Ethical non-monogamous relationships require a great deal of communication and organization. This is something most of us know. Managing multiple relationships demands a different approach than dedicating energy to only one significant other. The communication styles and boundary-setting required in these interactions may be challenging for neurodivergent folks who don’t process the world in traditional ways.
If you fall under the umbrella of neurodiversity, you may have been told that polyamory or alternative relationships aren’t for you. Perhaps no one has explicitly used these words, but maybe you’ve been made to feel unwanted within the polyamorous community in your local area or online.
If you’ve encountered such messages from your communities or even within yourself, this blog post is here to reassure you that your choice of relationship style is valid. You have as much right to pursue the types of connections that feel right to you as anyone else does. Read on to learn more about neurodiversity within ethical non-monogamous relationships and how your unique qualities can actually benefit your relationships.
“Neurotypical” is the term for the ways in which the majority of people who process the world around them. Those who function outside of the “norm” are often referred to as “neurodiverse” or “neurodivergent.” Conditions such as autism, ADHD, OCD and anxiety fall under the umbrella of neurodiversity. Much of society is structured around neurotypical needs. Therefore, if you function outside of those structures, you may find navigating the world to be somewhat of a struggle. Neurodiverse individuals tend to learn, communicate and interact in ways that are different from the neurotypical folks for whom the world is built.
Neurodiversity and Polyamory
Neurodiversity is a broad spectrum, but one common struggle for neurodivergent people is in navigating social interactions. Perhaps they have trouble reading facial expressions or interpreting social cues. Their communication may be very direct in a way that can be received as abrasive. Guess culture can be confounding. Maybe they have difficulty with time management or in processing their feelings in the moment.
As you can imagine, these issues can be problematic when attempting to manage multiple relationships. Polyamory involves complex dynamics. Neurodivergent folks may find these things intimidating, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be learned or that compromises can’t be made.
Neurodiversity Is Valid
While the struggles you may face within ethical non-monogamous relationships and the community at large can seem daunting, it’s important to realize that your presence within this space is valid. You have a right to pursue the types of connections that make sense to you. Your unique approach to the world can actually be an asset to your relationships.
Your direct communication style may inspire partners and others within your polycule to be more open, leading to fewer miscommunications. If your ADHD causes you to move between activities quickly, this could inspire your people to embrace spontaneity. Perhaps your difficulty in reading facial expressions or interpreting social cues will teach your partners to be more transparent with their feelings.
We all find relationships challenging in various ways. Being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world is a challenge in its own right, but it shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing what feels right to you. This includes the types of relationships you desire.