Does Having An Open Relationship Mean I Have To Live in a Commune, Be Naked and Love Everybody?
Sounds pretty hippy dippy, doesn’t it? And, yet, this can be a common expectation or misconception amongst those considering polyamory. Logistically, this kind of scenario can seem to make sense and even sound ecstatically fun! Everyone living in the same space would cut down on travel time, eliminate anyone from feeling abandoned when a partner is engaged with another, fortify the coffers, provide multitudes for parenting (if there are kids), make light work of chores, allow for easier flow of communication, invite all sorts of sexual possibilities, etc., etc..
On the other hand, it would be more difficult to find space for personal processing. Such an arrangement might not allow for sacred one-on-one time, within one’s own space. Different values, sleep schedules and lifestyle preferences could easily become sources of conflict. Who’s bed will you sleep in? Who gets stuck cleaning the loo? And, god forbid, what if one partner falls out of love with another!?! Oh, the nastiness that could ensue!
So, is this an expectation within the community? Short answer, no. Is it a dream of many? Yes, absolutely! Is it the desire of most? No, it really isn’t. So, where then do we get such ideas?
Simple: modern media and traditional polygamy. When we consider polyamory from times past, we have two pretty clear ‘examples’ of how it’s done. One is polygamy: usually patriarchal, heterosexual and culturally religious, a ‘marriage’ consisting of one gender head and multiple opposite gendered spouses and a huge brood of kiddies. This is not polyamory. Two, hippy communes: free love, abundant hallucinogens, no rules or responsibilities but peace and love. This, although closer, is also not polyamory.
Polyamory does not, necessarily, equate with orgies, everybody connecting with everybody, or anything that implies one must give up all that is independent and become melded with the whole. No. Polyamory is many loves, as simple as that. However one chooses to configure their poly lifestyle is completely up to them and their partners.
Of course, if you want a poly commune, by all means, create one for yourself (as long as you can find others who will happily play along). If not, don’t fear. It is very unlikely that you’ll be expected to do so. Most people, whether poly or not, like their own space. I’m sure you do, too.
Some questions to ask yourself: Do I want to live with a partner? Do I want to live with more than one partner? What kind of lifestyle most suites me? What thrills me about living with multiple partners and why? What freaks me out about the idea and why? What are my long term relationship goals?