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by Kumona Wanalea

Oftentimes when I introduce the concept of polyamory to an individual, the response is that they don't believe that sexual openness is a workable option. Polyamory, open relationships, non-monogamy and sluttiness are words for a lifestyle that many people enjoy. When practiced openly and honestly, the people involved are able to follow their desires and share their sexuality how they see fit. Not an easy road to follow, all the partners involved must be honest and have great time-management and communication skills.

Honesty, with yourself as well as others, is very important. Do a little self-examination. Why do you want to experience polyamory? What do you expect to get out of it? Sleeping around without angering your partner is not a complete answer. What about the needs of your outside partners? Polyamory is also an unhealthy way of assuaging your need to feel popular, but when well done can make you well loved. For me, polyamory lets me experience sexual variety and form intimate bonds with more than one person. I retain control of my sexuality, sexual exploration and independence while inviting people into my life. My best friends are the friends I fuck.

Emotional honesty is hard. The emotional ups and downs of relationships won't disappear because you have decided that you are no longer jealous or have better communication than most couples. Be supportive of yourself and your partner, but be honest! It doesn't help make an open relationship work to insist that you are not bothered when something is driving you crazy. Jealousy is a reaction that can take you by surprise, especially if you thought you were "over it." Allow yourself to feel emotions, recognize that you own them and deal with the situation.

Communicating your emotional needs and boundaries can be harder than you would think. You have to accept that you can't read minds and that no one can read yours, either. You must communicate honestly and clearly. Be thoughtful of timing as well. Telling a lover that you are going to fuck the cute barista tomorrow is rude. Making a coffee date to check in with each other's feelings and schedules is a much better idea. Basically, respect each other and make time to honor each other's presence.

Polyamory is a lifestyle that takes work but is very rewarding. Call it what you will and define it how you like, the points above apply to anyone who is trying to take their relationship beyond the binary.

Play safe!