This article really captured for me the greatest and hardest parts of long distance polyamory. Many of these components are magnified and extended by long distance- particularly obsessiveness, emotional ups and downs, and intrusive thoughts.
If polyamory follows the biological description in this article, it would make sense that once a couple reaches the long term attachment phase, they could be ready to fall in love with someone new. Husband and I were together 8 years before we started exploring swinging and then polyamory. I wonder though, maybe for some people, they truly can be in the active “in love” phase with two or more people at the same time? The article says that is biologically impossible. Is this accurate?
If it is, what if someone is actively dating two or more people in the same time frame? Poly philosophy actively encourages acceptance of doing this. But if the science is correct, they can’t form genuine love with both simultaneously, so then why are they doing it? Eventually, isn’t one just a fuck buddy and the other one is getting the real feels? This means that if two or more people are being dated at the same time and in the same time frame, only one person can “win” the real feels at that point in time. In this sense, poly dating is monogamous. The others will now have to wait their turn. Maybe in about 6 months to two years (or longer if long distance), they will be able to be a contender for a real relationship. In other words, polyamory may be loving more than one at the same time, but it’s really being in active “head over heels” phase with only one at a time, while being securely loving/attached to the other(s).
It seems that an etiquette should evolve based on this information (maybe it has and I haven’t heard of it). I know there is a lot of recognition of NRE and encouraging people to be sure not to neglect their longer term partner(s) while being excited about their new partner, but I haven’t read anything about etiquette in terms of dating and relationship timing.
Using the science of this, etiquette ideas include-
-Only dating a new partner once you have reached the attachment phase and are no longer in the NRE phase with pre-existing partner.
-Date around with multiple people to see what connections form, but once you start developing NRE/in love biochemicals for someone, just focus on pre-existing partner(s) and current dating partner. Politely end things with other dating partners because biologically, you are incapable of having the interest and emotional investment they might deserve.
-If someone is in active NRE/love phase with you, even if you are tempted to start seeing someone new, you might save a lot of drama and pain by respecting their NRE and waiting until stable attachment phase. Although it could be possible that some poly people are completely fine with ongoing dating regardless of NRE phases and they don’t experience the intense obsessiveness, instability, addictive like behavior that can make it a lot harder to “share” someone.
-Don’t blame yourself or others for not being “poly” enough at these times, blame the biochemical brain bath!