It’s very common for polyamorous bloggers to mostly write in generalities, leave out or obscure specifics. I know personally that as much as I try to be as vivid and specific as possible (because I feel like it helps readers connect more with my experiences) that I rarely put things out publicly while I’m currently in the thick of things, and even then, I’m very intentional about what I say and how.
While I’m not saying that this is a phenomenon limited to poly folk (I assure you it’s not), I do think being polyamorous and writing about your love life presents unique challenges.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of ones that have occurred to me:
1. You Can Really Tick Your Partners and Metamours Off
There are a number of reasons for this. Memory is a subjective and imperfect sense, and it’s rare that two recollections will coincide perfectly. Furthermore, language is limited in its ability to express what really happened, so you will always leave something out or say something imprecise, despite your best efforts to make words match with experiences. These omissions and estimations can absolutely enrage someone else who feels strongly about the same incident.
I have a pretty sweet deal with my primary/Dom/husband Skyspook in which he has said “You are allowed to write anything about me ever. I try to live my life in a way that I’d be okay with someone else writing about it,” and actually seems to mean it as it’s been well tested over time. He trusts my motives as writer and sees me as someone who wouldn’t intentionally and maliciously spread something that I believe is false.
However, not everyone is this cool with my writing about them. And while I try to not to overly babyproof my existence or cater to everyone’s whims (especially important since I’ve been in recovery from dependent personality disorder since 2011), it’s exhausting to deal with constant disruption.
One essay I wrote shortly after a confusing interaction with a few friends caused the world’s silliest epic shitstorm. In a way, it’s good to know when people are thin skinned so that you don’t get terribly invested and find yourself in a loop where you’re always walking on eggshells.
But at the same time, I try to limit talking about heated interactions close to the time of their occurrence and prefer to wait until the people in question either won’t recognize themselves in what I have written and/or we’re all laughing about it.
However, part of my Standard Relationship Talk ™ is warning the romantic prospect that I’m a writer, blog regularly about my love and sex life, and that if they date me, there’s an excellent chance they’ll get written about. It seems better to warn people – some of them even consider it a perk.
All that said, if something is important enough to me, I will write about it. It’s one of the things I’m most stubborn about. It’s not a trivial matter to me.
2. Oversharing About Another Relationship Can Really Hurt Your Other Partners
I will say that people vary WILDLY with this. Some people are really hurt by specifics (sexual, emotional, and otherwise) regarding your other lovers. It can thrum up insecurity, make them feel left out, etc. On the other hand, some people are huge compersion masters and perverts and ache to know every prurient and warm fuzzy detail of your other relationships. Even if that is the case, however, some of your other partners might not want you sharing intimate details with your other partners, let alone the public, disguised identity or not. Michelle voiced displeasure at an extremely gushy essay I wrote when I first started dating Skyspook, stressing both its insensitivity and the fact that it was the first time she’d heard me refer to him as my “boyfriend.”
3. Poly Bloggers Are Reluctant to Share Their Mistakes
I know a very widely read and prominent poly blogger personally, and he definitely carefully curates which mistakes he writes about and when.
I’m certain I do the same thing, although it’s harder to see it in myself because of bias. Still, I can see it and identify multiple potential reasons, with both of us.
First off, there’s a definite fear of scaring off or alienating new dating prospects. As much as I try to espouse the “be open, fail fast, don’t try to look good” philosophy of dating (because it has better results), it’s really hard sometimes to get past that initial impulse to put your best foot forward when it comes to dating, treat it like a job interview where there’s gonna be a switcheroo when you’ve reeled them in (muwahaha). It causes shit relationships based on lies and dubious compatibility, and I emphasize again I really try to avoid doing it at all costs, but sometimes it sneaks in and it still totally happens.
It’s terrifying to be like “SO HEY I WAS A HORRIBLE PERSON AND DID XYZ,” and you’ll find yourself sharing it in muuuuuch less detail, half-admissions, etc. It’s a very common behavior – to admit “hey, I’m not perfect, but I’m gonna gloss over exactly how.”
Another thing that comes into play is the desire to be a Good Model Poly Person. Since monogamy is the status quo way of doing things, and a lot of times people have never even heard of poly (although that’s getting to be less the case as the years crawl onward), you don’t want to reveal anything you did wrong because you feel like polycurious mono folks are just looking for a reason why Poly Never Works.
Still, I gotta say that I learn a tremendous amount from my own mistakes, and I’m really hoping I’ll become more courageous about sharing them. I swear I’m only 20% or so janky. Trust me. (Update: I got more courageous.)
4. Poly People Are Fucking Busy
I speak from experience when I say that it takes a lot more time and effort to write something detailed tied to specifics than to just write an essay that’s “here are my blanket opinions based on the last year or so” and call it a day.
Skyspook and I were involved last year with a girl who came into the relationship having read a bunch of my writing. It was encouraging that when we began to have discussions about the nitty-gritty of how to work this damn thing that she already had a good understanding of how we operate (the care-based carte blanche), our relationship dynamics, and my general philosophies re: love, sex, and relationships. I mean, yeah, it was a time saver, sure, but more than anything it affirmed to me that I’m doing an okay job at writing authentically despite the fact that I’ll never be perfect at it.
And that’s a good feeling indeed.