Polyamory Limits and Boundaries

Wanting What We Want

There comes a time in every person’s life, when we realize that there are limits to the wishes we are granted. When we’re babies, we have it as good as it’s ever going to be. Food when we cry for it. Warmth when we reach for it. Shelter at all times, if we’re lucky enough to be protected by it. As young little ankle biters, virtually every request for connection and affection we make is granted by our parents, our extended family, and the gracious generosity of the universe at large.

But there comes a time when all that shit stops.

Even the most spoiled brat in the most trust-funded, silver-spoon-fed, nanny-and-butler-employed, Richie Rich-like, million-square-foot mansion will find a brutal moment in their life when all the money, power, desire, ego and greed in their grasp will not have enough arrogant force to bend the balance of humble reality, and that inevitable explosive temper tantrum will never produce the particular product they seek. And this is the nature of real life. There is a nebulous, incomplete equation at work within all of us, and it calculates the probability of our probings into the emotional, economic and existential ether. No risk, no reward. No gamble, no future.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”

Who comprehends what controls the unknown forces at work behind such nefarious and impactful truths and consequences in our lives? It doesn’t matter.

What matters is: we don’t always get what we want. And this is paradoxically more true and less true in polyamory. For the crazy connections we are capable of in life, polyamory can simultaneously allow more relationships to manifest or co-exist at all times AND create multiple sources of emotional stress/sexual rejection and/or disconnection than ever expected. And in those moments, where everything one has collapses, there lies some of the most important life lessons one can imagine. Monogamists may hurt from heartbreak… but the rarity of even finding a polyamorous partner in the first place, plus the additional odds of finding one or more partners of the same sexual orientation/desire/compatibility/emotional education/etc. is often an automatic challenge. Add on dealing with the subtraction of that person from one’s physical presence and relationship potential, plus the complexity of one or more partners being intertwined in the relationship, and the impact of more than one person leaving the love that once was… ouch! That truly could be the ultimate reason why polyamory is not for everybody. Forget the courage it takes to be emotionally responsible to communicate with all of one’s sexual partners; having to survive saying goodbye to all of them might be worse than anything else you ever do with them!

Push It to the Limit (But Not Past It)

And there are limits to polyamory. Of course, the infinite and undefinable beauty of polyamory is that ANY relationship that is consensual, honest, healthy, and comfortable is cool to explore for all. Monogamists, married couples, and traditionally sexual individuals may not be open to dating an ex’s ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, or having sex with a friend’s cousin/sister/mother/grandmother or a friend’s brother/father/grandfather or a co-worker, sex party acquaintance, internet message board crush, or [insert your own polyamorous lover origin]. Yet, a polyamorist can negotiate the possibility of such new and improved interminglings…

But the cold, concrete truth is: they all can’t work. Nobody knows where the limit lines are. I’m just suggesting to all polyamorists who operate with emotional integrity: live within the limits of your honor lines of love. On paper: polyamory allows us to love everybody on earth! But in practice: there just aren’t enough hours in the damn day! You can’t be with everyone. (I know, I tried). And even if you somehow miraculously could, you would not have the same chemistry with everyone equally. And if you did, that would mean that nobody is truly special or different, and that your ultimate dream would be a psychosexual nightmare. Imagine that “scary” scenario if you must: if you ALREADY KNEW that every person you ever attempted to have sex with/make a connection with was going to say “yes”, then you would absolutely hate even asking someone out because the sense of mystery would be long gone. (Visions of being some all-powerful sex-god should not be dancing in your head.)

It’s difficult to offer sexual guidelines or moral suggestions on creating boundaries of respect to other monogamists, polyamorists, or erotically unavailable individuals because there are no eternal rules that everyone operates under. Some married couples may swap with their neighbors every Saturday, but NEVER allow you or I to cuddle with any of them. Some kinky couples may have free-for-all nights where they give each other permission to go all the way with anyone, anywhere.

There will be someone who says “ALMOST anyone, and ALMOST anywhere, but sorry, I can’t do that with you.”

Respect that request… every single time.

Polyamory says: “You can have your cake, and eat it, too. You might have to share your plate or fork sometimes. Also: you can’t have ALL the cake in the bakery. Otherwise: bon appetit!”

Always in Love,
Addi Stewart

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