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Sisyphus 09-03-2012 01:56 PM

If someone is actively involved with multiple partners, sexually and romantically, but is emotionally incapable of allowing these partners the same freedom, is that person truly polyamorous?

opalescent 09-03-2012 02:46 PM

Polyamorous with a large helping of hypocrisy.

Some religious inspired models of multiple relationships are based on one person - usually a man - having multiple wives while the wives could not see anyone else.

People can and do make this kind of unequal relationship work, at least for a while. One Penis Policies (OPP) can work for a time. D/s relationships can include this dynamic.

I personally *really* value the generally egalitarian ethos of polyamory as opposed to the religious God Says One Penis Policy (GSOPP). I really value that women are equal sexual beings who own and control their sexuality. Poly as a social movement is influenced by feminism and has many leaders who are women.

I would be unable to make a relationship work with someone with the attitudes described above. I do not deal kindly with hypocrites. I do not value people who do not value equality. This often seems to be a stereotypical sticking point for straight men (I have never heard of a gay man trying this on male partners.) Many women also have this wish to play the field but are extremely reluctant to allow their husbands or wives the same. Both often describe the surprising jealousy they experienced when partners find other partners. It's always ok to feel one's feelings but it is not ok to make a partner unequal or less than they could be to cope with one's feelings.

nycindie 09-03-2012 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by Sisyphus (Post 152484)
If someone is actively involved with multiple partners, sexually and romantically, but is emotionally incapable of allowing these partners the same freedom, is that person truly polyamorous?

I wonder if someone can actually be "emotionally incapable" of allowing their partners the same freedoms they have. It simply sounds like a willful need to exert control -- and, of course, underlying that is fear. We always seek to control that which terrifies us (terror being a response to the unknown that we allow to grow and loom large in our imaginations).

If such a person can be developed enough emotionally (or, as you said, "romantically") to be involved with multiple people, how would it even be possible to be "emotionally incapable" of being able to handle a partner doing the same? That phrase "emotionally incapable" makes no sense to me in that kind of situation, unless it truly is that they are only involved sexually with the others and just convince themselves that there are emotions there. Is that the defense this person gave? Hesitant, fearful, selfish, etc., I could understand. But if their stance is that they are emotionally incapable of "allowing" a partner to have multiple relationships, just as they are doing, then it seems to me to be a big, fat, phony excuse this person uses in order to stay on top of a situation that feels threatening and incredibly scary to them. They want what they want when they want it, but take issue with anything that has the potential to throw them off from their false sense of security.

AnnabelMore 09-03-2012 07:50 PM

I second both posters, especially Nyc. What terrible emotional calamity would befall this person if their partners had other partners? Nervous collapse and an inability to get out of bed for a week? Uncontrollable vomiting and non-stop weeping? Or would it just be painful? What makes the person so sure the pain wouldn't fade? And what makes them incapable of coping with a little pain? Obviously they've got some decent coping mechanisms to be able to handle their own hypocrisy. Why not try to grow instead of limiting others they allegedly feel for?

This isn't an issue of "true" versus "fake" poly. This is an issue of selfishness versus integrity.

redpepper 09-03-2012 08:40 PM

Sure, why not? Poly is as people describe it for themselves, with the general understanding that it involves multiple love and consent. If they haven't reached a point of being able to consent yet then they have some work to do.

I don't believe poly is based on hypocrisy. What is good for one is good for all, but sometimes it take doing some work to get there. Usually that work is around fear and threat of being replaced, not being good enough, not belonging, being abandoned or not being loved... Or all of the above and maybe more. If the person of which you speak is attempting to control others by setting rules that are meant to restrict, then I would be asking them if one of the above fears and/or threats is the reason and work toward solving that with them.

Tonberry 09-04-2012 12:00 AM

I think they're poly, but they're going to have to make sure to only date mono people, which could become a problem, since most monos would probably avoid poly situations.

I don't think being unwilling to grand your partner(s) some freedoms is a problem if they have no interest in them in the first place.

GalaGirl 09-04-2012 01:26 AM

It depends.

1) If I were dating and was told by my potential partner that they were seeking that type of polyship configuration from the get go? That is one thing. "I am seeking a polyship where I am the poly hinge person and my arms are monogamous to ME. You interested? Is that what you seek?" If all the partners sign up for this relationship agreement knowingly and all are happy? So be it. People have the right/ability to create their own polyship in a shape that pleases them.

2) If this was coming out AFTER relationships have begun? The person is already is actively involved with them and goes "By the way... I didn't mention this before but I expect you not to have Others."

a) The person sold me a bill of false goods
b) I call that fucking FRESH and a lie of omission.
c) Goodbye. Not my scene.

Never assume anything.

(I also would have ASKED before agreeing to enter partnered relationship with them on that side of the equation because MY dance card is thus... show me YOUR dance card and we can see what kind of a match it is. I always told my partners at the time I was dating and Open that I did NOT want exclusive!)


Nudibranch 09-04-2012 05:48 PM


Originally Posted by Sisyphus (Post 152484)
If someone is actively involved with multiple partners, sexually and romantically, but is emotionally incapable of allowing these partners the same freedom, is that person truly polyamorous?

My question is, what's in it for you to be able to judge a person as "truly" polyamorous or not?

In my experience, polyamory is about people figuring out how to interact with others, openly, and with negotiated boundaries, and the confidence that potholes, speedbumps, and bomb craters will be navigated with love.

It's not about me judging whether the other person is Polyer Than Thou. It's a matter of mature and loving praxis. Not ideological judgment. Then again, I and my partners aren't terribly big into the speculative analysis part of relationships. We're hands-on people, geeks, engineers, DIY types. There are moments when each of us, with all our limits and baggage and mended/repaired spots, surprise ourselves and the other(s) with our bigness. That's what makes it worthwhile to me. Not determining which of us meets the ecclesiastical test of True Poly Or Not. We could dance those angels on that pin forever, and end up mostly with pricks. So to speak.

codydarkstalker 09-05-2012 06:53 PM

Since this is from my primary boyfriend...
I feel like i should say something. I started out dating him as a secondary, and was actually cheating on my ex who put me through a lot and was (I'm about certain) cheating on me. It was awful and I couldn't handle the drama. So when I met my primary and started to see him sexually I made it clear I didn't want to compete with any other women, I just needed a friend and no strings sex. He agreed readily and as time went we got closer and began dating in earnest, although still in secret. My Ex and I were engaged but had a very stressful and unhealthy relationship, and i eventually left him. Meanwhile, my boyfriend (OP) made it clear he felt no jealousy over me having sex with other men and I had some casual sex (some of which he loosely participated in with me) and that was it. When I finally managed to end my relationship with my then fiance, I offered to be monogamous. I knew I was not emotionally ready to deal with other people. I said i was ok with him seeing other men in a strictly sexual way (he's bi and I can't meet those needs) and that I would be interested in the future in possibly having some more experiences with a third person in our bed. We bot joined a dating site, and I met my latest boyfriend, who I initially was just sleeping with. Before and after every meeting I asked my primary if he was ok with me seeing someone else, and how far the relationship could go. I asked before agreeing to date him, and constantly said I was willing to be monogamous because I knew it was unfair of me to expect him not to see other women (something I ask of both my partners). He insisted it was fine, and then thought I was going to suddenly open u and become "truly poly" despite my saying that I wasn't ready and his constantly bringing it up (when our own single relationship needs work) was very stressful for me.

ahpook33 09-11-2012 06:52 PM


Originally Posted by Sisyphus (Post 152484)
If someone is actively involved with multiple partners, sexually and romantically, but is emotionally incapable of allowing these partners the same freedom, is that person truly polyamorous?

I agree with the others who have said that this sure sounds hypocritical, but...

Who gets to make the determination of what "emotionally incapable" means? And likewise, who gets to say what "truly polyamorous" looks like?

Your question is predicated on some pretty judgmental sounding observations. Observations that imply some kind of empirical standard in what is by most people's experience a subjective criteria. I would be very interested to hear the other side of the story from the person about whom you are asking. Is the situation really as absolute as you are representing it to be? Or ...

Also, interesting choice for a screen name. Do you feel like a martyr laboring away at an endless, unavailing or futile task?

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