How does healthy polyamory work? – part 1/3: Is it worth a try for me?

The desire for polyamory always develops on top of some concrete motivation, irrelevant whether the person concerned is single or part of a couple. The reason for this motivation is, at least initially, often unconscious. A desire for polyamory might also be misdirected by false ideas which have nothing to do with a healthy reality. After uncovering and examining these ideas, a completely different wish than for a poly relationship might show up under it.

Neither option would be the fault of the people involved, as we are living in a society which does declare various wishes concerning sex and love – which are outside the monogamous heteronormative mainstream – for nonexistent.

To say it with Farin Urlaub, singer of the German band “Die Ärzte” (= “the doctors”):

“It is not your fault that the world is as it is.


It would only be your fault if it remained that way.”

Therefore it is the responsibility of every person, who has a wish for a polyamorous relationship, to find out about the authentic background behind this motivation – especially whether it stems from a primary or a secondary motivation.


“I have discovered a wish to enter into a romantic relationship with an additional person, and want to continue my existing romantic relationship. I do not want to have to hide anything – and polyamory sounds like a good idea, as everybody knows about everybody else. Can that work?”

Yes and no. Whether the desire for a romantic relationship with more than one person at the same time can be lived in a healthy manner depends upon several factors. Some of them are good foundations in order to live polyamory. Others however guarantee disaster, which can lead to not only no further romantic relationship, but the loss of the already existing romantic relationship.

In order to be able to assess this risk the first and most important step is to reflect on that wish: What would I want a further romantic relationship for?

For most inquirers the answer will be:

“Because I have fallen in love with another person while already living in a romantic relationship.”

The cascade of questions, however, continues: What have I fallen in love with this person for?

Now it is getting tricky. Since secondary motivations – which are not recognizable at first impression – are often behind falling in love or a “crush”.

Such secondary motivations can easily lead to the aforementioned disaster: If an additional romantic relationship is entered which is fuelled by a secondary motivation, all romantic relationships will probably end in an emotional mushroom cloud. The second highest probability is that all persons involved notice and resolve their secondary motivations in time; this scenario will, however, still involve a lot of emotional pain.

In rare cases, a primary motivation for polyamory actually is behind an additional love. These cases, however, can only become visible after all secondary motivations have either been excluded or were worked out – together! – in the existing romantic relationship. Should, after all of this, a wish for polyamory still exist, it will, in all probability (however, this is still not guaranteed!) be based upon a primary motivation.

For a majority of individuals in the poly community a deficiency in their earlier relationships or in their present partnership plays an essential part why they are into polyamory now. It goes like this:

“If my existing partnership does not deliver on something I need, I will try to get it from another person.”

If the foundation (= the original couple) is not stable due to some deficiency, all additional relationships connected to these persons will also be unstable in extension. More about this mechanism follows further down in this instruction, when “energetic” balances between partners in romantic relationships are discussed.