Stop Worrying If Things Are Even, or You’ll End Up With a Sad Shrub

a closeup of a dead shrub
Image by oliver.dodd / CC BY

It’s a dangerous road to travel down, comparing yourself to others. It might just be the biggest no-no in polyamory.

Many of us know we shouldn’t be playing the “better this way, better that way” game with our metamours. Wondering how we stack up against the “competition” (and indeed competition and zero sum thinking can be really bad for us).

Even if we struggle with a tendency to compare, we at least know that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to our metamours.

But many times? We forget not to do that with our partners.

Sometimes this rears its ugly head when we view our partner as a rival.

And sometimes it’s when we fall into the trap of comparing the degree of their successes to our own — and being concerned that it isn’t “even.”

When We Date More/Less Than a Partner Does

Sometimes that’s feeling bad that a partner is dating so much more than us.

And sometimes? It’s feeling bad that a partner is dating less than we are.

I’m going through an underdating phase myself at the moment. Been working a lot and focusing on other things. I am very interested in some women I know, but they are also very busy, and I’m taking an ent approach to the whole thing. We make out at parties, but for much more than that? I have lots of patience. I’m in no hurry. And after all, it’s fun to have something sexy to look forward to.

But I have had well-meaning friends suggest that because Skyspook is dating some that it would be good if I went out on more dates, sooner than I had planned.  Or, as one friend put it, “It would be good for you to have something of your own going on.”

It was advice offered with the best of intentions, and on the surface it sounds great, but personally?

Instead of trying to date more evenly, I’d rather be at peace with things being uneven.

Forever Trimming the Hedges

Think of it this way. You get a cute shrub for the front of the house. As you’re putting it in the ground, you notice something. It’s a little lopsided, isn’t it? You didn’t notice until you got into this position. Until you could see things from this angle.

So you grab the hedge clippers and trim off the excess. But as you step back, you realize: Oh wait. Now the other side is janky.

Snip, snip, snip.

Back and forth, back and forth.

And if you’re not careful, before you know it? That cute little shrub you were so excited about?

Wilted. Sad-looking. Nothing but bare spots.

Because here’s the thing: It’s easy to get into a vicious cycle – particularly if your partner is also concerned about things being even. For example, if I did go out looking for a lot of action, I might wrangle a whole slew of new folks into my life — and if Skyspook were also obsessed with things being “even,” he might respond to this by being concerned that he was now the relative underdater and feel as though he might need to pursue more relationships. Which would potentially make me feel like I need to date even more. And so on.

Before you know it, everyone’s polysaturated, maybe even oversaturated. And the whole system turns into a giant mess.

A sad little shrub with bare spots.

So sure, a lush jungle can be fantastic, but sometimes? All you really want is a tiny little zen garden with a bonsai.

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1 Comment

  1. This is something I’m currently dealing with in my relationship. Right now, I’m the “underdater”. This is the first that my partner and I have extended beyond our own relationship, and it’s turned into something romantic, which makes things more difficult for me to adjust to, than it would be for a more purely physical relationship. Anyway, I’m trying to find ways to adjust to the sharing of time/attention. Especially since my meta has a partner, so we’re kind of in a quad situation as my partner has some sort of relation ship with the other as well. So, I kind of feel a bit like an odd man out. Any insights as to how to navigate this?

    I’ve read some other pages on your blog….great insights.

    Thank you!

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