What is solo-polyamory?
A custom designed relationship dynamic that centres my relationship with myself. I am making a conscious decision not to seek out or work towards having a primary and/or nesting partner.
Each person may practice solo-polyamory differently and the only constant is that you have a primary relationship with self.
Materially, I am self-sufficient and choose to live alone. I make time for myself, my family and friends as well as to my romantic and sexual relationships. I do not seek hierarchy and do not elevate some relationships over others based on whether they are romantic or involving sex. There can be a natural hierarchy emerging based on who I enjoy spending time with, the quality of the activities we enjoy and the time that we have available to spend together.
Let me share an experience I’ve had recently, that affirmed for me why I chose solo-polyamory. One night I had a direct spotlight shine on why I value solo-polyamory so much. I noticed just how easy it can be to fall back into a hierarchical mindset.
My partner was staying with me for a few days and on the last night, had a dinner date with someone, telling me that their intention is to return to sleep at mine after the date.
In the last minute, I was invited to a good friend’s house for dinner. This friend lives quite far, and my partner expressed some concern that I will return home quite late and won’t have time to cuddle with them before bedtime. I said I will try to come back in a reasonable hour and, indeed, made sure to leave my friend’s place early enough.
When I arrived home at the time I said I would, my partner was not there. They were still out having a great time and assumed that I won’t be back until late. Reflecting on their words from earlier, I experienced negative feelings – dismay, disappointment, betrayal. It felt like a double standard. I was quite tired, and I told them that I don’t mind if they stay out and have fun, since I would be asleep by the time they got back anyway.
When they returned after midnight, I avoided their touch. They noticed I was not very happy. As I was processing my feelings, I realised that I felt bad because of I engaged in setting up expectations. These expectations created an assumed hierarchy, prioritising our relationship over others. Had we just said “let’s do our own thing this evening and see each other in the morning”, there would have been no bad feelings.
We discussed all this in the morning, they apologised for the miscommunication and we agreed that next time, if we make separate plans when staying together, we won’t try to make other plans together for later. We will simply allow for the possibility that the other person may be out all night without any expectations.
In my past monogamous life, I tended to quickly move-in with a partner after dating for a few months. I saw the escalation as necessary to keep up the momentum in our relationship and not let it get stale. I wanted to get as close as I could and expected the physical proximity to help us get there. This is something I see quite often – holding on to symbols, structures, expectations – in order to gain safety and security.
Practicing Solo-Polyamory means I can date people that I probably can’t live with, yet still get to enjoy all the ways in which we are compatible and have fun together.
There is no tick-box list of qualities, no exacting standards that a partner has to meet. If we click, if we enjoy the time together, if we bring meaning to each other’s lives, that is all that matters.
Solo-polyamory at its very core, is an opportunity to find safety and security in myself without needing a partner to provide that for me. My relationships are created from a want, a desire and not a need. Even if one day I choose to live with a nesting partner or have a primary relationship, these are important lessons I will want to continue guiding me.