My long-term partner and I have recently brought a third love into our relationship. It's been going good. But surprisingly, other people have been reacting somewhat negatively to the idea. What do you think of polyamorous relationships?
Signed, Three's Company
Dear Three's Company,
Many gay men desire more than coupledom can bring. Choosing how many partners you have can be an empowering alternative to the social norm that prescribes just one partner. Multipartner relationships and families can have many benefits.
For instance, since we all have multiple sides to ourselves, being in relationship with more than one partner can maximize our self-actualization by challenging the varied aspects of who we are. This can help expand our personal growth. Being in a relationship with more than one partner can also help a person to develop good communication skills and a solid sense of self. Without good communication and a strong sense of personal wholeness, primal issues like: possessiveness, jealousy, trust, belonging and rejection, abandonement, loss, grief, and rage, would consume a polyamorous partnership. Instead, individuals strive toward higher levels of being like egalitarianism. Such ideals allow for a healthy sense of self-control, de-personalization, and non-attachment. It isn't about not caring. It's about surrender (giving up control), challenging limitations, and freedom.
So, a polyamorous relationship can be a healthy thing if it's freely consented to by all parties for the right reasons. I think it's an unhealthy choice when a couple introduces a third partner to "fix" what's broken in their relationship, or when two people are seeking to avoid developing deeper intimacy between them by spreading themselves out so to speak. But I think it's OK to agree to love more than one person simultaneously when it's an expansion of a relationship that's already healthy by itself, and all the people participating in the relationship are being enriched by it.
All the Best, Angelo.
My partner says I'm "The One," but he's on Manhunt every day. So if he loves me, then why is he still on Manhunt? It makes me not trust him.
Signed, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Dear He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
While guys use Manhunt for various reasons, like dating, making friends, boosting egos, or for fantasy, the website is mainly focused on hooking up for sex. So I think your mistrust may be well-founded, and his use of the website warrants an open and honest discussion, especially since he uses it daily. From the perspective of you as a couple, approach him with your concern and try to negotiate a solution. For instance, "When you do 'X', I worry about 'Y', and feel 'Z'. Would you be willing to try 'A' for us and see how it goes."
When online competition comes up in the couples I treat, I ask them to take all of the energy they put into websites like Manhunt and transfer it into their relationship instead. Being online dilutes the intimacy between them by outsourcing it. By closing off a relationship "exit" like the Internet, the couple can increase intimacy between them.
If a partner insists that using such websites is only a source of fantasy, I suggest the couple share their fantasies with transparency, making them a part of their relationship. This would mean having a "no secrets" policy and granting mutual access to usernames, passwords and emails.
If your partner grows defensive and is unwilling to do this, it could suggest a sex addiction, and you may be just one of many.
All the Best, Angelo.
Angelo Pezzote, M.A., N.C.C., L.M.H.C.
The Gay Man's Therapist
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