The Taxonomy of Cacti, or Poly Curiosity Killed the Cat’s Social Life

flowering cactus with pretty pink blooms
Image by Michal Mañas / CC BY

It’s fairly easy to generate a plethora of positive-sounding reasons why someone might be a good fit for polyamory. You could be a person who loves freely, without boundaries, secure, set on enriching your own life and as many other lives as possible through unique personal connections, intent on having myriad intense life experiences.

Me? I like to say that I’m nosy.

I’ve been fascinated by other people for as long as I can remember, what goes on inside their heads, why they do the things they do. This is especially true if their beliefs are radically different from me – or at least seem to be on the surface. Friends are often surprised by how long I will entertain beliefs that are offensive, that I’ll not only tolerate media with problematic themes but seek it out (a mix of morbid curiosity and an eternal fight against the near inevitability of confirmation bias), and how often I’ll commit the cardinal Internet sin of… reading the fucking comments. Scandalous. I watch a lot of terrible TV on purpose.

Some examples:

  1. 19 Kids and Counting (19 Kids)
  2. Jon and Kate Plus 8 (J&K8)
  3. Sister Wives (SW)
  4. The Bachelor (TB)
  5. Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KK)

I will most likely be writing about these terrible shows through my sex-positive kinky nonmonogamous filter later in greater detail, and bear with me, I’ll try to make it as entertaining as possible. I take great solace in the fact that one of my all-time blogging heroes, Cliff of the Pervocracy, wrote a shit ton about Cosmopolitan in their Cosmocking series. For those blissfully ignorant of Cosmo’s fail-tastic-ness, it is a magazine that is arguably the world’s worst place to get sex and relationship advice, but Cosmo eagerly gives it out anyway.

But as a quickie, here’s what I find fascinating, entertaining, educational, and/or interesting about them:

#1, #2, and #3 (19 Kids, J&K8, SW):

The families covered have a million kids, and I have no kids and don’t want any (never really had the urge, I love sex, but the “I want to reproduce” and “I want to be a mother” feelings are completely foreign to me).

#1 and #3 (19 Kids, SW):

These families are super religious. Different religions but a lot of God. I was raised in a strict French-Canadian Roman Catholic home, briefly a militant atheist in my late teens, and these days cultivate a chill casual Buddhism with apatheist leanings that reads pretty secular. The husband likes to celebrate the 4 solstices so we do that together and often with others, and we have a marathon celebration spanning from the Winter Solstice until Epiphany (which is my favorite of my old school Catholic holidays). But we’re fairly hedonistic yet pragmatic moral relativists who love science. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as “spiritual” since I’m not super woo-woo, but I’m not offended when others do.

#3 and #4 (SW, TB):

Examples of the worst/most painful ways to do non-monogamy.

#4 (TB):

Very unrealistic ideas about romance that are unfortunately very common. I get lots of insights about how silly some of my past or present beliefs are when I watch this show. As I was writing this just now, I remembered that I talked about the Bachelor some during “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

#5 (KK):

Full of examples of ATROCIOUS communication methods.

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As I mentioned before, friends are often surprised that I watch so much garbage and some even worry about its effects on me.

But this is probably extra credit worry because:

  1.  I do also read and watch quality materials as well. My job requires me to learn constantly, and I’m nerdy as hell and do things like reward myself for doing something grueling by taking a break to teach myself more about the taxonomy of cacti because I love those spiny little fuckers or I’ll read up on the double entry system of bookkeeping because it’s really neat (On a side-side note, I love how well accounting is at tracking things that are in limbo. Most money exchange is perpetually in limbo, a fact that never really occurred to me until the last couple of years and has profound economic implications.). There’s nothing I enjoy more than learning. It just edges out sex.
  2. Sometimes I find that things I had my mind closed to, the things that are bothering or offending me, they’re not so bad. There have been a lot of small examples of this, but big ones jump out – the things I write most about on this blog. Both formal BDSM/kink culture and polyamory. I used to think they were terrible and didn’t understand the appeal.

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While it’s easy to stay with what I know and what’s comfortable, I’ve learned so much by keeping my mind and eyes open to everything, the garbage, the gold (most things are some mix of garbage and gold, it’s just the ratios that change)…I’ve learned more about the world and other people, sure, but most poignantly, more about myself and who I really am and what I would like to become.

And I think that’s well worth the cringeworthy moments.

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