Welcome to another entry in the Polyamory Series. If you are just dropping in, please check out the Introduction first. Now then, on to the good stuff:
You could argue that a monogamous coupling is really made up of three separate relationships:
1. How person A feels about Person B.
2. How person B feels about Person A.
3. The Relationship as a whole.
If you know many couples, you will sometimes find that there are those who seem to not know one another. They talk about each other in completely different ways and obviously struggle to communicate. Therefore, we can easily say that vanilla monogamous couples still often struggle, in spite of being completely average and seeing models for their relationship espoused in every single movie and TV show.
Some people think that if you add an extra person, that is only adding one more relationship. However, obviously, that is not true.
If you were to add a third person who somehow was interested in dating both of you (which doesn’t happen much,) you would be adding four new relationships, for a total of seven.
1. How the husband views the wife.
2. How the wife views the husband.
3. How the husband views the unicorn.
4. How the unicorn views the husband.
5. How the wife views the unicorn.
6. How the unicorn views the wife.
7. The overall dynamic.
So as you can see, adding a person is not a simple matter of 1+1+1=3. Instead, somehow, 1+1+1=7.
I think that this is one of the main things that you need to think about when you are in poly-amorous relationships, because it’s very important to be conscious of every part of the relationships, and of how things can affect other things.
First, three-way relationships are more common in the form of the picture above than the one before it. This is because a couple is rarely looking for the same things in another person, and so sharing is harder than finding separate people to date. However, this adds relationships.
1. There is what the wife feels about the husband.
2. There is what the husband feels about the wife.
3. There is what the boyfriend of the wife feels for her.
4. There is what the wife feels for her boyfriend.
5. There is the relationship that the husband has with the wife’s boyfriend.
6. There is the relationship the boyfriend has with the husband.
7. There is what the husband feels for the girlfriend.
8. There is what the girlfriend feels for the husband.
9. There is what the girlfriend feels for the wife.
10. There is what the wife feels for the husband.
11. Perhaps the boyfriend and girlfriend cross paths on the stairs and become friends.
12. The overall husband-wife-girlfriend dynamic.
13. The overall wife-husband-boyfriend dynamic.
14. The dynamic of all four in the same room.
So again, 1+1+1+1=14 not 4. And it’s important to understand this because each relationship requires at least some level of acknowledgment and maintenance because you are all going to be around each other and have to figure out how to spend Valentine’s Day.
And yes, it does get even more complex than that, because if your wife has a boyfriend, he probably has a wife or girlfriend of boyfriend or husband in addition to her, and you have to remember that those are still people affected by your choices.
If you have a baby, or get an STD, or decide to move; the consequences ripple throughout the entire poly community you are part of, and have measurable affects on everyone involved.
This is why being poly-amorous means learning to become more conscious of your feelings and your actions, and learn to see how they can relate to everyone around you.
So, if you are getting on a dating site and saying that you are poly-amorous because you want to push your wife into a threesome with some girl you met online, I want you to understand that you are an asshole. And, you are not poly-amorous. You are just a jerk who needs to be castrated for the betterment of all of humanity.
However, if you are willing to be in equitable adult relationships, then you are one of us.