Why Poly Gets A Bad Rap

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

When teenagers start dating for the first time, nobody takes them seriously.  This is a mercy.
The first dates invariably involve a rush of Twu Wuv and promises to last forever and poetry so awful as to rival the Vogons.  Then it collapses into Drama as the first breakups show up and then some horrible bitch/bastard is dating YOUR Twu Wuv, and there’s gossip and fights and broken friendships galore.
Thankfully, because we know How Monogamy Works, we tolerate this startlingly stupid behavior because we know the vast majority of them will get their shit sorted out eventually and learn to date like (mostly) human beings.  This is, we think, a teenaged thing.
Except it isn’t.  If you’ve ever known the reclusive guy who gets his first relationship at age 21, you know the Twu Wuv and the ear-raking poetry and the plans of Future Forever are not an age thing, but a First Love thing.  When you’re feeling such intense emotions, surely this soul-strummingly beauteous thing must translate into results.
It’s a vital lesson that depressives in particular learn over and over in life: the intensity of the emotions you feel does not necessarily affect the real world.
Unfortunately, the time most people discover polyamory is when they’re in the early twenties – and while you’d think we’d have all learned our lesson from the monogamous dating scene, no, we have yet another set of embarrassing experiences to go through before we attain wisdom.  Poly has its own set of “just starting out” dumb behaviors, including the This Triad Is Forever promises, the I Can Date Infinite People And Keep Them All Happy fallacy, the Polyamory Is The One True Way smugness…
Problem is, while society looks at the first monogamous relationships and goes, “Well, that’s just teenaged silliness,” they look at the first polyamorous relationships and goes, “These are adults!  They should know better!”  But they shouldn’t.  Doesn’t matter how many advice books you read, it’s different when the rubber touches road and you’re in the driver’s seat, rocked by new high emotions and pushed around by bizarre fears.
So people look at the twenty-something poly premiere disasters and go, “Well, that’s how poly is.”  But it isn’t.  That’s how your first poly is, and it’s certainly how some people continue to do poly (much like how some people never quite seem to emerge from the high school method of dating), but most people learn to do a much safer, saner way of poly if they’re in it for the long run.
So poly gets a bad rap because our stupidity is on display.  It’s like Luke vs. Han; if all you knew about Luke was him in Return of the Jedi, showing up all bad-ass in his black outfit ready to kick Jabba’s ass, you’d think he was the greatest hero since Han Solo.  But no, you saw him back in his whiny teenager days, so Luke’s forever a dumb farm kid.  I bet if we saw Han Solo stealing credits from his mother’s purse and getting “hammered” on Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers, we’d be thinking what an idiot he was.
In short: Poly gets a bad rap because a) we go through a public phase of evolution where we learn vital lessons and look like idiots, b) at a time when we “should” know better, and c) society doesn’t excuse such shenanigans as part of a healthy monogamous evolution.
So the next time you see some young idiot gushing about how monogamy is outdated and poly’s the true way, just cringe and move on; he’ll probably be more embarrassed than you are in ten years. Hopefully.

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