Thoughts on Polyamory

by Robert Frey, MA

I’ve had many (15?) years around the polyamory community in Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma. Deborah Anapol and Victor Gold, pioneers in the current polyamory wave, are long-time good friends, and for years they assisted at our Marin Tantra workshops, so I know that there is an overlap between some of the polyamory, Kama Sutra, and Tantra communities. Briefly, I’d like to point out a few observations.

A big one is that I’ve noticed that polyamory is for people who love to process and who have lots of time to do it. Polyamory takes time and energy. You’ve got to like to hang out and talk. Usually it’s talk and cuddle. This works great for kinesthetic types, but not for primary visuals who want action and creativity. Some visual types can shift into kinesthetic for periods of time.

I’ve been on the edge of several pods for many years, and am somewhat polyamorous non-sexually with a fairly large Northern California community interested in Tantra, intimacy, and spiritual love. Yet my true preference is for deep monogamy. I tend to be more polyamorous when I have no primary relationship.

The reason that there’s more processing is that there are more relationships to work out. It’s more Aquarian, i.e., attempting equal love for all, which is a great ideal but does lead to lots of processing as the players seek to be more truthful. A lot can be learned this way, including the significant truth that love is everywhere.

It’s also been my experience that open relationships don’t stay together unless the primary bond is a very strong, certain one, built over much time before adding others’ energies. So couples have to be very clear and trusting before entering into polyamorous pods, or they usually don’t last.

Ironically, polyamory is often a very convenient way for some people to avoid deeper intimacy, because when things get challenging or stuck with one person, it’s easy to just go connect with another member of the pod instead of working through the deeper, uncomfortable issues. This abuse of the poly ideals is very common, especially in the more sexual polyamorous pods.

When it works, polyamory is a very beautiful thing, offering much love and inclusiveness. There are a few well established pods with integrity in Northern California. Typically it doesn’t fulfill expectations and polyamorous pods don’t last very long. This is true even in the greater Bay Area, where they’ve been at this much longer than in Southern California and where the community is more mature in some ways.

So, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from creating a polyamorous pod — however, these thoughts may support you in being a bit more realistic about it and less in a fantasy. Ultimately, I think communal village life offers the highest possibilities, but that’s not the same as modern, unban/suburban polyamory. Our challenge is to create the most harmony, inner peace, inclusiveness, and abundant love in an outer focused, consumer driven culture. It’s quite a challenge, and I support all of you in your efforts to create more happiness for yourselves and others.

Blessings in all you do,