What poly means can vary. For my own life, I don’t like the term polyamorous–I like non-monogamy or open relationship. Openness feels happy, for me–like the sky. Open field, open heart.
Poly makes me think of parrots, polygons, and annoying, selfish white people who think they’re the center of the world. Their relationships seem extra privilegey, and a level of pc denial is required. Like advertising themselves as anti-racist, environmentalist, and progressive in whatever ways, while enjoying middle class suburban comforts all fucking day, and complaining.
Or they will pose as radical, while being misogynist in a conventional way, and I’m not supposed to notice that. It might take me a minute to notice, actually. Meanwhile, they’re getting laid, connecting with many interesting people, and building their messed up empire. Yuck. I’ll be excluded for seeing through their performance, or excluded for not being a young, thin, abled woman they want to fuck, and suffer for that.
Poly as a label reminds me of exploitation pretending not to be, self-congratulation, bitterness, and bickering. It’s a style thing.
Probably I actually have tons in common with poly people. But what poly means to me is pain. Probably I just knew too many assholes who said their were poly, and used that to cloak how they were using people. I got turned off.
Probably like non-violent communication has been used to hurt me, also by self-congratulating, privileged white people. I just had to flee, rejecting the stuffed animal giraffe. I don’t need a system for how to communicate–I can already communicate.
If I tried to say the emperor had no clothes, the system itself had a momentum to it, and my voice was ignored. So I just wandered away. Some people like a neat system, but I get creeped out by that. I can take bits of something, but I don’t feel safe swallowing it whole.
The vagueness of the term open relationship suits me. Open like–what does that mean? You’d have to ask. And I like the way non-monogamy is precise yet general. Precisely general.
I’ve been assumed about. I’ll talk with a dommy white guy who goes to poly meetups, has three girlfriends, and thinks highly of himself. He explains to me what a unicorn is, and I nod, listening.
He’s assumed I have no idea what unicorn could mean. Probably he knows I’m bi, but he doesn’t know I was unicorn hunted as a teenager in the 1990s, while he was eating Trix cereal and watching cartoons. Silly rabbit.
In the 1990s, we called it sex radical. It seemed more raw and real. Poly feels a little sanitized, to me.
My pagan poet friends in the 1990s were doing it with one another exuberantly. Their sluttiness was mostly ethical, yeah. About pleasure, but also saying fuck you to a world that had not met their needs. Sex radicalism seemed more grounded in queer joy and powerful bodily resistance. While poly seems to mean approved variations on mainstream, normal ways of doing relationship.
When people assume about me–assume monogamy, my background or education, even where my parents were born or what’s important to me–sometimes I let them. Changing their minds doesn’t seem important. I ask my spouse afterward–what did you think when so and so said such and such? We laugh.
I guess it’s about privacy and safety. Do I feel safe telling these locally powerful, complainy white people the relationship details of my life? Nope. They would use that info to get something, because they use every resource to get something.
what a label is for
A term is useful so you can hand someone a label rather than a long paragraph or two explaining the nuances of what you do. Kind of like a diagnosis. What will using this term get me? Will it increase or decrease understanding? Will it help my well-being or anyone’s?
What people mean by poly can wildly vary. That’s dangerous because if someone smiles and says, “Oh, cool. I’m poly too,” then they can think they do the same thing. But their practices can be very different.
I’m thinking relationship anarchy vs super defined and hierarchical “I have my primary, and then I have a girlfriend, and we know our roles, expectations, responsibilities, and do them gladly. With synchronized google calendars.”
I don’t want a cold contract, but I also don’t want a confusing free for all, with a lot of chaos and risk. Clarity is important to me. Yet I need spontaneous and looseness too, in open relationship.
Cultivating judgment isn’t my idea of fun–demanding perfection is a sad trap. I don’t want to be rigid with myself or anyone. Yet I need some basic trustworthiness.
Hearing the phrase happily married has always amused me. Someone would say they were happily married, and it seemed like a warning. Code for: stay away–I’m happily married. Like a big wedding ring–this is a heavy symbol of my relationship, on hand at all times. Don’t mess with my relationship.
Me thinks thou dost say happily married too much. I always wonder, about the super heavy wedding ring people. I don’t wear a wedding ring at all, expect for special occasions where I’m trying to avoid being hit on.
I’m very happily married. But when I say that, I mean the opposite of stay away. My spouse can’t meet all of my social and sexual needs. I need other people to be close to. It feels healthy and good, to say that. Naked truth, nothing about failure.
The happiness of my marriage helps make me safe enough to go out into the world with an open heart, ready to love. I have well-being that lets me engage people honestly. Being happily married is an important part of who I am.
Seems many people become poly because of a problem in their partner relationship. If there’s a difference in sexual desire or sexual practices–go poly! If you’re lonely, misunderstood, or hurting in this relationship, add another relationship where your needs will be met.
Not saying that’s wrong. But for me, the motivation was never like that. I’m really a slut, for reals. Born that way? Yes, before I was even having sex, I was not a single-sourcing person.
Diversity is important for my well-being. Diversity is a basic permaculture design concept: backups for your backups. If one crop fails, another could succeed. If a harlequin bug destroys your tree collards, you’ll still have your beet greens.
But I’ve heard diversity is also good for genes and strength. And delicious fun. I don’t want to live on McDonalds–yuck! I want tons of choices–many rich, wild flavors. Multi cultures, tastes, textures, spices–I need specialized, not generalized. I have weird needs, as a disabled, crazy, non-neurotypical person. Standard has never worked well for me.
I am bad at casual. I love and connect tenderly, and my bonding is tight. Some people think poly means sex without love, or less love.
I love first, ask questions later. The love can include need. Some people don’t want to be needed, and aren’t up for that.
Many people aren’t up for clear communication. Honesty, follow-through. A good mix of fun and stress. I mean the ratio needs to be right–a lot more fun than stress.
There are a few poly archetypes I have in my head. I told you about the Mildly Sociopathic Horny Radical Organizer Who Uses Polyamory to Cover Mainstream Misogynist Fuckery archetype. And I hinted at the Whiny White Rich Person Who Is Oppressed By Their Freedom archetype. There are a few others!
New Clueless Experimenter Who Thinks Anything Goes is someone I avoid. Lonely Awkward Boring Person Becoming Angry While Searching and Failing–no way do I want to talk with that person.
Charming Poly Scene Queen can be fun to engage, but she’s really busy. Wild Queer Pierced Fire Dancer Who Laughs Loudly can be fun to watch dance in the river bed, but they’re really busy too. They are already doing it with six people and barely glance at me.
What poly means is probably something better for you than it is for me. I hope your experiences have been satisfying. Love to the lovers.