Polyamory is (usually) hard, but so is life

Expanding more upon my last post.

Recently I read a post on the blog Solopoly by a man who is practicing solo polyamory. Solo polyamory is essentially the practice of having multiple partners (or being open to having multiple partners, or at least to your partner(s) having other partners), without doing the more traditional partnering up activities like living together and merging lives. Some people phrase it as not having a primary, but the word primary gets a little difficult to define sometimes.

Reading that post, it’s very easy to see why some people are confused about polyamory. Wouldn’t it be much simpler to just have one partner? And for your partner to only have one partner? Even if you’re not living together (see: living apart together), it’s just so much easier when you only have to worry about each other.

Driving to the airport last evening, excited to see both my boyfriends this weekend (partial polycule trip! going to a convention with Ember and Catalyst and Ember’s… girl he’s dating long distance. I should probably come up with a name for her) and at the same time worrying about life, as usual, I realized that polyamory is nothing new. The new thing about polyamory is simply the multiple romantic loves aspect, but people do things like this all the time. Things that other people think are more trouble than they’re worth, and yet somehow, they’re fulfilling and satisfying, even though they might often be painful and trying.

Take child-rearing. I’ve seen studies that show that parents aren’t happier than those without children, and who doesn’t know people who on some level miss the freedom of not being a parent? And yet, raising children is rated as one of the top truly satisfying things you can do with your life. One of those things that bring you meaning, even if they might not exactly make you happy.

I don’t mean to say that polyamory doesn’t make people happy, but I do think that if you go into polyamory expecting it to be magically more fun and exciting than monogamy, I think you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

There was a brief time, soon after Ember moved to Rainy City, where we closed our relationship. I was insecure about being replaced, about him finding a girl who he connected with who was everything I was to him, but better. Someone who could share in his gleeful excitement, someone who could really understand his work (and play) tech talk. I worried that there would be someone who would be the one everyone knew as his girlfriend, and I would be the unknown girl who slips in and out of his life quietly, recognized by no one as an important person in his life. That she would move into his home and his life and there would be no room for me.

A few months later, we decided to open up again. What changed? Was I no longer afraid that he’d meet this bubbly pixie tech girl? No. But I decided that he should have the chance to find her, and that maybe finding her didn’t have to mean I’d lose him. Yes it would change things, but maybe that was okay. Maybe we’d find a way to make it work. I decided to take a chance, to believe that what we had really was as strong as we thought it was. That if he built something new, it didn’t mean he’d have to tear us down.

Neither of us expected me to be the one who’d fall in love with someone else.

You can’t go into polyamory and expect your life and your existing relationships to stay the same. You can’t expect things to go the way you planned. You can’t expect a long list of rules to guarantee that there won’t be any surprises. And even if your rules are very vague, like they were and are for me and Ember, even if you both always play by them, you still can’t expect things to go the way you thought they would.

Things might always be good. Your pre-existing relationships might always be strong and healthy, and you might build new relationships that only add to your life, not take away from it. But still, things will be different, in some way or another. And life will probably be… complicated.

I like complicated. I thrive on being busy and involved. But I don’t think complicated has to mean difficult and draining. There doesn’t have to be lots of drama.

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