Polyamory and Non-Monogamy are not new forms of relating to one another. Humans are social beings, who evolved from close knit communities of interconnectedness, care, and love. Yet today we live in societies dominated by the idea that monogamous relationships are the socially desirable and moral form of relating to one another. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Polyamory counseling supports the health of all relationship forms.
When we look to our Queer and LGBTIQA2 elder communities we can find frameworks for recognizing relationships and family life that doesn’t fit easily into the established boundaries of monogamous coupling. Due to a deep history of rejection at the hands of family members and society at large, queer communities have long had to find different ways to build relationships and family connections, with forms of nonmonogamy becoming closely linked to the queer experience. Gay male sexual culture especially has developed rich and in-depth means of non-monogamy. Many sexual subcultures create and support multiple forms of non-monogamy for erotic play and for exploring sexuality and fetishes
We have a wealth of human history that can support us in stepping out of the mononormative world and stepping into a vast array of ways of connecting openly.
What is Polyamory or Ethical Non-Monogamy?
Consensual or Ethical Non-Monogamy (CNM) is an umbrella term to describe any relationship style where all individuals within the relationship actively consent to being in a non-monogamous relationship.
Polyamory is a practice of ethical non-monogamy. It may involve multiple romantic relationships (which may or may not be sexual) built upon deep, intimate emotional connections which are flexible in nature and able to be adapted for different needs and desires. Each polyamorous relationship has the potential to present radically different structures, beliefs, and practices uniquely shaped by the value systems of the participating individuals. Some relationships forms include: emphasis on a primary partner with additional partners; nesting/ anchor partners; relationship anarchy; mono-poly; solo polyamory; and kitchen table polyamory to name a few.
Healthy non-monogamous, polyamorous, or any form of open relating are based on a practice of radically open and honest communication driven by a deep level of self-awareness. With emphasis is placed on egalitarianism, inclusivity, autonomy, and consent. Open relating challenges individuals to be deeply aware of their desires, needs, wants, and boundaries.
Different connections and relationships will have different agreements, boundaries, and guiding structures which are put in place to help individuals feel safe and secure. When agreed upon boundaries are crossed it may be considered a form of cheating as it fractures trust within the relationship.
A common thread in many polyamorous and non-monogamous individuals and communities is a belief that it is unrealistic for a single individual in a monogamous relationship to meet all of their needs, and that it is only social pressure and reinforced mono-normativity that prevents people from finding multiple partners to fulfill unrequited desires. The emphasis on radical inclusion makes room for close relationships to form regardless of sexual connections, allowing people to interact as equals without being pressured to fit into narrowly defined boxes and socially imposed boundaries!
*Reference: Smith, C. (2018). Alternative Family Life in Canada: The lived Experiences of Polyamorous Families in the Fringes of Legality. Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin, Germany.