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  #1  
Old 04-15-2014, 01:25 PM
PolyinPractice PolyinPractice is offline
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Default Dispelling Myths: Poly as a Competition

First of a number of issues that have been bothering me:

Whenever I tell people my partner is poly, I say, "And his wife knows..." and they're kind of okay, and then "And she has a boyfriend." And they breathe a sigh of relief.

Then they ask if I have another boyfriend (heteronormative culture) and I say, No. And they get uncomfortable again.

I dislike the notion that it somehow legitimizes poly if everyone is dating someone else. Poly isn't a competition; it isn't, "You can have someone else, if I can have someone else." or "Let's see who can acquire the most number of dating partners."

My friends don't think it's not "real" poly; that's not my concern. They don't really have a concept of what "real" poly is. It's that somehow it's unethical and you're being taken advantage of. I want to say, when they ask about the wife, "I don't know, and it doesn't matter." But if she doesn't have "someone of her own," than the idea is she's simply putting up with it for sake of not getting discarded. They also don't realize that it's very pressuring for them to expect me to get a second partner simply for the sake of having someone to date. I'm really not interested; I would love to find someone who means as much to me; but I'm really okay with having that extra time for me, right now. I like being "single"ish.

So, what have people done to help rid their friends of the notion that if you don't also have a second partner, and your partner does, you obviously need to get someone else, too? I understand it's mostly indicative of a misunderstanding of poly (it's not that I feel the need for tons of partners; I just want to be able to love the people in my life freely, come what may). But I would like to help educate my friends who think I'm some kind of doormat.

How do I explain that I find it truly okay for him to have others when I don't?

Note: I'd also like to be clear that my partner is highly encouraging of me finding someone, but is good to not do so in a pressuring way. Though even he used to not like it, but now realizes it's okay.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:37 PM
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RedPanda RedPanda is offline
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I don't have much to add except this; I was seeing only one person for a while and despite the fact that she was married I didn't even feel very polyamorous. Some people have a very low poly number (or poly saturation?) and sometimes life just gets in the way or any number of things could be going on. Some poly folks are only secondaries to other people, with no life commitments to anyone.

I can't tell you how to respond to these people. All I'm saying is that there are many ways to do poly right. As you say, as long as it's ethical who cares? Some people are competitive. And it should be noted that testosterone is higher in polyamorous people - and for women this is proportional to the number of partners they have. (I can dig up the study if you want but it's not terribly exciting). The authors of that study surmised that actively polyamorous people were more competitive as indicated by the testosterone. I disagreed with their verbiage because they were coming from a monogamous/scarcity mindset. But that's not to say that some people aren't always chasing the next hot thing.

After all, that's how some people do poly; they have a committed relationship and then a casual/fling/fun streak on the side. Some men and women love the chase and love the excitement of bedding someone new. I'm much kinkier and more outgoing when I'm seeing someone new. And you know what? My life partner reaps some benefits from that because she gets to experience that energy as well

Another story; I was once dating a very introverted girl. We got along great and she explained to her father that being poly was ideal because if we were monogamous then I'd want more attention from her - and she just could not provide all the social stimulation I needed. So she would spend the night maybe once a week and if she needed time to herself it was fine. Again, that's the chief benefit of poly - the flexibility.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:05 PM
vanquish vanquish is offline
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I think you've said it well just like you did above.

If they're your friends, they're most likely operating out of (misguided) fear that you're being hurt/manipulated or are settling for something unfulfilling.

Tell them you you've really thought this through and it's what works for you. In fact, it's what makes you enthusiastically happy. Remind them that they don't have to make the same choices, but they need to respect yours. If you feel the need to hand hold them because this topic keeps coming up over and over, assure them that you're fine and healthy, but if that changes you're strong enough to make the right choices.

Oh, and don't forget to tell them what you've told us - that when they use certain language that they are exerting pressure on you - unwelcome pressure. That may seem confrontational, but depending on how you say it, it's only slightly so. You can tell them, you appreciate the caring, but they need to respect your decisions.

Of course they could be operating more out of ignorance and the need to enforce their own social constructs, in which case you can get more aggressive in your replies.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:43 PM
london london is offline
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I think it's because they are simply worried that your long term needs will go unmet. Say my only partner is a married poly guy whom I would never be able to Share primary style entanglements and this commitment is potentially putting people I could have that sort of relationship with off of dating me, my need to have a live in partner will go unmet.

Even if you don't want to live with a partner, I'd still be sacrificing some of the privileges monogamous but not living together couples have. Will that really work for me in the long term? Will I die discontented?
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:07 PM
PolyinPractice PolyinPractice is offline
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@Redpanda, Absolutely, life does get in the way. I'd be happy for a new partner; but I just don't have the time right now. I'm actually glad I DON'T have someone; I'd probably just ruin my opportunity by not investing enough into it.

@vanquish, I do think they think I'm being taken advantage of. As Redpanda mentioned, lots of people do the "committed relationship and then a casual/fling/fun streak on the side" thing. It's easy to think that's all my partner is interested in...my friends simply don't see how much he's truly committed to this relationship. They assume it MUST be fun. And it is. But it's truly a lot of work for BOTH of us.

@london, Interesting perspective. I'm sure they do feel that; the idea of multiple, marriage-style relationships is very difficult for people to imagine. And with good reason. I realize, even in poly, my situation is unusual. You've got to find the right people; not only who want it, but whose lives align in such a way that it can actually work. Very hard to find that right balance. Still, even if I was in the situation you described, I would want my friends to be happy for me. If what I wanted was lesser commitment and that's ALL I wanted; that should be okay. I shouldn't have to want ANY marriage style relationships (shared finances, kids, etc.)

Oh, and I might add that I don't live with my partner. It's really hard for people to understand that isn't something I require in a primary partner (unless we were to have children).
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:21 PM
london london is offline
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Yes, I know and I'm sure many other people know that not everyone wants that sort of relationship. However, if one has always spoke of wanting that type of thing and then meets someone who cannot offer it, a sudden sacrifice of those needs can be alarming. Are they doing this for the right reasons?

Eta: I'm speaking generally here. I think the friends and family concerns thing is quite common. I obviously have no idea what you've told your peeps about your hopes and dreams for the future.

Last edited by london; 04-15-2014 at 06:23 PM.
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