When weighing whether to take the plunge into a life of polyamory, there are significant pros and cons associated with the lifestyle to consider, particularly for those who think of the poly lifestyle as one big sex party… it’s much more, and for that matter, much less than that.
It seems like every pro of polyamory comes with its own con inexorably linked to it. While by definition, you’re likely to have more sex with more sexual partners, this pro comes with the increased chance that you can become infected with an STD, no matter how careful you are, a definite con. It is imperative that you practice safer sex, and be aware that while safer sex will reduce the risks of contracting some of the most serious STDs, it is a risk mitigation technique and is not a 100% guarantee that you won’t contract any STDs, particularly the less-serious but still problematic conditions like crabs, herpes and HPV can be transmitted. If you are or were involved with someone who is a “free agent” sexually, there’s a significantly increased risk of catching something, especially when compared with a monogamous relationship or a closed grouping.
Another big pro of being polyamorous is your partners and yourself having different expectations of what should be provided by your relationship. While in monogamy, the party line is that your partner is supposed to “complete” you and be your be all and end all. With a polyamorous relationship, there is not that pressure. You can have partners who you enjoy very different activities with. One could be into rock climbing and camping out, while the other could be your date for the opera. There’s no pressure to participate in activities you don’t enjoy just to ensure the peace. The con side of this is that your partners will be doing the same, so jealousy must be kept in check. When you’re in a monogamous relationship, jealousy is your prerogative. Excessive jealousy is a problem, and it can sometimes be hard to know where the line between reason and excess lies, but with polyamory, jealousy becomes something you just have to deal with. Even if you’re open and honest with your partners, you have to change your feelings, rather than they changing their actions.
While being polyamorous will bring you more varied intimate relationships, it comes with the responsibilities of managing multiple relationships, constant communication about feelings, as well as the need to schedule. Another drawback to having multiple partners is that while your love might very well be limitless, your time and resources are not. For polyamory to work, it requires your time and effort to maintain and keep these relationships healthy and on an even keel.
While many who venture into the poly lifestyle do so because they believe that it will lead to more sex, at the same time you’re limiting the dating pool to those who are cool with your chosen lifestyle, which depending on location, can be a major impediment to meeting your next poly companion. For those who find the right people to build a polyamorous relationship with, there can be benefits of combining multiple incomes and help with household duties like cooking, cleaning, or raising offspring. But with these advantages comes much more discussion, arguments, and interpersonal politics than in less complex relationships. If you’re not a good communicator, your experience of the poly lifestyle may be limited by your own willingness and ability to keep those lines of communication open.
What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages to the poly lifestyle?