Some common mistakes made in polyamorous relationships can tear a relationship apart, however, these mistakes if caught early enough can help the relationship by bringing partners closer together.
Even though you may have the best intentions, there are many mistakes that can be made by any polyamorous group that can bring a relationship to its knees. Many people within polyamorous relationships come from a monogamous relationship, which can be similar to polyamory but with subtle and not so subtle differences. While polyamory can be straightforward for some, to some people it is very difficult because they are not used to the emotions and feelings typically felt within the beginning phases of a polyamorous relationship. Here is our take on the common mistakes made by polyamorous people within poly relationships.
Manage Your Emotions – Not Your Partner’s
Emotions and feelings are powerful. We all know this. We also need to remember that just because we have an emotion that’s difficult to manage, our partner’s have similar emotions that are similarly difficult to manage at times! When we feel an emotion human instinct is to immediately act on the emotion and do something about it. Think about it. When was the last time you were angry? Did it affect the people around you? Did other people around you notice you were angry? I’m sure they did, even if it was subtle. Generally within relationships when one person feels a depressing or difficult emotion, the other partner (or partners) feel like they need to do something about it. They feel like they need to do more than just “be there” for the partner. It’s good practice to be there for your partner or partners, but don’t try to micromanage their feelings.
Their feelings are valid, and their feelings alone. Only they can truly understand exactly what they are feeling. When you try to tell them ‘Oh, I’ve felt that feeling before, I know exactly how you feel…’ this plays into making them feel like you are downplaying them and their feelings are normal, but not valid. Remember – feelings are valid, no matter what.
Have you ever felt insecure within a relationship because your partner was emotionally attached to a partner? How about when they were physically intimate? It’s important to understand that the two come hand in hand most of the time and it’s a goal of the relationship some of the time. It’s literally not possible to allow your partner to be with somebody physically, but not emotionally. It’s like telling someone not to fall in love with somebody else. Emotions happen, whether they are voiced or not! It’s much better to understand your own emotions rather than trying to control someone elses’s.
When my wife came to me and asked how I would feel if she told her boyfriend she loved him, I was taken back and immediately said no! Don’t tell him that – I’m not ready for you to fall in love with someone else. While we were sitting in the car talking about this, I quickly realized how stupid it was to try to control emotions. They are their feelings, and theirs alone. I can’t stop love, nobody can. Whether love is said or not, the emotion is still there. It’s very similar to other emotions – so don’t try to control your partner’s emotions, let them feel what they need to feel and don’t try to stop them. However, feel free to discuss those emotions with them and what makes you insecure about them as well.
Avoid Jealousy by Dating the Same Person
One common thing poly people get wrong is by trying to avoid jealousy and insecurities by dating the same person. Jealousy stems from a lot of different places with a lot of different feelings, but we won’t get into that now. The same with insecurities, there’s a lot to it. However, trying to avoid jealousy and insecurities by dating the same person only amplifies the issue and makes things worse because jealousy and insecurities are irrational! Both emotions come from a place in the mind where the person feels backed into a corner with no way out. So whether you are trying to date as a triad to avoid jealousy and insecurities, it won’t work out well. Jealousy and insecurities will still happen, and things will be just as difficult. It’s best to identify what the jealousy emotion is stemming from and talking it out with your primaries or poly group. The same goes for insecurities. Identify what is causing the insecurities, place rules to avoid the insecurities until they are better understood or talk it out and get through them.
Be Careful With Those New to Polyamory
Getting yourself involved within a polyamorous relationship with a couple that does not fully understand what polyamory is, or how to deal with the emotions involved should be approached with caution. What happens when one person or both persons from the other couple feel jealousy for the first time? Ouch. I would not want to be there. The pain will come from having to break off from dating the couple because they couldn’t handle what polyamory is all about and were scared off by the feelings involved. There is also a chance they will be ready for the feelings involved as well! From our experience it is best to simply make a mental note of the situation and take things slower if at all possible.
My wife and I were at one point this very couple. We were new to polyamory and were unsure of exactly what is going on, but knew we wanted to try an open relationship and swing with another couple. So we did. However, after a few dates with the couple, I felt jealousy hit me hard in the face, then ended up breaking it off with the lady. She felt horrible because she felt she hurt me and betrayed my trust, but on the other hand, I felt bad too because I let me feelings get the best of me before I fully understood them as well. Most poly couples goes through these feelings of insecurity at one point or another, and will more than likely snap and cause immediate drama before understanding jealousy and insecurities involved. This is typically the case when a couple goes from a monogamous relationship into a polyamorous relationship.
Forcing Polyamorous Relationships
When we say ‘Don’t force a relationship’, what we are really saying, is don’t try to make a relationship be what it is not. How is that possible you may ask? Well, the first thing to remember is that if two people are simply just wishing to have a specific need met, and that’s all – let’s take sex for example – then the relationship may very well simply just be sex. Trying to force that relationship to be something that it is not, such as a deep emotional loving relationship, then the relationship may very well fail for that very reason. Force.
The same goes from couples dating other couples, or poly groups bringing in another partner. Trying to force that new partner to connect with everyone at the same level of intimacy and emotion is not possible, it will break the relationship and hurt most of everyone involved. So be aware of this, and make a note in your mind – don’t try to force a relationship to be something that it is not.
Don’t try to separate yourself from the other relationships within your polyamorous relationship. This is fairly commonly come across in a relationship where one partner has a polyamorous mindset and the other a monogamous mindset. A big driving factor in trying to separate yourself from other relationships is fear, fear that your other partner or partners are going to love other people more than you. You may dehumanize them in your mind, and talk derogatory at them or about them to your other partners. It’s very easy to do this if you feel like these other people are competitors and you have to be #1.
Within a polyamorous relationship it’s important to remember, these are people you are talking about. These are people with emotions and feelings just like you. They love, they hate and they care. Meeting with your partner’s other partner can help you realize and get past some of these fears. Talking to them can help you come to the idea that they are not trying to take your primary from you, but simply are creating a relationship with your partner. Through this they can feel much more human and can help you quite a bit!