You Can’t Even Get ONE Relationship Right! (Poly Is Not, Part XXII)

This writing is now available as a podcast episode!


Someone said in response to one of my writings about polyamory:

But if you have trouble maintaining one relationship well, is the good idea to involve more people in that?

While polyamory is an exponential issue, it is not a direct extension of every problematic relationship you’ve ever had.

After all, it depends on WHY you are having trouble with one relationship, doesn’t it?

First, is it you? Or could it be your partner?

I’m a BIG fan of taking personal responsibility in relationships. Thing is, sometimes people are just assholes.

It is, however, my fault for choosing an asshole. But they, in that case, would be the primary issue.

Choosing someone else, maybe not an asshole, might lead to a better chance of relationship success—whatever that looks like for you.

Continue reading “You Can’t Even Get ONE Relationship Right! (Poly Is Not, Part XXII)”

Polyamory: Respect & Metamours—A Question

“How do you gain respect from those who are courting your partner? Kinda done being treated like a speed bump on the way to my spouse.

Asking an outside party because I am done bugging him about it.

Thanks.”

You don’t worry about it. They will or won’t, eventually. Although how they see your partner treat you matters.

It’s up to your partner to determine whether they are OK with people who don’t respect you being in their life.

And how your partner treats you.

Image by 1388843 from Pixabay

There Are No Golden Year Anniversaries In Poly

When I was 11, I was walking with my friend Erica to my house, and I mentioned that John and Sam would be eating over that night.

She said, “Aren’t they ‘funny?'”

“Funny?” I was confused for a moment, and she did the limp wrist. “You mean gay?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, they are.”

“I don’t think I know any gay people.”

I was flabbergasted. “How can you not know gay people? They are everywhere!”

That was my first realization that not everyone lived the way I did.

About ten years ago, when I was talking with some friends about marriage equality, a friend of a friend piped up, and said, “Why would it even be worth it? There are not long-lasting gay relationships.”

I was reminded of that earlier this week when I saw this:

My Aunt Betty (Grandfather’s sister) lived with “Aunt Patty” until she died when I was 26. I visited them in California, played with their dogs, swam in their pool, lost on their Galaga video game, and went to Disneyland with them for the first time when I was 7.

They had been together for 15+ years at that point.

But, hey, no gay relationships last that long, right?

These are both cases of people not being able to imagine that others live the same kind of amazing, wonderful, fucked up complex lives that they do, but with different beliefs, orientations, and physical attributes.

And the same thing happened two days ago, when someone says, “There are no Golden Year anniversaries in poly.”

Except that that’s not provable, is it?

Since poly has been kept mostly on the DL for so long. Who knows who has been poly for their 50-year marriage, except those close to them (and maybe not even them)?

The bigger key is, though, who cares?

Does a 50 year marriage mean that your relationship is then somehow valid?

Does the 26 years that a poly couple I know spent together not matter for another 24? Is their joy and happiness together negated by their lack of longevity? Would it make a difference if they hadn’t met until they were in their 30s? Or if one of them was a widower?

What about two of my dear friends who’ve been together for more than 20 years and are not only poly, but active in the local kink community?

I’ll be sure to tell them their love doesn’t matters, because they have nearly 30 years to go before poly certification.

Some relationships are best not lasting 50 years.

And while relationship commitment can be measured by longevity, I don’t believe that is necessarily an indicator of quality.

I was with my ex-husband for 15 years. At the time, that was nearly half of my life. My relationship of 6+ years now is of a FAR higher quality than that was at it’s best.

If it ended tomorrow, that would still be true.

A Challenge

Can anyone prove that there are NO 50-year anniversaries between poly people?

Can anyone prove that there is at least one 50-year anniversary between poly people?

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Dear Poly Partner…

I need to get something off my chest.

I told you not to cancel with [YOUR OTHER PARTNER] because I never want to be resented for forcing your hand. Because I don’t want [YOUR OTHER PARTNER] to feel like I do when I get second place on a double booking.

Not because I don’t want to be put first on this very important occasion, or to be given the priority when an error is made. I do. Oh, god. I do.

That’s not my decision to make.

It’s yours. It will always be. I want you to do what you need to do.

Either way you choose, it will be tough on you. And I’m sorry for that. If you stick with [YOUR OTHER PARTNER] for that date, please don’t leave me hanging wondering what you’re thinking or how this might be fixed.

Two possible suggestions:

  1. I get [SPECIAL OCCASION DAY]. We do something special. I’m happy to offer such-and-such day(s) for you to make up for the change in plans with [YOUR OTHER PARTNER].
  2. [YOUR OTHER PARTNER] keeps [SPECIAL OCCASION DAY]. I get such-and-such day(s) and events together with you and we celebrate in [WAYS THAT WILL FILL ME UP].

Whatever you choose, I will be OK with. Because I know that double booking sucks for everyone, and I totally get that things can’t always work perfectly.

But maybe, we can work together and make it perfectly imperfect, and a time to remember, even if it’s not on [SPECIAL OCCASION DAY].

That will go a long way for me. That we get through this as a team, and communicate together, and it will help me heal.

I love you.

I love us.

Nookie

Poly Is Not…Always At Fault (Poly Is Not, Part XXI)

EVERY poly person I know in real life has been through this.

  • An argument happens about something in the poly relationship.
  • Things get heated.
  • The words get said, “Well, i guess this poly thing is just bullshit.”

Of course, the words may not be EXACTLY those words. They might be, “Ever since we went poly, nothings has gone right,” or “This was your idea, why are you bitching about poly now?”

Or something like that.

Putting the blame square on polyamory as if it is the source of ALL relationship troubles now that your ethically non-monogamous.

Well, guess what?

Poly is not always at fault.

Note: [I am NOT in any way saying that polyamory is right for everyone.][https://fetlife.com/users/50648/posts/4778178] I am not a bloody priestess of the ethically non-monogamous. I write about poly for those curious about how it works (and doesn’t), and for those who are looking for new perspectives on their own journey in ethical non-monogamy.

There are so many things related to polyamory that aren’t poly. Including things that look like jealousy that aren’t.

Like:

  • You’ve double booked, and SOMEONE is going to be disappointed.
  • You’re caught up in NRE and forgetting the maintenance behaviors that you usually give your longer-term mates.
  • You’ve got less passion or desire for your longer-term relationship.
  • You’ve been being less present in your time with your longer-term partner.
  • You’re stressed, because everyone wants you, and you’re not good at setting priorities and boundaries.
  • You’ve screwed up commitments that were incompatible with something you’re exploring.

And so on.

Sure, having more than one lover can be the reason for your double-booking. The same thing can happen with friends or family or work, and it will cause hurt feelings.

You may forget maintenance behaviors in your monogamous relationship as well. Many people do. People bitch about this shit online ALL THE TIME.

Your passion may ebb and flow because of a new partner (or partners), or because of hormones or a bad day.

And blah, blah, blah.

The polyamory/ethical non-monogamy is not the issue, necessarily.

It’s the catalyst for the behaviors that are causing strain and upset.

So, blaming the poly automatically is disingenuous, and takes the responsibility off the behavior, and puts it onto a lifestyle.

Poly is not always at fault. Sometimes relationship management skills are the culprit.

Compersion Is Not A System Override (Poly Is Not, Part XX)

I wrote about compersion in this piece: Poly Is Not Compersion, and it resonated with a lot of folk.

I mentioned in that piece that compersion is not an antidote for jealousy.

It’s not.

Compersion is not a system override for other feelings.

Most people I know are perfectly capable of feeling joy in another’s happiness (compersion) and ALSO feeling jealousy or fear or a sick dread or anger or upset or depression.

Humans are complex creatures.

We are not one thing or another.

We are not 100% good at any given time or 100% bad.

Continue reading “Compersion Is Not A System Override (Poly Is Not, Part XX)”

Poly Is Not Less (Poly Is Not, Part XVIII)

Not inherently so, anyway.

Let me explain.

Also, before I explain, let me say that I am not proselytizing. I have no desire to convert you to the cult of poly. IDGAF if you are poly or mono or decidedly alone. I post these “Poly Is Not” writings to combat some group-think and stereotypes that often hold little basis in reality. If you are completely unwilling to share a partner’s sexuality and love, that’s fine. You do you.

Ok, that all said, let me say clearly: Poly is not necessarily less of someone than monogamy.

Because in polyamory or monogamy, you could be with a partner who you adore in every way. Who is responsive to you, who meshes with you wonderfully in non-sexual ways.

They could be naturally monogamous, and not open to other options.

You could have the same partner, who is open to sharing, and enjoying time with others.

In either case, you could ruin the potential because you would “want more,” rather than enjoying what you and they have, and taking pleasure as it comes to you.

Which, is, of course your right. Especially if you are monogamous.

Continue reading “Poly Is Not Less (Poly Is Not, Part XVIII)”

Poly Is Not Just “Yes!” (Poly Is Not, Part XVI)

Polyamory Is Not... A Series

So many see polyamory as saying “Yes!” to more people, more sex, more dates, more playtime.

And it is.

But it’s not JUST saying yes.

Because every yes is also a no.

When I say “Yes,” to a new partner, I’m potentially saying “No,” to the following:

  • My alone time.
  • My time with friends.
  • My time with existing partners.

And so on.

Which is not a BAD thing, in itself. Because sometimes it’s worth it to choose one person over another, to explore new potential connections over existing ones.

Sometimes it’s not.

Which is where the term “polysaturated” comes into play. Totally committed. No room for another, no matter how much I want to try, because those I already care about need what I have, and more importantly, I need it, too.

From and with them.

Polyamory can be a challenge.

When I’m planning travel or fun or business commitments, I weight those decisions against the people in my life that I already enjoy connections to.

I think on the things I do for them that make them happy, and those they do for me that fulfill me and bring me joy. These are some of the things I say no to when I add another partner, travel a lot on business, work 18 hour days and more.

Not just because of the actual time spent on each other those things, but because of the mental load added outside of those hours in thinking about, planning, and preparing for them.

It’s also saying no to: watching more Netflix, Facebook time, iPhone games/time wasters… things I’m often quite happy to say no to.

If I think about it.

And that’s what polyamory means. When we say yes to more people, more activities, and more… more…

We CHOOSE what to say no to that does not add enough value to our lives.

Relationship Anarchy Has The BEST Ideas!

A venn diagram with two circles overlapping. And arrow pointing to the overlap says, "The sweet spot for friendship, love, romance, sexytimes, etc."

Now, don’t get me wrong. Relationship Anarchy are not the only way to do it right, and in fact, many practitioners probably screw things up at least as much as the national average.

I’ve written before that polyamory is not for everyone. And I mean it. Some people are inclined to be monogamous, and that’s cool. Some are not. That is also cool.

It’s about finding what works best for you and your partner(s).

So, back to some of these relationship anarchy core ideas.

Unlike many might believe from just hearing the term bandied about here and there in polyamory and other circles, it’s not an “anything goes” philosophy where what you do is all about you and blind to the effect on others.

Not at all. There are commitments and love and drama and fun and… well, let be a bit more clear, and just dive into it.

Put Yourself First

One of the core tenets of relationship anarchy is to put yourself first. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that honors the needs YOU have and allows you to help others meet their needs as well.

Romance Is Not Greater Than Friendship (or vice-versa)

Yesterday, I answered a call for sources for an article about why people might want to keep developing their friendships once they have a significant other. Like that’s a question that needs to be answered.

But even is that’s a no-brainer for you as it has been for me, you might still (like I have in the past) be putting your romantic relationship first pretty much always.

Relationship anarchists allow relationships to grow based on connection, not just on the concepts of sex and romantic love. Friend may often (and continually) take precedence over some romantic or sexual lovers, and that’s OK.

It also means that doing the things with friends we might normally do for/with lovers, like having a “date” night for connection, complimenting them, and being physically (not necessarily sexually) affectionate is OK, and lifts us up with companionship.

Relationship Anarchy Examines WHY

Why this relationship? Why this step?

The default relationship pattern we see in most of our culture has been given a moniker: The Relationship Escalator, because an escalator only goes one way:

  • Meet
  • Date
  • Commit
  • Marry
  • Kids

And so on…

Relationship anarchy chooses each step, and also makes the point that it is also perfectly acceptable to step back to a previous relationship style, or sideways into another, not just go blindly forward.

What about THIS person calls me to THIS relationship style?

Set Personal Boundaries (and keep them)

Relationship anarchy is more focused on personal boundaries in relationships, rather than rules.

Healthy personal boundaries are a positive focus.

“I choose this path for me,” rather than, “You’re not allowed to do that.”

It’s finding the sweet spot (see above), and realizing that two people will never FULLY overlap, but that OK. Awesome, even. You have things you enjoy together, and things that you enjoy apart.

Recognizing that allows people to grow and thrive as individuals, even within couplehood or polyhood.

The Takeaway

Again, I’ll point out that I’m not advocating one relationship style over another.

I’m saying that some of the precepts of RA can be valuable to any relationship style, and can help you grow as a single, a couple, or a group.

Poly-Wha? Ethical Non-Monogamy For Everyone

Polyamorous, open, swing, poly-fidelous, monogamish… so many ways to say that you enjoy ethical non-monogamy, or more than traditional one-on-one coupling.

But what does it all mean, and how does it all work?

In this class, we’ll discuss labels, relationship patterns, communication, communication, and communication.

It’s all about finding what works for you and your partners, once you step out of the relationship box and into ethical non-monogamy.