In a changing world that has begun actively accepting people for the sexual orientation they identify with, there is still some stigmatization against the type of relationship people engage in.
Monogamy is something everyone is familiar with, but not the only option available. It has been the only relationship type that is widely accepted and encouraged in the United States.
People chose monogamy believing they can only be with one person. If that works wonderful, but what about those who feel that monogamy is constraining. What about the people who want to have a relationship with more than just one person who they believe is their true love? This is where the option of polyamory is available.
Polyamory is uncommon, and most people have not heard of it outside of possibly using it to explain a partner wanting to sleep with someone else. It is a decision made to have multiple relationships with people and is also referred to as consensual non-monogamy. Some have even referred to this as choosing a relationship orientation.
This option may sound perfect but is more work than the standard monogamous relationship. Polyamory requires trust as well as clear and open communication. All involved have to check in with their partners to make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
“My sense is that people in these relationships are confident about who they are and don’t feel the insecurities that would make others feel jealous,” said Callista Lee, a Fullerton College psychology professor.
Jealousy is something that can tear a relationship apart and can leave one partner feeling inadequate. To help prevent this, polyamorous relationships need to communicate about their feelings and address any concerns openly.
Finding another partner to either date outside the main relationship or joining the current relationship can also be difficult because monogamy is so engrained in our society.
People can be afraid to acknowledge their polyamorous relationship because society frowns upon multiple relationships as being unfaithful.
An article by CBS showed some insight into society’s treatment of people who are in this relationship orientation. In the article, several stories were shared, but the one by Brandi George stood out.
She said that an anonymous letter was sent to the school where she worked and outed her as being in an open relationship. The school district did speak with her about what the letter had revealed, however, she did not loose her job despite fearing that she would.
“There are people who insist that you can only love one person at a time, but that isn’t true. We can love several people. But relationships take time and effort to keep up, and it is simpler to focus on just one person, especially since that is what our culture supports,” Lee said.
To help in bringing more awareness to consensual non-monogamy, the American Psychological Association (APA) has created a Division 44 Task Force to help educate the general public. According to its website, the goal is to provide research, resources and to advocate for people who choose to be non-monogamous.
With polyamorous relationships, managing schedules can be challenging.
“With our overly busy lives, it is especially challenging to schedule time together with more people involved. You’ve probably experienced that when trying to get friends together for a holiday celebration,” said Lee.
Polyamory requires strong trust and open communications between all partners involved. This type of relationship may not be for everybody, but those who choose this lifestyle should not be treated any differently.
Polyamorous people, like the rest of society, are also looking for happiness and to find a special someone or someones. The world seems more likely to acknowledge the rights of different sexual orientations, but when it comes to relationship orientations, the world is less ready.