Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Followup on Saturation (Or, the Other 'S' Word: Selfishness)

Instead of digging up the notes I have on my "5 Love Languages" book review (which I'll get to, I promise), I wanted to follow up on something I pretty much pooh-poohed in my last post:
There's a term in Polyamory called "polysaturation," which is basically the same principle applied to having multiple partners. One hits his or her polysaturation point when they have too many partners to adequately maintain relationships with them or to maintain a life balance outside of them.

I realize that folks who are critical of poly will tend to roll their eyes at this and think, "Poor poly people and their first-world problems." Get it out of your systems, folks. I'm moving on.
I'm not trying to dismiss anyone's very real frustration at this; it just wasn't quite what I was getting at in my last post. Time for a follow-up.

It isn't really polysaturation here that's being called into question, but the act of having multiple partners in and of itself: if you have multiple partners, how on earth can you devote enough time, resources, and just plain intimacy to the partners you have without leaving them wanting? It's the root of the whole "Polyamory is selfish" belief that many people on the outside - sometimes on the inside - of such relationships can have.

Let's take a step back and bring in an old friend we see pop up on Facebook and Twitter now and again:

Veracity of the quote aside (everyone quotes it, yet nobody seems to have a source), let's forget about resources: for many people, it's the act of loving another that undermines the first relationship. We see things through our own filters; if we're monogamous pendulum-types, then yes, nurturing feelings for another does negatively impact our existing relationship. Any pendulum-type who would do so should expect this, and therefore is being selfish by neglecting their existing relationship in favor of someone new. Lack of available resources just adds to the mix, when someone is okay with the concept, just not so much with the execution.

There's a huge disconnect between monogamous pendulum-types and polyamorous fountain-types in their understanding of each other. Many poly folks get out of sorts (and rightly so) when they see things like the Depp quote above, or hear that Poly folks are selfish. In their defense, some trot out our other good friends we see time and again:

  • My friends don't feel neglected when I make new friends, do they?
  • I don't love my children any less when I have another child, do I? Maybe I should put my first child up for adoption because I can't love them as much as my youngest.
Or the jokes:
  • That's right, I'm stealing ALL THE LADIES! Well, you can date them too! How is that selfish?

As I mentioned back in my first post here, these responses do nothing to bridge the gap - instead, they just cover it in day-glo yellow paint and highlight it even more. The sheer nature of a romantic relationship to a monogamous pendulum-type person is very, very different from either of these, and it's like equating apples to elephants. Of course it doesn't impact your relationship with your friends or your children. Of course it does impact your romantic relationships! And the poly, fountain-type person just sits there baffled by the distinction.

My point in all this isn't to scold anyone, or to fix anything single-handedly. It's just to present the understanding that there is a very real disconnect in the ways in which Poly and Mono folks see romantic relationships and love others. The perspective that polyamory is selfish is a byproduct of this.

It's a belief that such a relationship has to, by nature, be selfish, because we pendulum-types see things through our own filters (as does everyone else). It's not always an attack on Poly folks (although I'm sure some folks say it with enough distaste that it may as well be). It is a very real perspective that needs to be acknowledged and not mocked or dismissed out of hand (or wittily wordsmithed away into friend or child analogies) before we can ever work on understanding the "other side."

Poly folks - open your minds a bit and realize that Mono folks may really feel this way, for good reason. For a pendulum-type, nurturing romantic feelings for another would be selfish and unfair to their other partner, because their love would be divided.

Mono folks - open your minds a bit and understand that Poly folks don't love like we do. That the child and friend analogies actually make sense to them because they don't feel romantic love as exclusively as we do. Just try to accept that if they really are polyamorous, they aren't giving anyone the short end of the stick, love-wise. See what time and experience tells you as their relationships develop. Try asking your friends in polyamorous or mono/poly relationships what they really need in a relationship, what they really gain from this relationship (not in a snarky way, either!), and see how they respond.

And everyone? If you have multiple relationships, make sure everyone's getting what they need and that resource allocation isn't a problem. It's no success to have a partner who accepts or groks Poly while they starve for your time and intimacy. Loving More is great. Loving Well is a different skill entirely.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Flip Side of Saturation (or, Something's Gotta Give)

Ah, life.

Sometimes things get busy, and then sometimes things get REALLY busy. I've been a bit saturated of late: home improvement projects, work, kids' activities, processing my mom's estate, and most recently, having a large number of house guests. Too many things crammed into too little time and space means something needs to sit on the back burner a while... hence, the lack of posts, here and elsewhere. That home improvement project? A bathroom renovation. Correction, a bathroom renovation which didn't get finished before the house guests arrived. Oops.

Oversaturation can lead to complications.

There's a term in Polyamory called "polysaturation," which is basically the same principle applied to having multiple partners. One hits his or her polysaturation point when they have too many partners to adequately maintain relationships with them or to maintain a life balance outside of them.

I realize that folks who are critical of poly will tend to roll their eyes at this and think, "Poor poly people and their first-world problems." Get it out of your systems, folks. I'm moving on.

It's not always obvious when you've hit that point until you've hit it. When you realize that you haven't been out with your friends in months. When you realize that you haven't read a book, or indulged any of your hobbies. When you realize that your house is a pig sty and your laundry has grown feet and walked away. Then what? Short of creating more hours in a day (sleep? Who needs sleep?), something needs to give. In this case, however, many of those somethings are someones, and if you love them, that's an extremely difficult position in which to find yourself.

Something's gotta give. The oversaturated person needs to first own that yes, they ARE saturated (at least, the hallucinatory fluffy pink flying marshmallow peeps from sleep-deprivation-land should be telling them so), before they can ever try to figure out what to actually do about it.

There's a flip side to all of this, though. This is all from the oversaturated person's point of view. What of their partners?

On the flip side of saturation is dilution. I'd be oh-so-witty and call it monodilution, but honestly, you don't have to be mono to be affected by it. Where saturation deals with "how much is too much," dilution asks, "how little is too little." It's an important consideration, and it's not necessarily a one-for-one relation. One person may be completely unaffected by their partner's schedule (Work, dinner, date, and home at 11? Okay, just turn out the light when you come in!), while another may be absolutely miserable.

For us mono partners, we may be a bit quicker to hit this point, since we're used to the monogamous norm: if you're in a relationship with someone, you can call them pretty much at any time - work notwithstanding, you can see them regularly - and you expect to see them more regularly, even daily, as your relationship progresses, you can assume that your partner will be going to an event with you because he's your partner, and that's what partners do. And in some Poly relationships, this can all fall over on its ear. Many of us, outside of those who have partners who travel for a living, or are deployed overseas, don't know what our dilution point is, because we've never really hit it. We never had to, due to the expectations of the relationship escalator. And now, it's hit us.

I'm not immune. I struggled greatly with this, and it pretty much came to a head early this year.

This past winter was an exercise in frustration: 2 feet of snow every few days (Really, Mother Nature?!), a wood stove that seemed to have a personal vendetta against me (while allowing my partner to light it first time every time, it seemed). Sometimes our schedule (alternating two days with me, then two days with his other live-in partner) would get perturbed due to things beyond our control, and as I shoveled 18" of snow by myself with only a shovel (at least until the neighbor took pity on me), I began to wonder what "having a partner" really means to me.

A partner, to me, is someone who shares your life with you. The good, the bad, the mundane, and all the shared experiences that you have as you go along for the ride. How do I consider someone my partner if they're not around for a sizeable chunk of it all? How do you build shared experiences when your experiences together are limited from the start?

I wish I could say we found a nice, easy answer to that question. I found my own, personal answer a few months later when my mother passed away. My partner was there, no question, as long as I needed him to be. It pretty much cemented in my mind and heart that he is my partner, and he is there for me when I need him, even if this relationship isn't something that fits the norm.

Bringing this back to dilution, though, I've clearly found my dilution point. Anything less than half-time is pretty much untenable. When there are added stressors and/or our time together gets perturbed, I get antsy and time-hoardy, and absolutely need undisturbed reconnection time in order to start feeling normal again. This happens regardless of whether or not my partner is feeling saturated.

So, what do you do about it?

Many mono folks, especially people who have opened up a relationship, worry greatly about this type of thing happening - will my spouse/partner and I have enough time for each other? How will I be able to sleep alone? They've never had to find their dilution point, and are now confronted with having to. It's frightening, and it highlights that yes, there is something they're losing, whether it's time/intimacy already in place with a partner, or a perceived loss of potential (which is what I was feeling) - that the relationship will struggle to become (or stay) "real" and not casual.

The saturated partner, whether poly or even just a workaholic, needs to own their saturation point and learn to work within what they can handle. So too does the mono/diluted partner.

What is it that you need? How much do you need of it?
Ask for it. Talk about it. Keep talking about it, and then talk about it some more. Make your drop-dead requirements known if you know them. Take a stab at them if you don't, and then talk about it again once you realize you're not quite there yet. You are allowed to talk about and request this stuff: your partner isn't a mind-reader, and you're not superhuman. Something's gotta give. Don't let it be your relationship until you at least give it a fighting chance.

Oh... and as for my own saturation? I have approximately a bajillion blog posts in the hopper (give or take), and funnily enough, this wasn't one of them. Go figure. Things are settling down, and I hope to be getting back into the groove now. Thanks to all of you for being patient.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: PolyWeekly Podcast 398 - Poly-Mono Mix

I think we've all had this happen at least once or twice - that odd synchronicity of events where, say, you hear a song you haven't heard in a while, or an odd word in conversation, and for the next few weeks you hear it EVERYWHERE.

A couple weeks ago, I was perusing my Twitter feed and noticed that Minx (of Polyamory Weekly fame) had posted a link to the latest PW podcast, related to Mono/Poly relationships (Podcast #398). Naturally, I had to check it out, and ended up stifling a laugh as I saw "avoid 'shoulding' on yourself" mentioned there, too. Clearly, I'm not as original as I thought. <cue sad trombone music>

Wounded pride notwithstanding, I gave the podcast a listen. This is big for me. I don't really listen to podcasts in general; I'm not a 'talk-radio' kind of girl. Plus, although I'd known about Minx's podcast for a while, I figured that despite my relationship configuration, I'm not Poly, have no interest in being Poly, so what benefit would I gain from listening to a poly podcast? This one, though, had my situation written all over it, and my curiosity got the better of me.

Before I continue, I want to stress that the letter-writer to whom Minx was replying (ChasingJoy) is in a very specific place - not only researching polyamory for her husband's benefit (as he was the one who "came out" as Poly), but because she was also interested in it as a potential relationship style for herself, even though she was struggling. Minx and Lusty Guy's responses should be considered with that point of view in mind. Some of the wording used may make some mono folks cringe. I know that I cringed (heck, my partner cringed!) when I heard the advice, "don't expect to change quickly," because I personally don't want to change. I like monogamous me the way I am, and I don't like the implication that change is required. However, there is definite acknowledgment from both Minx and Lusty Guy that you don't have to try to be Poly just because your spouse is, and hearing that validation helped calm my initial knee-jerk reaction enough to remind me that they're responding to ChasingJoy, and not my own situation.

Sometimes the world doesn't revolve around me. Who knew?

That aside, Minx and LG spend some time discussing how to take care of yourself when you're anxious about this transition, especially when your partner is out with other partners/dates of their own, and I think much of it is extremely good advice: quit with the "shoulds" (I've said enough about this already), do some positive reinforcement (take credit for the good things), and stand up for what you need in your relationship, outside of whatever other relationships your partner has. All good stuff. Self-care is extremely important, especially when you're struggling. Asking for the things you need, while keeping your partner's other partners/dates/activities out of it is a means of taking that focus and putting it back on you and your relationship, where it belongs. If I'm happy in my relationship, then I'm less stressed about what my partner's doing with other people.

There were, however, a couple pieces of advice that gave me pause, and I'll explain why, at least from my experience. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

"Fake it 'Til You Make It"


I've seen this echoed elsewhere, and I'm really not a fan of this approach. It just doesn't work for me. I find it to be too tangled up in the "shoulds". I don't like how I'm acting/feeling, so I'm going to put on an outward appearance of acting like I feel I should in order to get by.

In my case, it turned into burying the negative emotions I was feeling, and thinking that things were going to be great if I could only accept this, or do that. I put on the smile and faked it. Right up 'til the volcano popped and the eruption occurred. "Fake it 'til you explode" was my reality.

I don't fake it anymore. If I'm upset, I talk about it. If I'm worried about something, I bring it up. If I ever find myself in another relationship, I am going to be that man's worst nightmare, since at this point, I'm accustomed to not even saying that we need to talk - I just drop it all out on the table so we can talk about it and work it out. And we do. I lucked out with a partner (and metamours) who are good with communicating and coming to resolution, but faking my way through never gave us that opportunity.

"Distract, Distract, Distract"

"What do I do when my partner goes out and I'm home alone?"

I've seen this question so many places, and it really is a difficult answer.

Minx and LG talk about a three-step process, which I think is a good one overall:

  1. Check in with your partner beforehand
  2. Distract yourself during the event
  3. Reconnect afterward
But, boy... to a struggling Mono partner, "Distract yourself" can sound extremely dismissive. At first glance, it sounds remarkably like your older sibling trying to get rid of you after mom made you hang out. Here's five bucks. Go do something. Get lost. 

It feels like busy work, and to someone who's used to being joined at the hip to their partner, used to sharing your lives with each other, being told to now "go find something to do" can be just plain hurtful and dismissive of your feelings.

Except, when you boil it down and examine its intent, it's really not.

This is where I think the wording does us a disservice; distracting yourself only goes so far. If there is something nagging at you, making you anxious, then if your focus is only on distracting yourself, it isn't going to work. See that pink elephant? Don't look at it! You can't look at it! The stress will just hover like a cloud over whatever it is you're doing, and you won't be able to help but think about it. So no... for me, distracting yourself isn't the only answer, but it's part of it.

Here's my reinterpretation of "distract, distract, distract":
  1. Find something to do that enriches you
  2. Continue to work on the underlying anxiety
If you're really struggling, this is not something that can be accomplished in one night, and Minx acknowledges that this kind of thing is a process that takes time.

Finding an activity that enriches you is more than going out and kvetching with the girls, or watching some bad TV. Those things may work in the moment, but chances are, if the stress level is high, you're going to have a hard time focusing on the activity, rather than on avoiding the pink elephant. Instead, try to find something you really, truly enjoy. Something that uplifts and enriches you. Something you can get lost in, to the point where you pick your head up and wonder where the time has gone. Gardening and yard work is my medicine - I can lose all track of time, even when I'm in a particularly craptacular mood, and I end up coming out the other side feeling much happier in my own skin. What is it for you? Making music? Writing? Home improvements? Church or spiritual activities? Video games? Cooking? It may take time to try on various things before you find one that fits (heck, it may even take some training - photography class, anyone?), but when you find it, you'll know it, and you'll want to do it because you love it, not because you've been driven to it.

Working on the underlying issues will help to lift that anxiety from the source. Minx discusses confronting your problems and not avoiding them by establishing rules that only serve to bury them. You can't fix the source of the stress if you avoid finding out what it is. Are you envious that your partner goes out on dates while you stay at home with the house and children? Are you feeling pushed aside and forgotten when they go out? Are you feeling as though you're no longer special because he's sharing special moments with other people now? Any of these would lead to feelings of jealousy, but they may not all have the same "fix".

Overall, I found it nice to see mono/poly relationships discussed in a healthy, inclusive way, and I'd love to see more. I think Minx and LG hit the nail on the head many times, and genuinely, compassionately, cared about ChasingJoy's well-being and emotional health, without invalidating monogamy as a valid option for her own identity. I encourage you to give it a listen and see what you think. As for me, I think I'll be changing my mind about podcasts... at least, for this one.


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Insidious "S" - Word

You know the word. It's used ALL the time. And usually ends up making one feel like... well... crap.

That word?

We should all over ourselves on a regular basis, it seems - telling ourselves that what we're really doing or feeling isn't good enough. We should all over other people when it seems they're not performing to some arbitrary standard.

I'm not a jealous person; I shouldn't be feeling this way.

I'm poly! I shouldn't be worried about how close the two of them are!

I should be able to do this without asking for help/rules/reassurance; I need to just let it go.

You should be fine with him dating; that's what you signed up for!

Feels like we just got served a should sandwich. Nummy.

In the beginning of my relationship with my partner, I was taken aback by all the emotion and confusion I was dealing with. I'd always been more of a logical person, so I felt like Spock during Pon Farr - I had no idea what the hell all this... stuff... was, and had no idea how to deal with it. Logically, I could understand Poly. Logically, I wasn't a jealous person. Therefore, logically, I should be able to handle it just fine. And so, I buried those feelings.

Amazing how such a small, innocuous word turns into a fantastic tool for minimizing the things we are currently feeling and doing, in favor of what we believe we ought to feel and do, like we're upholding some magical ideal. Instead, we're rendering ourselves and our own feelings invisible, and telling ourselves that we're doing it wrong. That we come short of the ideal. That if we just stopped doing or feeling that, then we'd be fine.

Sometimes, the Poly groups and articles online are the worst offenders. I've seen a handful of articles in the last couple weeks that imply that jealousy just doesn't exist in Poly relationships. I've seen posts online that state that, if you're having a hard time, then maybe you should just give up. If you're jealous/angry/hurt, you've fallen short of the chosen ideal. You're wrong, and you're being unfair to your partner.

I'm monogamous; I get that I'm probably doing it wrong. But if you identify as polyamorous, how on Earth does something like that make you feel when you do have those jealous moments? Either way, you should all over yourself until you stop what you're doing.

Burying my feelings was the absolute worst thing I could have done. My emotions put me in a push/pull cycle of friendship with my metamour, where I tried (VERY) hard to be close with her, and then had to pull away, time and again. I was concerned about feeling second-best (but I shouldn't feel that way!), I was concerned about how her moving in with our partner was going to impact our relationship (but I shouldn't worry - he loves me!), I was still trying to get my own sea legs (but I should just trust my partner and I'll be fine!). And as each emotion got pushed down deeper and deeper, the smiles got faker and faker, and one day I erupted in a miasma of seething resentment.

This, as you may have guessed, didn't really help any.

Once damage control had begun, I realized that I needed to allow myself to feel what I was feeling. Burying it solved nothing, but acknowledging it - really accepting that yes, I am this kind of person... at least at the moment - and working through the reason why (even if it takes a few tries) is monumentally better than closing your eyes to the person you really are, even if you don't like that person all the time.

So how do we quit taking should from people? How do we stop giving people so much should? Whether we're monogamous or polyamorous, it seems like we're constantly stepping in should wherever we go.

Recognizing when you're surrounded by should would be the first step. Don't let that should overwhelm you. It's not real. It's some made-up utopian fantasyland, and you're turning the map over and over again in a vain attempt to find it. After all, others have been there - why can't you follow directions?


Assess where you are. What you're feeling. Accept it. Work through it. Even if you don't like it.

Especially if you don't like it.

Time for should to start gettin' real.

Friday, August 1, 2014

On Analogies and Love

If you've taken the SATs (at least, back in the dark ages when I took the SATs), I'm sure you remember that accursed analogy section:
Obsequious : Toast :: Ubiquitous : __________

If we weren't familiar with the words, and we were lucky, we could eliminate a couple choices and have maybe a 50/50 shot of coming up with a right answer. If we weren't lucky, we were sitting, scratching our heads, thinking, "This is a word?!"

Here's one for you:
monogamy : polyamory :: ? : ??

Yeah, I know it's unfair to have two unknowns in the analogy. It's also spot on.

How do you, as a Mono partner of a Poly person, translate your partner's entire way of loving into something you can relate to? If you're like me, it's not something you can emotionally Grok. Intellectually and logically? Sure... you get that monogamy : polyamory :: one : many. That's the easy part. If you're monogamous by nature, though, it's incredibly tough to understand - really understand - how someone can deeply, intimately love more than one person.

It was obvious that my friends didn't understand, either. I heard comments like, "Well, you're the one he really loves; she's just a fling," or, "Well, he'll pick one of you and settle down eventually." Things that were meant to be supportive (and, at one time, were probably exactly what I wanted to hear), but weren't reality.

To be fair, my partner didn't understand me, either. Why was I hurt when he told me, when we were starting our relationship, that he fully expected me to date? Why didn't more love from more people affect me in a positive way by spilling over into the rest of my life, rather than making me a miserable, conflicted mess? Explaining myself to him was like trying to explain what water tastes like. You can't find any words that work, even though you know the feeling quite well.

Some folks like to try to bridge the gap using the "child analogy":
If you have more than one child, you don't love either of them any less.

True. And I understand the point people are trying to make: having multiple romantic partners doesn't have to mean that you love any of them less, either. However, there are a couple reasons this falls flat for me, one of which is simply that the parent/child relationship is vastly different from a relationship between romantic partners. I'm raising my kids to be independent adults, self-sufficient, and able to leave the house and make their own way without me (although a call once in a while would be nice). I'm not grooming my partners to leave me; at least, I hope I'm not. There are enough differences between the two types of relationships that it seems to require a different sense of the word "love" altogether, meaning that we're not really comparing the same thing. Apples and Volkswagons.

I don't really like the "explain Poly by equating it to Mono relationships" type of analogies, because they seem to always fall flat with someone, regardless of how clear the analogy seems. I did prefer the, "Why did you choose to have two kids?" over the previous child analogy, since that seems to remove the whole "love" comparison and just boil it down to, "Because I wanted to." However, not everyone feels the same about it. The, "You don't stop making friends just because you already have friends, right?" analogy sounds great, up to the point where the Mono person responds back with, "But you don't have to sleep with friends." Again, two very different relationships are being compared.

Instead of relating Poly love directly to Mono love, I tried something else: relating them each to familiar, but individual ideas that people can understand. I switched around the analogy:
monogamy : ? :: polyamory : ??

I'm Monogamous. My love is a pendulum.
When I am fully invested in a romantic partnership, that pendulum has swung all the way in that direction.
When I am casually dating, that pendulum is somewhere in the middle, tending to everyone, but nowhere as intense.
I cannot be fully invested in more than one person. My (romantic) love is a zero-sum game. More there equals less here.

My partner is Polyamorous. His love is a fountain.
Everyone within the radius gets just as wet as everyone else.
Space (and time) is a zero-sum game, as there isn't room for everyone in the radius (and some people's radii are smaller than others). However, his love is not. Everyone has the potential to be just as important as anyone else, provided they're fully in the circle.
If one person tries to keep that love all to themselves by putting, say, a bucket over the fountain, it just ends up messy and people still get wet.
He cannot be anything but fully invested within that circle, regardless of how many people are there.

If you've experienced love as a fountain-type your entire life, you can't even comprehend why telling your partner to date would ever be a problem. If you're a pendulum-type, you've just heard, "I want you to love me less." It's no wonder we're completely baffled by each other when we talk about love.

monogamy : pendulum :: polyamory : fountain

Sounds like there should be a fish on a bicycle joke in there somewhere...

What analogies have resonated with you (positively or negatively)? Please share your experiences in the comments.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shameless Pluggery

Someone suggested that I associate this blog with a Twitter account, to announce posts, etc. It surprised me, since I've pretty much had a "meh" relationship with Twitter over the last few years. I have a personal Twitter account that I haven't seen much use for, except for reading my feed while sitting around in doctors' office waiting rooms. The one I created for my Spinning class was pretty much limited in audience to the class, and nobody looked at it, so I deleted that one.

Promotion, however? Yeah, I guess that works. Let's see how this goes.

New blog posts will be announced there (for those who don't want to deal with RSS subscriptions), and maybe little bits and pieces that aren't all that suited for a full-fledged blog post. And no, I'm not announcing this post via Twitter. Too meta. :-)


Friday, July 25, 2014

Stumbling Along the Path, or... What Happened to My Feet?!

It’s a bit daunting starting a new blog. It feels a bit egocentric to think that, out of the sea of stuff out there on the Internet, anyone would be interested to read what I have to write.

Except, this is the kind of thing I wish I’d had available to me a few years ago.

I’m a monogamous woman, mid-40s, divorced, two kids, and I’m in a relationship with a polyamorous man. When we were first starting out, I looked up anything online that I could find (well, after I was out of denial, I suppose) - anything that could help me navigate this path I’d chosen for myself but had no idea how to walk along. It was like someone had replaced my feet with pegs, swatted me on the ass at the head of the (unmarked) path, and said “have fun storming the castle!”

I chose my path, which makes my experiences different from many people in a Mono/Poly relationship. I walked in with my eyes open, even though I had no idea what I was looking at. The navigating was tough (and still is sometimes), but time and experience have helped me figure out these sticks-for-legs somewhat and muddle my way down the path, although not as comfortably as my partner does.

Many folks find themselves in a marriage or relationship that opens up when their partner comes out as Poly. While that wasn’t my experience, I hope that maybe some of what you read here could be useful, and that maybe you’ll find a sympathetic voice and ear. It’s tough to find material out there for Mono/Poly relationships. While Polyamory seems to be the new buzzword in the media, many of the articles out there tout “Is Polyamory the next Monogamy?” or “Is Monogamy Dead?” and while it’s nice to have mainstream references, they may come off as one-sided or sensationalistic. In addition, if you decide to read the comments on such articles (protip: DON’T READ THE COMMENTS!), they tend to be a hotbed of judgment and name-calling. Not really supportive.

Many sites relating to Polyamory are great if you’re the polyamorous one. They tout the benefits of being open and loving more. They talk of college-aged folks in romantic networks, or poly families where everyone is living together and in love. Sometimes they talk of monogamous oppression, social conditioning, and brainwashing. “Rah-Rah Poly” with an “Anti-Monogamy” slant. Not really supportive.

There was one site I glommed onto in the beginning of my relationship: Franklin Veaux’s “More Than Two” ( This was one of the first (and only) sites I found that paid more than lip service to mono/poly relationships. Other sites, I’d found, when they did acknowledge mono/poly relationships, either said, “Date within your own species; it’s doomed to failure,” or said things like, “Maybe the Mono person could date someone too” (because we’re all poly inside!). Possibly the best I’d heard was, “It takes a lot of work and communication; good luck.”

Veaux’s site had articles written from the Monogamous partner’s point of view (gasp!) that I actually used to show my partner and his OSO that hey - this is what I’m feeling, and am having trouble articulating - and look! I’m not crazy, dammit! It was refreshing to me to FINALLY be acknowledged as a viable partner with a different, but valid point of view (that wasn’t reduced to “monogamy’s fine for some people, BUT…”).

While I do recommend Franklin Veaux’s site, there are others who take exception to it, and I understand why. For many folks opening a marriage, it’s frightening as hell, and spouses may come to agreements regarding how much time they’re allowed to spend with others, veto privilege (where one spouse can tell the other to stop dating someone if they’re uncomfortable), among others. FV’s view on these types of rules is negative (although he does differentiate between rules and agreements), which leaves some Mono partners feeling, again, unsupported.

So why do we need the support anyway, some people ask. After all, Monogamy is the societal default. We don’t need support to be who we are. Our Poly partners do.

Yes, they do. I’m not going to deny that. It’d be nice to live in a world where people didn’t give a rat’s ass about who people loved (when everyone is a consenting adult).

But if you’re monogamous, and in a Mono/Poly relationship, you know darned well that we need the support from time to time. No, we don’t need support to be monogamous… but try talking to your monogamous friends about your relationship and see where that gets you. If they care about you, they may try to help or save you: “He’s disrespecting you.” “Can’t you see you deserve better?” And forget about ever talking about a problem in your relationship. It’s just proof that “that could never work.” Most of my friends who are accepting still preface their response with, “Well, I could never do that, but if it works for you…” I’ve had good friendships deteriorate because of my relationship, and all because I “deserve better than a part time relationship.”

Support from the poly side? Well, we’re not poly. And to some Poly folks, we’re “the oppressors” or worse, “brainwashed” or “socially conditioned”. To some, if we’d only “see the light” we’d realize that monogamy is a patriarchal construct, meant to control people… and marriage? It’s all about ownership. Some folks are perfectly accepting and helpful, however. It’s wading through the ones who aren’t that gets discouraging, and turns some folks off towards asking Poly folks anything at all.

So, we’re no longer in the Mono world, being in a Poly relationship. We’re not Poly. We’ve got one foot in each world by virtue of simply being in a relationship with this person we love, and we don’t fit into either side.

That’s why we need some support.
That’s why the majority of the pro-Poly pieces out there don’t speak to us
That’s why we feel isolated from our Mono friends and condescended to by some of the Poly folks out there.

That’s why it’s nice to hear a familiar voice.

That said, I’ve carved out some spots for myself that may be helpful:
Yahoo has a pair of sister groups: PolyMono, which is the group for the Mono partners in Mono/Poly relationships, and livingpolymono, which is the group for the Poly partner. Both groups welcome either Mono or Poly folks, but each group focuses toward providing support toward either the Mono or Poly side of the relationship.

The boards at can be helpful - there are regulars there who have mono spouses, as well as those from all other walks of Poly life: Solo Poly, Poly Families, Relationship Anarchists, etc. The tone can be blunt at times, so if you’re looking for a support group atmosphere, you will need to realize that many posters here don’t mince words.

And now, here.

My intent here is to talk about my experiences - things that have been problematic, things to be aware of, things that we’ve worked through, things that have worked (or haven’t), things that are going well, and to offer an alternative to the “Mono/Poly relationships can never work out” voices that can be discouraging. I’m certainly no expert - we’ve been at this for less than a handful of years - but we’re not noobs (anymore), so maybe something can be useful, even if it’s just to know that there’s someone else with peglegs stumbling along the path ahead of you a bit.

What this blog isn’t: my partner’s voice (he’s got blogs and a voice of his own, and I won’t speak for him). It isn’t a list of “things to do to be happy in your relationship” - everyone’s relationship (and everyone in it) is different, and what works for me may not work for you. It is, however, a chronicle of my journey.

Keep stumbling. I’ll share my bruises and bumps, but I’ll leave some breadcrumbs along the path, and maybe we can find a bar somewhere, sit down, and have a margarita.

Mmm… margaritas.