It’s Easier to Be Polyamorous with Some Partners Than Others

an old photo in which a professor and student stand next to a chalkboard covered with equations and diagrams. The backs of 2 students' heads are visible.
Image by simpleinsomnia / CC BY

“Sometimes I think I must be bad at poly,” she says.

“Why do you say that?” I ask.

“I just seem to be having a lot more trouble than any of our other friends. I don’t know. After a while, you start to think there’s something wrong with you.”

I hesitate because I’m not sure how to say this. “Well, it’s true that you’ve been telling me some pretty gnarly stories, but it’s certainly not all your fault. At least going by what you’ve been telling me.”

“What do you mean?” she says.

“I don’t mean any offense when I say this,” I say, “but when you talk about your love life, it just sounds like you and your partners want very different things. So naturally there’s a kind of push-pull that happens. I actually don’t think that any of you are ‘bad at poly’ or at relationships in general. It’s just that compatibility starts out strained, so you all end up having to do extra work to find the middle. And to stay there.”

With Some Partners, Polyamory Is Near Effortless. With Other Partners, Not So Much.

Often we talk about “being good at poly” like it’s a global skill.

But I’ve found the difficulty is rather relative and more a matter of who I’m trying to have relationships with.

With some partners, polyamory is near effortless.

And with others, I end up feeling like I’m doing complex mathematical calculations on a chalkboard that spans for miles. Y’know, like the stock character in all those old movies. The brainy professor who solves impossible equations by the time most people have had breakfast. Who spits out witty banter while looking incredibly bored compared to everyone else in the movie.

Except I’m no good at this math.

Besides, anyone will tell you that most of those movie “equations” are garbage. In-jokes by the production staff. They make less sense than cave paintings — which at least tell some kind of story.

*

“Now, I’m not saying you can’t make it work,” I say to my friend. “Only that you shouldn’t take the fact that it’s more difficult as a sign that you’re not good at poly. Whatever that really means.”

She nods. “That actually makes sense.”

*

Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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