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A Single Mom's Case for Polyamorous Relationships

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For the past couple of years I've been interested in polyamorous relationships. I can sincerely say after being in a monogamous marriage for several years, I know that I'm not traditionally monogamous in the way our culture sets the standard. One man and one woman just doesn't feel completely true for me, so I've taken a leap into the unknown to discover where I land on the spectrum between both choices.

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I've found that most people think that sex with more than one person is the focus of polyamorous lifestyles, but this is a very narrow perspective. In actuality, polyamorous relationships are founded on the conviction that one person is not responsible for meeting all of one's needs. People involved in "poly" relationships embrace the reality that humans are complex creatures who have a multiplicity of needs that can be addressed in many ways by many people.

As a single mother who has taken on the responsibility to meet the needs of my child solely, I'm seeing that "poly" relationships can enhance my parenting experience as well. I recently spent several days with a "poly" couple (a couple who has partners outside of their relationship) and experienced the way they care for their children. From the perspective of being a single mom, there are 5 major benefits:

1. Shared responsibility

Currently in my home, I am my son's sole provider. I do everything for him from making sure he cleans his bottom well to monitoring his screen time. I also find myself doing things I don't feel are great choices for me, like skateboarding. (I'm a very strong 46-year-old, but if I fall off that thing, we have a problem!)

But in "poly" relationships, everyone offers their time and energy to the children. One person prepares meals while the other does baths and bedtime. This may seem like a typical traditional family experience that can be accomplished by two adults, but the difference here is that the adults don't feel overextended and wiped out. More hands mean more support.

"Poly" families have chosen to define relationships for themselves, offering children in these families other ways to see the world.

2. Creating open minds

The children in "poly" families seem to have a different paradigm from which to create their perspective about the world and relationships. While the culture offers very limited ways in which adults should "do" marriage and sex, "poly" families have chosen to define relationships for themselves, offering children in these families other ways to see the world and what a family can be.

3. Open communication

Managing any relationship requires communication in order to be successful, but this is even more true in "poly" relationships. In the families I have witnessed, the participants are committed to and practiced open lines of communication at all costs. There is a space and place for every emotion to be felt, considered and processed. In my experience, this is true for the children too.

4. Organization

"Poly" families tend to be organized and work together to ensure that everyone is happy. There are often clear agreements about family time, household responsibilities, finances, collective duties and individual goals. Of course every family is different, but in the "poly" families I've researched respect, responsibility and love are highly valued. They seem to have mastered a certain organized freedom in which everyone's individual needs and those of the group are attended to.

5. A broad experience

One of the greatest benefits to children in "poly" families, at least to my mind, is the experience of getting needs met from a variety of people. They often have more than two parental figures, allowing them to experience and benefit from the skills of all the adults. One mother figure may be good at listening and helping the children process feelings, while another is great at playing games and engaging in fun activities. No one person has to be their "everything." (Sorry, Andy Gibb!)

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My time and experience with a "poly" family showed me that adults can relate to more than one person openly, responsibly and unconditionally. The participants are courageous enough to defy social standards and create a lifestyle that meets their unique needs. They teach their children that it's OK to be different, to take risks and to accept others.

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