Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Testing... one... two...

Is this thing on?

<tap tap>

Oh. Ah. <ahem>
There you are.

Just wanted to pop in to say goodbye. Sort of like waking someone up to tell them to go to sleep. I haven't really been inclined to post to this blog (although, I guess, neither has anyone else for a couple years ;-) ). The things that have been pushing me toward posting lately have been more of a "practicalities of a Mono/Poly relationship" nature and less of a "Polyamory in general" nature, especially since I'm not Poly.

Mono folks have different issues in Poly relationships, one of which is just not fitting into either group anymore. You've got one foot in each camp, but your mono friends don't get it, and YOU don't get the Poly side. It's difficult to feel like you're flitting around the outskirts of both groups, without being able to find anyone who can relate to you in either one.

So, instead of posting here, I've started a new blog to focus on Mono/Poly relationships and the journey I've taken over the past couple years. I'm not an expert, but if I can be a voice someone can identify with that isn't discouraging or hostile, then I'll feel like I'm doing something.

The Internet needs one more blog, ya know. ;-)

Have fun and kick ass. I'll see you around.

Jen
http://frombaltictoboardwalk.blogspot.com/

.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bread Crumbs...

I’ll be honest. I never believed I would contribute to this blog. Firstly, I’m not Poly. I’m a monogamous chick who found myself in a Poly relationship because it allowed me to HAVE a relationship with someone whom I consider a wonderful person and my best friend. Secondly, because it hasn’t always been an easy road, I didn’t feel like I really had a place to say anything. Who am I to pontificate on a blog about my relationship when I feel like I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going without a road map? Thirdly, this blog has, up until now, been all from the Poly POV and I have little interest in being the Blog Curmudgeon.

But if that all applied right now, you wouldn’t be seeing this, so what changed?


Martin and Gina have both stated that they’d like this blog to be a place that people find in their search for resources - things that help, maybe, or just to know that there are others out there like them trying to just poke through life in this unconventional type of relationship structure.

Over time, I’ve kept track of a mental list of things that *I* sure would have loved to have known ahead of time. Or would have loved to have had OTHERS know ahead of time, in order to help things go a bit more smoothly, or make fewer trial-and-error mistakes. A virtual trail of bread crumbs along the path, if you will. Keeping it a mental list isn’t going to do that, now is it? So here I post.

I don’t want to rehash the Mono/Poly articles that are on Franklin Veaux’s “Morethantwo” site (morethantwo.org). These are GREAT resources, and were quite helpful in helping us all see this relationship from each others’ (very different) points of view. If you’re reading this because you’re lost without a road map of your own, go there first. Really. I’ll wait...

...

Okay, then.
While your mileage may vary, here are some other issues/pitfalls/things-I-wish-I’d-realized-earlier that maybe could be of use to someone.

DISCLAIMER:
** PLEASE note that I am not speaking for all Mono/Poly relationships or people here. I am speaking from a combination of personal experience and from other people’s experiences. My introduction to Poly was different than that for many - I came into this knowing it was a Poly relationship. If you did not, then there may need to be some re-establishment of trust before you can move toward acceptance and cooperation. Your mileage may (and probably will) vary. **

Section 1: Potential pitfalls for the poly partner (Hooray for alliteration!)

Potential Poly Pitfall 1. Enthusiasm is great. Proselytization, not so much.
You have discovered Polyamory and a light bulb has clicked on. You finally have a word to describe the way you’ve been feeling all these years, or a concept of loving relationships that you find free and non-restrictive and you are beside yourself with excitement. You are happy to embrace the new you (and honestly, you should be!), and you are happy to share it with others.

And then you start thinking... Maybe monogamy really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe, inside, we’re *all* just a little Poly. Or a *lot* Poly, and denying our own inner natures based on what society tells us is right due to outmoded concepts of fidelity dictated by religious and controlling patriarchal societal models.

Okay. Stop. Breathe.

Regardless of what you do believe, there is no quicker way to alienate not only your monogamous friends and family, but your Mono PARTNER than by intimating that they are not only wrong, but backwards-thinking. Making someone feel disrespected, especially someone you love, is no way to earn respect toward your beliefs, and in fact, is a quick way of getting someone’s rational mind to turn off and raise their emotional hackles in defense of what they see as an integral part of themselves.

In other words, the people who are close to you may be happy you’ve found God, but don’t want you to save them.

So, what if you really DO believe that monogamy is a socially-created construct? Well, this leads into...

Potential Poly Pitfall 2. What *is* monogamy?
From everything I’ve seen, the “monogamy is [insert negative word here]” seems to stem from an oversimplification of monogamy as a whole. There are two distinct aspects of monogamy, and defining it as purely a social construct completely ignores one of them.

2a. The desire to love only one person


Yes, I agree that for many Poly folks, they didn’t realize the concept existed as such. But for many folks who identify as Poly at the personal level (“wired that way”), they have always been able to feel (romantic) love for more than one person.

Some of us do not.
Truly.
For some of us, who self-identify as Mono, when we develop romantic feelings for one, they wane for another. I have never, EVER “crushed on” more than one person at a time, even back in Junior High (okay, my unholy obsession with Alan Hunter doesn’t count - I’m talking real people, here, not cute blond MTV VJs). That type of emotion toward another always had one target and one target only. I am “wired” that way.

This is completely different from

2b. The desire for the one I love to love only me.
This seems to be the aspect of monogamy that most non-monogamous people deride. Yes, in some cases, it is societal. In come cases, it is driven out of insecurity. In some cases, however, it is a desire for that one person’s attention and time, and in those cases, any less than that may not create a bond that is close enough to have a lasting, lifetime relationship (whether or not you really believe those exist).

In some cases, this can change. If the Mono partner truly wants to work on a relationship with a Poly partner, this will HAVE to change. Some people don’t want to change. Some try, but find that it’s too hard for them and therefore non-negotiable, and the relationship ends.

Statements that deride monogamy as a whole unwittingly deride that first part, that piece that is integral to US as monogamous folk, and is INCREDIBLY insulting when heard from a Mono point of view. “Well, if it works for you, that’s great” doesn’t appease, since it’s not what *works* for us. It’s what we *are*, and, depending on how it’s delivered, it can sound dismissive of that fact.

In other words, please don’t build yourself up by putting us down. There’s more to monogamy than convention.

Potential Poly Pitfall 3. Using analogies that don’t fly
“But you don’t love your children any less because you have more than one!”
UGH! UGH! UGH!
<sputter>

I hate. DESPISE, even, the typical “child analogy”.
Romantic love is NOT the love for a child. Period. I can not equate the way I love my children to the way I love a romantic partner. One is a love designed to protect, guide, and eventually lead my children into becoming independent people, who will (and SHOULD) leave in time. One is a love that invests heavily of my self into the relationship. Equating the two is like equating apples and elephants, and adds an “ick” factor when you try to equate romantic love to a parent’s love for a child.

I realize you’re trying to relate the way you feel about other loves to your Mono partner, and you really have no tools to do it. I sympathize. It is NOT an easy thing to do, because many of us Just. Don’t. Get it.

However, the great folks on the LivingPolyMono mailing list came up with some wonderful alternatives that actually worked for ME much better than the “child analogy”. It’s no guarantee it’ll help you, but maybe one of the following will be better received:

3a. A slightly retooled version of the child analogy - a question.
“What were the reasons you had more than one child / expanded your family?”

Well. Huh.
When you put it that way, what *were* those reasons? I wanted more. Why did I want more? Um. Because. I wanted a fuller home, more laughter, more kids. Just more. (Okay, maybe the answer “as a playmate for the first one” came in, but let’s disregard that for now... it certainly wasn’t the only reason. ;-)

Oh. Aha...

This question totally removes the type of love from the equation, instead focusing on the feeling behind the “why”. I didn’t want more children because my oldest child was lacking. I didn’t want more because of *anything* I was feeling toward my oldest. I wanted more because I wanted more.

However, if you don’t have children, it may not resonate. Let’s try another.

3b. “Why do you have more than one friend?” or maybe “What is it about a potential friend that turns them from acquaintance to friend, and why/when does that happen?”
This one didn’t resonate as well with me, but it still worked better than the initial child analogy. It seemed to work well for others. Same deal. You acquire friends, not based on any lack of what your current friendships offer, but because you find something in this new person that you like and want to add to your life. Or, “Because you like them, that’s why.”

This may not resonate all that well, period, because even though people have multiple friends, many people still have one “best friend” - one person they confide in, etc. But it’s worth a shot.

This does NOT equal the statement, “No one person is enough to meet anyone’s needs. You have more than one friend, right?” Be prepared for the rejoinder, “Well, I don’t need to have sex with my friends!” if you use that one. Things can go quickly down the emotional rabbit hole after that.

Potential Poly Pitfall 4. “But love is not a zero-sum game” 


“It’s all about ‘and’, not ‘or’!”
“I have plenty of love for everyone. Love for person <x> doesn’t mean less for person <y>”


For a Mono person, it certainly CAN be ‘or’ rather than ‘and’, or zero-sum (see above), at least in the context of a romantic relationship. And we still tend to see things from our own point of view first. But okay - even though it isn’t the same way for you, there are still other pieces of a relationship that ARE zero-sum, time and money being two HUGE ones.

4a. Time:
As a Poly partner, as you add relationships, you may find yourself coming up against your saturation point (you’re “Polysaturated”) - how much is too much before you just can’t manage it anymore?

Your Mono partner may have the opposite: a Mono-Dilution point, if you will. How little time is too little? As a relationship grows into something a Mono person sees as a lifetime relationship, the traditional model is to spend *more* time together. Limits on this may limit “how far” your partner may see this relationship going.

4b. Money:
Your Mono partner (especially if you’re opening up a marriage or prior relationship, where you share resources) may resent money from your joint account going to fund date nights and gifts for your other partner(s). Don’t assume that mi dinero es su dinero. Nobody likes talking money, but in any relationship, it can be a major cause of discord. Talk about it.

Conversely, if you are “getting more serious” with a Mono partner (or ANY partner, for that matter!), there may be different financial questions that need to be asked. If sharing a household, how much contribution should be expected? Who pays the bills if the poly partner is going back and forth between homes? Groceries? How do you split up chores (more of a different topic, but you get the point)?

Talk about it. Don’t assume that just because your love is infinite, other resources are as well.

~~

Okay, Mono partners, stop nodding your heads and pumping your fists. It’s your turn.

Section 2: Potential Mono Pitfalls

Potential Mono Pitfall 1. “But he/she has [fill in the blank]! I want [fill in the blank] too!”

Really? Or are you just bristling against something you see as “unfair?”
Do you REALLY want to go see that band, or is it a style of music you really don’t like?
Do you REALLY want to hang out with that friend you really can’t stand just because they did?

Take a step back and think about what YOU want and need out of your relationship with your partner, aside from any other person in this relationship. What do YOU want?

More time with your partner? Ask for it.
To try that new Italian place? Make a date.
To go see a concert? Find something you both like and go.

Figure out what it is that you’re missing in YOUR relationship. Talk about it. Figure out how to get it, or compromise in a way that works for YOU. Renegotiate as needed. No, it’s not always that easy; life tends to get in the way. Money and time (see a pattern here?) can dictate how often a couple goes out or what they do, and you may need to compromise on the things you’d like to do. This happens in any relationship, though - you can’t always go the places you want for vacation, and you probably can’t go out every night. A Poly relationship can bring out this difference when the other partner CAN, but it isn’t the cause of your inability to do so. Don’t shoot the messenger, and don’t hold your partner back just because you can’t do something. Therein lies resentment.

If you REALLY can’t stomach seeing that they’re going out and doing <x> when you can’t, then talk about it. Are they posting pictures or statuses on Facebook about every single event? Figure out why you’re upset and talk about it. Does it feel like they’re rubbing it in your face (“Nyaah nyaah, I can go out and you can’t!”)? Does it feel like “everybody will see THEM together and not US”? Understanding the reason behind why you’re upset goes a long way toward solving it.

Potential Mono Pitfall 2. “Poly means ‘casual’, right?”

“How can we build a future together when you won’t commit only to me?”
“Why does she want to move in with him? She’s Poly!”


This one took me a while to grasp.
Poly means “multiple”. It doesn’t mean they don’t want the same things out of their relationship that you do. It means they want to be open to more relationships if they come up, with everything that goes with them.

You want to build a lifetime with your partner. He wants to build a lifetime with his partners.

A Poly relationship CAN be a casual one, but it doesn’t have to be. A commitment to one does not negate a commitment to another, although it may make logistics more difficult.

If your partner’s OSO ("Other Significant Other") is Poly, don’t assume that it’s casual or playtime. Don’t get caught off-guard and get pissed off when they start wanting to move forward in their relationship. Be prepared for their relationship to be every bit as close and important as yours is. If you need some level of hierarchy, communicate that NOW to your partner. Unless you’re opening up a marriage or prior exclusive relationship (where shared history and assets may dictate a hierarchy), don’t be surprised if you meet resistance.

In other words, your “couple” relationship with your partner is not more “real” because you are monogamous.


Potential Mono Pitfall 3. “You’re going to see that she’s better than me and leave me!”

If he were monogamous and fell in love with someone else, you’d be right.


But he’s not. Being Poly means he can love her without falling out of love with you. You CAN have a relationship with him while he’s in a relationship with her and you WON’T lose him. We worry because we see the world from our own point of view, but this really isn’t an either/or situation.

It took me a while to realize that the only reason I have a relationship with Martin at all is because he IS Poly. If he and Gina were a monogamous couple, I wouldn’t be here.

Things will change, of course - you’ll have less time and attention than you may have in a monogamous relationship, but if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, then you still have him. The choice is left up to you as to whether or not “less him” is better than “no him.” “No, it’s not” IS a perfectly acceptable answer. Sometimes things don’t work out, and that IS okay, especially if the alternative is compromising who YOU are in order to keep your relationship. If you can’t handle sharing your partner, don’t try to settle for something less than what you need. Keep in mind, though, that this will be YOUR decision, not his.

~~

Some of the advice you see floating around about Mono/Poly relationships equates to “Oh God - good luck with THAT!” It’s discouraging. And the emotions that can accompany the changes involved in adapting to such a relationship can certainly feel insurmountable some days.

The most important lesson? Time and experience.

It’s cliché, but it’s true. Having gone through our issues, working through them in unproductive ways until we beat our heads into various walls and find something that works - going through that process has shown me that we WILL work at this. That we’re not just going to give up when emotions get squirrely or things get hard. We continue to figure out what works for us (talk ‘til ya puke!) and what doesn’t. And we know that even if we get it wrong, we will still be accommodating and work toward getting it a little more right next time. Finding one thing that works for one issue doesn’t mean there won’t be more issues to come (remember this when it feels like you keep having what feels like the same discussions over and over and over), but you’ll be more confident in your ability to handle them as they do.

If you’re here looking for advice? Best of luck - if you want to do this, it’s possible, regardless of what anyone else says. Looking for resources and reading, reading, reading? You’re already trying, and that’s a damn good start. Hang in there. :-)

Some great resources I’ve found:
  • The Mono/Poly mailing lists on Yahoo Groups. There are two support groups on Yahoo with some wonderful people on both. One for Mono partners of Poly folks (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PolyMono/) and one for the Poly partners (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingpolymono/)
  • The Polyamory.com forums - the folks there can sometimes be brutally honest, but if you’re looking for experience and advice, they have been around the block and know what they’re talking about. Search for the “mono/poly” tag on posts, and read, read, read!
  • Morethantwo.org: Franklin Veaux’s site. Lots of good resources and discussions, and some good starting points for talking about the potential issues in a Mono/Poly relationship (among other topics).

And if you end up finding out something that YOU wish you’d heard or seen? Please share. There are definitely others who would be interested.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All You Need


I was watching back episodes of “Bones” the other day, and a conversation came up between characters that intrigued me.

Bones recently had a baby, and she went back to work and had the baby in daycare at the lab.  She requested that the teacher send pictures to her phone every half hour, so she could see that the baby was happy and doing fine.   Angela also had a new baby, but she had been sneaking him into lab because she misses him and doesn’t want to be so far apart.   They talk about missing their babies.  Angela asks, “Don’t you miss Christine?”  Bones replies, “I’m at work, so I focus on work.  We have to compartmentalize our lives.” 
“And you can do that?”
“I have to.”

She receives a picture sent to her just then, and shows Angela, who says, “So is that all you need?”   Bones says, “I’ll see her soon enough.”  

Not that I’m comparing babies with adult love...The baby conversation simply sparked these thoughts in me, about what is enough to allay that feeling of missing someone you love when you are apart. 

For those of us who identify as poly, when our loves share time with others, we miss them when they’re gone.  We do.  There’s part of us that still misses their presence, even when we are quite happy being involved in some other activity or spending time with a friend or another love of our own (in other words, “compartmentalizing”).   When they are with their other love(s), it can be a comfort to get a phone call or a text or an email from them, just so we get to hear their voice or know what they are feeling.  Sometimes just that phone call is just enough to zip us along on our merry way.   It’s good to connect while apart, even if only briefly.   To hear that they love us, miss us and are thinking about us, too, is awesome, indeed.  Some days, though, we really do need to be with our loves, spending time with them in the same airspace.   And after we have some of that, much of the time, it’s truly allright that they go and spend time with their other love(s).  

The trick is...to be a whole person, independent of relationships.   To have interests and things going on outside of relationships that we enjoy while our loves are away.  Not just something to distract us (although there are surely days when we need that, too), but something that fulfills us, grabs hold of our passion and dances with it.   Something we’d be hell-bent on doing no matter who was in our life.   Something we get lost in.   These things make us happy little humans--we don’t have to look to our partners to complete us.  We can handle the separation, and even look forward to that time we have to ourselves as something kind of sweet.   Some days, it’s harder to do this than others, but losing ourselves in a passion can alleviate much of the emotional shakes.  

We’ll never be surrounded by people 100% of the time, so we need to be able to be comfortable being alone.    It’s harder for some than for others—some would claim, that’s why I’m in a relationship, so I won’t have to be alone.   But we need to grapple with that, because inevitably, we ARE alone SOME of the time.   Other people we date might cancel plans, or maybe no one else is available on those certain nights when our loves are with their other loves.   In the bigger picture, relationships end, and people die.   We’re not guaranteed that we’ll never be alone in our lives. 

I am one of those people who enjoys being alone (hormonal imbalances aside...).   I admit, it’s easier for me to deal when my love is not here, than it is for others.   I fill those days with making art, working on my business, seeing family and friends, taking care of the cats, organizing, filing, making phone calls, appointments, etc.   Just like I did before we lived together, before our relationship began.   I dig it.   But I also dig it when he is home with me and we live our little life, too.   On the days he’s gone, I like having that phone call with him and telling him what’s going on, hearing what’s going on with him, waxing philosophical, making each other laugh...That 30 minute conversation can really make me feel all warm and fuzzy, indeed.   Yes, most days, some kind of communication is all I need.   It remedies the missing him because we’ve connected.   I FEEL connected, like he’s right on my shoulder, despite the distance.  And it carries me through till we see one another again and have our sweet, sweet homecoming.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Shark, Revisited.

     I have written about the shark before, here. Again, I am here staring the creature in the face. It's not ugly by any standard I know of. I see it as a beautiful, elegant creature, perfectly crafted through aeons to be at the very top of the food chain. It is sleek, and fierce, and brutal in it's honesty of purpose. The Great White Shark is an apex predator, and yet must trust that the prey before it will not kill it when ingested. A nudge along the item with it's sensitive snout gives the animal a clue as to whether or not it is actually edible. But the shark must take the item into itself, and swallow it whole or nearly so, and in the process put it's life in danger. It trusts it's food to not kill it.  The predator becomes infinitely vulnerable at the moment it commits to eating it's chosen target. It rolls the nictitating membrane over it's eyes, lifts it's snout, opens it's toothy maw, and gives it's prey the chance to slay the hunter.  It trusts instinctively. It surrenders decisions to millennia of sensory honing.  It doesn't choose to not eat because it might be killed, it eats. 

     That, to me, is perfection of purpose. It is wary when it needs to be, but self-preservation is tops on the list. When it comes to relationships, I wonder how many of us actually know what it is we want... what will make us happy? A list sounds like a good starting point.  And physical list perhaps made one day, then stashed away for a week or more so the lens of time will sharpen one's true desires. It could be looked at again as a shopper, with a bit less emotion. Might that actually help focus on your own needs? I'm sure there would be items that are listed that are more reactionary to a situation, but I think those would become obvious.  We will spend countless hours researching a particular product when we are making a purchase, and if that product is not what we expected once we get it home and have used it some... well I know I'm not shy about returning items I'm not happy with.  

     For so long, I accepted my life as it came. I put my own needs too far down the list and accepted that I was not really that important in the big scheme of things.  I didn't value myself enough, and eventually that built resentment and helped fuel arguments where I felt cornered and defensive, rather than simply arguing my own point of view towards a constructive end. I have been accused of being selfish, of being thoughtless, and of being too self-centered.  I have also been corrected a time or two ... it's not selfish - it's "self full". I've explored those terms, and the best descriptions I could find are:


Selfish: A personality characteristic of a person who causes negative impacts to others by being obsessed at satisfying his own needs first.

Self-full: The personality characteristic of a person who practices self-care.

Self-care: One’s understanding and behavior that helps to build a healthy mind, body and spirit for himself and others.


     Taking care of one's own self to better be able to care for others is not selfish.  And to that end, I wonder if making a list long ago would have allowed me to be more honest with what really was "okay", what was "tolerable", and what was "unacceptable".  Many of my friends suffer from marriages that are not nearly as healthy as they could be, and I so NOT stand here unsoiled. I have two failed marriages under my belt, and they failed for many reasons. But I have to wonder if either would have been better had I been more honest with myself before expecting  my wife to 'make me happy'.  I wonder if there aren't other husbands and wives out there who would really and truly benefit from that sort of self-examination?  It's far from simple to tear down the excuses we build for our lovers, for our mates, for our significant others. It's extraordinarily difficult to stare those monsters in the face and ask "why is THIS acceptable in my life, in my relationship?".

     And for complete admission? I don't think I could have done that in years past. It took me this long in my life to accept that I am important enough to deserve to be happy.  Not then. I thought I was, and I confused being rude with being direct when it came to dealing with others in my life. Direct is not hurtful, and direct understands that there is a time and place for tact. I wasn't direct. I am these days, or I like to think that I am. And I am happy with my choices now. I'm happy that I can talk with my partners about difficult issues and not feel like I'm attacking them in any way. I'm happy to be able to be confronted with something I am not necessarily comfortable with, but able to be comfortable with the person bringing it to my attention. And I am happy to be comfortable enough with who I am that I can share this with all of you. 
     

     Being vulnerable is not weakness. Being honest is not being hurtful. Taking care of one's self is not selfish. 

You are important, too. 




"Love is patient and kind.   Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.   It does not demand its own way.   It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.   It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.   Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. "
1 Corinthians 13:4-7




Definitiions from: http://www.relaxyourlifenow.com/glossary/


Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Size Fits... Oh Never Mind.

So as our lives continue to weave itself into a more luxurious tapestry, I realize some things. Perhaps the most significant of these is that there is NO single formula for a successful Poly relationship. There is no roadmap, no list of best practices, nothing. And I mean nothing in the truest sense of the word.  Zero. Nada. Zilch.  But strangely enough, that's what makes this such a delicious adventure.

From the very beginning, I searched through the long lists of poly websites, through the volumes of postings on various message boards, and through the various resources available for those pitfalls that we should avoid. In every case, it was pretty much the same -  Not quite our situation. Close, but not quite.  The preponderance of Poly relationships that we can read about seem to be more of the "Married couple and one wants to open the marriage up" variety. There are the "Single man meets married woman" and "Single woman meets married man" as well. Lots of different variations on Triads and Quads. Lots of different situations, and none of what I have read was 'our' kind. And that was a little discouraging.  What little I was able to find was pretty much doom and gloom.  A Triad. One Poly man and two women. One woman Poly (Gina), one woman Mono (Jen). Few of the scarce shared experiences were positive about this sort of arrangement.

My wonderful Jennifer did find a piece stating that all the success stories have little reason to advertise, so they are out there and silent. Thus the creation of this blog and my including all of us as contributors. I think it's important to have someone out there sharing these experiences, and showing that although it can be difficult, having this kind of poly relationship IS doable and is just as rewarding as any other. We are all individuals, and as such, we will all have a different experience with our relationships. For monogamous couples, there are plenty of good examples. Yes, divorce is on the rise, but there are still life-long marriages that are filled with love and respect to look up to.  I'm sure many of us know grandparents who are still married after 50 years or more. I am sure many of us have been to those kinds of celebrations. But how many of us have been to anything celebrating the anniversary of a Poly relationship? (For that matter, personally, I don't actually know any other triads or quads or what have you... And I seriously doubt I'm the only one in the town.  But I will look, and I will seek out the examples of a functioning Poly relationship. And if my partners are comfortable with it, I'd be happy being a good example for others.)

So, I have learned that one size does not actually fit all. It's a lesson that I believe we need to learn earlier in the process of understanding the Poly lifestyle. There are good pieces we can glean from every story, and there are pieces we need to leave behind. Finding what fits and what doesn't is an art, it seems. This reminds me of my becoming Wiccan, and how I had to make my own path there as well. Like so many others, I read  a wide assortment of the books available at the time. Few of them really spoke to my soul until I happened upon Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. This was the first book that actually said it was okay to find your own path. A book that expressed how important your own voice was. At the time, it was a revolution in my spiritual growth. So many other books were rigid and unyielding about the Faith, but here was a man writing to my heart. He said to find your own path and believe in it.

That's good advice for anyone, but especially here, where maps are useless. We all make out own path. In the case of a Poly relationship, we make one together. We use good communication, trust in each other, and in some cases faith, but we find a way together. We compromise, and we forge agreements that allow each of us to feel loved, wanted, needed, and important in this relationship. We overcome our fears and ask for what we need. We do all of this bravely, and boldly, and even sometimes being more vulnerable than we have ever been in our entire lives. But with that love and that trust, we forge onward.

Together.

And it might not have come off the shelf fitting all of us, but we are becoming pretty darned good tailors as we learn about ourselves and each other.




Comments or discussions are welcomed and appreciated.
Martin

Friday, February 3, 2012

Polyamory and Art


Hello, all!  

It’s Gina—I’m also a blog contributor here.  I am in a polyamorous relationship with Martin.   It’s so wonderful to have the chance to connect and discuss poly issues, thoughts, concerns and success stories with you folks!   I know there will be people from all walks of life passing through, and I thank you in advance for reading and commenting and asking questions if you have them.  I’m happy to clarify anything!  

Before I go on with the entries, though, a little housekeeping:

My opinions about polyamory in this and future entries may or may not jibe with what your opinions are.  This being America, I’m okay with that.  I’m not trying to disrespect or denigrate anyone else’s lifestyle or choices or way of thinking, but I am going to express mine here.  This place was created just for this purpose.  If you do happen to get offended, I’m sorry—that is never my intention.  Dissenting opinions are quite welcome in the comments, but let’s just keep an air of civility about the place, shall we?   I promise to do the same.  Thanks, all!

Brilliant!   Now on with the blog!  

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What, you may ask, is the connection between polyamory and art?   (And when I say art/artists, I mean all of the arts, collectively.)

Let’s say, multiple loves. 

Some artists will fall in love with many ideas for many projects, at the same time.  Even when working on a single project, other ideas may come along that are just irresistible.   So they might initiate the first stages of those new ideas as well, striking while the iron is hot, so that they don’t fade from existence and die incomplete.  There are times when they will continue to work on many pieces at one time, switching between them and slowly working each of them while they take shape, keeping the enthusiasm alive for each one, until their completion.   Not every artist does this—some plug away at one piece at a time until it is done, putting all of their attention and energy into it.  But there are definitely those who multi-task, me being one of them.   

This begs the question: does poly resonate with some artists because they are already “multi-oriented” in their psychological landscapes?    

Artists also tend to be more embracing of the non-traditional.  They see things in a different light than more linear-thinking folk do.  Moreover, they LIKE and IDENTIFY WITH being different.  They will be the ones you find outside the box, coloring outside the lines, breaking the cookie cutter, punching the dough with their own thumbprints and calling it ‘self-portrait’.  And in our culture, poly is still outside the norm.  (When I was in an interracial relationship, the artist in me secretly giggled to myself for flouting convention... and now that I’m in a poly relationship...I still do sometimes.  (Shrugs)  Artist.)  

With this willing living “outside of society”, coupled with the concept of simultaneous attachment to multiple artworks, which are very personal, and very much beloved, it seems that poly would be something that might feel very natural to some artists.   The idea that one can love more than one, and experience very different things with each one, at the same time rather than in succession, could be a natural leaning for people who already think in multiples, having a number of irons in the fire at the same time. The fact that it’s not mainstream?   Why, all the better.   

Maybe it’s the way the artist brain is wired--to garner the maximum amount of soul-intoxicating experiences--in order to feel pleasure, in order to grow psychologically/emotionally/spiritually, in order to glean inspiration to create--in a lifetime.   Being open to new things and pursuing adventures is very nearly part of The Artist’s Credo.   Like polyamory, it’s being open to choosing what kind of discoveries in life one wants to have for one’s own enrichment as a human being (ideally with the ethical stipulation of “an’ it harm none”).  Is it a coincidence that artists/hippies in the ‘60s embraced “free love” and formed family communes of people in multiple relationships with one another?   Probably not.  It kind of all goes together.  Wanting to have explorations with more than one person breaks boundaries, and artists are quite comfortable with breaking boundaries.   

Now I KNOW that not all poly folk are artists and not all artists are poly.  I also know that artists aren’t the only mental multi-taskers or the only ones choosing alternate lifestyles out there.  I get that.  I’m very much generalizing, due to lack of hard demographics.  But the overlapping circles...well, that’s interesting to ponder.   And pondering--it’s what I do, folks.