Poly people

Those of you who either aren’t single or don’t live near or in an urban area may not be familar (I am just guessing here so correct me nicely if I’m wrong) with the “poly” lifestyle that has become more prevalent or at least more out in the open. Basically, it means having sexual/romantic attachments with two or more people at the same time – or being open to it – where everybody involved is supposed to know (differentiating it from cheating or affairs).

Before you think I’m going to tell you some juicy secret about me, let me assure you I am not! It’s on my mind though, and is from time to time because I’m curious about relationships and how people live, as well as how social mores change. When I was a child I never heard of any such thing and would not have understood if I had. I mean even sex without marriage was a foreign idea to child-me and shocking even. (I was both sheltered and naive.)

Many years back I was seeing a man who, starting early in our dating, “talked” about the polyamorous life. This was rather odd because the man himself seemed ill-suited to it and even pushed me for emotional and other commitments to him that I wasn’t prepared to give. I wasn’t seeing anyone else but did not relinquish the right by promising total loyalty to him. (You must trust that I had my reasons not to and was wisely not rushing anywhere I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go). I never really understood why he ever brought the subject up at all; he seemed theoretically interested in the subject but not at all interested in practicing it (at least at that time when he knew and was seeing me).

While I’m at this topic let me introduce a great word coined by sex writer Dan Savage, “monogamish” which is when two people are mostly monogamous with one another. That is, they have a primary relationship but it is acceptable for each to have other sexual relationships as well. The pair might have certain rules they’re expected to honor; “none of my friends”,  or “only when you’re on business trips”, or “I don’t want to know the details” for examples.

And yet again while I’m on this subject, let me introduce – if you don’t know it (I didn’t till a few years ago) – the word for being happy your partner is having sexual/romantic fun with other people, “compersion.” I gotta tell you, even though it doesn’t involve me and isn’t really my business to have an opinion, I don’t like this word or its concept. There’s something about it that strikes me as a bit smug and affected; as if a person is so evolved that they are above petty feelings like jealousy and competitiveness, and can afford to be sexually and emotionally magnanimous. I dunno – it just seems like a bit much. This probably isn’t helped by my introduction to the word by a man who told me he had felt “joyful compersion” when his girlfriend was sleeping with other guys – that is until she and her other guy fell in love and ran off. I don’t think I had the sympathetic response probably sought. I was thinking, “What did you expect??”

Anyway, I did no research to write this post. I don’t feel like it and if you want to learn more, Google awaits! This leads me to a thought that only occurred to me yesterday. I wondered what kind of people would be most inclined toward polyamorous relationships. See, I was specifically thinking they probably didn’t grow up in a big family where you could call little your own and were forced to share all the time or worse, get nothing. Where you rarely got to be the Center of Attention and had to compete for most everything, even kinda crummy stuff.  I concluded this must be why I’m a poor candidate for a polyamorous life!

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26 thoughts on “Poly people

  1. sonofabeach96

    To each their own. But I’ve always been a one-woman man. I think allowing sexual freedom to a mate is asking for problems. From jealousy to STD’s to sneaking more than agreed to to divorce. Like I said, to each their own, but it’s not for me either.

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          1. sonofabeach96

            You are. That whole scene sounds like a having ones cake and eating it too scenario. All that a marriage brings, yet being able to play around when on a business trip. If you want to play around on a business trip, that’s fine. I played around too. But not when in a committed relationship. Like I said, to each their own.

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  2. camparigirl

    At times in my life, I could have embraced a monogamish life. Maybe it was because the relationships I was in were fulfilling only up to a point, and I would have liked what was missing from someone else. But I realized I wouldn’t be suited – I get too emotionally involved and lack the detachment necessary. But – I can’t criticize what might be working for others.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I wonder about it for exactly the reason you say; if I’m looking around it would almost certainly be because I was missing something. My game plan revolves around not committing to the wrong person (for me). Oh and me too; detachment?! Fuhgettaboutit!

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Although…. I do think certain people come around to it after years of more conventional relationships, concluding they – traditional, monogamous – don’t work for them after all.

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  3. Ally Bean

    I knew none of this because I still am sheltered and naive. However, now that you mention all of this, it does make me wonder about some women I know who have a difficult time pinning down romantic partners on details and dates. Perhaps their men are more poly than they suspect.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Haha! (to “still sheltered and naive”). I know lots of things I probably never wanted to know. You may be dead right about your friends “beaus”. The way I feel is don’t make me empty promises and offers. If you want to see other people, tell me and let me decide if I want to be in the mix. Maybe for someone AMAZING.

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  4. Ron Walker

    I find mostly those that don’t want to “Adult” as the younger kids say. No responsibility, easy to walk away from the other person if you get tired of them. I’m monogamous,

    I think older culture called it swapping, but the newer generations try to label it something more palatable, like Poly.

    It may work for single unmarried couples, but for the most part if they ARE married, the famous line in many movies usually applies, “This will not end well.”

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I think swapping implied something more temporary and/or passing than some of the polyamorous or open relationships you’d find now where there can be multiple serious commitments. I believe in a variety of relationship types – not everyone is suited to conventional, traditional relationships – but would agree these open the door to unforseen problems.

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  5. Maggie Wilson

    Add another to monogamous tally.
    I’ve tried to bend my mind around the poly concept, or as Ron notes, “swapping” – I think it’s a way of justifying, or rationalizing what would otherwise been deemed risky business at the very least.
    I could no more engage is such a relationship than I could hear with my eyes or see with my ears. I’m just not wired that way.
    Like Ally,I am agog at all this new vocabulary. I’m definitely out of touch!

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Haha! I wasn’t sure if these subjects would be familiar to my readership and didn’t want to assume too much one way or the other. Like you I believe my nature is monogamous (and speculated as to aversion for sharing!) but I am interested in what other people do. I suspect a certain amount of people, maybe more women than not, go along because it seems to be expected and they want to be/seem evolved and forward thinking so far as relationships and sexuality but in their hearts feel differently.

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  6. lyrehs49

    I personally don’t understand the concept. Relationships are complicated enough without adding 2 or 3 more people to the mix. I suspect that those in poly amorous relationships are “avoiders” and fear intimacy and this is a way to mask that. My opinion only…..

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I almost did say something about relationships being complicated enough in the post. But I like to look at things from many angles and I do believe many of us try to get all our needs met by one person/partner and might be served to spread out those needs, if not necessarily sexually. Your point and insight is well-taken though; evolved or avoidant?

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  7. battlewagon13

    Haha. You did the same amount of research that I normally do. But yes, I don’t get how you can be truly devoted and happy with someone if you’re not truly devoted and happy with someone. It really doesn’t take much research to figure that out.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Well, it depends what you’re looking for I expect. I certainly know people – I think we’ve discussed this- who have long-term marriages and affairs on the side, with no intention of divorcing. And I’ll do research when they put me on payroll!

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  8. asceticofdesireblog

    I’m polyamorous and when I say polyamorous it may not be in the same sense as the next person who says they are polyamorous as well. It has a wide spectrum when looked at as a relationship status. For some the sexual part is very important and for others the emotional part is. I know someone who loves more than one person very deeply, but is asexual, and is not clingy wanting an emotional attachment. She just loves people without expecting anything back. I believe that responsible polyamory is not about not being “an adult” but is actually being more than what is expected in “an adult”. It is supposed to have more respect and responsibility between people as more than two people could be involved.

    Just as there are people who commit or not in monogamous relationships, there are people who commits or not commit in polyamorous relationships too. It all depends on the individuals or on the “rules” laid out by the parties involved. If the conditioning that it is wrong to love more than one person at a time, or one has to get over a person to love another disappears then it is not too weird to understand polyamorous relationships.

    Not every polyamorous couples are into compersion. Many deal with jealousy and hurt just like in any other relationships. But for some compersion is more about the knowing that your partner is happy in that moment, and you feel happiness that the person you love is happy.

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