How Being Polyamorous Makes Me A Healthier Person

The first time I dumped someone to save my wife’s sanity, I felt pretty bad about it.

Which is to say that I’m a roiling hot mess of bubbling neuroses myself, so I am endlessly tolerant of fucked-up behavior in others.  If someone has a breakdown in public at a party, I think, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and immediately try to talk them down.  If someone gets into a screaming fight with me, I think, “Our lines of communication need work,” and set to figuring out what crossed wire has led to such fury.

This has allowed me to turn a lot of dysfunctional messes into good friendships.

The dark side is that I’ll spend months, years, convinced that a breakthrough is around the corner and never getting there.  It’s like the Xeno’s Paradox of fucking, wherein every week we have another howling breakdown followed by a breakthrough, but nothing ever seems to get better.

And I can’t leave, man.  Because they need me.  And we came to a new realization last night!  Same as the realization we had last week, and the realization we had last month, and we’re still fucking miserable but Lessons Are Being Learned, we’re halfway to heaven.

Next thing you know, three months of my life have vanished into the suckhole – the bad suckhole – and I’m just exhausted.

Gini does not stand for that shit.

Gini is of the opinion that sure, I can date, but there is a limited amount of time I can devote to diagnosing the issues of my lovers.  And that time ends when ours begins.  Left to my own devices I’ll still be ruminating about Jessica’s problems on my date with Gini… And Gini will tolerate a dash of that, but really she’s selfish.

When my bad times with other lovers impinge on our good times, they gotta go.

(And the same goes for my long-term girlfriend, though since we get so little time together it takes a fantastically dysfunctional relationship to rip through that little slice of fried gold.)

The cut-off didn’t happen often – maybe twice in seven years, honestly – but the threat of being cut off changed the flavor of my relationships.  I started choosing less needy women.  I started asking, “Is this person legitimately going to get better if we have a night-long discussion, or am I just fooling myself into the illusion of progress?”  I started asking some seriously hard questions before I flung my heart down the Well Of Mystery Smooches, asking, “Yes, we share the same psychological issues, but is ‘having similar problems’ the same as ‘compatible’?”

And slowly, I started having saner and more satisfying relationships.

The weird thing is, rejecting the incompatible-but-sympathetic is something I should have done years ago.  But I couldn’t do it just for me.  But I can do it if I’m protecting not just my sanity, but guarding the happiness of my wife and girlfriend.  I might piss seven months of daily arguments away on my own, but I owe it to Gini to be as happy as I can for her.  I owe it to her to not waste my spare time (and some of my not-spare time) spinning wheels on people who I’m fundamentally incompatible with.

So now I take my time.  Because I’m working to shield my wife.  Which works to shield me.

Poly makes me better at having all kinds of relationships.  Even if I went monogamous, the lessons learned would be applicable.  It’s okay to break up with someone even if you think they’re close to having a breakthrough, because frankly, you’re not responsible for guiding everyone to the gate.  It’s okay to want to be in relationships where, the occasional bumps aside, you spend most of your time being happy and communicating well.

I’m better at that these days.  Thank God.

3 Comments

  1. Mishell Baker
    Aug 7, 2014

    Just wanted to point out that this sort of benefit is by no means exclusive to polyamorous relationships. My husband has had to cut me off from several toxic platonic relationships in the course of our marriage. And in any good marriage, yes, the spouse does get to tell you if they think you need to stop spending time with someone whose mental health issues are eroding your marriage. Whether you’re sleeping with that person or not!

    So I would say that it’s not so much being polyamorous that has saved your sanity, as it is having a wife that is vigilant about your well-being and having the respect to listen to her when she says, “SHUT IT DOWN.”

    • nora
      Aug 9, 2014

      I’d echo what Mishell says. My partner, too, has shut down friendships I’ve had with people because they are not good for me, and ergo for us. He doesn’t do it in such a way that its an ultimatum, but he does make his opinion of them very clear; and eventually I come to see that actually… not so good for me. In 11 years this has only happened twice, but each time the person in question was an emotional vampire type, the kind that latches on. So yeah, it doesn’t have to be a poly relationship that this happens in.

  2. Heidi
    Aug 8, 2014

    hello :) i like your blog. i think you are quite insightful. i liked the paxil one alot.

    didnt like the boring cat people one so much though lol.

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