You may not think someone who lives a polyamorous lifestyle has much in common with someone who's monogamous.
I’m a sex-positive counselor and relationship coach who works with people who live alternative lifestyles or practice diverse forms of sexuality. Through my work, I've noticed that the polyamory community actually has plenty to teach anyone who is open-minded enough to listen.
Here are six of their lessons that can help monogamous couples harness beautiful, soul-on-fire love:
1. Communication is key.
You’d think the most important thing in polyamorous relationships has got to be the sex, right? Not exactly. People in poly relationships actually spend the majority of their time talking. It takes great communication skills to navigate schedules, emotions, and worries when more than two people are involved.
Monogamous people can improve these skills by vocalizing their concerns, practicing transparency, and clearly communicating their desires. Planning a weekly dinner with your partner is a great way to help both of you process the thoughts and feelings that have manifested throughout the past week.
2. It's dangerous to spend all your time with one person.
Poly people often use different partners to fulfill different needs — one partner may provide excellent emotional support while another may offer an intense sexual connection. Some monogamous couples fall into the trap of believing their significant other needs to be everything, which often causes resentment to slowly slide into a perfectly good relationship.
Instead of finding other romantic partners to fulfill different needs, those in monogamous relationships can learn to rely on themselves, their communities, and their families more. Maintaining independence and spending some time away from each other often spices up a relationship and adds a little mystery to the mix.
3. It's healthy to harness your own version of "compersion."
People in the poly community define compersion as the joyful feeling that arises when they see one of their partners truly enjoying themselves with another person. But everyone can use this concept to understand how important it is to support your partner and help him or her achieve the pleasure, success, and happiness he or she desires. When your partner succeeds, you succeed too!
4. Jealousy is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Don’t you get jealous?” is one of the most common questions people get asked in poly relationships. And of course they do! They are only human and there's no surefire immunity to jealousy in any relationship. The main lesson to be learned here is that jealousy should be normalized and processed. It should be treated like any other human emotion, and its underlying causes should be discussed in healthy and productive ways.
5. You need to put yourself first.
Many people in one-on-one relationships put their partner’s needs ahead of their own, which often breeds resentment. Poly folks know they need to put their needs first in order to be healthy and enjoy their relationships fully. Practicing self-care is about understanding yourself — your wants and desires — and making sure they are met.
Think of how present you could be for your partner if you took the time to truly care for yourself. An extra hour or two every week fulfilling a personal passion will benefit your relationship by making you infinitely more playful and relaxed.
6. New Relationship Energy (NRE) is a feeling to pay attention to.
New Relationship Energy is the name for the butterflies in your stomach when you meet a new person, the leap your heart takes when you see they texted you, and the giddiness you feel fantasizing about them. NRE is amazing, but it often causes us to neglect other important relationships — friendships, time with family, and even pre-relationship hobbies can take a backseat to a new flame.
For some, just giving this phenomenon a name takes some of the pressure off because, by definition, it will end and the energy will fade. NRE is a reminder that you should never neglect the things that are important to you. Remember: Your most meaningful relationship will always be the one you share with yourself.