Category Archives: The Polyamory Community

Dependent/Independent/Interdependent

Community is important. (Yeah, yeah, I know, big shock that I’d say that. Stop pretending to have a heart attack).

I’ve been preaching boundaries and acceptable behavior for many months here, and the reason I do it is because community is important and you cannot have a good relationship without interdependence. Thing is, you won’t choose that if you’re not solid and safe in your boundaries first.

This is where the title to the article comes in. You see, there are stages of growth that every person goes through1.

First, you’re dependent. We typically associate this with childhood because the way children are dependent is big and obvious. They cannot care for themselves, but over time, they learn the skills necessary to do so. The thing is, often people are emotionally dependent long after they’re no longer so physically. You are emotionally dependent if your sense of self-worth and security derives from the continuing nurturing of another person.

I’ll tell on myself. I was in my late thirties before I moved away being emotionally dependent on someone. So, just so you know, there’s no high horse about this sort of thing coming from me. I got lucky and was forced into the next stage.

Yep, Independence.

Now many people are physically independent even before they hit their twenties. That’s really cool. But to be in keeping with the poly theme, I wanna talk more about emotional independence. Boy, oh boy, that sounds all cool and self-sufficient, doesn’t it? Yep, I can take care of myself, I don’t depend on anyone for my needs…. Wow, this is awesome!

It is awesome, and a fun feeling.

But there’s one more step — Interdependence. This is when you’re relying mutually on each other(s) in support of a common goal such as family, childrearing or some other community goal.

Interdependence can’t happen, by the way, unless you’ve been independent. It’s a necessary stage. If you’ve skipped the whole independence thing, you’re probably dependent, no matter how it looks otherwise.

Interdependence is where a good poly relationship happens. It’s where individuals, perfectly capable of and relaxed at the prospect of being self-reliant, self-supporting and perfect fine and happy with self-care can mutually agree to a level of support and care between each other. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that until you reach the whole interdependent level, you’re really not ready to have poly relationships at all.

So, where are you in your personal development?

If you’re saying, “I need my SO.” or “Life wouldn’t be worth living without X”, you’re dependent2. It might be productive to take a hard look at yourself and ask yourself if you like where you are. If you do, well, good luck with that. It’s a somewhat dangerous path, but can be a valid choice. Just do it with your eyes open. If you aren’t too happy with it, there are a range of options. Counseling can be useful. You might find mental exercises where you mentally replace the word “need” with “want” for anything not having to do with your physical survival3. Try exercises that make you aware that you’re responsible for your own emotional well-being. Consistently ask yourself how you can meet your own emotional desires. Make sure you’re not throwing them aside to care for others, as well.

If you’re independent, make sure you check that it’s a choice rather than a fear of closeness. It’s a valid choice in a lot of circumstances, but you want to be sure you’re open to the benefits of community — of serving and being served.

When you get to an interdependent situation, do keep in mind that there’s a serious mutuality going on there! You might be spending a lot of time in service to others, but those others are going to be spending a lot of time in service to you. Remember to accept the help. If you’re not accepting the help and care as well as giving it, you’re actually in a weird cycle of dependence or co-dependence. Mutuality is the key. I mean, we all know giving is fun, right? Yes, yes, yes, enjoy yourself in it, but don’t hog all the fun. Let your loves have the pleasure of doing the same!

1Please note that I did not say, “Every child goes through”. Sure, it’d be great if we did all go through these stages in childhood, but the simple fact of the matter is that in our culture and the way many people are reared, we don’t. So don’t beat yourself up no matter what stage you’re in. It won’t help you and just makes you feel bad.

2 Like I said, been there, done that, and it wasn’t so long ago. No beatin’ yourselves up if this is where you are. It’s not productive, but it doesn’t make you bad.

3 Don’t go overboard with this. If you don’t thrive in a household where there’s a lot of shouting or little privacy, you don’t. Just do your very best to detach how you thrive emotionally from a dependence on other people’s behaviors.

Polyamory, FLDS and Cults

I’ve noticed some talk on the polyamory discussion boards talking about fundamentalist Mormon polygamy and how it makes the polyamory community look. Because polyamory is hardly on the general public radar, there is some concern that any non-monogamous relationship will be mentally lumped in with groups we might not admire.

Well, true enough. I am sure many of my readers, especially the ones who live in poly families, have their lives compared to the HBO series “Big Love”.

The sad truth of the matter is that the media cannot portray our lives with sympathetic accuracy, nor is there really any motivation to! Sex sells, friends, and drama sells better. Sensible, together people don’t make ratings and sell the laundry detergent.

What makes it worse is that there are some serious unethical excesses portrayed that poly families might be in danger of.

“We’re not a cult!” I hear you shriek.

Okay, you’re probably not. But, how do you know? I’m quite serious. What are the signs of a cult that you’re so sure you’re not in one? If you had a friend in a poly family that was not healthy, could you spot it?

In my famed generosity, I shall post some <grin>. You knew that was coming, didntcha?

Warning signs you might be in a cult:

· Social Isolation

Do you have friends outside of your family circle? Tragically, if you live in an alternative family, you might find yourself incredibly shy about socializing in the “real world”. You might be estranged from your family of birth, either by choice or not. To protect yourself against some of the dangers of cult-like issues, make sure you have social contacts outside of the context of the polyamory community. I hammer at this one a lot because it’s really important. You live in a big world, even if you live in rural East Nowhere. Make sure you have a range of friendships. (Like so many things, this is not poly-specific. It’s not good for anyone to limit their contacts to church, family or in-group no matter what!) You have interests other than polyamory, after all. Pursue them.

· Ethical double standards

Is your in-group “allowed” to do things that the “common herd” isn’t permitted to do? Ferinstance, the FLDS church considers welfare fraud against “Babylon” (what they call the mainstream world) perfectly okay, because they’re “better” and “chosen of God”.

· Control of your money

I am not trying to say you cannot choose to join a commune or ascribe to the “common pot” theory of polyfamilies economics. They’re fine choices if they work for you! Just check and make sure it’s equitable. In a commune, the standard of living will be the same among all members. In a healthy family, you’re not going to have a member allowed to go to Paris while another catches hell for going out for a beer.

· Behavioral control

How’s that freedom of choice going? Is “for the good of the family” used as a control technique to make you give up personal goals important to you? Are there unspoken rules about how you must behave with heavy penalties if you break them?

· Groupthink – pressure to remain in the group

Groupthink is a big danger for an in-group and even one that is otherwise healthy. Because OLQ could come together like a well-constructed tank when it was needed for family goals, I would say that we could fall danger to a certain level of groupthink sometimes. Useful as it can be (our ability to tag-team in negotiation did get us called a cult when buying a car once!), watch out! There’s a line between useful and giving up your own thoughts and identity. Don’t cross it!

· Use of stress to break down logical thought

Interventions on behavior that’s negative can be necessary. Impromptu “interventions” can be more like brainwashing sessions. If they’re happening without a professional counselor to keep things in line, be afraid. Be very afraid. If you have more than one of those sessions in year, you’ve got other things to look at, anyway. Don’t participate in intervention-like sessions unless they’re actual interventions with clearly-defined goals, preferably with the aid of a professional counselor. They come just awfully close to brainwashing techniques and may cross the line.

What it really boils down to at all times is your level of freedom of choice. It’s okay to choose to live in a tightly-knit family. It only becomes not okay when you’re threatened if you want to leave, or if you are losing your own sense if identity, or if your children are being harmed.

This is where Mormon polygamy is dangerous. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having long hair or dressing modestly or living in a plural marriage (I’ve been a plural wife, have long hair and habitually dress about as modestly as your average FLDS wife). The problem is the lack of education and lack of free choice. Before all the sympathy goes to the women, though, do take a look at the men in this culture. Simple mathematics should point out that if one man has six wives, another man will be permitted none (in this culture, the marriages are arranged). Even if a man has wives, if he does not toe the line, the leader can take his wives and children away from him — either for himself or another man. Imagine having a really pretty wife in that setup!

A few people are concerned that we’re going to be compared to the FLDS. Yeah, it’s going to happen some. I’d say the biggest defense is not to behave as they do. Don’t be controlling, don’t allow yourself to be controlled. Don’t isolate yourself from the world. Don’t abuse children. Don’t “marry” people underage. You don’t have anything to hide, really. I mean, sure, maybe you don’t want to discuss your sex life with non-intimates (I sure don’t!). That’s okay. In the “real world” you probably don’t know about the sex lives of non-intimates, either, right? You can hold people to the standards of the “real world”, and be doing the polyamory community a big service in the bargain.

What we really want people to see is that yeah, poly people are just “real people” with all the foibles, failures and joys of the rest of the world.

Don’t go the route of the FLDS and avoid the “world of dust”. Joyfully “join the dust of the world”.

Polly Wally

I have a Serious Confession to make.

There’s a video that’s been around for awhile called Polly Wally1.

After several years, I finally managed to watch it all the way through. No, not because it’s bad. Quite the reverse. It’s so very good that I’d cringe like I was watching Fawlty Towers and have to turn it off, because I’d have the wincing heebie jeebies.

As with any humor, there’s an exaggeration, but God! It’s just Too Real sometimes — too close to things I’ve watched and experienced2.  The instant switch of hierarchies has got to be the funniest to me.

Of course, this comment could be used as ammunition that Poly Sucks and that if we’d just be good little monogamous people and Be Responsible, then all our relationship troubles would go away, right?

Bull.

<grin> If humor is anything to go on, then monogamous issues outnumber poly ones by an order of magnitude.   Which is the big money genre, Polyamorous Romantic Comedy, or Monogamous Romantic Comedy.

But humor is important to pay attention to, because it’s a fantastic way to get a feel for the issues.  What we snark at, poke fun at and laugh at is where we’re the most tender.  Humor is armor against the pain of our own foolishness.

So when you laugh at something, examine.  It’s a lesson there for you.

1Just a heads up, this probably isn’t worksafe. Use your judgement.
2Yes, I know, you and your circle are Way Too Evolved ever to have experienced anything close to this, you Special Little Snowflake, you. I swear, one of these days I’m gonna start the Goddess of Java Special Little Snowflake Award, I really am!

Why OLQ Broke Up

Okay, how many of you suckers really, really think I’m going to do a post about that?

What I am going to do is explain a bit about why there isn’t, nor will there ever be, a Misanthrope article analyzing OLQ’s breakup1.

The first is merely the tacky factor. I have a strong distaste, shared by my exes, for public displays of negative emotion. Friends, even the most amicable of divorces is painful, and really sucks. Feeding the suckiness isn’t something I wanna do. And at this late date, the suckiness is gone. That’s a good thing!

“Okay,” you say, “but what about the fact that you guys had this huge site about building a poly family and making it work. It didn’t work and we don’t know why! You owe an explanation.”

I actually did get an email to the tune of this back in July 2005 when I thought I was retiring from the poly community, but found I was really taking a sabbatical.

I never did write a response, but I actually did get up from my computer and swore for about five minutes without repeating myself before I was calm enough to decide I’d just let it go without saying anything.

As a response two years later: No, we don’t owe an explanation. Sorry.

But to be more forthcoming, you’ve heard the old saying, “There are three sides to any breakup: His side, her side and the truth.” Just as there are something like sixteen relationships within a quad, there are an equivalent number of sides in its breakup. Within months of that breakup, I wasn’t capable of a rational analysis and had the sense not to try — certainly not in a public forum.

Two years on, I feel like I have a more rational handle, and am even more disinclined to do a public postmortem than ever. The information that people need to solve problems in their own relationships is out there, and my own analysis would not add sufficiently to the body of knowledge to overcome any pain showing my own limited, and possibly inaccurate, point of view would cause my exes.

But you know what? You won’t go far wrong by following the advice on the PolyFamilies site. That showed a lot of what we did right, and problems we were right to work on. I don’t read any of those articles and cringe, nor do I feel ashamed of anything that’s up there. If I’ve changed an opinion, it’ll probably show up here with some level of analysis, but you ain’t gettin’ any juicy dirt.

I will say that OLQ, even in its breakup, did do something right. We decided “Screw the personal. How do we at least do our best for the kids?” We’re doing okay. Not perfect, because no-one’s perfect, but I’m proud of the fact that we do focus on the important stuff.

So, in the face of that, if you’re in the throes of a breakup, I’d like to give this advice which has worked for us:

  • It’s a damn breakup, not a war. You don’t need troops to defend you. Look, in a breakup, you might be seeing things in black and white. You might very well feel like you are totally right and you want people to agree with how right you are. Enjoy your rightness quietly and don’t wave it like a damn flag, ‘kay? Trumpeting your rightness or jumping up and down to defend yourself in public because you were so badly wronged makes you like like a damn’ idiot. (Note that OLQ handled the breakup privately for a reason!)
  • Never put anything in writing you don’t want to show up in court. This was not so applicable in my case. The legal issues were resolved without recourse to a court mediation. But if you’re facing one, remember that online forums ain’t private. Not even friends locks on LJs. Don’t be an idiot.
  • The children are children, not messengers, nor allies. Keep the kids out of it. Don’t badmouth the other parents to the kids. Remember, the kids love your exes, even if you might have stopped. Being a good parent in the face of emotional upheaval is hard, I’m not going to say otherwise. But suck it up, buttercup, ’cause you have a duty.
  • Of course you’re going to want to vent. Carefully choose to whom you will do so. Every time you say something privately to another person, it increases by an exponential factor the chance of what you were mouthing off about to get back to an ex and start drama. If you have a deep need to vent, a really deep need to just blow, get a professional counselor. If you want something nasty to get back to your ex, I’m sorry, I have scant sympathy. That’s bloody tacky. When it’s over, you shut up, suck it up and move on as best you can. Show a little damn’ class.

Anyway, this is about as much of an answer as I feel good about giving in terms of OLQ’s breakup and what have you. We’re still parents to the kids. We don’t have fights. We communicate about as well as can be expected in a very complex divorce. There are friendships among the exes, even if we’re not the Bestest Buddies Evah.

In my book, I call that good.

1And if I’ve not already discussed it with you privately, I’m going to decline to do so privately, too.

Meaningless Sex

Sex is only meaningful when you’re into having a long-term, committed relationship, right? It’s what polyamory is about, right? Committed relationships. We frown on people who “just have sex”.

That, my dears, is so much horse elbows.

First of all, there’s no such thing as “just sex”. That’s a lie adulterers try to tell to wiggle out of their perfidy, to make it seem as if the treachery really weren’t so.

Sex is always and forever tied up the heart and soul of who we are as people. It can be a power thing, a revenge thing, a sharing thing, an expression of soul, a demand of ego, a simple act of generosity and kindness. It can be compassionate, cruel, promoting of life and growth, or base and destructive.

It’s never meaningless. It’s too core to what it is to be human.

The mistake comes in, I think, when we throw a holy aura around some sexual relationships and not others — when we try to differentiate the specialness of one relationship over another in terms of sex.

I should be kinder than to batter your eyes with one of my infrequent attacks of poetry, but.. Well, I’m not.

Fuck the Fairy Tales

They can go to hell

With their “Happily Ever Afters”
And their endless repetitions of One True Love.

Worse than a lie
It’s a poisoned apple so shiny and lovely
That will choke you and leave you cold encased in glass.

The reality is that all Love is True
Or no Love is.

The glass slipper will shatter and slice
Your tender feet until you cannot take a step.

But in the field where your hands callus from the plow
The corn grows and falls in harvest.
Never forever

But…

The reality nourishes in a way
That no gingerbread house ever could.

The same could be said of sex. All sex is meaningful, or no sex is.

The thing is, sometimes the meaning is good — really good. Sometimes it’s not.

People develop their own touchstones for this. While I think “true love” and the whole drama nonsense is a bad one, there are things that can tell you if you’re on the right path.

For me, there is a sense of gratitude. Not as in, “Oh dear God, thank you for deigning to have sex with me.” That’s not very respectful of one’s self, after all. It’s more of a sense of, “I respect me and my individual self, and respect you and your individual self, and here we are sharing this sweet and human thing, isn’t it wonderful? Thank you for that!”

Proposals of contract? Promises of always and forever? You don’t need ‘em.

It’s never meaningless. And when you’re honest with yourself, you’re ensuring the meaning is good.

Woo! Hoo! An Interview!

Bryghteyez and Michael are a poly couple I’ve known for some years on the PolyFamilies list, as well as working with them on a couple of PolyFamilies CampCons. They graciously consented to be interviewed about their marriage and relationships.

1. How old were you both when you met?

Michael: Lesse, it was the spring of ’77, so I was twenty. Bryghteyez would’ve been eighteen.

2. How long were you together before you married?

Bryghteyez: Our first official date was 3/17/1977 and we were married 8/25/1979, so, about 2 1/2 years. I think this is important, because I see so many people getting married when they haven’t known each other very long, or moving someone into their home on short acquaintance while still in the throes of NRE, without really taking the time to get to know each other.

I didn’t want to get married. Time Enough for Love convinced me to marry him. I saw possibilities in that book that I thought I could live with over 50 years, unlike the patterns of a lot of the marriages I saw around me. I couldn’t bear the idea of someone thinking of me as property and, coming from a rural area in upstate NY, that was the norm. Don’t misunderstand, most of our family members were married for the long haul – but that kind of being chained down didn’t and doesn’t work for me. Luckily, I met a man who was willing to let me be the person I was and has the patience to put up with my temper.

3. How long have you been married?

Bryghteyez and Michael: Twenty-seven years.

4. Did the relationship start out polyamorous? If not, what made you decide to go poly?

Michael: More or less, but we were making it up as we went along. I’ve always had a hand in music somehow or other, but until we moved to Virginia I’d never considered making a full-time living at it. After we got here and I discovered that I could get paid a weekly wage for playing bass, I spent the next twelve years or so doing just that. Being on the road and away from Bryghteyez as much as I was would’ve put a much larger strain on our relationship than it did if we hadn’t had the “open” relationship we have. I’ve worked with a great many musicians who tried to maintain conventional relationships while out on the road, and they never seemed to work as smoothly as mine did with Bryghteyez. In fact, watching the other guys dog their way through one club after another made me appreciate my not having to lie and hide things from her that much more. I will confess to having fallen into the trap of trying to keep my activities hidden from her, but it blew up in my face spectacularly enough that I really don’t want that to ever happen again.

Once we found out what “poly” meant, we’ve more or less embraced the concept wholeheartedly. It’s interesting to find out that our views on relationships have been more or less legitimized. We thought for a long time that we were the only ones, or some of a very rare few, who viewed our marriage the way we do.

Bryghteyez: For starters, I didn’t know the word. Having said that, we didn’t have an exclusive relationship pretty much from the start. MK graduated college at the end of my freshman year and was spending the summer away playing in a band (story of our lives together). I told him I had no intention of staying home alone all summer and didn’t expect he would either. After he picked his jaw off the floor…well, I’m still around

5. How did you get involved in the “Polyamory Community”? What is the present nature of your involvement? (Workshops, discussions, cons, etc)

Bryghteyez: Well, we had a quad blow up in our face and MK wanted to know why. He did some research online and found a local poly group and polyfamilies and got very excited about telling me we weren’t the only ones.

Well, we had a quad blow up in our face and MK wanted to know why. He did some research online and found a local poly group and polyfamilies and got very excited about telling me we weren’t the only ones.

I belong to the polyfamilies list and we are members of one local poly group and there seems to be another one starting up that I am involved with. I’ve been a member of the Board of the local group for the last 4 years. We participate in local dinners, discussion groups and workshops. Been to 2 PolyFamCampCons. I’ve been to a couple of PolyCamps in WV, one with MK, one without. I’ve facilitated a lot of discussion groups, including a series called Practical Poly for the local group covering topics like How to Keep House with a Multi-Adult Household Without Killing Someone, Rules of Engagement – or How to Argue Effectively, Financial Arrangements, Kids and Discipline, How to Deal with The Relatives, Legal Necessities, What NOT to Do?, BDSM & Poly, etc. When I am teaching, I prefer a seminar or discussion group approach rather than lecturing, even though I might do an introductory short lecture of some sort.

Michael: Bryghteyez has already related the disaster our first attempt at a quad turned out to be, so I won’t recap that. Somehow or other, and I still can’t really remember how, I stumbled over the term “polyamory” while on line one day, and decided to pursue it in order to find out where our plans went wrong. We were both hurting pretty badly over how it all turned out, and my initial interest was in finding out how we could avoid such in the future. I distinctly remember Bryghteyez coming into the study while I was doing the search, reading what I had up on the computer screen, and saying “I thought we tried that and it didn’t work.” My reply was “I know. I’m trying to figure out what we did wrong,” or some such. After that I discovered that there was a polyamory organization right here in Tidewater, joined it, and started to investigate its resources. Bryghteyez was sufficiently intrigued by the things I was relating to her from my search to check out the site herself. She subsequently joined, and spent a few years on the board of directors.

Our involvement in that group has mostly to do with attending special events the group sponsors, along with occasionally hosting events ourselves. “Practical Poly: What Not To Do” is a big seller.

6. How do you feel about your present relationships?

Michael: Given that I currently have none outside of my marriage, I can’t really say for myself. As regards the relationships Bryghteyez has going, I have no problem with them. Humans being the multi-faceted beings we are, I’m not threatened by her actions in going out to find relationships that let her explore the facets of her character that don’t get much attention from our marriage. It makes her a happier, more “whole” person, and I can’t help but benefit from that.

Bryghteyez: Very warm and fuzzy. No, seriously. Last weekend, I went to spend the weekend with a new long distance partner, whom I’ve known for a while, casually, but with whom things have gotten fairly intense recently. His primary girlfriend made a point of chatting with me online, taking the time to get to know me a little and letting me know how much she was looking forward to meeting me. My husband helped me pack the car and asked me to stop by his office on my way out of town so he could send me off with a hug and a kiss. My local sweetie of several years made a point of calling me that afternoon to wish me a lovely trip and a lot of fun.

What more could a woman want? Really.

7. How do you feel that they’re working out?

Michael: When I have one that works, I’ll let you know. I have a bad habit of rushing into something new way before it’s strong enough to withstand that much attention, and over the last few years I’ve had several budding relationships tank as a result. I find myself more than a bit gunshy over starting anything new, but I do have some close friendships that I hold dear.

Bryghteyez: Everyone involved is poly and has been for quite a while. All of us are adults. By that, I mean, none of us are into ‘drama’ and most of us are very good at communicating our needs and desires. Those that aren’t, are learning.

8. What sort of relationship challenges do you face? Do you ever feel like you’ve fallen flat on your face in them? If so, how do you handle that?

Michael: “Fallen flat on my face”? All the time. My biggest challenge, as I stated beforehand, is to keep my feelings from running away with me to the point where the other person in the bright, shiny, new relationship doesn’t feel buried or smothered. Scared off quite a few that way, I have indeed.

Consequently, I tend to hold back more than I probably should. There’s an inherent dilemma in that: If I show too much interest too soon, I tend to scare people off. If, on the other hand, I hold back and try to let things progress as they naturally will, I tend to act as though there’s not much interest there, and things never get off the ground. All in all, I’d rather take things slowly and preserve a friendship rather than rush things too far and break that friendship from too much weight and pressure. I don’t go out on a lot of dates as a result, but there are warm hugs and kisses waiting for me here and there.

Bryghteyez: Hell, yes!

If so, how do you handle that?

Oh, you want details? About 10 years ago, I got involved with a guy, K, to whom I had explained and thought he understood about our marriage being ‘open’ (best term I had for it at the time). Within a couple of months, he had moved in with us and so had a partner of M’s, J, who was coming off an abusive marriage. K & J barely knew each other when they moved in with us. Mistake #1. K was lazy as sin and didn’t seem to understand my house rules about everyone working, paying rent and doing housework. Mistake #2. M and K were both pretty fixated on me, leaving J feeling odd-woman-out. Mistake #3.

At the time, M was still out on the road, so he was only home 2-3 days a week most of the time. Our son was a young teen.

J moved out. She couldn’t take feeling like second string, and really didn’t understand poly – still doesn’t for that matter. We are still close with her, but she is much happier now that she’s been married 5 years to someone who is laid back and comfortable with her being who she is.

K eventually made it clear to me, after it was clear to everyone else with eyes, I might add, that he was trying to break up my marriage and wanted me to himself.

M nearly had a nervous breakdown and gave me an ultimatum – the only one of our marriage – him or K. K moved out.

M and I spent the next year putting our marriage back together. We spent time learning to communicate all over again. We had separate rooms for a while. We passed a notebook back and forth to talk about the stuff we had trouble talking about face to face.

Sheer cussedness kept us together. Neither of us were willing to give up on the other.

It was nearly 5 years before I was willing to take a chance on another relationship and I’m glad I did.

9. What effect do you feel being poly has on your marriage?

Michael: It’s opened a great many doors to communication and conversation that would otherwise never even be recognized as being there, much less opened. We’re much closer, as a result. There isn’t a whole lot that we either can’t or don’t discuss, much to the embarrassment of our son’s friends.

Bryghteyez: In the long run, it has made us stronger, more self-sufficient – and if we weren’t poly, we probably wouldn’t still be married.

10. If you could go back to your younger self, what advice on poly would you give?

Bryghteyez: Don’t ever forget the rules:

1: Treat others as you wish to be treated

2: Only sleep with friends

Every time I’ve ignored one or the other, I’ve gotten into trouble.

Michael: Slow down, dammit! Loving someone new doesn’t require flipping head over heels and drowning in NRE. It’s a holdover from my teenage years, one that I’m still having trouble handling now and again.

Thanks to the both of you for being willing to be so frank! Here’s to 27 more years!

I’m okay, you suck

As is often the case, I had my cranky pants on during an Internet discussion and started ranting about how fringe groups often like to get self-congratulatory about what better people they are. This ain’t a polyamorous phenomenon, mind. As far as I can tell, it’s part of the Human Experience.

It does drive me up a freakin’ wall, however, and I boggled in my personal blog about why this should be so. It must serve a need or people wouldn’t do it.

I got this back from the author of What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory: (And check that out, it’s good!)

…fringe isn’t better, it’s simply equal. But, since there often isn’t equality, people look for the added security of bolstered pride. Poly is no better than mono; it’s worth fighting for equal rights for, but not because it’s better – just because it’s ok, and should be seen as ok.

I loved this.

Oh yeah, sure, be a credit to your kink and all. That’s great. Go for it and be a good person if that’s your heart’s desire. I don’t go back on that, and yes, the more poly people who have their shit together, the better.

But poly isn’t better. It’s okay – just like monogamy is okay.

There’s often a compensation syndrome going on, and I do understand that. When OLQ1 was together, I can recall all four of us discussing the pressure we felt to be Very Good Parents because of our lifestyle. Not that we’re not motivated to try to be as good parents as we can for our kids’ sake, but we did feel a lot of pressure from the outside to keep from being judged. We were concerned that screwups would be attributed to the lifestyle, rather than the fact that we’re bloody human.

You get it with other things, too. There’s a tendency to blame every damn’ thing that goes wrong on lifestyle. Sometimes… Well, sometimes your relationships do suck and you need to get your head out of your ass.

Sometimes… Well, sometimes it’s Just Life.

I do look forward to the day when fringe groups in general are judged by the same standards are the rest of the world. The internal motivation to be a credit to your kink, or be the best person you can be is great. The thing is, it’s that external pressure to be more together/a better parent/more loving/whatever isn’t really productive, nor does it promote honest equality.

1Our Little Quad. I used to live in a group marriage and that’s how we referred to ourselves on the internet. Be careful how you name yourself, ’cause that shit can stick ;)

Ducks in a Row

Poly people out there, do you have your legal ducks in a row?

Most of these things are legal documents that anyone, poly or not, should have in order. Thing is, because polyamorous situations can muddy legal waters, it’s important to have your wishes clear. Not all of the documents will apply to all poly situations, but many are important.

  • Who should be contacted in case of an emergency? Is this written down anywhere? (I actually have a “drop dead” file that I made when I went in for surgery once. Everything that people will need to take care of stuff if I drop dead is in that file — legal and routine).
  • Who do you want to allow to visit you in the hospital? You can have this information on file with your primary care physician as well as your local hospital.
  • Do you have a living will?
  • Do you want anyone to have medical power of attorney? If so, do you have the paperwork on file for this?
  • What about a “real” will? Even if you don’t own significant property, you’ve seen fights over who gets Grandma’s pearls, or a silver teapot. Don’t do this to the people you love.
  • If you do own significant property where probate would disrupt people’s lives, you might want to consider a living trust.
  • If you have kids, do you have guardianship documents? Poly situations can get sticky. You’re going to want child care authorizations for anyone who you want looking after your child on a regular basis. You want to make sure your will clearly establishes your guardianship wishes if something happens while the kids are still young (You really really don’t want to leave this to the whims of the courts!) If you have any children with whom you have no legal relationship but to whom you have assumed a responsibility, I strongly suggest either a life insurance policy with that child as a beneficiary (they’re not that expensive) or a joint bank account that you contribute to regularly with the child having rights of survivorship.

This is not a comprehensive list, but is meant to get you to thinking: Are there situations as a poly person that might be outside the box where you will have to deal with a bureaucracy? If so, there are usually ways to make sure that you get what you want for you and your loves, but you do need to make a special effort to make sure any necessary paperwork is on file.

Remember, polyamory is about love. Make sure you’re thinking about the people you love here.


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“Just Friends”

Gather ye ’round little poly chilluns, ’cause Mama Java’s about to go off yet again. (I’m beginning to suspect peri-menopause…)

What the unholy fuck is up with you nutcases and “Spiritually Polyamorous” or “Platonically Polyamorous”?

What’s wrong with the good, old-fashioned word for it:

Friends

I mean, really people, what’s with the “special” words and terms? Are you afraid that’s not good enough for you? Why in hell would you want to insult the concept of friendship by saying that if you don’t use a special word for the relationship, then relationship is somehow diminished? I don’t know about you, but for me, friendship is pretty damned valuable. If I call you my friend, buddy, I value the relationship.

I have news for you guys. While I concede that polyamory is not all about sex or romance, sex and romance are most certainly part of it.

I have a friend. I think the world of this person — funny, smart, amazingly wise about the human condition. We’re both poly, but ya know what? We’re friends. Not “just friends” as if things are diminished. We’re friends — and that’s a valuable thing!

I think of there is no sex or romance involved, no, it’s not a poly relationship. It might be important. You might treasure it. And you know what, treasuring your relationships, sexual or not is good. Loving someone is never a bad thing to do! You don’t need a special word to make it “more important”. Friends is good. Honest. Even when you’re really, really close.

I have a strong dislike of the contortions to try to make it seem like we’re “not bad” in the eyes of the monogamous because “it isn’t ABOUT sex”.

NO relationship is ever about just one thing. Any monogamously married person with a successful relationship would agree that his marriage is not ABOUT sex. The thing is, it’s not about “not sex”, either. There is that component.

I have friends that I love very much. We use the phrase “I love you” to each other and by God we mean it. But there’s no romantic component. These aren’t people I would kiss or “go further” with. But love. Yes. Deeply. These are people I know down into their bones, know their foibles and faults, as well as their triumphs and strengths and I love them. I just love them. No big deal. Nothing dramatic.

I’m not weird or unusual in this. I’m hardly some specially-evolved loving being. These are things that any healthy adult experiences. It’s… it’s so normal.

It’s why things like “emotionally poly” or “platonically poly” really frustrate me. What the hell has happened to the very simple, natural human concept of “love” that we need to tie it in to a movement that by god did have its genesis in multiple loving sexual partners? Has our view of something so natural and human gotten that whacked that we need something special and dramatic when we love our friends? To me, it smacks of needing to be a special little snowflake 1. You’re not. Honest. There’s very little in love and romance that’s not part of the human condition –really.

But, it’s a good part of the human condition. Celebrate it, sure.

Just cut it with the dramatic language to make it something it ain’t, ‘kay?

1 I’d attribute that expression if I could. I’ve seen it running around in a few places and I really love it!


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Journey of Self-Discovery

If I see one more person act like being poly is a journey of self-discovery (as if that’s what makes poly valuable) I may vomit — Or at least make myself a stiff martini as anesthesia.

That martini becomes a double if it sneers at monogamous people for not doing it. No, better yet, go find a monastery, any religion you choose, and tell them that because they’re not poly no-one there is on a journey of self discovery. Though, monks and nuns, generally being more spiritual and evolved than I am, would probably just smile and say, “Is that so?” and go back to adding to the calluses and meditating on other things.

If life isn’t a journey of discovery for you, you’re missing the point, I don’t give a damn what you’re doing with the slippery bits.

Polyamory is not better than monogamy. It’s just different. It’s a taste, and it’s a taste that in a sane would would be no more significant than a preference for Coke or Pepsi. Poly people aren’t better or stronger or nicer or more loving.

We’re just people, for heaven’s sake.


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