I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I'm a strange mix of experienced and n00b when it comes to poly; I've been actively living the poly lifestyle since 1997, but have lived in mostly small towns, and have kindof stumbled into partners by accident. I have never experienced a poly community...until very recently. 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
A friend of mine has just begun to date a poly guy, and had a few questions on the subject, and knowing me and my lifestyle, wanted to pick my brain. Below is my response. I hope you find it helpful.
First thing: I would suggest you do some reading on the subject. Sex At Dawn, The Ethical Slut, Open, and Opening Up are very, VERY good starting points. We in the poly community consider those our bibles, essentially. They’ll answer a LOT of your questions, and many questions you probably don’t even know you have yet.
You could very well BE poly and not know it, because it’s such an underground relationship choice, most people aren’t aware of it, or if they are, they think it’s just “swinging”.
The beauty of poly is that it is what you make of it. You can structure it however you are happy. For some people, that means just being in an open relationship, where they can have sex with other people, but they’re only emotionally involved with their main partner. For others, like me, it’s much more involved than that, and you can be emotionally involved. And how that looks is however you define it.
There are poly families like mine, and there are couples who have girlfriends/boyfriends, but who are still primarily focused on each other. And everything in between.
And yes, you probably WILL get jealous, or, at the very least, envious. That’s natural. It’s what you DO with the jealousy/envy that’s important. You can’t let it control you, or it will turn you into someone you don’t want to be.
First and foremost, you have to know yourself, your needs, your wants, what you can compromise on, and what you can’t. Sometimes you can figure all of that out ahead of time, and sometimes you’ll discover it as you go along.
It is very likely that your very first poly relationship will involve some pain, sometimes a significant amount, as you figure these things out. That’s very common, because none of us has it all figured out from the very beginning. And heck, even very experienced polys discover stumbling blocks in new relationships from time to time.
It’s going to be a very steep learning curve at first, but, girl…it is so amazing when it’s working. And once you work out the kinks and figure it out for yourself, it’ll be working more often than not.
Something I often tell people who are curious about polyamory: it MUST be pretty awesome, or so many people wouldn’t keep doing it, right?
I will state right here and now that I do NOT have it all figured out. I am still learning about myself, my needs and wants, even after all these years. And honestly, I hope to never have it all figured out. I never want to stop learning and growing.
It’s not that they’re hard, necessarily, just that there are very different dynamics going on when you’re dating both other people.
For example, in my current family, I am only involved with my husband. Jewel is his partner, not mine. So I’m not involved when they might have a disagreement, and she’s not involved when he and I might have a disagreement (unless we ask or welcome her opinion, and vice-versa, such as in my previous blog post).
It’s vastly different in a triad (or a quad). When I was involved with my triad, I was dating both of them, and so any disagreement between the two of them involved me as well, most of the time. That adds another layer of complication, and more opportunity for pitfalls.
For example, the final issue that precipitated the end of my triad involved this exact problem. There was a fairly important disagreement between the husband and the wife. I wasn’t directly involved, but it did affect me. I tried to speak to both of them about it, and it backfired. They both interpreted it as me meddling in their relationship.
I really wasn’t. I was concerned about what was happening, it seemed very unhealthy and the outcome of their decision WAS going to directly affect me, so I felt I had the right to speak up and share my opinion, as partner to both of them. I felt I did it very respectfully, but they didn’t.
And it was the nature of the reaction that caused me to end the relationship. Without going into specific details, the husband in particular majorly overreacted, and frightened me quite badly.
In any situation where you’re romantically involved with more than one person, you have to hone your communication skills. When you’re romantically involved with more than one person who are also involved with each other, you have to be even better at it. You also have to be very understanding, and work together through miscommunications and differences.
If even ONE of the people involved can’t or won’t, then the whole thing will fall apart.
It illustrates one of the basic tenets of poly: you have to be really, really good at relationship skills in general…much more so than the average person in a monogamous relationship. Being poly actually exacerbates common relationship problems, and if you’re not good at relationships, or you’re only ok at relationships, being poly brings those issues to the front in a way that you simply can’t ignore.
It’s a lot more work than mono…but oh, the rewards are exponentially more as well. :)
You are very welcome! I will happily share, feel free to ask absolutely anything. I will share my thoughts and insights, and also what my polycule thinks (polycule = poly family). And if your question stumps me, I’ll ask my poly friends. :)
There are four of us in the household: Myself, my husband Drake, his partner Jewel, and our son Ripley, who is three.
I dunno…you know how I feel about my stalkers. Your lack of instantaneous followage makes me think you’re not dedicated. ;)
The trick with poly is to get involved in a community of like-minded people. My dating opportunities have absolutely EXPLODED since I discovered the community.
And you’ll find that the poly community as a whole is a LOT more open-minded and accepting of people and idiosyncrasies than the general population.
If you’re at all considering this lifestyle, I would do some reading and research. I would strongly recommend The Ethical Slut and Opening Up. Read those and see if the thoughts resonate. Talk to other polys, ask lots of questions.
Then, figure out what TYPE of poly you think you are. Poly is what you make of it (which will be a subject for a future post). There are as many different types of poly as there are people in poly relationships. Whatever you define poly as for yourself is exactly what poly IS for you.
It’s tremendously freeing. I highly recommend it. :)
But yes, you will have to learn to deal with disappointment, because you’re continuously dating, so there ARE more opportunities for rejection. However, there are also lots more opportunities for success. :)
And you know what else? The poly people I’ve met are pretty experienced at this, so they’re very, very good at communication.
Oh, goddess…there goes the neighborhood. ;)