Tag Archives: polyamory

Seeking Resources on Healing from Emotional Abuse

I recently had a revelation that hit me pretty hard, in the process of doing some really good productive poly stuff and learning how to evaluate my relationships at face value (rather than wondering if I’m somehow “failing” in comparison to my metamours). I realized that I have some hangups I’ve never really fully formed in my conscious mind about the concept of “love” in a romantic relationship, and they come in part from a relationship about four years ago that I, at least, experienced as emotionally abusive.
Now that I’m starting to fully grasp what’s going on in my brain here, I’m craving some kind of support, but also not sure what that looks like. Therapy is one option I might pursue, but I also would love some peer support around this, and it’s murky because the fact is that my experience was not black and white. I don’t think my former partner will ever see her actions as abusive or manipulative, and when I think of them as such I sometimes feel guilty. What I perceived as using against me my need to emphasize that “I love you” isn’t a conditional thing that goes away when there’s a fight, she may have experienced as just not saying those words when she wasn’t feeling them.
There’s a lot of stuff like that that could easily go two ways, but I feel a need to talk it out with others who might have insights on healing from emotional trauma, because I do think that either way there’s a healing process I haven’t exactly completed by just letting time pass. I’m doing better, but I would like to develop stronger skills around self-esteem, and viewing the “love” words as less emotionally loaded — more like a gift or a neutral emotion that people can express than a tool or a weapon. Does anyone happen to have resources that might be helpful, or some sort of support group information (that would be appropriate for someone who hasn’t experienced physical or sexual abuse)? Alternatively, if this just resonates with you and you’d like to talk 1-on-1, let me know how I can get in touch. Thanks in advance!

A Polyamory Pro Finally Deals with the Jealousy Monster for Valentine’s Day

Eventually, this was bound to happen. For years, I’ve been explaining to folks that I don’t experience jealousy, and have been met with a fair dose of reasonable skepticism. I completely understand that jealousy is natural and normal, even for non-monogamous folks, I would explain. But I just don’t feel it. Mild envy, sure, but jealousy? Well, I’m not quite sure that what I recently experienced does qualify as jealousy, but I think envy would be accurate, and given the unusual strength of the feelings I dealt with in a single weekend—despite the fact that my metamour is one of the most awesome people in my life and part of my circle of close friends—I thought it might be helpful to others if I wrote a little bit about what I experienced and the strategies I’m using to address the possibility of these feelings cropping up again. And yes, I’m scheduling this post for Valentine’s Day, because practical communication and addressing challenges in relationships is romantic, dammit.

Continue reading A Polyamory Pro Finally Deals with the Jealousy Monster for Valentine’s Day

Poly Holidays and the Difficulty of Telling Half-Truths

Around the holidays, you tend to get a spike of interest in your family, spurred by that oh-so-popular “what are you doing for Christmas?” question (regardless of your actual religion, I’m guessing the question gets asked).  I find this frustrating because in choosing to only be selectively out about my polyamorous status, it means that I necessarily get stuck telling some lies, and I’m a big truth-teller.  In fact, just being in two relationships has put me very out of synch with my values in some areas, which is uncomfortable.  But the alternative is, of course, being completely open and risking losing job, friends, family, and livelihood.  So I’ll deal with the forced dishonesty.

My coworkers know about Miss H because I told them about “my girlfriend” before Miss A and I were dating.  Most of them know about Miss A as a friend, though it seems like every semester I end up confiding in one intern (the chosen poly truth hearer, ha!)  Telling them about Miss H ends up being a little bit complicated, though, because she has kids, and as was bound to happen eventually, I got hit with the divorce question.  And I stuttered for a moment, since I hadn’t come up with a response to that one in advance, and ended up saying yes.  And it felt awful. Miss H’s husband is awesome, for one thing, and for two, I just don’t like lying. And now, around the holidays, it gets even more complicated, because everyone views Miss H as a single mom and can’t figure out why we wouldn’t be seeing each other, blah blah blah. And when I do get to see Miss A, I can’t be publicly excited about it.  And thus end up feeling, basically, like a rotten person.

So if you’re poly and not fully out, how do you deal with questions like these?  Lie?  Try to tell the truth without telling the truth?  Use the whole “I’m a private person” line?

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

The Downside of Poly Community Online

I’ve been thinking about how the Internet affects poly relationships in anticipation of my panel at Momentum in April, and one thing that strikes me on the negative side is that as more poly people meet their partners online, it makes the idea of poly community, or poly family, much more difficult.  When you meet your partners online, of course, you have the benefit of some degree of anonymity, safety, and openness about poly, as well as a lot more people to choose from.  If you’re not out in meatspace, it’s hard to find poly people to date unless you go to specific poly gatherings that may not be your style.

The downside, though, is that although it’s certainly possible to build community online, it’s also hard to build poly families when everyone lives thousands of miles away.  I have a little group of friends–my girlfriends, plus my girlfriend’s girlfriend, who is friends with all of us–that’s almost like a little family in that we spend lots of time together chatting, we have all these intersecting relationships, etc.  But I find it highly frustrating in some senses, because the idea of poly family does really appeal to me.  I hear about people who live in houses where everyone’s queer/poly/kinky, or just where everyone lives in the same neighborhood, and it seems so unfair that the people I care most about live in different parts of the country.

I wonder if, to some extent, that poly community/poly family model is becoming less common as people meet online, or if it’s just more common for people to move long distances to make that happen.  Either way, it seems like a certain amount of uprooting has to be involved.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

A Question about Polyamory, Romance, and Sex

I’ve been wondering something, when I read accounts of polyamory and polyamorous relationships.  I understand that people come to polyamory for a variety of different reasons–it might be about sex, it might be about relationship style, it might just be about relating to the world or about beliefs.  I tend to see a lot of accounts, though, that focus specifically on sexual openness and having sex with multiple people, which I find interesting.

I wonder how many people do come to polyamory because they are interested in having multiple sexual partners, specifically, or because they find sexual exclusivity untenable.

Polyamory can be about sexual relations, but it can also be about the freedom to let each interpersonal relationship in your life be exactly what it is.  It can simply be about the freedom to be romantic or affectionate towards a friend, a drive that many people naturally experience.

In a recent Poly Weekly podcast, Minx and Graydancer were talking about female sex drive.  I hadn’t thought much about low sex drive, but I realize that the impression in the poly community is often that your sex drive is low if you’re not having regular sex with multiple people.  I wonder if maybe poly people as a group tend to have a higher sex drive, and how that affects those in the poly community who have a lower sex drive or simply have less sex.  Is it harder to get involved in the community if this is the case?

Any thoughts on the issue would be more than welcome in comments.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Relationship Questions: Lessons from Polyamory

One thing I’ve seen a lot around the feminist blogosphere, when talking about relationships, is an emphasis on communication and honesty.  No big surprise here, though feminist bloggers tend to take it a little further than Seventeen magazine, borrowing from the BDSM community, anti-rape activists, and other groups to promote a communication style that’s a lot more explicit (especially about sexuality, but about other topics as well) than what mainstream dating advice sources suggest.

These are my number one principles in relationships as well, and every adult relationship I’ve had (since a good college example of How Not To Do This) has been based on a pretty intense level of openness, honesty, and communication.  Part of what it means to live by those principles is to have frank, up front communications about how a relationship is going, and what the people involved want the relationship to be at the start.

Now, I think this kind of conversation is good to have for anyone, whether poly or monogamous, both at the start of a relationship and as it progresses.  But I was wondering if perhaps monogamous couples might have something to learn from the kind of questions poly people often take for granted in a relationship. Continue reading Relationship Questions: Lessons from Polyamory

Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control II

So, part two.  Part two is about socialism, among other things.

But let’s start with capitalism.  What are capitalist values?  Well, capitalism encourages things like individual achievement and responsibility.  It also encourages competition and jealousy as byproducts of the achievement value–your goal should be to outperform your peer, and if your peer is doing better than you, you should want his stuff, because wanting his stuff means you’re going to strive to do better (ie, make more money) so that you can have more property.  For capitalists, this is good.

There’s a condition of this individual achievement thing, though, and that’s regulated relationships.  Marriage.  Our capitalist system says okay, we want you to go out and do well for yourself, but we only want you to do well for yourself.  We want to discourage people making big, messy group bonds because then maybe they’ll start caring more about group welfare than themselves, and then they won’t support the system of individual achievement–a system, incidentally, that strongly benefits most of the law-makers out there, who aren’t doing too badly for themselves under capitalism.

Capitalism discourages creativity when it comes to family structures, and that includes polyamory.

The irony, though, is that communal, socialist forms of relating actually give the individual more freedom to use his own talents by providing resources and choices to everyone in the community and by protecting creativity and safe spaces to develop one’s individual self.  I was struck by a mention in A People’s History of the United States of how American Indians, with the tribal system, don’t consider communal arrangements a form of individual self sacrifice, but actually give the individual the ultimate freedom.  Every individual in the tribe has the right to leave.  Capitalism, on the other hand, gives you very strong legal and financial incentives not to leave.  Alternate family structures to marriage and the nuclear family are not given many of the benefits of living in a capitalist society, because capitalism is very jealous of its members.

“No, don’t go!” benevolent Father Capitalist says.  “I have mooooney for youuu…”

“No thanks.  I don’t want your money.  I’d actually rather be free to choose my own romantic relationships and family structure, and to live in an environment that nurtures my individual creativity.”

“But, but… here in Capitalist America, you can be all you can be.”

“Thanks… but no thanks.”

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control I

So as same-sex marriage and same-sex partnership rights spread, there has been a lot of talk about benefits.  People in queer relationships, like those in heterosexual ones, now have the dubious privilege of being able to marry for health insurance.  And of course, there’s a big valid point here about equality.

But I’ve been thinking about polyamory and marriage equality.  First gut instinct reaction: hey guys, quit talking so much about how “don’t worry, the slippery slope of same-sex marriage won’t lead to polygamy or anything,” because that’s not very nice.  Second reaction: but wait… were I to buy into marriage in the first place, would I really want the government to confer benefits on me based on the status of my intimate relationships?

Of course, poly people aren’t completely excluded from the legal and employer-based benefits of marriage.  Many poly people are married, to somebody.  But the question is, should the law allow marriage to more than one person, and thus benefits?

From a legal perspective, it gets very sticky of course, because who “counts,” how many marriages can you actually have, etc.?  From a social perspective, people are going to throw Mormon polygamy and sexism in your face.  And then I have to ask, well, are government benefits really what I want in the first place?

Continue reading Polyamory, Marriage Rights, and Social Control I