Poly Honor Student Answers: Defensiveness and Stigma

poly honor student, black and white photo of a young boy scout holding up two fingers like a peace sign
Image by greg westfall / CC BY

A lot of us are guilty of giving poly honor student answers.

“You’re poly?” we’re asked. “Aren’t you worried about diseases?”

And we answer with the standard-issue Poly Honor Student answer, which goes a little something like this: “Of course we are, but we all practice safe sex and are regularly tested.”

Of course, it’s all quite a bit more complicated than that.

But we can’t let on that it’s difficult. Not with everyone and their cousin telling us, “You’re poly? I could never do that. Don’t you get jealous?”

There are two honor student answers to this one:

  1. “Nah, I don’t feel jealousy. I’ve moved past that.”
  2. “Of course. And it’s tough at first for the first few months or years, but the sacrifices are well worth it. It’s conquerable.”

And while some of us have had a smoother journey than others, we never claim the hard parts. We want to be known for our best work. We’d rather just drop our lowest grades, the times we just barely passed.

Why Do We Give Poly Honor Student Answers?

It’s not that we’re shady or disingenuous. It really boils down to stigma.

The taboo surrounding nonmonogamy stigmatizes polyamory. Living in a monogamocentric culture, we have a natural defensiveness.  It’s not difficult to develop when you’re constantly being pelted with accusations and microaggressions that it could never work. Or polyamorous relationships are less loving. Or less stable.

In this atmosphere, it’s no wonder why we don’t like to talk about when it gets difficult, how, and what to do about it.

The reality of this is ROUGH as HELL… because that’s what we NEED to talk about to be any good at managing multiple relationships without going insane.


I, too, once agonized over the acceptability of my lifestyle choice, put huge stock in what any random person thought about it.

But I’m done.

I’m done with being a poly honor student.

If anybody else wants to join me, I’ll be cutting class to apply for an internship and then sunbathing on the football field.


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1 Comment

  1. “Poly? Doesn’t that make all the relationship stuff hard to keep straight?”

    Honor Student Answer- “No, we’ve all worked really hard on our biases and to be aware of the mechanisms…”

    Me Answering – “Last I heard, EVERYONE finds relationships hard. Whats the difference if you find it’s worth it?”

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