Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ten Reasons Why Polyamory Works for Me

A brief treatment on ten reasons why polyamory works for me.

1. I'm a workaholic. 

Anyone who knows me would probably say work is my passion and it's difficult to distinguish between when I'm working, playing, or just hanging out. I run my own business, I teach, and I'm just immersed in what I do, so I don't have a tremendous amount of time. Polyamory allows me to, well, timeshare, so that my partner's needs are met and she doesn't feel otherwise totally neglected. I enjoy that kind of flexibility and, I would imagine, so would anyone else with a similar preoccupation or passion - that they don't need to devote themselves to either career or relationships but can balance the needs between them.

2. I'm an extroverted and flirty person.

No, really: I am. I like being the center of attention and I like hanging out with women so I naturally gravitate to polyamory. There's almost a license to flirt in this lifestyle. I can't imagine going to a casual social event with a monogamous wife and then chatting up or just friendly-frisking another woman... I mean, I dared touch fire thus she'd chain me to a rock and my liver would be torn from my body and fed to the vultures. Luckily, not only does PolyFulcrum let me touch fire, she _hands_ me the fire. She says, "Here, juggle the fire", "Play with the fire", "Burn with the fire". That kind of encouragement is extraordinary and really represents an insight into my personality and a permissiveness that only comes with total confidence in our relationship. That's pretty cool.

3. I'm convinced that not one person can satisfy all needs.

I've been down the serial monogamy road and I've married and I've cheated a couple of times. It was always that game of hiding your feelings or concealing your true nature to avoid scandal and disappointment. Cheating, by its sheer connotation, defies our base nature: we're not naturally monogamous but are culturally conditioned for monogamy. If we're to believe that one person satisfies all needs, then we presume that our needs are fixed in time and we never evolve or grow as a person. That's shameful. What's worse if we try to deny it, or, hide that base nature to present a face of moral self-righteousness to others. I openly admit to my base nature - I think that's brave; I think the cowardly conceal their true selves behind curtain of religion, social norms, and monogamy to spin perception. They lie - boldly - to themselves and others, and I think the hidden truth of their own proclivities eats them... painfully.     

4. I'm community-oriented.

I feel more at home when I'm surrounded my others that I know; not in crowds, mind you, but with friends and people that I can trust. I like participating in events and cooking for others. I like having 30+ people in my house talking, engaging, and laughing, and being who they are without compromise. I like discussions, challenges to thoughts and perceptions, open debate on what really matters. I am very motivated my people around me and I'm inspired by the daily heroism of my friends that would otherwise go unnoticed by media. My interconnections are meaningful to me.

5. I'm a critical thinker.

I've always questioned assumption and the mondo-awesome big ones surround the nature of thought itself: how society has shaped perception and values. I'm sooo into questioning authority and I really have enjoyed how polyamory has allowed me to step outside of the box and evaluate my socially-engineered preconceptions. I feel polyamory has liberated my thought to a new level - that I can transcend (mentally) above what is "expected" or "required" and critically examine, "What is right for me" or "What is right for them" without judgment or opinion. Polyamory allows me to perceive life more critically, more objectively, than I would ever had imagined. 

6. I like to push my boundaries.

I like to question authority and I like to question myself. There is a natural sense of unease when attending a 200+ person event and everyone is getting naked for sex and masturbation, whereas there's an equal queasiness when sitting down with your partner alone to talk about your feelings. I love - just love! - feeling that sensation, the twinge of something sour in your gut with anxiety and fear making your heart pump faster, and you hear that ringing in your ears, and you're flushed, and you're excited, fighting back the response to run away. I love feeling that, controlling it, and containing it. It directly applies to my love life and my ability to tolerate change in my career/workplace. Polyamory provides a training ground for testing yourself and training for important tasks yet to do in your life.

7. I'm into sci-fi, role-playing, and I'm a geek.

I always have been although one of my ex-wives tried to convince me that there were undesirable qualities in these passions, and I tried to change myself from my base nature. It's taken some doing for me to come "back" into these passions and try to find a good place for them now, but these things are at my core nature. I guess my central set of friends (PolyGestalt being one of them) had always known that. Meanwhile, like I mentioned earlier, these things are really prevalent in the poly community - it just seems like a natural fit! I can't deny who I am, Captain! And I don't have to ... not anymore!

8. I trust my friends and like reinforcing friendships.

My best friends are lovers. They always have been and why should that stop simply because I fell in love with someone? I appreciate the way that polyamory looks at friendship and sexuality as simply an extension and not a race to a finish-line like traditional relationship systems.  It's not about "bases" and "scoring" when it comes to polyamory. I really appreciate the long-term approach without assumption or precondition or expectations.

9. I enjoy to create relationships on my own terms.

I do like the idea of being able to create the idea of a "relationship" in my own terms and my own sense of expression, and that I don't need to follow a mold. When I can refer to my girlfriend's husband's girlfriend in a sentence, this is somehow liberating for me. I can look at people through a lens of relationships instead of a lens of ownership - who is owned by whom - which seems blatantly diminishing of the person. I see people for who they really are and not within the context of their manufactured legal and social presentation. 

10. The parties rock.

Truly, I have so been to the wrong parties in my life. I've been hanging out with the wrong crowd. These poly people... they host the right parties. People talk, flirt, relate openly through touch, critically analyze problems and talk about them, and often get naked, hit themselves with leather implements, and enjoy each other's company in a very natural and very exciting way - sure does put a spin on Saturday evening options. "Hey hun: dinner and a movie, or, dinner, snuggle, and play with James, Jennie, Jackie, and Jake?" Forget the mega pixels: polyamory is living in high definition, baby, yeah! 



livingtotears said...

i've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of connecting polyamory to the premise that one person cannot meet all my needs.

i'd been monogamous for most of my life, and never had a monogamous partner expect that he'd meet all my needs or be everything to me, or expect me to meet all of his.

i've never felt limited in developing friendships. it was always clear that i had areas of overlapping interests and activities with the person i was in love with, and also had some of the same and some different areas of interests and activities with friends. platonic friends.

my monogamy never prevented that, and never had problems come up around that. clearly, that's just my experience, but i haven't actually had monogamous friends whose partners expected or wanted no other friendships to exist. (i hear that can happen, but luckily, i haven't bumped into that view in real life.)

so for me, monogamy never was a case of anyone thinking we'd meet all of each other's needs. we already knew we didn't, wouldn't, and we both believed that no one person ever could meet all of anyone else's needs.

lacking the expectation that we'd meet all of each other's needs, it was hard for me to clarify why i wanted to renegotiate from monogamy to non-monogamy. i *already* had other close friendships, with deep emotional connection (i'd never limit my emotions; only my behavior). i *already* had a situation of mutual acceptance and support of either of us developing close friendships with people we might want to have in our life, throughout our life.

with those realities, the re-negotiation for me seemed like the only aspect that i was asking to change was sex ~ wishing for the ability and permissions/support to have sex with someone else. it seemed to be all about sex, and yet to me, it didn't *feel* like it was all about sex.

it's still hard for me to explain how it could be all about sex and so *not* about sex.

more about not wishing for either of us to limit where a friendship with others could go. coincidentally or not, "sex" was the only limit we'd set, by default... by common perception of marriage meaning sexual exclusivity. so in removing friendship limits, sex was the area that changed, even though it wasn't all about sex. and that's so hard to convey well.

anyway... i'm not sure how prevalent the perception is that monogamy inherently includes an expectation that partners will meet all of each other's needs. i'd like to think that my experience of monogamy "allowing" and supporting outside friendships to meet diverse needs isn't unusual.

i suppose i could do a survey....

polyfulcrum said...

It sounds like you've been blessed with a partner that dovetails your ideas of connection with friends well! Was that one of the smoother bits of transition when you decided to become poly?

It seems like many couples put limitations on who their significant others can be friends with. "You can be friends with any women you'd like, but guys make me nervous."

PG and I were together in a mono sense for years before opening things up, and that was fine and good to have the time to fully stabilize the relationship. For that matter, S and I were friends for over a decade before we so much as kissed or snuggled. Obviously, it's doable.

The question is: Are there some things that are being missed because of those limitations on friendships? For me, touch is a central part of who I am, so that's a yes. I hadn't realized how much of my personality I'd walled away to try and fit myself into the box of monogamy until I got to stretch a bit.

Putting boundaries around who and how we can touch DOES limit the ways we interact with others. Taking that limitation away doesn't necessarily change anything but the possibilities in a given connection.

I still have platonic friends, but they are platonic by choice, not because I am someone else's inviolate territory.

It's not about the sex, it's not about something your partner isn't giving you. It's about having the freedom to give fully of self, and receive on that level as well.

livingtotears said...

YES!!! what you said PF ~ it's not about sex, or what my partner isn't giving me. even without being as much of a "touch" person as you might be, for me, it also IS about having the freedom to give and receive fully.

my husband's ideas of friend connections DOES fit well with my own, so that aspect of evolving from monogamy to non-monogamy was easy. i have had many more male friends in my life than female friends and i've usually remained friends with old boyfriends. it wouldn't have even occurred to me to ask a potential partner if my male friendships would be a problem. the question was beyond what i'd imagine... beyond what i'd consider necessary or reasonable to ask, even if i had happened to think of the question ~ which i didn't. for me, it's an "is" thing that friendships are about just that ~ the friend part; not the body parts that determine gender. i'd no more have asked a boyfriend if he'd expect me to end my male friendships than i'd have asked if he'd expect me to stop eating salad, stop loving the skies, stop breathing.

considering each of my boyfriends developed from friendship first, i'd have been shocked and appalled if our relationship turned the corner from platonic friends to romantic friends/loves and he then expected me to suddenly dump my male friends ~ many of which had been around, hanging out with us, or at least being people i talked about fondly during the course of growing my new romantic relationship. it's such a natural part of who i am that i wouldn't even think to check or screen to see if male friendships would be "ok" with a new love. even if i'd thought about that, i don't believe it's someone's permission or approval to give me. i already have my own permission and approval about that and that's all i need. if a new love expected to limit my friendships, well... we'd both be shocked. if my male friendships don't work for my new love, i'd be choosing my friends, not the new love.

perhaps my style has been overt enough that i've only attracted people who fit well with my views about friendship. and/or maybe i've been naive, lucky, blind, or sheltered, but i have not had first hand experience with anyone asking for or putting gender restrictions on friendships of mine, or on their other loves or spouses, *except* in rare cases where it seemed like actual cases of abuse. in general life, i've known people who've conveyed some jealousy of opposite-gender friendships their loves or spouses had, but they worked through the jealousy and did not ask for or implement limits on a love's friendships.

i've mostly thought that the concept of spouse's limiting each other's friendships is a myth about monogamy, the opposite direction, but similar to the myth that being polyamorous means you're open to having sex with anyone. myth or common issue though.....yes. my husband's views connect very well with my views about friendship. very thankfully, gratefully, luckily. that was the easiest aspect of our shift to non-monogamy, it was a non-issue. whew!