You know, polyamory is easily the hardest relationship style in existence. I don’t think anyone has ever debated this. But there are things people say that don’t really hit home until you experience it in full force. As for this family, we have been experiencing crazy amounts of ups and downs over the last year and a half, and there are days when I don’t think anyone knows whether it will survive or not. I want to speak a little bit to my experiences with things that are commonly stated in relation to polyamory.
“Poly requires all involved to be excellent communicators”
“Poly means that everyone has to communicate well”
Well, in an ideal world, this would be the case, but to be honest that just can’t happen all the time. Ranger and Tootles are, to be perfectly honest, HORRIBLE communicators. They know it, we all know it, and we all try to work around that knowledge. I think that Doc and I probably communicate more because of it – for several reasons, actually. As communicators, Doc and I both feel a very deep and basic need to communicate, and because we communicate the same way, we tend to feed off that communication. We also end up communicating FOR Ranger and Tootles fairly regularly, which on any given day can have a positive or negative effect. Sometimes we read them wrong. It’s easy to do. They don’t give us a whole lot of helpful indicators. Sometimes it could be said that they both live in a permanent state of Appears-To-Be-Angry-But-Pretending-To-Hide-It. This is especially true for Ranger, whose PTSD is a constant presence.
Do we deal with all of this? Yes. We don’t always deal with it well, and there are certainly times Doc and I both get sick and tired of carrying all of the responsibility for communicating. Does it make having a relationship like this harder? Yes, certainly. I will be the first to admit that communication is a very important part of any relationship. But some people just don’t communicate, and I don’t think that this family would survive if we forced those people to do so. We can strive for better understanding with what little we do get, but we can’t expect our lives to fit some kind of ideal pattern set out for polyamorous people. Boy, I wish we could.
“You have to be mentally stable to be polyamorous”
BWAH HA HA HA! Anyone that knows me knows that I suffer from chronic depression ranging from the middle of the clinical scale to severe. Tootles suffers from (undiagnosed) mental illnesses. (That might get me in trouble but it’s true.) Ranger suffers from PTSD and a whole host of related mental issues. Doc isn’t completely stable either. But we all love each other. If everyone was required to be mentally stable before entering into a relationship, there would be a LOT of single people out there. If people were psychologically screened for self esteem before being allowed into a relationship, I know I for one would be alone. People are not by nature mentally stable. It just doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Everyone has insecurities and doubts, and no one is the picture of perfect mental capacity. Just because I have an illness doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to be loved, and it is my choice to love and be loved by more than one person. Interestingly enough, the relationship I have with Doc has been the catalyst to a lot of growth and personal development and I have found that my depression has less of a hold on me the longer we are together and have the opportunity to support EACH OTHER through our own life journeys.
“Poly has to have a hierarchy”
Now, I realize that not everyone believes this, but a great many do. And I think in our family that gets a little wonky. For me, there is only a hierarchy as far as legality and children are concerned. In every other facet, there is equal footing. Everyone else has their own beliefs as far as their significant others are concerned, and I believe that my philosophy is the minority within our quad.
Personally, I feel that hierarchies are dangerous and lead to resentments and disappointments, especially when jealousies or expectations start coming into play. I can very easily see where they work for other people. Just not me. I can’t imagine my life without either Ranger OR Doc, thankyouverymuch, and so why would I put one on higher footing than the other based upon when I met them? They both offer something important and valuable to me, and I love them both infinitely.
“Poly requires scheduling/planning”
Hee hee hee… this, to me, is an absolutely true statement, but others in the family would disagree with me. I NEED schedules. I NEED planning. Without it, my entire life is subject to the random whims of others. Just within my quad/family, there are three different work schedules, two school schedules, appointments, and special occasions to plan around. There is also the question of money which often directly affects the availability of transportation whether it’s gas or repairs that are needed. And the availability of transportation when one or more vehicles is under the weather. Planning is essential. Unfortunately, this family doesn’t really plan for anything unless one or two people specifically state a desire for something specific well in advance. Date nights, which are supposed to be weekly (and should be more often than that if you ask me and my therapist), are often not decided until a few days in advance at most. I plan to change that this year. So basically, to this statement – yes, scheduling and planning are important, but apparently we’ve made this relationship work (or at least faked it well) for a year and a half without effective scheduling or planning, so… take what you want from that.
I know there are a lot more common and basic tenets that people have about polyamory. I would like to hear them in the comments if you are so inclined. I think that poly is different for everyone, and so I want to share with all of you precisely how these beliefs fit into my polyamorous family’s lifestyle. Everyone is different, and I want to share how we make it work in a less than perfect situation. If I get enough statements/questions, I will continue this. I hope to make a miniseries-ish set of posts out of it in the long run.