One of the more prevalent communication issues I've seen (first hand and on the Mono/Poly Yahoo list) between Mono and Poly folks is explaining Polyamory to someone who just doesn't get it. Some folks use the "but you don't love your kids any differently, do you?" analogy to explain the way they love their partners, but that analogy can fall flat with many, including me.
Why? It's very difficult for many of us to equate love for a partner with love for a child; they're two very different types of love. When I love someone like a partner, I want to share my life with them, integrate with them somehow. My love for my children is completely different - I want to raise them, guide them, protect them, but ultimately raise them to be functional human adults with the goal of them growing up, going out on their own, and leaving to live their own lives. Not with the goal of growing old with them, retiring with them, and don't even try to equate a sexual relationship with someone using this analogy. It raises an "ick" factor that's hard to get past.
Many folks try the friend analogy instead: you have multiple friends, and your friendship with one doesn't suffer when you have another friend, right?
Well, sure. But you still have very different relationships, and why not just be friends with people if you want that connection? Why does sex have to be involved? Why does it have to be a romantic relationship to be able to enjoy that person's company?
It still falls flat, because the interpersonal relationships in the analogy overshadow what the person is trying to say. Both sides end up frustrated at times, unable to just get the other person to see what they're saying.
With a recent change in Chops' life, another analogy popped to mind, and I shared this on the Mono/Poly list during a time when a few new folks were struggling with having the "poly bomb" dropped on them by their spouses (and for some, in a pretty spectacularly awful way).
If we're going to be talking apples and oranges anyway, let's go all the way to comparing apples to elephants and just focus on the feeling behind it, not the relationships.
This is what I posted recently to the list:
My ex-husband made me promise to NEVER ride a motorcycle - that they were too dangerous. I'd end up with a messed-up leg, walk with a limp, die and my children would have no mother, etc.
Now, my partner has a motorcycle. He loves the feeling of riding a bike. There's a freedom he feels, an openness, and a bit of a brotherhood (you wave at EVERYONE ELSE on a bike - LOL).
Where my partner sees freedom and enjoyment, my ex saw sketchy people, potential death, "stupidity", and pain.
And I'm somewhere in the middle, where I know that not all people who ride bikes are morons, but getting on the back of a bike at highway speeds terrifies the CRAP out of me. But I'll take the test, and I'll learn, and I'll get out there until I can't take it, or I get hurt - because I want to enjoy the ride, even if I never drive a bike myself. And I'll have a few scares, no doubt.
Some folks wouldn't want to take the chance - too risky. And that's okay.
Some folks would go, "OMG, I can do this too?" and go out and take the test the next day. That's okay too.
And some folks would swallow down their fear and go for that ride, and see how it feels.
But if a crazy rider and a risk-averse person are trying to ride together, it's going to fail miserably unless you get some ground rules in place.
There aren't any helmets in Poly, though.
After the "juggling chainsaws" analogy someone else had posted (in the frame of mind that she was being hurt but her husband was dead set on juggling the damned chainsaws, other people nearby be damned), this one seemed to resonate. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it was nice to find something that people could relate to.
It also seems to work when people make the comment, "Well why does it matter where I go when I'm out? Why is it different if I'm out with a friend versus being out with a partner?"
The circumstances DO matter, though, when it's something that causes you stress. If you're concerned about motorcycles, then it's a huge difference between your partner taking a nice long drive and taking a nice long bike ride. You may be completely stressed out (worrying about their safety, in this case, but the reason isn't what matters here - it's the emotion).
The worried partner may ask for the partner to not go. They may ask for their partner to drive. Or they may ask their partner to check in at regular intervals, so they know that they're safe.
Some die-hard bikers may find any of those options unbearable or controlling, and may completely chafe at being restricted in any way. Others may be willing to compromise and call in, or drive up with their bike in a trailer and just bike around smaller, slower roads... or they may give their partner time to get used to the idea of a longer ride with the hope (or plan) that they will ride again later.
Some worriers may never stop worrying. Others may ease up over time, but still want the check-ins. Others may just stop worrying over time and let it become the new normal. At any rate, though, the circumstances (travel by motorcycle) are the thing triggering the stress, not the action itself (long trip).
Apples and elephants, but the emotions are expressed in a way that doesn't bring almost-comparable-but-not-quite relationships into the mix. It helped me relate a bit better, anyway.
Thoughts? Maybe I'll post this to the general board and see if it garners any discussion...
Anyway, moving on from analogies and into real life, Chops *is* enjoying his motorcycle more now that the weather is getting better. An interesting side effect has been that I miss the talks we'd have on his commute to and from work - it was a nice (and fairly regular) way of getting some time with him, especially on the days he's with Xena. Except, now we don't get that time when he's on the bike. We barely spoke today - a couple short phone calls to say he's on his way, a text to say he's safe, but that's it, and I've noticed myself being a bit more clingy (for lack of a better word) when he is home. I'm thinking it's related.
It's better than being emotional and moody when I don't get to talk with him much, so I guess that's an improvement.
I'm hoping we can spend a little time on the phone tonight to make up for it a bit, but the goodnight phone call can be a bit wonky if he's tired, so we'll see.
In completely unrelated news, we had our "root cause" meeting re. my coworker's light switch incident. Note to self: never, EVER go to the nurse for anything (I have band-aids in my desk, so I'm good there
). Going to the nurse guarantees an incident report gets written up. Safety and Health is appeased, but I'm dying inside with the money that gets spent on this stuff. The nurse even indicated that a paper cut would have to be written up. Glad I'm not the one reading all these incident reports. I'd gouge my eyes out with pencils and have to write one up myself.
Ah well... The laundry calls. Have a great night, all!