Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top 3 Skills of the Polyamorous

Before coming out to my husband as polyamorous I read everything I could about the topic. I found a common theme in every article related to polyamory and that was the skills one would need in order to make it work. These skills include:

  • Communication
  • Ability to process emotions
  • Time management 
  • And much more. . . .
But those blog posts and books and podcasts didn't really go into how hard all this stuff is. While these are skills that monogamous folk practice when you are polyamorous, you must be doubly as good at these abilities than you would if you were just with one person. Furthermore, they are skills that you need to work on, they are skills that you will never fully master, and they are hard.

Communication

Communication isn't just talking, it involves listening, reading body language, and other forms of nonverbal communication. Just speaking your mind or replying to something someone says isn't always enough. The most difficult thing to overcome and the biggest practice that will help you is to listen completely. By listening completely I mean tune out distractions and do not listen with the intent to reply. Listen with the intent to hear, to understand. 

I have found that nonverbal communication works best for me and my partners. We usually leave notes or text when we need to discuss something. They understand that I am doing it this way in order to keep the situation calm by taking out tones of voice and more often than not we solve most of our issues via text or the written word. Practicing controlling the tone of your voice and thinking of what you want to say before you say it will help tremendously when you and your partners have disputes or conversations that make you uncomfortable. 

Ability To Process Emotions

By this, I don't mean just being able to say "I am angry" or "I am sad" or "I am happy." Being able to process your emotions also means being able to handle those emotions, knowing what you need when you feel a certain way, and knowing when it is best to walk away to let things cool down. Being able to pick out anger from jealousy and knowing that you need to cool down instead of blow up claiming it's jealousy, is a useful skill, especially in polyamory. Many things can present their self as jealousy, but may be hurt because you aren't getting your needs met, upset because you don't see your partner(s) as much as you'd like. The ability to process your emotions, understand why you are feeling a certain way, and communicating those feelings effectively will help you in more ways than you could possibly imagine.

Time Management

Two words: shared calendar! Sharing a calendar is a big step in a relationship and in some relationships, it isn't even a step! Sharing a calendar means that you all have access to the same calendar where you put in when you are busy, what you are doing, and when you have free time. This can help everyone to plan time with partner(s), friends, family, etc around everyone else's schedule. I say this is a big step in a relationship because it comes with a lot of trust. When you share a calendar you are trusting your partner with knowing where you are at all times, what you are up to, and so much more. It's essentially handing over a good chunk of your life. But it is one of the biggest and best ways to practice time management within polyamory. 

Other ways that I have found, that work for me, are communication, limiting myself to a certain number of partners, and planning things out a week or two in advance. When I am serious with someone or we are headed that way, I like to talk to them at least every other day. I love hearing about their day and what they are up to. If they have free time and I have free time, and it's last minute, if we have been talking that day we can plan to meet up real fast and do something together. Planning things out for a week or so in advance works well because you and your partner(s) are collaborating on what is on your own personal schedules for the upcoming week, without sharing the entire schedule.

Limiting myself to a certain number of partners has been the best way for me to manage my time. I have a lot going on in life and having too many partners would be stressful. I keep things limited to my husband, who is my live-in partner, and a boyfriend. If I do not have a boyfriend at the time I talk to 2 or 3 people and go on a handful of dates here and there throughout the period of a couple of months. When things start getting serious with one of those 2 or 3 people, I inform the others that I will not have as much time to chat and our dates will cease, but I don't mind remaining friends. This is just what works best for me, though. 

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