Note: While this outline will give you some things to talk about actually reading More Than Two is probably going to be incredibly valuable. I have outlined and asked questions about the things I have found interesting and thought-provoking, but you may find different things more helpful to yourself.
This was made for use by The Denver Nontraditional Relationships Meetup. Feel free to use it for other groups or for your own use as long as you credit Poly Talk. Going through it with a partner or your polycule might be especially helpful!
Part 1: Starting Out & Ethical Polyamory
Polyamory vocab arose so we wouldn’t have to use the same jargon as wifeswapping, cheating, and swinging. Do you agree that it is important that these terms are different to prevent more confusion with people thinking that polyamory is the same as cheating or swinging?
- Compersion- A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.
- NRE- New relationship energy
- Wibbles- A brief or fleeting feeling of jealousy
- OSO- Other significant other (metamour)
Are there any poly related terms you want to discuss the meaning of? This is a great resource to learn the lingo.
1. Trust– A lot in polyamory comes down to: how much do I trust my partner?
2. Courage– Confronting fears and going against societal norms.
- Talking about feelings when afraid.
- Giving partner freedom to explore relationships when we fear abandonment.
- Challenging ourselves to step out of comfort zone.
3. Abundance– plenty of people to love & endless love to give.
4. Ethics– treating people with compassion, integrity, & respect no matter what our relationship.
5. Empowerment– to shape relationships, to ask for what we need.
“[Polyamory] means having multiple loving often committed relationships at the same time by mutual agreement, with honesty and clarity.”
What are your thoughts on this definition that goes farther than the standard “many loves” definition?
Why is it a problem when people confuse polyamory with polygamy, polygyny, or polyandry?
Commitment isn’t commitment to sexual fidelity. It is a commitment to making the relationship work. How does this shift in commitment change the way we think about marriage vows? When commitment is usually so centered around fidelity, how do we need to shift our understanding for this new definition? What does commitment mean to you and your relationship(s)?
The happily ever after fairy tale is a myth
- People are not static
- One person cannot always meet all our needs
- Sometimes there is more than one “the one”
That doesn’t mean romance doesn’t exist or isn’t important. In what ways can we be more realistic about love but still maintain “fairy tale” level romance?
Some benefits to polyamory:
- More financial support
- More emotional support
- Splits the responsibilities in parenting/ housework so each person has less expected from them
- Having the amount of sex you want doesn’t depend on just one other person
What other benefits to being polyamorous have you come across?
MTT suggests these are some reasons to be polyamorous:
- It is part of who you are (orientation)
- It seems more honest
- It makes us rethink control and property
- This answer shouldn’t be “because of my partner”
Why are you polyamorous?
Downsides to polyamory
- Can be complicated. Complication is not proof these relationships are wrong.
- You will grow whether you want to or not.
- Polyamory is not safe. Vulnerability is painful. Rules are not the answer.
- Polyamory means giving things up. Lose time & attention.
- Polyamory changes things.
- People don’t always get along. You can’t make people like each other.
Polyamory is not an easy fix to relationships. Are these struggles worth it for you personally? Are you at the right stage in your life to take on these struggles? Which have you found the most difficult?
Relationships don’t meet a blueprint- they are as individual as the people in them. This means that people have to be flexible. How do you make goals for your relationships but still allow the flexibility relationships need to grow? Have you encountered the need to be flexible in your relationships? How did you adapt to new struggles?
MTT Suggests There Are Two Axis:
free- agent →
Prioritize decisions by the needs of the group
cohabitate, share finances, etc.
Are you more of a free agent or community oriented? Do you feel like relationship decisions should be made with only the people in the relationships in mind or with the polycule in mind? Are you more solo or more entwined? Do you like to maintain complete autonomy in everyday life or to share responsiblities and spaces with your polycule? Why do you prefer this?
- Triad- relationship with three people involved
- V- triad where two people do not date
- Quad- relationship with four people
What type of relationship structure has been your favorite? What type are you looking for and why?
Have you encountered an attitude of “I forbid you to have anyone meet your sexual needs but me, but I refuse to meet your sexual needs?” What other needs does this attitude apply to?
Pokemon poly- dating people for the needs they can meet rather than the whole person they are.
How can you use polyamory to fix this problem and get your needs met while still treating the people you date as people?
What has been the right number of total partners for you? How many is too many? How did you come to these conclusions?
Dunbar’s # says that humans can have only 150 stable social relationships at a time (family, friends, and lovers). Is this number higher or lower than what you would think?
Flexibility is key. What most people think is important at the beginning changes the longer they are poly. How does what you want now differ from what you wanted when you first started polyamory? What rules did you have then that you no longer do?
Polyamory has a steep learning curve. It gets easier as time goes on. How long did this harder time of learning take? What advice do you have for others in their steep learning curve phase?
You will hear “there is no right way to do poly.” This is true, but there are plenty of wrong ways and ways that people experienced will tell you don’t tend to work. Listen to the wisdom of people more experienced before getting defensive. What are some of the wrong ways (for you or in general) of doing polyamory? What do you wish you knew when you started polyamory? What mistakes have you made that others can learn from?
Ethical polyamory- being willing to look at your actions and the effect they have on other people. If someone says you are hurting them LISTEN and think about what you can do to limit this. Be willing to have convos without getting defensive and accusatory. How can you set aside the tendency to get defensive when someone tells you you’ve hurt them? What listening skills are important to master?
You have the right to want what you want, but not to get what you want.
- The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship
- Don’t treat people as things
Consent: your body, your mind, your choices
- You do not have the right consent to what other people, including your partners, do. You can share what you are comfortable with, but they have the agency to do what they want.
- Honesty is vital. For example, not telling someone you have HIV before helping with them is a huge violation of consent.
- Communicatie dealbreakers. When you don’t you deny them knowing that a choice is being made about them.
- Lies of omission aren’t acceptable when consent is involved.
Consent applies to things outside just sexual encounters. What aspects of relationships can these ideas about consent be applied to? Why can you never consent for another person, sexually or otherwise?