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Scattered poly thoughts [Jul. 19th, 2010|04:23 pm]

We had long distance sweeties in town this weekend, which is always lovely and frustrating - there is never enough time and then it's months until we see them again. But you take what you can get when you have long distance relationships.

One of the things that many people asked me about was my take on polyamory. Ferrett talks about it much more, and from a few of the comments, I got the feeling that some people might be interpreting that as poly being something that he wanted and with which I go along.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I realized that I was poly long before Ferrett and I got married, while I was still married to my ex, on a day when he kissed me differently than he had ever kissed me before. My first thought was, "he's been kissing someone else!" And my second thought was, "I'm not at all bothered by that." It surprised the heck out of me, and I realized that my take on relationships was not the classic one.

I didn't even know there was a word for it back then.

Anyway, after Ferrett and I were married for a while, I brought up the possibility. And we talked about it for a while, and eventually experimented a bit, drew back into just being us for a while longer, and then finally opened up our relationship and started talking about it.

For me, poly is less about sex and more about relationship. As I've said before, we have dear friends who we jokingly call our nonsexual poly partners because they hold such strong places in our hearts. I currently have a boyfriend with whom sexual relations have been suspended, perhaps permanently, but I still love him and consider him my boyfriend.

Poly requires a very strong sense of self, a lot of self-confidence and flexibility, a sense of humor, and a willingness to be honest, forgiving, and understanding. If you don't really like yourself, first and foremost, then your poly relationships are likely to be fraught with drama.

But now I have company, and I'm off to do something fun!

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[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-07-19 08:40 pm (UTC)
I always find it interesting when people assume that the man in a heterosexual poly relationship is the one that "wants to be poly" because in my experience, it's far more often the women in poly relationships that are more actively dating.

(And having spent a year in a non-sexual dating relationship myself, I totally Get That. Someone asked me during that period why "you just don't consider yourself friends, then" and couldn't quite grasp that the emotional connect was far, far too great to JUST call it friendship.)

(On a more personal note, I'm very glad you two opened your relationship. Hee.)
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[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2010-07-19 08:44 pm (UTC)
Heh, yes.

I was the one who insisted on an open relationship, in fact--tried to go without it, turned out to kind of be a dealbreaker for me--and when I mention the open-ness to people*, the most common reaction is to ask if I'm okay with it.

*With the exception of a couple friends who were around for my "argh, seriously, trying to deal with monogamy...annnd can't" struggle.
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[User Picture]From: roadnotes
2010-07-19 09:09 pm (UTC)
I've always been poly (like you, before I knew there was a word for it), and only gotten involved with partners who were fine -- or who claimed they were fine -- with it. These are wise words about it. (And your final paragraph applies to most relationships, truly.)

"I currently have a boyfriend with whom sexual relations have been suspended, perhaps permanently, but I still love him and consider him my boyfriend."

Ayup. I've had, and have, relationships where the sex has been suspended for one reason or another (physical/mental health, focus on primary/other relationships, magick working), but the relationships still remain.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:11 am (UTC)
The thing with poly is that you can't slide by with buttons unpushed because you've developed a groove with just one person. The last paragraph pretty much applies to any relationship, but is likely to be more tested the more people you deal with.
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[User Picture]From: walkertxkitty
2010-07-19 09:18 pm (UTC)
YES! You just described our family here. This is so much less about sex than it is about relationship (the sex part is actually very limited as Dorie is still fertile and she and Mr. Shapeshifter have Catholic upbringings so any sort of birth control short of 'don't touch' is out of the question; Dorie and I are still trying to figure things out as I've never been sexually active with a woman before).

It would just about KILL me to have to send her and Dee back after they'd been visiting or to have to leave when we went to see them. I'm fortunate that's no longer an issue.

I never thought about this:

Poly requires a very strong sense of self, a lot of self-confidence and flexibility, a sense of humor, and a willingness to be honest, forgiving, and understanding.

It was a true revelation for me and means that I'm nowhere near as broken as I thought I was.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:14 am (UTC)
I'm not certain that I would be good at living with other people - I'm a stubborn pain in the ass. I've been tempted at times, but I'm wary.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was a bit perplexed myself.
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[User Picture]From: corvaxgirl
2010-07-19 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yay for functioning poly! I was always poly too but it took a while to figure it out. Funnily in my circles, my friends always assumed it was me forcing it on my bfs!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:20 am (UTC)
I was poly when poly wasn't cool! ;-)
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-07-19 10:56 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, I only know what I see on teh internetz, but you don't strike me as the "go along" type, or at least not "go along begrudgingly." If it wasn't your thing, I would think it wouldn't last long, at least not with you in it.

Of course, I could be dead wrong. It just seems to me that making that kind of assumption just because you have a second X chromosome (I presume) is bad enough; doing it in the face of all evidence to the contrary just seems dim.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:26 am (UTC)
I am reasonably easy-going and accommodating, but definitely not the "go along" type!
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[User Picture]From: ebonypearl
2010-07-19 11:24 pm (UTC)
"we have dear friends who we jokingly call our nonsexual poly partners because they hold such strong places in our hearts"

And lives, most certainly. Despite having children, I am asexual. All my partners are nonsexual, but not non-sensual. All three of my husbands and my wife are precious to me, even if we no longer live together but are scattered across the country due to employment needs. We hope to all retire together someday and take care of one another.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:27 am (UTC)
That's really awesome. Taking care of each other is what it's all about.
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[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2010-07-20 01:06 am (UTC)
Poly relationships inherently have a bit more potential for drama, since upping the people seems to up the drama quotient.

But I, too, was the catalyst for the poly in my relationship, and it boggles me when people are like "oh, are you ok with that?" Um, yeah. I get to have my cake and eat them</s>it, too. Why wouldn't I be ok with it?

Heck, this year-- and we've been poly since 2002-- was the first year C took a girlfriend. (It takes him a while to warm up to people. /snark) I'm delighted (I love her, too!), and I think it's about time. :D Poly gone wrong is awful. Poly done right is bliss.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 01:29 am (UTC)
It is, indeed.
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[User Picture]From: call_me_harmony
2010-07-20 07:06 am (UTC)
I am totally surpeised that anyone would make that assumption about you.

I have noticed that there seem to be more strong non-sexual partnership relationships amongst my poly friends than amongst my mono friends.

Personally my partners include a straight girlfriend, ok technically 90% straight. In the 6 years we have been spending time together sexually activity has developed on a handful of occasions. When they develop it's good. When they don't it's still good.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 11:51 am (UTC)
I think part of the strong nonsexual relationships thing is that no one feels threatened by their partner having a deep relationship with other people so there isn't a tendency to keep distance.
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[User Picture]From: yndy
2010-07-20 08:56 am (UTC)
You two are my favorite "poly-couple" friends because you have both reached where you are through introspection, communication, and openness.
Y'all are awesome.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 11:52 am (UTC)
Thanks, hon. It's not always easy, but it is kind of fascinating to watch it work!
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From: blogmella2
2010-07-20 09:07 am (UTC)
I'm glad you are happy but I still can't help thinking it is a minefield. One of my best friends has been crying to me recently, having split with her boyfriend (which broke her heart)and then almost losing her husband (the father of her kids) to his girlfriend (who wanted him for herself).

TOO crazy for me. One bloke is enough trouble, I certainly don't want to have to handle another one (and not even get any sex out of it? WTF?). Still, I love you both and you're both happy, so that's good.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 11:57 am (UTC)
Oh, it's definitely a minefield. There have been people who have been vetoed on both sides of the relationship, and nothing is entered into casually. Any sign that the parties involved are going to be grabby, or dramatic, and they are off the list of consideration.

It's not for everyone, and I would never try to convince anyone to try it. You have to be "born that way" to make it worth the trouble!
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[User Picture]From: blazepoet
2010-07-20 10:54 am (UTC)

You guys rock and I'm glad it is working out for you so well.

But I'm just stating the obvious. Stay awesome and happy.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 12:09 pm (UTC)
thanks, hon. Hope things are well for you, too.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-07-20 01:55 pm (UTC)
I love that you said that you have to like yourself for it to work. I have always advised any of my poly friends (or those thinking about it) that you have to be honest with your partner. If it's not honest, it'll never work ever. But I've never thought about telling them that they have to be okay with themselves.

Thinking about it, you're clearly right, but I've never thought of it that way before. Because, in a poly relationship, the idea of fairness and balance is going to be tossed around in one's mind a lot, I imagine, and unless you have a good idea of what you really need/deserve/etc you can't judge any of that correctly.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 04:50 pm (UTC)
I think it's vital, absolutely essential. If you are looking for poly to justify your existence or make you feel good about yourself, then there are times when it's going to let you down and let you down HARD - not because anyone is being mean or intentionally hurtful, but because Life Happens. And if you can't take Life Happening without falling apart, then you will generate poly drama. Which is likely to spiral out of control.

I should probably write about that as it's own subject.
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[User Picture]From: irishgalinabq
2010-07-20 05:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you posted about this as I too had often wondered what your take on being poly was and if you had any partners.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-20 06:45 pm (UTC)
I do, and would have more but don't have time in my life for more.
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[User Picture]From: delosd
2010-07-21 01:01 am (UTC)
Just... smiles. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-21 01:21 am (UTC)
You know how I feel. Always.
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