In my daily consumption of psychedelic news, I never come across a story about psychedelics and polyamory. It's time to inject a dose of 'multi-love' representation into the conversation.
I am a straight woman, a fact that fails to surprise anyone. However, reactions tend to be quite different when I reveal my polyamorous inclinations (which isn’t often). We live in a largely monogamous world, so it’s understandable that people are surprised and confused by other relationship structures. Follow me on a journey into the depths of polyamory, the importance of distinguishing my relationship style, and how psychedelics can help those grappling with repressed relationship preferences.
What is polyamory?
Polyamory, the practice of engaging in multiple romantic relationships simultaneously with the consent of all parties involved, has a rich, albeit culturally tabooed, history. Coined in the 1990s, the term reflects an ancient practice persisting across different societies and periods, challenging the monogamous norms predominant in Western societies.
The world is gradually warming up to polyamory, a shift reflected in the media, legal systems, and societal attitudes. Despite the lingering stigma and misunderstanding, it's increasingly recognized as a legitimate relationship choice, with popular TV shows like “Planet Sex With Cara Delevingne” and “Sex Diaries” spotlighting polyamory. Public figures like psychologist Esther Perel and actress Jada Pinkett Smith (on her show “Red Table Talk”) also contribute to the conversation. Recent studies suggest that about one-fifth of Americans have been in a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point.
Polyamory exists in diverse forms, far beyond the typical representation of one man with multiple women. The misrepresentation, rooted in historical contexts of polygyny, overlooks the crux of polyamory — equality, consent, and agency for all individuals involved. Polyamory can involve a variety of arrangements, including but not limited to: a woman with multiple male partners, a group of people where all are romantically involved with each other (often referred to as a “polycule”), and relationships where people have multiple partners who are not involved with each other (often referred to as “V” or “N” structures, depending on the relationships).
While mono-normative relationships reign supreme in most cultures, it is worth at least a glance at the other side. Let’s get into how using psychedelics helped me celebrate the not so crazy idea that loving more than one person is something to embrace, rather than hide from.
How Psychedelics Shaped my Understanding and Acceptance of Polyamorous Relationships
From an early age of 18, I was intrigued by non-monogamy. However, engaging in polyamorous relationships at 19 and 24 brought forth complexities that I initially found difficult to manage, due to societal pressures and the perception of it being socially unacceptable, especially as a heterosexual woman. I still sensed a pull towards it, despite the accompanying feelings of shame, as if my interest made me an uncommitted partner. But as they do, psychedelic use over the years continually brought up repressed notions of polyamory that became too difficult to avoid.
Like many, my view of romantic relationships was shaped by the normative representation of monogamous couples, regardless of their orientation. As I grew more comfortable with myself and my preferences, with the help of psychedelic exploration and integration, I began to realize that polyamory, far from causing harm, could exist harmoniously around us.
My psychedelic experiences, beginning at the age of 22, acted like a mirror to my soul, persistently reflecting my suppressed desires for polyamory. They stripped away societal norms, revealing buried truths, and helping me accept that my interest in non-monogamy didn't make me an immoral person or less worthy partner. They nudged me towards acknowledging my hidden polyamorous inclinations, encouraging me to address and confront my interest rather than suppressing it.
When I reached a critical point in my relationship with my long-term partner, I professed my interest in polyamory, a confession that initially shocked him. At this time I was 24 and I had never told anyone that I preferred polyamory over monogamy, because frankly I was ashamed and embarrassed to go so far off the status quo. He thought it was a prelude to a breakup. However, over time, he came to understand that my intentions were genuine, not a threat to our bond but an expansion of it.
Since that point almost two years ago, I am pleased to say that our relationship continues to thrive, even though I’ve largely remained monogamous. My self-love is still a work in progress, but my more recent psychedelic journeys have continued to further help me comprehend and navigate the complexities of polyamory as a heterosexual woman. On one particular mushroom journey, read more about that one here, a profound realization dawned upon me: The mushrooms told me I was destined to share my life with two people. I was honestly disappointed initially. Part of me always hoped it was a phase I’d grow out of. But rather, it felt like a huge slap in the face that I was being given this information about myself.
While the idea of being in a polyamorous with two men is initially daunting (hello slut-shaming), like steering into uncharted waters, inciting feelings of confusion and shame again, the process of self-alienation is far more damaging than confronting this truth. I layed down while receiving this mushroom wisdom, and ultimately felt a sense of peace and relief. It was like I could finally stop running from myself, and simply accept something that shouldn’t seem so out there in the first place.
Taking psychedelics, carefully integrating the takeaways, and coming to terms with my own heart played an instrumental role in this transformative process. They allowed me to open up about my preferences, negotiate the dynamics of my relationships, and reassured me that loving two people didn't devalue either relationship. The cat's now out of the bag, and my hope is to inspire others to be more accepting of their unique romantic partnerships, in whatever form they may take.
This acceptance, akin to embarking on psychedelic journeys, symbolizes freedom – freedom of love, freedom of expression, and most importantly, freedom of choice. Love, in all its diverse forms, should be celebrated. Lord knows the world needs more of it.
If you're seeking to explore polyamory or other forms of ethical non-monogamy, OPEN (Organization for Polyamory and Ethical Non-monogamy) is a resource well worth considering.