Long read: Stuff I would have liked to have seen (Mono/Poly)
A little background regarding this post: My partner set up a "Poly Blog" a while back (if you're interested in the URL, let me know, but I'm not selling the blog here, don't worry) in order to maybe be a resource for anyone looking for one. It's sometimes difficult to find good Mono/Poly resources online that don't say, "OMG, Good luck! You'll need it!" and even less advice for those just starting out. Morethantwo.com has some GREAT resources, but it still can't cover everything that pops up.
I was apprehensive at first, since I felt that we were just starting out ourselves, and in no way ready to suddenly become an authority on anything.
Over time, we've all learned things - usually by doing the WRONG thing at first, and then painfully digging our way out, and I thought, "Yeah, you know, if I'd read/seen some of these things, then maybe it could have helped." So oddly enough, Mono Chick (me) decided to write a post for the Poly blog.
I wanted to vet it by you all and see what you thought - if some things truly don't apply to most people, aren't helpful, are confusing or worded badly, or if you have anything to add, please let me know. If it's clerical, let me know privately so as not to clog the list, but if you think it would make a good discussion point, please feel free. I've edited out the names, but I've kept in some of the "instructions to self" either where I need to add links or am trying to figure out if I want to keep a section in or not. Formatting stinks right now - I'll pretty it up when it goes into Blogger.
I'm hoping it's helpful, and I hope you'll let me know either way.
I’ll be honest. I never believed I would contribute to this blog. Firstly, I’m not Poly. I’m a monogamous chick who found myself in a Poly relationship because it allowed me to HAVE a relationship with someone whom I consider a wonderful person and a very close friend. Secondly, because it hasn’t always been an easy road, I didn’t feel like I really had a place to say anything. Who am I to pontificate on a blog about my relationship when I feel like I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going without a road map? Thirdly, this blog has, up until now, been “this is what I like about Poly” and I have little interest in being the Blog Curmudgeon.
But if that all applied right now, you wouldn’t be seeing this, so what changed?
X and Y have both stated that they’d like this blog to be a place that people find in their search for resources - things that help, maybe, or just to know that there are others out there like them trying to just poke through life in this unconventional type of relationship structure.
Over time, I’ve kept track of a mental list of things that *I* sure would have loved to have known ahead of time. Or would have loved to have had OTHERS know ahead of time, in order to help things go a bit more smoothly, or make fewer trial-and-error mistakes. Keeping it a mental list isn’t going to do that, now is it? So here I post.
I don’t want to rehash the Mono/Poly articles that are on Franklin Veaux’s “Morethantwo” site <add link>. These are GREAT resources, and were quite helpful in helping us all see this relationship from each others’ (very different) points of view. If you’re reading this because you’re lost without a road map of your own, go there first. Really. I’ll wait...
While your mileage may vary, here are some other issues/pitfalls/things-I-wish-I’d-realized-earlier that maybe could be of use to someone.
** PLEASE note that I am not speaking for all Mono/Poly relationships or people here. I am speaking from a combination of personal experience and from other people’s experiences. Your mileage may (and will) vary. **
Section 1: Possible pitfalls for the poly partner (Say it, don’t spray it!)
1. Enthusiasm is great. Proselytization, not so much.
You have discovered Polyamory and a light bulb has clicked on. You finally have a word to describe the way you’ve been feeling all these years, or a concept of loving relationships that you find free and non-restrictive and you are beside yourself with excitement. You are happy to embrace the new you (and honestly, you should be!), and you are happy to share it with others.
And then you start thinking... Maybe monogamy really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe, inside, we’re *all* just a little Poly. Or a *lot* Poly, and denying our own inner natures based on what society tells us is right due to outmoded concepts of fidelity dictated by religious and controlling patriarchal societal models.
Okay. Stop. Breathe.
Regardless of what you do believe, there is no quicker way to alienate not only your monogamous friends and family, but your Mono PARTNER than by intimating that they are not only wrong, but backwards-thinking. Making someone feel disrespected, especially someone you love, is no way of earning respect toward your beliefs, and in fact, is a quick way of getting someone’s rational mind to turn off and raise their emotional hackles in defense of what they see as an integral part of themselves.
In other words, the people who are close to you may be happy you’ve found God, but don’t want you to save them.
So, what if you really DO believe that monogamy is a socially-created construct? Well, this leads into...
2. What *is* monogamy?
From everything I’ve seen, the “monogamy is <insert negative word here>” seems to stem from an oversimplification of monogamy as a whole. There are two distinct aspects of monogamy, and defining it as purely a social construct completely ignores one of them.
a. The desire to love only one person
Yes, I agree that for many Poly folks, they didn’t realize the concept existed as such. But for every one who seems to identify as Poly at the personal level (“wired that way”), they have always been able to feel (romantic) love for more than one person.
Some of us do not.
For some of us, who self-identify as Mono, when we develop romantic feelings for one, they wane for another. I have never, EVER “crushed on” more than one person at a time, even back in Junior High (okay, my unholy obsession with Alan Hunter doesn’t count - I’m talking real people, here). That type of emotion toward another always had one target and one target only. I am “wired” that way.
This is completely different from
b. The desire for the one I love to love only me.
This seems to be the aspect of monogamy that most non-monogamous people deride. Yes, in some cases, it is societal. In come cases, it is driven out of insecurity. In some cases, however, it is a desire of that one person’s attention and time, and any less than that does not create a bond that is close enough to have a lasting, lifetime relationship (whether or not you really believe those exist).
In some cases, this can change. If the Mono partner truly wants to work on a relationship with a Poly partner, this will HAVE to change. Some people don’t want to change. Some try, but find that it’s too hard for them and therefore non-negotiable.
Statements that deride monogamy as a whole unwittingly deride that first part, that piece that is integral to US as monogamous folk, and is INCREDIBLY insulting when heard from a Mono point of view.
In other words, please don’t build yourself up by putting us down. There’s more to monogamy than convention.
2. Using analogies that don’t fly
“But you don’t love your children any less because you have more than one!”
UGH! UGH! UGH!
I hate. DESPISE, even, the typical “child analogy”.
Romantic love is NOT the love for a child. Period. I can not equate the way I love my children to the way I love a romantic partner. One is a love designed to protect, guide, and eventually lead my children into becoming independent people, who will (and SHOULD) leave in time. One is a love that invests heavily of my self into the relationship. Equating the two is like equating apples and elephants, and adds an “ick” factor when you try to equate romantic love to a parent’s love for a child.
I realize you’re trying to relate the way you feel about other loves to your Mono partner, and you really have no tools to do it. I sympathize. It is NOT an easy thing to do, because many of us just. don’t. get it.
However, the great folks on the LivingPolyMono mailing list came up with some wonderful alternatives that actually worked for ME much better than the “child analogy”. It’s no guarantee it’ll help you, but maybe one of the following will be better received:
a. A slightly retooled version of the child analogy - a question.
“Why did you have more than one child?”
When you put it that way, why *did* I have more than one child? Because I wanted more. Why did I want more? Um. Because. I wanted a fuller home, more laughter, more kids. Just more. (Okay, maybe the answer “as a playmate for the first one” came in, but let’s disregard that for now... it certainly wasn’t the only reason. ;-)
This question totally removes the type of love from the equation, instead focusing on the emotional feeling behind the “why”. I didn’t want more children because my oldest child was lacking. I wanted more because I wanted more.
However, if you don’t have children, it may not resonate.
(Continued in next post)