Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Partners?
No. *Mic drop. Walk away.*
But, in all seriousness, your personal level of polysaturation is exactly that - personal. It’s based on your life, and your level of energy and emotional bandwidth. I personally find that since my kids are little, caring for them is the same level of time and energetic output as having an additional partner. I can subtract a whole partner slot until they’re teens, I’m pretty sure. So the “well, three emotionally serious partnerships and some flirtationships or comets maybe?” of my pre-kid days have given way to “two partners and maybe a friend with benefits if I can make the schedule work but with the kids I’m not sure I can,” personally.
My partner, on the other hand, has three partners and is like “Oooo post pandemic I might get to meet people again, that could be fun!” and my reaction is “where is the energy coming from?” because he clearly has more than me. One of my friends has five partners who are all varying levels of kitchen-table-intertwined.
People whose jobs have more flexible hours, who are better at managing their own schedules, may be able to better manage having a greater number of partners than people whose schedules are determined by required overtime and demanding bosses. This doesn’t mean that people of all professions can’t be polyamorous - just that it takes different styles and self-knowledge to manage your own relationships effectively. If you don’t have time and energy to take on new relationships and do anyway, you and your new partner are both going to have a very challenging time. So, all the factors that feed into time and energy feed into polysaturation: work-life balance, kids, how much sleep you prefer to get, how much time you devote to your primary hobbies (and whether your partners share them), and how much time you need to devote to household necessities like cooking, laundry and cleaning. (Before someone jumps down my neck for that last one - I mean that if you live alone and clean up behind only yourself, it’s a very different amount of work than even a divided between multiple adults job for a household with three kids under five, and a still different amount than if you’re the primary caretaker of a baby or toddler, and being realistic about any of those situations is actually important. It’s better to do it before NRE kicks in and you realize that actually, you can only see someone if you completely reorganize the household tasks - which you might want to do!- or if they’re really cool with dates while you do laundry and clean.) All these things matter for figuring out if you have space in your life (time-wise) for another partner.
Emotionally, because love is infinite, we all pretty much always have the capacity to find new love and new partners. There are never “too many,” in the sense of a hard and fast rule. Too many is a statement in terms of people not meeting agreements they’ve made because they’ve allowed themselves to become oversaturated. Self-awareness is our friend in this, as in so much in polyamory.
I’ll be teaching my Beyond the Kitchen Table: Modes and Models of Parallel Polyamory class at Tethered to Wifi 2.0, the digital version of Tethered Together, on Saturday March 20 from 11:30am -1pm. The con as a whole runs from the 19-21 and you can get tickets at tetheredtogether.net. Tickets are $30 until sales close the day before the event. There are a lot of great presenters on topics ranging from relationships to movement to rope and a couple cool shows; come play with us!
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