Polyamory Is More than Sex

Sure, in my mind the best part of polyamory is having my cake and eating it too—I don’t need to limit my sexuality in accordance with mainstream ideas. In other words, the joy of poly is in the meaning of the word “many.” I like to sleep with many kinds of people, sometimes all at once!

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But sometimes, for some people, in some aspects of their lives, the desire and freedom to be sexual becomes gruelling. It’s hard enough to answer to one person if you’re in a monogamous relationship and don’t feel like sex.

What if you have many partners whose expectations aren’t being met? Or what if you feel you’ve become dependent on sexual highs and are no longer prioritizing other aspects of your relationships?

Here are five things to consider.

1. Take a Break

Self-imposed chastity can be like a ritual such as Lent, where you give up meat or alcohol for a trial period. It can be more like a diet, choosing to avoid certain products or habits.

Sometimes poly people panic just thinking about not having sex, but all that “being on” can turn from thrilling to exhausting. A week, a month, a year—choose a period that’s “enough time” and also realistic.

Choosing temporary celibacy can help us disentangle, see more clearly where our energy is going.

2. Changes in Sex Drive Are Normal

One of the great things about being poly is how diverse arrangements actually take into account people’s different needs. A couple might have an open relationship not because they are both super horny but because one partner has a very limited sexual drive and doesn’t want to limit their significant other to their schedule.

There are many reasons for a temporary or even longhorn change in sexual desire. Health, age, or the need to prioritize something else.  

In lower periods of desire I took singing lessons, volunteered with children who had disabilities, tried Buddhism, and did a major purge of junk that was blocking up my space for years.

3. Reflect on What’s Missing in Your Life

In those times when you feel sick and tired of having sex, consider whether you’ve neglected other aspects of your life. You might feel neglected or unappreciated or sense that something needs to be repaired with a mate, so instead of facing it you’re keeping busy.

4. You Need more Time Alone

Let’s focus on this possibility. Polyamorous arrangements have presented many solutions to problems of isolation, divorce, expenses, sex, or single parenting, because an expanded family can help negate these shortcomings.

But even if  you are the most ardent extrovert on the planet, it’s impossible not to get crowded by others and tangled up in everyone else’s feelings, needs, and vibes. Those people who restore in solitude or enjoy spending time alone may feel especially overwhelmed by too much company.

Consider the possibility that a dramatic drop in your sex drive could mean you are desperate to fly solo from time to time. Get some peace and quiet going for long walks by yourself, or tend to a forgotten interest.

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