Saturday, April 9

"Poly" is more than Polyamorous.

     I recently made a public declaration of my relationship status on Facebook. I announced to the world I had (gulp) 9 "Poly" lovers. For most my devoted readers, that may not be news, yet it has filled my inbox with questions such as:

  • How does that work?
  • Do they know each other?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • Do you have sex with all of them?
  • And my personal favorite question: What's the application process?
    These questions inspire me to share some valuable distinctions about my style of open relating. First, I want to explain why I prefer the prefix "Poly" to Polyamorous.
      By it's most essential definition, Poly is a Greek term that means: Many, much or more than one. According to some definitions (and people, like my mom,) it can also indicate having an excessive or abnormal number or amount.
      It's important to know that within the cultural context of the Poly community, Poly implies deep, meaningful, long term connections with friends and lovers with an explicit agreement that everyone is openly informed of all other parties involved.
      When "Poly" is combined with a variety of suffixes, it can form the following words which indicate distinctly different intentions, so being "Poly" can include and transcend the following:
  • Polyamory: It's about Love
  • Poly Sensual: It's about pleasure
  • Poly Sexual: It's about sacred union
  • Poly fidelity: it's about commitment

      In different relationships, at different times, I may define myself as any combination of the above. This short list makes it easy to see that someone who is polyamorous could even be celibate and is not necessarily polysexual. Personally, I tend to be polyamorus with everyone, but am very selective about who I move into sensuality or sexuality with. If you must know, I'm only having intercourse with several of my lovers, but enjoy cuddling, kissing, petting and sometimes even oral sex with the others. In my heart, I am open to the possibility of moving deeper into sexuality with any of my poly lovers if the desire arises.
      My highest ideal of Poly is to show up in every moment open to the truth of the relationship and letting that unfold organically in consideration and consent of all parties involved. In this model, the relationship is authentic instead of an obligatory fulfillment of social expectations.
      In practice, I am simultaneously engaged in emotional, sexual, intellectual, and/or spiritual relationships with people who also know and love each other. My style of relating tends to look like a cloud, a pod or a constellation. I especially enjoy being included when my lovers are sharing love and sensuality with each other.
     However, not all of my lovers consider themselves as part of a pod. Each individual has unique and dynamic inter-relationships. Some of them have limiting restrictions and boundaries with the others (such as between the straight men.) Some of them have never even met (especially since I've got lovers in LA, San Francisco, Portland, New york, Sedona.) Conversely, my lovers may have other lovers I have never met, or (gasp) I don't like. At different times, my lovers may chose to practice polyfidelity (aka polyexclusivity) where they agree to be sexually active only with certain members of the group. This beautiful and sometimes necessary structure is a closed system that may help lovers build or restore trust and/or experience. Currently, I am practicing Poly inclusively and am open to expanding my deep authentic connections.
      The running joke on Facebook is: So what's the application process?  As a minimum requirement, my lovers have to be experienced at:
  • Transparent Communication, 
  • No drama, 
  • Safe sex,
  • Connection to Self and Spirit.
     Beyond these basic pre-requisites, it's a matter of chemistry, timing and the grace of God.
     For clarification:
     There are a number of cultural misunderstandings about the Poly label.      
     Perhaps the most hotly debated distinction is between Poly and swinging (aka the Lifestyle.) In swinging, primary partners agree to engage in recreational sex which is casual and not necessarily emotional. In my experience, there is a large overlap between communities.  Swingers will often fall in love with each other, and  many poly people will often experiment at swing parties. 
     Polyamory is also mistaken with Polygymy: one man married with multiple wives (which is an arrangement which unfortunately historically doesn't always involve consent of all parties involved.)
    Even more confusion arises when the prefix Poly is confused with Pan, Omni or Bi. Pansexuality or Omnisexuality is when someone has the potential for sexual attraction towards all sexual identities, genders or orientations. Also referred to as gender blind or gender queer. Which is different still than Bisexuality because it transcends the attraction to two genders and includes people who fall outside the gender binary.
      It's also important to note that people can be Polyamorous and single, or in primary relationship with self or spirit.
      And finally, I want to celebrate the Poly-curious. If you are looking for alternative relationship paradigms, and thinking outside the box, it may take some experimenting to find out what really turns you on. It is OK to think you MIGHT be polyamous, and as long as your honest, I think everyone could benefit from trying it out for a month, a year or a lifetime. I hereby dedicate this blog post to the poly-curious. I look forward to hearing your comments and questions!
     Closing Disclaimer:
      Obviously, there are many variations on types of agreements used by different relationships and I have no intention to speak for all "poly" individuals and families. Ultimately each individual has to label and define themselves, and there are even disagreements about terms and labels amongst my lovers.


Judson said...

You've really done a good job of explaining "poly" here without getting too deeply into different configurations etc. I think the less we get into each specific label and the more we take on the idea of self determination in each of our relationships with honesty, integrity, great communication, and compassion the further along we evolve as a species

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying this lifestyle, but I do have a few more questions about your story. When you say:

"I'm ONLY having intercourse with SEVERAL of my lovers, but enjoy cuddling, kissing, petting and SOMETIMES even oral sex with the others" and that "my lovers may have other lovers I have never met, or (gasp) I don't like" ... this sounds a little risky to me.

I am open to all walks of life as we have the option to choose what lifestyle we identify with and want to lead, but just curious do you have any concerns that you are having sex with several of your lovers and some of them have lovers you have never met or do not like? Great that you practice safe sex, but condoms do not prevent everything and people are people.

Polyamorous appears to simply be relationships with multiple people. Not sure why it needs a label, but perhaps labeling this lifestyle helps others to understand ... after all I am raw vegan (which is just eating unprocessed, uncooked non-animal product foods) ... tehehe

Thanks for sharing your story and honoring your walk of life-
Melinda DePalma

Kamala Devi said...

Thank you Melinda, you bring up an important point. Along with having high spiritual standards, part of the reason I am selective about my sexual partners is for sexual health,I chose only to have intercourse with those who's sexual history I'm intimately aquainted with. And Yes, even with condoms, I know there are risks, but every adult has to consider their circumstances and make decisions that are aligned with their own values.

Kamala Devi said...

Shima brought up an important question on Facebook (posted below) and after some consideration I am ammending my word choice from 'full disclosure' to 'transparent communication' I totally trust my lovers, and much prefer when they volunteer information. B...ut whether or not the details are willingly shared or have to be inquired about, my request is that there be honest communication specifically on issues of sex, money and power. This is one of the New culture definitions of transparency. By the way, the definition of Full disclosure from which I was operating was: " lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making." The bottom line is that when developing a relationship, there is a difference between consent and informed consent. Thanks for helping me clarify this.

Shima's original FB comment: Kamala your loving is truly inspiring .. but I have one question .. full disclosure. I understand the logic of it .. but I also know that it was something my mother insisted from me in order to know that I was safe .. but I no longer feel t...he need for adult supervision and so full disclosure seems good for children .. but for adults whom I trust and love perhaps not .... my feeling is; there is eros in full disclosure because it has become associated with love ( parental love ) .. and sure lovers might WANT to share the telling of their lives with one another but I do not feel it should be insisted upon .. I am always aware of any "volunteered forcing " in the name of love .. drop one insistence for example monogamy and substitute with another .. I would love to hear why full disclosure is so important to you and thank-you for this beautiful post.

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