May 6, 2022
Gina Westfall is a 28-year-old from the Bay Area who first began exploring polyamory with her significant other in college.
If you feel a genuine connection with someone, you have the freedom to pursue the relationship they both want without having arbitrary restrictions around them.”
— Gina Westfall
“We really wanted to talk through what we wanted our relationship style to be,” Westfall said. “We knew a couple of people who were in polyamorous relationships, and we wanted to get rid of the many unhealthy things that can accompany monogamy. Mainly, we wanted to eliminate the idea of the relationship being about having total ownership over each other.”
People in romantic relationships often demand complete control over each other’s time, emotional and sexual connections. Some can view this as too domineering and wish for more independence and freedom from traditional romantic expectations.
This is one of the many reasons polyamory is so appealing to many people.
“If you feel a genuine connection with someone, you have the freedom to pursue a relationship,” Westfall said. “Both people will be able to have the relationships they both want without having arbitrary restrictions around them. We can choose our emotional and sexual connections as autonomous individuals while also taking care of each other and each other’s emotions within our relationship.”
These relationships don’t necessarily always have all three components of what society often views as a relationship: friendship or mutual feelings, romance, and sexual intimacy.
This is also one of the main reasons for non-hierarchical relationships; there isn’t the expectation that one particular relationship will be prioritized over another. Though prioritization still can happen inherently, non-hierarchical relationships are meant to keep everyone involved in the relationship feeling loved and cared for equally. Non-hierarchical relationships are the most common form of relationship anarchy.
“One of the principles of relationship anarchy is that you won’t necessarily make a bunch of sacrifices in your life just to centralize a traditional family structure and your partner,” Westfall said. “You can choose how to relate to each other, and if you genuinely feel a certain type of connection with somebody, you should have the freedom to pursue that.”
This freedom of choice is one of the cornerstones of polyamorous relationships.
You can’t put restrictions on how you feel. What you can do is make choices that are based on feelings that come up.”
— Gina Westfall
“You can’t put restrictions on how you feel. What you can do is make choices that are based on feelings that come up,” Westfall said.
As for how polyamorous relationships actually work, they require a lot of communication.
“What I’ve tried to do with people I’m involved with is try our best to be open,” Westfall said. “A big thing for me is that people’s feelings and boundaries need to be equally important. There are levels of communication and respect that need to be a baseline for non-monogamy to work.”
Of course, all relationships take massive amounts of communication, time, and effort to be successful. The most essential thing to have in a relationship is trust. However, in many monogamous relationships, that trust is primarily built on the promise that you aren’t involved with anyone else.
“There’s this agreement that you won’t be involved, romantically or sexually with anyone else, and I think that having that be the basis for the security of the relationship is a fragile thing,” Westfall said. “In my most recent really healthy, successful relationships, the trust was built through open and honest communication.”
This is true for many relationships, be they polyamorous or monogamous. However, when there isn’t healthy communication and people don’t respect each other’s boundaries, polyamory can turn negative exceptionally quickly. Moore discovered this when they first began their journey into polyamory.