Guest post written by Lillian Bell. An intimate exploration of the dynamics within and beyond ‘conventional’ relationships.
I believe that in a relationship between two people, ideals will not always align. This is because each person is influenced by many different things, and is (hopefully) always evolving as an individual. Therefore, I believe the best we can do to evolve a relationship is to be CONTINUALLY open, honest, compassionate and supportive with each other, free of judgement. We should also, simultaneously, be all of these things to OUR SELVES as individuals (I acknowledge that this is no easy task for many and may take time to achieve!!).
I also believe in realising NOT ignoring our instincts, and then rationalising them to see if we can reconcile our logic with our instinctive reactions. That is, to let ourselves feel our emotions but then consult our logic to see if we can reach inner peace. If you cannot reach this state it could be because:

  1. you have not invited yourself to explore the situation thoroughly on a rational level; or
  2. you have put much consideration into the situation and your logic aligns with your instinct and, therefore, you cannot accept the situation

The concept of possession [ie possessing someone within a relationship] is directly related to oppression (and the sense of undesired ownership) and it is also the result of instinctive (as opposed to logical) evolution (ie to protect one’s chances of reproduction). This idea of possession is very subjective, however; it can be interpreted as one partner being ‘protective’ and the other feeling ‘safe’ because of it, or it can be interpreted as one partner being ‘posessive/dominant’ and the other feeling ‘submissive/oppressed’ because of it. It is one of many potential imbalances in a relationship. Some people see monogamy as an expression of ownership because people may state that their partner ‘belongs’ to them. Monogamy assumes each partner will not explore other people on a deep emotional and/or sexual level (the two are not always mutually exclusive) and some people see this as inhibiting/restricting (again, it’s all a matter of how each person involved perceives the situation).
The concept of polygamy is complicated because there can be as many emotional variables as there are people involved (and the fact that each person can continually change). Not to mention health issues associated with sex. The idea of a committed relationship is so often seen as synonymous with sexual exclusivity. However, there are people who believe that you can have sex with people outside of your relationship without it affecting the intense loving, committed feelings you have with your primary partner (and that this can, in fact, improve your relationship through a perceived sense of freedom and increased happiness derived from the other person’s happiness). In addition, there are people who believe you can maintain several equally intimate relationships without one being at the expense of another (the analogy for this is that a parent can love all of their children equally so therefore each partner can love all of their respective partners equally).
As with any relationship between two people, I believe the best we can do to evolve relationships with more than two people, is to be CONTINUALLY open, honest, compassionate and supportive with each other and ourselves, free of judgement.
In a case where the concept of polygamy arises between a couple, where one is for it and the other is not, both partners have perfectly valid perspectives….they just do not align. What is important is that there has been open, honest dialogue between them, however, as this allows both individuals to make informed decisions. There is no wrong or right in this situation. At the end of the day if people don’t feel like they can express their true, honest selves within any relationship, then some thorough examination of the situation is needed to reach a resolution. This will most likely mean changes need to be made – what these changes will be is completely up to each individual.
Opening our relationships up to more than one other person can mean we may have to confront our own instincts somewhat more closely (eg jealousy). I believe that if we expose ourselves to challenging situations we can grow emotionally as people, but only if we are open to doing so.
Since the end of my long-term, monogamous, relationship I have been exploring different forms of relationships. I am currently engaging in a committed relationship with myself. Simultaneously to this, I am interacting with someone I respect, and have much affection for, on a sexual level (commonly known as ‘friends with benefits). I think different types of relationships can suit different people at different times in their lives. The best we can do is be honest with ourselves and each other.

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