Originally Posted by Daysleeper
I'd have to say that poly has made me think less in terms of "I" than I did before. I'm not more independent now. On the contrary, I have more responsibilities, more obligations. Every choice I make is going to affect more people. I can't behave as a free agent, and I don't think of myself as one. I'm a wife, a girlfriend, a lover, a friend, a sister, etc.
I really feel that poly is about building a family, not about having separate lives with separate people. I don't want to add anyone to our dynamic that can't relax in it. Potentials don't have to want sex or love or independent relationships with other people in the group, but they have to be able to spend time with our poly family as a group and be reasonably comfortable with situations where they aren't the center of attention. Group hangouts are the norm for people in relationships with me, and their partners are always invited.
Poly for me is knowing that I am not the center of everything. I am a part of something beautiful, but just a part. My sense of "we" is not a couple "we" but a family "we".
This is definitely an important part of polyamory too--the forming of a big "we" and the increased interdependence and obligations that come with it.
However, that's only one way to approach polyamory, one style of polyamory. Many poly people feel that poly IS about having separate relationships with separate people. A big "we" isn't right for everyone. Some people would rather form multiple separate "we" couples. Others would rather have a more autonomous approach to developing multiple relationships that are not "we" couples.
But I don't understand why you equate autonomy with needing to be the center of attention. I have an autonomous approach to dating because I can't stand the idea of being the sole object of someone's attention; in a traditional "we" couple I would have to be the center of my partner's world.
Autonomy is not the same as being self-centered. Granting my partner(s) complete autonomy is in fact a very un
selfish act. It means that they are free to conduct their lives in ways that works best for them, without limits from me.
Nor does being a free agent mean that I have no obligations or that I am obligated only to myself. It's more like being my own primary partner--I still have other partners and other obligations. But my own needs are my responsibility to take care of; I am responsible for my own happiness.
Being a free agent gives me more time for multiple partners, rather than a primary devotion to one partner. And more time for non-romantic obligations, such as taking care of my grandmother, working on my writing, etc.
Just for an example: when I had a boyfriend a few years ago, we were approaching dating from an autonomous standpoint rather than feeling obligated to everything together just because we were a couple. We had a long-distance relationship and we were both writers, and there were frequently writing conventions which we both sometimes attended. But we did not demonstrate that we were a couple at these conventions, because we both wanted to focus on meeting people and discussing our work independently.
Also, because of my other jobs & other obligations I could not attend every convention that my boyfriend attended. One time I chose to take a trip with my aunt instead of going to a convention. I was shocked when the mutual friends I shared with my boyfriend made the assumption that something was wrong with our relationship. Why would I not want to spend every minute with my boyfriend??? (Funny, they never questioned whether I had a problem with the professional aspect of the convention--in fact, once or twice I skipped a convention because I was frustrated with my own writing at the time).
I found it bizarre that there was such a strong expectation that my boyfriend and I ought to be a "we" that did absolutely everything together.
One more thing: I just want to point out that if you ever meet a partner who isn't comfortable with poly family group hangouts, they might just be very introverted or prefer more solitary time. It doesn't mean that they need to be the center of attention.