Posted on in Healthy Living by Katrina Vaillancourt

A Relationship Style
That Works for Me


woman and two men

Iam solo-poly. This means my primary relationship is to myself. I have other lovers, but I am not required to check in or ask permission from anyone before adding someone new. This allows me freedom to honor the nature of my energy with you. I currently have 4 regular lovers and another 8 to 10 with whom I may erotically connect when the opportunity arises. On occasion, I am blessed to enjoy being with two or three lovers at once, which I find wonderfully exciting, delightful, and memorable. I am often asked, “How do you manage having so many lovers? Doesn’t that create a lot of drama?” I have less drama than ever before. “How is that possible?” you might ask.

Being solo-poly enables me to have clear and simple relationship agreements from the start. Potential new partners understand in our first meeting that being with me means consenting to and honoring my stated relationship status. Instead of spending our time processing about and negotiating rules around other potential lovers, we spend it simply enjoying each other’s company.

Being solo-poly is akin to living according to the lifestyle philosophy of “relationship anarchy.” The stability and depth of my romantic connection with any given lover assumes a kind of radical honesty but is independent of specified rules to keep it together. Stability is grounded in principles of love, namely in our ability to be consistently loving, compassionate, kind, and “juicy” with each other.

These principles, enabling solo-poly relationships to thrive, must extend not only to our lovers of choice, but also to the outside web of our lover’s relationships. For example, I recently shared a week with a lover I’ll call “Tom.” Though this was our special time together, he entirely understood and supported my need to stay connected with other lovers. He too set aside time to provide emotional support for one of his lovers who was undergoing personal challenges.

I’ve been lovers with Tom for more than three years now. When we first connected, he was primary-partnered poly, meaning his wife came first. Honoring his relationship agreements, I asked his wife for permission to make love with him. She was happy to say yes to my request. This is a beautiful example of “compersion,” a form of celebratory compassion that is seen as the antidote to jealousy in the polyamorous world. Cultivating compersion is essential to successful polyamory. Rather than being jealous or insecure, compersion entails actually delighting in the pleasure our lover shares with others and trusting. Trusting that there is enough love to go around creates greater ease in polyamory.

A couple years after our first meeting, Tom and his wife romantically separated while maintaining a close friendship. He shifted his relationship status to solo-poly. “Tina” became one of Tom’s girlfriends. She understood that he was solo-poly but was hoping he would come around and claim her as his new primary poly partner.

Prior to dating Tom, Tina asked if I would meet with her. She told me she felt safer with me than she had with any other woman Tom was dating. I had provided her with compassion, understanding, and friendship. She expressed how challenging it was for her to accept my time with Tom, and I appreciated the raw honesty and vulnerability. When Tom was with other lovers, she admitted to feeling like a little girl fearing abandonment.

Polyamorous relationship dynamics often stir up subconscious childhood fears and anxieties. I had wrestled long and hard with this challenge; it used to overwhelm me. During those times, I learned to do what Tina did. I voiced my emotions and the underlying longings to sympathetic listeners. I learned that this was the voice of my frightened inner child. However, as an adult, I am capable of selfsoothing and making life-affirming choices. This is the message I conveyed to Tina to try to empower her in the context of the relationship she chose to have with Tom. I wanted her to find, with Tom, the same freedom, ease, and self-assurance I have found.

In my 15 years of experimenting with polyamory, I have come to believe that anyone who is serious about trying it must be equally serious about rooting out tendencies toward jealousy, insecurity, victim mentality, codependency, selfishness, and lack of honesty. These behaviors quickly undermine any relationship, especially those involving multiple lovers. Polyamory has served my personal path by highlighting these disempowering tendencies within myself, forcing me to work through them in my commitment to standing with integrity. I would hope that I am kind, sensitive, and considerate of others and still march to the beat of my own drum.

Being polyamorous has taught me valuable skills that will serve me in any relationship. It has significantly accelerated my personal growth. Being solo-poly grants me freedom of choice far beyond what any other relationship status ever has. What my choice does not offer is the opportunity for a focused and profoundly deep relationship bond. That kind of intimacy brings many benefits, which come from devoted closeness and attentiveness to one committed partner in day-to-day reality. But at this time in my life, I am not interested in taking on the responsibilities and limitations associated with being in a dedicated primary partnership. Perhaps in the next decade or two, that will change. For now, I love the playful freedom I have achieved. I delight in being solo-poly.

Katrina Vaillancourt is a certified love coach and sex educator who leads communication workshops focusing on conflict resolution, love, sex, and intimacy. She is the creator of Love Smart Cards.

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