Categories
Polyamory

The Dark Parts of Polyamory No One Talks About

Social Media can make polyamory seem almost magical. Because it’s easy to put on the happy mask and only show the good parts, the fun parts. This is true no matter who you are. But I have a secret to share: it’s not all sunshine & rainbows.

In our effort to make the largely monogamous world understand and accept us, we can tout polyamory as a this beautiful alternative that is free of the struggles monogamous folx face. Which can be true. But in doing so, we deny, hide, or just gloss over the hard and messy parts of polyamory.

More Than Words

One of the big tenets is communication. Polyam folx are forever talking about talking. Whenever someone asks the community about a situation in their relationship, the first answer is always: Did you talk to them about it? Communication is the key to living this life. But that’s true regardless of what relationship your in. It’s true for familial relationships (parents/kids, siblings, etc.). It’s true for platonic or professional relationships (friend circles, bosses, coworkers).  And it’s true for romantic relationships, regardless of the form they take. Communication is important. And can make or break any type of relationship.

The part that we fail to talk about in the context of polyamory is the amount of work this takes. Communication goes beyond talking about your feelings, or sharing plans. It is learning to say those things without being asked. It requires you to do the hard work of analyzing your own reactions and feelings before sharing those with others. It is remembering to share plans with multiple people; and learning to take responsibility, and then apologizing, when one person inadvertently gets left out of the loop.

Open Your Ears

Let’s not forget the other side of communicating. You have to listen. A lot of us have grown up not really knowing how to listen properly. We listen to react, to argue, to reply. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and while they were talking, you were already forming your response to them? We have to re-learn how to listen in way that allows to actually hear the other person. To hear what they are saying between the words, in their tone and inflections and body language.

It is more than just the words. It is the thought and work you’ve put in to them, before you say them. And it is the act of listening, not to respond but to hear what is being said and not said.

Green With…

Another big piece we gloss over: jealousy. That green-eyed monster does pop up in polyamory. We are not immune. We are human. Polyam folx are quick to turn the topic of jealousy into compersion. Which is an amazing feeling that is not exclusive to polyamory. You’ve felt it when your significant other got that promotion, or your best friend got married/had a baby, or your kid graduated from school. That is compersion.

Jealousy is the other side. In my polyam life, it usually pops up when a need is not being met. And those needs tend to have to do with my love languages. So if someone is getting more time (which is my main love language), I can feel that jealousy pop up. And I do not always recognize it for what it is. So there are definitely times where I can be… bitchy and withdrawn. Which of course, doesn’t fix or help anything. Did I mention we are human? This is the hard part, the part the community tries not to talk about. Because in order to deal with it, you have to get to know yourself. You have to learn your reactions and triggers. You have to learn to recognize when jealousy is speaking to you, feeding you lies.

It doesn’t always lead you to compersion either. Sometimes that jealousy leads to hard conversations instead. And that’s okay. Jealousy can be used for good, if you do the work to figure out the root of it.

Polyamory Isn’t Perfect

No, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are growing pains along the way. Problems you thought you had figured out in the beginning have a way of popping up again later on down the road. Sometimes they look a little different, sometimes they look the same. So you have to learn, adapt, and keep going. Polyamory can be an amazing way to form relationships and family. But it is not perfect or easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. 

Categories
Polyamory

How To Not Be A Unicorn Hunter

Every few months or so I come across a post that makes it abundantly clear who is new to polyamory and who has been in it for a while. Those posts usually start out with a cute and innocent (seeming) intro post.

“Hi, thanks so much for letting us join your group. We’re a fun friendly couple just looking for that special someone to complete us. We are into [various hobbies inserted here]. We are not looking for a one night stand, but a genuine connection with another woman, one we can both love. Feel free to PM us if your interested!”

Sometimes they include words like hierarchy and equal (“We don’t believe in hierarchy. Our third will be an equal in the relationship.”). They almost always include pictures of the fun couple, with the woman front and center.

The comments start out nice enough, a lot of welcomes and compliments. Then there is that one veteran who will offer a friendly piece of advice: to do a little more research before jumping into the polyam dating pool. An innocent “Why?” or “Oh, we’ve read a lot about polyamory already.” will set the spark that lights the dumpster fire to come.

If you’re a part of the community, you’ve seen it happen. Over and over. If you’re new to the community, you may not understand how an innocent post could turn so quickly. Allow me to explain.

How to spot a Unicorn Hunter

Almost every new couple opening their relationship thinks the easiest, safest course to take is by inviting another woman into their existing relationship. This is polyamory on EXPERT mode. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a triad relationship. But starting out with that goal is the hardest way to do so. Why, you may ask. A triad is not just a single relationship between three people, like many assume. A triad is 4 separate relationships. And each of those four requires a lot of care, communication, and work.

a visual of the four relationships in a triad

Now, back to that couple. They’ve talked it all to death and decided that adding another man to their relationship just isn’t possible. He’s straight, you see. And there will be no sword fighting in the bedroom. Not to mention it would be hard for him to know his girlfriend/wife is having sex with another man. So no men allowed. Which leaves… Women. Specifically, bisexual women who are into both partners equally. Easy peasy, right? Not so much.

Those women, the bisexual sex kittens who love the couple the exact same amount, are called Unicorns. Because they are near mythical creatures. They do exist in the polyam community. But they are rare. And they tend to guard their unicorn status closely. Because as soon as they pop up, they are bombarded with messages and invitations from couples looking “to add a third.”

But Lucie, you just said triads are great.

What’s the problem?

The problem is in the language and execution. First, these are people. Reducing what you are looking for to “a third” takes away from their autonomy and personhood. They become a thing to possess, to collect, instead of a partner in a loving relationship. It also puts them into a position of inferiority to the couple. The couple is the central relationship, and this new person is something to enhance that. Not to be taken seriously or allowed any say in what happens within that relationship.

So already, the woman is coming into a relationship at a distinct disadvantage. One she is unlikely to overcome.

Consider what happens when one part of the couple has a stronger connection to the woman than the other part. Will she be cast aside, to preserve the central relationship between the couple? You may scoff and say never! But it happens all.the.time. And what if the woman meets someone outside of the couple that she wants to pursue a relationship with. Will she be allowed to? Or must she only be with them? This is another thing that happens often.

So, how do you avoid it?

If you are new to polyamory, I suggest you start with these three things.

  1. Research. Ask the community for their favorite recommendations for newcomers to ENM. Do a quick google search. You will find many websites and blogs to point you in the right direction.
  2. Date separately. Seriously. You will have much better luck, and be happier for it. And maybe, if you are super lucky, that triad you wanted will happen all on its own.
  3. Listen to the advice you receive. And don’t get defensive when that advice is more blunt than you expected.

For more information, you can check out a great site dedicated to explaining Unicorns and Unicorn Hunters here. And don’t forget to check our own list of resources for all things polyam here.

Categories
Family

How I Keep My Polyam Family On Time

After a year of lockdowns, and an abundance of time on our hands, 2021 has come in deciding to shake it all up. These past 4 months have given us more things to do and take care of than the time to do them in. So how do we manage it? Google. Prayers. Dry erase calendars. And bullet journals. But mostly Google.

New things

Late last year I started a new job. A quiet, fairly cozy office job that gave me two things: income and time away. I love my family, that should go without saying. However, I am a hard introvert. I require alone time to recharge from peopling. This new job gives me that. It gives me a break from the all day peopling of being a mom and girlfriend and metamour 24/7. It allows me to be me for several hours a day. Granted, there is still a lot of peopling involved in my job. And there are days I come home utterly exhausted, wanting nothing more than to sit in my bedroom in the dark and quiet for a good hour. But overall, this job and the time away it gives, is a huge blessing. I am a happier and a more present mom, girlfriend, and metamour.

The girls started new school schedules this year as well. Two days each week in person with their peers. Plus, Sass added after school clubs to her day. And both have decided they had had enough of social distancing and not seeing friends during the worst of the Pandemic. They have both been social butterflies (within a small group of equally covid-conscious friends.) Now all of this requires coordinating drop offs and pick ups for the both of them at various times. Thank God for Lovey taking all of this on. And thank God for Bats, who has been available and willing to sit with Munchkin when these pick ups happen during nap times. 

Unexpected changes

Bats, as ya’ll know, moved in with us this year as well. With that comes learning and adjusting to a new person’s schedule. Finding ways to adjust your own schedule to make sure everyone has time with each other in the various configurations, and by themselves. The move also came with a fairly large project that required it’s own scheduling. It was not something any of us were expecting, but that all of us are excited for when it is finally finished.

Boyfriend left his previous jobs at the end of 2020 and dove headlong into a new one. He has also been spending more time in his Dad role with his own kids, something he hadn’t had as much time for with his previous jobs. And getting to see how much happier he is this year has been so nice. It’s enough to make a girl fall in love all over again. But of course, with everything between the two households, finding time for just me and him has been tricky.

So how do we manage all these different schedules now? Google. And the All-Mighty Dry Erase Calendar.

For the love of planners

In my former life, I was an avid planner user. I loved shopping for the perfect new planner every year, and finding the perfect new pens to go with it. Going to the office supply store, or my local Target, and flipping through all the options to find the one that had the right mix of monthly and weekly pages, the right aesthetic, the right size… It was so much fun, and something I looked forward to every time. (I know, I’m a bit of a nerd.) 

In January 2020, I decided I was going to try my hand at Bullet Journaling. I was feeling extra creative after watching way too many Youtube videos of people designing their spreads. Not to mention the mountain of ideas I had from scrolling Pinterest boards dedicated to art of it all. 

Things were going great. I was drawing and coloring and tweaking and, most important, actually using this beautiful planner. And then… Coronavirus. My last spread was for April. I even got cheeky and themed the month with little Coronaviruses all over each page. Poor thing never had a chance. 

This year, I think I’ll pick it up again. We’ve gotten busy. I’m starting to feel that creative itch again. So we’ll see. Maybe May will see the revival of my beloved bullet Journal. To be used in conjunction with my current method: the All-Mighty Google Calendar.

Trusty calendars

Now, if you’re not familiar with Google Calendar, where have you been? (Just kidding!) It is easy, convenient (doesn’t everybody have a gmail address now?), sharable, and it let’s you color code every little thing. I love color coding! Each person in the house has their own color. Even sets of people have their own color. For example: the kids. This little group of 3 humans has 4 colors! Between Lovey, Bats, and myself, we have 5 colors! Its fabulous! Makes it so easy to read at a glance to see who has what going on when. 

Of course, this all carries over to my Dry Erase Calendar too. The poor thing was being used most of last year. It made it further into 2020 than my poor BuJo. But eventually it got tired and just fell off the wall. And none of us had the mental energy to put the big empty calendar back up to remind us that we still couldn’t do things. But this month! This month it made it’s return!

April 2021 looks a lot different than April 2020. Our lockdowns and restrictions are lifting. We have vaccines! School is mostly back in session. We are making plans again to do things with our close friends and family. Our household has grown, and our polycule too. Life is slowly returning to a new version of what it was before. So it’s time to dust off those calendars, remember those passwords, and make those plans!

Sound off!

How do you guys keep your family plans straight? Are you a digital calendar user? Prefer traditional notebook planners? Or some combination of everything? Share your tricks below!

If you haven’t subscribed to our newletter, you can do so below. I’ll send you some printable stickers to add to your planner for all the Queer Holidays coming up.

Categories
Faith

A New Perspective: Is Sin Really What We Think It is?

About a month ago I came across a thread on sin. It proposed a new perspective on how we think and talk about Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. It has been mulling around in my brain since I read it. And this past Easter, as we celebrated His resurrection with our candy filled eggs and Easter baskets, I was reminded of it again.

Easter

The Easter holiday in our house is definitely more commercial than Christian. At least for our kids. We haven’t been to a church service in years. And we chose not to overtly push our beliefs onto our children, so tend to stick to the more secular traditions of holidays. A friend of mine, who is very opposite to me in that area, had started a new Easter tradition years ago. She wanted to share the beauty of the resurrection with her kids in a way that was more accessible to them. I remember the first year I saw it in action. She shared pictures of this new tradition with pride. And the comments from our mutual friends oohing and ahhing over it just confused me. I thought for sure I was missing something.

A cute idea

The night before, the family would go together on a walk and collect rocks in their Easter buckets. These were meant to represent our sins and the weight of them that we carry on the daily. At home, those buckets would be set out and covered with a red cloth, Jesus’s blood that was shed for us. That representation of Christ’s sacrifice would transform those “sins” while the kids were sleeping. And Easter morning their buckets would be overflowing with Easter treats. There would be notes sharing the good news of Christ’s triumph over the grave and what that meant for our sins.

“I have removed your sin as far as the East is from the West. You are now a new creation!”

“I have washed you clean from sin. Go and walk in freedom!”

“Your sins are forgiven! Come near to me and I will come near to you.”

For some reason the idea that kids needed to see the literal message of having their sins forgiven and washed away bothered me. What sins could a child possibly have? The notes bothered me. But I just assumed it was because I was not as strong a believer as my friends.

Sin

And then, I read this beautiful thread. And I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t believe enough or the right way. I simply saw sin differently.

It was not a list of no-nos. It went beyond the magic list of thou shalt not’s. Sin was simply a part of our nature because we are human. It is everything God is not.

I could also never understand why the Christian community could not agree on what constituted a sin. Sexuality in any non-marriage related form, drugs, alcohol, eating meat, feeling envy or anger, etc. What made something a sin for some but not for others? Why could one man drink wine during communion, but another had to drink water? Why was a marriage only allowed between one man and one woman in this church, but in another it was one man and several women? Does God really care what tattoos I may have or how I dress? I don’t think so. And it seems to me that those lists were more about control than being closer to God.

The effect on my faith

Having my eyes opened to this new perspective on sin helped me in my faith. I love being challenged (gently, because I am a big softy) on what I believe when it comes to my faith in God. And this thread coming across my newsfeed did that.

Did Christ go to the cross and bleed for my soul because I drink or smoke? Because I have sex outside of marriage? Because I have tattoos and piercings? I don’t think so. He bled for me on that cross because this world is broken. Because sin is in everything we see and do. Because sin is simply the absence of God’s divinity. He could have easily made us gods, free of sin. But He chose to make us human, like Him but not the same as Him. And He chose to give us the gift of choice, knowing full well how we would use it and where it would lead us. And so He also gave us Christ, to cover us so that we may be with Him again in the hereafter.

That’s the beauty of Easter. And for the first time this year, I think I finally get it.

Sound off!

Let me know what you think! How do you think about sin in your life? Does this new perspective challenge that? How would you live out your faith differently if you thought of sin in this way?

Categories
Family Polyamory

Big Family, Little House. It’s Time for an Upgrade!

Have you ever seen that meme floating around? I’m talking about the one that points out the absurdity of buying a house (or renting one) with less than three incomes. It makes a good case for polyamory in just a few short words without meaning to. I imagine, for people without kids and those three incomes, it is probably easier to find a house. Certainly more affordable. And, depending on your dynamics, a small house of 2-3 bedrooms is easy enough to come across.

The trouble appears when you are a polycule of 3 adults, 3 kids, and multiple pets. All of whom like their space.

Our current home dynamics

Currently, there are 6 humans living under our roof. Bats, Lovey, and I, plus the kids. All cramped into a small 3 bedroom house. Granted, the plan was not for Bats to move in at all until we bought a home large enough for all of us. But sometimes things happen and our timelines get adjusted. And having Bats with us these last several months has been so amazing. Not to mention a nice little test run to see how we all get along 24/7. (Hint: fabulously! Read my metamour gush for a look at our special relationship.)

So now we are trying to bump up our house buying timeline. We have all realized that we need more space.

The reasons we need a new house

Reason One

We have 2 teenagers. And they are currently sharing a room. Their personalities are just opposite enough that this causes more discord than harmony. Especially on weekends and school breaks. Our Covid Quarantine has not helped.

Reason Two

Munchkin is sharing his room with Bats’ office. They work from home 5 days a week. And most of that time is speaking on the phone. Toddlers are not great at keeping quiet during work hours. Or any hours really. They are small beings whose only desire is to make as much noise as possible at all times.

Reason Three

This may be a little TMI, but it’s my current reality. And a huge consideration for us. Queen sized beds were not meant for 3 grown adults to share. And bedroom sets, with their two dressers and two nightstands, aren’t designed that way either. Sure, there is the occasional night when someone has insomnia and stays on the couch to let the others sleep. Or when someone has the opportunity to spend the night at another partner’s house. But those are exceptions, and do not happen on any regular schedule.

Reason Four

The pets! We now have four cats. Sure they seem small and easy. Cats sleep all day right? But anyone who lives with these little fluff balls knows the truth. They take up a lot more space than you’d think. Plus, Bats’ poor doggo, Barkley, isn’t with us. He was sent to live with Bats’ brother for the time being. No fenced in yard at our current home and the already cramped space made it a better choice for him. And don’t worry! He is quite happy and loved where he is. But we miss him. And wish he could with us too.

The steps to getting that house

Step one: Get our credit in gear. They should really teach these things in school. Credit scores can make or break your house buying. So of course, they are easy to tank and hard to build back up.

Step two: Get pre-approved for that mortgage. And make that wish list. Need a kitchen island? Hate open floor plans? Write it all down! Nothing is too much or too silly. It’s a Wish List. But make sure as you’re writing these things down that you know what is absolutely not negotiable. For us, that is the number of bedrooms.

Step three: Start looking. Now Bats and I already are, and have been for quite a bit. That’s what Zillow is for, right? To look at homes and dream. Or laugh. So far though, we haven’t found a whole lot of options. Part of it is budget. We know what we can afford and refuse to go over. Part of it is that wish list. We know what our musts are and what we can compromise on. And part of it is our local market. It’s a seller’s paradise here right now. Homes are being sold in days for over the asking price, time and time again. With most being listed over our budget or right at the high end of it, we are priced out from the start.

But we have hope. We have steps one and two to get through first. And we are not looking for a perfect house. Just a home that gives us all a little more space to stretch. It’s out there, waiting for us. I believe we’ll find it sooner, rather than later.