Polyamory Coping: Ways to Help Yourself Through the Nights you Spend Alone

Polyamory Coping: Ways to Help Yourself Through the Nights you Spend Alone

Distilled from varied sources by Tracy Deagan LPC-S, LCSW-S

  1. Build Resources Before you Need Them

If you wait until 1 AM to find someone to talk to when you are overwhelmed by emotions and thoughts then you may have very limited options – helplines etc. If however you set up for this need in advance you may find more folks than you thought that are able and willing to help. This is only one of the reasons it is great to reach out to others either online or in groups, in person etc.

To that end, try getting involved with an online or face to face group that has members that are also initially trying to understand Polyamory and are in a similar stage of their relationship. Often they will be able to be supportive in a way other folks that are not coping with these same problems can not be. Also, then you can give support back, which has the added benefit of us getting the positive feelings that come with understanding and helping another.

  1. Make Plans for Your Alone Time – In Advance

This is another area that being prepared in advance can make all the difference in our alone time. Buy that craft kit you have thought about, that book or CD or DVD you have been dying to view, or that extra special tea you have been wanting to try. Make a list of the activities that you usually enjoy and / or things you have not done in a while or just want to try and plan to do one or more.

As mentioned above this could also be a good time to spend time with others that understand what you are going through. Some folks specifically try and make a “date” of their own for these nights, but whether that person is platonic or not it is best to choose someone that can be told what you are dealing with; going and spending 3 hours trying to seem happy may be less enjoyable than being alone doing something you enjoy.

  1. Make a List of Positive Self Talk and Use it.

Most of us are loathe to use a list of “positive affirmations” that tell us that everything is going to be peachy keen if we only praise ourselves and look on the sunny side. While a positive outlook is very useful telling ourselves a bunch of things that we do not really believe and scorn generally is not. So, make a list that really clicks for you. Make it specific to your situation and it's needs.

Example: Instead of telling myself “ I am the best ever and partner will never leave me.” try “ My partner does not love me for my science and math knowledge, they love me for me. It is good that my partner had found someone they can talk about their interests with.” or add a reasonable goal.

(In the United States in 2009, the number of people living polyamorous was estimated at half a million, according to Jessica Bennett  @jess7bennett in The Daily Beast: Only You. And You. And You.  (Jul 28, 2009)

Page (2004) found that 33% of her bisexual sample of 217 participants were involved in a polyamorous relationship, and 54% considered this type of relationship ideal. West (1996) reported that 20% of her lesbian respondents were polyamorous, while Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) found that 28% of the lesbian couples in their sample were. Blumstein and Schwartz found that 65% of the gay male couples in their study were polyamorous, and that 15-28% of their heterosexual couples had "an understanding that allows non-monogamy under some circumstances" (p.312).

Earlier this year, an Internet survey of 1,100 polyamorists conducted by Melissa Mitchell at Simon Fraser University – the largest academic survey of polyamorists to date – found that majority of poly individuals (64 per cent) have two partners, with 61 per cent of the women identifying their two closest partners as both men and 86 per cent of men identifying their two closest partners as both women.

The majority of the women in the sample identified as bisexual (68 per cent), while bisexual men are less frequent (39 per cent) and exclusive homosexuals are rare (3.9 per cent for women and 2.9 per cent for men).

The study found that on average, polyamorists spend more time with and feel more committed to their primary partners than their secondary partners, though they may find secondary partners better satisfy their sexual needs. Seventy per cent of the sample live with their closest partner and 47 per cent are married to him/her. The average relationship length was nine years for closest partners and 2.5 years for second-closest partners.

The researchers note that because the survey is self-selected, it doesn’t provide a representative sample, but Dr. Sheff says the SFU results line up with those of other studies, such as the 71 focus interviews she conducted with Midwestern and Californian polyamorists from 1996 to 2009.

Dr. Sheff says that despite the pronounced importance of gender equality to polyamorists, it’s not unusual for men to be drawn to it because they believe that it will lead to easy sex or sex with multiple women.

But philanderers and pickup artists have a difficult time meeting the emotional demands of a polyamorous lifestyle and are eventually turned off – or ostracized – by the community.

“Ongoing poly relationships can be enough of a challenge, and require so much communication, that there is often less sex t