One of the key ‘gear changes’ you need to make when moving from monogamy to polyamory is shifting from a scarcity to an abundance mindset. Believing in an abundance of love is at the heart of polyamory –but it’s something I went a little overboard with initially.
I was excited when I decided to stop being monogamous. I had thought about it for a long time, and as someone who loves love, I was ready to immerse myself in an entire sea of it (which I imagined would feel something like Cat Power’s cover).
Jumping in at the deep end, I threw myself into multiple relationships and waited for waves of delicious NRE to wash over me as I was now so very open to all the love life had to offer. Except, that’s not what happened.
I was incredibly fortunate to keep meeting lovely people and experiencing beautiful connections. Kind, caring, sexy, thoughtful people, who I felt love for… but never felt ‘in love’ with.
This dynamic was incredibly confusing for me. Here I was, open to love with not just one but multiple people, yet deep feelings kept evading me. I felt like polyamory had promised me an abundance of love, so where was it all?
There is no shortage of people who you will find physically beautiful, but finding someone who matches the maturity you are looking for, the dedication to grow, the humour that brings you comfort, and someone who just feels right in your arms and life is incredibly unique.
A scarcity mindset (or, as I like to call it, a scarecity mindset) is the bedrock of our mononormative society. It’s a fear-based outlook that convinces us there is only one person in the world that we can truly love. We need this one ‘true love’ to complete us, or otherwise, we will spend our lives alone (which apparently would be the worst thing that could happen to us).
Alternatively, an abundance mindset is one of trust. An assurance that the course of our lives will feature love. You can, of course, be monogamous and have an abundance mindset – and I think many people would benefit from this outlook.
Where I went wrong was thinking this meant non-stop big LOVE at all times, rather than a calm knowledge that, over time, love would show up in various ways.
It took me three years to stop chasing an abundance of love. To cease trying to turn every lovely connection into a relationship. To feel ok about the fact that I am polyamorous and will go for periods without deep, enduring, committed love.
My wake-up call was, not surprisingly, falling in love. It recalibrated how I had been approaching everything. I realised that the reason my relationships were lacking in depth was that they weren’t meant to go that deep.
I had been so focused on finding love that I had only valued those connections and tried to escalate everything to be that way. In doing so, I failed to be present with each person and who they were in my life.
The short-term yet life-changing affairs, the friends who genuinely come with benefits, the enduring lovers who offer lifelong affection and support. All of these connections have value and, in their way, bring love to my life.
I’m no longer in any rush to find a relationship. If anything, I’m pretty hesitant to jump into any commitment unless I feel it has the qualities that could make it last some distance.
These days, I’m very ok with being solo but surrounded by an entire galaxy of beautiful people – family, friends, lovers, and community. I trust that deep romantic connections will continue to turn up throughout my life, but there will be rewarding times when I am also unpartnered.
I also no longer feel like I’m failing at polyamory because I don’t have multiple relationships. Instead, I feel safe knowing that if I end up having two at the same time in the future, I have the toolkit to navigate this.
Sometimes, I wonder if I have a more challenging time falling in love than others. Perhaps it’s because I struggle to feel attraction and thus have to do a lot of work to meet people I fancy. Somehow, for me, love is a rarer experience.
Perhaps it’s to do with my ability to be happy alone. I’d like to have love and have actively pursued it a lot of the time, but when it comes down to it, I’m pretty content navigating the world on my own.
I suppose this approach is actually what it means to have an abundance mindset – trusting that there will be love rather than expecting an endless amount of it. After all, as they say, love may be abundant, but time isn’t.