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Old 08-28-2011, 03:18 PM
SelfDiscovery SelfDiscovery is offline
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Default Trying to figure myself out.

It's funny.. Reading this board, it always seems so clear that people are sure they are poly (or not). There is this air of.. Confidence.

Yes, some people say, I identify as poly. Others say they are mono.

But, what is in between? Is there an in between? I'm trying to figure that out. Reading here, it all seems so cut and dry. You must be poly if you can conduct multiple romantic relationships.

My question, really, is... How do you know that? If you are mostly happily married, and you find yourself falling for someone new, is that poly? Is it only poly if the existing relationship is perfectly stable, and the new relationship progresses to a romantic, reciprocated state?

When I first started reading this board, I thought I had an 'aha' moment. I thought, I can do that. I love my wife, and I love my new friend. I would like to keep my existing marriage, and at the same time, feel free to pursue the developing new feelings...

But, as I read more, it seems that a lot of the people who start to pursue poly don't have as healthy a primary relationship as they initially think. Often, it seems, there are some real issues that drove them to go in this direction.

Maybe there are sexual issues or incompatibilities. Maybe they, or their spouse, has been cheating, and they are trying to make sense of that. Maybe it's something less easily apparent, perhaps a codependent relationship where they feel they need to look externally for fulfillment, so they want to pull in multiple partners to provide fulfillment that one cannot, when maybe they should start by finding a place where they are happy with themselves..

This leads me to start really questioning, am I poly, or are there issues in my relationship that just have me thinking this is a .. Simpler? Solution. Or, are the issues I'm starting to see, as I look at my relationship and start down this road, actually a result of a suppressed poly tendency?

I suppose, in reading more and more, I've moved from confused to clear to confused again. I've talked to several counselors, who all seem to come from a perspective of 'You must be mono, that is the standard state, and if you don't feel that way, we have to find what is wrong with you so you can feel that way'.

Could be bad luck with counselors. Maybe they know something I don't. Not sure, but either way, I'm thinking I may have better luck sorting through this by blogging/journaling, in a place like this filled with people who have probably asked a lot of the same questions, and at least found answers that work for themselves.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SelfDiscovery View Post
My question, really, is... How do you know that? If you are mostly happily married, and you find yourself falling for someone new, is that poly? Is it only poly if the existing relationship is perfectly stable, and the new relationship progresses to a romantic, reciprocated state?
You should read the various widely available definitions of polyamory. A person can be single and polyamorous, or married in a couple relationship and polyamorous, or may have two or more partners and be polyamorous. I was polyamorous as soon as I decided to define myself this way, and my partner and I were both polyamorous as soon as we began to define ourselves this way -- before I began "dating" outside our couple relationship.

As for those councelors..., many--most--psychologists and psychiatrists are like most everyone else in our culture: ignorant about polyamory, and prejudiced from the outset, before learning much. Shrinks often tend to pathologize any and all deviations from common social norms and conventions--without good reason or sound sense in doing so. They tend to be a socially conservative lot.

Some definitions of polyamory: http://www.google.com/search?client=...3A%20polyamory
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Last edited by River; 08-28-2011 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:51 PM
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Every relationship has issues.

Heck, every individual has issues. Everyone has had some modicum of difficulty in life, or at the very least, felt unfairness, sadness, sorrow, shame, insecurities, and so on, and everyone has stuff that has been wrestled with and resolved. The fact that many people have found polyamory and pursued it as some kind of medicine to heal their relationship issues, and perhaps done more harm than good, doesn't mean that someone who is basically happy and fulfilled can't incorporate poly successfully into their life AND also have issues that need to be dealt with. Being human means being flexible and learning to have patience.

I have stated this before in other threads: I think that a lot of the time it is a tedious exercise to ask oneself, "am I poly or not?" I think it is more useful to stop worrying about labels and ask, "What kinds of relationships do I want in my life and how do I create them?"

You asked in the beginning of your post: what is in between identifying as poly and identifying as mono? I guess the way I see poly could be an in-between view. I prefer a more easygoing, relaxed approach, and just see it that people have the capacity to have a wide range of relationships while on this earth, and that it is the relationship that is either poly or not, not the person. A person's affinities and proclivities are influenced by many things in our lives and the cultures in which we live, as we grow to adulthood and beyond, and I don't see poly as something "hard-wired" into our brains. It's more a matter of how open and accepting you are of feelings you may have that perhaps will not fit into an unconventional relationship structure, and how willing you are to make poly a part of your life and take a chance in doing something that is not readily accepted in society.

I often point people to this FAQ from an old poly newsgroup:
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/polyamory/faq/

From that FAQ, this is what I relate to the most:
"...the word "polyamorous" is, like all labels, just a tool. What you do and how you treat the people you love is probably more important to them, in the long run, than whether you fit a particular descriptive term, so don't sweat it, okay? And take good care of each other.

An alternate point of view:

There aren't polyamorous and monogamous people; there are polyamorous and monogamous relationships. The same person may at various times be happy in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships at various times in his/her life. What is right depends on you and your feelings, and the feelings of those you are involved in relationships with. You may at some times be involved in a relationship that is monogamous, and that may be the right thing for the people in that relationship; at other times, you may be in a relationship which works better as part of a polyamorous network of relationships. In any case, the important thing is probably to act kindly and responsibly, and to communicate clearly with intimate partners and potential partners about these issues. Don't deny your feelings or the feelings of those that you care about. Get in touch with how you and those you care about really feel, rather than how society wants you to feel, or how you think it would be logical to feel, or how you've been told polyamorous people (or monogamous people) should feel. Then behave in ways which are honest, and which make you, and the people you care about, and the people they care about, happy and fulfilled. If this results in you having more than one intimate relationship at the same time, or being involved in a relationship with more than two people, those who are big on categorizing and labeling people will label you a 'poly person'."
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Last edited by nycindie; 08-28-2011 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post

An alternate point of view:

There aren't polyamorous and monogamous people; there are polyamorous and monogamous relationships. The same person may at various times be happy in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships at various times in his/her life.
This conception is useful up to a point. I get it. Still, it could be confusing to folks trying to figure out if single people or couples can be defined as polyamorous--which, of course, they can, though they may not at present have multiple simultaneous loverly relationships. What we don't want to do is remove membership status from those who wish to claim membership, simply because they don't have multiple simultaneous partners.

Kevin and I could rightly be said to have had a polyamorous relationship before any of us added another to the mix. And had I been single, I'd still have had a polyamorous relationship with the wider world.


===

Using the below definition, poly is present with "practice, desire, or acceptance".... In this conception / model, there are poly people, because there are personal inclinations and disinclinations.


"Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and free consent of everyone involved."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:45 PM
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Well, even from the viewpoint I posted, you and Kevin could of course declare your relationship polyamorous whether you have any additional partners or not, because you were open to it and that's what you wanted. I don't really think it's as important for anyone, single, couple, or triple, to "figure out" if they "can be defined as polyamorous" as it is to make their relationships work in the ways they want.

My answer was really just to offer another option between ID'ing as poly or ID'ing as mono, since that's what the OP was asking:
Quote:
Originally Posted by SelfDiscovery View Post
Yes, some people say, I identify as poly. Others say they are mono.

But, what is in between? Is there an in between? I'm trying to figure that out. Reading here, it all seems so cut and dry. You must be poly if you can conduct multiple romantic relationships.
It works for me to look at poly the way I do. It is an alternate viewpoint from ID'ing as hard-wired poly or mono, and if I say I am poly (which I don't really tend to say) I mean poly relationships are what I choose. I am more inclined to word it that I want to "live polyamorously." This may work for others, but it doesn't have to exclude anyone who wants a poly relationship but doesn't yet have one.

I just think the important part for the OP is to find out how to have what he wants in relationships, how to bring the kinds of relationships he wants into fruition in his life, and not to worry too much about whether or not he can "confidently" claim to be poly.
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Last edited by nycindie; 08-28-2011 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I just think the important part for the OP is how to have what he wants in relationships, how to bring the kinds of relationships he wants into fruition in his life, and not to worry too much about whether or not he can confidently claim to be poly.
Sure, I get that. And I agree with it. Still, I'm poignantly aware of the social stigma factor and the intense social conditioning factor. I see people transitioning to a poly lovestyle as social/cultural renegades and innovators, as
courageous artists of cultural space.... I think of us as similar to LGBT people, or other marginalized minorities, even if we are straight "wasps". So I guess I do think we need a kind of "identity politics" at the outset. And when things change for the better, and freedom expands, we can then drop the identity--as it won't be necessary any longer.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:18 AM
Irena Irena is offline
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Well, sounds like your counselors are full of it, to begin with. I wouldn't take any wisdom on whether to live polyamorously or monogamously from someone who doesn't accept the validity of both options for some people.

I didn't know if I was poly or not when I started dating my partner -- who had been identifying as poly for years before we met. I knew that it fit with a lot of ideas and impulses I've had in my life, and that I felt it was worth giving a shot. Now I identify as "polyamorous" not just within my relationship but as an individual... having lived on the poly side, I would have a very hard time being in a monogamous relationship. So for me, it took some time to find out how I identified. I suspect that's true for a lot of people here who identify strongly as "poly" or "mono." They've tried both and know which one works best for them. (And there are a lot of people who could go either way, depending on the relationships they find themselves in.)

Whether it's natural for you to be in love with more than one person at a time (and my personal belief is that it's natural for most people, though not everybody) is one question; whether in your specific situation the risks of changing your marriage's monogamous structure are worth taking is another. From my perspective the second question is more important -- the first one will answer itself in time. I can't answer that for you, but I can say this: nobody's relationship is perfectly stable and healthy, not before trying polyamory, not during the opening-up process, not afterward. Polyamory will almost certainly bring out problems in your relationship you didn't know you had. I take that as one of its benefits, since it creates an opportunity to grow in ways you might not have done otherwise. The pitfall to avoid is using a new relationship to escape or evade the problems of the old one.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:10 AM
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... but I can say this: nobody's relationship is perfectly stable and healthy, not before trying polyamory, not during the opening-up process, not afterward. Polyamory will almost certainly bring out problems in your relationship you didn't know you had. I take that as one of its benefits, since it creates an opportunity to grow in ways you might not have done otherwise. The pitfall to avoid is using a new relationship to escape or evade the problems of the old one.
Wise words.

When we loosen our grip on our idealizations, when we make a moment-by-moment commitment to healing and growth, loving and appropriate forgiveness, when we deeply realize that we can choose to turn on a dime, over and over again, as a practice..., the world begins to shine. Our lives shine. Our relationships shine. Evasion of important matters never works, and self-and-other forgiveness is a powerful healing commitment worthy of our best ....
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:17 AM
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Being mostly happily married and falling for someone new does not make you poly. That just get you a ticket for the ride. Getting in the trench and crawling in the emotional muck and coming out with your marriage Intact and happy makes you poly.

If you think you can do this intellectually, emotionally, and logistically....and get the spouse on board with the same then give it a shot.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:30 AM
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.... Getting in the trench and crawling in the emotional muck and coming out with your marriage Intact and happy makes you poly.
On the other hand, some people haven't any, or much, "emotional muck" to "crawl" through by now--at least not "emotional muck" about opening to loving others. Not everyone will experience poly as anguished and tormenting and ....
But some will.

I don't mean to disparage those who will experience anguish and torment in such a journey, by the way. I just wanted to point out that it needn't be so--for some.
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