If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life?” ~ Harvey Fierstein

I’m going to talk about commitment.  Wait?  I’m open and polyamorous.  Commitment?  I thought I was allowed to and always wanted to be allowed to date and fuck and love others?

Yep.  I have this freedom and I don’t wanna give it up or ask my partners to give it up.  I’m talking about commitment, but not necessarily sexual fidelity.  The two are exclusive and can exist with or without each other.

group marriage

Passion can never purchase what true love desires: true intimacy, self-giving, and commitment

I’m a huge fan of passion and heat.  I like infatuation when it’s controlled.  Passion and the easy passion of newness are lovely lovely things and I will admit that opening up bringing this and this potential back to me is one of my favorite perks of poly.  But I kinda view the easy passion of infatuation and new relationship energy like a kind of candy.  Candy is delicious and it’s good to have a little fun and frivolity in your life, but candy does not sustain.  The passion of longer and deeper association and love is more like fruit.  It’s sweet and delicious and a necessary aspect of a balanced diet, but it also isn’t enough to sustain.  Eating would be dull with no sweetness, so it matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

I do get a kind of intimacy from sex and passion and fun, but I agree that passion alone doesn’t buy the giving of self and connection that I crave.  That is another kind of intimacy to me.

afraid commitmentThe relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it’s not without doubt but in spite of doubt.

I think some people confuse the desire for forever for the promise of forever.  This leads to both sides of the difficulty with commitment.  It’s foolish to profess and believe in forever and ever with no thought of reality and of the real reason for doubt that exists.  It’s also foolish not to make any commitments because you can’t be sure sure sure, so you cut yourself off from all possibility.  Commitment to me is taking that plunge and saying I’d like to build something with you and I’d like it to be a sturdy and I hope it’s for a lifetime.  I know I can’t know the future and everything that will occur, but I’d really like to try to walk all of it with you.  I’m going to invest in you and take a risk with you.  I think you are worth it.

When you make a commitment to a relationship, you invest your attention and energy in it more profoundly because you now experience ownership of that relationship.” ~Barbara De Angelis 

There is something to this, and this is why commitment is so important to me.  When I give myself in my relationship, I need to know you won’t just walk away when it’s unpleasant or I’m difficult.  If it’s all just fun and that we make each other feel good all the time, we will never actually survive life.  Life is messy.  It’s why I can’t just walk away from Hubby now.  We’ve spent so long building something that really was great and I still have this tiny little hope.  I don’t want to let go of what we made.  I don’t want to let go of him.  I don’t want to give up on this because we worked really hard and have had such joy and love.  This relationship we’ve created is a thing of its own, but it’s ours and we made it and it’s one of the most valuable things in my life.

I keep thinking of what Hubby did after my father died.. after he flew 22 hours from the other side of the world and crossed a dateline to be there for me.  After we then flew 13 hours to Cleveland (a normally 6 hr flight) in the worst flight of my life.. after delays and reroutes and a night without sleep or food.  Hubby worked tirelessly with me going through things and having a memorial for my Dad.  I poured my father in the river and watched him float away and when I walked out Hubby held me and he told me his parting words to my Dad.  He said “Tom, I’m going to be here and I have her back.  I realize you were the last of her family.  I will be here and I will take care of her.  I’ll be her family”.  He reminded me he said this a few nights ago.  It’s been ringing in my mind.  That.  That is the commitment I crave.  More than ceremonies and weddings, and more than words and papers and fancy promises.  I want  to love and be so loved that we are family.  There is the family you are both with and the one you create.

Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.” ~Robert Sternberg

I’m not sure how you get there exactly.  I think passion keeps us together enough to connect maybe, and if we are wise we do so slowly and carefully because passion often convinces us to connect to those we really shouldn’t.

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans. ~Peter F. Drucker 

It was hard for me to figure out what I wanted after I became poly.  The old “escalator” of dating -> love -> fidelity -> marriage doesn’t really apply.  So what then are we doing?  Why are we loving and investing our hearts here?  What are we building if we aren’t building that?

There are as many answers to this as there are people.  Some hope to date for as long as is mutually beneficial, some hope to marry in their way or to have kids or to form tribes or to date as many people as they have time for or to be fidelous, but maybe to more than one.  I can’t speak in any way for all poly people, but I think I know what I want.  What I hope for is that I will have relationships with people and let connection be what they are.  I hope that I will have love and sex and passion, and I hope that some of this leads further and that I have a larger family.  I know that few of the people I date will last because few relationships do, but I hope that some of them will be those lifetime loves.  I want to talk to Hubby over coffee about the forty years we’ve enjoyed and plan a trip to Hawaii.  I want to have morning coffee with Great Date and Roller Girl and pick out a shirt for Great Dates date.  I want to see some of the people I love daily, in close proximity, and I want to have the commitment of history and of love.

i'm with themInfinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves — our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and, above all, our love. ~William E. Simon

When it all ends and we all stop I guarantee we will not be taking inventory of our houses and cars and money.  In the end it will be those connections and that love that we count as our blessings.  The things we love are the things we devote our time too.  What we feed will grow.

Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved.” ~Bill Gates

Creating a family will be challenging.  There will be times when we will have to endure missing our crushes and have those hard conversations.  We’ll have to forgive each other and sacrifice a little.  It won’t all be fun.  Anything worthwhile involves risk and effort, but it won’t be ALL hard work.  I am not saying we’ll all live in the same house.  In fact, I’m thinking we won’t.  I think it’d be nice to have a little apartment house or some kind of space where there was freedom for individual space and close proximity.  My research indicates this is the most viable method.  It’s won’t be simple, but think of how lovely it would be if it worked!

Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~ Vince Lombard

Definition of COMMITMENT

1) an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee
2) an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date
3) something pledged
4) the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled 
adhesion, allegiance, attachment, fidelity, constancy, dedication, devotedness, devotion, faith, faithfulness, fastness, fealty, loyalty, piety, steadfastness, troth
disloyalty, faithlessness, falseness, falsity, inconstancy, infidelity, perfidiousness, perfidy, treachery, unfaithfulness
Related Words
affection, fondness; determination, firmness, resolution; dependability, reliability, trustability, trustiness, trustworthiness


  1. This post made me tear up, thinking about a relationship that recently ended. We had a lot of passion and intimacy and some commitment, but not a very committed commitment. We had reluctance to leave instead of eagerness to be together.

    And it is confusing to want forever while simultaneously not believing in forever. I loved the way you put it. Commitment and doubt go hand in hand.


  2. I’ve recently been struggling with this very same topic in my head. Being new to these experiences and feelings, I quickly learned that having other relationships besides my marriage does not follow the traditional “escalator” and there are moments when that saddens me. But I’m learning to be appreciative of the time I do get to spend with my boyfriend, to cherish it even more. Thank you for this post, it really hit home with me.


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