All relationships have their challenges. Before I started to explore polyamory I had a number of monogamous partnerships, each with their share of complications. When I decided to open myself up to the poly lifestyle, it occurred to me that I would likely be confronted with some of the same types of issues, made even more complex by the poly relationship dynamic. And I was right! It soon became clear to me that certain requirements in the maintenance of any loving relationship are even more crucial to the health of a relationship involving more than one partner.
This is a big one. While it’s obviously important to care about how your partner is feeling at any given time, in a poly relationship you also have to think about your partner’s partner (or, metamour). I think the very fact that you are open to this kind of relationship means that you are at least comfortable if not skilled at thinking about feelings, but it can be easy to sometimes get caught up in your own needs and forget that there is no competition; your partner can still love you while devoting more time or emotional resources to your metamour. And don’t forget: there will likely come a time that you require more attention in the relationship and you would want to be met with compassion in that case.
I’ve heard a number of people suggest that poly relationships are really just an excuse to not have to commit to one person. While there are all kinds of poly arrangements, some of which are non-commitment based, I would argue that many others are very much centered on a strong sense of dedication. Even if the relationship is such that everyone is free to come and go as they please, there is still a required amount of commitment to the relationship model. It’s important to remain open to sharing your partner with others, and this can sometimes take a concerted effort, or commitment.
Some people may choose not to share the poly aspect of their relationship with others and that’s a perfectly legitimate choice. If you do feel compelled to share, be prepared that some people might not understand and might even be violently opposed to it. It takes a certain amount of bravery to continue on with things in the face of social criticism. It also takes courage, as it does in any relationship, to make yourself vulnerable to your partner, perhaps even more so when your partner is in intimate relationships with people other than yourself. It’s a good idea to feel secure with the notion of everyone in the relationship learning the details of your emotional life. The plus side of being courageous enough to let everyone in is that you can gain access to that much more support when you need it!