“So how do you keep the love alive?” she asks me.
It takes me a second to realize she’s talking to me.
“Keep the love alive?” I ask.
“Well, you know, after a while a relationship has a way of becoming… routine. Predictable,” she says.
“Oh sure,” I say. “New relationships have different energy than older, established ones. But they’re just as alive.”
“I guess that where I struggle really getting polyamory,” she says. “How does an older relationship even stand any kind of chance with newer ones in the picture?”
“You’ve been talking about getting a new kitten, right?” I say.
She leans forward. I can tell I have her interest. “Yes,” she says, smiling. “Although I don’t get what that has to do with anything.”
“And you have a cat already,” I say.
“How old is your cat?”
She thinks. “I don’t know. He’s probably 8 or 9.”
“Did you raise him from a kitten?”
“Yeah,” she says. “He was so adorable.”
“I bet he attacked your feet when he was little,” I say.
She laughs. “Every night. And he climbed the curtains.” She smiles. “But now he’s a big ole lap cat.”
“It’s the same with my cats,” I reply. “Kittens are adorable, but it’s nice to not have them attacking your feet under the covers.”
She nods. “And besides,” she adds, “sometimes they act like kittens anyway.”
“New Relationship Energy is a lot like a kitten. Unpredictable. Adorable. Has a way of keeping you up all night,” I say. “And Old Relationship Energy? It’s like that full-grown lap cat. Reliable. Sweet. Mostly mellowed out of its curtain-climbing stage.”
“And every now and then it surprises you?” she asks.
“Exactly,” I say.
“It’s a cute metaphor,” she replies. “But what about those people who seem addicted to NRE? Who hop to a new person the moment the chemicals fade?”
I sigh. “They’re a lot like people who adopt a kitten treating it like a toy. And then dump the adult cat at the shelter once the novelty has worn off. And heaven forbid if the cat has any issues needing extra care.”
She frowns. “It’s always so sad when that happens.”
“It really is,” I say. “But it says more about the owner than it does about the cat.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, don’t you still love a kitten when it grows into a cat?”
“Of course,” she says.
“As a polyamorous person, I’ve learned to pay special attention to how anyone I date treats their preexisting partners. Because I may be a kitten today, but tomorrow I’ll be a cat. Better to know someone is ‘kittens only’ now than down the road, after I get invested.”