Sam is a sex educator and artist who explores queerness, polyamory, and sexuality through their work. She’s passionate about exploring ways to broaden relationship structures to foster more connections between people. They use art and illustration as part of their education process.
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Author: Shrimp Teeth
How to get your polyamorous pal’s attention
Some polyamorous folks unconsciously self-sabotage when they realize they can easily secure their partner’s attention by expecting them to resolve their jealously, acting out towards metamours, or centring their feelings in their pal’s other relationships.
Primaries who feel insecure often feed off of their partner’s sympathy and allegiance to the established dynamic.
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Rather than unlearning compulsory monogamy and learning jealousy management, they continue to grasp for attention by feeling victimized by the other relationship.
A common example is when a partner has a date with a secondary, but the primary has an intense emotional outburst before/during and asks their partner to cancel the date or to come back to help them regulate.
Ideally, the person would use their emotional regulation skills instead.
Another common instance is when one partner initially agrees to try polyamory but asks to slow down or close up to work on the relationship after their pal has met someone new.
There’s never a perfect time to open, getting into a pattern of open/close doesn’t ultimately help.
Learning to let go of control over our pals’ other relationships means that we’re also less likely to get constant sympathetic attention.
I don’t think folks do this maliciously either, I think they’re scared. Being responsible for our own feelings/actions means our pals are too.
Self-differentiating is a terrifying prospect for couples who have unknowingly formed co-dependent dynamics.
Compmono (compulsive monogamy) normalizes unhealthy boundaries that often go unnoticed.
It can be alarming and scary to realize we don’t know how to be responsible for our emotions & actions. Shifting a relationship dynamic to no longer rely on pals to take responsibility for our emotional wellness takes a lot of work.
It’s not a good idea to incorporate other pals into an established relationship with unaddressed co-dependency. All of this education is hard to do because folks genuinely believe their monogamous relationship is perfect until they open.
Suddenly all sorts of issues pop up that they never anticipated. The drive to “fix” things through control is strong, but it’s rarely the right answer.
Learning to let go and embrace flexibility is the only way to resolve underlying relationship issues. If we go into polyamory expecting our pals to always behave how we want, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
The only solution is learning distress tolerance and regulation. Developing skills to handle our own emotions means we don’t rely on the relationship to validate our entire selves.
We can directly ask pals for support and attention from a centred place rather than grasping for sympathetic attention whenever we feel insecure.
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