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[personal profile] angelak
Here's a breakdown that I think is helpful to folks who haven't mentally envisioned what it's like to be non monogamous in a not-deceiving fashion.

Imagine for a moment you have the following 2 situations:

1: You have 2 children.

2: You have 2 parents (with whom you get along and had a mostly healthy relationship with).


Situation #1:
You have a daughter and a son. They're completely different people. Having one child would never prevent you from loving the second child. Your interactions with the two children are entirely different, but you feel the same levels of caring and love. Their personalities are different from each other, they have different strengths and weaknesses, preferences and dislikes. Even your wife or husband has a different connection with the children. In fact, having these kids doesn't withdraw your love from your spouse for that matter, or the other child. You do, however - have to manage your time differently surrounding extra personal connections with these fellow humans, your offspring. You also connect totally differently based off of who you are, and who they are. You structure your life based off of what people exist in it, this includes kids.
Much is the same in regards to adding relationships that are possibly more than friendships.


Situation #2:
You have two parents. You do not love your mother or father more than the other. Or do you? Would you ever socially say as much? Probably not if you did. (This supposes you have a relatively healthy connection to both of them). You may have a preference for one, or perhaps you like your Mom in some situations better than your Dad. Or vice versa. They fulfill different roles possibly. Maybe they do fulfill different roles, or maybe not. This happens with partners too, if you have more than one. Preference for differing roles does in fact happen, but it isn't to say you necessarily have a "favorite." And if you did, you'd be a total jackass who didn't deserve either/any partners, because bringing that to light is truly an asshole move. In my not so humble opinion.


To move on to a third example for aid in understanding this - one could say you have no limit to the number of friends you have. Everyone's friend circle differs a bit, including the severity of each friendship. Perhaps you have a personal preference also on how many and how close they are, but that doesn't mean because you have ONE friend, you stop connecting with others and refuse more friendships. This is similar to how poly folks view relationships.


Polyamory differs often from swinging. Swinging is purely a physical thing most often, where polyamory most often is based off of emotional connections that may also have physical aspects like a "regular romantic relationship." (Commonly accepted mainstream vision.) It may not, though. Some do have more casual physical encounters than others. It really depends on the individual who practices the open relationship lifestyle. Configurations differ in as many ways as you can imagine.


This also brings up other considerations. The idea that someone is poly and wants endless partners is pretty inaccurate. Just as some people choose to have 1 or 2 kids, or maybe others are OK with 5... but most people aren't OK with 5... the same is true of poly partners.

I do not like to have more than 3 people who I date and schedule as romantic connections in my orbit at once. Mostly because I also like to have friends without romance too!!!! And jobs and other family members.

3 is too many as far as I am concerned depending on the levels of the relationships. Which is my biggest conflict right now. I have two "primary" type men in my life. This is a lot. I stopped seeing my other guy not because we broke up - but because I met a second "primary" type connection. We're still open to connect if we get the chance; he consequently took another lover because I became a bit more scarce. It wasn't a bad thing. That or he just likes lotsa ladies. And the ladies like him ;)

MY definition of Primary partner is as follows:
The kind of person you basically live with and make major life decisions with, is what I call a primary.

There are what some call "secondaries," which is not to say they are less important, but they play a different role in ones' life. Some people actually reject these categories because they feel it reduces people to being less important than others. I just need classifications sometimes; but not to raise someone above others. I also try not to do this to my friends, either. But I do have a couple of people that I call my "best friend."
Back the idea of a secondary partner: Maybe you only see them once a week or once a month. You probably don't make your financial decisions or living arrangements different for these secondary kind of boyfriends or girlfriends.

The other thing is that EVERYONE runs it a little differently. That's true of monogamous people, but you'd never know because no one ever talks about how each monogamous relationship is different.


Speaking of this - with Jim, I often found him looking for potential partners with folks who were not already poly. I tried to coach him into the idea that he must search in the right places. For one because you get a shit ton of rejection if you don't seek out already poly folks.
Also because it is, as I see it - mostly unwise and searching for failure to look for single people who are monogamy minded. Not cool for them and not cool for you. I am entirely uninterested in men, for instance, who are married monogamously. There are often people who worry when they hear about poly that these folks are freaks with no rules or no regard for respecting anyone. I really am only interested in people who are honest, and who also want to have this lifestyle for themselves. Which includes total transparency.

The notion that poly folks have no regard or rules? It could pretty much not be further from the truth. The notion that I'd ever be interested in a cheating spouse. YUCK. (I've had women think that simply because I was poly, I wanted to "Steal" their boyfriend or husband. No, thank you. People are SERIOUSLY not objects or property to be owned by me anyway.

That said, a poly relationship does not operate that differently than any other. It would be unacceptable and disrespectful to evade conflict with one partner by going to the other partner. Possibly even abusive. These scenarios may happen with some people (Just as monogamous people do terrible things to some of their partners). The question was posed to me if I am angry at one man, do I rush off to the other one. This does not solve a problem that arises between me and the first guy. That's not a very kind way to treat a partner. Someone that you love and care for. That's pretty rude, and what I see as somewhat abusive. If you cannot confront conflict in one relationship, this relationship is headed for ultimate doom eventually. It will not turn out well. You are probably not ready for more than one relationship, or maybe you need to do work on yourself before you even have a single, solitary, monogamous partner. These are bad ways to treat anyone in any relationship configuration.

Given that I was with my boyfriend for years before I had other partners, I definitely did not develop the habit of being a jerk to him when we had problems. Personally, I try a lot harder in a poly environment to be kind and gentle with my partners than I do in monogamy. I have in fact done both relationship setups, and I can be either poly or mono. Some people cannot be poly, others cannot successfully be monogamous. It's true. We're all different. The biggest thing I found fascinating upon learning about polyamory is that there was a default setting; but also options BEYOND the commonly accepted and assumed monogamy model. I HAD NO IDEA. And the big thing is the knowledge to choose what works for you, rather than accept blindly what everyone says you must do.

To go back to what I was saying prior:
I work really hard to be fair, to hear people out, to communicate, and not to squash and crush someone's heart and feelings. My feelings of love create the urge to do right by these people. Even in moments of stress and difficulty. Especially in those moments.

​People that you have around in your life, it is best to treat them well. Like your children, friends, or parents. Family members. My polyamorous partners are my family.

Some people fail at treating others well. Some people don't fail at that. This logic transfers over. Some people are amazing to their wives and husbands. Some are not. I'm a pretty loyal person. I operate off of as much compassion as I can. I worry a lot about how someone feels, what my actions do to the emotions of others. I think about it a lot more than I wish I did at times. ​How you handle poly interactions, communications, changeovers, plans, guidelines and rules, committing to following through with what you've agreed with between everyone - that all has direct consequence. Sometimes the consequences are quicker and more ugly or more beautiful in poly setups. I have worked a lot and observed and trial/error'd a lot of this. I still worry I will botch it up. Sometimes I do. I try and understand when my partners make mistakes, that I must be forgiving for the same reason that I cannot be perfect either.

This is basically how I view polyamory in my life.

Details?

I have a calendar. There are basically days I spend in one house and days I spend in the other house. It is difficult at times. But we do this to children when folks divorce, so how bad can it be for an adult? In fact, I understand the challenges of what children of divorcees must feel. Sometimes it's totally fine. Other times it really, really sucks.

As far as being out about polyamory. Some people I'm ok with sharing. Other times I want to appear normal like everyone else. Nothing in my life has run as it tends to for mainstream people. There are moments I like to pretend, just for a little while, that nothing is weird/abnormal/constantly questioned, or worse - judged negatively, and invalidated.

The last concept I feel inclined to address about this is the concept that if you are dating more than one person, that you are not truly committed.
I'd like to say if that if someone has love for someone else, and that breaks your commitment - this is in my eyes, a different level of commitment. The actuality of my husband or boyfriend being in love with another man or woman and NOT breaking my union or relationship ACTUALLY expresses a different kind of commitment. To remain together and appreciate that they value someone else as well as you, IS commitment too. Commonly accepted cultural views say that being "exclusive" is the only way to have commitment. This is wrong. I commit to loving my men regardless of who else they may fall in love with and become physical with - provided we follow guidelines and agreements that we've come to. Because if you break guidelines and agreements, this qualifies as cheating - whether you are monogamous, or polyamorous. If you can support somebody connecting with others and still have a strong, loving relationship - I argue directly that this has nothing to do with lacking commitment, but rather just the opposite.

And when I am in poly places, it feels good to know I am not alone, that I am not a freak, and that my problems and struggles are normal too. To feel understood. There are times that being misunderstood about my open relationships is frustrating. Especially if they're wildly inaccurate, or terribly unfair notions, that may make me appear to be anything less than what I really am.

-Angela

Date: 2014-10-14 05:59 pm (UTC)
glitch25: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glitch25
I like this a lot. It covers a lot of similar ground, but I know you know this. :-)

Very well put, very good thoughts, and thanks for sharing. :-)

Date: 2017-04-20 05:37 am (UTC)
rememberlove: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rememberlove
Yes! Thank you for sharing this post. I am going through a break up and it very much helps to relate to the idea of people running off to other people (be it a stranger, friend or their parents) instead of facing their relationship problems with each other; that is something that I have experienced and it was quite disappointing for me! Great posts and keep doing your thing!

With love and light.
Edited Date: 2017-04-20 05:38 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-07-06 11:14 am (UTC)
duncan_lory: me recent (Default)
From: [personal profile] duncan_lory
the stuff you describe about polyamory is fascinating. Even more so, the stuff you say about people's attitudes and how the way they treat people transfers over.

Most enlightening, is what you say about your own approach and attitude -it really has me thinking about my own situation - not polyamory exactly but not conventional (she's married, I am not).

Your approach relationships with such honesty and integrity - such genuine regard for the feelings of those who you're with...

Your attitude seems less selfish and more faithful that most monogamous women I know. You say, "I work really hard to be fair, to hear people out, to communicate, and not to squash and crush someone's heart and feelings. My feelings of love create the urge to do right by these people." - amazing sentiment and literally, completely, opposite to the attitude and behavior of the person I've been in a difficult relationship with.

I think I've been fooling myself in blaming all the problems and all of her abusive behavior on her marriage. You've totally made me see that it isn't the situation that controls the nature of a person, it's the person that determines the nature of the situation. If my lover was half as caring as you, her being married would not be an issue.

Thanks for sharing about your unique situation - you've changed my perception of those who choose polyamory - like you mentioned, viewed them sort of like swingers.

I haven't seen many of your posts yet, hopefully you have written more on these topics, or do so in the future.

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