Being polyamorous describes a person who has an intimate relationship with more than one person at a time but has consent from all partners involved.
For anyone who doesn't already know, the practice of polyamory is to have an intimate relationship with more than one partner. But to be considered as such, all people involved must have given consent. Think of it as ethical non-monogamy. In recent years, there has been an increase in people claiming to be in polyamorous relationships. This could be due to influences in the media and changes in society that are more accepting of unusual relationship practices. Any gender can be polyamorous, but this blog is written from a heterosexual male perspective.
While some people don't agree with the practice, for others, it's seen as a highly satisfying part of their life's journey, allowing an intimate connection with different people and opening up new experiences. The term 'semi-polyamorous' or 'semi-poly' isn't officially recognised but is used by many people to describe partial polyamory. This is usually when a person has a regular, committed partner who allows them intimacy with other partners who are not polyamorous. Some people would consider this cheating depending on who's perspective you are looking at it from. But for the semi-poly, it is only cheating if their regular partner (usually a long term girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or husband) isn't aware of their activities. Semi-poly's will remain fully committed emotionally and spiritually to their long term, regular partner, and may have a family with them.
The idea of polyamory isn't new. Polygamy, the practice of having more than one spouse, is accepted in some cultures and has been recorded throughout history. While not quite the same as polyamory, it is quite similar. The difference is, with polygamy, you're attached to all your partners through a civil ceremony, and it's usually the male that is 'permitted' to have more than one intimate partner. Polyamory is a more modern approach that doesn't tie anyone into any legalities.
Although I'm not entirely polyamorous, I have been semi-poly for several years, and I've decided to share my experiences here.
To minimise any emotional attachment between myself and my intimate partners, I have to recognise when they are starting to get too close to me. When they do, it becomes a painful process of finding ways to detach them from me emotionally before that bond gets too strong. If it does, it creates a whole set of problems for everyone involved, including my wife. For this reason, I seldom have an intimate partner that lasts more than a few months. And I will only have one intimate partner at a time, in addition to my wife, as it does become something of a mental and emotional strain.
Several years after we married, I discovered that my wife enjoyed role-play, and one of her fantasies was to imagine me in intimate situations with other women. My polyamory grew from this. The fantasies evolved into her imagining me, sleeping with other women in front of her. Slowly, these became repetitive and weren't satisfying enough. So one day, she hinted that maybe I should try and date someone else on the provision that I would have no emotional attachment to them. It was easy for me to act on this as it was almost like she'd given me the green light to sleep with other women. But it didn't happen very quickly as it didn't feel ethical to begin with. Even though my wife had given me permission, I found it hard to progress my dates to an intimate level. And I think part of her wasn't really expecting me to get to that stage. It was more about going through the motions.
So I went on several dates with women I'd met online, and we'd bond to a certain level, but I found it hard not to have some kind of emotional attachment to them. I'm a caring and empathetic person, so forming any type of relationship involves some form of emotional connection. I remember telling one of my dates about my wife, but that ended disastrously - even more so after affirming the whole polyamory thing. I soon discovered that it was easier just to pretend to be single, providing my wife knew exactly what I was doing and who I was doing it with. I made sure never to keep anything from her, and I still maintain that to this day.
Once I'd conquered my own self-doubt and battled with my conscience, I was able to progress one of my relationships to the next level. I grew quite attached to my first experience even though we'd only see each other a few times a month. I don't know if she knew I was married, but she seemed content enough meeting me in a hotel each time without asking too many questions. I suppose the distance between us helped that as we'd always agree to meet halfway. I couldn't ever stay until the morning though as my conscience wouldn't let me. After each experience, I'd go home and share it with my wife. This was fuel for our own intimate actions.
It all started as an attempt to satisfy my wife's fantasies, but it has now become a routine. The intimacy between my wife and me has dwindled over the years, not as a result of my polyamorous actions but because my wife has less interest in intimacy than I do. I find myself needing more, and my semi-poly lifestyle allows me to have it. But committed relationships are more than just intimacy, and she does satisfy all other aspects. I love her dearly, and that won't ever change.
Almost twelve years on, someone asked me the other day how I felt about all my experiences. I don't regret any of them. I enjoyed them all, and I continue to do so. But a part of me feels guilty about not sharing the truth with my partners. Even though break-ups were seemingly painless, I know that there will have been some form of emotional pain for them. That was never my intention. I've learnt a lot of things from all my partners, and I wish I could have shared more about my life with them. Perhaps then we may have remained friends and continued a relationship differently.
So, being semi-poly is not ideal, but the reality is most men would probably do the same if they had the chance. Going fully polyamorous is the way forward and the most ethical option, but it's not an easy practice, especially if you're already in a committed relationship.
If you are polyamorous or semi-poly, Flirthut would love to hear from you and your story. Thousands of members sign up with us each week, all for free!
Written by Phil Connor
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Whoa! There must be some lucky guys in the world! I haven't yet met any woman who'd let me do this!!!
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