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What's this weird 'polyamory' thing you do then? - There's something about Mary...

Jun. 3rd, 2011 01:00 pm What's this weird 'polyamory' thing you do then?

This is a question I am asked quite frequently, along with other (mostly) well-meaning questions about the relationships I have in my life

  - and if you want answers, there are some links for you at the bottom of this post.

Sometimes questions are asked by friends or family who have twigged that I am 'a nutter' (as my Dad jokingly puts it).  Or, as most recently, asked by the parents of a new partner who are (understandably I think) concerned about what their son is letting himself in for by being involved with me.  

I try to be as open as I can to such questions.  I appreciate that my lifestyle is 'weird' when seen from a monogamous viewpoint. 
 
I know that some of my poly friends find some of the questions they are asked an invasion of privacy: "what right does X have to ask questions about my personal private life, just because I am not doing the 'normal' monogamy thing?"  
But I don't mind questions, provided they are phrased respectfully and without judgement.  
I know that my lifestyle is unusual, and mostly people are just curious about how it works, because they haven't come across it before.
Or, friends/family of myself or my partners are concerned that no-one is going to get hurt, or at least that getting hurt is no more likely than in a monogamous set-up.
 
Unfortunately, sometimes the polite questioner has come across poly, but is defensive, having been upset previously by encountering 'poly-evangelists' - the type of person who talks about their polyamorous life-style as if it is the way that everyone should be conducting themselves, as if it is somehow more enlightened than monogamy!  This kind of superior attitude saddens me as much as it saddens me when monogamous people make judgements about polyamorous ones.  I would like to live in a world where we all accept one another's ways of being, provided the choices being made are by consenting adults.
It is also important to recognise that there are many different ways of doing polyamory, or being polyamorous; just as there are many different ways of being monogamous, or being a Christian, or being English, or whatever.  
 
So, what's the point of my post?
 
I guess, to encourage dialogue, between people in all types of relationship.  Dialogue, and mutual acceptance and respect.
 
I would like to encourage poly people to be willing to talk about their lives, in order to increase people's awareness of polyamory as a perfectly acceptable life-choice - so that polyamory stops being 'weird'.
 
And, I want to invite my non-poly friends to ask me any questions they would like to, by commenting to my live-journal entry.  I will do the best to answer, with the disclaimer that my answers can only be my own and I wouldn't presume to answer on behalf of 'poly people'.
 
Also, some links you may want to read to find out more about poly if it is a new thing to you:
 
 
 
Polyamory isn't a better way, it is just a different way.  One of the things I love about humanity is our infinite diversity in our beliefs and the way we choose to live our lives.

14 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:martinoh
Date:June 3rd, 2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
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I would guess that my own take on the matter is not unique; I have no moral or social problems with polyamory, can fully understand it as an abstract concept and am happy to cheer on those for whom it works and to call them friends, but for all that it's not an aspect of their lives that I actually empathise with. To that extent, I'm not sure that it will ever stop being 'weird' to me, but I would hope that that fact has never led me to be judgemental. :-)
From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 10:43 am (UTC)
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Well, I have never seen you be judgemental about it :-)

Thanks xx
From:randeknight
Date:June 3rd, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
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It's a free will thing. So long as you aren't hurting other people, you should be able to do whatever you wish.
'hurt' doesn't include hurt feelings because other people act differently to how they would like them to.
From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 10:45 am (UTC)
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Yes, agreed.

I want to live in a world where *everyone* respects the right of everyone else to live how they wish (so long as they are not going around murdering people or whatever!)
From:awehla
Date:June 3rd, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
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The only thing I ever think when you talk about your fellas is where you get the energy. Also I am curious as to the time you spend with each of them. If you had children what would the living arrangement be and how would you explain it to them? I would think the children would be fine because it's what they are used to but I am curious about your view on it.

Do you think people who find monogamy difficult should try polyamory? How did you discover you were polyamorous? Did you have an epiphany of some kind or was it a more practical solution for you?

Lisa
x
From:nitoda
Date:June 4th, 2011 10:31 am (UTC)
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Do you think people who find monogamy difficult should try polyamory?
NO is my instinctive reaction to this ... but then ... if the reason they find monogamy difficult is because they want more relationships and they can openly discuss this with their monogamous partner and get agreement about the kind of extra relationships that would be acceptable and this then falls into the realms of polyamory ... then it might be a yes. If the reason they find monogamy difficult is because they are not good at relationships in general and don't want to put in the necessary energy and commitment, then polyamory is just going to multiply the problems for them.
From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 11:02 am (UTC)

Time

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The time I spend with partners:

Well, I have one partner who lives with me, my fiancé Tim. And we, perhaps like any other couple, make sure we get some quality 'date' time together each week, but also spend a fair amount of time with each other because we live together.

My boyfriend John lives about an hour away, so we see each other for a date about once a week, but have plenty of contact by text/online chat/whatever at other times.

And Adrian lives about 4 hours away, so we aim to get a weekend together about once a month.

I don't believe there is a limit on love, but, there is inevitably a limit on time. So I think there would naturally be an upper limit on how many partners one could have in order to be giving each relationship the attention that it deserves.

Mary x
From:awehla
Date:June 4th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Time

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Thanks for replying to all my questions. I was worried after I posted that I may have bombarded you.

Lisa
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From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 11:03 am (UTC)

Children

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Children:

Personally, I don't intend to have children, but I have seen poly people with children making it work extremely well.

The parents explain honestly and openly to the children that 'as well as your Daddy, Mummy has another special person' and often other partners perform a kind of uncle/aunt role, whether they live in the same house, or elsewhere. It can be that several couples and their kids live in one house, and thus resources can be shared, which can provide for a very positive living environment for the kids.

Mary x
From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)

Trying polyamory?

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Trying Polyamory:

I think it depends on the reasons that they find monogamy difficult.

There is no logic in "I have cheated on my partner - I must be polyamorous". Cheating can happen in polamorous relationships too, since cheating is about betrayal of trust and established rules.

In some ways poly is more complex than monogamy, so it could be said that if you can't maintain one relationship, you sure as hell won't be able to maintain more than one ;-)

But again, I guess it really depends on what made monogamy difficult for the individual.

I just wouldn't ever recommend polyamory as a way to 'fix' problems in an existing monogamous relationship.

And I agree with what nitoda says above on the matter too.

Mary x
From:awehla
Date:June 4th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Trying polyamory?

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Yeah I read this on the website you linked to above after I'd sent you this question. Makes sense that you have to be good at relationships to be polyamorous so if you can't manage 1 you won't be able to manage more than 1. I guess I was thinking of people who are struggling because they don't know they are polyamarous and think they are "not normal" or whatever.

Lisa
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From:maryrcrumpton
Date:June 4th, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)

How did I discover I was polyamorous?

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I think I had a gradual realisation not only that I loved more than one person, but, crucially, that that was OK ;-)

Where I saw monogamous friends saying things like "I only have eyes for my boyfriend" or "I could never imagine kissing any one else", I realised I didn't feel that way.

I was madly in love with my partner at that time, but I found myself falling in love with others too, but dismissing it because it was 'forbidden', or thinking that perhaps it meant that my current partner wasn't 'the one', and I would just have to keep looking for 'the one'.

I hadn't heard of the concept of polyamory.

But then I heard about it, and I thought "aha! it is OK to love more than one person - wow! I am not a freak!"
And I allowed myself to acknowledge, accept and explore my feelings for others.

And, thankfully, my then partner felt the same way, so we 'opened' our relationship - very tentatively at first, allowing each other to be physical with others but not go all the way with anyone else - but then he ended up desperate to have sex with someone he had been seeing, and I realised I felt totally OK with him doing so, and so he did...

The rest, as they say, is history.

That was 10 years ago, and I have done lots of learning and growing since then - listening to my heart (and my mind) and working out how I want to be, and working out how best to do poly for myself and the people I am with.

Finally I feel like I have really 'found myself' - I can be truly me. And my family all know about it now as well, which makes a big difference in being at peace with the world - I kept it quiet at first because I thought my family would freak out, but, to their credit, they have accepted it even though it is a long way from their way of being.

Mary x
From:awehla
Date:June 4th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)

Re: How did I discover I was polyamorous?

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That's great your family have accepted it. It would be horrible to have to hide who you are and not be able to share people who are special to you.

Lisa
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