As I’ve written many times before, I had a difficult transition into polyamory. I didn’t find non-monogamy to be easy.
Maybe for some people it is, but that’s not been my experience. Nor was it the reason I got into it in the first place, that it seemed like it would be easier. Instead, my partner was interested in opening our relationship. And I realized that while I thought it was a bad idea, I didn’t really know that it would be. That all I had were fears and no actual evidence. And so I gave it an open-minded try… and found that some aspects of it actually worked quite well for me.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t find monogamy to be easy either. Relationships are tricky, no matter what sorts of structures you’re using and no matter how many you have of them at once.
Again, it may be be different for you, but this is my truth: Monogamy and non-monogamy are different kinds of hard.
This is probably a big reason why I’m ambiamorous — i.e., about equally as happy being in a monogamous relationship or a polyamorous relationship system, provided I like the people I’m with and we all treat one another well. (That link goes to an article I wrote for Kinkly, but I’ve written about ambiamory many times on this site as well.)
Anyway, regardless of what my love life looks like at any given moment, one thing is for sure: Being in good relationships requires concern for others and diligence.
Maybe I Had Too High Hopes for People
I’ve been living with an unconventional sense of relationships for quite some time. And publicly teaching to a wide audience for about four years now. One of the key beliefs I worked from was an idea that fulfilling relationships — of any structure — are quite achievable.
This is because all of the skills can be learned with patience and practice.
But I’ve been struggling with this recently, and I’ll tell you why: Recent events have made me quite a bit more cynical.
People can’t even stay in their homes and wear masks for chrissakes in a global pandemic. Not even to prevent the possibility of premature death or debility due to massive clotting abnormalities through their body or pulmonary decompensation as their lungs fail. They won’t wear masks in order to reduce their chances of needing a lung transplant — and as a result being required to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives. Or suffering permanently reduced lung function.
They won’t even face mild inconvenience for self-protection. Let alone stay in their homes and wear masks for the sake of others. Healthcare workers, essential service people who can’t lock down, and the immunocompromised. (P.S. This last group actually includes people who don’t know they’re part of this group but are).
Instead, I can see people crowding an illegally open bar right next to my home. Standing shoulder to shoulder.
This is the day after they officially closed the bars again in my state.
In this environment, with this evidence of callousness, selfishness, and recklessness, how in the heck can a person teach about relationship systems that thrive on compromise? Where folks either are naturally gracious or learn how to be gracious in order to foster incredible relationships and relationship agreements?
It feels downright silly sometimes.
If I Hadn’t Lived It, I Wouldn’t Believe That People Could Be Unselfish & Gracious
The truth of the matter is that if I hadn’t lived it, if I hadn’t known people who were gracious and unselfish, I probably wouldn’t believe that they exist.
But I have. So I do.
And I find myself comforted by the fact that I have known people who genuinely wished their partners well when their love went off to see another love. And whose partners did the same for them when the tables were turned.
I find myself reminded of the wonderful metamours that more than made up for the difficult ones.
It is an incredibly weird time to be a person who has worked very hard to move towards an unselfish, gracious, supportive model of polyamory (as opposed to one that’s focused on gorging or being a kid in a candy store). To have done a tremendous amount of personal work tackling insecurity and learning to deal more productively with jealousy when it happens, not just for my own benefit but the benefit of others.
And to see that others would risk death and debility for themselves and others just to avoid the slightest inconvenience.
But I’m glad. Because if I hadn’t had the experiences I’ve had, it would be easy to assume that everyone is like the barefaced super-spreader crowding illegally opened bars.
And it would be easy to forget that there are unselfish and gracious people in this world quietly doing the right thing… even if it’s easier to notice the ones who disappoint me. A recent study by Wellcome Open Research found that 10% of people with covid-19 are responsible for 80% of transmissions (link to original study; link to Wall Street Journal article that mentions study).
It’s easy to feel like it’s everyone that’s being awful. But it’s not.
And having known unselfish polyamorous people has restored some of the faith that this pandemic has tested.