Why I Write About Polyamory, And The Dangers Therein

(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.)

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she thanked me for blogging openly about my polyamorous relationships.
“I started reading your relationship essays not long after I started dating seriously,” she told me.  “I was a late bloomer, and reading them helped me short-circuit some of the stupidity I might have had.  Instead, I got to make completely different mistakes.  It’s like having a huge ‘include’ statement in the process of What Not To Do.”
“So I’m like a programming library,” I said.
“A very nice and eloquent library,” she agreed.
I don’t know if the comparison is really true – I think my library’s a little bloated and redundant – but that is why I write about polyamory and relationships in general: I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.
I’m not wise.  I have made, and continue to make, a lot of insanely stupid mistakes.  I say hurtful things, ignore signs I shouldn’t, destroy my lovers.  And when I’m standing among the wreckage of my own idiocy, often my sole consolation is, maybe I can stop someone else from doing that.  So I write that up, in the hopes that at least one person will learn from what I did.
And I‘m still making those mistakes.  I often joke that I have three hobbies – polyamory, programming, and writing – and all three put me in touch with my dysfunctional past.  I’ll be upgrading some piece of code on StarCityGames.com and think, “What idiot wrote this inefficient, buggy code?”  And then I’ll go, “Oh, that was me,” and take a quiet moment to meditate on what an idiot I was four years ago, and how much better I am now, and how the code I’m writing now will look like complete shit to the me of four years in the future.
What you see in my blog?  Is not the total of who I am.  It is, instead, a total of the lessons learned.  And I fuck up in monstrous ways that don’t necessarily teach me anything new, and opening up those mistakes to the public would just humiliate the people involved, and so I don’t blog about it.  My writings are an attempt, in many ways, to teach myself, to analyze the errors and see if I can distill it down to an essay that I might remember later.
So my blog, I think, is a library.  Include it, raid it, call the functions in it that you need.  The library is mostly bug-free, and I’ll let you know if I’ve applied a patch. Enough people have benefited from it over the years that I’m pretty sure it works on certain operating systems.  I’m proud it exists, and if you ever have any questions on poly, I’ll try to answer them for you.  Maybe I can head you off at the pass.  And that’s the library.
But the me itself is a frail, human thing, prone to stumbling about in the dark like everyone else, and please don’t make the mistake of thinking this structure I’ve created to help guide you is me.
I am not the library.  The library is the result of me.  It’s a distinction I want you to recognize, because on any given day you could be a lot smarter than I am.  And if I’m very lucky, maybe you’ll teach me a lesson.


  1. Page
    Nov 5, 2012

    “I often joke that I have three hobbies – polyamory, programming, and writing – and all three put me in touch with my dysfunctional past.”
    This is timely for me as I’m finishing up the memoir about my now-defunct open marriage. Sometimes it feels like I’m a case study of dystopian proportions. It’s very easy to get discouraged when writing about one’s mistakes and misadventures to say, “WTF am I doing? I’m no expert,” and stop.
    I mean, hell, “authority” has the word “author” in it, after all.
    What a burden, right?
    But you’re right. Mistakes have value. Entertainment value, sure (I think humans are hard wired to giggle at atrocious fuck ups), but also educational value.
    Lessons learned, lesson NOT learned even, as you’ve pointed out here!
    It is what it is.
    On a personal level, I wanted to thank you for this as I’m heading into the home stretch on my project. I needed this.

  2. Scott Van Essen
    Nov 5, 2012

    Seemed apropos to this post. 😉

  3. Heather
    Aug 10, 2014

    Polyamory destroyed my marriage of 20 years. After our 2nd child my husband wasn’t satisfied with my sex drive while nursing & asked for an open relationship. We are generally excellent communicators & he has been my best friend forever. He’s also one of the most trustworthy & ethical people I know. We had rules. He broke every single one over 6 months. He fell in love with a dancer 10 years younger & we are now getting divorced. I am broke hearted & wish we had never done this!!!


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