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” (morethantwo.com). 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 Polyamory.com 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.