By Stacey Burling
You think a romantic relationship between two people is hard? Try polyamory.
A panel of experts at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Philadelphia last week said that open relationships between more than two people can work, but it requires a lot of talk about rules, boundaries, and time spent with various lovers.
William Slaughter, a psychiatrist in Cambridge, Mass., who has been treating polyamorous patients for about five years, said they need to have very good communication skills and be especially good at “mentalizing” or understanding others’ emotional reactions. He and Richard Sprott, a psychologist at California State University East Bay, and Elisabeth Sheff, a sociologist who recently left Georgia State University, talked about what to expect from polyamorous patients. Such patients often complain that they have to spend too much time educating their therapists, Slaughter said.