What is Polyamory?
Polyamory is a type of ethical non-monogamy that involves two or more people in committed relationships, usually romantic ones. In a nutshell, being in a polyamorous relationship means that both you and your spouse can date other people.
Polyamory is not synonymous with polygamy. Polygamy is the practice of marrying multiple people at the same time but polyamory does not always imply marriage and they aren't always sexual, though they can be.
People in most societies around the world aspire to meet "the one" and create a lifelong commitment with that individual. We constantly read about and watch "Happy ever after" stories of soulmates who were "built for one other” in books and movies.
However, in recent decades, an increasing number of people have spoken out against monogamy, claiming that it is not for them. According to recent surveys, around 4–5% of all individuals in the United States are in non-monogamous partnerships that are consensual.
Polyamory is one form of non-monogamous behavior that has received public attention. But what exactly is polyamory and how does it differ from other non-monogamous relationships? Is it a dream come true, a way to "eat your cake and have it back," as the saying goes? Polyamorous and monogamous relationships can both be healthy and happy, depending on the circumstances and behavior of the individuals involved.
Forms of Polyamory
Polyamory can take on several forms depending on the individual. You can use a variety of "structures" and boundaries. Each polyamorous individual can create their own boundaries based on their preferences. The following are some of the most prevalent polyamory structures:
Polyfidelity. This is when a group of partners agrees not to have sexual or romantic interactions with anyone outside the group.
Triad. This is also known as a throuple, and it involves three people who are all dating each other.
Quad. A quad, like a triad, is a partnership in which four people are dating one another.
Vee (or "V") is a character in the video game Vee (or "V"). This occurs when one person dates two separate persons, but they are not dating each other.
Despite the models described above, it is important to remember that it is not always the case with married couples where there is a “primary relationship” and this tends to place “secondary” partners in a “smaller” box. This is a hierarchical structure, so you will have to discuss with your partner and learn what works best for you concerning already established models, or based on your construct.
As polyamorous relationships are mostly for the sanity and satisfaction of the group as a whole, written models may not always work. You have to work as a team and explore. These structures will be discussed and remodeled with time, as feelings and concerns change, to suit every individual. This is why non-hierarchical structures thrive in polyamory.
Challenges That Might Arise In Polyamorous Unions And How They Ought To Be Handled
Polyamory might be an escape from your monotonous monogamous relationship, however, it is still a union that requires commitment, communication, and hard work for it to thrive healthily.
Some of the challenges faced in polyamorous relationships include:
- Jealousy: Some polyamorous persons aren't envious, while others are. Jealousy isn't necessarily a terrible thing, but you should learn to express and control it in a healthy way.
- Time Limits: Having multiple bonds can be challenging because each one takes time. A "time crunch" can be extremely stressful.
- Energy Constraints: Each connection necessitates energy — emotional, mental, and physical. This can be difficult, especially if you struggle with energy in general.
- Societal Alienation: This might have a negative impact on your mental health. Many polyamorous people struggle with the stigma associated with non-monogamy.
It's difficult to deal with a lack of acceptance from your friends, family, and community. Non-monogamous persons internalize negative remarks about non-monogamy, and this may have an impact on your relationships and sense of self. In essence, only you can decide if polyamory is right for you and if it is the solution to your relationship problem.
Polyamory or monogamy; none is the bigger “person "of the two. It may work for you and not for others. There's no such thing as a “one for all” relationship book because we are all distinct individuals with unique requirements and you have to discuss and understand yours.
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How Does Infidelity Work in a Polyamorous Relationship?
Polyamorous relationships give a lot of consensual leverage to partners and go a long way in discouraging incessant flings and cheating exploits. However, polyamorous partnerships, like all relationships, have boundaries. If you cross certain lines, your partner may perceive it as infidelity or a breach of your relationship agreement.
You might be wondering, how does infidelity manifest itself? The nature of the relationship will determine this. A breach of your spoken or agreed relationship contract can be construed as a type of infidelity. This is why it is important to have discussions and be completely open with your partner to build the bedrock of your relationship, anything goes as long as you and your partner have honestly agreed to it.
It is a good idea for you and your partner to learn more about polyamory and non-monogamy before getting into a polyamorous relationship. While most people are accustomed to monogamous relationships, finding a model for polyamory can be challenging. If you think this is something you should get into, seeking out a professional or therapist will be the best way for you to ease into the new lifestyle.
Betrayal trauma in a romantic partnership: What is it and how to heal
Betrayal trauma is typically prolonged emotional pain felt by one person in a romantic partnership. This pain could have been inflicted intentionally or unintentionally, usually due to a violation of trust or well-being. The trauma usually lingers due to the bond and attachment that has been developed by both parties in the relationship.
Betrayal trauma can be identified by physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, dissociation, emotional dysregulation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), physical pain, gastrointestinal issues, trust and relational issues, etc. Betrayal in romantic partnerships is often caused by infidelity or financial instability.
Betray Trauma Challenges
The most challenging part of betrayal trauma in romantic partnerships is usually not the trauma process but what to do with it, how to heal and how to move on. This is because the trauma often leads to various forms of physical and emotional pain.
The first way many of us respond to pain is denial because we may find it quite hard to accept what happened at the initial point. Also, emotions have a way of clouding our judgement and stopping us from understanding how we feel. We tend to forego seeking advice from their loved ones, close friends or getting help from a professional.
Furthermore, love and relationships (be it with a romantic partner or a loved one) are one of our most essential needs as humans. So, our first instinct alot of times is to maintain the relationship rather than trying to process the trauma truly.
How to Heal From Betrayal Trauma
- Acknowledging and accepting what has happened instead of concealing it
It is also essential to become more aware of your actions during the healing period to avoid reacting based on your emotions. It’s also essential to process trauma and heal from it to avoid outbursts of negative emotions in the future. The first step to healing is acknowledging that you are hurt and sharing how you feel with someone you trust.
- Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries helps to redefine and strengthen how we feel. Boundaries protect us from reuniting with exes or people who will hurt us again. They also create a much needed space between you and the people that have violated your love and trust. Creating healthy boundaries can help free you from the trauma and give you room to heal completely.
- Do not Isolate!
Too much isolation after a betrayal trauma can lead to even deeper mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). So, it is essential for people who have experienced trauma to know how to communicate feelings properly. You have to know they you can still depend on others not just yourself. After a betrayal, it's good to have a support system to help you recover and move on quickly.
You can decide to communicate with your significant partner about how their actions have affected you and what the course of the relationship will look like afterwards.
- Seek the help of a professional
The final stage of healing, when all else fails, is to seek a professional or an expert to go through the journey of recovery with you. You will need someone to help you point out the symptoms and triggers. On this journey, you may also need to revisit the event, discover your faults, and forgive yourself so you can move on.
The pain of betrayal from a romantic partner stings deep, and healing can take a while. However, the goal is not to keep reliving that moment of pain but to open yourself up to the possibility of completely getting over it.
Once you set out to seek healing, it will become your reality. Forgiving yourself and your partner or the person who caused you pain, will also go a long way in helping you heal. Betrayal trauma can be a deep and ugly wound, but with therapy, it is possible to navigate through the suffering without too much pressure.
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