“I Don’t Feel Like I’m Really Polyamorous.” Here’s Why You Are.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

They talk to me in whispers, in private conversations, in closed chat rooms, these hushed confessions:

“I don’t feel like I’m really polyamorous.”

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve the Badge of Poly because they’re solo poly – they just want to date a lot of people and live single in their apartment,and if they’re not seeking a primary partner can they really be poly?

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve the Official Medal Of The Polyamoric Experience because they’re in a closed triad, having only dated the same two people for fifteen years, and if they’re not actively seeking new partners can they really be poly?

Sometimes they don’t feel like they deserve to be considered an official Colonel of the Polyamorous Field Wars because they’re asexual and they have deeply romantic ties with several people but there’s not really any physical connection, and if they’re not bumping the bits then can they really be poly?

And the answer is: Yes.

No, I lie: the true answer is Fuck yes.

Because here’s the trick: Monogamy is one very narrow version of how romantic relationships can form – basically, one on one, exclusive. (And there’s a hell of a lot of variation to be had even within that quote-unquote “narrow” version, because humans are complex and the world is large, but the gist of the ideal is pretty much “You eventually find one person to stay with until one of you is dead.”)

But polyamory?

Is literally every other kind of relationship you can have that’s not monogamy.

Saying that polyamory and monogamy are opposites is a terrible definition, because they’re not actually opposed. Monogamy is like New York City – it’s ridiculously popular and influential, and certainly lots of people live in New York City or in places with similarities to New York City….

But “not living in New York City” isn’t actually a well-defined experience. Maybe you live in the farmlands. Maybe you live in the suburbs. Maybe you live in a trailer, or on a commune, or in a geodesic dome.

New York City isn’t the opposite of the world, it’s just an outsized experience that’s given a wildly disproportionate amount of attention. And you don’t see people say “I don’t feel that I’m not really not living in New York City” because they’re living in Saskatoon.

Likewise, all it takes to be polyamorous is to not be monogamous. And monogamy is so omnipresent in Western culture that simply stepping away from that expectation is a hurdle in and of itself.

So the good news: You are polyamorous. You’re valid. The true polyamorous experience is as simple as realizing that monogamy doesn’t entirely fit you, and you need something a little off the rack – and so you’re aiming your relationships, no matter how imperfectly, in that direction.

Admittedly, there are a few doofy One True Wayers who’ll tell you that you’re not really polyamorous unless your poly looks like their poly – which is entirely coincidental, I’m sure – but as always, you can ignore the dorks.

What you’re doing? It’s valid, it’s poly, it ticks all the boxes. Furthermore, it’s probably approaching a good poly, as you’re trying to figure out how to shape a customized experience to fulfill your needs, as opposed to stepping away from the constrictions of monogamy to take up an entirely new set of constrictions.

In short, your experiences with polyamory right now:

  • Is polyamory
  • Are valid
  • Are hopefully healthy for you and your partners, so long as you’re treating everyone with respect.

And that’s all ya need to know.

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