it’s okay to Commit in polyamorous relationships

…it is, I swear.

Commitment is such a strange word. Some of us are terrified of it. Some of us believe others are scared of it, or at least tell ourselves that. I keep seeing this myth perpetrated that people are attracted to polyamory because they are “scared of commitment,” which sounds absurd in a lifestyle that nearly requires commitments to several people. But I understand how the misconception got started.

Okay, so maybe some people are “commitment-phobes.” Some of us, rightly, associate that (commitment) with the worst relationships in our lives and want to avoid repeating our mistakes. Some of us have made life commitments that went horribly awry and, in cases, nearly destroyed us. Moving away from commitment, and living in the moment, seems a perfect solution.

After all, isn’t that why you ran away screaming from, oh, say, your old mono marriage? To NOT have a One Most Important Person?

Maybe you remember what your previous relationships were like. Where your One True Love got to tell you how and when to love other people. Got to assert their dominance over your other relationships (whether these were “just” your friends or playmates, or whether they were other romantic partners).

It doesn’t really matter, of course. Whatever your reason was for abandoning (or rather attempting to abandon) hierarchy. Because that’s usually what it’s about. Folk that no longer want hierarchical rules or One Twue Love have usually had a terrible experience with it.

Haven’t you heard this same, tired story? The newly opened couples trying polyamory that remain the clearly stated Primary Couple, while they have fun with some new thing?

A couple decides they are going to be “different” than their vanilla, mono couple friends (and they won’t say it, but their words sorta hint around that thinking). But, they aren’t -quite- ready to trust their partner, despite everything they say. So they open up the relationship, all ready to be this super sophisticated couple- but to play it safe, they impose multiple rules and restrictions on their new relationships.

Rules that make them feel better, and they think keep expectations crystal clear.

Rules that ensure there won’t be any “real” commitment with any new person. It’s just fun, right?

Until it’s not “just fun.”

I’ve been that person. I was clearly told I would always, always come after the primary relationship. It was okay, because none of us were making any promises, right? I could always leave whenever I felt like, correct? But I didn’t want to leave.

I started wanting this to be real. I thought Commitment meant tired and boring. But as it turns out, it also means security and relief.

Unlike Thanos, nothing is inevitable, and sometimes that Commitment IS desirable.

Yeah, that scary, scary word. It can be abused, certainly. But not always. It can be dealt with, while still respecting newer/less involved partners. It doesn’t mean “Treating new people like shit” or “Having power over other people.” Doesn’t mean you are evil for wanting a Committed relationship.

Commitment is not the end all and be all of relationships, despite common wisdom. But you can’t really have it and not involve hierarchy. Promised Christmas with your partner? Birthdays? Vacations? Being the person to go with them to doctors’ appointments? These are all things you simply can’t do for everyone. Which means prioritizing those things for some people over others.

Heck, you can’t even commit to yourself and your own needs without it! You are, if you choose, your first primary relationship. Now, you might choose to treat yourself the same as anyone else in your life– but I’ve met those people. None that I’ve met so far are happy people. Because they feel guilty giving themselves even the slightest bit more than anyone else they meet. Which means they pretty much never take care of themselves in any significant manner.

You can have that most important person(s) in your life.

Whether it is yourself or another that you place at equal (or close to equal) importance to yourself. And have others that are not as high on the ladder. That you still value and treat well during the time you are with them (and while apart, too!).

Or maybe it’s not okay, but it’s okay. You know? Like any privilege, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It simply means you’ve got to deal with it, in order not to hurt or even abuse those around you. Intentionally, or otherwise.

Of course there will be those that proudly wear the sentiment, “I will never marry again. I will never again have a most important person in my life.” Takes all sorts to make the polyamorous world go round, no? But, frankly, the majority of people I know in polyamorous relationships do want priority and commitment in their most treasured relationships. That’s the way of the world. This world, at anyr ate.

Don’t find the word helpful? That’s fine, too.

Why not, instead of worrying about hierarchy, talk about “commitment heavy” and “commitment light”? Some relationships are heavily committed. Others, less so. That doesn’t make one relationship better than other, but rather understands that we all have different kinds of relationships in our life.

Do you want a lot of entanglement and involvement in a relationship? A family? Well, that means you’re inevitably gonna end up with someone who is more “primary” or “committed.” Like an independent life with others who come and go into your life as pleases both of you? Probably better off with commitment light relationships that don’t involve a family, finances, mutual assets, or anything else that means you can’t easily walk away.

What makes you happy in life? What do you want? Whatever you want is valid. Just own it.

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