PQ 13.2 — If I feel a desire to restrict relationships between my partners and their partners, what underlying need am I trying to meet?

a burgundy background with what seem to be fleur-de-lis watermarks. It reads "MAGICK" in a fancy script in silver metallic letters
Image by Hayder Hoozeer / CC BY

PQ 13.2 — If I feel a desire to restrict relationships between my partners and their partners, what underlying need am I trying to meet?


I used to spend a lot of time when I was a kid thinking about magic. It was all the rage in middle school especially. My friends and I would frequent patchouli-scented shops dotted with rows of spellbooks, tarot cards, crystals, and talismans.

You know. The kind of places where they spell it “magick.”

My friend Noelle was particularly interested in love spells. We’d spend hours stretched out on her bed, poring over tomes we’d pooled our money to buy. Some incantations were hopelessly out of reach, full of ingredients with exotic-sounding names. But others were doable. She squirreled away components in shoe boxes.

I’m not sure if Noelle ever cast any spells.

I was tempted myself. Lonely, awkward. I had a nice rack but too much baby fat and a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Largely overlooked by boys, I mostly hooked up with female friends who were experimenting with other girls.

The idea of being able to make any person I wanted fall in love with me was deeply exciting. I could think of one person in particular.

If I could snap my fingers and make them fall in love with me…

But would it be real? I wondered.

On one hand, if I had a magical love slave, their behaviors would be real. They would be loving me, actively, doing all the things I longed for them to do — many of which I’d surmised by watching cable channels at Noelle’s with her that we didn’t quite have access to. A soup of snowy static, naked limbs, and muffled moans.

But would this love slave’s emotions be real?

Sure, they’d seem that way to everyone we encountered. No one else would know the difference. But I’d know.

And could I ever really enjoy it, knowing that they hadn’t fallen in love with me of their own accord? That it was all just a spell?


The same logic has followed me into polyamorous relationships. After a brief initial period in which my partner and I had more rules in our relationship agreement than any other I’ve had since (a time recounted in my first book), my preference has been to move towards progressively less restriction.

This is because I realized that for me a desire to restrict relationships between my partners and metamours stems from a desire to maintain a sense of control.  I wanted something simple that would guarantee that my partner would still love me and that our relationship would remain largely unchanged, regardless of external circumstances. A ritual that would cast a love spell aimed at preserving an existing relationship.

And one day it occurred to me: I’d rather know that even without myriad restrictions in place and with every other option in the world that my partner would choose to continue to spend time with me. Even if that meant risking the existing relationship.

If they stayed, I’d know that the connection was everything I hoped it was.

Otherwise, I’d always wonder to myself if it were real.


See also:

Homing Pigeon Primary 

Territorial Markers Aren’t a Great Proxy for Love 

Nowhere to Hide: How “It’s Complicated” Makes Everything Simple


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 and answers, please see this indexed list.

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