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Not for Everyone
Denise, 28, is a psychology student who was polyamorous for eight of 10 years with a partner, James, and it was he who made her aware of her attraction to women. “We went looking for the mystical unicorn (a poly term meaning that rare creature—a single woman who’s attracted to both the man and woman in a couple), but we were also just being free with our sexuality. We dated and slept with many others, which we mostly did separately, but in a few cases we dated a woman together.”
She found the experience at times immensely satisfying, and she felt her love was boundless and that their primary relationship wasn’t bogged down by jealousy. In the end, however, she fell deeply in love with a woman they were both seeing. Problems arose between Denise and James, but she feels the causes were unrelated to their other lover.
“Drama, jealousy and heartache ensued,” says Denise, who stayed with her other love and doesn’t know how she would have pulled through without her. Now they’re monogamous. “I can’t open my heart the same way I used to.”
She believes, and regrets, that part of her polyamorous experience was motivated by selfishness. “I don’t want to hurt someone the way that I hurt James. I lost my whole life when I decided to put myself first, [before] my family, my friends, my partner of a decade, and I saw the devastation. I was a traitor. I was banished. I have no desire to go through anything like that again.”
Denise admits that her tale may be cautionary more about her own personal choices and limits than illustrative of a failure of any particular relationship style. “I don’t blame polyamory for what happened, but I can no longer embark on new relationships the way I used to.” Her experience also reflects the challenges of adopting a socially divergent lifestyle like polyamory. “I think it’s an ideal that can be reached, but not by me. I think it has to be a main priority in a person’s life to be successful in our society.”
This visit to Utah’s polyamory community was never intended as a recruiting tour. Every experienced polyamorist admits that not everyone is cut out for the lifestyle, that monogamy still works for a certain portion of the population and that launching into polyamory to fix a crumbling relationship or marriage usually just makes it fall apart faster. But for those willing to explore beyond what’s conventional (and probably incur some of society’s disapproval in the process), polyamory is a fast-paced course in self-discovery, a laboratory for overcoming self-defensive reactions like jealousy, and a yoga studio for deep soul stretching.
Freelance writer and editor Jim Catano is launching two ultra-progressive, health-related projects but is still looking for a job.
The above article cites a statistic claiming that romantic, sexually active, long-term relationships are possible for only 13 percent of couples. The following Psychology Today article references the study where the 13 percent came from and provides a link to the study:http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201007/uncanny-love-potion
Resources for exploring the polyamory path:
Utah Polyamory Society, 801-309-7240, http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/utahpolyamorysociety/ Once you subscribe to this Yahoo Group, the links and database sections are accessible.
Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino, 2009, perhaps the most comprehensive and accessible nuts-and-bolts guide for living a polyamorous life.
Sex at Dawn: the Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Calcida Jetha, 2010, a highly readable compilation of the scientific evidence that we humans are, at our core, non-monogamous.
The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, THE pioneering book in the modern polyamory movement, 1997 and updated in 2009.
Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits: Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships by Deborah Anapol, a classic by one of the international leaders in the poly movement.
MAGAZINES and WEBSITES
Loving More Magazine at http://www.lovemore.com 303-543-7540 Love More, PO Box 1658, Loveland, CO 80539
Polyamory? Links and Resources This site is a great beginner’s page. Light-hearted but gives valuable information—http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html
Polyamory in the News The latest and most pertinent polyamory news from the media
Love that Works The institute for 21st Century Relationships Legal resources for poly people.—http://www.lovethatworks.org
Love Without Limits Healing, sacred sexuality, community development and new paradigm relating—http://www.lovewithoutlimits.com
Poly Matchmaker A free site to find others who share a polyamorous lifestyle—http://www.polymatchmaker.com
OKCupid is also a polyamory-friendly singles' site%uFFFD http://www.okcupid.com