Often when people talk about polyamory, they focus on a few, very specific problems. In particular, “How do you deal with the jealousy?” gets a lot of attention (please see this post for that answer). And it’s true that for many people, the hardest task of the first year or two of polyamory is learning how to become more emotionally secure and essentially becoming a better emotional parent to yourself (work which happily can translate to all negative emotions and not simply jealousy).
But once you get past the beginner hurdles, there are many polyamorous pitfalls that are far less often discussed. And today I’d like to write about the mass mailing issue.
The Mass Mailing Issue
It can be tricky staying in touch with multiple people. I personally get so absorbed in what I’m doing in my work and my writing that if left to my own devices I might forget to consistently text one partner, let alone two, three, or four.
Thankfully, I usually have partners who are comfortable taking the initiative to message me if they haven’t heard from me in a while. And they usually are fairly forgiving if for some reason I can’t get back to them right away. My chats with each partner tend to be rather idiosyncratic. Sometimes I might share a bit of news or a meme in several chats, but typically we’re talking about different things. At different times. On different platforms. With one partner I’m on Slack. Another I might talk to on Facebook instant messenger. Another texted me via SMS. That sort of thing.
So the nature of my communication with other people is very inherently uneven. But on the other hand, it’s fairly unique to each person.
I always sort of went with the flow and didn’t think on it too much until one day I was sitting next to a metamour when we received identical texts from our shared partner. And the only reason we realized is that she had sent us both the same meme. We started laughing and went to show one another and then realized. Our partner had even used the same words introducing it.
“Uh oh, it’s a mass mailing,” I laughed, not taking it too much to heart.
My metamour was far less impressed, however. To them, it seemed lazy for our partner to do that. “It makes me feel less special, that they don’t want to put in the effort to write different messages for different people.” After thinking on it for a while, they decided they wanted to bring this up our shared partner.
“Oh, no, no,” our shared partner said. “It isn’t that I don’t want to put in the effort. Nothing like that. I just wanted to make sure I was treating you all equally.”
My metamour and my partner went to talk it out and eventually worked it out between them.
But my partner’s words left me wondering: I knew that my communication was uneven and idiosyncratic between partners… but did this make it inherently unfair? Of course, fair and equal and different things, but I still found myself wondering what was the better risk:
- To risk being unfair.
- To risk being unoriginal.
For more reframes and tools to maintain healthy polyamorous relationships, please see Dealing with Difficult Metamours, a guide to troubleshooting challenging polyamorous dynamics as well as guidance on how to not create them in the first place.