Poly People Are Crazy, But So is Everyone Else

a black cat who looks very alarmed

Photo by donvix /CC BY

There’s a saying that was all the rage some time ago on my local scene: Never stick your dick in crazy.

Well, good luck with that.

Setting aside the glaringly obvious fact that most human beings are capable of erratic or irresponsible behavior at one time or another (seriously, given long enough of a timeline, we all screw up now and again), kinksters are a motley crew. This is not to say each and every one of them is fascinating. On the contrary, I’ve known some folks on the kink scene who, other than the way they get their jollies, are otherwise quite conventional. Some of them are, frankly, kind of boring. I’m not entirely unconvinced that a lot of what happens with BDSM and fetish play is as outside of the pale as we are inculcated to believe. Creative sexual play feels good to lots of folks– weird, normal, in between.

That said, interesting, intelligent folks are definitely overrepresented in the kink community, and there are far more on the scene than in the general population.

Why is this?

Well, it takes a certain kind of boldness to really throw oneself into a pursuit as openly mocked and misunderstood as BDSM. The source of this boldness can vary widely – some seem to have been born without a “caution switch” or have had theirs irreparably damaged by life. Others are radically open-minded because they’ve been outsiders of one kind or another. And it’s this latter kind, the outsiders, that I seem to crave interaction with and to connect with so easily. It’s also how I see myself.

And here’s the thing —  both of these groups, the irreparably damaged and the open-minded outsiders? It’s hard to figure out which is which. A lot of people are both. I’m sure whether I’m judged as one or the other depends largely on who you ask and when and its proximity to whatever event.

They both look crazy.

Poly’s a lot like BDSM in this way, and in fact, there’s a very large overlap between poly and kink scenes. In general you’ll find a lot of folks who are weird and curious outsiders, i.e., geeks.

And honestly, judged by the standards of heteronormative monogamocentric vanilla society full of prom kings and queens? We’re deviants. We’re all crazy by definition.

So I don’t have an anatomic dick (although I can easily acquire an artificial proxy if I’m feeling like having one), but if I did, “in crazy” is precisely where I’d be inclined to stick it.

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Stepping back, the spirit of the axiom “never stick your dick in crazy” seems to be that we should avoid entanglements with people whose interpersonal behaviors are maladaptive – and in this sense, I heartily agree.

Frankly, there ARE poly folk who attempt to fuck their way to better self-esteem, to collect admirers and hangers-on in a never-ending quest for attention.

I can also see how poly could work as a marvelous avoidance tactic – after all, in the past, I’d been guilty of setting up a kind of emotional game of whack-a-mole in my head where if I became too insecure with any one object of poly attachment that I’d spirit my emotions away mentally to another person, perceived as safer, lest the mallet come down and bop me on the noggin. It wasn’t something I did consciously. It took me a long while to recognize and understand the process, and I have a commitment to not resorting to such a defense in the future as while it works really well in the short term to stave off pain and anxiety, there are definitely costs.

If there are any exes reading this, it was back and forth a lot and wasn’t even anything necessarily that you would have picked up on. If you think you know when I was doing it, you are most likely wrong. It wasn’t clear-cut or obvious to the outside world. More of a self-directed “Woah there, girl, this person is acting inconsistently and could very well hurt you, maybe you best invest your emotional energies in this other person.” (Which didn’t always correspond with a change in time spent or seriousness, just a mental step back.) They do say never to put your eggs all in one basket, but at a certain point, you actually have to trust someone, and those kinds of attachment-shifting mental gymnastics are exhausting.

Anyway, having mentally hidden in one relationship from the attachment anxiety of another, I can completely see how a person could use other relationships to even hide from THEMSELVES, on the lam from something internally that they feel unprepared or unable to deal with. The drama, feels, and sheer busy-ness can serve as convenient distractions from doing internal work that desperately needs done.

Granted, none of this is exclusive to polyamory. I’ve known plenty of monogamous people to gloss over issues by pursuing hobbies or to seek validation for bad behavior from loyal friends. And of course, there’s the cultural phenomenon of the rebound. Plus, monogamous people in my life are always going on and on about how they can’t do poly because of insecurities. Taking all of these things together, it sounds like it would be an easy enough task to shoehorn all of these behaviors into some label of “crazy.”

I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for someone whose inner life won’t challenge you occasionally, you’d do well to invest in a vibrator.

They say history is written by the victors. In this same fashion, I find that “crazy” is often a label bestowed in hindsight, whether it’s as acknowledgement of bad behavior or because someone didn’t live up to our expectations of them.

My favorite people are all a little bit crazy – when I meet someone new, my task is figuring out whether it’s the right kind.

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