Is polyamory a lifestyle or an orientation? #Relationships#advice#marriage#polyamory#relationships March 1 | Guest post by Kevin Patterson Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. Infinite Love polyamory pendant necklace from Odyssey Craftworks My husband recently told me that he is thinking more and more about a polyamorous lifestyle. He told me that he feels he needs to come out of the closet as poly. Aside from all of the considerations for the relationship itself (I saw you already address that well here and here), I'm more interested in what being poly actually means as we learn more about it. Does he mean that he thinks it is an inherent part of his personality that can't be denied or is it a lifestyle choice alone? I guess I'm just not sure what "coming out of the poly closet" actually means. Any help? – F Related Post Shit. I think I may be non-monogamous. Now what? I can't deny it. I feel strong pulls to be emotionally, and perhaps down the road, physically involved with other men with whom I've developed... Read more Hi, F! There's a lot to process in your relationship right now, so I'm glad you saw those previous posts about how to handle those changes, if there are to be any. But the flip side of it truly is so interesting. I know there is a way of thinking that being poly can be something along the lines of "I'm just not wired for monogamy," and is, in fact, a way of BEING instead of just a way of LIVING. I am no expert on this so I reached out to Kevin Patterson, a married man in Philly who lives a polyamorous lifestyle with his wife Antoinette. They were even featured on Philly.com to give voice to modern polyamory. Kevin has written a book called Love's Not Color Blind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities. Kevin was also inspired to start Poly Role Models, an interview series for people describing their experiences with polyamory. Kevin Patterson Even though there is no consensus at present from psychological or medical communities on whether polyamory is a specific orientation, a biological inclination, or a behavioral relationship preference, we can seek some help from the community itself. Here's what Kevin shared with us… Polyamory as an orientation and polyamory as a practice can play out in two completely different ways. A lot of people embrace polyamory as an identity. They don't feel it's something they can switch on or off. They feel unsatisfied or restrained by monogamy. While they may develop strong emotional bonds for people outside of their current relationship, it doesn't change how they feel about those within it. Often it's something that's felt throughout life but without the language or modeling to properly describe it. Polyamory as an orientation in itself requires is a bit of self-awareness. But polyamory as a practice requires honesty and an ethical approach with each partner or prospective partners. It requires intention to maintain multiple relationships. And there's the rub! First time polyamorists often aren't polyamorists at all. Sometimes, they are just conflicted monogamists who are looking for a way to keep one foot on the dock as they measure the distance before jumping to the next boat. Hopefully, this isn't the case here. But a good way to proceed safely for those involved is to research. We're at an unprecedented time of advanced resources about polyamory. There are so many books, articles, online forums, and real-life community meetups. You can move forward slowly and take in as much information as you can to avoid common pitfalls. And trust me…there are tons of them. Either way, it can be an easy ride or a damn deadly one. But it's really all about the people involved and their willingness to work for it. More resources on polyamory: My partner wants to become polyamorous, what should I do? You may remember Logan from her poignant post about coming out to your family as polyamorous. She was kind enough to answer this reader's question for us and we are..... Read More Advice for being the polyamorous partner to a monogamous spouse I'm monogamous to my soul. My husband of 21 years recently dropped the Poly bomb. And, I'm sorry poly people, no matter how gently you think you're approaching it, it… Read More Coming out as polyamorous to family (how I did it and how it may help you!) In the spring of 2015, I was planning my wedding. However, the elephant in the room was that I was in love with someone else. My non-fiancé partner was a… Read More Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Kevin Patterson Kevin Patterson is an active member of the Philadelphia polyamory community. He's been practicing ethical nonmonogamy since August of 2002 after opening up a relationship that eventually became his marriage. In April of 2015, Kevin was inspired to start Poly Role Models, an interview series for people describing their experiences with polyamory. Poly Role Models is part of a drive and a desire to change the way our lives and communities are viewed. It is currently the most diverse and inclusive platform for polyamory available. To continue the discussion of polyamorous representation, Kevin has extended the blog's work into nationwide speaking engagements about how race and polyamory intersect. This has led to the writing of the book, Love's Not Color Blind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities. Kevin is available at PolyRoleModels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. http://polyrolemodels.tumblr.com/ PREVIOUS The best beds & mattresses you can buy online (since that's how we're all doing it these days!) NEXT The BIG list of spring break trip packing essentials Show/Hide comments [ 2 ] I really like what Kevin has to say in response here. From my own perspective in my partnership that has been polyamorous for the last two years, I feel like it's an undeniable part of my identity just as clear as knowing that I'm queer. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I finally had the framework of polyamory in front of me providing an alternative to monogamy that actually felt like me. On the flipside, I think my partner experiences polyamory much more as a way he's choosing to live his life with me. The good news here is that both of us have embraced these different perspectives individually and together quite successfully. Orientation or lifestyle choice, polyamory really encourages you to embrace each other's differences with a ton of love and respect. It has (and does) take a lot of communication and compassion, but the longer we're in it, the more we feel able to celebrate how polyamory has enriched both of our lives in different ways! 5 agree Reply My poly-ness feels a lot like my bi-ness. I am happy and healthy in a poly relationship, but just like I can date/be in love with a man or a woman (or a non-binary person), I can chose to participate in a poly relationship, or in a monogomous relationship. But I also respect that poly people have a spectrum the same way that attraction to genders is along a spectrum. I think it's different for different people. 3 agree Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.