Cheers Sexy People!
Q: Do you feel as though your “status” as a married person gives you a greater stability from which to explore polyamory? I am single, and have so far found it to be quite challenging, though still attractive, in terms of reliability and inclusion into established relationships. I definitely feel that “jealousy” and “insecurity” are easier to deal with when you know you have a solid bond like a good marriage to fall back on – I wonder what other readers think?
Great question! I’m so glad that you asked. Well, since I am married, and have never been polyamorous while I was single, I decided to reach out to two other poly bloggers that I respect who happen to be single at the moment (in terms of marriage). They were both nice enough to respond with their thoughts! I will share them below along with links to each of their respective blogs. First, I will start with some thoughts from myself as a married, polyamorous woman. Here goes…
I find this question to be difficult to answer and quite complex. But my answer at the moment would be:
Yes and No. 🙂
In some ways, being married gives me the feeling of stability in that I know my husband has my back and trust that that relationship isn’t going anywhere, partly because we have a good marriage. Not everyone has a good, solid marriage, where each person welcomes and accepts polyamory as part of their dynamic. I do, thus I am lucky, though we spent a good deal of time and work getting to where we are, and we are diligent in that if anything comes up where either of us has a problem or concern, we talk it out like two caring, responsible adults. Thus we have a bond that we both feel we can count on to weather storms. The other convenience as I see it of being married, polyamorous with a good, solid bond is that if I am having an issue (sometimes concerning jealousy and insecurity) with one of my partners, I can talk to my husband about it and seek his advice, as I trust him, he understands me very well, and he also typically understands the dynamic I have with my other partner(s) too since he is at least peripherally involved. A word of caution though: I do try not to talk ad nauseum with him about a problem with a partner (or a metamour, which means my partner’s partner) because if I go overboard, I risk having a detrimental affect on my relationship with my husband by taking advantage of his generosity of playing “poly relationship therapist” for me. That’s not his job. What I would like to add here in terms of PROS for being married and poly is that I do find that I have more freedom to maybe choose unusual mates with different qualities that I might not otherwise “date” because I have my solid primary / husband as my home base, then I can go explore elsewhere with others who may not meet 100% of my needs.
But being married also makes me feel unstable sometimes in my other relationships because if my other partner(s) get their own primary / partner, they could more easily decide to leave me / dump me because then they have their own solid partner, who may not want me around (if they are not poly-friendly). I feel more “expendable” because we don’t have the bond of marriage holding us together. When I’m dating, I can feel less desirable to a single poly person BECAUSE I’m married, as maybe a single poly partner of mine would prefer a single poly partner. As one of my friends once said to me: “most people instinctually want to ‘pair off.’” That can potentially hurt me being the married poly person. A metamour could say: “She already has a husband! Dump her and be with me only!” I know this because it happened to me.
Lastly, I believe that “jealousy and insecurity” have their own minds and can be just as big of a monster in a secure marriage (either when dealing with your spouse or other partners) as outside of marriage. Maybe as you say, they can be “easier to deal with”, but they are still problematic and need to be talked out and addressed. In my opinion, though feelings of jealousy and insecurity are natural and will definitely happen no matter what your relationship status, they are based most typically on FEAR and feelings of low self-worth at their root, as well as comparing yourself to others. These things need to be worked on by each individual.
Let’s check in with my poly, single friends and see what they have to say:
I’ve been poly married and single and I have to admit that yes, being married can provide a feeling of greater stability from which to explore polyamory. Notice I said that it can give a “FEELING” of greater stability. I think it can also actually give greater stability, but it depends on the marriage I suppose.
It was nice to go on a crummy date and come home to hugs and kisses. It was very reassuring that no matter what happened, we’d have each other. I already had the love of my life. I was just open to more loves of my life and other connections too. I felt like I knew with who I’d be spending the rest of my life. Opening up to poly and to the possibility of more connection and of other loves was literally icing on the cake, if not more cake. I thought it’d be us and maybe, if we were lucky, some of the people we loved over time would be in that picture too.
I quickly realized that we were trading that picture for a really different one. I actually mourned that picture a little, of Hubby and I in it together, just us against the world, for life. I came to realize that adding people to our lives and hearts wasn’t adding them to that picture. It was fundamentally changing that picture and making a whole new picture with new participants. Somehow it didn’t occur to us that loving others and having others in our hearts and lives would mean that it wouldn’t be us against the world anymore… it’d be a new “us”. We had decided we wanted actual relationships with others and that means actual relationships, not just these side things that would neatly mold themselves to our little couple picture. Our relationships and loves change us. Wasn’t that part of why we wanted to be poly in the first place? We wanted to be open to new experiences and to have and give more love.
I think being married in general gives the feeling of greater stability. I’m not sure exactly how true this feeling is however. The majority of marriages don’t last now. In my long-term marriage when we were mono and poly, when we were doing well, it definitely gave me a feeling of stability that I miss. We had all these external things tying us together and it felt a lot safer than it feels now, loving two men married to others.
Of course the reality is that marriages end all the time. And marriage brings its own set of challenges and rewards just as single-hood does. Marriage feels more secure, and there is the comfort of history and of a defined and clear role. There is a ton of external stuff (family and public acceptance and tradition) that feels supportive and stable. There is shared history and comfort and routines. There is a clear agreement of what we are to each other and promises of what we intend.
The drawbacks to marriage in poly can be greater complications to relationships, less freedom to let relationships organically be what they are, and greater complications to relationships in general.
Being single and poly has drawbacks too. I don’t really belong to anyone and nobody belongs to me. I’m new at it, so sometimes that feels sad or scary. It means I don’t necessarily have a fallback safety net if things fail or are painful. Of course the reality is that sometimes our spouses aren’t all that supportive when your relationship with someone else fails. Sometimes they complicate that too.
And some things in poly are easier single. It’s easier to plan and schedule and easier to navigate relationships as what they are on their own merits. It’s easier to make agreements. I could go on and on, but you get the idea, right? It’s one of those things… like having kids or deciding to get married at all, or having curly hair or straight. It’s always a trade off, right?
I think with either choice, it’s very helpful to have community. Poly is complicated sometimes. We can admit that, right? Having a community and friends who get it that we are not romantically involved with helps alot. THAT can be a great source of security and support in a much less complex and confounding way.
That’s what I’m working on now as I rebuild my life in my divorce and my poly relationships. I’m seeking stability from me and from my friends and relationships and myself. It turns out that having almost all of my stability in my marriage wasn’t the best plan, so at least I’m learning.
Great Question! And thank you, Kitty for asking me to contribute. I’m very honored.
I think that it’s magical thinking to assume that having an established and apparently committed, intimate relationship or partner provides any guarantee of safety and reliability. The vast majority of relationships, of any configuration, are not safe and reliable. If that were true, monogamous people would never feel insecure, jealous, lonely or unfulfilled.
Personally, I’ve found that cultivating personal autonomy and resilience is the most reliable way to feel happy and secure most of the time. And this helps me to make better decisions about who I do, and don’t, share my vulnerability with. I think expecting a relationship with someone else to give you a stable emotional/logistical base before exploring polyamory (or just exploring life) puts the cart before the horse — and presents a far greater risk of co-dependence, and of treating people like roles.
Thanks again, ladies for your valuable input and different perspectives! I couldn’t have thoroughly written this blog post without you! You rock!!! And your blogs are fantastic! Keep up the great work. Sharing is caring.
I hope this blog post was helpful. As always, please feel free to ask me questions at any time about my poly life and polyamory in general, and I will do my best to answer them from my own experience and research. And of course, feel free to offer any additional input below in the comments section.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)