Wednesday, December 26, 2012

7 Unrules of Polyamory

There have been several posts on this site about polyamory that have pulled a significant amount of traffic (about 10,000 and 8,000 and 6,000 hits respectively.) 
Previous posts:

This is a friend of mine, I think she looks cute as hell
(though that's beside the point) and hope that in leaving her
un-named she won't rip my balls off.
Because isn't the juxtaposition just fucking precious?
All of them dealt with different elements of the topic, and all in a rather tongue-in-cheek way. I would like to clear up a few issues about this topic in what I hope is a more straight-forward way. I am doing this because I have been approached by many strangers that seem confused about some rather simple elements of this issue.

So, here are 7 un-rules of Polyamory. Enjoy them, and remember that they are un-rules, and can only at best be understood as guidelines. I hope they spawn some discussion that doesn't come down to argument over labels. The curse of polyamory is labels and laws and rules and taxonomy. Drives me nuts, and honestly, it's not necessary unless if it's a fetish of yours. If it is, enjoy your fetish, but it's not a fetish of mine, so please, let me have mine and you can have yours.


1. Can Humans Love More Than One Person At A Time?

This is an unequivocal yes. If you take sex out of the equation, then you can look to fathers and mothers, to children, to siblings, to friends, and hopefully somewhere in there you can find instances of love that are more than one. And similarly -- this is a very important point -- the way that you love each of these people is as unique as the people themselves are. None of this, not one bit of it, changes in the case of polyamory. The only difference is sex and an openness to all the things that may develop along with it. (aka emotional availability.)

2. "The Only Difference is Sex"? What Does That Mean? 

You must ask yourself how you feel sex changes the nature of a relationship. Because of the fact that we are a species that frequently has sex for reasons other than reproduction (note: we are not the only one, not by a long shot), we can integrate our relationships with others with our sexual relations with them. It is up to us to define what the nature of these relationships are. It is up to us to draw the lines. It is up to us, not our parents, not our culture, not our religion, not even our lovers, to define where we draw these lines - those in the latter case and no where else, we are morally compelled to express it to them.

But yes, you did hear me right, and after years of reading and thinking and feeling and experiencing, the bottom line is that the difference between all the relationships that we yearn for, silently, something more and the relationships where... alright, let me spell it out for you in a nascent example. You wanted to fuck that girl in high school that was "just your friend" senseless. You wanted to fuck your best friends wife until she couldn't walk straight, but not more than you wanted to get in a fist fight to the death with your best friend. You wanted to walk up to the head of your department and start a conversation that would end with half-empty martinis on the bar and the two of you on the ground tangled in underclothes and semen. You wanted to-- you get the idea. But you held back.

Sometimes for the better, probably. Because life is too short to waste on the shitstorm that might result. Probably sometimes for the worse. Because life is too short to die with regrets.

And what do you think about a society that has based itself time and again on repression? Do you think that might have some repercussion? That it might just affect our warfare, our crime, our...? No... of course not! (By the way, I'm not making an anti-porn argument here. Porn has been demonstrated to - for the most part - decrease sex crime, not the other way around. I say for the most part because there are some who are likely on the threshhold of performing the crime that are driven to say to hell with it by porn. But in all such cases, and all like and unlike them, it is not porn or anyone else's fault when someone does something. The only thing we have any control over in this world is our own choice at the end of the day. It wasn't the porn or the video games or the rock music. It was the finger that pulled the trigger. End of story.) 

3. Is Polyamory, or Bi-sexuality, "selfish"?

I don't even know how to answer this question. It is incoherent to me. But it is a trope that frequently shoves itself into this discussion, and like an un-asked-for dick pic, it's not really welcome. Maybe it is because in my view of the world, there is no anthropomorphic ape in the sky that cares whether I am lonely or not, whether I have had "too much" pleasure or not. And it is my personal imperative to have more rather than less.

So is it selfish that I like coffee AND tea? Come on.

4. Is Polyamory A Free Love Sex Fest?

I would like to say "yes" but look, I've just gone through several months where I have had no lovers except my wife and our relationship right now is based more on our partnership and love rather than our sexual relationship so the truth is, the past few months, I may as well be a monk. And I'm not happy about that. But the point is that we define who and where are from a moment-to-moment basis. That choice is ours. No one else's. And would it really be that bad if it WAS love and sex fest? Because personally? I could use a bit more of that in my life right now. But then, consider what I said earlier. So... yeah.

While I'm on it: It's not someone else's responsibility to give you sex or love all the time. It isn't anyone else's responsibility to make you feel any particular way. Your feelings sometimes aren't your responsibility either, beyond how you act on them (feeling murderous rage- not always your fault, though something worth looking at to be sure- murdering someone, your fault. More importantly, the concept of "fault" is often completely suspect. Fault, blame by any other name.)

5. Polyamory Will Lead to a Plague of STDs and Lightning Death

I can't speak to the latter. I've not spoken with Raiden lately. But STDs come down to being a particular vector by which disease spreads. There are many others. People aren't shamed for breathing or drinking water.

I think we need to look at the shame element of STDs as much as we need to look at our own personal responsibility in protecting ourselves and our partners to a reasonable amount. What does this mean? We can decide, but let me remind you that it is likely your fear that is driven by terror of shame more than anyhing else. No one wants to get HIV but the fact is, it is often the shame of herpes that is worse than the disease, after the first few outbreaks. Not to say it's a fun disease to have, but there are worse, and yet considering the leper-treatment, and the fact that it is the responsible thing to do to tell all your potential partners, it may very well seem like a complete death sentence to your sex life. This again comes down to shame more than the actual threat that is posed beyond protection that can be managed in an adult manner.

6. Polyamory Might Be For Some People, But I Feel Jealousy.

Hold on a second here. Jealousy is an emotion that every one of us feels. We are humans.

Some of us are prone to feel more of one emotion than another. That is natural.

Never in your life feeling jealousy is the aberration. Talking with a partner, (or partners) about jealousy, about what triggers it, about what your boundaries are and what measures you might mutually take to make those feelings a little more manageable, maybe to make them feel more under your personal control, is a reasonable adult thing to do. Thinking that the very existence of an emotion is your FAULT, that you are to BLAME, is the kind of thinking that we are all trying to ourgrow -- polyamorous or monogamous.

Leave fault and blame at the door. See how that works for you as a first step in your life. See what happens next. And while you are at it, work at being honest about everything, with everyone. That doesn't mean be a dick and an asshole, and "hey, I'm just being honest." No. It means learning how other people think and feel, and finding the way to express your emotions and thoughts honestly in a way that will at least make sense to those people, even if they might not agree with them or like them. It is not our responsible to make everyone like us all the time, and quite frankly: they just aren't going to. 

7. Polyamory is about taking responsibility for ourselves.

This doesn't mean "responsibility" in the sense that my parents (lesbians, by the way) so often seemed to mean: "take responsibility" seemed to mean, admit that you are wrong. It meant, accept that you should feel bad about this thing that you did. No. I don't think it is anyone's responsibility to feel bad. It accomplishes little in most case. What this statement means is that it is our freedom, our choice, or life, and no one else's. And I think that if more of us took that "responsibility," a whole lot more of us would have a much better time at this whole life thing along the way.

There is so much more that I could say about this, and so much more that we have to learn about ourselves and one another in this short time that we have as living beings on this planet.

The more we can bring love and laughter to each other during this time which is, honestly, already and naturally full of brutality and cruelty and malice and loss loss loss-- I say that's a good thing. Don't collect lovers to put in your Glass Managerie. Love more because you will never run out of love. Love more because each person you connect with, really connect with without the goal of GAINING something by taking them or owning them somehow-- is changing your personal genetic code at least in a metaphorical sense.
(And I am so constantly wracked with pain, I have fibro and sciatica that just keeps getting worse and a million other things, this body is slowly coming unwound but through it all, all I can really say is-


[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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