Polyamory is a word that literally means “many loves” and describes clearly negotiated non-monogamous relationships in which all parties are aware of and consent to each other’s involvement, and in which there is some level of emotional or romantic connection present (i.e. it’s usually about more than just sex). Like any other kind of relationship, poly partners can be more casually connected or involve a high degree of commitment, or anywhere in between. Some people build poly family structures that share parenting responsibilities and can serve as a creative way for same-sex couples to begin a family and include all parents.
There are about as many ways of going about poly relationships as there are people who identify themselves as being polyamorous. While there are models out there to build from, including several book and online resources, ultimately every couple and poly constellation needs to negotiate their own agreements to accommodate the unique strengths and needs of those involved – and be flexible enough to address unforeseen issues as they arise.
Because the complexity (and richness!) of relationships multiplies exponentially the more people you add to the mix, poly relationships can be a great deal of work. They can involve vast amounts of processing and require considerable personal commitment to examine one’s insecurities and take responsibility for the emotional work involved. Any unresolved issues you or your partners may have around abandonment, trust, attachment or control are likely to be triggered at some point, and therapy can be helpful to sort through them and keep your relationships clear.
I am knowledgeable about polyamory, as well as other kinds of ethical non-monogamy and open relationships, and I have seen many poly relationships flourish. If you are considering the possibility of opening up a monogamous relationship, dealing with jealousy or trust issues in an existing poly constellation, or trying to work through personal material that’s affecting your relationships, I can help. Together, we can work together to find clarity, negotiate more satisfying agreements, troubleshoot problems, reduce conflict and strengthen communication.