It’s been almost a year since I’ve started on my poly journey, and one question has consistently been on my mind.
How do you show love in poly relationships?
In monogamous relationships, fidelity is an act of showing love. Turning down other potential partners/mates/attractions is an act of showing love and commitment.
But this does not apply in polyamorous relationships, which makes me wonder, how DO you show love in poly relationships? Especially long distance ones? Which also makes me wonder if there are conditions in which you CAN be in a poly relationship..and ponder over the nature of relationships themselves.
They say that love is a choice. Which to an extent, I agree.
If love is just a feeling, then fidelity wouldn’t represent love, because you may or may not feel love for the person you’re being faithful to in that instant, but you choose to take that action.
We can’t control our thoughts or feelings, but we can control our actions, and that’s what differentiates good people from bad people. Choice in actions.
But there IS also the love we feel, so how does it all tie together?
My current understanding is that you can perform actions to show love, to DO love, without feeling love. But FEELING love turns the act of showing love into something that is pleasurable for yourself, and makes it not a chore, not tiring and not a duty.
But that still doesn’t answer my questions of, so how can poly people show love? Besides the usual ways which we’ve learnt?
Because we grew up learning that the ULTIMATE gesture of love and commitment is fidelity. But the whole choosing on person over another thing is frowned upon in polyamory, therefore, how do you show enough love in polyamory?
What is the replacement to that?
See the smart thing about fidelity is that it’ infinite, it doesn’t take up resources.
But other types of showing love, like spending time, like gifts, attention, heck even phone calls and text messages, they take time and effort. That’s not infinite. And with more people you have to do those things for, it’s simply unrealistic to amp any of it up to a level where one feels the same level of love that fidelity does.
See, take someone in the military for example.
They don’t have the time or resources to physically spend time with their wives or even keep in contact, but the love is kept alive through the mutual promise of fidelity, there is a constant act of love being shown.
But say both of them are poly, they can each have a partner wherever they are, which is great, but they really won’t have anything tying each other together except for their thoughts for each other. But these thoughts are hardly seen by each other.
Even for friendship, say what you will, when we think about it honestly, we ARE less close with our best friends if we tend to not contact them, and whichever friend they’re closer with in terms of time spent together WILL actually be closer to them for that duration. The commitment of friendship and history together just means that you know you’ll always be friends and that it’s quick to pick-up the friendship again. But frankly, friends and family do make some effort to stay connected or reconnect. Via calling, or dinners or letters etc.
Perhaps it’s still my monogamous thinking, but basically, take away the difference in level of resources invested and fidelity, a couple will drift apart and become less close if distance is put between two, because there’s no other way to show love and commitment. And that they’ll both have a closer partner with whomever is closer to them that they have more access to show love to. Sure with the commitment and desire to be together, these two partners can pick it up again when they’re once again in proximity, but that also means that there’s no…certainty in that relationship. It’s like a very elastic ebb and flow, the partnership is tenuous unless time and effort is invested to keep the two close together, in the form of calling, letters etc.
You may FEEL the same level of love for a partner that is physically with you and a partner who is far away but unless you can show it in a manner in which the partner knows, love can’t be sustained just within your own head. Well it can, but a relationship can’t.
A relationship is a constant interaction, one action can be a LONG one, but it’s an ongoing connection and when it breaks…it breaks.
Which means poly or not, effort counts, and as much as we want to say love is infinite, in practice, it’s not. The space you have in your heart is infinite, but making sure everyone feels loved and important…there’s a limit to that. And at the end of the day a relationship isn’t a love story you write in your head, if that’s the case, why bother to date people? Just have as many imaginary partners as you’d like in your mind.
I understand that LDR poly couples will still make the effort to keep in touch, through calls, and plan trips, effort is kept to stay connected and I’m sure that’s a LOT of effort (of course it won’t feel like effort if you FEEL love for the person)..and so does discipline replace fidelity?
To not give into the easy way out of just forgetting that partner and focusing on the person who is closer and making an effort to overcome the distance?
I guess that justifies it, and so couples, poly or not, can be put in situations where they are literally unable to maintain that connection and end up choosing to take a break and pick up their relationship again when situation is more conducive , of course you can’t expect the person to still want that relationship, which I mean to be fair is true even with friends. We don’t always reconnect.
No one said they had to be eternal of course, relationships.
But still, I wonder, how do we…well find ways to show love that is as strong as the inculcated notion of fidelity?