Monday, 5 November 2012

Poly Means Many - Orientation or Choice?

Orientation or choice? This question reminds me of the never-ending paradox of psychology, nature versus nurture. But asks specifically, have I always been 'poly', or is this something I actively chose? The short answer is: both!

First off, I have a confession to make. It's not something that I come out with often, because, well... I sometimes feel that this is quite a taboo thing to say in my circles:

I drank the Kool-aid. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be married, have my 1.96 kids (Yeah, that stats changed), the house, the cat, the dog and the lawnmower.

But, I come from a broken home. I certainly didn't have many examples of what that life would look like. My parents, nearly all of my aunts, uncles, older siblings, family friends, all were on their 2nd, or sometimes 3rd marriages. But because of this, I remember growing up with a resolve to do it better, and to find my 'one true love'. I wanted to show that it really could work.

On the flip side however, I have been in non-monogamous relationships my entire adult life. From my first serious partner when I was 18, up to today, I have never really been able to 'do' monogamy.

But, where did the decision to be non-monogamous come from? When did I realise it was ok to love more than one person at a time? How does one reconcile their desire for the 'white picket fence' life with non-monogamy?

It was most definitely a gradual thing. At first it was kink-related. I was a switch, and my Top wanted me to have a bottom of my own to play with. Then it was having a playmate for my ex to co-sub with. In fact, most all of my early non-monogamous relationships were based on varying D/s dynamics. It was through these early explorations that I took my baby-steps from open relationships into polyamory*. I mean, I had always been open, but I have not always been poly. It wasn't until I made a few realisations for myself that I really felt comfortable with using the term polyamorous:

1) It is impossible for 1 person to be 'everything' for another person. That is just way too much pressure, which results in mismatched expectations and hurt.

2) I am a bisexual, and into a lot of different things. Unless they are some sort of shape-shifter, it is pretty unlikely that one person can really scratch all my 'itches'.

3) I should try never to limit myself; in what I can achieve, in what I can do, and I certainly shouldn't limit myself in terms of how much love I have to give, and how much I deserve to receive.

With these thoughts solidified in my brain, I knew that polyamory was for me. I knew it wasn't just about sex. I knew that I could still have the life that I've always wanted... and more.

And with that, I gave up the stubborn idea that I could do it better, that I could make it work. Because, I knew with impunity that that system of monogamy was flawed. It may work for some, but it was never going to work for me.  Whilst I imagine some of my colleagues here will write from the stance of always being poly, but just perhaps not knowing it until they were older, I'm quite the opposite. I never really wanted to by poly, I didn't grow up thinking I would be poly, I grew up thinking I'd end up in a fairy tale. And it was only when it was clear that that was flawed, and I knew why it was flawed, was I able to adopt a model of relationships that worked for me. And boy am I glad I did!

*It is worth doing a bit of a definition check here. For me, 'open relationships' were more about casual play, and sex, whilst maintaining as close to emotional fidelity with my partner as I could. Polyamory is the ability to be in full, loving relationships with more than one person. Some people don't make this differentiation, but I do.

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers - ALBJ, An Open Book, Delightfully Queer, More Than Nuclear, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin - will write about their views on one of them.


lipsticklori said...

What a wonderfully thoughtful post. I really enjoy reading how you relate each topic to your life and experiences. I wonder if everyone else has come to the same conclusion this month? I was still undecided... didn't consider both would be a valid option, but it is, isn't it?

InkedSkin said...

It is indeed. I mean, I feel like for me, it isn't innate, but I also feel like, once I felt the way I did, that I had did not have any choice but to be poly.

lipsticklori said...

I feel the same way. There's no going back now, but I didn't always know I was poly. Well, I cheated on some partners in my teens and knew that I didn't love them any less because I was attracted to someone else, but I didn't necessarily *want* to love more. Hmm... if society understood poly more, would people grow up knowing that was for them from an earlier age?

MoreThanNuclear said...

I really like the personal slant to your writing. It makes it easy to engage with and relate to.

I can go further - not only did I once want to get married, have babies and a lawnmower, I also thought that I would "wait" until my wedding night.

Feel free to laugh at me.