In this post, we’ll be going over ideas about shadow work for polyamory.
First, let’s quickly go over what shadow and shadow work is.
What is Shadow Self & Shadow Work?
Your shadow self, or shadow, is the side of yourself you have no awareness of. It holds all the qualities you disowned during your formative years.
Although you learned to repress these qualities and push them outside of your awareness, they still live underneath the surface.
They unconsciously guide your actions and are the unseen cause for many of the troubles in your life.
Shadow work is the intentional practice of becoming aware of your unconscious shadow and integrating these neglected qualities into your being—becoming whole.
This is a process of building self-awareness, self-acceptance, and universal Love.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”Carl Jung
Shadow Work for Polyamory
From my own perspective, it seems that traditional relationships have been getting phased out. Marriage and committed relationships are losing their appeal and aren’t being taken as seriously.
Instead, there is more interest in different forms of relationships, such as polyamory.
A healthy perspective on sexuality involves taking a lighthearted and even humorous approach.
However, keep in mind that there is a lot of cultural influence and religious scripture that brings up the concept of sexuality in relationships—and much of which involves a heavy-handed attitude towards what’s “acceptable” and “unacceptable.”
These traditional perspectives have been going on for thousands of years. And it’s worth considering how the unconscious is adapting or reacting to these more sexually liberated times.
While most animals do not pair bond, it’s assumed that a higher consciousness being—a human—does pair bond according to old scripture.
However, this doesn’t make human beings monogamous. Instead, human beings are a mix of both monogamous and non-monogamous.
As human beings, the biggest attraction we can have towards “Other” is typically sexual by nature. And there is a propensity to want to bond and connect with a specific other on an exclusive level.
By exclusive, I mean that it’s normal to want regular access to another person without consciously feeling that you need to constantly compete for them.
Normalizing Sexual Repression Has Created a Societal Shadow
Monogamy has been a seemingly cultural default for a very long time. However, I want to point out that this is likely due to people buying into religious scripture—
Rules from a time where there was little to no birth control. Where men would need to normalize the sexual repression of women to ease any paternal insecurity.
Nowadays, there are paternity tests, so there is no need to sexually repress women anymore—that cultural strategy for keeping families together has long been obsolete.
Now men and women can be equally “sexually liberated” as nature intended.
However, this does mean that the family unit will be going through changes (that I guarantee won’t be figured out until the end of my own lifetime).
Understand that the animals that have an inclination for monogamy are those who birth offspring that are more helpless.
Although human beings do fit in this category of having helpless offspring, thanks to technological advances (this includes condoms), we have successfully separated sex, babies, and relationships.
Sex, Monogamy, Polyamory
Sex is very much an attachment behavior. Which makes sense because sex is how you make babies.
Monogamy comes at a sacrifice because you are giving up others for exclusivity towards one person.
However, in a real mature polyamorous arrangement, it’s worth pointing out that deciding to let someone in is a careful process.
Polyamory requires a lot of work and isn’t as casual a lifestyle as others might think.
The same way you develop a deep connection with a partner in a monogamous relationship is how you would treat each partner in a polyamorous relationship.
You can check out my time in the BDSM community here.
Individuating via Polyamory
Most people will not individuate, or “become their own”, through polyamory simply because only a tiny percentage of people are “built for it.”
I’m not saying that you can’t have a bunch of friends with benefits or booty calls.
I’m saying, most people aren’t built for developing multiple in-depth and mutual emotional, spiritual, and physical connections.
For example, many women I sleep with are already in “open relationships” or “in the middle of a divorce.” And they tell me that men who fall for them end up settling for an open relationship.
This is because those men don’t see any other choice if they want to be with this person.
This “forced tolerance” is evidence that nobody involved is actually bettering themselves by engaging in such a superficial relationship.
It’s simply fulfilling an egoic desire to want to be desired and have gratification.
This is totally cool—it’s an experience you should have if you feel compelled to have it.
But genuine, actualizing relationships are those where people are committed to their bond(s) emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Open relationships are typically not like this.
Why Polyamory Doesn’t Work (For Most)
Like I subtly referred to in the previous section, people often use this label of “polyamory” with unconscious motivations.
A lot of people who dabble in non-monogamous relationships actually lack a lot of self-awareness.
And I wouldn’t blame these people because they are often inspired to explore sexual taboos or alternative lifestyles in hopes that it’s somebody they can become (as opposed to who they are).
What do I mean by this?
Well, let’s put it this way:
I’ve had a fair amount of experience in the BDSM community. Of course, I’m not an expert, and it’s not “baked” into my lifestyle. But I’ve been trained by professionals and have played with some fixtures in the community.
To me, BDsM is simply an experience that I engage in from time to time.
When I go online and talk to women who claim to be Dominants, more often than not, they are immediately rude and assume control over me (I advertise myself as a switch).
They assume they are Dominant types when they are very much not. They are weak, disrespectful, and demeaning.
But they think they are Dominant…
This is a lack of self-awareness.
And I’m confident the same goes for men who assume that being Dominant means freely bossing around girls online who don’t know any better.
The same way people want to fit into a Dominant role and assume that they are is a similar attitude people take when exploring polyamory.
Many people want to be polyamorous but simply aren’t “built for it.”
Of course, you need to try it to find out whether it’s who you are. But understand that if you are behaving arrogantly (proud of your own ignorance), then there’s a high chance you lack self-awareness and are in denial of yourself.
Check out my BDsM blog post How to Spot a Fake Dom.
In the worst cases, people use “ethical non-monogamy” as an unconscious defense mechanism against intimacy.
Effectively separating you further from higher consciousness and Self-understanding.
Using Non-Monogamy to Prevent Self-Awareness
It’s easy to think you are releasing an inner tension or getting fulfillment by being non-monogamous.
But you should consider that this really can be an externalized behavior rooted in an internal conflict within the psyche.
Especially considering that shadow is heavily tied to anything considered taboo in the eyes of society, culture, and community.
For example, cheating is typically done “behind closed doors” to avoid the shame of such actions.
Check out my Infidelity & Cheating Series here.
However, being vocal about living a non-monogamous lifestyle can actually be healthy in that you are vocalizing it publicly (implying seeming self-acceptance).
The first doesn’t leave any light for examination, while the latter allows itself to be known and up for shameless scrutiny.
Sort of how a woman will publicly state that she is over cis-men and experimenting with other women.
There is no shame in her actions because she is (typically) making it publicly known, however contemptuous it may seem.
Many times these people are in denial.
They are kidding themselves in an attempt to cover up their own insecurities, or delay grief, or feel more in control, or whatever unconscious motivation they have.
This is a fear of self-confrontation.
Instead, they are blaming something external or acting upon the unseen shame they inflict on themselves internally.
Using these fantasies of who they could be—”I am polyamorous” or “I am not into [cis-men, cis-women, etc.]”—as a self-soothing mechanism; copium.
Ego-Driven or Higher Calling?
Individuating through a relationship can be something a person is “called” to do.
Whether it be monogamy, polygamy, or any other relationship arrangement, a mutually actualizing relationship involves high integrity between those involved emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
(This is usually referred to as “twin flames.” However… this seems to venture too far from psycho-spirituality. So I’m not willing to post about this (yet?).)
But many times, polyamory is very much an ego rationalization, a “cover-up,” to delay some sort of self-confrontation.
What is the ego trying to cover up?
For many people, there is glamorized self-delusion going on. They think that opening up their relationship or engaging in polyamory will make them happier.
But many times, not all the time, this isn’t the case.
For many people, this actually brings on more suffering.
Despite being the best-externalized solution the psyche can come up with—it’s still a symptom of an inner issue. Such as:
- To avoid sexual frustration
- To always be sexually excited
- To keep a safe distance from intimacy
It all comes down to some sort of avoidance towards discomfort.
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”CG Jung
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This resource gets updated at no additional cost.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This series goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for anyone dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Self-Love Subliminal for self-hypnotism that will help you change your behavior and gain self-love, self-awareness, better relationships, greater health, and improve your creativity.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.
Mindful & Mending is a small website that’s about self-hypnosis, affirmations, auto-suggestion, and more techniques & tools to help you shift your unconscious mind. Check it out here.