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Let's talk about balance in (polyamorous) relationships

Photo by Pok Rie I found on

When we decided to open our marriage my husband started dating someone almost right away. For a while I had a crush on a guy that I couldn't date, so I didn't really start going out on dates until almost a year later. I didn't feel like I needed to push it or find someone to go out with ASAP. I took my sweet time, read lots of books, did some self-reflection, got comfortable with the newly found "freedom" to explore, and only then decided to actively start dating.

During those first few months it wasn't psychologically easy for my husband to go on dates knowing that I am home alone and not out there having fun like he was. It didn't feel balanced to him. He checked in often, and I sensed some guilt from him upon his returns from particularly successful dates. I actually had no problem with him going out and me staying home, it felt totally okay and I was feeling happy for him making new connections. What my husband was experiencing had to do with him coming to terms with being in a poly relationship and being attracted to multiple people at the same time, more than the fact that I had fewer dates. He had to work through accepting that he was no longer living by societal norms and that it was okay for him to feel attracted to someone else while being married.

When I finally decided to put myself out there and started talking to people through dating apps and poly groups, my husband started feeling overwhelmed and asked me to "slow things down". He needed time to process what was happening and needed my support. I put a break on meeting new people for a few months, but it felt unnatural and started to put too much pressure on my existing relationships. What drove me to start conversations with my husband about opening up our marriage in the first place was my interest in connecting with multiple people, not one person; getting exposed to different points of view and experiences, not one point of view and experience; my overall infatuation with human nature that cannot really be "paused" by not being active on the dating apps. Eventually, we re-aligned on what our needs were and he gave me the green light to get back into the dating scene.

Balance is very important in any relationship, and it becomes even more delicate in polyamorous relationships when more than two people are involved. What I found to be the most crucial part of maintaining the balance is bringing things up as soon as they come up. If my husband didn't tell me how he felt about me dating, I would ultimately cause him pain by not giving him the space and time he needed to process what was happening. If I didn't pay attention to my own needs and kept communicating them to my husband, he probably would still be processing... For an unknown period of time.

To me, balance doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should have equal amounts of partners or have the same amount of dates. We are all different and we have different needs and routines. Balance, in my opinion, is all about finding that perfect place of coming together despite of our differences and different lifestyles, when every partner in the relationship feels happy and comfortable with the interactions they have with the other. What they do or not do outside of those interactions is up to them, as long as it doesn't start influencing the relationship in any negative way. And if it does - flagging it early and talking about it helps.

When something feels unbalanced, we might think we know what our partners should do differently to make us feel better, but it may not necessarily solve the problem. When something feels off, I try to dig deep and figure out which of my needs is not being met. For example, if I feel like I am missing quality time in any of my relationships, I might think that spending more time together could help fulfill that need. Instead, if I dig deeper I might find that my true need is not for more time together, but rather to make that relationship match some mental picture I created. If it doesn't quite fit that mental picture, and if I don't realize that THAT is what I'm doing, I might force the relationship until it either becomes what I envisioned or breaks. Being aware of what exactly is happening and what my true needs are helps me find a way to meet those needs myself, talk to my partners more effectively, or let the unpleasant feelings and rigid mental pictures go.

It's not easy to communicate when something feels off because it's not always clear right away what it is exactly. Meditating, sleeping on it, and asking myself why I feel the way I feel over and over until I unpack all the layers helps me figure out what I'm really feeling. Also, using non-violent communication principals helps shape the conversation in the most productive way. Remembering that we are different, with all of our histories, hormones, emotional resources, and needs; keeping ourselves open and honest, and not making assumptions about people around us is a pretty good start to keeping our relationships balanced. Don't you agree?

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Polyamory (Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", Latin amor, "love") is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.

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