Is America really ready for poly?
My girlfriend and I knew nothing about poly until we fell in love with a female friend last July. Since then, we have been pursuing a poly-fi triad, and we have been fortunate enough to date numerous 20-something “unicorns”. Unfortunately, our track record has been less than stellar, as indicated by the fact that we are still in search of the triad. But more disconcertingly, our experiences make us wonder if poly is worth the pain we unintentionally put the girls through. Are these common problems? Have you experienced similar problems? Is America truly ready for poly? Our personal experiences indicate a huge “NO”. And these experiences are enough to make us give up on poly, lest we inflict more unintentional pain on people (which hurts us too). I understand that we have the option of staying in the closet and never coming out. Is this what everyone is doing? Is this really the only way that one can be poly in America?
Here are three of the girls we've dated. All names have been changed.
Kaley – She was in love with my girlfriend and she liked me. But she did not have the courage to come out to her parents as bi, let alone poly, fearing retribution. She came from an extremely conservative culture where bisexuality would have caused her to be disowned. It was a heartbreaker because we had a great chemistry and we genuinely liked each other. The relationship ended bitterly, before it even really started, and it took a long time for everyone’s heart to heal.
Mia – She was extremely beautiful, and there was strong attraction among us from the get-go. Though never been poly, she instantly understood and loved the concept of the triad when we explained it to her. In fact, she was so excited about us that she called her mother that very night and announced her intention to be with us. This turned out to be a serious mistake. Her mother was enraged, calling us "disgusting deviants”. She vowed to disown Mia, and even managed to track down my girlfriend’s mother to telephone her with vicious words, promising retribution for our “corrupting” Mia. Mia was terrified and became depressed over the coming months, communicating with us in secret but not being able to meet with us. We eventually stopped talking. She now lives at home, a virtual prisoner, under the constant watch of her mother. Her mother refuses to accept that her daughter is bisexual, and Mia is fighting a severe depression.
Rena – She had a crush on my girlfriend, not realizing my girlfriend was with me. She showed up at our house when my girlfriend was not home, and she was stunned to find me answer the door. But after the initial shock wore off, we had a great conversation (it felt like a perfect blind date). We became friends, and when we shared that we were trying to be poly, she enthusiastically volunteered herself. She loved the idea of the triad, so much so that she began to tell everyone she knew about it, including her ex. Again, a huge mistake. Her ex found the idea so repulsive and outrageous that he had his lawer give her a call. The lawyer told her she was exhibiting “deviant behavior”, “emotional instability”, and “complete lack of judgment”. Then he said the ex would take her to court to take away her kids (she shared custody with the ex) unless she stopped seeing me and my girlfriend. She called us in tears that night, devastated and broken, and told us goodbye. The last we heard, she was struggling with anxiety and depression.
I can understand that poly can cause pain and is a lot of work, but really, for me, my question to people would be(I'm not American and lots of people on here are not so I'm changing it up a bit), "are you ready to look at yourself and how you do relationships differently?" I think most people don't want to because they are uninterested or they don't want to because it's too much work and they would rather be mono to avoid the struggle. Coming out can be apart of that or not...
I was ready, and am completely happy beyond my wildest dreams... I'm sure that others are ready for that and/or are just as happy having worked fucking hard for it :)
I came out to everyone because my mother was accusing my boyfriend of abusing my child. It was a mess and really hard. I stood my ground and stood up for us, as did my husband and boyfriend. We worked hard and were patient, forgiving every step of the way. The results have been complete acceptance. Understanding is not there, but I am fine with acceptance.
Sorry it didn't work out for you... maybe there is a lesson there that was missed that you could learn from?
These painful moments are not brought to you thanks to polyamory, but rather courtesy of a deeply sex-negative puritanical mainstream culture, which would have your three girlfriends conform, even if it means misery to them.
I think the lesson to take away is to be circumspect with the people you're out to. Discovering poly feels so amazing and wonderful, and when you're in love you want to tell the world! But some people have to be eased into the idea.
Your unicorns might have been more successful telling their exes/parents about you had they introduced you first, and had fun family times with them and you, their "special friends," together. Once the parents know you and like you, then you can start coming out to them in stages. But dropping it on them like a bomb before a relationship has even started--- the startled and frightened reactions are hardly a surprise.
It sounds like your "Unicorns" are rather weak willed people. Weak willed people rely heavily upon the acceptance of others, so it should be an alert going off in your head when you meet yet another one.
For what it's worth, our unicorn wasn't into poly either when we first started talking. I didn't give her much consideration due to it, and merely just treated her like some friend. However over time the idea must have sprouted in her mind, as anything logical does to an intelligent person, and she become receptive.
Of course she isn't someone heavily reliant upon the acceptance of others, even though her mother is fine with it. Most of her friends and family aren't and she doesn't really care. If anyone did anything to wrong her or us because of it they would be punished, so that's the way I live. As George Bush says, Living in fear means the monogamists win. ;)
redpepper, Ready2Fly, preciselove - Thank you all for your insight and advice.
redpepper - After these painful experiences, we decided that, if someone becomes interested in us, we would always discuss with her the issues regarding her coming out. That decision actually spared us another bad experience. A girl we met online liked us, but had not thought through the family issues until we brought them up. Upon discussion, she quickly realized she wasn't yet ready to face the wrath of her parents, both devout Catholics. She gave up on the idea and we soon lost contact... I applaud you for standing your ground, coming out to our parents was also a painful experience. The triad was my gf's idea, but her ultra-religious parents completely ignored her and came directly after me because, in their own words, I'm the man and the "head" of the house. (This, of course, infuriated my gf, who was not going to accept being trivialized.) They had harsh words for me ("immoral and deviant", "going to hell", "doomed to destruction") and even blamed my gf's bisexuality on me, which I found ridiculous. They even asked me to stop her from being bi. They do not talk to me anymore, but they still maintain a relationship with their daughter, albeit strained, where her every word and action is viewed with suspicion and disapproval.
Ready2Fly - You are absolutely right about the social prejudice. And I think it's a great idea to keep things quiet until the comfort level rises. Thanks!
preciselove - It's interesting what you said, because my gf and I've been thinking exactly the same thing. (She says these girls "disgust" her, and they need to stop being mama's girls and grow some backbone.) All the girls I mentioned were excited when exposed to the idea, but quickly withered away when they realized they would lose the moral support of their parents. The trick, then, would be to find and connect with a strong, level-headed person who is not afraid to live her own life as she wishes. But these persons seem to be rare. Over time, we've become friends with many bi girls on okcupid, but most of them have not even come out to their parents yet, for fear of rejection and retribution. This makes us think that quality is indeed rare, that finding a strong, quality person is not a matter of looking harder... We're therefore thinking of stopping our search and simply concentrating on friendships, without any ulterior motive or manipulation. Perhaps, in time, strong friendships could translate to romance.
Please don't take this the wrong way. I don't know any better way than somewhat directly.
Your post is filled with the naivety of youth. Lessons will and do come. They always do. In all our Utopian dreams we often find ugly reality hidden.
They way you all proceeded with this doomed it to complications if not failure. Next time you'll be wiser :)
There's always this whole idealistic piece , especially when it comes to alternatives, that wants us to try to live 'authentically'. That's an honorable concept on paper. In reality and practice it can come at quite a cost. As you all now see. You have to be able to bear that cost. At that time and place. Some things need to grow slowly to get solid roots capable of withstanding storms to come. Make sense ?
Is "America" - or western society in general "ready" for a different model ?
I think we (most) are 'ready' - but unawares and unprepared. So in the end, I guess you say we are not in fact 'ready'.
But we often fail because we want it all for nothing.
Don't want to do the learning.
Don't want to do the 'work'.
Don't want to endure some discomfort and pain. (no pain/no gain)
Things they are a changin however :)
Hi GroundedSpirit - No, I won't take your post the wrong way, I understand and appreciate what you are saying :)
The expression "counting the cost" has been thrown around a lot between me and my gf during these experiences. We've paid dearly, as have some of the girls, for wanting to be different and idealistic. (You are right, we do naively look at the poly-fi triad as an idealistic form of love ;)) It's interesting what you said about discomfort/pain because the extent of the strain our decision has put on our families has been much greater than we had anticipated. Whereas we'd like to think of ourselves as being idealistic and pioneering, we're called "deviants" to our faces and constantly threatened with disconnection and condemnation by our families (both families are ultra-religious). But we are both strong-willed so we have not given in, but our patience is wearing thin and we wonder how long we can tolerate the situation. Also, we wonder if our current situation is even suitable for a triad, given such strong opposition and hostility from our parents. They do not accept us now, for merely having an idea. How much worse will it be, then, when we do get into a triad? And since we have yet to experience a triad, we have no idea whether its rewards will justify the costs in the end. We're standing up for a cause, but sometimes it feels like a blind cause.
In any case, we are currently in the process of disengaging and taking a breather... It actually feels kind of nice to slow down after the unpleasant roller coaster ride of the last nine months :) Thanks for your advice!
Glad you took that first post in the spirit it was offered. It's always so easy to misinterpret 'words' - or read between the lines.
I think many people eventually come across something in their lives that they feel passionately about, feel it's a step forward if not for everyone, at least for themselves. And when those things go 'against the grain' we're forced to really sit down and address this cost equation you speak of.
Sometimes the principle is so important we're willing to bear that cost. And when it comes to family, parents etc we get confused. Because there's family you are 'born' to - and family you 'choose (build)'. And whether one is more important than another will vary with the individuals. In an ideal world, we'd get to have both. But we don't live in an ideal world, so sometimes we have to make choices.
As far as the 'gains' of a 'triad' etc, I don't think you can even limit it that way. A triad is only one possible configuration of a poly lovestyle and may well be the most rare to build successfully. So you really have to make these choices with a bit wider philosophical window. It's not about a particular configuration - it's about NON-MONOGAMY ! That's where the challenge comes in. If you can stand up on your stump and state boldly "monogamy is NOT for me" and live with the (often temporary) fallout from that, I personally believe the gains will be significant in the long run for you and everyone you touch.
But yea, you do have to live with the fallout.
I read the initial post, and none that followed. Sorry...It's the ADD.
Anyway, My wife and I are open about our poly-ness. We don't hide it from anyone, however....if someone who could potentially harm our family dynamic, began asking questions, we would be (understandibly) guarded and try to "hide" the truth, until said peron had also revealed their true reason for the inquisition. If they have heinous intentions, or possibly COULD, we would wait to reveal or open fully, until we had info which could potentially harm them, as much as this info could harm US. Basically, if someone else wants to know, they have to be in our close circle, or virtually have no reason to want to harm us in any way, or be unable to harm ous in any way.
Question, why only unicorns? Is it an OPP? (One Penis Policy) Or is your gf welcome to seek out men as well?
Sounds to me like things happened a little to fast.
If you want to only be involved with people who are out of the closet....that`s one thing.
If you choose to help people come out of the closet, that is another. These things take time, understanding parties, really examining if it`s in someones best interest, and how to handle rebuttals.
There are many shades of grey, and I`m almost embarassed for anyone who thinks it boils down to 'weak-willed people'.
Sounds like it boiled down to caring, frightened people, who didnt have the tools and abilities to cope with the backlash. They probably lacked the resources of experienced-conviction to handle the onslaught.
'strong-willed' people are made fools of anytime, they debate something they lack experience in.
As for America,...I haven`t a fricken clue. We`re not all American, so I have no comment there.
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