Measuring Equality in Poly Relationships

It’s the ultimate poly dream, to have more than one romantic partner and to love each of them equally. As a poly person in an egalitarian relationship, I can tell you that it takes a lot of work to convey this sense of equality to one another, and sometimes, even with all the effort put forth, it’s easy to wonder if it’s real.

When I find myself questioning the equality in my relationships, it’s usually because I’ve indulged in the notions of scarcity and competitiveness. I’ve lost sight of the fact that our capacity for love is huge, and that no two relationships are alike. Trying to determine the place I hold in my partner’s heart by using a comparative approach is useless and damaging, but sometimes I just can’t seem to help myself. Doubt arises and in response, I desperately try to measure love. These attempts never give me the comfort I’m seeking, though, and I think that’s because love is not an empirical thing.

My partner has been married for twenty-four years. He has children and a lot of responsibilities. If I gauged my importance in his life by the amount of influence I have over his decisions, it would appear that I’m a secondary partner, but this wouldn’t take into account the age and complexity of our ties in relation to the ones he shares with his wife. I need to remind myself, in these times of insecurity, that we’re only now approaching our one-year anniversary. Love changes and grows over the years. The only thing that could ever possibly be held to measure is my partner’s commitment to nurturing the growth of our love, and that’s not something that I’ve ever felt the need to question.

If it was just the two of us, I have no doubt that we’d be spending a lot more time together, making plans for a life of two, but what makes that a more significant and loving gesture than welcoming each other into our lives, our families and our existing relationships? When I think of what that really means and of how amazing it is that we’re in love and moving forward each day into a future of greater connection, I lose my desire to compare, and can stand contented in the certainty of our love.

In short, there are probably going to be moments when you’re tempted to draw comparisons between your relationship and the ones your partner shares with other people, but nothing good can come of that. Instead, look only at the strength of your partner’s commitment to you and think of the way you feel in the relationship. If you’re constantly feeling neglected or short changed, you might be caught in the trap of monogamous thinking. Talk to your partners if you think it will help, but be aware that you might actually be lacking in some other part of your life that has nothing to do with your relationship(s). There can be strong and true love coming your way from all directions, but you have to be in the right place to see it, let alone accept it.

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