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Imagine you have an acquaintance who is a big soccer fan. They play soccer, sing soccer songs and watch soccer. They love soccer and they talk about their soccer team all the time.

Soccer Ball Cake Pops

One day you tell them that you’re not really into soccer, but you are a sports fan.

“What do you mean, you don’t like soccer? What other sport is there?”

“Well, I like basketball. I play on a local team.”

“Basket ball? What’s that?”

“Well, players try to get a ball into the other team’s basket.”

“Ok, I follow. Like soccer.”

“Yeah, except you bounce the ball with your hands instead of using your feet.”

“Wait, what? You mean you can CHEAT?”

“No, it just has different rules.”

“What do the other players think about that?”

“Well, they all play by the same rules.”

“Maybe you just didn’t commit to soccer. It takes a lot of hard work.”

“So does basketball. It’s really difficult.”

“But it’s just basically permission to cheat. I just couldn’t do that. Sorry.”

“Well, I don’t like playing soccer. Basketball is closer to my skill set and I find it much more exciting and intimate to play. I love watching the game because it’s more fast paced and suits me better.”

“I just couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if the other players were allowed to use their hands like that. I couldn’t do it.”

“Well, it takes skill, but you realise you’d be able to use your hands too, right?”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to. I prefer only using my feet to kick the ball. I couldn’t do it any other way. I just couldn’t.”

“Nobody is making you. We just like different things.”

“Okay, but please don’t talk about this basket ball thing around my soccer friends. It might make them feel weird.”

And this is what it is like to talk to some people about polyamory.

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The last 12 months have been intense. I went through a breakup, that nearly broke me, then was in two relationships that ended within a month of each other.

After that, I swore off ‘dating’ anyone during 2013.

Then I went back to Uni, and have been busily preparing myself for a major life and career change (a.k.a. getting a new degree).

Since going on semester break, I’ve found myself with a little bit of free time and absolutely no desire to date.

But I miss having a companion. I just do not want to go through all the heartbreak again. And I don’t feel the rewards of being ‘poly’ are really worth the trouble right now.

However, should I meet someone and hit it off, I don’t see myself saying no because of any ‘rule’ against dating.

Husband and I were talking last night about loneliness. He’s an introvert, I’m…less of an introvert. We have each other, but we both get lonely. I can’t speak for him, but I have definitely been feeling lonely lately. I’ve been working, I’ve been relatively social, but I really miss having ‘someone’. I have ‘someone,’ obviously, I have Husband. But we’ve agreed that we are not perfect for each other in every way. We are not perfect lovers. We are not perfect ‘companions’ (which is a gender neutral word I like to use for the role a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ fills).  We are, however, perfect partners. We are great parents. We are an excellent Pictionary team.

So what I miss is having a lover and a companion with whom I am compatible. But I do not intend at this point to go seeking out someone to slot into that box (no pun intended). The heartbreak of losing someone who was those things, but also a lying, cheating, betrayer of my trust has left me scarred and scared. Even one year later, I’m just too exhausted to imagine making the effort.

As for Husband, he went through the emotional wringer over the last 12 months too. He was hit hard by the whole drama, then got dumped by his major, longtime companion. They’d been together nearly as long as he and I had been and then she just… yeah. Right after that, he got dumped by his two other lovers/companions as well. (EDIT: I’ve left out a part of this story, another major relationship ended in a mutual agreement to stop seeing each other. It was really emotionally draining and awful. I wouldn’t characterise it as being ‘dumped’ so it didn’t fit into this paragraph.) So it’s not just my own experiences that have left me with Post Traumatic Relationship Stress. Because we were both going through so much emotional shit at the same time (plus there was my school work making me stress out), we couldn’t even really be there for each other either and that has taken its toll.

For now, we are over dating.

Furthermore, I just don’t get crushes anymore. Not in the same way I used to. I used to get crushes that were consuming. And a major part of them was a burning desire to have sex with that person. Now, I get ‘friend crushes’ where I get all excited about hanging out with a new person. I’ve had several major friend crushes on classmates, coworkers and others in my life, but none of them have been sexual in the least. If I find myself picturing someone sexually, my brain clicks in and says, “What’s the point? What makes you think it will be anything special? You’ve had sex. Sex is sex. This person will offer nothing you haven’t had before.” Which is strange. My desire for sexual novelty is completely null. It’s not even like I’ve lost my libido. I still desire sex, but just not with anyone I know (besides Husband and Lovely Boy…more about him later).

I’ve got polyamory burnout.

However, on the horizon, I have an upcoming visit to my homeland. When I arrive there, I’ve got a former lover whom I have been wanting to see since last year. Last year, when I went back home I had planned a tryst, but did not engage in shenanigans out of respect for the aforementioned Lying Asshole, who had expressed discomfort with the idea. (Later events made me regret the decision somewhat, regardless of the fact that it meant I could maintain the moral high ground.) I’m looking forward to seeing Lovely Boy because he’s someone  I have fun with and with whom I’ve been compatible sexually. But he’s a far cry from a regular companion. He lives half a world away, and even if I were to move back next year, he’s still a 10 hour drive from where I’d be living.

And so, for now, I remain lonesome.

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Ever since the Cheatocalypse (the nickname I’m giving the incredibly toxic breakup I went through last year), I’ve been especially tuned into angry posts on other peoples’ blogs about breakups. Since I probably won’t do anything more harsh than my breakup-via-blog-post that I already did, here are a couple of great posts on other people’s blogs:

Year of the Psycho Butch – on superbushpig

Favorite Quote:

PB TIP NO. 5 – beware of an immediate accord. Why are you connecting so hard so fast with an immediate stranger? Because you are both faking it, madly projecting and not at all revealing who you are….”

How to Go No Contact – on A Femme in NYC

Favorite Quote:

“8. Don’t fall into the trap of having to defend yourself –s/he may write something on your Facebook wall if you haven’t unfriended her, talk about you at her AA meetings, and play the Scott Peterson card so that everyone thinks s/he is the nice guy and you are a callous bitch for dumping her. People who don’t know you well may feel the need to approach you to tell you what a c*** you are. Let it go.”

If I find more I’ll add them to the list.

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Is someone still polyamorous if she is not actively seeking out new partners?

Is someone still polyamorous if she isn’t in a relationship?

Is someone still considered bisexual if they’ve never been in a same sex/opposite sex relationship?

Is someone considered bisexual if they’re in a monogamous same sex/oppposite sex relationship?

These questions have been coming up a lot lately. Right now, I’m what I call poly single. As I am only in one relationship, and not interested in pursuing any other romantic relationships, I am, for all practical purposes, monogamous. I still consider myself polyamorous, but just not really playing the game right now.

I got my heart broken pretty badly last year. Someone I trusted hurt me worse than anyone ever has, then my two fledgeling follow-up relationships didn’t make it past the six month mark. I have turned my attention to some things I’ve been neglecting for a long time, and I started a seriously intense graduate course at university, so I don’t really have time for the level of distraction and emotional investment romantic relationships usually require.

Does this still make me poly? I took part in another radio show on Q Radio’s Friday Night Lip Service, on identifying as queer while in an outwardly ‘straight’ relationship, and the host of the show spoke about her respect for people who could be invisible, but choose to be visible. In a way, she said, it’s even more brave because you have the option of being ‘normal’ and ‘passing’ but you choose to out yourself when it’s not an imperative.

But I still struggle with the question of authenticity. Can I really speak as a queer voice when I don’t suffer the same kind of discrimination? When I don’t have to come out? When my stakes aren’t as high?

I still don’t have any answers.

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There’s a great feeling when you finally throw out something that is broken.

Recently, I took a look at the top shelf in my kitchen. Sitting up there since I moved in was my food processor. It has been broken for about three years. At some point, it ceased to have multiple speeds and only went into superfastohmygodwhatfreshhellisthis when I turned it on. It was out of its warranty period, but I thought, maybe, I could take it to a repair place and they could fix it. I mean, it had so many attachments, could potentially make my life easier and I had so many recipes I used to use it with! Just the memory of those perfectly sliced vegetables, that cheese grated in the blink of an eye, and meatloaf mixed in seconds was enough to convince me I couldn’t throw it away. Never mind that the last thing I tried to use it on turned into liquified mush and un-processed chunks and was completely inedible. Never mind that someone else had used it to pulp recycled paper and the blades were dulled beyond repair. Never mind that it just. Didn’t. Work. Never mind that I had found something else to do the same job (maybe not as well, but still serviceably and better in other ways).

So there I was, standing in my kitchen staring up at my food processor. And I thought of Boyfriend. Well, until recently, he was my boyfriend. We broke up. More to the point, I broke up with him. Yet I still wanted him in my life. But I didn’t really. I mean, I wanted the person I thought he was. But he was broken. He had hurt me very badly, and very severely damaged my trust to a point beyond repair. But I wanted to keep him on a shelf, until he somehow proved to me that he wasn’t broken. That he could be repaired. That he really was the person I thought he was, somewhere under the cowardice, the deceit, and the selfishness, there was someone who actually cared about me and who I could trust to be open with me. But then I thought, what could he do? Was there really anything that could fix things? And did I really want to put the effort into it, especially when every time I saw his face or a picture of his face, I was having panic attacks? When I had already lost over 10 lbs from the stress and anxiety of trying to work things out?

Was I ever going to take that stupid broken food processor to the repair place?

No.

And so, I took it down off the shelf and chucked it into the skip, along with all the attachments.

Ex-boyfriend is still friends on FaceBook, but he’s no longer in my news feed and I don’t see us being friends in real-life.

And I sleep better now. And I’m eating again. And there is a place on my shelf for something better.

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I mentioned in my last post that I’d been questioning whether or not being polyamorous was worth it. I came back with the answer ‘Yes’ but didn’t really explain why.

I did a bit of brainstorming about why I do this, to serve as a reminder for myself and hopefully anyone who reads this. I’ve written before about Deborah Anapol’s article, Why People Choose Polyamory and found some inspiration there again.

So, why?

 Because I love being in love.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being in love and having it returned is one of the best feelings and I have found that being polyamorous means I get to experience that even more. I don’t have to stop being in love with one person in order to be in love with someone else. I never have to face that agonising experience of ‘BUT I LOVE THEM BOTH, HOW CAN I CHOOSE?’

Because I love sex.

Free Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I say it’s not just about the sex, but it definitely plays a big role. I do like sex a lot. It’s something I enjoy without guilt, and I am not afraid to seek it out or ask for it. I’m a sex-positive person and for me, sex is healthy and fun, however there is a lot of emotion that comes along with sexual intimacy. Polyamory offers an ethical framework where neither the physical act nor the emotions are taboo.

Because I want to grow as a person and push past my comfort zone.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Polyamory is challenging to both social norms and personal boundaries. In Deborah Anapol’s article on this, she says:

“The blessing and the curse of polyamory is that love which includes more than one tends to illuminate those dark shadows many would prefer to ignore.”

I personally hate glossing over problems. I prefer ‘front loading things,’ as my boyfriend is fond of saying, and keeping everything out in the open. This can be very confronting for other people, though many find it rather refreshing. As a dear friend of mine said to me once, “What I love about you, is I never have to guess what you’re thinking.” For better or worse, this is how I deal with things. If there is an elephant in the room, I say, “Hey! An elephant!” Then stride right up to it and start feeding it peanuts. For me, the communication and exploration aspects that are essential in making polyamory work are one of the things I enjoy. Though it is exhausting at times, I learn more about myself and constantly grow as a person.

Because I want my child to grow up in a happy home.

Mother and Child

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This one is being challenged at the moment, but I feel that forming more close bonds with other adults means my son will have a bigger family and more access to adult role models than if my husband and I were monogamous. We live far from our blood relatives, but we both believe in having a larger family. The article I wrote about in my last post covers this topic well, so I won’t rehash all of that.

I find that this lifestyle is rewarding and challenging. Sometimes I think it might be easier to be monogamous, but for me, it would be limiting, monotonous and I would have to deny much of my natural sexuality to make it work. When faced with the choice between the two, I would choose this lifestyle every time.

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Deborah Anapol’s article in Psychology Today, “Group Marriage and the Future of the Family,” was published back in March, but it only crossed my path today. It is a very positive article (I’d expect nothing less from Anapol, author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits) and paints a very rosy picture of the benefits of polyamory on children:

“One of the most common concerns about polyamory is that it’s harmful to children, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Multiple-adult families and committed intimate networks have the potential of providing dependent children with additional nurturing adults who can meet their material, intellectual, and emotional needs. While parents may end up focusing less attention on their children, children may gain new aunts, uncles, and adopted parents.”

I find this article timely, as my poly-family has recently had its limits tested and right now looks dangerously close to breaking. I won’t go into details because it’s still a fresh wound and nothing is certain. But it does raise the question for me, what if these adults, with whom a child forms a close bond, decide they no longer want to or are unable to be a part of that family? It could potentially be as stressful as a divorce, especially if there is animosity amongst the adults. What about when the departing adult wishes to maintain a relationship with a child they helped raise, but the biological parents want nothing to do with that person, the pain of loss being still too strong? In cases where the relationship is clearly defined, i.e. the leaving partner is the biological parent or a spouse of one of the parents, there are legal rights and clear custody arrangements, but what about the ‘other’ people? The pseudo-aunties and sort-of-uncles? Is the idealistic dream of ‘one big happy family’ just that? An unattainable ideal?

I worry sometimes that we who practice polyamory and advocate for its acceptance perhaps paint too rosy a picture of polyamory. Sometimes, it’s very, very difficult. Lately, I’ve been facing a lot of challenges in my relationships and they have all come fast and hard, one after another. A friend of mine once asked me, baffled by my emotional pain about a recent breakup, “Isn’t the point of getting married so that you don’t have to go through this again?” and I’ve asked myself the question several times over the last month or so whther it is worth all this pain to keep pursuing polyamorous relationships. For me, the answer is just as easy to answer as if I were single and pursuing monogamous relationships: yes. My relationships are worth it.

Whatever the shape of a relationship, there is always potential for pain, heartbreak, jealousy, anger, loss and more. When it goes wrong, it hurts. Furthermore, you can be doing everything right and still wind up hurting someone else or getting hurt. When you open yourself up to intimacy, you make yourself vulnerable. That’s what makes it intimate. The more people you open up to, the more chances there are for things to go horribly wrong. Is it fair to put children in the middle of that? I don’t know. It’s a good question, and I’m starting to see the benefit in people being closeted to their kids. It breaks my heart to think of taking away a member of my son’s stable network of adults, but at the same time, I don’t know if I can open up myself or my husband to being hurt by this person again.

I still believe that polyamory opens up the potential to a larger network of adults to give children a larger family of which the typical nuclear family deprives them. I agree with everything in Anapol’s article, and I’ve seen examples personally of people forming a large poly household of interconnected and inter-committed adults. Maybe that is the key, that a greater commitment is required to make things work, whether between two people or more. I don’t have all the answers, but I do hope I find them, and I hope Deborah Anapol is right when she says,

“…polyamory may be at least as good as the other options for raising healthy children.”

It’s the least I can hope for.

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