, you lack integrity.  If you are dishonest, she cannot give informed consent and uninformed consent is not consent.  And always be mindful of fairness; these things apply equally to all of your partners.  Only an unmitigated jerk would try to preserve one relationship by trashing another.  Even if your configuration is hierarchical, the partner you are with at the moment is always your primary partner.  If you are unable to behave accordingly, you do not deserve her and the relationship must end; but, end it honestly, honorably and with integrity.

Polyamory is complicated at best.  This complexity explodes exponentially as partners are added to a poly grouping.  In a dyad, there is only one relationship to manage, a triad requires four (3 dyads, 1 triad), and a quad eleven (6 dyads, 4 triads, 1 quad).  Love is infinite, but our time and energy are finite. The only way to successfully traverse the highs and lows inherent in the human experience is with trust, integrity, honesty and consent. 

VII.  Jealousy has the power to turn you into a possessive, controlling, flaccid prick.  She owns her mind, body and emotions.  You have no access or rights to these things, except as gifted by her.  And her gift is by no means permanent or unconditional.  Do not try to change her to meet your needs or to sooth the pain associated with a fear of abandonment or any other fear.  You are destined to fail, and in the process, greatly stress your relationship.  Own your feelings, learn from them and grow up.  Develop sound jealousy management skills; by doing so, you will grow in ways you never thought attainable and the best version of yourself will proudly emerge from jealousy hell.  Don’t be a prick.

VIII.  When she is jealous, be gentle and understanding.  Don’t be stupid and say dumb shit: “Why do you feel this way?”  “What are you afraid of?”  “There’s no reason to be jealous of so and so!”  Feelings are always real, only behavior can be controlled.  Validate her feelings with empathy and compassion.  Let her know how sorry you are that she feels so awful.  Provide lots of reassurance.  Tell her how much you love her and that you look forward to having her back in your arms upon your return.  But never reinforce bad behavior by agreeing to change your plans.  With your kindness, compassion and reassurances, the best version of your partner will likely emerge unscathed from jealousy hell.               

IX.  Learn and practice tantric sex.  Unlike other branches of human relating falling under the ethical non-monogamy umbrella, polyamory does not emphasize sex; in fact, a relationship does not have to be sexual at all to be poly.  Having said this, there are poly configurations and circumstances that may require you to fuck often.  This can be true if your partners lack other partners or their partners are long distant, or if your configuration consists of more hetero women than men, or for any number of other reasons.  While this may sound exciting to a mono man accustomed to an average frequency at home, this can become exhausting to a poly man in high demand.  The solution is tantric, employing techniques such as partner focus, ejaculatory control and redefining of orgasm.  These things are beyond the scope of this writing, but the reading of tantric works and engaging a tantric teacher can go a long way in maintaining an appropriate state of emotional and physical readiness.  I highly recommend a tantric approach to sexual fulfillment under any circumstances, but it is especially important if stamina is critical to the wellbeing of your relationships.

X.  Women are amazingly awesome!  Women want, hope and need, just as we do.  In this regard, we are all one.  Women lust, love, caress, fuck, nurture and wish for goodness, grace and good health for themselves and for those they love.  They are incredibly insightful and serve as our life mirrors, helping us grow and be better people.  They do view the world through a slightly different lens, but this is not a bad thing.  This challenges us to learn, grow and better understand those we love.  As sexual polar opposites, energy flows freely and is exchanged between us with joyful abundance.  And for those fortunate enough to be polyamorous, there is always the potential to realize all of the sex and loving energy we could possibly want or need.