Are you in a polyamorous relationship or are thinking about being in one but are unsure on how to make it work? To help understand the challenges of a polyamory relationship and how you can have successful multiple relationships, I have interviewed psychotherapist Taryn Bostwick, MA.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Northglenn, CO. I specialize in working with non-monogamous and polyamorous families. I have a master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University where I focused on human sexuality and relationship psychology. In my undergraduate education I focused on family sciences and world religions as well.”
On a more personal note, I myself have been poly for as long as I can remember though I didn’t always have the language to describe it to others. My husband and I have been poly together for a few years now. I am also an activist working toward equality for all people and all relationship styles and orientations. I am also currently working with agencies such as SPAN, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, to incorporate polyamory into their current anti-oppression trainings.”
What are the challenges of being in polyamory relationships?
“Being in a Poly relationship comes with many rewards and challenges. Because monogamy is considered to be the norm in our society a lot is taken for granted. In poly relationships nothing can be assumed because there is no norm. There are unlimited ways that relationships can take form. This requires good communication skills and self awareness of all individuals. Honesty and personal responsibility are vital when in a poly relationship.”
“One of the other major challenges is simply time. You are only one person after all and you need to give adequate time to yourself, your career, your family and your multiple partners, and you need to do so in a way that works for everyone, no easy task. The flip side of this is that you have a built in support system with more available resources to turn to whenever you need. More love in your life can never be considered a bad thing.”
“Probably the biggest challenge I’ve run into, however, is the perception of others and the discrimination polygroups face by mainstream society. The fear of being “outed” at your job, to your friends and family, even your child’s school and the possible repercussions of their reactions can be extremely stressful on both individuals and relationships. Or perhaps the individual has decided not to be “out” in society and therefore has to deal with the stresses of secrecy, for their own protection, and not being able to share all of who they are with their friends, family and co-workers. Because of this discrimination there is also a lack of protection under the law for polygroups. It is challenging to take legal steps to protect your family’s assets, be able to visit ill family members, make legal and medical decisions and also to have custody or legal rights involving the children in the family. This is why activism and social awareness are so important.”
How can someone have successful multiple relationships?
“Being self aware and willing to be open and vulnerable is key. It is important that you are willing to be honest not only with your partners but also with yourself about what you are experiencing, be it love, jealousy or fear. Of course you also need to have the communication skills to express all of this to your partners. Also it is imperative that all partners have an egalitarian voice in the relationship and that everyone is heard and understood. With multiple partners it is more likely that not everyone will have the same viewpoint and all perspectives should be honored and respected. It is also important to give each relationship enough focus and attention, a hard thing to do when splitting your time between multiple partners. Probably the most important thing is to recognize that there is no single way that a relationship should look. All partners in the relationship should get together and discuss in detail what works for them and co-create a relationship agreement, stating what they want their family and relationships to look like.”
What type of professional support is available for someone who is involved in polyamory relationships?
“I offer individual, relationship and family counseling services as well as workshops and support groups. You can get more information on my website www.thebutterflywithin.com. Also www.polychromatic.com/pfp/ has a wonderful listing of poly-friendly professionals nationwide you can work with ranging from counseling and medical services to legal assistance. Everyday people are becoming more and more aware of non-monogamy and polyamory as a viable alternative and I plan to continue to work with agencies in the Denver metro area to assist in this education process.”
“However, personally I feel that the best resources available are other poly people in the community. There are many groups that get together to support one another and have a safe place to talk and exchange ideas. The poly community itself is the best resource.”
Thank you Taryn for doing the interview on how someone can successfully have poly relationships. For more information about Taryn Bostwick or her work you can check out her website on www.thebutterflywithin.com.
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