PolyMeansMany: Why I haven’t learned anything from being poly.

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts will be found at www.polymeansmany.com from tomorrow. This month, our topic is “What being poly has taught me”

When the PMMers first picked the topic of “What I’ve learned from being poly”, I  assumed that I could or would have a lot to say about this. I have been practicing polyamory since my first relationship at 15 years old – that’s half my life now – so I thought I would have plenty of material and could write a litany of “poly lessons learned”.

But when I started to really think on this, I quickly realised that being poly has been so infused into my life that I have a difficult time differentiating its place in my life from relationships more generally. And furthermore, I don’t feel that being poly has taught me very much at all in particular. I think non-poly people deal with most of the same issues that we do: jealousy, trust, time management, boundaries, good communication, etc, and most of the seminal lessons I’ve learned from specific relationships would have transpired regardless of whether I was monogamous or polyamorous in that relationship. (I might have learned those lessons a bit differently if I were monogamous, however.)

In my own particular case, I’ve undoubtedly had many more relationships because I am poly, so perhaps my rate of learning from relationships has been greater than if I were monogamous. And as I have covered in previous posts, those lessons often come from loss of relationships – which in my case, has come more frequently as a poly person than it would have if I were mono, simply because I enter into relationships more frequently.

So perhaps in this way, poly has taught me to deal with loss better than I otherwise would have. It has taught me to fully appreciate having relationships that I know won’t last forever or even for very long at all. It has taught me the value of romantic and/or sexual friendships – a type of friendship I might not have been able to engage in if I weren’t poly or at least open. It has taught me to stop taking the damn relationship escalator all the time and to live more in the moment with my loved ones. NB: I got into my relationship with my fiancé thinking we would definitely not have a long-term primary-ish future together, and yet here we are just over three years later about to get married.  I firmly believe that not jumping onto the relationship escalator from the moment we met each other is what got us here, because it meant we could form our own unique bond free of such expectations.

At the same time: I could have learned any of the above while not practicing polyamory, it is simply impossible for me to know since I have never been anything but poly.  But I maintain that being poly has not given me access to a particular set or special level of knowledge that can only be gained by those who are poly. Frankly, I don’t think that kind of knowledge exists. I have learned so much from the many relationships I’ve had, not from being poly, and for that I am immensely grateful.