So Polyamory is hard. While we like some things that are hard, namely penis' and tasty cheese, relationships are not at the top of that list. And yet, so many choose polyamory every day and learn to connect and thrive. As a therapist who has worked with trauma, attachment, and relationship distress for 12 years, my experiences create a unique perspective of the crazy dynamic thrilling ride that is polyamory. So here's some lessons, in no particular order.
Love is not a limited quantity, or tangible thing concretized in a symbol or a ceremony. Love is uniquely defined, lived and expressed. How you choose to do so depends on the consent and agreements of your partners.
Fear and Insecurity drives most conflicts and point to an internal struggle with self love. The more you understand the self that is begging for care (as expressed in anger, guilt, shame, jealousy, sadness) the better you will be at asking for what you want and giving of yourself what you actually have to give.
There's no one way to be ethically non-monogamous, and each person you enter into any sort of arrangement with requires an individual approach and relationship formulation. To use Franklin Vieux's term... Frankenpoly will always fail. What is it like for you to go into an encounter with no agenda, beyond consent, care and respect?
Letting go of the attachment is actually the path to true connection. Be present with yourself to learn to be present with others- giving and receiving love and affection is a testament of your great ability to be vulnerable, trust and connect despite the risk of rejection abandonment or loss.
When I did clinical work with children in foster care and adoption situations, a common therapeutic tool used was the visual of the heart. I would draw the heart on the paper, and ask the kiddo to add all the people they love or who love them. We would proceed to talk about how big their heart was, truly big enough to always have love for a birth mom and dad, extended family, former foster parents, and new moms and dads and siblings etc. This analogy resonates with me as I continue to practice ethical non-monogamy and support others in doing so as well. Our hearts are big enough to love many, in a myriad of different ways..... the love may manifest in dramatically different forms... physical, emotional, social, familial, friendly, parental, silly, etc. There's no limit to our capacity to connect and grow within ourselves, our hearts can expand and contract, beating to the ebb and flow of others, while maintaining it's integrity. But also, all the poly may not be for you, and that's okay too. There's no one way to love, or be, accept the way that feels right for you.
Your job then? Keep your heart permeable enough to give and receive whatever may come and go, while caring for yourself to nurture and heal when pain accompanies the love.