As with any group that doesn’t follow the dominant narrative, finding support as a non-monogamous person is not the easiest thing. Support networks are often taken for granted until you NEED one to help get through something. Generally speaking, coming from a place of need is not always the best starting point.
What happens when a relationship with one of your partners ends, or you have an exciting trip with one of them coming up? It would sure be great if you had people to confide in or talk with enthusiastically about it!
When you don’t follow the dominant narrative, you find out quickly just how limited your support network may be!
So how do we go about building support networks to carry us through the ups and downs? Ones that won’t take the route of assigning blame where it doesn’t belong or rain on our parade when we’re gushing with happiness?
Here are some options to consider:
- Online discussion groups, such as those available on Facebook, provide quick and easy access to a wide variety of people. It may take some searching to find the right fit, but they’re out there.
- In person discussion groups! I help moderate one in my hometown that regularly draws large crowds. We socialize and discuss in depth topics relevant to ethical non-monogamy.
- Buckle up…this one is scary: being your authentic self. Yes, this means being open about being non-monogamous, but then people who won’t love and support YOU will self-select out of your life, creating a decidedly more effective support network. It’s hard to articulate just how much perceptions changed once people KNEW what was going on in my life instead of assuming and ascribing all sorts of toxic notions to it after I was open about being poly. A literal 180.
- Communities of like-minded folks, and not necessarily non-monogamous ones. This is a broad topic, but that’s kind of the beauty of it. I participate in a few different local groups that are fully aware of how I relationship, and I’ve been very fortunate to have found solid support and acceptance in them.
Now that you’ve found your people, how do you know if it’s a healthy fit?!?
- Do they accept you for you?
- Do they call you out on problematic thinking and behavior?
- Do they encourage you to show up as the best version of yourself?
- Do they foster autonomy for you vs co-dependence?
- Do you feel supported by their actions and words?
This list is by no means the be-all and end-all . . . just a good starting point.
Life is about the relationships we build along the way. Not just romantic or physical, but familial, platonic, and professional as well! No single style of relationship is more important than any other by default. It’s the quality of each that sets them apart. The more authentic you are, the stronger the relationships that come into, and stay in, your life will become.
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Since mid 2016, Adam (he/him) has been an educator and presenter in the ENM community. He realized he was poly in high school and has practiced various forms of non-monogamy ever since. With a primary goal of normalizing a variety of relationship structures, he shows up as his authentic self: an egalitarian polyamorist who practices relationship anarchy.