Being Poly isn’t easy. For all the joy it brings, it can cause an equal amount of stress. It’s like any other relationship, but with the added potential of becoming way more intense and dramatic.
For some, this level of intensity is a satisfying challenge. For others, it can be a deal breaker, “but I thought it would be all about me having all the sex I want! I didn’t sign on for this.” And that’s legit. Not everyone is cut out for the polyamory lifestyle. For those of us who are, however, there are ways to cope when times get tough.
Admit that You’re Overwhelmed
Don’t be stoic. Talk to your partners and tell them if you’re about to collapse under the weight of things. Try to use I statements, such as “I feel really stressed out by everything that’s been happening lately.” Saying something like “You’re all driving me crazy” will just put everybody’s backs up and create more tension.
Opening up about where you’re at will give your polycule a chance to offer support, or help them to understand better why you might need some space.
Take a Time Out
It’s okay to step away from a really stressful poly situation long enough to centre yourself. Do something that you enjoy and that will relax your mind. This is especially important if you’re prone to people pleasing, or taking more responsibility for people’s emotions than you should.
Just be sure to explain your decision first and give an idea of when you’ll surface again. Don’t just disappear or avoid returning calls or texts without warning. This will only fuel the drama.
Determine the Source of Your Stress
Take some time to really figure out what’s making you miserable. Is it a breakdown in communication? Jealousy within your polycule? Maybe you’ve been called upon one too many times to be a go-between for your partner and metamour? Any one of these issues can build up the pressure over time.
If the cause of stress is something concrete that you can address with your partners, do it! If it’s something within yourself that no one else can work on, explain that to everyone and try to take the necessary steps to help yourself.
Ask for What You Need
After discovering the source of your anxiety, think about what you need from your polycule, then ask for it. They might not be in a place to give it to you right away, or they might not have it to offer, but you don’t know until you ask.
For example, if you feel like a worn out hinge between your partner and metamour, request that they express themselves directly to one another. It’s okay to be firm and declare that you’ll no longer relay messages.
You might have to ask more than once, or have multiple conversations before your needs are met. The point is to acknowledge that your needs are important and to advocate for them.
Keep Track of the Patterns
If the same stressful situation keeps repeating itself no matter how many times you try to diffuse it, keep track of what’s causing it. If it’s something that you feel is beyond your control you have two choices: accept it or get out.
Most relationship stress comes from a feeling of helplessness. When you realize that only you can control your destiny, you’ll feel a lot stronger.