Polyamory (from Greek πολύ poly, “many, several”, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. It has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy”. (wikipedia) and is often referred to as ‘poly’ in shorthand.

I have started with the wiki definition of poly relationship as it gives us an idea of the societal convention, the agreement of the many, on what the word polyamory means in action.

In my practice over recent years I have been coming across increasing numbers of people who find themselves loving more than one person and wondering how to make sense of this so I have been delving more into it as we walk the path together. My experience to this point is that poly in practice is more diverse than the general definition, and is widely differing in how it is lived by people.

To make this conversation simpler, imagine some fictional people. Here are some distinct versions of poly as I understand it at this point –

  • ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ poly – Janet is in loving relationship with two people who don’t know each other. Her agreement with those two people is she does not disclose or discuss any detail whatsoever.
  • ‘Kitchen table’ poly – Sally is in loving relationship with three people. Sally’s people are all known to each other and regularly meet and socialise. They discuss aspects of their relationships like sharing Sally’s time and boundaries on appropriate behaviour.
  • Co-habitation – Becky is in loving relationship with two people. They share the same house, the parenting of their children and have long term commitment and goals. All three have an equal relationship in which no one connection has greater primacy.

NGO Recovery Project

Earlier this year we completed a six month project of business transformation supporting a large local NGO to engage seriously in the work of supporting recovery.  Core aspects of the project were architecting the change, supporting an organisational restructure, liaising widely in the sector to promote understanding and garner support for the change and establishing and facilitating four staff recovery groups.

This work yielded powerful results which showed up not only in the lives of the consumers with whom the staff worked, but also in the staff’s own lives and practice.  As part of this process, 13 potential recovery group facilitators were identified and subsequently mentored over a six-month period in order to embed the recovery approach in the organisation.

The measure of success of this project was that Ros Bowyer Consulting were able to step away after this time and the organisation continued down the path of supporting a recovery-enabling approach.