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
Family

How Cross Country Friends Became A Happy Poly Family

The year is at its end. And the new one is here. It’s a been a weird, roller coaster of a year. And this last week of it has led to a lot of reflection on how we got here. Lovey and I will be celebrating (God willing) our 16th year together. We will also (God willing) be moving our not so little poly family into a much larger home, where we can all be under the same roof. These are dreams we have had for our entire relationship, though they did look a little more monogamous at the beginning.

A long distance friendship

Lovey and I met 22 years ago through a mutual friend. He was a Senior in High School and I was a lowly Sophomore. And there was an entire country between us. Or three quarters of one, anyway. We were friends, exchanging long distance phone calls and the occasional email. It was one of the first real friendships I had had with a guy.

Over the years, we managed to “meet” one time during our friendship. And it sent my young innocent heart all a flutter. I was sunk from that day on, hopelessly pining away after the older guy that lived oh so very far away. So could you blame me if I secretly hoped whatever relationship he entered during our friendship would sour and fall apart?

Relationships came and went, for both of us. Phone calls and emails were a little more sporadic as time went on as well. We were young adults, coming into our own, and we lived on opposite sides of the country practically. But when we did connect, it was as if the time elapsed was only minutes instead of weeks or months.

A blessing in disguise

And then, finally, the catalyst that started what would be us. An accident put him out of commission for a bit. And so we talked almost daily while he healed. It seems weird to thank God for an accident like his, but I did. And I still do. It slowed him down enough to reevaluate his path and where he wanted to go. Luckily it lead him to me.

Somewhere in those multiple phone calls and emails following the accident, our friendship shifted. A relationship began to grow. And before we knew it, we were sharing I Love Yous and falling asleep talking to each other at night. Several oversized phone bills later and he took the next big step in our budding romance. He jumped on a plane and moved to my town. To my house, specifically.

It was intense. And wonderful. And scary. And the best several months of my short life to that point.

A happy poly family

Before our new relationship had celebrated an anniversary, we were pregnant and engaged. On our second anniversary, we said I Do. Anniversary #3 (or #1 the reboot, depending on how you count) saw us pregnant again. Four years into our relationship we were a happy little family of four.

We’ve had several more anniversaries since. And a lot of ups, and some pretty dark downs. But we are still here, still together, 22 years after those first awkward phone calls. I could never have imagined our life would look the way it does now. Three kids. Five cats. A boyfriend for me. A partner for him. And a dog. Just one happy poly family with some big plans for the future.