I have a lot to thank Polyamory for.
Let me be clear from the beginning though: I don't actually practice polyamory. However, my one brief foray into its landscape was the catalyst for a period of deep soul searching that completely changed my life, in more areas than just intimate relationship.
A number of years ago, I had been in a relationship with a woman for several months when they made it clear they were not comfortable with the relationship being exclusive.
When I found this out I felt confused, devastated, overwhelmed...
This became an extraordinary challenge for me, because I was part of an alternative community that was all about questioning everything - which very much included the stereotypical, heterosexual relationship format we had all grown up around.
Within this community, many felt that monogamy itself was an oppressive, socially constructed weight - a barrier to true freedom that was outdated and unhealthy. So I found myself weighing these ideals - which a part of me wanted to agree with - against the emotional wreckage inside of me.
There was not a single part of me that wanted to control my partner - who I had fallen deeply in love with - and yet there was no denying how much of a mess this made of me.
My friends weren't particularly helpful in my process. For the most part they were happy to listen to me, but were similarly conflicted by a belief system that was very compelling.
So, in a moment of desperation, I went to see a facilitator I had been introduced to through my best friend - a highly empathic psychospiritual guide. Within the first few minutes of our first session, he was celebrating the purity of my heart's needs, and validating them, as I balled my eyes out.
It was clear to him that my desire for exclusivity in this instance was coming from a totally clean, pure place - that my soul simply had an innate need for reciprocity - to receive the kind of energy it was giving.
That short session accomplished two things: It sparked a process of me exploring my soul's needs as they relate to intimate relationship, and it also started a therapeutic relationship that would span the next six years and totally transform my life.
So, like I said, I am forever indebted to polyamory - and I'm also glad I was able to learn what my orientation toward it is before I betrayed myself anymore than I already had.
How Monogamous is Your Soul?
One of the lessons I learned through this experience - and one that I have witnessed many others learn, both in my work as a facilitator and personally - had to do with completely validating my heart's needs, rather than deferring to an ideal or belief system.
Part of my community at the time had certain ideas about monogamy that actually contradicted my soul's needs in a massive way. It took a gifted facilitator who was completely removed from that world to reflect, clearly, that my feelings were valid.
I found that, yes, monogamy can be unhealthy and oppressive (obviously), but my hearts yearning for reciprocity was absolutely not.
There were other lessons, too.
When my then girlfriend and I really went into it, two things became apparent: She was afraid of the vulnerability that would come from a certain level of commitment - it's terrifying to fully open your heart to someone, because they might hurt you - and I was willing to throw my needs under the bus to be with her.
These are two classic dynamics that show up in unhealthy polyamorous relationships - a fear of real intimacy masquerading as progressiveness, and a complete betrayal of self in order to hang onto someone who doesn't reciprocate your level of engagement.
Of course these same dynamics surface in all relationship types, in different ways.
The question each of us must ask ourselves, and really deeply explore, is how monogamous - or non-monogamous - is our soul? Not whether polyamory is superior because we intellectually think so. There are no rules when it comes to matters of the heart - no intellectual or sociological reasoning can possibly encompass the unique processes and needs of each heart.
We can find our answer by looking at our relationship history, by introspection or experimentation - the most important thing to remember is that there is no wrong. Our hearts needs are what they are - beautiful, sacred and in a state of evolution.
And whatever our heart's true needs are, there's someone out there that's going to be aligned with them. Probably many someones, actually.
I am also grateful to polyamory because, from the journey it sparked, I have spent years tearing apart my own approach to relationship and intimacy, and have stepped into the wonderful waters of conscious monogamy.
This is something I'm very passionate about, and something I focus on regularly in my work with clients.
It's easy to look at the examples of monogamy most of us have been surrounded by and wonder to ourselves: "It seems like we're doing something wrong here!" This has less to do with monogamy, however, and more to do with the unconscious, soul destructive patterns that are the status quo.
Truly conscious monogamy is a completely different paradigm of relationship. Where romantic relationships were previously places to check out - to project, distract and numb ourselves - in a conscious relationship, it's almost the opposite. We come together to acknowledge our wounds, our vulnerability, our feelings - not play games by obscuring or hiding them - because by embracing such a high level of honesty, the potential for healing and transformation is enormous. We are not married to old concepts of how long or short a relationship should be - we are married to the truth of our connection; to fully showing up to find out what that is.
The very type of vulnerability my ex was afraid of, and positioned herself closer to polyamory as a result of, is often a key ingredient in the kind of connection I am describing.
The type of conscious, awakened monogamy I have thankfully discovered seems, strangely, to actually be an embodiment of some of the ideals my old friends celebrated.
Having said that, I don't believe there is any right or wrong way to be in intimate relationship - for each of us it is a personal process of finding out who we are, what our hearts need, and then living in alignment with that.
That sounds pretty good to me!
What about you? Do you have and experience or perspective to share in this area? If so I would love to hear it - leave a comment below or send me a message!
If you liked this article - grab a copy of my free Conscious Relationship Wake Up Call - it's a short and sweet call to action and reminder of a few of the most fundamental truths that have transformed my own life and relationships.
About The Author:
Hi, my name is Miles. I am a writer & facilitator that helps people step into an aligned, beautiful and empowered life through conscious relationship work, emotional work, shadow integration and much more.
I am passionate about this work because when we step into alignment with our souls, pure magic happens - and I know of nothing more healing or beautiful.