Is the drive to go out and get another partner to “balance” things out just childish?
That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.
Are you ever “poly-saturated”?
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I just discovered your awesome podcast today and have been binge-listening all day. I do apologize if you've already had an episode about this and maybe I just haven't gotten to it yet, but I am new to non-monogamy and while I don't mind one bit that my new partner has a wife (I've met them and they are absolutely lovely!), I sometimes find myself wanting to go right out and find a second partner of my own to "keep it fair."
However, this seems like it could be very detrimental because the relationship I have with my partner is still very new and we are spending as much time as we can together. I feel like a petulant child wishing things could feel "more fair" and maybe someday I will have a second partner, but for right now would you say it is best to focus on the relationship I'm currently building and not worry so much about "keeping things fair?"
First thing I want to say is that there's nothing childish about your feelings and it might be helpful for you to check yourself a little bit when it comes to that because I understand why you're trying to judge yourself a little bit because I think we all kind of do that.
But there becomes a point where sometimes this kind of reaction is a little bit self attack-y and self attack doesn't do the thing that you think it does, or that your brain kind of thinks it does, right? Because like I think a lot of us self attack because our brains are like, “Oh my God, we need to make sure we stay safe”.
“And the way that we say safe is by really making sure that you know I make sure that you know these things. You must—“ You know, it's a survival mechanism of your brain. And I understand why my brain does it and probably why your brain does it. But sometimes compassion for your own feelings actually works out a little bit better.
So allow yourself to have feelings and kind of see if you can check the judgment that you're doing towards yourself a little bit at the door. Because feelings are just feelings. They aren't necessarily embodiment of who you are as a person.
I think sometimes we tend to think that our feelings represent us and our identities as a whole but actually feelings are just feelings. And sometimes you're angry. Sometimes you're sad. And that doesn't have to characterise you as an entire person.
You're allowed to be like, “Oh man, I want a second partner” without that being a complete representative of who you are. So give yourself permission to have feelings without that necessarily being an encapsulation of who you are. So that's the first thing. Second thing again, I don't think that it's childish to have this feeling because at the base level you know polyamorous people are always like “Love is infinite. Love is infinite” and that's true. Love is very infinite.
There is no limits to the amount of love that you can have for different people. And that is an idea that we are attempting to challenge within societies because throughout our childhood for most of us society has said “You must have only one amounts of love— romantic love for one person and that's it”. And so you are challenging that love isn't limited, however, time is limited.
You only have 24 hours in one day. You are only one person we are not yet capable of splitting ourselves into multiple things and time turner's don't exist and we have 24 hours in a day. We have a limited amount of energy. There's only so much that we can do and when you sign on for a non-monogamous relationship, as I've said multiple times, one of the things that you have to accept is that in comparison to a monogamous relationship, any partner that you have will not give you 100% of their time. Now again, like I've said before, this isn't necessarily the case in all monogamous relationships.
Some people have very time intensive careers or they're just kind of not interested in giving one romantic partner 100% of their time. However, culturally we kind of assume within a romantic relationship that we will have 100% of someone's time and that becomes somewhat of an emotional expectation and that can be sometimes difficult when you do start in non-monogamy because you kind of have to adjust to that.
Just like you have to adjust if you're going from an in person relationship to a long distance relationship. You kind of have to adjust there. And for some people that adjustment is something that they don't want to do, or they have no interest in, just like some people have no interest in long distance relationships.
So I feel like the sort of feeling of like, “oh, maybe I should have a second partner” or “I want to have another person that I also get to share some time with because I recognise that even though we're spending this time together this person does have another partner and therefore is not capable of giving me all of their time. Therefore I have a gap in my life of things that I probably would have gotten if I were in a monogamous relationship, and therefore would like to maybe fill that gap with time from another person”
That— What is—? There's nothing childish about that. And really analysing what motivations we all have for finding any partner whatsoever— I mean, we're relational creatures, we naturally want to be in relation with other people, whether that's romantic, whether that's friendship, you know, there is a reason as I've said before, that solitary confinement causes human beings’ mental capacities to degrade. There is a reason why solitary confinement is considered torture in many, many places. Because we're relational creatures. We have survived through relationships.
We improve through relationships, and it makes sense to want relationships. There isn’t— I don't feel like there is some sort of a pure type of motivation for wanting a new partner. And I don't think that it's necessarily selfish to want someone to share your life with and to want to have someone that your partner has. Your partner has a wife. Your partner has a whole other person that, they get to spend time with, that they get to share things with, that they get to love and you noticing that you don't have that and therefore wanting that makes total sense. That makes total sense.
That's not childish, and it's not ridiculous. The second thing I want to kind of address here is that focusing on building a relationship with somebody and looking for another relationship are not mutually exclusive concepts. I can understand coming from a monogamous kind of lens and kind of being used to a monogamous lens that when you get a new romantic partner quite often one thing that happens and one thing that I don't think is good actually that happens within many monogamous relationships and cultures—
That people go, “Okay, I have a boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever. Now, I can't have as many friends or I have to shift all of my focus from my friendships and other relationships in my life to this new romantic relationship”, And I'm sure that many of us have had the experience where someone gets a partner and then they drop off the face of the earth, and they stop coming to friend things or they start and that's actually quite bad. I don't think that that's good, actually.
And I think some sometimes people think that that's culturally like what they should do and part of it is like new relationship energy, what we call in non monogamous communities is where, you know someone's new and shiny and it's exciting and you kind of want to spend all your time together and— that's fine, but that doesn't mean that you let go of your other relationships and friendships are relationships too. Technically, everyone has multiple relationships because your friendships are important.
And actually this kind of cultural thing that we've developed in some places, and for some people, they have more strong of a pull on this than others. But this sort of concept of romantic relationships are at the top of the hierarchy and all other relationships are— pale in comparison and should not be the focus and should not be as important I think that that's total bullshit actually.
And actually it would benefit you loads to understand that there is a balance to be had between how you — again, love is infinite time is not — There is a balance to be had with how you decide to manage your time and you know— we all have as well, like most of us have to pay rent and you have to go to work and then you're only able to— you gotta exercise too and it's so many things that you have to do. And it's it’s… you know, polyamory? In this economy? Like you know, how you gonna to manage your time… it's a struggle.
It's a struggle. But I think that it would actually benefit you and benefit everyone really to be able to understand that when you have a new romantic relationship, it doesn't have to take over your entire life. And you can focus on building other relationships, whether they're romantic or not, whilst you're also in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship, any kind of relationship. You can learn how to deal with your time in a way that might be beneficial for you.
And particularly because you're interested in non-monogamy, it might benefit you a lot to kind of figure out “Okay, I got a new relationship here, and I'm looking for other people,” and how do you manage your time like that's actually quite a good practice. Because when you do get a second partner, at any point in time, you're going to need to bet you know, balance your time and figure out how you're going to prioritise things and whatnot. So it's not a bad thing at all.
And I don't think that focusing on building a relationship with one person and looking for other relationships or developing other relationships is a mutually exclusive concept. It might be that you need to think about how you deal with your time. And maybe that is something that you're gonna have to learn and figure out within non-monogamy and if you haven't had the conversation with your new partner yet about time and physical stuff, and “Okay, are we are we going to be— is Tuesday and Thursday nights, my nights?”. Things like that are actually quite important to discuss and go through when starting a relationship.
So, you know, I don't think that it's bad or mutually exclusive thing. I think actually would be hugely beneficial. So, to sum up, firstly, I don't think your feelings are childish at all. I think they make a lot of sense. They're very normal and very understandable.
Love is infinite. Time is not. So yes, you are going to naturally feel the void that you have a relationship with somebody who is already in another relationship with somebody and therefore cannot spend 100% of their time with you. You come from a monogamous culture, I assume, and therefore have an emotional expectation that you may have 100% or at least a good deal of someone else's time. You are not getting that right now.
So therefore you understandably feel a little bit of a void there and are interested in filling that void with other relationships. And there is nothing that is untoward about that. The motivations people have for finding a new partner don't necessarily have to be “pure” and I'm not saying you said that.
But I'm not sure that such a concept like that exists. And remember to think about like the story you tell yourself, and the way that you judge yourself for having feelings and whether or not that judgment is actually bringing you more towards a better life in general. Like can you just allow yourself to have feelings without assuming those feelings have to represent you as a whole. And then last but not least, focusing on building one relationship while looking for others is not a mutually exclusive thing.
And it might actually benefit you a lot to learn how to balance both, especially if you would like to be non-monogamous and would like to continue being non-monogamous. Learning what your personal preferences are as far as how you spend your time, could actually be super helpful. So yeah, I hope that helps and good luck.