Adventures in Polyamory

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I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I've been living the poly lifestyle since 1997, am married with two children, and enjoy the attention of two additional partners. I moved to Seattle in 2011, and have been openly poly ever since. This has opened up a whole new world to me, as well as new pitfalls that I'd never been aware of. Join me as I chronicle my journey into this incredibly rewarding lifestyle.

Note: Nicknames or initials will always be used in this blog. If you think you know who I'm referring to, DO NOT call them out by name or use identifying characteristics.

"A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you."

-Dossie Easton

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Seen on Facebook, and I couldn’t agree more:

A sane, healthy, complete person does not ‘need’ anyone to do anything for them. They are able to feed, protect, shelter, care for and love themselves by themselves. 

Someone that seeks a relationship to ‘fill a need’ tries to find outside themselves something to fix themselves. 

A relationship should be somewhat of a luxury, something that is great to have but without which the existence of the person is not in danger. A ‘need’ is something necessary for the survival (physical, mental, emotional) of the person.

I want to walk toward a relationship with the knowledge that with or without the person(s) I am, always, complete.

I want to walk toward a relationship not from a need but from a grateful point of view, not from the ‘please fill my needs’ standpoint that soon becomes a place where people think those things are ‘due’ to them, but from the point where I can say, each and every day, “Thank you for those marvelous surprises you brought into my life. You didn’t have to, but you made the choice to and I am very grateful that I am the person you choose to give to.”

I want to walk around this world handing out the gift of my love to whomever I feel like loving.

I do not say that when you walk the path of relationship there is no point where one can have the need of getting help from the other, from the moment the relationship is solid and the “team” of individuals is built, they should both be able to count on each other in time of need. But the two individuals should still be able to, most of the time, stand for themselves AND stand for the team.

THIS is what I try to embody in my relationships, whether romantic or otherwise. I do not always succeed, but I am always striving for this ideal. What I read above really struck a chord with me (as you’ll see below, lol).

There’s a song by Alanis Morissette called “You Owe Me Nothing In Return" which embodies unconditional love more completely than anything else I’ve ever heard.

Every moment with my beloved, REGARDLESS of whether it’s a partner or a friend or a family member, is a privilege, not a right. None of them owe me anything other than respect as a fellow member of the human race. Placing expectations on our loved ones leads to disappointment, usually entirely unnecessarily. 

If you are whole in your own right, and are loving others and accepting their love as a gift, the blessings and rewards are exponential. And there’s no time limit on that…just because you’ve been with someone for six months, a year, five years, fifty, they are still choosing on a daily basis to spend their time with you. It is NOT a right, they don’t OWE you that privilege.

And beginning to act with that sense of entitlement is often the death knell of many relationships.

That’s the filter I try to view all of my interactions through. When I am upset by something, I immediately arrest myself and think - “Why are you upset? Truly, honestly, why the emotional knee-jerk reaction?” And nearly every single time, it’s because I had expectations that were not met.

Sometimes those expectations are valid. Maybe something was planned that didn’t end up happening, for whatever reason, and so, yes, I was expecting something and disappointed. But even when that occurs, the issue should be how it was handled, how the change came about in a way that left me feeling upset…not the fact that there was a change to begin with.

I reiterate this point, maybe to the point of overemphasis, because it’s made a MASSIVE difference in my relationships: nobody owes me any of their time. Ever. It’s always a gift. They can change their mind at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Here’s where I shift…it’s still about expectations, but in particular, as applied to hierarchy. For the record, I practice non-hierarchical poly. I may have a central partner, who I spend the vast majority of my time with, who I may even live with and raise my child with…but that person does not owe me anything more as his or her partner than they did before they were designated a central partner.

Viewing others’ time with expectation and entitlement is dangerous, and a particularly monogamous viewpoint. And yet it still persists in the poly community. That person is your primary/central partner? Great! Doesn’t mean for one hot second that you are OWED their time. You ASK, but they don’t owe you.

That’s probably going to touch a nerve in a lot of people, and believe me, with my history, I understand it. I’m sure a lot of people are going to have a very strong negative reaction, many will want to say that primary relationships are OF COURSE more important than others.

I disagree. There are responsibilities that come along with those kinds of commitments, of course, and shirking those responsibilities and disrespecting your central partner (or any of your partners, really, regardless of their status) is a completely different topic, and unrelated to what I’m trying to say. If you’ve made commitments and agreements with a certain partner, you’d damn well better be honoring those if you want that partner to stick around.

My basic point: just because Person A and Person B are primary/central partners (and I’m going from a binary perspective here for nothing more than simplicity - the same point would apply to moresomes), their relationship is NO MORE IMPORTANT than Person B’s separate relationship with Person C (or D, E, etc.).

Strip away everything having to do with the legalities/underlying mechanics that come with declaring someone a central partner and sharing your lives - the bills, the kids, repairs, doing the grocery shopping. At the very core, you have two people who want to be together. That’s it. And the time those two people spend together has no more or less value than the time Person B spends with Person C.

Acting as if that time should somehow be more important or valuable will cause disappointment, heartache, and loss, for someone. Usually for a non-central partner, as the pivotal partner makes concessions to address the insecurities…but sometimes the loss and heartache affects the central partners’ relationship.

I simply couldn’t comprehend non-hierarchical poly myself, until I had the vital realization that declaring someone a central partner does not magically confer extra status or power to either person. The dynamics of the actual relationship should remain the same, regardless of the contracts and commitments being drawn up, and agreements being made.

At the core, it’s still just two people wanting to spend time together. And choosing to share life responsibilities, living space, what have you, doesn’t entitle you further to their time. They may be CHOOSING to spend more time with you than before, as you are with them…but they don’t owe you squat.

View them, their time, and their love as a gift, not a right, and you’ll be surprised at how much richer and amazing love becomes.