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.


Poly Means Many: In Praise of Bad Timing (Aug 2013)

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 can be found at www.polymeansmany.com. This month, our topic is “Time”.

This month I want to write about time, specifically as it pertains to “bad timing” in relationships. This has been very much on my mind lately, as I am about to move country. I’ve been reflecting on the timing of my various relationships (many were very badly-timed!) and I begin to realise that it is one of the most important factors in how long that relationship lasted, the intensity of it, or even that it existed in first place. Upon reflection, Bad Timing is something I can mostly praise.

Bad Timing as Catalyst

According to a lot of people, now would seem like a “bad” time to start a new relationship, given I’m about to move country. It’s been interesting to observe who has distanced themselves from me during this time and who has decided to come closer. There have been a few people with whom I’ve shared a mutual interest who’ve decided to not pursue anything with me due to my move. However, not to sound immodest (!), but mainly I’ve been bowled over by people who’ve decided they’re interested despite my imminent departure. In my experience, Bad Timing often is the catalyst for these connections. For better or worse, it is a catalyst I embrace.

My history with Bad Timing

My relationship with the Boi Wonders has had a unique history in terms of timing. A couple of years ago I thought it was very likely my visa would not be renewed and that I would have to leave the country. Despite that we decided to enter into a relationship, knowing full well that three months into our relationship I would likely have to leave, probably permanently. During that time we became very close and also quickly became well-acquainted with one another’s virtues and flaws. Thankfully I was rather unexpectedly granted another visa. Shortly thereafter a series of “badly-timed” interpersonal events transpired that put our relationship under more stress than ever. Somehow we managed to make it through all of this and our relationship came out stronger.

Two years later I’m in a position now where I now must leave the country, but happily I can do so with the Boi. We would not be together if we had listened to the sensible voice in our heads that “now is not the right time” a couple of years ago. I’m so happy we decided to give it a go despite the rather immense odds against us at the beginning.

One of my last Long-Term Relationships (with someone other than the Boi) was the long-distance relationship I was in for 18 months, which some of you may recall from when I started this blog. That relationship started partially as a result of Bad Timing too. She went to China for the first 6 months of our relationship, but we decided to give it a go anyway. I could not be more grateful. Although we’re not in each other’s lives much now, I learned and loved a lot with her and would never change that for anything.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t always ignore Bad Timing and plow through anyway! A few times in the past couple of years, I’ve met someone and after a few weeks or months, decided to not pursue a romantic connection with them. Bad Timing was often a factor in making that decision. However, in my experience, even making a go of it and deciding not to pursue that kind of connection can bring people closer together as lovely friends.

Bad Timing with Metamours and Friends

As I mentioned earlier, Bad Timing does not just impact individual partner-relationships. Say, I meet someone and most signs point toward it being a bad time to start an entanglement. Maybe I’m moving away or maybe my other relationship is on the rocks. Adding a new relationship to the equation could be viewed as risky, and maybe it is. But it can also be the necessary impetus to finally sort out the problems in my extant relationship(s), whatever the outcome of that sorting-out process may be, and an added motivation for me to sort out any issues with my metamours.

Bad timing brings both the good and the bad into sharp focus. It’s easy to reflect on missed opportunities – which believe me, I have done! – but also facilitates an intense reflection on the good. At the end of the night of my farewell party recently, a friend came up to me and said “I feel like I’ve wasted all this time not having been friends with you earlier.” This was really touching, but all I could think was that I’m just that much more grateful for the awesome friendship we have now and can continue to have. Moving away doesn’t mean my life needs to stop or that I can’t have nice things. It just means those things take a radically different shape than they might have otherwise done. Nothing has taught me this quite so well as being polyamorous.