Polyfuckery Vs. Polyamory

(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 hate myself for slowing down to watch the massive wrecks on the highways.  You’re the reason there’s a traffic jam, I think angrily.  If you just drove by at normal speeds, everyone would get to work on time.
But no.  I have to cruise leisurely by to take in the crumpled doors, the people holding their heads as they wait for the ambulance, the sparkle of safety glass scattered across the asphalt.  It makes me feel positively inhuman, wanting to stare at tragedy, until I remember that the reason we’re moving at a crawl is because all the other humans slowed down, too, and then I start to worry about humanity.
Still, I cruise by the “Polyamory” forums at FetLife to see posts like this from time to time:
“I caught my husband dick-deep in a strange woman, at which point he straightened, brushed the crumbs off his shirt, and informed me that we were now polyamorous.  She moved in despite me changing the locks, and now I sleep in a closet while they lick caviar off of each other on the bed.  I’ve told him I feel unattractive these days, possibly because they have barred my entrance to the bathroom, but he just tells me how I don’t understand polyamory.  What am I doing wrong?”
…what are you doing wrong, sweetie?  Sticking around, that’s what.
The problem with polyamory is that it’s got that uncomfortable word right in the center of it – amor.  Love.  And if there’s no love in your poly, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s not polyamory, it’s polyfuckery.
Look,  dig that poly’s always a careful balance.  You’re going to get your feelings bruised sometimes; if you want a love that never hurts, this biz isn’t for you.  (Get a dog.)  There will be misunderstandings, misfittings, and days where your partner’s gleefully in love and you feel like you’re on the Isle of Misfit Toys.  But there’s a certain type of quote-unquote polyamory that involves one partner who’s decided s/he’s going to fuck everything s/he damn well pleases, and a pliant partner who is too confused – and often purposely too confused – to say “no.”
And while folks will get mad at my defining poly thusly – who am I to tell people they can’t be in the cool poly pool? – I’m gonna say that polyamory involves a genuine love for all your partners.  Which is to say that it involves some real concern for their feelings.  And there are a number of ways to show that concern, ranging from the perhaps-overly-ginger “I’ll never do anything if it makes you uncomfortable ever” to the hard-core “If you’re upset, I encourage you to find someone better suited for you.”  But regardless of how that concern is showed, there’s a certain level of respect for the underlying hurt that shines through.
Which is why I can’t see a relationship that revolves around “guilting your partner into increasing isolation so they can get your rocks off” as anything approaching love.
Polyfuckery is the opposite of love.  Polyfuckery involves people preying on your uncertainty to get their goal, making you feel awful for having quite reasonable needs.  Polyfuckery is a way of keeping you around just in case they need you, even though they may not even really want you any more.  It’s all about negating your feelings so they can do whatever they want.  I don’t have a problem with someone standing up for what they need – not every poly must be a house of mushy compromise – but I do have a problem when that selfish desire is couched in terms of other people not being good enough.
So while there are no universal signs in poly, lemme steal a page from Jeff Foxworthy, and say:
If your partner has unilaterally proclaimed your poly status just as you’ve caught them in bed with someone else…. You might be dating a polyfucker.
If your partner has asked his lover to move in with you, and never asked your permission…. You might be dating a polyfucker.
If your partner’s usual response to your hurt is to sneer that you’re just not as enlightened as s/he is… You might be dating a polyfucker.
If your partner doesn’t give you any say in your relationship, and yet guilts you whenever you think of leaving… You might be dating a polyfucker.
If your partner lectures you to explain why you have to be understanding whenever his needs have to be met, and then gives the exact same lecture to explain why your needs aren’t being met… You might be dating a polyfucker.
I hate slowing down to read those sad posts.  It’s a lot of people stuck in situations with manipulative partners, made to feel bad and unworthy when really, the problem is that their lover’s decided they want things their way and will do whatever it takes to have ALL THE THINGS.
As the Internet says, “Polyamory means being honest; therefore, if I’m honest about how little you mean to me, we are polyamorous.”  How sad.  How very sad.


  1. The Sterling
    Nov 20, 2012

    ANYONE who says they are more “enlightened” because they are poly and not mono is liable to get my boot up their ass. Anyone in a relationship with me who unilaterally would make decisions that directly affect me and my safety would no longer be a partner of mine. And yes, it is totally discussed ahead of time as to what is appropriate. I’ve dated a few predators in my day and THAT is what a polyfucker is. Maybe not necessarily an abuser but decidedly predatory. BLARGHRANTBITCHIN’!

  2. Jkelly
    Nov 20, 2012

    You say ‘fuck’ like it’s a bad thing.

  3. Wilhelm
    Aug 21, 2013

    It’s not such much that “fuck” is a bad thing, it’s that some people are just real fuckers, i.e. “what a total fucker.”
    Polydipshittery or polyassholery would be equivalent terms.

  4. AnthroPolybie
    Sep 8, 2013

    If your partner forgets to put your children *first* because “awe hunny I gots the NRE’s” you might be dating a polyfucker.


  1. The One True Scotsman Is Polyamorous, Apparently | Ferrett Steinmetz - […] polyamory from swinging, or even just really bad polyamory. I myself have written essays like Polyfuckery vs. Polyamory, where…

All Comments Will Be Moderated. Comments From Fake Or Throwaway Accounts Will Never Be approved.