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Two Poly Posts In One!


Polyamory is a high-risk, high-reward lifestyle.

The risks, to monogamous people, are obvious.  Intrinsic to polyamory, you have

  • additional relationships that can upset apple carts
  • heartbreak potential that isn't just magnified, it's more like cubed
  • the certain exposure of every perceived inadequacy, every flaw in your relationships with your partner(s) and especially yourself
  • the weird way poly has of creating ethical dilemmas you never dreamed you'd find yourself in the middle of.
As if that's not enough, there are considerable social risks, although these should abate both over time in any poly Relationship and with time passing overall as ethical non-monogamy becomes more visible and acceptable. The biggest one here is the risk of censure and rejection by family and friends. This social discrimination stings in a way you can't even imagine until you experience it: it feels like a complete denial of a part of your family and a larger part of yourself.  
That social ridicule can prevent people who are otherwise perfectly suited to poly from ever trying it...all by itself.

There are even, as ridiculous as this is, career risks, because somehow the presence of abundant love in your personal life is seen to negatively impact your professionalism (???) 

A little over two years in, I have experienced most of what I just detailed. Most of it. I can say out loud that my heart has been broken in large and little ways; and that I've had to confront jealousy and especially envy, among several other flaws, head-on. And  oh, yeah, those ethical dilemmas. I want badly to be out in the open, but it's not always possible. I strive for honesty and some agreed-upon degree of transparency in my relationships...does that even allow me to be party to a lie, if it's not my lie and it's in a good cause? Why am I continually finding myself hoping I'm on a relationship escalator, even as I (intellectually) pooh-pooh the whole notion and claim to accept whatever is? It''s a learning process, a growing process.

Most of my friends have stuck by me, I am eternally grateful to report. Some of my family hasn't. That's fine; that's their choice to make. I hope they're happy with how much they hurt me.

Yes, I think it's fair to say I have experienced the downsides. I am very circumspect in my writings on personal poly -- I confront every one of these blogs as an exercise in saying as much as possible without saying anything at all -- but attentive readers, especially those privy to my Facebook timeline, have drawn their own conclusions and, in some cases, confronted me (or, worse, a close friend who is NOT a partner) with them. Not one person has correctly assumed what's going on in my world -- some can't even guess the people involved properly -- and so I know I'm doing this right.  My advice to you is to stop guessing. I don't speculate on your love lives; it's none of my business. 

With all that risk, why? Why practice poly at all? 

Well, as I hope I've made clear, I don't have a choice. I have been emotionally poly for as long as I have had relationships: even in their embryonic, "puppy love" form, there was always more than one of them, each one cherished for itself. 

That's the biggest reward, right there: more relationships means more experiences, more perspectives, Not just among partners, either: relationships among metamours are their own joys. When functioning properly, a polycule is akin to a happy family: a loving support network. It really makes you wonder why society would have any sort of problem with polyamory. We're no threat to anyone. 
I can state without outing anyone or anything that loving this way has gifted me with confidence and contentment, and opened my mind to new possibilities. I have grown a lot in the past two years. I'm no longer afraid to put myself out in the world. And all those things I said about about confronting your flaws and facing down your demons? Might have still happened, but wouldn't have happened so quickly or so thoroughly. 



A couple of months ago, give or take -- time blurs in this information-rich world, have you noticed? -- I shared something on Facebook that said 



I think many men actually believe that women are machines that dispense sex if you learn how to work them properly. This, needless to say, distresses and disgusts me, not least because I'm positive women think that I think that way. ESPECIALLY since I'm poly. I mean, polyamory is just another word for promiscuity, right?


I've been quote-unquote friendzoned since. I used to take such treatment -- and I've been through it a LOT -- as a binding referendum on my physical appearance, one I failed every single time. I've heard it all: "I love you like a brother" (which should be comforting to an only child, but usually has me thinking about incest taboos); "I love you, but not in that way" (ugh) and most recently, the plain truth free of euphemism: "I value our growing friendship, but I don't see anything physical developing between us".

It does sting.

Not because I had ever once thought "gee, if I do everything just right I might get to fuck this woman". Sex, for me, is NEVER an end goal, or even, properly speaking, a goal at all. I am open to giving and receiving love in whatever capacity is acceptable to my partners, and derive a lot of joy in doing so purely platonically.

But it's a limit. A hard limit.

I accept the ones society has imposed: my oft-repeated refrain that I will not interfere in committed, monogamous relationships. (Ethical dilemma: what exactly constitutes "committed"? Can I trust my partner to tell me when that state has been reached? Will she even know? Maybe her partner sees them as committed now, even if she doesn't. Am I under any obligation in that case? How would I know? And round and round in my head we go.)

It stings even more in a poly context because poly people (outside of the polyfidelitous folks in closed triads or quads) tend to have a lot fewer limits, and they're all self-imposed, not society-imposed.

I'm not sure what she actually said to me, and didn't ask for clarification lest it be seen as a protest. What I heard was "beyond a limited level of intimacy, which may be expressed a very limited number of ways, you shall not pass." And yes, that hurt. I do want to get closer to people, not further away from them. Sex, for me, is a plausible expression of a closeness that will never come in this case.

But there is nothing wrong with being friends. Nothing at all. So if I had hoped for more, eventually...does that make me a bad person? Does that make me (Jesus, no) a typical man?  You get that going around in your head too.

And what do you do when you hear but I DO love you 'in that way'? How do you NOT respond to that if you feel the same yourself, emphatically? Do you accept what you hear and press for the closeness you both claim to want?

Poly people call this "processing". Both my partners call it "overthinking". I do it a LOT.

See, I've been taught that pressing is bad. Pressing is what men who objectify women do...keep fiddling with the controls and eventually the sex will spill out. And there's still a small part of me--it's smaller by the month, but it's still there--afraid to state my desires lest they be rejected.  But when the desires are STRONG, they should be expressed, no? Provided I accept her response? (What if her response changes day by day?)


(get your mind out of the gutter)

I don't know where I'm going. But I'm

Who I want to be and where I want to be and doing what I always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all (yet)
Running for my life and never looking back in case there's someone right behind to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall
when the crazy wheel slows down
where will I be?
Back where I started (source)


This post first appeared on The Breadbin, please read the originial post: here

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Two Poly Posts In One!


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