Poly-er Than Thou

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Image by Moyan_Breen / CC BY

“I don’t feel jealousy,” she said. “I’ve moved beyond that. It’s such a base emotion, y’know. We deserve to celebrate our better selves.”

I choked down a sip of my French Roast with a sigh. Of course. Yet another polyamorous person who was magically immune to jealousy. What was I doing on this date anyway? Maybe I wasn’t cut out for poly, after all.

Her phone buzzed. She glanced at the screen, furrowed her brow.

“Everything alright?” I asked.

“Oh sure,” she chirped. “Just… partner management stuff.” But something about the way she said it made me think that there were two of us she was convincing.

*

“We’ve been together for 11 years, poly for 8,” he told me proudly.

“Wow, that’s a long time,” I said.

“It really is,” he agreed. “We’ve learned so much. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s strengthened our connection.”

Oh, how many times I would think back to that conversation:

When he offered to delete me from his phone and his life because she got a jealous twinge.

When he told me he had offered this to her (seriously, who does that? who offers a thing like that and isn’t at least somewhat ashamed).

When his primary criticized me for making new friends because she worried they’d like me better.

“What you’re doing isn’t poly,” she’d insist. “You want what you want and to hell with everyone else. That isn’t poly.”

*

“So, how long have you been poly?” I asked her.

“How long? Well, my whole life of course. You’re either poly or not. It’s not a choice. I was born this way.”

“So you’ve been having non-monogamous relationships your whole life?”

“Oh no. That’s only been going on for a year or so,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. “I thought you said…”

“Well, I was poly but didn’t know it yet.” She scowled. “What is this? The inquisition?”

“No, I –”

“It’s not something I’ve chosen, okay. It chose me.”

*

It’s been an interesting phenomenon to see in practice, the urge to “out-poly” one another. I’m sure it’s not helped by fact that we’re all marginalized, one way or another. There’s a kind of defensiveness that accompanies that, a certain pride. We are forced to be all-in-one: adventurer, role model, hero/heroine, mascot.

There is little room, given all these pressures, for entertaining doubt. Little room for feeling insecure and less for admitting it.

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