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Does Polyamory Work?

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  • Does Polyamory Work?

    In a recent thread and in many others, there is a claim that polyamorous relationships work for some people. That seems to be a common view. Is it true?

    I know that some members are in or have been in polyamorous relationships. Others have acquaintances, friends, or family in them. Do you know of anyone that was in a blissful marriage (nothing is perfect, but as good as possible) in which they introduced other people and things improved for them? Or is is a situation where something is lacking or someone is unfulfilled, other people are introduced, and things are better? How do the marriages (or relationships) work over the long-term - like decades after?
    "Those sowing seed with tears
    Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

  • Good topic. As I posted in another thread, I knew two couples who were in poly relationships. One couple divorced. The wife in the other seems unhappy. I'm not claiming this as a general rule, just two data points.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by rcoreyus View Post
      just two data points.
      Some people call that "science."
      "Those sowing seed with tears
      Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

      Comment


      • I've known people who made it work. Actually I met a couple who's life was better for it. Before, they were trying to live the "normal" life within the traditional definitions of a relationship. It lead to cheating, lies and a lot of hurt feelings. Once they decided that polyamory was what they both really wanted, things worked out a lot better for them. They both pursue other relationships differently. The wife has one other lover who lives with them while the husband has numerous other partners that he doesn't have a very strong emotional relationship with, more just about sex. It works for them, but they also don't have any kids. Both admitted that their entire energy goes into maintaining these relationships and that is what they prefer in life.

        Other folks I find tend to have a primary partner and then maybe a secondary relationship on the side that is not as strong. Often times, the secondary relationship dwindles with time and the primary couple fall in a heteronormative traditional relationship.

        Personally, it is one of those ideas that sound great in theory but fall apart in practice. Besides the social stigma, our social and financial structures just aren't built for these types of relationships. Maintaining a relationship with a single person that is acceptable to society is hard enough, bringing more people into the relationship would be really hard.

        Can it be done - yes, absolutely. In fact, there are more non-traditional relationship happening all around you/us than we realize.
        Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose - Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster (sung by Janis Joplin)

        Comment


        • Here's some more science--or math really.

          A monogamous relationship involves one relationship between two people. That's two people in a relationship with one other person. Let's represent that as 2 X 1 = 2 relationships.

          A poly relationship that involves a couple with a third person is three people in relationships with two other people. That would be 3 X 2 = 6 relationships.

          A poly relationship between two couples would be four people in relationships with three other people. That would be 4 x 3 = 12 relationships.

          If only 25% of monogamous marriages failed, then 58% of threesomes would fail and 82% of foursomes would fail.

          If 40% of monogamous marriages fail, then 79% of threesomes would fail and 95% of foursomes would fail.

          I don't know the exact percentage of failed marriages and my mathematics might be off, but I think the point is made. Two relationships are hard enough to manage. And just because a marriage hasn't failed, doesn't mean the people in it are happy. So just because polyamory works for "some people" doesn't mean the people in them are happy.

          My single experience working with a poly couple didn't strike me as a happy relationship. After all, they were seeking professional help.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by sp346 View Post
            there are more non-traditional relationship happening all around you/us than we realize.
            I don't know, sp. I don't take anything for granted anymore. I just heard that half of the first babies born to women come into the world outside of wedlock. Not trying to mix topics, but it's pretty clear that tradition is widely abandoned.

            Interesting input on the topic, as always.
            "Those sowing seed with tears
            Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Pollon View Post
              If only 25% of monogamous marriages failed, then 58% of threesomes would fail and 82% of foursomes would fail.

              If 40% of monogamous marriages fail, then 79% of threesomes would fail and 95% of foursomes would fail.
              I think you took some logical leaps. I'm not following.

              I agree with your point about being married or relationships "working" not equating to happiness, though. It gets to how I feel.

              I think that cigarettes can "work" for some people. An old supervisor was telling me about how he'd sit on his porch in the cool of the morning before work and enjoy a smoke. It was a private moment during which he'd gather his thoughts in preparation for the day. Does that mean that cigarettes are good for him and people like him? He enjoys them.

              I view polyamory a lot like that. There's always going to be a price to pay for it, especially in the long run.
              "Those sowing seed with tears
              Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126

              Comment


              • I look at it from a time effort and focus point of view. We each have our own issues ... work, health, stress etc. We then do our best to take care of the needs of our partners and children. Some are higher maintenance than others. Adding another person or two doesn't just add issues, it multiplies them ( not only do they interact with us, they interact with everyone else).

                It could very well work for others. I have plenty on my plate as it is.
                "The only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you." Despair.com "Dysfunction"

                Comment


                • I mentioned in another thread recently that I had been in a polyamorous relationship some years back. As I said there, it was another time, another country.

                  Two women and I shared a house and just about everything else. We often shared the same bed, but not always. The house had 3 bedrooms and, on occasion, we each occupied our own rooms. There were no rules, not much discussion about arrangements for any particular day, night or week, etc. Things just seemed to fall into place naturally.

                  It was a chapter of my life I recall with some fondness and no regret. It was fun for me and I think the women involved, if asked, would say they were very happy when we were together. It lasted about a year. It ended because each of us had different directions and goals to pursue at about the same time. It did not end because of any animosity, discontent or other negative factor. At the time, none of us particularly wanted out, but I suppose it could also be said that we were not so closely bonded, as in a marriage, to make us resolve to stick together and find common goals to pursue. Unlike an episode of "Survivor", we did not pledge to getting to the end as the "final three". While always unspoken, I believe there was from the outset an understanding that we would not be together forever.

                  I am left to wonder how it might have gone had it not ended when and how it did. I am not sure it could have been sustained in the long run. I later married the woman who is now my wife and we have a child together. I am aware that one of the women of our group also married and had children. Having children in the 3-person relationship I have described would no doubt have added a layer of complexity, possibly an unmanageable layer. As well, I think it fair to say that for a one-year period, the whole concept was new and fresh for the three of us involved. There was an abundance of goodwill and desire to get along and make a happy household and it worked very well for what was, in the bigger picture, a brief interval.

                  It was also the case that during that one year, each of us was away from home from time to time, sometimes for a matter of weeks. Perhaps that helped. It was a great year, but I can only speculate of it could have turned into a great 10 years. That seems like a doubtful proposition.

                  Today I have settled into a happy monogamy that I have no desire to change. Thinking more about the issue of having "issue", I must confess to knowing that I would feel uncomfortable had our 3-some stayed together and had I fathered children with either or both women. That might not be the best environment for the kid(s). I am now in a "traditional" family arrangement that suits me and I consider well-suited for raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. That does not mean that such children cannot be raised in other circumstances, just that those circumstances might present challenges with which others might be equipped to cope better than I.
                  I do not grow old; if I stop growing, I am old.

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