While polyamory isn’t quite mainstream, it has gained much more understanding and interest as a lifestyle option. Here are a few letters from readers seeking Hookup Help about polyamory.
Dear Jamie, I don’t want to give up sexual variety, but I’ve become a bit jaded about seeing someone a few times for sex and then moving on. I have avoided relationships because I enjoy sex with different women, not because I’m “not ready” or want to avoid getting serious. I always thought it was either or and that one day when I felt ready to settle down, I would give up the novelty and variety. But reading your posts on polyamory made me realize there are other options! How do I know if polyamory is right for me? – Lars, 27
Dear Jamie, I was devastated before the holidays when I found out my wife was having an affair. Neither of us wanted to get divorced or to move on, but it felt hard to move past this. She said it was “just sex” and said she needed new sexual experiences to feel satisfied. To even things out, I went online and had a few hookups. That’s when it occurred to us that sleeping with others, while staying together, actually presented a solution. I am not sure how to go forward with this, but it feels a lot more right than breaking up over sex. – Eric, 33
Dear Jamie, I’ve always been polyamorous, since before we all called it that. I just told people I was a “free spirit” and was happy to date them if they didn’t mind me dating whoever I felt like. I have a new partner who has always been monogamous. He wants to give it a try but isn’t sure it’s the right lifestyle. Is there something you would say to people experimenting with polyamory to help them decide? – Marina, 40
Thank you to these readers and others who have written in with similar questions.
Everyone who becomes polyamorous gets there somehow. Some feel they were “born that way,” and it is the true natural state for sex. Others wanted something different than monogamy. And some landed here because polyamory seemed to present a solution to a problem, and offer an alternative to dissolution of a valued relationship.
But how do you know whether polyamory will work for you if it’s not something you’ve tried before or felt drawn to all your life?
How to Know If Polyamory Is Right for You
Try It and See
If you are at a crossroads, perhaps life is presenting you an opportunity to try something new and see how it works. Before you leave your wife, for example, or choose not to date a poly person, or choose to stay with brief flings for casual sex but not deepen any of those relationships, what if you tried poly life?
You and your wife might still part ways, sadly—it happens all the time. But if you have another chance to save the marriage, and that matters to you, giving polyamory a chance might be the medicine. Lots of people have rejuvenated their lives and marriage this way.
Maybe sexual variety has only seemed possible with hookups, but if you want to spend more time with someone, see about dating poly women and whether you can have the best of both worlds!
Can You Deal with Jealousy?
Contrary to popular belief, poly relationships are not absent of jealousy. But poly people choose not to be controlled by this harmful emotion. It can take some practice but many people overcome it entirely or learn to manage it, showing that green monster who’s the boss.
If you WANT to overcome jealousy and prefer to celebrate the pleasure and love that your lovers experience, you probably can.
Are You Independent, Confident, and Secure?
Some people want to share every aspect of life with someone close to them, and others feel suffocated if they have to share their every waking thought with another. Do you depend on others for validation, or feel confident in your skin without constantly worrying about who agrees with you?
Juggling multiple relationships does not always simplify things just because it adds different sexual partners to the mix. It can be very confusing to try to please numerous partners, or to answer to different women. You can feel pulled in many directions if you are insecure or dependent on others for your choices.
Are You a Feminist? Do You Truly Believe in Equality?
You don’t have to be political or an activist in any way to be polyamorous. But you have to be genuinely egalitarian. Polyamory seldom works if your motivation is “more pussy,” but you want her to stay home and make sandwiches.
And how will you react if you don’t have another partner along the line, but your lover has another man, or men? Can you accept a woman as a fully sexual being independent of you?
Can You Live with More Freedom and Fewer Boundaries?
Boundaries are essential in any relationship, polyamorous included, as well as non-sexual relationships. We make boundaries all the time in regards to how we expect to be treated, what our goals are, where we draw lines.
But in a monogamous relationship, much of society and its institutions already share our boundaries and reflect our commitment. Can you handle fluid boundaries, or different ones with different partners? What about kids, paramours (the rules of your lovers’ lovers), shared responsibilities, diverse cultures and politic and faiths? How flexible can you be if it’s not just about sex?
These are some areas to give consideration to. Remember, becoming poly doesn’t mean you have to stay poly forever if it isn’t right for you. It’s not something that happens overnight necessarily—it’s something you learn and build and develop. You can learn more from poly lovers and communities, and decide where you and your relationships fit best!
Find out more about the poly lifestyle at Polyamory Today.
Are you considering polyamory? What draws you to the lifestyle? What concerns do you have?
Hookup Help is a Q&A series. If you want advice or a woman’s perspective on hooking up, online dating, relationships, or sex, we want to hear from you. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION, and who knows, you may appear in the next Hookup Land newsletter.