Before getting started, remember that my RL experience is nearly nonexistent: some months with a boyfriend (we even touched a bit!) and, some years later, the men that now is my husband. So I am not the right one to talk about RL poliamory, but after three years practicing it at SL, I have learned a pair of things, mostly by the painful way of test and error.
Lately I have been asked a lot about it, up to a point like I feel like a kind of awkward guru, but a good point is that my experience has been coalesced into three simple rules:
- Love: I am not going to talk about love again, thank you, but I want to note that it is essential for any kind of relation. There is also a mistake about polyamory and sex. While poly relations allows sexual freedom (up to a point, at least) and having sex with somebody may be sharing a nice moment, that doesn’t make him/her part of that relation; it needs to be tied with love.
- Care: It is interesting how hard is to distinguish it from love, since they are usually together, but they are different. For example a new love is exciting and absorbent, but you still have to care for your other partners so they don’t suffer because it. And when one of your partners fell in love, you should care enough to keep a bit out of the way until their feelings quieten a bit (if they ever do *winks*).
- Confidence: For me this is a vital rule that most times gets overlooked. I need to know that if I say something wrong, if I do something silly, my partners will never believe that I deliberately tried to hurt them. I need them to have enough faith on me to tell me anything they need, anything about how they feel, even if I can find it hard to swallow. But beware, confidence doesn’t mean pure truth; while some lies may mean an irremediable breach of trust, sometimes little white lies may help to keep a relation steady.
Poliamory is incredible complex and it would be silly to think you can face it only with a set of rules, but they may help if you are imaginative. For example, trying to integrate all of your partners into a loving family is a recipe for disaster, since it is almost impossible that all they are compatible, but when two of them manage to become lovers it is very sweet even if that makes you feel sometimes like a spare wheel… love should make you happy for them, care should help them into their starting relation, and confidence should give you the faith to know you aren’t going to be loved less.