Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't Keep Quiet and Fuel Small Mindedness

Five or so things I've noticed lately about polyamorous relationships:

1. Awhile back I was reading the blog of a poly woman where her post for the day was Polyamory is hard! She is the secondary partner to a lover who lives with his primary partner. His primary partner has a secondary partner who is married and lives with his wife. The woman who writes the blog has no other partner. This means that her lover is her primary partner while she is his secondary and she gets lonely at times.

I was recently talking to a friend, another poly woman who seems to consider herself as her lover's secondary partner. Her lover has had another lover of many years. Whether he considers my friend his secondary or not, I don't know, but it's the lack of time that he has available for her that has her aching for a primary partner of her own. I'm not using the word primary here to signify the quality of love felt and expressed between two people. I'm merely describing the time/energy/obligation factor that someone often has tied up with their primary partner and the ensuing commitments that a primary relationship often entails.

From what I've noticed, two people who are in relationship and who have both a primary and secondary lover, and who are both either primary or secondary to each other, seem to adjust better to the juggling of schedules and being satisfied with the amount of time available to spend together. A person with only one secondary partner who is a primary partner to someone else, is apt to experience more yearning for attention when their partner is off busy with other aspects of their life. Throw kids into the mix and more complications arise. The old poly adage is that love is unlimited, time is not.

2. When one is actually living a polyamorous lifestyle, you come to notice that you are having relationships with real people, not just ideas you've concocted in your imagination. This is very different than theoretical polyamory. The way my imagination works is that everything falls into place all on my own terms. I design and develop relationships exactly the way I envision I would like them to be. In my mind, relationships are created and geared totally for me, at my whim. I run the show and get whatever I want. Everything goes my way and everyone is happy giving me exactly what I ask for--and mostly I don't even have to ask, it all just flows my way in a tide of no ebbing.

But being blessed with relationships with real, live, warm blooded others who have their own ideas, agendas, and way of doing things is another animal altogether. It's a beautiful thing that I honor and have welcomed into my life but it's not as easy. There are more complications with the real deal. I am now not the center of my own little poly universe--we are all revolving around each other rather than everyone revolving around me. I do not always get anything and everything that I want. There are all sorts of snags and triggers and truths to be communicated before they get inadvertently swept under the carpet. There is the fine line between accepting people as they naturally are and asking for what I need when what another is giving isn't working so well for me. Communicating with lovers can be tricky. Communicating with a lover's lover can be even trickier. Somethings are just not my business. But then again... Sometimes I just need to let another know that I've been triggered and that I'm dealing with it, and have nothing to request of them. Other times, I need to request something be different. If I ask for something and get a "no" for the answer to my request, then I have to deal with adjusting to that. And what about when agreements are broken? Lord this stuff can go on and on. Polyamory ain't for wimps I'm telling ya. But some people are just so easy going that for them, just about anything goes and they can be happy with just about whatever is. Truthfully, I've had a fairly easy ride lately. Well, that's true and not true, but regardless of what angle I'm currently looking at, I feel incredibly blessed. My life is good and my relationships are making me juicy and I like being juicy. I'm certainly not complaining.

So yeah, considering the preferences, needs, desires and comfort levels of real people as opposed to the imaginary ones I create in my mind who are there solely for my own selfish pleasures, I'm happy to be doing reality. I'm enjoying watching the issues arise and processing through them. It's pleasing to me. This is what I want. It's not always easy but it's good. It's teaching me stuff I want to learn. It's my life. The one I have created. I like living my life. It's not boring that's for sure.

3. I was discussing a past lover with my husband. It was a triad relationship, our first stab at polyamory and we were fairly clueless. We came up with lots of rules and agreements to keep ourselves feeling safe. So we were discussing this lover and the way we treated her, the role she played in our lives as we moved into a sexually open relationship. Like I said, we came up with lost of rules and agreements that were put into place to keep us (that would be me and my husband) feeling safe. What she wanted wasn't considered so much when we came up with our rules and agreements. Well of course she was there of her own accord and she was making her choices too, the best she knew how. But he was the king and I the queen and she was...well, she was our lover who basically didn't have a voice in regards to how things evolved in the relationship. We (King and I) never consciously not considered her or acted inconsiderately of her feelings and desires (she was our family, best friend, and we loved her dearly) but really, for all intent and purposes, we were quite selfish. She used to jokingly and self effacingly call herself Quasimodo (think "almost one") at times, in regards to her relationship with the two us. It was meant to be funny and it was in the way that we played with that concept--sort of a playful mistress/slave role play that was obviously a joke (and yet sort of not) that the 3 of us had fun with. We were definitely in love in a big way and mostly just 3 friends on equal footing doing something rebellious. But she was also dealing with some real pain regarding her secondary status in our unequal triad. We could have handled it better but we were naive. The bottom line was about us as a couple and what the two of us were ready for, what we could handle and what we needed to do to secure the safety of our coupledom. And I'm not saying that this was "wrong". It just was what it was and oftentimes when first opening up a relationship, couples need it to be this way. Especially if one doesn't know any other way to be. Case in point. She didn't know how to do it differently either. The control that I demanded back then was the tool I used to keep myself safe. My other tool was truthtelling. Considering my level of emotional maturity and the skill set I possessed for dealing with my intense emotions and how terrified I was, they worked well to move me through my stuff. I was propelled by my polyamorous purpose, and exhilarated by what I perceived as a spiritual calling. I still see it that way. Fortunately I've been able to release most (not all) of my control issues but I'm sticking with the truth. I understand ego much better now than I did back then.

4. Several years ago a friend commented on the quest for freedom he saw in me and he pretty much hit the nail on the head. When I started on a polyamorous path (I was first attracted to it 24 years ago, talked freely with my husband about open relationships 15 years ago, and then truly ventured into the lifestyle 9 years ago) I didn't know how to articulate what it was about love and freedom that I was seeking at the time but I've since come to realize on a very profound level that true love has freedom at it's core and that is the essence of what polyamory helps to play out for me, this experiencing a love that is brought forth from freedom.

And so here I am today. Reveling in the opportunity to love more than one while being in relationship with real people. And I'm thankful that my ability to do this multi-partnered dance has improved. Somewhat. I suppose it will be a lifelong project.

5. Currently I'm triggered by an aspect of dealing with polyamory in a particular way because it might pose threatening for one trapped in a traditional mindset. The outward expression of my authentic self has always been a bit unusual and odd when compared to "normal society" and I guess I've pretty much preferred just putting myself out there on public display for others to do with me as they will, accept or reject me. It seems to have pretty much worked in my favor. I don't like the idea of loving in secret, or hiding my true nature. That doesn't mean I'm not capable or willing to be discreet, because, certainly there is much in this life that has asked that of me and that I do willingly. I'm not stupid or unreasonable. I can see the benefit in being reserved at times. Nevertheless, it saddens me that the simple act of loving someone can pose a perceived threat merely because it has stepped out of the normal societal monogamous box. I prefer to model loving more freely. I want to bring it out in the open. I want polyamory to be a model for families and I wish for the children of those families to be exposed to it as a viable option. This is the 21st century folks. We get to redefine our relationships anyway we like. Polyamory is not immoral. It's not something to hide. What is it with us? Here in the United States we just elected our first African American president and yet proposition 8 passed in California, banning same-sex marriage. Human potential is so extraordinary and yet we can be so close minded and closed hearted. I don't want to keep quiet and fuel such small mindedness.

But I do respect others choices. I understand. It's not always so simple. I know that. I'm just saying.


Greenwoman said...

Learning to live poly surely is a process, not an event eh?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this posting. Thanks for putting words to my experience. I love life and loving. It sure can be uncomfortable...and bliss-filled.

Gillette said...

Great post and great realizations about your first lover.

Thanks for being the constantly aware person you are, sharing all the pieces and parts...even the times when you're being unconscious :)

Adrienne Parker said...

Greenwoman, yes indeed, on on-going process filled with incredible events!

Hi anonymous, humm...Yes, you are welcome. I love life and loving too. It seems that the more I'm willing to experience the uncomfortable the more available is the bliss-filledness. Thanks for your appreciation.

Oh Gillette. Thank you my dearheart. Yep, putting my pieces and parts, right on out there. I'm compelled that do this. Part of my path it seems.