My husband likes to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.  The secret is it’s all small stuff.”  In many ways this becomes true in a poly household.  In many cases big issues can be simmered down through conversation and a little understanding. The trick is being able to identify these things before they become overwhelming or detrimental.

When you start out in polyamory, no matter how prepared and open you think yourself to be, you will be blindsided by something.  The initial growing pains of poly will draw out insecurities you never knew you had and make you face them head on.  Failure to do so will result in resentment, jealousy, retaliation, and a full collapse.  What would normally be a harmless comment will suddenly become a judgment of you character, and every little stress and bump will be ten times heavier, a hundred feet higher.  The fix here, as to most things, is communication and acceptance.  You must trust your partner when he says he loves you and thinks you’re beautiful.  You’re not being replaced by his side, you’re simply getting company.

Polyamory will teach you the art of compromise.  We call many things “compromises”. We see a movie we didn’t really want to, and it’s a compromise. We do the dishes when our partners are unable, and it’s a compromise.  No, these are not compromises.   Compromise comes when something challenges the rules or structure of your relationship and the choice it either to let one partner pursue something scary and unprecedented or insist upon the rules.  Compromise demands sacrifice and understanding that we may have to hurt a little privately to let someone we love really experience this lifestyle.  Hubby’s first girlfriend started with both of us.  It was not in our experience or agreement what we would have separate partners.  Not long after we started she decided she didn’t care much for me, and a decision was made.  Compromise meant swallowing my pride and accepting a situation that we had not prepared for in order for Hubby to be happy.

The rest, as they say, is mostly small stuff.  You learn to better manage time and affection.  You learn to fight fair and accept that your partners’ choices may not be your own, but you support them anyway.  You learn to be compassionate and supportive, and you learn to trust your own judgment and that of your partners.  This all boils down to communication.  You will learn to communicate about everything as often as it takes for as long as it takes.  You will communicate until you lose your voice, and then you will write it until a resolution is achieved.

There is no issue in poly that cannot be overcome with a little determination, perspective, and compassion.  The hardest hurdle sometimes is to start viewing someone as a unique person with needs and goals other than your own and not just as “my spouse” or “our family”.  Remember, poly relationships are still real life relationships with real life people.  You will fight, you will disagree, there will be miscommunication, mistakes, and hurt feelings. You will learn to handle all of it as you would in any relationship.  If you’re wise, you will learn not to blame polyamory.  It is not a scapegoat for real problems, nor does it cause them.  Poly just makes it harder to live in a vacuum.

The final lesson here comes hand in hand with every issue: moving on.  Nothing is ever accomplished by exhuming old arguments or disagreements.  Resolve it, let it go, and move on.