Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Poly Rant

Much like my partner Mr Wrong did recently, I put a notice up on facebook outing myself as poly and explaining, roughly, what the idea was.

A good guy posted some very interesting comments. He's the sort of person who has a lot to say about things and doesn't quite understand what this whole romance thing is, and he always has a cool perspective.

He makes some good, interesting and probably quite valid points. In the spirit of examining the arguments, I want to go through what he's said and give rebuttals or something.  Yes, this blog should be renamed to "The Rambling Extrovert Defends Polyamory". I hope the guy who posts it never sees this, or if he does, doesn't take offense to it. 

It's hard enough with two people making sure that both people feel about the same level of attraction and commitment to the relationship and you don't get an imbalance of one person putting more in than another, but how much moreso if you're trying to mediate between three people and make sure that you don't get two people becoming too close to the exclusion of the third.

This relies on a couple of assumptions:
a) Every relationship you have must be equal

b) Mediation is a bad thing

Let's go through these assumptions...

Every relationship you have must be equal
Let's go through my entire relationship history in chronological order:
- A guy I went out on one very awkward date with in high school (we saw I, Robot)
- A guy I dated for a year but didn't fall in love with
- My current partner, Mr Wrong, who I've been dating nearly 4 years and love very much
- My new boyfriend, Mr Oldman, who I've been dating just over a month

Now, these relationships are clearly not equal - I'd leave it to the reader to rank them. 

Does it matter that some of them overlap chronologically, and some of them don't?

Mediation is a Bad Thing
The cornerstone of polyamory is about communicating to your partners what you're thinking and feeling - my friend implied a hypothetical situation in which, say, I started spending too much time with Mr Oldman and Mr Wrong started feeling left out. And that could happen - in fact, it did! 

I had to go away for a week, and I'd made plans to spend the day I got home with Mr Wrong and the following evening with  Mr Oldman. Mr Wrong told me he felt a bit uneasy that I wanted to see Mr Oldman on my second night back rather than him; but we discussed it and I explained that I missed both of them very much, and that I wanted to make the most of the New Relationship Energy that I was feeling when I was with Mr Oldman

Further discussions with P led me to be more careful about when I scheduled things - now I do my best to schedule my dates with Mr Oldman so that they happen on nights when Mr Wrong is out at concerts or otherwise busy - which also gives me the extra bonus of being able to use any concerts Mr Wrong is attending as an excuse to spend time with Mr Oldman, leading to me potentially seeing more of him than I otherwise would and Mr Wrong still being comfortable with it! Fuck yeah!

EDIT: The main thing I meant to include in this section, but for some reason forgot to, was that in a monogamous relationship a LOT of mediation is going on, or should be. For example, Mr Wrong was once a little annoyed I wanted to spend time alone rather than with him, and we discussed it and worked out an agreement. The same thing happens with the poly issues above, and it will likely get us more into the habit of discussing non-poly sources of conflict/rejection and improve our communication skills.
From a less mathematical objective perspective and from a more emotional personal perspective, to me I simply can't understand the idea, it seems to undermine the very point of having a relationship.
"The very point of having a relationship"? For me, the point of having a relationship is companionship, friendship, support, love, and (of course!) sex. Having multiple relationships will only increase the amount of those things you get. Fuck yeah!

I can only assume that you feel things like love, attachment and jealousy in a completely foreign way to me. I don't think there's anything morally *wrong* with what you're doing, of course, but I think that for most people it would be psychologically unhealthy. I know this sounds harsh, but the only conclusion I can come up with is that sex, love and relationships mean nothing to you. :/
What do we call that, when you can only imagine something happening one way so that must be the way it is? Argument from ignorance? And I do feel jealousy! But you need to identify it's there and think about your reasons for feeling it and then 'get over it', through thinking or just discussion with your partners.

And I hope I feel love the same way everyone else does, because it KICKS ARSE :)


  1. I think I asked you something very similar when you first told me. It's hard enough to find for a significant other when you have a life (work, uni, hobbies, etc) I imagine it would be even harder to find enough time for two. I've personally noticed my partner feeling (I'm going to call it) jealousy of my job, as I spend a lot of hours there and thus away from him. I guess it's the same thing. You need to have good time management skills to balance everything. Good luck :)

  2. Common opposition to polyamory seems to often be based on the assumption that negotiation, jealousy and differing needs/wants don't happen in monogamous relationships and are therefore big problems in poly ones. This is patently false, all relationships require balancing the differing desires and requirements of those involved, it's just this seems to be often taken for granted in mono relationships. People have lots of kinds of relationships with lots of people and they always need to be worked with and around whatever romantic relationships you have. If anything, making it explicit and providing a clear way to work these out might make these issues less problematic in poly relationships.