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-   -   It's been a Closet for me all my life. (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=70027)

Jesse 05-22-2014 11:51 AM

It's been a Closet for me all my life.
 
Maybe I shouldn't use the term Closet. The LGBTs use it, and for good reason. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent trying to change natural LGBT predisposition, to "fix" them, to suppress them, to keep them out of view. Polyamory hasn't been the target of grassroots political movements, or Judeo-Christian church sermons denouncing my nature in such absolute terms as "an abomination in the eyes of the Lord." Maybe I'm just a whiner for speaking of closets. Maybe I need to "check my privilege" again, particularly since I am a straight white male. But I do feel persecuted, I really do, and I'm mad as hell. I've looked at a handful of these other posts, and they're so positive, so upbeat. Am I the only one who feels cursed?

Before I figured out that the infantile interpersonal dramas we see in movies and on TV are quite representative of all levels of our culture, before I realized that jealousy, insecurity, and possessiveness over people are not seen by society as quirks or foibles, but as virtues, you bet your ass there have been people who have stepped up to me with violent intentions due to my socially aberrant nature, before I got good at hiding and blending. I have sat through church sermons denouncing my nature, though not with all the fire and brimstone the LGBT community endures. I have been blasted with hate, accusations of betrayal, with fundamental, apocalyptic condemnations of my character, from people I trusted, people I loved, people I thought wanted to understand me. Out of purest paranoia they dismiss my deepest and most enduring love as shallow fancy, ex-lovers burn me from their hearts and from their memory, somehow counting as a blessing and a strength their reptilian ability to do so. And I've dealt with this in secrecy and in silence, because I have met, in person, not a single soul who is truly polyamorous. I have only heard of them, on the internet. And so here I am. Am I the only one who's angry?

Am I the only one who didn't consider coming out, going public as poly, until half his hair turned gray? Or even come fully to terms with it himself? They called me a horndog, they called me a flirt, they've even called me a "player." Compared with my friends, I suppose I was, by their definition. Naturally monogamous women have found my honesty charming, at least at first, and buddies were mystified that a woman would even temporarily entertain a romance with me while knowing full well she was not the only one. But in the end, everybody was rolling their eyes. Everyone but me. They said I was immature, but I'm far too old to listen to that now. They said I’d be gripped with the need for monogamy one day, that it would just happen, but it never did. They said I’d stop "playing" after somebody played me, they said I just needed to know heartache, and I’d change, but I have been dumped more than any of them. Women I still love today, who once told me they loved me, now say they do not. I know far, far more of heartache and loneliness than any of them, I’ve spent far more time alone, and celibate, than any of them, and frankly, I passed them all up in this department at least a decade ago. I’m done shrugging shyly and chuckling gamely at the comments. I’m done with the back slapping and the winking and the nudging and the what’s-your-secret. There is no secret. There are no secrets. That’s the secret. It was never a game for me. Never. Not ever.

Not Ever. Not ever did I ever play a “game” with a human being.

I've always given the truth to lovers, even though it’s always thrown back in my face before long. I've committed to monogamy on several occasions, sometimes for years at a time. I've never, ever broken such a covenant. Nevertheless, my freely admitted indifference toward monogamy has been a constant source of suspicion, accusation, resentment, and fighting. Each lover eventually begins demanding that I forsake every alliance I've ever forged with members of the opposite sex, hating me bitterly for my refusal to do so.

But eventually, each successive partner's insistence on equating jealousy with love has driven them, one after the other, to break contact with me, so as to avoid detonating the mutually assured death-grip of fear and insecurity they share with their current partners. There really is room in most people’s hearts for only one person at a time. Because my love is not so limited, they cursed my love as something less than theirs, and now, as the ashes of their love cool into dust, I continue to bear love eternal. My eyes would surely light if I happened upon one of them by chance, but upon seeing that light, these exes would likely experience only awkward discomfort and pity, as if I harbored some delusion, as if I were less than fully aware of what I can expect from them. After all, they seem to wonder, why would I still love them after the romance has run its course? Why would I still love them it were not reciprocated?

Why indeed?

A practical question. But there is no practical answer. I simply can't help it. When I come to love a person, it would seem to be a permanent phenomenon, so far as I can tell from the evidence thus far. There are five of them now, and I will always think of them "that way." Most folks seem to operate their relationships with a series of ropes and pulleys; pull one closer, and some unlucky other drifts away, with a repetitious squeaking of gears. What the hell is the deal with all this machinery? How the hell do these people look at me and see complication? What planet am I even from?

I'm pretty sure I'm polyamorous, though I've never met a self-proclaimed poly, and I've never been in a standing, indefinite poly relationship, or even used the word until this last year. All I've ever known are ticking clocks and ultimatums. I feel like I've been stigmatized and ostracized on account of my polyamorous nature. I feel like I've accepted this quietly, knowing that most people don't understand it and aren't okay with it. I feel like it's been a closet. Is this common?

Comments welcome.

Nadya 05-22-2014 02:55 PM

You swim in deep waters, brother.

Your post resonates with me in many ways, even though my experiences have been very different from yours. Starting with my gender. I am female, and I think it is easier for women to be poly and not judged as harshly. As well as it definitely is easier to find poly-friendly men as partners than poly-friendly women. I feel for your pain!

Quote:

And I've dealt with this in secrecy and in silence, because I have met, in person, not a single soul who is truly polyamorous.
I have been luckier than you in that case. I have met a handful of truly poly folks in person, and been able to discuss and build my poly identity. But, it is not that I’d know a lot of poly people and those I know are not “partner material” to me. So, I have had to look for partners among the mono majority. Here on these boards several people declare that they will only ever date poly folks. This amazes me: how on earth do they find the poly people to date and have relationships with?? Apparently it is possible for them, but I don’t get it.

You are not alone with your problem, I know that for sure. Poly males can end up with very bad reputation.

Quote:

Am I the only one who's angry?
You have had more than your fair share of the shit, sounds like. And no real support and true love, as well. You have all the right to be angry. That anger is healthy for you, it is there to protect you from getting hit by more of that shit.

My thought is that you’d really need some true friends who would understand and support you as your polyamorous self. I can see your dilemma - where to find them?? Maybe this forum could be a useful tool. Probably other members can help you to find links to poly gatherings in your area etc. Maybe you could do some more reading over on this forum and start (private) conversations with people whose thoughts resonate with you. Maybe even post on the “Dating and Friendships” -subforum?

Feel free to PM me if you like.

And - welcome to the forum!!

Jesse 05-22-2014 03:57 PM

thank you
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nadya (Post 267995)
I think it is easier for women to be poly and not judged as harshly.

By lovers, you mean. Yes, a poly woman has options. When it comes to the judgment of society, though, I wouldn't trade places with you. Possessiveness can be found in both genders. It cannot be reasoned with.

I should have come here long ago. I'm seeing content in these forums that I suspect will have a strong and lasting impact on me. I may become very involved.

Thank you, Nadya, for your thoughts.

PolyinPractice 05-22-2014 04:43 PM

I can sympathize. I don't fear for my life, as the gay community has in the past, but truthfully? It's one thing to be gay in the South; it's another to be a gay fashion designer in LA or NYC. My gay friends in San Fran aren't worried about being electrocuted or stoned. In fact, it's practically an asset in those parts. Who wants a STRAIGHT hair dresser?

But, yes, there are reasons to stay in the closet. I'd risk my career, if I did so, particularly because of who I chose. I've been called much worse than a "flirt." Been called a whore, a slut (and not in the positive way), been told that the man I love is just using me for sex. Been told I don't know what love "really" is. Lost friends who didn't understand.

I don't want to tell people, for fear girls won't want to talk to me because they're worried I'll steal their boyfriend or husband. Or will treat me like a pariah. Or won't work with me.

There are communities and bubbles. SF, Portland are the two biggest that I know of.

But it's okay to want to hide.

Bluebird 05-22-2014 04:45 PM

Welcome! I, too, am a poly girl, so I can't speak to your experiences as a male. I've met several people who claim to be poly, but when I started examining their practices, they were very different than mine. Some could be better described as swingers, or poly themselves, but not accepting of it in their partners. Some just flitted from one night to the next with many, many partners. It wasn't a game to them, but I couldn't see how they could claim to be poly when they didn't have any lasting relationships, and just casual encounters.

I myself am with two monogamous men, and sometimes I question how truly poly I can claim to be, because I am comfortable with our vee, and would be unhappy if either suddenly decided to start dating. Yet, I would like to think I would be able to handle that. Both say they are content, as I treat them both as primaries, and I try and balance that pulley mechanism as best as possible. So who knows.

Definitions are not what I care to argue. People can call themselves whatever they want. Just keep the labels off of me.

I've been called slutty, and a whore. Player is more of a guy term, but I've had that applied to me as well. Whatever. Labels only stick if you let them. I reject the negativity. I am happy. Let those haters be nasty someplace else.

KerryRen 05-22-2014 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jesse (Post 267997)
By lovers, you mean. Yes, a poly woman has options. When it comes to the judgment of society, though, I wouldn't trade places with you..

Society judges the different, and usually harshly. Doesn't much matter where on the different scale you fall, whether it is a minor superficial thing or a major part of you. I learned this early.

Yet, I've also seen society change to accept what was once unacceptable. The older conservative factions, if nothing else, die off and even the new conservatives are more liberal than their predecessors. (There are always a few extreme diehards.) There's more information available, more exposure to "new" concepts.

Part of why I'm reasonably content now to at times "pass" as an apparently WASPy SAHM is that I can, from time to time, cause people to trip over their own assumptions. "I don't know any gay/bisexual people." "You know me." "I'm uncomfortable around the mentally ill." "Really? I thought we got along fine." Etc. It does cause people to drop out of my life, at times, but those are usually not people I need to have around. Mostly, it makes them rethink things.

Getting over the poly/mono divide is a bit harder, and different, though, I'll admit. Being legally married, in a society that defines marriage as monogamous (though less often as heterosexual, now)... the topic mostly doesn't come up. I will try to question the automatic condemnation of extra-marital relationships, however, because in general, the simple fact is we don't know the state of anyone's marriage from the outside, nor the agreements they've reached. People often experience that, in their own marriages... but when making judgements on others (usually figures in the public eye), they forget. Never hurts to bring it up.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jesse (Post 267997)
Possessiveness can be found in both genders. It cannot be reasoned with.

It can, but it helps if the other person has a willingness to be reasoned with.

Jesse 05-23-2014 03:02 AM

Thank you all!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PolyinPractice (Post 268000)
Been told I don't know what love "really" is.

That's what drives me nuts. I put up with it from married parents when I was a young bachelor, because of course they all feel like they've had a crash course and are now certified experts on relationships; I didn't argue because I have been alone as often as I've been together with anyone. As time goes on, though, I become less and less patient with the judgments and advice of people who are romantically untraveled.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bluebird (Post 268001)
Some could be better described as swingers, or poly themselves, but not accepting of it in their partners.

Not accepting of it in their partners? I hate to get hung up on definitions, but my desire to see these things properly distinguished from each other is part of what brought me to this forum. We are all tempted to exempt ourselves from the restrictions we impose upon others, but that's not what poly is about, right? :cool:


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bluebird (Post 268001)
I am comfortable with our vee, and would be unhappy if either suddenly decided to start dating. Yet, I would like to think I would be able to handle that.

That's the refreshingly thoughtful and self-aware sort of sentiment that brought me to register here. We're never going to be pleased when the person we want to see is hanging out with somebody else instead. That's lonely, and boring! But people in our society find it more than boring. They collapse to the ground when this happens, like they've been shot. People keep telling me it will happen to me, but it never does, because I can wait a day, or a few days. Then one day a lover calls me and tells me that another person has commanded her to never see or speak to me again. And she's going to obey that command. That's when I feel like I've been shot-- and yet that's when society tells you're supposed to stand tall, move on, forget. How the hell is this extreme, chaotic behavior considered normal? People are so strange.


Quote:

Originally Posted by KerryRen (Post 268002)
we don't know the state of anyone's marriage from the outside, nor the agreements they've reached.

Yes.. my frustration comes from the fact that I'm almost forty and still haven't found anyone who can understand me without resenting me. I wouldn't be ranting for ten paragraphs at a time about being trapped in a closet if I were in love with a like minded person(s). Because really, who else needs to know?

KerryRen 05-23-2014 04:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jesse (Post 268021)
Then one day a lover calls me and tells me that another person has commanded her to never see or speak to me again. And she's going to obey that command. That's when I feel like I've been shot-- and yet that's when society tells you're supposed to stand tall, move on, forget. How the hell is this extreme, chaotic behavior considered normal? People are so strange.

It's "normal" because it is what everyone does. Or convinces themselves of that, and subsequently force themselves to conform. People are strange; getting to them to see it, though, that's hard.

Only twice in my marriage -- heck, in my life -- have had I to deal with the "command not to see someone". And I think, given the rebellious and independent nature of myself and Liam, had we actually made them "commands" they would not have happened. The others involved were friends, not lovers. They were, however, highly destructive people, to themselves and others, and particularly to our relationship, draining away time, money, and emotional resources without doing anything to reciprocate.

To keep them in our lives would eventually destroy us as a family. Each of us eventually came to realize that and we've cut those individuals off, more or less.

It's a matter of priorities. I think, if a lover cut you off because someone else told her to, then they must count you lower on the priority list than the other person.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jesse (Post 268021)
Yes.. my frustration comes from the fact that I'm almost forty and still haven't found anyone who can understand me without resenting me. I wouldn't be ranting for ten paragraphs at a time about being trapped in a closet if I were in love with a like minded person(s). Because really, who else needs to know?

Sure, you might. Because it needs to be said.

london 05-24-2014 05:59 AM

@bluebird

Quote:

Welcome! I, too, am a poly girl,
So you adopt the poly label? Later on, you say otherwise.

Quote:

I've met several people who claim to be poly, but when I started examining their practices, they were very different than mine.
And yours, as you go onto say, involves most likely not being able to handle/becoming very upset if your partners date other people. Do you think that is the mark of a polyamorous person? Why are your practices the pinnacle of polyamory?

Quote:

Some could be better described as swingers, or poly themselves, but not accepting of it in their partners.
Sort of like you believe you wouldn't be accepting of your partner dating? You know, being unhappy about them dating sort of turns acceptance into tolerance. Tolerance means you'll put up with it but don't like it. How poly is that? You go on to ask that anyway.

Quote:

Some just flitted from one night to the next with many, many partners. It wasn't a game to them, but I couldn't see how they could claim to be poly when they didn't have any lasting relationships, and just casual encounters.
Some people are bad at relationships. You wouldn't say a serial monogamist isn't monogamous because they constantly break up with people. You wouldn't say that to someone who constantly travels so tends to have short casual relationships. Yet when a poly person has anything less than successful, lifelong relationships, they can't be poly. You can even be poly and a commitment phobe.

Quote:

I myself am with two monogamous men, and sometimes I question how truly poly I can claim to be, because I am comfortable with our vee, and would be unhappy if either suddenly decided to start dating.
There we go. So again, what makes you think that the fact someone else practices differently to you means they aren't poly? Maybe it means you aren't poly.

Quote:

Yet, I would like to think I would be able to handle that. Both say they are content, as I treat them both as primaries, and I try and balance that pulley mechanism as best as possible. So who knows.
Indeed.

Quote:

Definitions are not what I care to argue. People can call themselves whatever they want. Just keep the labels off of me.
Even the ones you apply to yourself? Like poly?

Jesse 05-24-2014 07:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by london (Post 268061)
@bluebird
Why are your practices the pinnacle of polyamory?

Woah.. I would imagine the pinnacle of polyamory involves sophisticated communication, diplomacy, and conflict resolution. In reaction to Bluebird's comments, I already suggested above that analytically defining relationships is a worthwhile effort, a responsibility that we shouldn't put off. But please, let's not turn analysis into an interrogation. I don't think Bluebird was pushing a conclusion, so much as sharing with us her ongoing introspection. There's not enough of that in this world, which is why forums like this are so important. I'm grateful for everybody's comments. We should be as supportive as we can, I say, so long as progress is being made.


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