I was so flooded with people asking me for “rules” on the “right way” to do Poly, through the years, that I decided to come down from the mountain and start a new religion. I’ve developed the following 10 commandments to help people avoid suffering in HELL… (aka poly-agony.) Joking aside, these ethical principles or best practices have been tested, tried and have been known to support harmony in many different forms of ethical non-monogamy.

ethical non monogamy

I originally developed these best practices over ten years ago for Poly Palooza and also teach them on my home study course called Beyond Monogamy.  Recently, I presented them online for the ‘The Secure Poly Immersion’ Q&A Session with Jessica Fern. If you want to watch an Intimate replay of how/why I teach these commandments, join the Secure Poly Collective here.

In this article, I will talk about the first half of commandments and why every one of your relationships will flourish with these successful principles.  

Know Thyself & Take Responsibility For Thine Own Feeling And Needs

We tend to stop and look into what’s happening with ourselves and our relationship when we’re already in a place of deep conflict and suffering. Mostly, it’s because a person develops a coping strategy of pleasing others to receive love. Being a people pleaser implies a person will live someone else’s life, focus on them and find ways to please them over and over again because they’re afraid to lose the love their partner gives them.

But, once a people pleaser realizes they don’t need to receive love, but to open themselves and become love, the responsibility switches back to them. In adulting, responsibility is a key component and if you desire to be in a healthy, happy relationship with yourself and others, you will need to take responsibility for your feelings and needs.

This requires a lot of introspective digging and understanding your partner is not necessarily wrong or needs to change their behavior. Your feelings and needs belong to you and they are there for you, not any of your partners. Putting expectations on your partner to change in order for you not to feel a certain feeling will not get your relationship where you need it to be. 

And it’s not a black and white situation, it takes a lot of work, intimate conversations and vulnerability to get to the place where you own your feelings and needs instead of putting responsibilities on others. 

Tell The Truth Without Minimizing Or Exaggerating

Indeed, the truth will set you free, but first…it may piss some people off. Before you go on and share every juicy detail with everyone in your life, ask to see if people are interested in hearing it and how they would like to be updated. Honesty and transparency are vital components of every relationship, but consent is an important component and notice the tendency to minimize or exaggerate information. 

Minimizing. Imagine having a sexy new date that involved hours of heavy petting and romantic love declarations, but the next day, you are afraid of how your other lover might feel if they heard the details, so when they ask, how was the date you say, “It was sweet, we made out a little.” 

“Please don’t minimize your experience with anyone else in order to protect me from my discomfort.” ~ Polyamory Pearls 

Maximizing. Maybe your partner has more lovers or more experience than you do, and you don’t want to feel left behind so you might be tempted to exaggerate a connection in order to inflate your experience. Or perhaps you want to turn something into a bigger deal than it is, in order to meet someone’s expectations. Stretching the truth may feel better in the moment, but, in the long run, altering your truth may cause more harm than good.

So if your partner doesn’t wish to hear how excited you are about your hot new love, ask them what they would like to hear, and how they would like to hear it.  Or if you find you are hiding something from your partner because you don’t want to hurt them (or whatever the reason might be.) Remember, when sharing, you keep in mind the objective of sharing that information is to create connection in the long run, not separation.

Leave Thy Lover Better Than You Found Them

We used to go to Burning Man every two years and the mantra was always: ‘Leave the campsite better than you found it.’ This simple message also works as a relationship philosophy. 

What if you made it your mission to enhance and nourish all your relationships?  What if everyone around you is made better by their connection with you? 

This is especially important when multiple relationships are involved, I strive to send my lovers back home to their other lovers feeling full and overflowing with love to give, which helps keep my metamours happy as well. 

Relationships are after all, a spiritual practice. 

Strive To Share And Take Pleasure In Others’ Success

Talking about spiritual practice, “compersion” in Poly is not only an antidote for jealousy, but it is one of the highest human values. In Buddhism it is called: Mudita. And it is an antidote for conflict, lack and/or competition.

Growing into a person who enjoys and celebrates other people’s success as their own is not only important for relationship harmony but it contributes to the pacifism and non-possessiveness that is needed to heal the planetary crisis that we find ourselves in right now. 

So, if you cannot be happy about other people’s success, ask yourself, why? What is making you feel this way? How are they threatening your pleasure with their success? Actually, the best way to build the compression muscle is to practice it every day, not just when you are jealous, but bring it into your daily practice. Find people that you are genuinely happy for and practice taking great pleasure in their success. Eventually, as this muscle gets stronger you can practice focusing on people that trigger you or even your so-called enemies. Remember the mantra: May all beings be happy. May all beings be free.

Seek Win-Win Agreements And Solutions

To be in a sustainable open relationship, you will probably need relationship agreements. The problem is that most people often create agreements only after boundaries have been broken and they are trying to avoid future pain. Oftentimes people make compromises trying not to hurt each other but then they end up cutting off each other’s sense of freedom. The practice of Seeking win-win strategies is a practice of considering everyone’s underlying feelings and needs. And this is a process that can get awkward, messy and sometimes be painful. It helps you take a look at the whole picture and make sure the agreements are sustainable. First, identify all the areas of your relationship where you and your partner can easily find solutions.

And, then look at the grey areas where you are unable to find a quick fix. These ones are usually a bigger challenge as you might want to solve every potential issue in the future immediately, however, it doesn’t work that way. Instead of taking more than you can handle at the moment, why don’t you find something that might work now but needs to be revised in the near future? By setting a date, you can avoid changing it constantly each time something comes up. Determine the time when you should review it with your partner and see what needs to be updated instead of changing the agreement so many times until it loses its purpose. I recommend quarterly relationship reviews.

I hope these tips are helpful, and I look forward to reading comments about your experience with these practices. I’ll be sharing the next five commandments in Part II, soon, and look forward to addressing your questions in the second half! I celebrate your courage to love big and pioneer new ways of relating! 

In the meantime, you can enjoy my article on jealousy!

Wake up & Dream, 

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