I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about about polyamory, partners with other relationships, and what it means to be okay with that. What we’re supposed to be feeling about all of this.
One of the biggest things, you see, about being in a Non-Traditional Relationship(TM) is that it can be difficult to work out what you’re supposed to feel at a given point in time. This is, by the way, as much of a feature as it is a bug- working without a script leaves immense freedom to make things up as you go along and to shape what you’re doing to the needs and preferences of the actual people involved. It’s awesome enough that I’d advise throwing the script away to the rest of you as well. Write your own damn scripts. They’ll probably fit you better.
But having no script also makes life difficult at times, especially when you’re in situations that are generally considered to be Bad News. Like, say, being in a relationship with a person who is also involved with a couple of other people. There’s only two social scripts for how to deal with that- jealousy and denial- and neither of them really fit a situation where everyone involved not only know about each other, but really like each other. Ladyfriend’s other partners are awesome, by the way.
But y’know what? I don’t generally think much about the details of Ladyfriend’s other relationships. I’m most invested in her relationship with BFF, but that’s mainly because BFF being in happy relationships is the kind of thing that, well, a BFF makes it her business to take note of. The thing is, though, that I see Ladyfriend’s other relationships in much the same way.
I know they’re there. I’ve met everyone and I like them all a lot. I try to be considerate and facilitate them as much as I can- making sure that if visits overlap, say, everyone gets to spend time together one-on-one as well as hanging out as a group. And if Ladyfriend has a new crush or a date with someone new or even a new relationship, I do care a lot about meeting them, getting to know them, keeping up to date on how she feels about them and the new thing she has going on, working out what our agreements are going to be and if anything needs to change.
Once relationships are established, though? I don’t think a huge amount about what they entail. It doesn’t seem to be much of my business or to affect me any more than, say, Ladyfriend’s relationship with her close platonic friends, or her music or artwork. Ladyfriend’s other relationships get categorised in my head as “stuff that’s important to Ladyfriend that I should take into account”, and I pretty much toddle on about my business.
I don’t dwell on her other relationships. I don’t have any problem with them. I don’t collapse into Feels Of Adorable whenever I think about her and her others- although I have been known to have an “awwwww” moment or three when we’re hanging out. I do ship them all, after all. But generally I’m just stupendously okay and- here’s a thing- I don’t give her other relationships a massive amount of thought.
This isn’t saying, by the way, that I ignore them. Like I said, they’re all lovely people who I am really happy have great relationships with Ladyfriend. It also, by the way, helps that she really does seem to have exceptionally good taste in people. Bit of an ego-boost for Yours Truly, that one is.
I don’t ignore them, but I don’t really think about the relationships themselves either. And sometimes I wonder if I put myself under too much pressure in this to be some other kind of ‘okay’. As if by not being particularly bothered either way by her other relationships I’m somehow in denial about it all? Maybe I should be thinking more about them? Maybe I’m deeply not-okay with the situation but I don’t want to admit it to myself?
Or maybe, of course, we live in a deeply monocentric society that assumes that poly situations must be ones that need to be dwelled on and overanalysed. That my partner’s other partners are somehow people who should take a greater amount of my mental processing than her close friends or her family. And that if they don’t, there must be something up. That I must be harbouring some secret jealousy eating away at me, or living in some kind of denial so deeply-rooted that even I can’t see it.
But y’know something? I’m pretty sure it’s just fine. We’re just fine.
- Polysingleish Interviews Franklin Veaux, Part 1: Being Poly (polysingleish.com)
- Polyamory: slicin’ and dicin’? (considertheteacosy.wordpress.com)
- My Relationship ‘Rules’: Polyamory, Sex and Love. (lovetmah.com)
- The Polyamorous Misanthrope Reviews Polyamory and Pregnancy (polyamoryonpurpose.com)
- the problem with polynormativity (sexgeek.wordpress.com)
- Responses to oft-repeated comments (polyskeptic.com)
- Present and Playful (polysingleish.com)
- The Strength of the Tribe (pearlsandpentagrams.wordpress.com)
- Don’t do; Be. (pearlsandpentagrams.wordpress.com)
- Poly Family – Just the beginning (tripleloves.wordpress.com)