A lot of my favorite poly bloggers share a similar story: They came to polyamory naturally. Monogamy just wasn’t a thing that they did well (or at all). Sure, they would try to fit themselves into that box, particularly when they came upon someone they truly cared about who expressed that exclusivity was important to them, signaled commitment. But there was something naturally different about how they approached relationships, and eventually they’d be back to their old ways of approaching and structuring relationships.
This is not at all how things went for me. I was instead convinced by others of poly (I’d done mono and casual non-mono) and when I gave it a shot, I found unexpected benefits so then I did work to make it sustainable for me.
But I never felt like I couldn’t do mono or that it was unrealistic.
And adjusting to polyamory was hard fucking work.
The Polyamorous Misanthrope, one of my favorite bloggers of all time, cautions against forcing yourself too much in “You Don’t Have to Do it.”
My early days were rough, but now I’m generally happy, and there are days where I’m OVER THE FUCKING MOON.
But sometimes I do wonder if my experiences are less valid or if I’m less poly (so to speak) if it wasn’t something that came naturally to me.
This self-doubt came into sharp focus when Skyspook dated Cassie, a girl with hippie parents who had modeled healthy non-monogamy for her from a very young age.* I found myself blazingly jealous of her and worried that I’d come across deficient, that she was a guru and I was a caveperson, grunting, throwing rocks, causing trouble. They’re no longer dating, and as it turns out, they didn’t communicate well (and no rocks were thrown by anyone), but at the time, I could see vividly – so vividly – Skyspook “trading up” for a primary who was poly-er.
As the Polyamorous Misanthrope writes in “You Don’t Have to Do it”:
I’ve seen descriptions of people feeling like their hearts are being ripped out. I’ve seen descriptions of people wanting to curl into a ball and cry while their partners are with other people…I’m also not saying that twinges of discomfort are reasons to drop a relationship. There’s an enormous difference between, “Dammit, I feel lonely and at a loose end and wish I were out having fun, too” and curling up in a little ball and crying your eyes out because you feel so abandoned, alone and unloved.
And it WAS this hard for me, especially in the beginning. But I practiced, and I got better. I wasn’t born a poly prodigy, but I self-taught and did my scales enough that I can hold my own, yet somehow I worry I am less than those who came to it more naturally.
In any event, I know (roughly) what I’m doing now.
*My parents are monogamous, didn’t really show each other affection or seem to like each other much when I was growing up, but stayed married anyway – and my mother is an extremely jealous person to the point where she covers naked people in movies when my dad is watching them and has been openly hostile to women she perceives as threateningly attractive.