Poly (short for ‘polyamory’, meaning loving many) is generally known as being just the hardest thing to do without starting World War III. Stephanie Stevens (HisDesdemona on Fetlife) is here to explain why that phrase isn’t entirely accurate.
For the purposes of this writing, I’m strictly discussing consensual, ethical non-monogamy/Polyamory that does not involve sexual addiction or any other outlying conditions that may be considered within a frame of non-ethical non-monogamy.
I see the phrase “Poly is hard” on Fetlife and hear it from people’s mouths so often that it almost feels like a mantra. An expectation. A foregone conclusion. And the thing is, mantras end up becoming beliefs. So, I’m here to tell you something really, really important.
Poly isn’t hard.
You see, what most people run into when they dive into Poly is that it challenges them in ways that they’ve never imagined.
- Think you’re emotionally secure in your relationship? Poly will test that.
- Think you’re able to manage your time and energy well? Poly will test that.
- Think you’re “not the jealous type”? Poly will test that.
- Think you have really great communication skills? Poly will test that.
- Think your ego is in check and your self-esteem is well developed? Poly will test that.
- Think you have an exceptionally high level of emotional intelligence? Poly will test that.
Because in order to do Poly well, we must each look at ourselves with absolute honesty and clarity. To seek out and recognize the vulnerable, soft bits inside of each of our hearts and minds, and allow our longtime emotional wounds to heal. To recognize our scars, but not use them as armor or a reason to impede forward movement.
It requires us to examine the potentially weak spots in the emotional fabric of our relationships when we’d rather ignore the imperfections. To voice our personal needs, our limitations, and our desires in a way that may make us open to criticism and judgment. To question our worth and the depth of our partnerships. To be laid open and let the light into our dark corners.
But what you need to know is that Poly isn’t the problem. Poly is simply a catalyst for personal change.
What Poly ISN’T is a question of whether we CAN love more than one person. We all do that every single day of our lives with our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends. We have enough love to give. Always.
What Poly does do is to make us have to do ALL the growing up and in a way that can be scary and challenging and often more than we feel like we’re willing or prepared to handle. So we stay in our comfort zones and say “Poly’s too hard” and leave it at that.
What I suggest is that we should do the work to find ourselves before we decide to go looking for others. Poly or not. Because who couldn’t benefit from a solid sense of self-awareness and happiness? And if we’re already in a relationship, be willing to ask tough questions and truly listen to the answers you both share. Be open to becoming more (happy, aware, fulfilled, comfortable, secure) than you are today.
So no, Poly isn’t hard. What’s hard is facing our fears and the prospect of being more and/or something else than we are today. Once you’ve done that work, Poly is actually relatively easy because then it’s simply about allowing more people into our lives without handing them our emotional baggage at the door.
Happy travels, my friends.