Barak Article

Keeping the Home Fires Burning... Notes on Polyamory

Now all relationships can be challenging, however we would like to talk about polyamory (or "poly" to those who live this way). Since Poly is widely misunderstood, and it's definition varies by even those of us who are poly, let's start by defining terms. According to Wikipedia - Polyamory is the practice or lifestyle of being open to having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved. The word is often used more broadly to refer to relationships that are not sexually exclusive, but there is disagreement on how broadly it applies (for example, many people contend that swinging is not polyamory). While there are many different applications within the poly lifestyle, we can spend a large amount of time debating what is and isn't poly. So for the sake of this article, let us generalize poly as "more than one open, fully disclosed, consensual and simultaneous relationship."

So perhaps right now, you are wondering why we would bring this particular subject up within a kink context right? Well, that is simple. In our experience, we have run across many examples of open relationships, however temporary, within the scene. In a long term sense there are "tribes" or "houses" that have many tiers to their relationships, or Masters/Mistress'/Dom(me)s/Tops that have more than one regular submissive/slave/bottom, despite having a primary partner or partners. In a short term sense, partners sometimes open the relationships for just play or parties with specific guidelines. Regardless of the combinations there normally is a base couple, triad or small group, containing the essential fire of the relationships.

As we have learned and grown within our open relationship, we have discovered how very important it is to maintain and sustain the intimacy, love, passion and lust of our private relationship or "home fire". What we mean is, the "logs" (passion & lust) and "coals" (love & intimacy) are the primary fuel/energy of our relationship, which must be fed and kept burning brightly. This forms the base of our "home fire". Regardless of how or when we open our relationship, our love and passion remain at the center of the fire. Within our relationship, we have certain parameters that are designed to bring NRE (new relationship energy) back to our loving fire.

So, when there is a mutual attraction to a new person, couple or group, it can increase the energy of one or both of us. When we infuse that NRE back into the primary relationship, it is additional passion and lust. This addition goes onto the outside of our relationship fire. When a home fire is brightly burning as a bonfire, adding in moderation can make the wholeness of that relationship burn brighter. It can become a version of a pornographic book or story that is "read" to each other by recounting the passion/lust, or the person can be consensually "shared".

Be well advised, primary relationships can be weakened in any number of ways. It can be damaged from within or from the outside. The easiest way to damage a primary intimacy is by not maintaining honest, open-hearted communication between all parties. If we don't share directly any negative feelings, such as jealousy (which always springs up, regardless of what people say); or how we are triggered, or the effects we feel; then those feelings can't be dealt with in an open, healthy manner.

Honesty also must be maintained with the outside relationship in order to clarify the intent and ideas of that person. If that new person has any form of hidden agenda, then it can impact and potentially cause damage to all of the relationships involved.

One such hidden agenda we call the "The Pickle Phenomena". This occurs when the third party just wants one of the members of the primary couple but is not honest about this desire, allowing both members of the couple to believe they are both desired equally. Like the hamburger ordered at a restaurant that comes with a pickle on the side. The person ordered the hamburger, they wanted that hamburger, they may push the pickle around the plate, they may even eat the pickle, but they didn't order the pickle, it just happened to be on the plate. In order to avoid making anyone feel like the pickle all parties must be honest with themselves and those they are getting involved with.

Another way to create damage and resentment to existing relationships is by adding new relationships too quickly. Not only can this damage the primary, but the newer relationships won't sustain energy if they are frequently eclipsed. Also, if a home fire is not a strong enough to absorb the NRE, it can be overshadowed by the frequent new additions.

Now, what happens when we aren't vigilant in maintaining and sustaining the primary? We see it time and time again, the one partner who is home, begins to realize the home fire is dwindling. That partner hopefully makes attempts at open communication with the other. If that doesn't work fights and threats may ensue. If the person who is out looking, can't or won't hear the concern of their partner, the relationship fire gets further diminished. Until finally, one of several things happens:

• 1. The partner left behind becomes angry and begins to manipulate the relationship which causes more fights and threats.

• 2. The partner left behind goes out to find NRE themselves, creating a mutual disregard of the primary relationship.

• 3. One of the partners addresses the issue directly and more forcefully, indicating that the primary relationship is in serious danger, which can lead to more lasting positive relationship changes, and a relationship renewal.

• 4. Lastly, one partner builds another permanent fire elsewhere, leaving the other to watch the extinguishing of that first home fire and the end of the relationship.

When all this is said and done, the positive aspect is that with a vigilant core of love and passion, the home fire can be rekindled over and over again, with or without the addition of NRE. Many issues and circumstances are bound to come up within polyamory, which are part of the journey of self discovery. Sometimes all that is needed is to take the time to rekindle. If you want to have successful polyamorous relationships, our suggestion is to be honest and open with your lovers, so that all can work toward mutual bliss and satisfaction.

Co-authored by Barak & Brat sheba, 2006

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