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A visit & thoughts on poly & people

Posted in Life, and Sex & Relationships

This week I’ve had a wonderful visit from a lover I had not seen for many months, because she travels full time on the road with the Ren Faire circuit. She’s stopped by for a couple days with a current male companion on a stopover before heading to the Arizona Faire.

Two rennies' hats hang on temporary homes at bottom left on my hat wall. Photo by Kit O'Connell.

There’s a lot to envy about their lifestyle — how little they work and how much of the country they get to see. It’s a subculture I think others can learn a lot from, though I am thankful to have a home — I would rather not be a wanderer, but instead live the kind of life where travellers I love and care about can find a warm place to sleep and all of the hospitality that I can offer when their journey brings them near.

Of course we spent some time getting caught up and talking about our lives. It got me to thinking again about a topic I have discussed before with Erica Tesla and others — that there are several scales at work in human relationships in addition to the ones that are well documented like the Kinsey Scale.

I have definitely met people who could take it or leave it when it came to polyamory — people who were happy in monogamous relationships or in various kinds of open ones, depending on who they happened to have as their main partner at the time. But there are others — like myself and, I think, like my visiting lover — who are inherently wired for some kind of polyamory and feel trapped when they try to fit into closed relationships. Likewise it makes sense that there are probably people who do best in monogamous relationships. Obviously, these polarities are subject to change during a person’s life based on their situation, their mental state, their experiences, etc.

I’m happy to see that my lover seems to be maintaining her poly boundaries in the face of people who want to fit her into boxes that might not agree with her, while still finding lots of sex & love to enjoy. But both she and I have tried to do otherwise in our lives, and found how constricting it can be. There are people I see who make this mistake over and over again — under pressure to conform to mainstream standards or because they let themselves fall for someone strictly monogamous — and then see the pain it causes both them and their would-be monogamous partners. In the end it isn’t fair to anyone involved, because trying to change yourself so fundamentally (and treating your true nature so badly) is just setting yourself up for pain and failure.

I’ve also seen people (happily none of them exist in my current poly network) who beat their heads against the wall again and again from the opposite side. For whatever reason they try to be in polyamorous relationships over and over, then have one jealous freak out after another, or lie or cheat despite the openness or just fundamentally seem to be unable to share.

I feel a little bad saying this — because I want everyone to question their choices and try to broaden their horizons. And yet if, at this time, right now in your life, it causes you nothing but pain to be polyamorous or monogamous then — like the doctor in the old joke said — don’t do that. It doesn’t matter what other people think you should do, and I think that’s kind of the point — and that’s just as true if the people telling you represent the mainstream or are the freakiest of freaks.

Sometimes people get too focused on how they “should” live their lives, even in the counterculture. Do what feels good to you and find other people who want to do it with you.

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