One Multipotentialite’s Look into Polyamory
Photo courtesy of Sailor Coruscant.

One Multipotentialite’s Look into Polyamory

Written by Janet Brent

Topics: Life

Not too long ago, I broke off my long-term relationship and mentally and emotionally “broke up” a flirtatious friendship that was going nowhere. In my new found self-care and self-love phase, I’ve come to rethink a thing or two about relationships.

Love and sexuality is a spectrum, and it’s fluid. As are relationships.

There’s a group in the Puttytribe for those who are fascinated by relationships. I noticed that there seemed to be a disproportionately high number of multipotentialites who have an interest in polyamorous or open relationships, or are at least ‘open’ to exploring the concept.

Sure, it makes sense that if a person has multiple interests, then they might be interested in multiple people and translate that into multiple partners. I’m not saying all multipotentialites are into polyamory or open relationships, but it certainly seems that there is at least a subset which makes it worth exploring.

My own polyamorous journey so far has been mostly a curiosity, but not a practice. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I found a sexuality and philosophy forum online that was pretty open. I soon found a lot of swingers were on the boards and this made me feel threatened. I did not like the concept and gradually abandoned the boards. Meanwhile, I loved reading books by Anais Nin and her erotic romances with various friends. Little things like my attraction to Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera’s artistic stormy romance and love affairs, my fascination with Geishas, and my favorite painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymous Bosch, soon had me realize I was at least predisposed to growing into an appreciation of polyamory.

I don’t pretend to have relationships all figured out. I tend to view myself as a “spinster by choice”, a “serial monogamist”, a “commitment-phobe” or “flakey”. Is this related to my multipotentialite nature? Who knows. Possibly, maybe.

Polyamory and Free Love

I don’t deny that I’m a little bit of a hippy. I grew up in Oregon and I think that’s part of it. But a polyamorous philosophy to me means free love. It doesn’t mean I practice a polyamory lifestyle, but it means that my romantic views on how humans interact is based on the concept of free love, and the idea that we cannot and should not “possess” one another.

As I grow older and become more comfortable with my sexuality, and sex positivism, I realize more and more that I’m open to polyamory and free love because I reject the notion of “forever”. Part of me wants the hopeless romantic lifelong partner and another part of me doesn’t believe in marriage, because of how untraditional I am.

I used to be in a stifling, jealous relationship where I was prohibited to talk to people of the opposite sex, and where hanging out with another guy one-on-one was considered bad. These concepts seem so foreign to me now and I don’t agree with this behavior. I can and should be able to hang out with anyone I want or go on “dates” (including solo dates). I always told past partners that if they ever wanted to cheat on me, tell me first. It’s not the actual cheating that I’d be upset about, it’s the dishonesty and going behind my back.

Sussing out the boundaries in any relationship is a must, especially if you’re thinking about opening it up, but it dawned on me that you don’t have to have sexual relations with other people to consider yourself to be in a polyamorous relationship. Love goes beyond sex. I realized that I have the capacity to love more than one person, and romantically so.

Label of Love

Relationships are a spectrum. What separates “open relationship” from just being “single” (the labels I most recently whizzed through)? Or a “serial monogamist” to someone “polyamorous” (I could be either one)? To me, they are similar concepts with different labels.

Not all polyamorous relationships are open relationships and not all open relationships are polyamorous. This is what I’ve gathered after reading a primer on the lifestyle, The Ethical Slut. I don’t imagine I’d be into actively looking for partners, swinging, and going to naked parties and the like. My experiences with dating, in the traditional sense, is that it’s not for me at all and I’d rather focus on being my best self than seek a mate, or date around. When I’m comfortable with myself and happy I will naturally attract the right people along my path and one of them (or more?) might be my next partner.

I go back and forth with polyamory and monogamy. I’m monogamous by default, because that’s the common societal structure and its hard to go beyond that or define and redefine what else that could look like (let alone find others who are self-aware and could be on board). I’ve never been good with status quo and convention, so a completely monogamous relationship sounds too unrealistic to me. Monogamy feels stifling and I’d rather have the possibility of more than one person rather than actively practicing it.

Natural attraction to other people should happen freely and free of guilt. Polyamory and open relationships add a whole new level of trust, openness and honesty that I find rewarding. Rather than live unconsciously and go through the motions of your relationship, you consciously get to decide what you like and don’t like, and what boundaries and guidelines to set.

Your Turn

Is polyamory or open relationships something you would explore? Do you think there is a correlation between being a multipotentialite and being more open to unconventional relationship models?

janet_aboutJanet Brent is an intuitive graphic/web designer for creative, holistic and heart-based entrepreneurs. She’s interested in passionate people making positive change. Find her blogging on Purple Panda and on twitter @janetbrent.

28 Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    This is SOOO ME!!! Thanks for posting it! :)

  2. Saul says:

    Thanks so much for writing this! After being surrounded by monogamous role models my whole life, it’s great to be surrounded by people (both in person and online) who share these views.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Saul! I totally want to talk to you more about this… I feel like a newb and I think you’ve been into this subculture longer.. I don’t really know many others in person. And I think I’m finally admitting to myself that I lean towards poly lifestyle which is a big first step for me!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had an open relationship before but it was just a bit of fun. The guy I was with at the time was not someone I was interested in long term.

    I find the practicalities of polyamory difficult as I’m extremely introverted and busy as hell with multipod projects, and so can’t be doing with all the fuss of maintaining two or more relationships instead of just the one.

    Whilst I 100% agree on the concept of not “possessing” your partner, I find that in reality I’d rather not share in a romantic, sexual sense if I am series about being with that person long term. Although sometimes I do toy with the idea and discuss it with my partner (so am somewhat open to it) we are both such busy individuals and both so introverted that it’s not practical at all.

    So yeah, monogamist for the time being. :)

    • Janet Brent says:

      Hi Anon!
      I appreciate your input… thanks for being brave. :)
      I don’t think I’ve ever had an open relationship. I had one that backfired. I think polyamory is something that people should ease into… For example, the idea of a ‘threesome’… You can’t just tell someone point blank you want one because there may be repercussions. It’s tricky… Polyamory isn’t an idea people might accept right away, and I think most people don’t even think about these things enough to reframe their views. When I’ve talked openly about this topic to others, the response is that they’ve never really thought about it before but realize how much it makes sense and how they may even have similar beliefs.. once they sit down to think about it! Whether you agree or not, I think it should be encouraged to talk about sensuality in a sex positive way.

      I hear you about being introverted and balancing time… I don’t think I could be actively into the lifestyle, trying to find new partners and going on dates, etc. I don’t even like dating! The idea of actively finding partners, balancing time with them, etc. sounds exhausting. And frankly, I need to be selfish right now and put my projects as top priority!

      I also think if I found the right partner I’d want to be serious with, I may not want to share either, but I couldn’t say for sure.. I think sexuality is a continuum and it’s fluid.. so I can bounce back and forth. I’ve never explored the concept of ‘friends with benefits’ and no strings attached relationships and I think that’s how i’ll ease into ‘polyamory’ but that might change if I decide to get serious with one person. Who knows!! I think the exploration is part of the fun. As long as you communicate your boundaries and continue to re-evaluate your desires.

  4. Jen says:

    I have always been a free bird with both dating and my career. Always getting bored and moving on until I met my husband. When it came time to toss my then boyfriend now husband out, he told me he wasn’t going anywhere. He is a really sweet guy, so it was more like a peaceful protest and he had chained himself to the tree of my life and refused to let the bulldozer destroy our relationship. I was so frustrated at first, but eventually it forced me to go to new horizons I had never allowed myself to go in a relationship. I then realized that sometimes when we stick with something new things will blossom right where we are and we don’t have to always have to go to a new place to find them.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Jen,
      That’s beautiful! I found I tend to get bored after 2-3 years in one place and I think that tends to translate towards people too, unfortunately. I’m a free bird, a gypsy soul born for leavin’. :) I love the words and imagery you use… “chained himself to the tree of my life and refused to let the bulldozer destroy our relationship”… on one hand, I still want to find a lifepartner, so I’m not sure where I draw the lines with my sexual/relationship fluidity. I definitely see the benefit of blossoming where you are too and I’m glad you found someone to share your journey with! All the best.

  5. Benny says:

    I’ve met a thousand people who call themselves polyamorists, but nobody who actually engages in it. In fact, many of the people who have called themselves polyamorists (myself included, at one time) have often been the most insecure, “clingy” people.

    I still like the idea of it a lot, but the reality doesn’t seem to measure up. People with varied interests in the world often also have varied interests in other people. But to put in the effort necessary to maintain more than one romantic relationship, you often end up using a lot of energy that would otherwise go into something else.

    But ultimately the biggest problem with polyamory is this: the people who are most attracted to it are those who feel that they’re not good at having one relationship. They think that having multiple emotional relationships will be easier than having one. But the reality is the opposite. If you’re clumsy at handling one person, you’ll likely be as clumsy, or clumsier, at more.

    So polyamory is possible, but it’s just that it appeals the most to those least equipped to try it. It’s tough to come up with an analogy for it. The best one I’ve come up with is that it’s like self-employment: it often appeals to people who have a hard time with self-discipline, because you have a lot of freedom. But the reality of self-employment is that it requires even more self-discipline than being employed by somebody else. The same is true about polyamory: it often appeals to people who have a hard time committing to other individuals, but it actually requires more commitment than monogamy does.

    • janet says:

      Benny,
      These are excellent analogies! I’m still trying to figure out the self-employed thing and self-discipline myself. But just because I struggle with it doesn’t mean I think self-employment isn’t for me or that I’m “not cut out for it”. I ABSOLUTELY think it’s for me.. I just need more practice. But I enjoy the freedom and wouldn’t have it any other way.

      I absolutely agree that polygamy takes MORE commitment. That’s why I think it’s actually quite beautiful. It takes more self-awareness, openness and honesty with all people involved.

      I think the whole thing about polyamory doesn’t mean you necessarily have to engage in it. I too know a couple who call themselves poly but don’t currently engage. For me, that’s the difference between having a poly philosophy vs. poly lifestyle.. or someone that “practices” polyamory vs someone who just believes in the concepts. I’m definitely in the latter camp, at this point.. and easing my way into it.

      You don’t have to maintain more than one sexual relationship to consider yourself poly. Ultimately, I think it might be exhausting to keep that up, at least long-term!

      I’ve definitely been clingy in relationships too, or vice versa with my partner.. I think that’s a pretty common phase with relationships. Like being in codependent relationships..

      Thanks for the food for thought!

    • Saul says:

      I think polyamory means different things to different people, so it’s a bit unfair to say that polyamorists are mostly “clingy” people. Plenty of monogamists are clingy too. (In fact, I might argue that monogamy especially lends itself to clinginess.)

      I think a lot of the most successful polyamorous relationships are the ones we DON’T see, because those are the people most comfortable in their situation and don’t feel the need to be constantly speaking out about it.

  6. Laure says:

    I have been reading this fantastic blog for a while and this is my first comment, but I could not not react as you opened my eyes to a connection I had never made before. Indeed, it makes a whole lot of sense for a multipotentialite to be attracted to the concept of polyamory.
    I am currently in love with two men, in slightly different ways as I don’t believe you can love two persons at the same time in the exact same way, but they each bring me a lot of joy.
    Unfortunately, neither of them knows about the other one and that is why I have finally made peace with the fact, that in order not to loose both, I will have to make a choice.
    It breaks my heart but I place honesty as one of my core values and so it must be.
    I just wish society will welcome the idea of polyamory the same way it is slowly accepting the fact that people of the same sex can love and marry each other.
    Thanks again for this great insight into the possible connection between polyamory and multipotentialite personalities.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Hi Laure,
      Thanks for taking the time to delurk and comment!!
      I’ve definitely felt romantic/love feelings for more than one person so I know that I have that capacity to love more than one… It did tear me up inside. At the time, I was still stuck in monogamous mindset and didn’t realize my inclination towards poly philosophy (not necessarily lifestyle). I thought I had to pick ONE and that it was black and white. I hadn’t explored the shades of grey… Now the only person I pick is myself. ;) I happily release them both.

      Goodluck in your situation!

    • A Poly Girl says:

      Laure,

      Please don’t take this the wrong way: But why are you making the decision for them?

      How do you know that they would not be open to the idea of open relationships/poly unless you talk to them honestly?

      A good relationship (mono or poly) is based on honesty and communication. I think you are robbing your guys of the opportunity to decide for themselves what they want the relationship with you to be…. and you’re being dishonest…. to yourself and them. I suspect you’re afraid that if you are honest with both of them, you risk losing both of them. You do. But, if your true nature is to be poly, deciding to be mono is not going to make you happy in the long run.

      My two cents…

      • Laure says:

        Thank you for commenting. You raise a very good point. I am indeed afraid I will loose both. I did drop some hints in casual conversations we had and neither of them seemed agreeable to the idea of sharing me. I use this term because it seems to me that’s how they perceived the idea of polyamory. I don’t approach it the same way but they are entitled to their opinions.
        One is quit a bit younger than me, I’m 37 and he is 28 (we’ve been dating for 10 years though so there is a lot of love there but he is not moving at the same pace as I am and I am growing impatient I guess).
        The other one is 42 and has had quite a wild sexual life in his twenties and told me that what he is craving now is a deep monogamous relationship. I respect his choice therefore polyamory is not an option for us.
        So yes, I came to the conclusion that I will have to let one go. I do not want to lie anymore. It’s just not who I am, but I’ve been listening to my heart only for a long time and I now need to take responsibility for my actions.
        It’s a sad situation but I don’t see any other options at this point in time.

  7. Sarah says:

    Janet! Darling! Great article, and we *must* talk about this on Sunday. I’ve recently adopted the label “solo poly” and have started coming out about being polyamorous, and I’d love to discuss with you. I love thinking about the ways in which my poly nature is similar to my multipotentiality.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Sarah! I’m excited to dive into this when we meet too. Yay!! I’ve been taking sexual liberation coaching from Ev’Yan and it’s helped me sort all of these thoughts out! I just saw your reply on Puttytribe about this and solo poly… it sounds great!! I’ll respond to that one later too.. Maybe I’m solo poly, at least for now because I’m single? I think these topics are soooo interesting!!

  8. A Poly Girl says:

    I am a multipotentialite and a polyamorous woman. I’m 49 (a bit older than you, I’d wager). My husband and I have had an open relationship since we met. We both had long, “traditional” (monogamous) marriages previously and knew we didn’t want that again. I’m more poly than he is (I tend to fall in love with my steady partners), whereas he tends more to the swinger side. After my divorce, I picked up a copy of The Ethical Slut. I was fascinated, but I had no idea I could actually live that life. Then, I met the man who is now my husband. Poly/swinging works for us. We take joy in each other’s “dates” with others. There is no hiding or jealousy. I couldn’t be happier. We aren’t “out” to the world because we live in a place where “morality” clauses are still the norm in employment contracts, but I’m happy to talk to you more if you’d like. Let me know. Remember too: relationship status tends to be a fluid thing :). Mono/poly/married/single/divorced… many of us transition through all these stages in a lifetime.

    • Janet says:

      I read Ethical Slut after a breakup and thought it made a lot of sense back then, but didn’t know I could ever seriously live that life either. But it actually does turn me on to think of someone I like with another partner.. maybe that’s weird. I also believe relationship statuses are fluid. Single/open relationship/etc. I don’t think I get too jealous either.

      • A Poly Girl says:

        “But it actually does turn me on to think of someone I like with another partner.. maybe that’s weird” Not at all! I know many people in our community of friends feel that way! Jealousy is definitely an issue…. Most humans get jealous at some point…. I have, certainly. But the hallmark of healthy poly is communication. And, when I get jealous or have another concern, I talk to my partners and we work it out.

        I love poly most because I now have a large community of people who care about me and the ones I care about. Love truly is limitless.

        • Janet says:

          yes I think jealousy is normal but doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be done! More power to couples who are open to try.. :)

  9. Dani says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I have recently discovered the term, but been poly all my life, and ditto for the multipotentiality side of things. I think they really do go hand in hand for me. Being a bisexual, married woman, I often miss my other sexual/romantic half of myself. And polyamory means I can explore this without hurting anyone and just be my loving self.

    It’s been a big year for me discovering these two aspects of myself.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Congrats on being able to explore that. I think I am bisexual myself though in the fluidity of sexuality lean towards men… But I would love to explore this other side I haven’t been able to yet. :)

  10. Ari says:

    Problem is many people confuse on purpose polyamory with swinging couples or fuck buddies, which to me it’s a completely different issue.

    Many people say they want an open relationship when they just want have sex with other people without any romantic involvement or even any kind of feelings neither sharing anything with the person (so helping each other to learn or grow is just out of question) just use him/her at convenience disregarding of feelings, care, what other people has to offer or respect to that other persons time and convenience (ditching plans and changing their minds whenever they feel like, not making an effort even in bed). Sharing about themselves is just for neutral friends separated from sex partners and, they believe, for a future perfect and ultratraditional partner they hope one future day to engage with (which is delusional to me, as they haven’t trained the basic skills for a respectful and mutually enriching relationship)

    While, as stated above, for me being poly is MORE work than a traditional monogamous relationship: its taking care for, learning from and togheter, appreciating what those persons have to offer, loving, being tender… and for a long period of time. in short: more involvement, not less.

    As a bisexual person I’ve been in love with a woman and a man at the same time, and previously with two men (one of them the same as later) and I’m still trying to figure out some things.

    But I find that most people are too tied to conventions, to their own convenience and selfishness, status symbols and are too inappreciative to lead even a fruitful and honest monogamous relationship, so, how to make Poly relationships work?

    I prefer the term lovers to its full extent.

    • Janet Brent says:

      Very good points, Ari! That’s why I say open relationships and polyamory are not necessarily the same thing. And I lean towards polyamory because I know that I still need to have an emotional connection with someone before I can have sex with them… I think part of that is also being a woman. Women need more emotional connection but for men, sex is just sex and they’re ready to go whenever.

      I think you can have meaningful sex without being in a relationship though. And sometimes NOT being in a relationship is what makes it feel more meaningful..because you can cherish it rather than take for granted. I also feel you can love and care for other people without having a physical connection with them, and that’s still polyamory to me..

      Whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or something more alternative, I think it’s important to approach the partnership consciously, which is what a lot of monogamous relationships seem to lack, as you also point out.. so being more self-aware and intentional is a definite requirement for polyamory to work… but really, it should be a requirement for ALL relationships.

  11. Lyndsey says:

    Thanks for this article – a lot of it sounds like I could have written it! As is the term ‘multipotentialite’, the term ‘polyamory’ is quite new to me.
    My last partner stumbled across it and for him it was revelatory, making sense of a great deal of his inclinations and philosophies – as the term ‘multipod’ has done for me. A significant element of my attraction to him was his honesty and belief that everyone needed love, and we built a strong foundation of trust and truth into our relationship. Whilst I (at least currently) can’t emotionally cope with the idea of being in a polyamorous relationship (much for the same reasons as others have posted above – I am exceedingly introvert and too full of ideas and interests to cope with a committed, deep relationship with more than one individual) I very much empathise with a lot of the logic and sense behind the term. While we have currently ‘consciously uncoupled’, he remains a very special person, friend, and grey area to me, providing a reminder that life is very definitely far more complicated than we are generally led to believe, and that diverse approaches to it are not only welcome but necessary!

  12. Vonn says:

    I’ve been happily polyamorous for so long that it is second nature to me now. I practice solo poly in a queer context and it fits me perfectly.
    Here’s what is awesome about being a polyamorous multipotentialite (a polymulti?):

    1. Because I’m a multi, I have a LOT of interests. I need a lot of friends to share those interests and sometimes that leads to sexual and romantic attractions that I’m allowed to go with rather than tamp down.

    2. It’s NOT that I get bored with occupations, passions or lovers, it’s that I like a lot of variety. By being solo poly I can do this ethically.

    3. Good practice of poly is a great learning experience for developing communication skills and self-understanding. As a multi, I love learning new skills. As an introvert nerd, these are skills I might not otherwise be motivated to master.

    4. Being solo poly, I don’t have the ‘joined at the hip’ kind of expectations of coupledom, which leaves me the time to devote to other interests.

    5. I still love and need intimacy, love, support and sex. I find that polyamory is how I am able to relate most deeply because every interaction is a free gift rather than an obligation. Additionally, because poly demands open communication about subjects that are taboo for monogamous people to talk about – such as one’s attractions to others – I find intimacy is especially deep.

    Your mileage may vary of course, but it totally works for me.

    • Janet says:

      I first stumbled on the solo poly label on a website and felt this was the closest to my philosophy or values. However, I think I must be “solo mono” if that’s a thing. I still actually, as I’ve found out, like dating only one at a time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to ‘partner up’ and do the whole life thing together either. And I’d prefer if my relationships happen more fluidly, in and out, rather than something I have to attach onto. I think I value my freedom too much at this stage.. but who knows. A part of me does want to have that other experience of having a true partnership with someone, but it feels like a major deal in my head and not something I’d want with just anyone I meet (i.e. whoever shows up next). I’d rather be solo rather than do the ‘settle down’ thing unless I’m sure it’s absolutely the right person, but since that settle down lifestyle isn’t of paramount importance for me, I am solo poly or solo mono (one at a time!)