tuneinturnon: poly charms self-primary pendant (poly charms)
[personal profile] tuneinturnon
J wanted to write a writing exercise with me, to see if we can write together. I have no aspirations to be an author, but I certainly write, as you good readers know. So he set as our topic "Polyamory: the good, the bad and the crazy" - he actually had the name of someone we know as the third element but I changed it to "crazy" to make it more anonymous.

This could be a very very long essay, and it'll probably be broken up into bits and pieces, which professionals would probably call "installments." :) I gave a sort of talk last month - I was on a panel where polyamory came up and I had some really interesting reailzations about what I believe and why I'm poly and so on. I've been halfheartedly re-reading "The Ethical Slut", since I have it as an ebook and I can read ebooks at work on my phone without being obvious but I can't bring in "Opening Up" or "Love Unlimited" without people saying "you're not supposed to be reading a book, what are you doing?" What I wouldn't give to have "Opening Up" as an audiobook! Anyway... someone I've just started seeing is reading it for the first time (I think) so I was looking it over again, and so much of what the book says mirrors what I was saying last month but I never realized it at the time.

Monogamy is the easy default. People don't necessarily think there are other options. The rule is easy - you are true to one person, or at least one person at a time. People break this rule ALL THE TIME, but rather than change the ruleset by which they play the game, they keep trying to play by that rule, or at least keep saying they're going to play by that rule. It can be a hard rule to follow for some people.

Polyamory isn't necessarily always easy, though. Envy and jealousy - two really different things - may easily erode a polyamorous relationship. It's tough to be the one left behind while one's partner goes out and has lots of dates when nobody seems to be interested in you. It's also tough sometimes to make sure you're giving the partner at home equal attention when a shiny new person who has entered your life and to make sure that your primary (if you use the hierarchical method) feels, well, primary. Many of the people drawn to this alternative lifestyle are prone to drama, and drama can break things thoroughly. People seem to think it's impossible to cheat if you're poly, which is ridiculous; if a monogamous person cheats by breaking the rule that they're only supposed to be true to one person at a time, then a poly person can cheat by breaking the rules of their relationship, even if those rules are not complicated. And when the poly rules get really complicated, it can be even easier to break them (which may or may not be cheating, to be fair).

So you have a basis for understanding, I am a bisexual woman with a primary male partner to whom I am engaged to be married. Any other partners in my life are secondary. I've been practicing polyamory for three years, although for years before that, I was a serial monogamist and a monogamous person who had cheated on partners in the past. My current relationship has never been monogamous; I was intentionally looking for a polyamorous partner when I met my fiance. He has been practicing polyamory for much longer than I have. Since we started seeing one another, neither of us has been in a serious relatinoship with another person, although we have had other lovers.

Polyamory - the good:

  • I have the freedom to become involved with, even have sex with, someone else I'm attracted to without it having massive implications for my primary relationship (like meaning the primary partner feels betrayed and the primary relationship ends).

  • I don't have to impose arbitrary rules on myself just because that's what society expects.



Polyamory - the bad: I'd probably more call this one "The Difficult" than "The Bad"

  • Polyamory can be hard work. You have to focus on communicating. You have to concentrate on making sure you're according your partner the level of attention you two have agreed on, whether they're a primary, secondary, or if you don't do a hierarchy. You have to make sure they don't feel neglected if you have a shiny new partner to play with.

  • Scheduling can be a total bitch. If you want to do anything special, you have to check with, like, half a dozen people to make sure someone's free for a holiday or what have you.

  • My partner also has the freedom to become involved with, even have sex with, someone else he's attracted to. Because I am an insecure person in some ways, I get envious when I don't get the attention I want, I get jealous if I feel like nobody likes me and he's garnering a lot of attention from other women, and I try not to be too bitchy - which can be tough! - because I know that I have the same freedom without him being bitchy about it so I feel he deserves the same from me. Sometimes I'm not very good at this.

  • People who think "it's not all about the sex" - that isn't a truism for everyone. Poly people who are in it because polyamory means "more loves" and they don't make it about sex at all can get very "holier than thou" if you're poly and intersted in sleeping around

  • I can't live a totally open lifestyle because other people can judge polyamorous folks harshly. I'm not "out" as poly to my family because they kind of flipped out when I told them our relationship was an open relationship when I started just dating my partner, so I didn't let them know that we're still in an open relatinoship even though we're engaged. They really wouldn't get it, and they'd be really judgmental about it.

  • If your town is small, like mine is, all the poly people know each other. This means when you break up with someone, you see repurcussions from that. I had someone tell me she wouldn't even talk to me - I hadn't even asked her out, I just sent her a friendly email online - because she knows my fiance and she doesn't want anything to do with him, because she was friends with an ex of his. We can't go to poly community events without meeting people we used to date or wanted to date or couldn't date. It can get really socially awkward. So then you're stuck going, like, three hours away to a larger city so that you can have more opportunities and more of a thriving community in which to take part.



Polyamory: the crazy

  • There are some people who use polyamory as an excuse to hit on every person they meet. This can make things really uncomfortable for people who don't want to sleep with them, especially if they're still saying five years later "why won't you sleep with me?"

  • Some people who are attracted to this alternative lifestyle attract drama like crazy. They're kinda freaky in other ways - maybe they're into alternative religion or alternative sexuality, BDSM... they rarely seem to be "perfectly normal people" who happen to have extra girlfriends or boyfriends on the side. If you want to avoid drama like my partner and I do, you need to navigate around these landmines.



I see my bad outweighs my crazy and my good by a lot here, so I need to work on the good and the crazy parts more. Out of time for now, though.

Date: 2012-08-15 10:15 am (UTC)
gwydion: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gwydion
You've got some sort of coding error that repeats part of your post.

Re: fixed!

Date: 2012-08-17 01:56 am (UTC)
gwydion: Vlad and Niran kissing (Kiss)
From: [personal profile] gwydion
Whether or not that was the purpose, it's still a perfectly good bit of writing worthwhile both for clarifying thought and for discussion.

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