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Poly 101: A Brief Introduction to Polyamory

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Emily Coday

on 12 September 2016

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Transcript of Poly 101: A Brief Introduction to Polyamory

Polyamory
Defined

Polyamory means "many loves." Polyamorous people do not limit themselves to a single romantic relationship.
Poly people get jealous too

Poly Pitfalls
Ethical Nonmonogamy
Polyamory can get a bad rap when people claim to be polyamorous when they are actually cheating on their partner
Cheating is not Polyamory!
Communication and honesty are crucial
Remain Ethical:
safe sex
be honest with your partners
be honest with yourself
Communicate
Jealousy
Even experienced poly people are not immune to jealousy
Jealousy usually has an underlying cause
Insecurities
Needs you aren't getting met
Learning how to address your jealousy is the most common struggle for people new to polyamory
Types of Polyamory
There isn't a single correct way to be polyamorous as long as you remain ethical
Different types of polyamory work for different people
Poly 101: A Brief Introduction to Polyamory- Communication
What Polyamory is not:
Swinging
Cheating
One big orgy
An "excuse to sleep around"
Polygamy
Hierarchical Pyramid
"Ranking" for partners:
Based on time
Relationship length
Kids/ Marriage
Cohabitation
Ranking and comparing partners can be a common issue in heirarchical poly
Sometimes a primary is given veto power
Hierarchical Polyamory
Usually don't cohabitate or marry
Some consider themselves their primary
May still have deep & meaningful relationships
Great for very independent people
One downfall is solo poly partners are likely to be cast aside as soon as the other partner feels jealous
Solo Poly
Relationship anarchists don't follow relationship rules set by society
May value friendships/ non-romantic relationships as much as or more than romantic relationships
People within the relationship choose what rules work for them
A great option for those struggling with jealousy because you adjust relationships to fit you and your partner's needs, not societal expectations
Relationship Anarchy
Quad- four people who date each other (not everyone has to date each other)
Triad- three people who date each other
V- a triad with two members not having a romantic relationship
Hinge- the person in the V that dates two people
Relationship Formations
Mostly seen in triads and quads
Date within their group but not outside of their polycule (clump of intermingled relationships)
A great relationship configuration if it matches all your needs
Make sure you aren't in this configuration because of jealousy or because of pressure from partners
Can work well if it is what you really want, not what you are pressured into
Polyfidelity
Poly Saturation
Overabundance of rules
Collecting partners
NRE: New Relationship Energy
Don't expect relationships to progress at same rate
Polyamory is not a magic quick fix for your relationships
Don't isolate relationships or force them to combine
Don't worry about trying to fit into a certain mold of what you think your relationship should look like
Only enter into poly if you are ready to emotionally honest with yourself
Poly sometimes involves really tough conversations
Be responsible with other's emotions and expectations
Not all newbies are bad!
Be careful with people who don't understand poly
Sometimes the go back to monogamy
Some cheat and call it polyamory
Avoid jealous people who aren't working on themselves
Ethically unicorn hunt
Don't rush into relationships
Don't assume all your problems are caused by polyamory
Common mistakes we make in poly relationships
Poly saturation- having too many partners and not enough resources (time, energy, etc.)
Polyamory is new and exciting and many people new to it get overzealous
Having too many partners or constantly seeking out more may lead to you neglecting current relationships
With needs not being meant this can lead to jealousy
Many polyamorous couples start out with rules that they think will help them not get hurt
Creating rules to limit you and your partner may become an emotional crutch instead of working through jealousy and insecurities
If you start out with rules try and talk about them monthly
Safe sex/ safety practices are some rules that are essential and may not need to be changed
Ex: one penis policy
Similar to poly saturation some people new to poly get overzealous and collect partners
They ignore the needs of their partners and treat gathering partners like a conquest
This is obviously not ethical nonmonogamy and those new to polyamory should be careful to remember others aren't objects to add to a collection
Not addressing partner's needs may lead to jealousy
NRE is that feeling you get with a new partner when everything is exciting (those buterfly and firework feelings)
Sometimes NRE can lead to established relationships being neglected for the new relationship
Emphasize "older" partner's value to avoid jealousy
NRE can be amazing or become all-consuming
If you value your current relationship it is important to not put it on the back-burner
This is a common problem in group relationships such as quads and triads
Relationships on one leg of the triangle may prgress much slower than the other relationships
Be patient and don't try and force everyone to have the same emotional connection
Expectations may lead to envy
Polyamory is not an "easy fix"
It takes communication and emotional maturity
Adding more people will complicate things, not solve problems
It is also not ethical to put the burden of improving you relationship on a new person
The more you work on yourself the easier dealing with jealousy becomes
Never letting your partners meet or date if there is a connection cuts you off from some of the best parts of polyamory
It is sometimes less ethical
Meeting metamours helps with jealousy
Forcing them together when they don't hit it off is ill-advised
I recommend trying out different types of polyamory and seeing what works the best
Deciding your relationships must fit into a small box prevents your relationships from growing
Lack of Emotional Honesty
Avoid people who don't "get it"
Unicorn hunting- when a couple looks for a bisexual person to join their relationship
Sometimes they expect the unicorn will fix all their problems
They sometimes also expect the unicorn to come in and stay only second best to their relationship
At any problems (jealousy) tthe unicorn is often discarded
Don't do it unless you will value you the new partner's needs and feelings!
Polyamory can be pretty dang exciting but be careful not to rush into relationships without communicating about needs of both partners first
Discuss with your partner ahead of time how you will handle jealousy
Respect the person you are having a new relationship with and don't date them if your partner is going to insist you break up (and you think thats reasonable).
All relationships have struggles
A lot of the problems poly couples face are the same as monogamous couples
Don't assume all the issues you run into are poly-related
Jealousy is an issue in monogamy and polyamory
going monogamous is not a healthy solution to solve jealousy
My lover's boyfriend's wife's partners is my what?!
Metamour- Your partner's partner
Paramour- Your lover
Kitchen Table Poly- Your relationships/ partners cross over and interact with each other (I Recommend)
Parallel Poly- Relationships don't cross over
Gender
Sexuality
Consent
Consent is vital in our community
Always ask if you aren't sure
Even if you feel like a dork saying "may I please kiss you"
Consent is sexy!
Lack of consent or respecting other's boundaries will result in immediate dismissal from the group
RACK
Gender is not just binary
There is more than male and female
Androgynous- gender neutral
Ask about pronouns and use ones they prefer
Genderqueer- The identity that lies outside of just male or female
Gender fluid- Someone who has a gender identity that may switch
Transgender- Anyone who isn't cis gender
Cis- Gender identity aligns with sex assigned at birth
genderless/ agendered- don't identify with a gender
Jealousy is not a unique experience to one gender
Sexuality is also fluid
Pansexual- A sexual attraction not limited by gender
Bisexual- A sexual attraction to both male and female
Asexual- Someone who generally does not feel or wish to act on sexual attraction (like anything sexuality-related this is fluid and on a scale).
Flexibility, Kinsey scale, fluidity
Additional Resources
The Ethical Slut
More Than Two
The Husband Swap
Thorntree Press Publishing Company is coming out with more poly books
Boulder Polyamory Discussion
Questions?
Wibbly/ wibbles- moments of insecurity over seeing your partner with someone else
Shadenfruede- pleasure at other's misfortune or pain
Frubble/ Compersion- the opposite of shadenfruede; pleasure as a result of seeing your partner happy
Poly Words
Full transcript