“Why Would You Ever Be Polyamorous? Isn’t It All Drama?”

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 1.206% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So I’m in the hospital, being informed I’ve just had a minor heart attack and they have to keep me overnight.  My wife’s not there, because she’s visiting her boyfriend in another state.

She wants to rush back to take care of me.  But what would she do here?  Hospitals are a second home for me, because I used to visit my hemophiliac Uncle Tommy all the time, and visiting is boring and uncomfortable.  I know others would panic, but me? I’m cradled in the best care I can get, and if she rushes home she’ll only get here at 1:00 in the morning and sit all night in one of those murderously painful chairs while I’m drugged up and grunting.

“Stay with your boyfriend,” I say.

“But…”

“Come in the morning.  I’m just gonna sleep, and there’s nothing you can do now anyway.  Get some rest, and drive when you’re not panicked.”

And I think about her, in the arms of someone I trust thoroughly, who’ll take care of her when I’m incapable.  I don’t need her now, and I don’t have the energy to comfort her – but he can.

“You sure?” she asks.

“I’m sure.”

I sleep better that night, knowing that someone’s ensuring Gini’s not flying apart with stress.  (And she got there the next morning.)

#

(Later that night, her boyfriend pondered whether it was okay to make a move on her.  “Are you kidding?” she said.  “If you don’t, he’s gonna be pissed that he’s sleeping alone and I’m not distracted.”

(Reader, she was correct.)

#

My sweetie Fox wanted to go see the eclipse.  The eclipse was near the quilting museum.  My wife wanted to see the quilting museum.

This was all in Kentucky, where there was bourbon – which I wanted to see.  And I wondered: could I combine all three of these into a single trip?

How would it work, going on an extended vacation with my wife and my sweetie?

It all started well – singing Hamilton, drinking bourbon, long debates about obscure topics.  But the rubber hit the road when the car broke down and Fox – who has chronic illness issues – exhausted themself trying to stay upright for the many hours until the mechanics and tow truck and taxi could get to us.  And by the time we got to our hotel they were flustered and upset and panicked because they were collapsing and they were too much trouble, they hated this illness that robbed them of strength at all the wrong times, and who would ever want to look after them when they were –

My wife, who was in no way dating Fox, held them and reassured them that they were loved.

Because they weren’t dating. But they were friends.

And Fox got better, and we saw the quilting museum, and when the eclipse severed the sky it was one of the most magical moments ever.

I remember holding my wife’s hand, and my lover’s hand, as the sun turned into a silhouette and I felt like the world was truly full of magic.

#

I remember sitting down with one of my dearest friends and one of my oldest lovers at a bar.  My friend had asked, “I mean, how do you date Ferrett?  He’s blogging all the time, he’s dating lots of women, how do you handle that?”

My sweetie, who’d had perhaps one too many drinks, gave a goddamned seminar in How To Date Ferrett.

I kept my mouth shut.  She told me all sorts of things I didn’t quite realize about myself, the strengths I didn’t realize I had, the ways she navigated around my neuroses, the bullshit I thought was important but ultimately didn’t matter.

She’d spent years learning how to love me well, and in explaining our relationship to my friend she helped me love myself better.

And in the end, she tilted a glass and said, “I don’t honestly care whether we’re dating.  I mean, I like that.  But we’ve both got restrictions, and one day he might decide mine are too much for him and he’ll leave.  But I know we’ll never stop being friends – and that’s the important thing.”

I blinked.  How could she not care whether we were dating?  And then I thought of the constant way we’d been exchanging texts over more than a decade now, that humming connection of “Oh, did you know” and “Well, that just happened” and “Look at this and laugh” and I realized that yeah, maybe we wouldn’t be smooching some day but we’d always be caring, and shit, why wasn’t that better than anything else in my life?

I watched the way she waved her drink as she spoke, the gesture a little exaggerated and a little intoxicated, and I realized that God, yeah, I was in love with the right woman.

#

“Isn’t poly stressful sometimes?”  Yes.  Yes, it is.  And I write about the troubles with polyamory because I think that a lot of poly relationships make the same mistakes – mistakes that I, tragically, have made – and by pointing out the patterns maybe some people can dodge around them.  Or at least figure out what their mistake is sooner.

But when I do that, monogamous people keep asking, “Why would you risk losing one lover to get two?”  And I think, Jesus, like your relationship is guaranteed no matter what you do – you risk losing a lover doing anything worthwhile, whether that’s moving in together or trying out BDSM or going to college or having kids.  I wonder if these monogamous questioners ever look at the number of marriages where people did everything “right” for two decades and everything still fell apart because you risk imploding a relationship whenever you seek what your heart wants, and you risk imploding a relationship when you don’t seek what your heart wants.

Polyamory is stressful.  Because relationships are stressful.  But there are also beautiful moments in polyamory where you feel the strength of the web, feel the compassion of not just one person but multiple people clinging tight around you when you threaten to fall apart, and it’s like friendship but it’s different in a way that you can’t really explain until you feel it click because god damn there’s something glorious in living with fewer boundaries.

Is it stressful?  Yes.  Particularly in the beginning, when you’re kicked back to high school and it’s got all the awkwardness of those first monogamous dates you had where you don’t know the tricks, and the insecurity cuts deeper and your communications aren’t honed.  It’s tough.

But anything worthwhile takes some effort.

And I think back to these moments, and a hundred more like them, these times when I had multiple lovers and so did my partners and that was all not just okay but beneficent, feeling that magnificent comfort of knowing that something great flowed between us like an ocean, and yeah.

Yeah.

It’s worth it.

 

3 Comments

  1. Paul N
    Jan 13, 2018

    Leave it to you to use a heart attack as the hook for a post on polyamory.

    Did you just have a second heart attack? Oh my word.

    • TheFerrett
      Jan 13, 2018

      To be clear, that was a (poorly structured) flashback. My heart attack was five years ago, I survived with a triple bypass, and I believe I’m find now.

      Sorry for the fear!

  2. Carolyn
    Jan 13, 2018

    Wonderfully written. Thank you. Especially for including this part: “How could she not care whether we were dating? And then I thought of the constant way we’d been exchanging texts over more than a decade now, that humming connection of “Oh, did you know” and “Well, that just happened” and “Look at this and laugh” and I realized that yeah, maybe we wouldn’t be smooching some day but we’d always be caring, and shit, why wasn’t that better than anything else in my life?”

    Because I’ve been in a poly relationship for over 10 years now with someone I love very much, and it’s been morphing in different ways through time. Sometimes I wonder if it’s still “valid”, because we’re not lovers right now, or because it’s this, or that, or whatever label or other judgement I want to try to put on it.

    And you’ve given me the ability to realize that it doesn’t matter. We care. We love. Still. After all this time. And we consider ourselves together, still. In whatever form this together is, right now, it’s together.

    Thank you.

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