I had somebody stomp all over my go-to analogy for Polyamory. Both of them, actually. It left me floundering for a minute.
someone who objectifies people. I care too much to do that.
To be fair, the official definition of polyamory casts a very wide net:
I still have trouble accepting this, for reasons that are mine alone. It's just that upon hearing I'm poly, IMMEDIATELY people think I'm looking for a quick shag. It drives me batshit crazy.
And this, this drove me--what's beyond batshit crazy? Humanshit crazy? Let's go for bluewhaleshit crazy:
I stared at that for a while, marvelling at the cynicism. Then responded:
Mental gymnastics? No. Just because you don't identify with something, doesn't mean it's not real for others. Love is NOT like money, despite being treated in just that way. Do you have more than one friend? Why? Isn't one friend enough? Doesn't having another friend diminish your affection for the first one? Or kids. You can't love two kids at once, right? Poly works the same way.
Yes, comparing true intimacy with the relationships you would have with a child or an acquaintance. Beautiful.
The level of "wrong" here is just off the charts.
First, let's review what an analogy even IS. If I make an analogy, say, by comparing polyamory to friendship or parenting, I am NOT suggesting the two things ARE THE SAME. I'm saying they are similar in one or more significant respects.
Beyond that, who gets to define 'true' intimacy, and what exactly is it? There are, after all, many forms, and the person who assumes there's only one -- sex -- is missing a LOT. I defy you to tell me that a healthy parent/child relationship is not intimate. And as for my friends, which have been minimized above to 'acquaintances'? I'm intimate with every single one of them, male and female both. That is, in fact, the definition of friendship for me. If you insist on thinking this means I'm sexual with a large number of people, I want you to go, now, and bang your head against a brick wall.
It is true that any partner of mine is, has to be, a friend first. That's called demisexuality, and it's a completely separate beast from polyamory. Complicating things even further, I'm not a typical demisexual, either. I need an emotional bond for a sexual bond to develop, but in my case that emotional bond can come on much stronger and faster than it can for many other demisexuals, who are closer to asexual on the spectrum. This lets me almost pass for 'normal' (in some respects) even though I know damn well I'm not.
My friends on Facebook rallied around me. A couple of them asked me why I bothered. Simple. People hate what they don't understand, and I do whatever I can to reduce the level of hatred in the world. Also, I am NOT the only polyamorous person out there. I'd venture to say that every single one of the people reading this right now knows a polyamorous person who is NOT me. Anything I can do to make polyamory slightly less threatening/incomprehensible will only rebound well on the next poly person you meet.
I'm still sticking with the friendship analogy; I think it's the best one to explain polyamory to people who have never heard of it before. Many -- by no means all, but many -- of the questions you have about polyamory you can answer yourself by substituting 'friend' for 'partner':
"How do you manage your time?"
"How come everybody isn't always jealous?"
"How do you decide which one you prefer?"
"How can you commit to more than one person?"
"How do you decide who to take to event X?"
"What if a person is upset they don't get to spend enough time with you?"
"What if you don't get to spend enough time with them?"
"What if they decide to go somewhere and don't invite you?"
"What if you can only invite one person and can't decide who to take?"
Note that many of these questions don't even come up with friendship. Or if they do, they pretty much answer themselves. Poly need not be much different.
Time management: Google Calendar and constant communication.
Jealousy: doesn't come up much within these walls, and where it does in my life I try to respond by recognizing it's my insecurity...and communication.
Which one I prefer? Okay, we'll go with that construction, as much as I hate it (no better or worse, just different). But I might prefer to take one partner somewhere when I know the other has zero interest in that place. Certain partners might enjoy certain activities more than others.
How do you commit to more than one person? How do you commit to more than one friend?
Event questions--who wants to go? Both/all? Maybe we all go together!
What if a person is upset they don't get to spend enough time with you? Or you're upset that you don't get to spend enough time with them? COMMUNICATION. Use you words. And recognize there are more than just the two of you involved. You don't always get what you want--which may well be a drawback of polyamory for some people. I'll freely admit I have trouble with this one.
If they decide to go somewhere and don't invite me? The only way that registers at all is if it happens to be one of those places I have expressed a serious interest in going to, with them. And even then, only if I'm told I won't get to experience that place with them. That would be pretty fucking inconsiderate, though...and my partners are NOT inconsiderate.
Can only invite one? In many cases, that means I don't go at all. Sorry (not sorry), but if you can't accept my family in toto, you're not accepting me.