YOLANDA ADAMSON EXPLAINS POLYAMORY, AND CHALLENGES THE MISCONCEPTIONS AROUND NON-MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIPS.
My journey into non-monogamy was a gradual one, I never set out to have open relationships, but when I started dating I realised that I felt restricted by being with only one person. I had attractions and feelings for other people whilst I was with my partners, and wanted to be able to act on these. I had heard of ‘open relationships’, but thought that it was something that people did for a little while, to explore, not something that could be on-going and more than a casual, sexual relationship with someone who wasn’t your boyfriend or girlfriend.
The first time I had an ongoing relationship with someone was at university, and without really talking about it, we were both also seeing other people. This was difficult for me because most of the women he was also seeing also went to our university. I would often find out he had slept with others because someone else would tell me, and this made me feel uncomfortable. I realise now, after discovering ‘ethical non-monogamy’ that the key to open relationships is talking to your partner about what you are doing with other people, and if there is any jealousy or insecurity about something, the best thing to do is to talk through it.
A lot of people think that people who have open relationships are only interested in doing so because they want to have a lot of sex, and whilst this is definitely a perk, it’s not just about the physical aspect of the relationship. I want an emotional and intellectual connection with someone as well. When people ask why I feel the need to have more than one partner I ask them why they have more than one friend – you can’t get everything from one platonic relationship, so why would you expect the same from your partner?
There are a lot of misconceptions about non-monogamy, and I think the biggest one is that you want other partners because you don’t love the person you’re with ‘enough’. I always respond to this by saying that love isn’t a battery – it doesn’t run out if you’ve used it too much! No one tells parents not to have more kids because that would mean they don’t love the ones they have already, or tells people that they have too many friends. If you choose to have more than one romantic relationship, this doesn’t mean you love your current partner (or partners) any less.
Overall, I’ve found that partners who I’ve been with who practice ethical non-monogamy are much more open and honest about communicating their feelings –especially jealousy. There are certain aspects of monogamy that can be quite toxic, and not communicating about ‘negative’ feelings is one of these. A lot of monogamous people refer to their partner as ‘their world’ or ‘their everything’ and very rarely spend time away from them. Some also assume that their partner is responsible for their happiness, instead of taking responsibility for this themselves, and whilst these things are not true of all monogamous relationships, I have found that non-monogamous partners understand that having time away from your relationship is healthy, and taking care of yourself and your wellbeing is recognised to be something that is up to you.
Relationships and how we live them have definitely changed in the last few years, and although I wouldn’t completely discard the possibility of having a monogamous relationship, it can sometimes feel that it feeds in to the ‘rat race’ idea. You find a partner, get married, move in together and have kids, the end. Non-monogamous relationships mean you are able to explore a romantic connection or spark with someone else – why not open your relationship up to that possibility?