In this episode, we're getting back to our roots! The Multiamory crew was interviewed about the basics of polyamory and our personal experiences for a radio project. If you're a polyamory beginner, or if you need some inspiration for answering all the questions your family and friends are throwing at you, check out this episode.
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Jase: Happy new year, everybody. For this first episode of the new year, we decided to do something a little bit different. A couple of months ago, we were asked to answer some questions for a different show that was doing a segment about polyamory and non-monogamy. As we were recording it, we thought, "Hey, this a lot of great stuff that covers both the basics as well as where we've all come today from where we started in polyamory, as well as some personal stories and some of our experiences."
We decided to cut together our own version of that content where we are asking ourselves the questions and then answering them, and to put them out as a show for you who want to be able to hear the whole thing. With that, let's get to the show.
Emily: If you are happy with the same old ways of dating.
Dedeker: If you enjoy sucking at communication.
Jase: And you have no desire to improve your romantic life, then our podcast might not be for you.
Dedeker: But if you want some out-of-the-box ideas to deepen your current relationships.
Emily: Broaden your sexual horizons.
Dedeker: Develop a better understanding of yourself.
Emily: Or learn more about non-monogamy, then you've come to the right place. I'm Jase.
Emily: I'm Emily.
Dedeker: And I'm Dedeker.
Jase: And this is the Multiamory podcast.
Jase: Hi, I'm Jase.
Emily: I'm Emily.
Dedeker: And I'm Dedeker and we are the hosts of the Multiamory podcast.
Emily: We offer new ideas and advice about multiple forms of love, from conscious monogamy to ethical polyamory and radical-relationship anarchy.
Jase: Today, we want to talk to you about polyamory and why many people find it to be a better way for them to cultivate happy and healthy relationships. To start off, what is polyamory?
Emily: That's a great question.
Dedeker: The million-dollar question [laughs]. There's been a lot of debate about the "official" definition of polyamory. But here is mine. Polyamory is the practice of maintaining multiple romantic relationships at the same time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. I include that part to set it aside from non-consensual, non-ethical, non-monogamy, which is cheating. In polyamory, all of my partners know about each other, frequently have met each other, and everything is honest and on the table.
Emily: And it's not polygamy, which a lot of people ask like, "It's that Mormon thing?"
And it's certainly not that. Polygamy actually refers to a marriage and then multiple potentially wives or husbands. Generally, in that sense it's multiple wives; but that is not what this is. Often, people are not married at all, they're just having multiple romantic relationships with the knowledge of every single person involved.
Jase: And that is knowledge beforehand, not just like, "By the way, I've got--"
Emily: I'm dating a bunch of people.
Jase: But this is something that everyone knows about before you go and start having those other relationships.
Dedeker: This is related to what we're already talking about, but the next question here is; how does polyamory differ from monogamy?
Emily: God, there's a lot of ways.
Emily: But mostly, the main one that probably most people are going to see is that you're not just with one single human being, you're not just in a couple; you may have multiple-couple relationships or it may take even different ways and different forms like a triad, which is three people in a relationship all together, or a V, where one person is the hinge and two people are in a relationship with that person.
Jase: But not with each other.
Emily: But not with each other. There's a ton of different ways that polyamory can take a shape.
Dedeker: People definitely have all kinds of configurations of how they choose to build their multi-partner relationships. I'm going to get a little more philosophical here with my response. For me, the main difference between polyamory and monogamy is that in polyamory, you are finding a sense of commitment in your romantic relationships that is not based just on sexual exclusivity alone. That's the linchpin for me and I know a lot of people get weird out like, "What, commitment? You're not monogamous, how can you be committed?".
For me, commitment is very much related to me being the best possible partner I can be in a relationship and being dedicated to a partner or multiple partners knowing that just because something get's difficult in a relationship I'm not going to head for the hills. That's my sense for commitment, it's based on that, it's not just you're the only person that I'm sleeping with. I don't say that to be really reductive toward monogamy, but that's definitely one of the biggest things that I think people notice.
Jase: The answer that I like to give to this question is not as different from monogamy as you might think, that actually relationships are still just relationships; the only part that's different is the fact that you're not agreeing that you're the only person I can love and the only person I can have sex with or be physical with. That that's the only piece that's different; other than that, it still comes down to the same important parts which are your communication, how much you care about each other; how compatible you are; how respectful you are of each other. All of those things that make a good monogamous relationship are still there. Actually, I think it's a lot less different than some people think.
Emily: I will say it cultivates a sense of autonomy that a lot of monogamous relationships may not have. Often, when you talk to a monogamous person they'll say, "Well, we love this thing", or "we are trying to have a baby", or something, and it becomes all about the couple; whereas people in polyamory can maybe distance themselves from just being a part of a unit and are their own person. They can decide and create relationships outside of just that initial beginning unit.
Jase: Also, to go with that, it's the idea that I'm with you not because we got into a relationship and now I'm not allowed to be with anyone else, but I'm with you because I love you, because I'm attracted to you, and because I like spending time with you that I think it actually adds a lot of power and intimacy to your existing relationships, to know that every day you are in them because you want to be in them and not just because, "Well, I'm stuck and this is the only way that we can do relationships, so I guess, I have to stay in this."
Dedeker: That was something that always used to get to me in my monogamous relationships, was this constant fear of, "Maybe my partner's not as excited by me anymore, or not as attracted to me anymore, or not as interested in me anymore, and they're only sticking around because we decided years ago that they're going to stick around, that we're going to be monogamous and that he really doesn't want to be with me, he just feels obligated." Now, in non-monogamous relationships, there is more that sense of like, "This person is with me, they could be with whoever they wanted to because they're allowed, they could sleep with whoever they want to, they could go on a date with whoever they want to but they are still choosing to be in a relationship with me even with all of that going on."
Emily: Our next question is; how long have you been polyamorous?
Jase: Well, yes.
Dedeker: I think I'm almost coming up on 10 years.
Dedeker: I think I'm at about eight or nine years of-- I'm counting that based on when I first started actively being in non-monogamous relationships. As far as how long have I felt polyamorous, or felt capable of being in love with more than one person, that probably goes way way back.
Jase: For me, I first started exploring ethical non-monogamy, which is a bigger term that polyamory is part of, I originally started exploring that about 12 years ago when I started to rethink some things around jealousy and possessiveness about my partners. But it wasn't until more recently, about five years ago, I'd say, when Emily and I opened our relationship that had been monogamous before that, and in researching about that and finding stuff to read, came across this term polyamory and started learning more about that.
Emily: I had never heard of it before at all. I knew that relatives of mine were actually polyamorous, and I thought that was really weird, and I really didn't know what it meant. Then, Jase and I opened up our relationship and I read The Ethical Slut and Jase read Sex at Dawn, which are both two really big books in the polyamorous community. From there, I've been practicing it mostly on, but some on and off at taking different shapes and different forms of what polyamory and non-monogamy can mean over the last five years of my life.
Jase: To go off of that, can you describe the first time you were introduced to polyamory?
Emily: The first time I was introduced to polyamory, Jase, you and I were realizing we wanted our relationship to take a different shape. We didn't know exactly what that meant, but you had read the book Stranger in a Strange Land many years prior to that, and talked about how profound that was for you, and that you had been thinking about different ways in which a lot of ways that weren't so possessive and so much about only loving one person or only sleeping with one person for the rest of your life, and what that exactly meant for you.
It was really difficult for me at first, but there was something always that I got about it; that I wanted to explore further. Finally, we did start to take that plunge and Dedeker entered our lives later on. Yes, it's been interesting and amazing ever since.
Dedeker: For me, the first I guess to again distinguish between when I was formally introduced to the concept of polyamory, versus when I first felt capable of it, there are two different points in my history. When I was quite young, when I was first entering high school, and when I was first exploring what adult relationships could be like, the first time that I was in a monogamous relationship and then realized that I was still attracted to other people and even was good at developing crushes on other people, at that point my life, nothing had prepared me for that.
Because literally, every single message that I've gotten from going to church and from Disney movies was that, if you're actually in love with someone, then you don't see anybody else, and you don't want to be with anybody else, and you're not attracted to anybody else. For pretty much my entire-- all of my teenage years, I thought that there was something wrong with me. The fact that I was attracted to other people even if I was happy in a relationship, or the fact that I would start falling in love with other people even when I was happy in a relationship, I took that as a sign that, "Something's wrong with me. I'm broken or I'm messed up in some way or I'm incapable of having a relationship."
It wasn't until many many many many years later, that that narrative about myself started to change. I think that I was in a relationship in my early 20s, and I had had these thoughts of wondering what an open relationship might be like. I started googling open relationships, because I had no idea what that was even about, and that's how I came across this term polyamory.
That was the first time that I got exposed to people who identified as polyamorous, who were happy and loved each other, and were in these viable long term, stable relationships. It really just blew my mind. I had no idea that people were living this way, and that they were happy. That they were committed to each other, that it wasn't just a sex thing, that it wasn't just a casual relationship thing that people were doing this. After that point, I just got really voracious in consuming all the books and all the media and all the blogs and everything that I could possibly consume to educate myself about it.
That was the beginning of my journey. And since then, my relationships have taken many different forms, of many different shapes. I've continued to learn what it is that I like, and what it is that I don't like. With each relationship, I've definitely gotten closer to understanding what is it that makes me happy. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it's always been some form of non-monogamy or polyamory. There hasn't yet been a point where I've thought like, "Well, this sucks. I'm going to go back to monogamy." For me, learning about polyamory formally was definitely a huge turning point in my life where nothing could go back to the way that it was before.
Jase: For me, as I said before, I had experienced some consensual non-monogamy before which essentially just meant either giving each other permission to go sleep with somebody else occasionally. It's kind of only sex things or maybe having a threesome once or twice, but still in a monogamous relationship. That, for me, was this intro to seeing like, "Hey, this doesn't make me love this partner any less, it doesn't make me less attracted to them." That relationship ultimately didn't work out for other reasons.
But many years later, I was actually talking to a female friend of mine who I had dated before and then we had just become friends. I said to her, "What I wish was possible was to be able to have multiple emotional relationships with people and to not have there be this inherent jealousy with them, or that because I like someone else meant I liked one of them less."
I basically described parts of what polyamory is, even without knowing it. Years later in my relationship with Emily, we said let's try an open relationship because that's all we'd really heard of. Then we started learning about polyamory and seeing, "Wow, not only is this actually a thing that's possible to do, but there are people who are doing it and people who've spent a lot of time really thinking about and looking at how to do this well." That it's not just like, "People who want to be polyamorous, it's just easy for them all the time, but there actually are things to learn." Just like there are things to learn about how to have better monogamous relationships or better friendships or relationships of any kind.
Dedeker: What's our next question here? Our next question is; what do you most like about being poly?
Emily: There are so many things to like, but I'll touch back on one of the things that I said before which is that sense of autonomy. I felt often in my monogamous relationships, I got lost in them, that I was sort of compartmentalizing myself and putting myself in this box of what I believed my partner wanted me to be. Not necessarily what they did want me to be, but just what I thought they wanted me to be.
That stunted my growth as a human being over time. Being polyamorous, allowed me to have all of these great connections with so many different types of people and allowed my growth as a human being to continue in a way that I'd never had felt before with anyone or with any type of relationship structure. That was really profound for me at the time and continues in various forms and ways to be profound for me in my life.
Definitely, as I've moved currently more into back into a monogamish or open sort of thinking about being open, but not necessarily actively seeking out partners, I've still been able to maintain some of those lessons when I was very actively polyamorous in my current dating life.
Jase: I think my favorite part about it is the idea that every relationship gets to be shaped individually by the people who are in it. That it's not just, "We're in a relationship, that means we have to be moving toward this next step; which is being exclusive, and then it has to go to the next step of becoming boyfriend and girlfriend, or moving in, or getting married and then having kids." There's the sense of if you're not getting to the next step, then you need to leave and go find someone else because if you found the right one, if you found your life's purpose, you're going to want to do all these steps.
That's often what I did and went through various monogamous relationships. But for me, in polyamory, I like that every relationship can look different, can have different parts to it and is something that the two of us in that relationship are consciously and intentionally talking about and making a relationship that's how we want it to be, and that can change in the ways that we want to change. Rather than thinking it has to do these certain steps in order to be valid.
Dedeker: There are many pieces to it for me, but I know something that often come back to is having a sense of tribe a little bit. What I mean by that is, some of my happiest memories are gatherings or parties that I've been to where I have a partner at that party, who also has his other partner at that party, and she also has her other partner who's come to the party, and then I have another partner, and then he's also brought his other partner, and also maybe I have an ex partner of mine who came, but we're still friends, but then he brought his new partner.
Basically this idea that we're all connected in this way and we're all able to just be kind to each other and to love each other and to-- I don't really know what I'm trying to say, it's just this sense that I think it builds over what Jase was saying that these relationships are built the way that they're organically meant to be built. It's outside of what the status quo is and outside of what social expectations are. That means that we can make them to be whatever we want them to be.
That means as in, I can get along with my ex's new partner, or I can become best friends with my partner's other partner that we don't have to fall into this sense of, "Obviously the other woman that your partner's dating, you must hate each other's guts." That it doesn't have to be that. That actually no, we can proactively choose for these relationships to be good and to be uplifting and to be fortifying to our lives as human beings. Yes, I think that's what I end up coming back to as like the best parts like the things that make me the happiest about being polyamorous.
Jase: I think it's related too to what Emily was saying about maintaining your autonomy and not getting lost in a relationship, because I think most people out there have had the experience of having a really good friend who gets into a romantic relationship and then basically just disappears from your life, at least, for a while. Because they get sucked into that relationship where it's the only thing they ever want to do or think about or any of that.
Ded, how you were describing that situation where you can have multiple partners as well as there are other partners and exes who are friends and also just friends, that there is this sense of by being in a relationship, I'm not closing myself off from everyone else I know, but instead I'm still open to the rest of my connections whether they're romantic or not.
Emily: It takes away that sense of competition that I think in America, especially, we have so ingrained within us that we have to be the best, that you have to have a best friend or you have to have the one that you're always with and always doing everything with. Instead going back to that sense of tribalism, that we are all in this together in this great big challenging thing called life. And it's easier to do when you have multiple people doing with you and not so fricking awful and hard because there's only one other person with me at all time; sometimes we hate each other, and sometimes we get angry at each other, and so you're moving forward together. That brings us to our next big one which is, what are some misconceptions of polyamory?
Dedeker: There are so many. One that I encounter a lot is that polyamory is just something that you do while you're young, or if you don't want to have any serious relationships, or if you don't want to get married, or if you don't want to have kids, then polyamory is for you. That's patently untrue for a number of reasons. First of all, a lot of people who are polyamorous are also raising kids, or are getting married, or are building homes and building nests where maybe they are raising their children with multiple parents, or maybe they're co-parenting with one person but then they have another partner who live outside of the home that's still involved in the child's life.
Definitely, whether you want your relationships to be casual or super super serious, people still make polyamory work. I know for myself that that's actually -- again, that that's one of my favorite parts about it is being able to have more of the good stuff that a really long-term deeply, intimate, emotionally-connected relationship brings. That I enjoy that. That for me, it's not just about me waiting around until I've actually find the one or waiting around until I find the one person I want to settle down with. No, I found my ones. There are multiple ones. That's why I'm keeping them in my life. Yes, I think that's a really common one that I come up against.
Jase: And the fact that today now there are people who are third-generation poly people, whose grandparents were polyamorous and their parents were, that this is definitely not something that's only limited to young people and it's just a phase and it can't last and isn't isn't committed. There's a really good book, or two really good books by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff that specifically study polyamorous families. I would recommend checking those out too. That's called The Polyamirists Next Door and Stories from the Polycule are those two books.
The next misconception I wanted to bring up is this one that polyamory is for people who just want to have lots of sex, or it's for people who are sex addicts, or that it's just all about having lots of sex. The thing I always like to respond to this is if your goal is to just have a lot of sex with a lot of different people, polyamory is not the way to do that. The easiest way to do that is just to be a single person who's dating and live in a city will probably help too.
But seriously, polyamory is something that involves actual open and honest communication with people. In polyamory, before people have sex, there's often a lot more conscious conversation about the fact that we're going to have sex, about our STI status, about our safe sex practices, about using protection about all of that as well as our other partners.
Dedeker: Yes, exactly. About who else you are sleeping with or what safe sex practices you're using with them.
Jase: Right, as opposed to a lot of people who are just casually dating just, "Let's just not talk about it, let's just not think about it too much," and aren't as proactive because it's not built on this foundation of honesty and communication. The other thing is that you can be polyamorous and not have any sex at all. In fact, polyamory also has a lot of overlap with people in the asexual community. These are people who don't have sexual desire, or they actually just don't want to have sex. They might think people are beautiful, they're still able to have orgasms, but they just don't have that desire for sex the way that other people like myself do.
That polyamory is a place for them too because it's about having romantic, emotional, committed, real relationships just not with sexual exclusivity. I would say that myth that polyamory is just about having lots of sex couldn't be further from true. I think a lot of the people I know who have more sex than anyone I know are either single people, or people in monogamous relationships where the two of them both are just crazy about having sex all the time.
Emily: Finally, the last misconception we wanted to talk about was that everybody who is in a polyamorous relationship is in one giant relationship with each other. Like say when I was in a relationship with Jase then Jase was also in a relationship with my partner Josh, and then Dedeker was in a relationship with all of us. That's not always the case by any means. Often --
Jase: I think people have this idea that it's like, "If you meet someone new you're interested in, do you have to introduce them to all your other partners and their partners, and they all have to approve that they can join your poly family?"
Dedeker: Honestly, I think a lot of people picked that up, unfortunately, from the polyamory married and dating reality show that was on HBO.
Emily: like sister wives or something.
Jase: Yes, that too.
Dedeker: Because those shows definitely establish like, "Well, we're a triad, we're a three person relationship. It's like if you want to date someone else, you need to get approval from all of us." That is such a not common practice in a polyamorous community.
Emily: Yes, polyamory can be a lot of things.
Dedeker: I think people think that it's like if you become the polyamory Board of Directors or something when you're all in a relationship together.
Emily: Most of the time it's just going to be two people relationships, they're in a relationship with each other and then I have a relationship with someone else, and they have a relationship with someone else and they're not necessarily triads or multi-person relationships; just two people.
Jase: That Emily mentioned earlier that there can be these three person or four person, or even more relationships, but those are so much more rare.
Dedeker: So rare.
Jase: I think we all understand how difficult it can be to find just one other person that you really connect with, and have this deep connection that you want to keep continuing with them, to find that that not only do you have that with one person but also with another person who also happens to have that with that other person, that the odds of that are much lower; it is much more difficult to find if you're even looking for it.
A lot of poly people I know aren't even looking for that. They just want to be able to have the relationships that they have with multiple people. They're not trying to put together some big double king-sized bed size situations.
Dedeker: [laughs] Well, I suppose this leads into the next question which is; do your partners interact with each other at all?
Emily: Definitely. There's a term called metamours; that is your partner's partner, right?
Dedeker: Yes, your partner's other partners other than you.
Emily: Other than you. So you are a metamour with your partner's partner and you share a partner essentially. I think we definitely encourage people to have responsible good open communication in their relationships with their metamours. Just because that's a good thing to do, it's good to be aware and open and honest with everyone involved and to have someone on your team say like, "I want to get together with my metamour and plan a big birthday surprise for our partner." Which is something that Jase did with one of Dedeker's recently for her birthday, and it was amazing and beautiful.
Dedeker: It was the most romantic thing anyone's ever done for me.
Emily: Exactly. How cool is that? Because partners get to come together and do that collectively for their person.
Dedeker: I want to piggyback off of that because that was great that my partner Jase and my partner Alex coordinated secretly to have this big birthday surprise for me. They do have a friendship, but it's not an obligation to be interacting with your metamour all the time or to have a best friend relationship all the time or anything like that.
Jase: Or to date them or have sex with them.
Dedeker: Or to date them or have sex with them, anything like that. None of that is an obligation. Of course, we encourage people that you're probably going to have a better time if you, at least, have a little bit of a channel of communication with your metamour, it'll probably be better. It's probably going to be better if you, at least, sit down and meet them for a cup of coffee and see them face-to-face at least once, it can help to take the scariness away out of that relationship. But you're not under any kind of obligation to have to be in some kind of relationship with your metamour.
Jase: I'd say like Dedeker was saying that just having some communication is really important and being respectful of each other, it also helps make them seem less scary if you have interaction with your metamours, you realize that they're real people just like you are. They're not some perfect idea that you've conjured up in your head, or maybe some terrible person that you imagined them to be. Whatever it is, you realize they're just a human being like you are.
What's really cool is in the same way that if you meet someone else who has the same really specific hobby that you have, you're immediately going to go, "Cool, we probably have some stuff in common. We can talk about that." If you think about it, you and this other person both have in common the fact that you really like this one other person; which is a pretty specific thing. Right from the start, you, at least ,have that in common and often you'll find out you have a lot more too.
I found that most often, I don't develop super close relationships with a lot of my metamours. I have occasionally, but generally speaking, it's just we have a cordial acquaintance friendship type of thing. That's a great way and I feel that's most often how it goes in good well-functioning poly relationships. This is another question that people ask quite often which is; have you participated in sexual activity with more than one of your partners in the same setting? Essentially it's a technical way of saying, do you have threesomes and orgies or whatever all the time?
Dedeker: Yes, do you have orgies all the time? Here's the thing, and I can start off by answering for all three of us which is to say, yes, all three of us had had experiences of having some kind of sexual activity with more than one of our partners in the same setting. Whatever configuration you want to imagine, go nuts, sure. We wanted to pin it on this question a little bit because the fact that, yes, all three of us individually and collectively have had that experience.
However, at least I know in on my own life, I've also had a lot of relationships where we don't do that; where there isn't any kind of sexual overlap with my partners and that's just fine. Giving a call back to talking about that misconception that polyamory is just about people who want to have a lot of sex or kinky sex. For as many people there are in the polyamorous community that enjoys threesomes or orgies or some kind of kinky sex, there are just as many people who really just want vanilla sex and don't enjoy group sex or don't really want group sex that much.
The thing is just like, yes, group sex happens. The polyamorous community is generally quite sex-positive. However, there's also a lot of people who even though they are sex-positive, that doesn't mean that they want everyone in their life to have sex with each other all the time. Both sides of the fence are equally present and equally valid.
Jase: I'd like to take that even a step further, just to clarify that being sex positive also doesn't mean that you think sex is amazing and should have it all the time. It's more about wanting to take away the shame and the secrecy that a lot of us feel like we need to have around sex. Instead of saying, sex can be a really healthy and great thing and if you want to have it go for it and if you don't then don't. It's not something that you have to be doing.
For Dedeker saying, even I would say actually the vast majority of polyamorous people, the vast majority of the time you're not having threesomes or foursomes or any kind of group sex; you're just having sex with your partners but not at the same time. That's the vast vast vast majority of it. Even people who are really into having group sex, it's still probably not the majority of the sex that they're having. I think that's a really common misconception that it's just orgies and threesomes all the time.
Emily: I will say, polyamorous people spend a lot of time talking. It's a lot of conversations and potentially conversation about sex and the type of sex that you want to be having in your life collectively, or by yourselves, or just in your couple. I will also say that if you are having sex with another person like in a threesome situation, that the nice thing about polyamory is that it's not like, "Okay, we're just going to kick this person out and then be together and not think about them anymore." Instead, it offers that kindness and acceptance and loving understanding for the potential third in the relationship, or the third person in your bedroom at that particular moment.
Jase: Even just respect, basic human respect for that person.
Dedeker: They're more than just like a sex toy with a pulse.
Emily: Yes, exactly. They're not just like someone there to serve a purpose for the two of you, instead, they are an actual human being. That I think is what distinguishes maybe a polyamorous threesome from one that you would have maybe in monogamy where you're like, "Well, we're just going to do this one thing, but get them the hell out of here because they may fuck up a relationship."
Jase: Then immediately do damage control after.
Jase: I can't even tell you how many times I've heard that and it just makes me sad.
Dedeker: It's awful. I just do want to point out though that even-- I'm trying to imagine, even if I was somebody who-- let's say that I have three partners right now, and even if I was somebody who's like, "I really want to have sex with all three of those partners at the same time." Even if we suppose all three of those partners are down with that and want to do that, just trying to schedule that, good god.
Emily: Oh my god, it's impossible. We're all adults
Dedeker: Good god, impossible. Not even worth how sexy it would be potentially [chuckles].
Emily: Along that note, this is an interesting question; do you feel more or less passionate with certain partners?
Dedeker: That's a really interesting question. Of course, I want to zero in on the word passion to wonder what does passion mean. When I think of the word passion, I think of that rush that you get when you're first falling in love with somebody. You think about them all the time and you want to be around them. When you're apart from them or when they haven't texted you back, you just feel you're going to die. When you are with them, you just want to have sex for hours and it's just like all-consuming lust and desire that you have for another person.
Emily: That's called hormones.
Dedeker: That's what I think it of. I think of what we call NRE, or New Relationship Energy, which is that rush of intense emotion and passion that you get when you're first falling in love with somebody. It's a big chemical cocktail that's firing off in your brain that is left over from years and years of evolution, that gets us to actually have sex with the person, stick around to raise a baby. It's there for a purpose. Of course, when I have a partner that I've been with let's say for 10 years and then I start dating somebody new and I start falling in love with him, I'm going to have that weird chemical cocktail going on with that new person and maybe not so much with the person I've been with for 10 years.
However, that doesn't mean that one of those relationships is better than the other or more loving or more important than the other. It's just different. I think that something that I've appreciated about polyamorous is that it really has helped me to get an understanding and appreciation of all the different ways that love can feel day to day. Because one day love may feel like that crazy sick disease stars in your eyes falling in deep crush with somebody, other days love can feel like coming home to your partner of 10 years and curling up on the couch and watching your favorite show and sharing your favorite cocktail, and just feeling so safe and so warm and so comfortable and loving being around that person so much.
So many different iterations of that in between. That can change and fluctuate. For me, that's where it comes down to because it's like when I hear that question, "Do you feel more or less passion with certain partners?" It's like, "Yes, no, I don't know." I feel passion with my partners, and day to day that may change depending on the context. I guess it's the easiest most part answer that I can give.
Jase: I'll take this question in a little bit different direction. Instead of thinking about passion in that rush of chemicals sort of way, to instead a lot of people will ask, "Well, do you have one partner who's more important than another one?" Or, "Do you have to treat all of them equally?"
This is something that people can do different ways, but something that the three of us have come across and we talk about a lot on our show is the idea that just like with your friends or with your family members, there might be some that you connect with on a deeper level or some that you spend more time with and that can change overtime, of course, but that you're not treating one relationship as more important because you have to or just because they were first, or just because you said that you were always going to, but instead that your longer relationships you have a lot more history with; both for good and for bad. You have a connection that no new relationship can compete with, you just have a lot more time than they have.
On the other hand, you might connect with a new partner about some new things. Rather than thinking of it as this top down like it's prescribed that you're going to be the one who always comes first, you're always going to come second, you're going to come third and you or maybe get my spare time. Instead, it's everyone is treated equally with respect but that doesn't mean you're going to spend the same amount of time or do all the same things with every person. That's absurd. We don't do that with our friends or anyone else in our life, why would we do that with our romantic partners?
Emily: I will say there are polyamorous people out there that do operate under a hierarchical model, where somebody is primary or they are the nesting partner or they are married and then you may have a secondary or a tertiary relationship or comet relationships that just come around once in a while in your life, like when you guys are in town together with one another.
We tend to try to steer clear of that, not that there's anything wrong with that, just that we like to operate under the relationship anarchy stance of, "Hey everyone has a place in your life and nobody is better or worse. They just maybe in different places and your relationships with them." I have known Jase for seven years and I've known Dedeker for less time than that, but I still care about them deeply in different ways. We have very different relationships with one another. Jase and I have a huge amount of history behind our relationship, but that doesn't mean that I value my relationship with Dedeker any less because I haven't know her as long.
Jase: It also doesn't mean that I would expect to be able to come in and dictate the terms of their friendship with each other. I don't think we would imagine we could do that with our friends or at least I wouldn't want to keep friends if that they could tell me how much time I can spend with my other friends. I like to apply that same thinking to our romantic relationships. While, as Emily said, some people do operate that way, it is definitely not something that we encourage on our show and have seen it cause a lot of hurt in people's lives when they do try to operate in that way, thinking that it's going to avoid hurt, but actually ends up hurting people a lot more. Have you dealt with jealousy?
Emily: Who hasn't dealt with jealousy?
Dedeker: No, I'm perfect, I float above the ground.
Emily: We know.
Jase: I think that's what a lot of people think about polyamorous people, they think, "Oh gosh, you must not have jealousy, I could never do that because I get jealous."
Emily: They would be wrong, they would be dead wrong. I will say when Jase and I first became polyamorous, I would get sick to my stomach in jealousy or just at the thought that he was going out with someone else, or he was going to be sleeping potentially with someone else, and it would be all of these crazy what if's scenarios in my mind. I just have learned to deal with it over the years and really get to a sense of also, "Hey, my partner is their own person and it doesn't mean that they love me any less because they're getting to go out with someone else. It just simply means that they're having an experience and I may get to have an experience as well at a later day. Then we can come back together and have a loving experience with each other. That's really amazing and beautiful."
Jase: When you say you've learned to deal with it, it sounds pretty negative.
Emily: I think I'm way better than I ever have been, but there were times when I'm like,"You know what just suck it up. Just chill the the fuck out, it's going to be okay."
Jase: To yourself?
Emily: Yes, to myself about jealousy.
Dedeker: It's always so difficult with the jealousy question because it's never just do you get jealous or do you not get jealous, there are so many more questions to delve into the context behind it. It's how's the communication with you and your partner in this particular instance; is there a history in this relationship of your partner lying to you or do you feel really solid about your communication with your partner; what kind of insecurities do you have; how do you manage those insecurities?
There's so so many factors that go into what might be a jealous response, what might cause a jealous response, or how you might choose to react to and handle it, that can be so very different. I feel from myself these days that, of course, I still experience jealousy but after doing this for 10 years, I think I've learned. I've learned what are my insecurities, what are my hang-ups, what are the things that I just need to heal within myself or maybe talk to my partner about, my own insecurities or my own vulnerabilities.
Most the time, for me, I've come to this place of knowing like, "Sure, maybe I feel jealous." That doesn't mean anything. Maybe I'll feel a little twinge of jealousy, but I know my partner's not going to leave me. I know that partner A and partner B, maybe they both demonstrated to me being really trustworthy and committed to me. I know that they're not going to leave me. I know that I've gotten through this situation before and 9 times out of 10, it's not the end of the world when I feel jealous. That's where I end up these days, but that's also after a lot of time and a lot of experience and a lot of research.
If you're someone who's at the beginning and you're first having to be faced with this idea of experiencing jealousy but then just having to push through it or get through it somehow, that can be daunting when we've been told our entire lives that romantic jealousy is completely unacceptable. That it's our partner's responsibility to make sure that we never feel jealous.
I think that that is another big factor is that accepting like, "Yes, we feel jealous in many arenas in our lives. Not just our romantic relationships, we can feel jealous of co-workers, we can feel jealous of classmates, we can feel jealous of our siblings," we learn to manage those. It's taking those same skills that we used to manage those and bringing those back to your romantic relationships.
Jase: A big turning point for me-- well there are two big turning points for me with jealousy. The first one was in understanding that being jealous doesn't mean that you love someone. The more you love someone doesn't mean you're going to be more jealous. If you think about being in love with someone, means that their happiness is something that you value. If you love someone, you want them to be happy.
By being jealous, you're saying, "I don't want you to have these other experiences that might make you happy," that's not the same thing as love. In fact, sometimes it can be the opposite of being loving to a partner is to be really jealous of them. That was the first turning point for me was hitting that realization. Then the second one was, touching on what Dedeker was just saying, that we deal with jealousy all the time in other areas of our lives; with our friends or co-workers or family. A healthy well adjusted adult would be expected to deal with that in a way that's not destructive and doesn't involve throwing temper tantrums, and doesn't involve cutting off those friends or family members.
For some reason when it becomes too romantic or sexual jealousy we think, "This is something you can't possibly manage." Even though we manage jealousy all the time in other areas of our life. When I tell this to people, some go, "Well, yes, that makes a lot of sense." Others will say, "But it's different" and then they'll try to come up with evolutionary psychology explanation for why like sexual jealousy is more important than others.
The actual truth of it is that while there are some scientist who've tried to make these arguments as well, they're coming to it trying to argue something that they've already assumed is true, because their culture has taught them that it is. So often, these arguments or these ideas aren't very well thought out because it's like, "Well, everyone understands that or I just know it in my heart to be true."
Dedeker: Kind of cyclical reasoning.
Jase: That just makes us reach these illogical conclusions or conclusions without a lot to back them up. There is a lot of research showing that that's not actually true, that the jealousy isn't hardwired into us in the way that some people will say that it is.
Emily: I'll just say finally that a better way of putting what I had said before is just that I have allowed myself, I have figured out ways and tools in which jealousy does not derail my life where it may have had or done so in the past. Like you said, generally, it comes from looking within. You have to view exactly what it is that you're trying to achieve with that jealousy.
It may just be an emotional response, and if you can separate your emotion from what is really happening then that's a great thing to do as well. Know that if you keep feeding it, then that is obviously not going to be a productive thing to do. If you can step outside of it and try to just feed your soul and your happiness in a different way, thEn hopefully you can get past that moment of intense jealousy.
Jase: If you can imagine if a friend has some really amazing experience that you wish you could have had, it feels shitty, but you're like, "Honestly, I'm really jealous of you." It doesn't mean I don't want you to have that experience, but I really wish I could've had that. If you're going to approach that in your romantic relationships, that takes a lot of the pressure off.
Emily: Finally, we are going to list one reason why we should consider being polyamorous or why someone should consider being polyamorous.
Jase: I would say the number one reason to consider it is just the fact that there are other ways to do relationships. I think for so many of us ,we've done relationships the way we've done them because we think that's the only option and that there aren't any choices. I think the most important thing I would like people to take away, is to realize that just because everyone's been doing something one way doesn't mean it's the only way; it doesn't mean it's the best way; it doesn't mean it's the healthiest way. It might be for you, but that's not necessarily the case, and to just actually give it some thought and maybe try some other things to find out what's right for you.
Emily: I am going to go real practical here, but if you're a person who has cheated or just always cheats maybe consider being polyamorous. Just simply because it will allow you to have a different relationship structure than just monogamy. And instead of being unethical about it, make it be an ethical part of your life. I think people who just routinely cheat, they can flourish under this. If they can really figure out how to be ethical and good in their relationships, then they'll find the happiness.
Jase: And learn how to be honest about it.
Emily: Yes, and honest.
Dedeker: And that's the thing. Someone who routinely cheats can learn to be honest about how they're feeling, then, yes, polyamory probably would be a good fit.
Jase: But if the cheating comes from being secretive and dishonest, then that polyamory is not going to fix that shit, it’s going to make it just as bad.
Dedeker: For me, something that I really disliked about monogamy was this idea of going on dates and when you go on dates it's not I get to enjoy a fun date, getting to know somebody, it’s I'm putting somebody through a job interview of "Are you good at-- based on two hours that we’re going to spend together, can I judge if you're going to be the right person to provide all of my needs," to "that you will be the person who I’ll be sexually attracted to for the rest of my life, that you will be a good father to my children, that you will be a good provider, that you will be my personal trainer, that you will be my therapist, that you will be my pair." All of these things, all of these expectations that we put on a monogamous partner when we’re expecting that we’re going to find the one person who’s going to solve all our problems.
For me, I just loved being able to step out of that and being able to accept the love I got from a partner just as it is without worrying like, "Is this person going to be a good parent," or "is this person still going to be here 20 years from now?" We don't know and life changes and people change so much. I think that if you're interested in having a relationship model that may possibly help you to better adjust people changing in life being uncertain, that's what I'd say would be-- this would be a good fit for you. My goodness, we yapped a lot.
Emily: We did.
Dedeker: Thank you so much for listening. Polyamory and non-monogamous relationships are so often misunderstood. I hope that in listening, we were able to answer some of your questions and give you some things to think about.
Jase: If you'd like to have your question or comment played on our show you can call 678-MULTI-05 and leave us a voicemail or you can send us an audio message at the Multiamory Facebook page if you don't want to call internationally to the US. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.