Poly and puzzled? Need advice. Send an email to WorldPolyamory@aol.com with Advice in the subject line and your question or situation in the main body of the email. Feel free to use a pseudonym.
Long-time poly counselors with over 30 years experience in the field, Dr. Sasha and Janet Kira Lessin answer your questions online or in person or on www.AquarianRadio.com. They use a wide variety of psycho-technologies (Counseling, Coaching & Therapy). The Lessins are available for phone consultations as well as in person. Sasha and Janet live on Maui, Hawaii where many come to heal, relax and free themselves from programming that limits their life force. S & J frequently travel and present at the World Polyamory Association Conferences and many other conferences around the world. They also coordinate the WPA conferences with their team of poly professionals. The Lessins would be delighted to do a session with you during their visit to your part of the world.
WILL COUPLE LOVE NEWBIES MORE? Janet Kira Lessin firstname.lastname@example.org
MIDWESTERNER wrote, “What would happen if my wife opened herself up emotionally or if we agreed to allow each other to be more emotionally attached. Would I later desire the other woman more or she desire the other man more or some other conflicting combination of feelings?”
JANET: My husband, Sasha, and I were blessed to fall in love with a very special couple. Our commitment to each other was so total and complete, and the other couple was so devoted to each other, there was never any doubt that we’d remain involved with our primary partners while loving all the way around.
There did come a point where my love for the other woman felt threatening to the other man, so they withdrew from us and are no longer involved with us. And yes, ouch, that hurt. But, I’d do it all again, because the love I felt and the love we all felt will always be. I have the love, I have the memories and I have the model that LOVING MORE THAN ONE REALLY WORKS.
Many couples do move into deep sexual and emotional intimacy and some experience feelings in varying degrees and intensity over the course of the relationship with their new partners. It’s part of the thrill, part of learning how to love. We feel what we feel. Feelings ARE. They are often uncontrollable and seem to have a life of their own. Some couples, especially couples that engage in swinging, pledge emotional fidelity with one another. But realistically we feel what we feel. We can however make agreements and honor them and do certain behaviors, like REMAIN HONEST IN OUR COMMUNICATION, STAY TOGETHER; NEVER ABANDON ONE ANOTHER, no matter what we feel for other partners.
Couples make commitments to stay together no matter what, work out the dynamics of relating with others and RIDE THE WAVE OF EMOTIONS. There may be some risk, but it sounds as if you are both very much in love with one another, committed and devoted, secure enough that you’ll remain true and you’ll LEARN, GROW, EXPAND AND REMAIN TOGETHER no matter what.
ARE WE REALLY MONO-POLY? By Janet Kira Lessin
Doctors Hal and Sidra Stone teach us that we have many “voices” within ourselves. We each have our own set of voices, be they the Inner Critic, the Inner Child, the Inner Pope, the Inner Aphrodite or any of a myriad possible combinations.
At different times these voices battle for dominance within us. We each have inner dichotomies — poles of opposition vying for the upper hand. The Inner Catholic conflicts with the Inner Atheist, for example.
Where we find ourselves in any given point in our existence, we tend to throw stones at our opposites. In life we tend to attract to us, to “hire” in a sense our “disowned selves.” We see in others what we least like about ourselves. These “mirrors” act as a reflection to us of those parts we need to incorporate into our being, in order to feel whole and complete.
As we seek to come to complete integration of our many selves, or subpersonalities, we strive to come to our center, or as we say in voice dialogue, to develop an “aware ego”. Many books have chronicled this search for enlightenment.
Two complete opposites, almost universally, are our Inner Monogamist and our Inner Polyamorist (loving more than one in an intimate relationship). Never before has there been such debate, especially in this Judeo/Christian culture. Why does it seem that so many polyamorists are attracted to and marry so many monogamists and vice versa? If we were to imagine the center for this dichotomy, what would we find? Could it be a combination of the best of both worlds, that which I refer to as Mono-Poly?
As we observe the world around us, it doesn’t appear that mankind is truly monogamous; with our incredible divorce rate that is rapidly heading towards sixty-five percentile for us “baby boomers”. That’s not counting our infidelity rate, which is staggering. Add on top of that the “happiness factor”, those who stay together only because of the kids, the bills, the family, habit, etc. and the figures really get alarming. What’s going on here?
Despite all of the above, it does appear that we humans do tend to “pair bond”. Even at the east and west poly conferences last year, it was observable; twos seeking three, couples seeking couples, even those “expanded group marriages” within them appeared to have groupings, two by two! Lets now examine the pros of each lifestyle.
With monogamy, one can embrace the creation; man/woman, Adam/Eve, two by two, the dyad, romanticism. Many find it fashionable to trounce romanticism, but face it; romance is fun! It gives one that chemical rush, that “high” of a new love, NRE (New Relationship Energy)!
Monogamy reinforces the security of a stable home, Mom and Dad, someone we can turn to in thick and thin, loyalty, commitment, our “best friend”. Monogamy provides that special someone to whom you can confess your deepest, darkest secrets; that person with whom you have that “special” something that only you two know and share.
Monogamy resonates the feeling the feeling of forever, security, safety, warm fuzzies. It provides that person to whom you return when your poly adventures turn sour and they “dump” you.
Spiritually it resembles “the split-apart”, the “twin flame”, symbolized in the yin/yang. The twin flame is that one special person that for some inexplicable reason you feel this incredible bond that transcends time and space. When you meet that person, it bowls you over. You connect, not just on one or two chakras, but on all chakras. You realize how you never really completely connected with anyone else before and if they left, you would never go this deep ever again. It is a merging; a oneness with Man/Woman/God/Goddess/Universe.
Historically, says Dr. Helen Fisher (Anatomy of Love, Norton: 1992), monogamy insured at least two people stayed together and committed to their child’s survival; staying together until he was “weaned” and somewhat self-sufficient before parting (about 4 years).
Now that we’ve shown the virtues of monogamy, what possibly are the the pros of polyamory?
Obviously the first thing is “variety is the spice of life”. In polyamory we have sexual variety, which is very exciting and attractive to many of us. We also have more than one person with whom do things with, so one person is not trying to meet all of our “needs”, which is virtually impossible.
In polyamory, one has many mirrors in which to reflect; many points of view in which to learn and grow. In a poly household, there are many hands to accomplish tasks, to pull resources together.
Polyamory resonates the security of the “tribe”; the memory of which resides deep within many of us. With numerous to defend the women and children and assure their survival, the survival of the tribe, the children and continuance was assured against predators and foes.
As souls we appear to be created in soul groups that find one another lifetime after lifetime. We have many “soul mates” that we have loved through many lifetimes; that we have loved in various fashions time and again. As souls we know that we have an endless, boundless capacity to love. Polyamory brings our natural state of loving oneness and that ability to love all into the physical.
Statistically it appears that our marriages and dyadic relationships seem to last on the average of 3.5 to 4 years. Currently there are no real statistics available on poly relationships. We can only speculate as many remain hidden to protect their lifestyles and their families.
In my poly group, I have seen first hand the trials and tribulations of loving more than one. It is certainly not an easy path to undertake, no easier than monogamy, it appears. Broken hearts happen here as well.
Recently, I heard one staggering statistic from a local Hawaii talk show host, Kevin Hughes, which made me stand up and take notice. He said that swingers stay married on the average of 23 years! Wait a minute… 23 years! Let’s take a look at that one! So I did.
I had noticed in conversations on the Internet that there are many who define themselves as “swingers” who are actually couples seeking other couples with whom to love. They just don’t have any other models. They’ve never heard the vocabulary. Perhaps they really are poly?
I had noticed that I myself had been passing judgment and throwing stones at swingers, if only to myself. I wanted to observe things first hand, see what was really going on. So, I asked my husband, Sasha, if he wanted to check out one of the swinger’s parties. After some debate, we decided the best course of action was to open up invite the local swingers organization to have a party at our house. This way, we would be able to make the most scientifically accurate observations. With some reservations and much anticipation, the party began.
What we discovered from our party is that swingers traditionally do not allow any single men in their functions. Parties are strictly couples with once in a while the occasional single woman, who is usually bisexual.
They do what I call “inclusionary lovemaking”. One man told me, “I would never imagine going somewhere and making it with anyone without my wife. We are a matched set. Love me, love my dog”.
In swinging, there doesn’t appear to be any “mini-monoging; that little mini-affair away from home, discreet, unseen, separate from one another. Swingers seem to love together, in parties, with another couple, in the same room, or out of the room but not very far out of site from one another. They always remain connected in some way; sensing each other; feeling each other. Rather sweet, huh?
I’m not advocating that swinging is “THE MODEL” for all of the world. It is just that I no longer throw stones at them and I’m now taking a deeper look. I see the love. Many swingers develop lifelong friendships with those whom they engage in sexual play.
One thing to notice is that there are only about 200 in attendance at each poly conference each year where there are more than 3,000 who attend the Lifestyles Conference for the whole time with approximately 10,000 additional attendees for the daily events attending the workshops visiting booths and exhibitions.
I feel that, in the final analysis, we act from “choice.” Even if we define ourselves as belonging to one relationship type, it appears that life throws a wrench at you; someone comes into your life; you respond with love; and soon you find yourself somewhere else along the continuum. After all, the only thing constant in life is change.
Perhaps that’s truly what Hal and Sidra Stone talk about when they speak of centering oneself and the “dance of the selves” as the path to awareness and wholeness in life.
As we seem to go from lifetime to lifetime experiencing being every religion, race, color and creed, we find within our soul group that we have experienced being every imaginable configuration of friends, family and lovers. We do this dance time and again, hurting and being hurt, until one day we, find that we have completed all karma, our soul group reunites in bliss and we return home to “go out no more”. Bless free will. Enjoy the adventure.
COWBOYS AND INJURIES: WHEN MONOGAMISTS PURSUE THE POLYAMOROUS by Mistress Matisse, Control Tower
There’s a slang term used by polyamorous people: cowboy. Or cowgirl, as the case may be. It refers to a monogamous person who meets someone who openly identifies as polyamorous, becomes romantically involved with them, and attempts to “cut them out of the herd,” meaning: persuade them to sever existing relationships and embrace monogamy. This term is not a compliment.
I understand why people—including those dating the person being courted by the monogamist—view such tactics askance. The number of potential partners is small enough for polyamorous people without the mono crowd rustling them. It’s also no mystery why they try. Viewed through a monogamist’s gaze, dropping your lasso on a wandering heart is the stuff of songs, literature, and drama. But it begs the question: Why the hell would a poly person get romantically involved with someone who is clearly monogamous in the first place?
The honest answer is something like: hormones, misguided optimism and willful self-delusion, more hormones, and a little emotional masochism—or maybe more than a little. Most romances—monogamous or otherwise—don’t turn into long-term commitments, and there are many reasons why. But I can promise you, if you’re poly and you’re involved with someone who’s not, once the hot sex cools off and reality sets in, every single problem that occurs in the relationship will somehow devolve to: You’re fucking other people. If you would just be monogamous, then your partner would stop drinking too much, bring you flowers, tell his family to be nicer to you, and always pick up his dirty clothes off the floor. And when this romantic idyll ends—as it probably will—it’ll be just another example of how polyamory ruins relationships.
Before mono people get all outraged, let me say that, yes, some poly people break hearts because they won’t forsake all others. I was one of them, before I realized this was one of my nonnegotiable features. All jokes about dominatrices aside, I actually don’t like hurting people—or being hurt by them. My next strategy was to tell people I was poly before there was so much as a kiss. If matters proceeded… well, that meant they accepted the situation, right?
Wrong. Some monogamous people sincerely, but mistakenly, thought they’d be fine with me. But I have met a lot of cowboys and cowgirls. I vividly remember an outraged lover yelling, “I know you said that, but I thought I could turn you!” Another man said, “I viewed you as a challenge.” It’s painful to be honest about such an emotionally loaded subject, only to be met with mendacity in return.
It doesn’t really matter whether you think monogamy or polyamory is more natural or evolved. Dismissing people’s stated definitions of their sexuality as something you can make them change is not love. It’s just disrespectful, and it usually ends badly anyway. So put the lasso away, cowpokes, and if someone says, “Don’t fence me in,” believe them.