Some people are quick to argue that polyamorous relationships form out of a fear of intimacy. I once had a therapist tell me that my relationship was doomed from the start. He said that because I was a new addition to my partner’s marriage, we would never be able to reach the level of emotional closeness necessary to sustain a long-term relationship.
He could not have been more wrong. Here are some suggestions for how to encourage Intimacy in your poly relationships.
Spend Extended Time with Each of Your Partners
My partner and I have been together for nearly four years. It took at least three years of weekly dates and longer stretches of dedicated time together, for me to consider our relationship intimate. In poly relationships, things move at a slower pace, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Real intimacy happens gradually. It is built on a foundation of trust and shared experiences. One weekend at a fancy hotel won’t cut it, but several year’s worth of memories and inside jokes might.
Share the Good and the Bad
My partner has been married to his wife for twenty-eight years. They bicker quite a bit, which is to be expected from two people who have been together for so long.
When I entered on to the scene, some well-intentioned monogamous friends told me that they assumed I had been added to the mix to keep my partner happy and to make up for some of the stresses he experienced at home. I don’t think so! My partner and I have a full-spectrum relationship. We fight and cry and laugh together, just like any other couple. Being real with each other is not only healthy, but a big part of building Intimacy.
If you’ve agreed to spend a certain amount of time together, honor your commitment! If you’re going to be late, let your partner know! These small courtesies earn you trust, which, in the long run, leads to intimacy.
It took some time for my partner and I to understand each other’s expectations. He was used to the more relaxed connection he shares with my metamour. She knows he’s not going anywhere, and thus requires less reassurance than I do. With time and consistency, I’m learning to relax.
Don’t Rush It
I said it before, but I’ll say it again: true emotional intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes years of patience and commitment. If this is your first poly adventure, don’t get discouraged if things seem to be moving at a snail’s pace. Think of the amount of time you spent with partners in your monogamous relationships, then imagine that time stretched out over the course of one date a week.
My partner and I joke that because we’re in a poly relationship, it took about three times longer than usual to get sick of one other. You know you’ve reached intimacy status when you can joke like that, and no one gets offended!