PQ 5.5 — How much do I value personal autonomy, transparency, cohabitation, having and raising children, shared finances, community, tradition, the opinions of my friends and family, adhering to social norms?
Wow. Okay. This is roughly 9 questions. I have a lot of answering to do. No time to waste. Here we go!
Prior to discovering polyamory, when I had a more traditional marriage, I didn’t give much thought to autonomy. Seth was the center of my social universe. And we acted as a unit. Pretty much always.
But after we opened our marriage, and especially once we started to date on our own, I began to really need to act independently. It was small stuff at first. When he was out on dates with Megan, I’d plan evenings for myself at home. But as time wore on, I made my own friends. And eventually found my own dates.
It had been scary to step out on my own at first. But once I got used to it? Well, it was the thing I most loved about polyamory. Being autonomous. Independent, but not alone (between my friends and loves). And it was something I never wanted to give up, even if I were to find myself monogamous again one day.
So it was a rude awakening when I met other long-time polyamorous couples that didn’t function autonomously. Who seemed to micromanage each other’s schedules. Hovered like overbearing parents. I boggled. I imagined it was borne out of a sense to make both halves feel secure. But instead it seemed like they were combining the worst parts of polyamory (the complexity/complications) with the worst parts of monogamy (the relationship policing).
But to each their own, right? Just because it’s not something I’d enjoy, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for others.
But I did find out, the hard way, that I couldn’t date someone enmeshed in such a system.
I wrote about transparency in my answer PQ 1.5. In summary, I say that I’m not a fan of parallel poly (or “don’t ask, don’t tell” either) because:
- It’s difficult to keep people truly separate in our increasingly connected world.
- Having metamours can be really awesome.
- If you keep everyone separate, the potential for awesome group sex? Flies completely out the window.
I do mention that some privacy can be a good thing as it helps to build intimacy in a relationship. For more information on that tricky balance, please see “Truth Drip: Titrating How Much We Share and When.”
I love having someone to live with. But I find the compatibility of cohabitation a trickier thing than for a romantic relationship where you don’t live together.
Skyspook and I are great roommates (Seth and I were only passable, and it caused a lot of strain). In fact, Skyspook and I have both discussed that if we ever fizzled romantically that we’d continue to live together because we are such great roommates, and a good roommate is hard to find.
And cohabitation is really the only hard line I’ve ever taken in relationship policing. My idea of a personal Hell is if a partner moves in a metamour who resents my existence and is cruel to me when our mutual partner isn’t around.
I need to feel comfortable in my own home. And part of that would entail everyone living there being comfortable as well (see: Sexile/Pop-Tarts).
Whether that’s a dyad, an intricate web, or a vee? Well, it’s all fine by me.
Having and Raising Children
I’ve dated partners with children in the past. That went fine. The children were really no factor in the ultimate disposition of those relationships.
I am completely unwilling to have children. Anyone who needs me to have their child will be fundamentally incompatible with me.
Raising a child? There’s probably a little more wiggle room. But only just.
I wouldn’t share finances with another person unless they were at the spouse level of relationship. I can actually see myself having multiple spouses, provided the right cast of compatible characters showed up.
So I’m not opposed to this. But I’m not on the hunt for it.
And the bar for sharing finances is set even higher than the bar for cohabitation.
I love community, having a sense that I fit in somewhere, that I belong. No surprise, really. Humans are obligate social animals. We want to fit in somewhere.
The trouble is: The place we start is not always the place where we really belong.
It certainly wasn’t for me.
I had settled into a sense of acceptance for my community. I figured you could be happy anywhere. It was all a question of mindset.
But when Seth and I opened our marriage, it was such a radical 180 from my former position. And not only did I find myself questioning my beliefs re: monogamy and non-monogamy (out of necessity). But I began to question my beliefs about everything. I looked at what I had taken for granted.
And all the ways that I settled.
And I realized that I didn’t want to be comfortable. Never growing, never seeking.
I wanted an adventure.
So I set out and found a new community.
Today, I live in a city 900 miles from where I grew up in the woods. And 90% of my closest friends are some measure of polyamorous, GLBT, and/or kinky.
So community is important to me — but I’m not at all sold on the idea that the best one for you is your “starting zone” (to borrow from MMORPGs).
I don’t value tradition, really. Not in a large, global sense. In fact, to do so is a literal logical fallacy.
According to Nizkor.org:
Appeal to tradition is is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or “always has been done.” This sort of “reasoning” has the following form: X is old or traditional. Therefore X is correct or better.
Now, all that said, I do like creating new traditions with people I love. But I guess that’s part of finding or creating your own new community again.
If you don’t like what you have, make something better, right?
The Opinions of My Friends and Family
There’s a saying that was really popular some years back. I think I first saw it in a video from the It Gets Better Project.
“Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
I’ve carried that with me ever since I first heard it.
People who can’t accept you for who you are? In a way, they are doing you a favor. They’re showing you that they’re not a person worthy of your time and attention.
Unfortunately, my list of people does include my mother. And I’m largely estranged from my family of origin. But it’s what happens when people we accept will not accept us back.
All that said, social referencing is important. It’s good to check in and see how we’re coming across to others. However, it’s important to be selective. Just like you wouldn’t judge your beauty in a cracked mirror, you shouldn’t let just any old jackass determine whether what you’re doing is right or wrong.
I do like people who can keep me in line without completely invalidating me. I have that. And I think you deserve that, too.
Adhering to Social Norms
It took me a long time to figure out that you don’t get a trophy for doing what other people want you to do. And that no one’s going to let you turn in all your hard-earned martyr points for fabulous cash and prizes.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.