(Please excuse the disjointed nature of this post. This is how I think through things. Normally this would be an email to my boyfriends that would be even less structured, but today, it gets to be a blog post).
Two related concepts:
- People who seek out “extreme sports” and other adrenaline pumping activities are thought to be people who are highly stimulated by new and exciting activities, who also don’t get the same negative feedback that most people do, which cause us to derive less pleasure from these scary and novel activities, and therefore we seek them out less.
- People with borderline personality disorder are thought to experience negative emotions as more painful because they don’t have as strong of an ameliorating secretion of feel good chemicals in response to emotional pain. It is hypothesized that this may be why they engage in self-harm activities, because the pain causes secretion of those same feel good chemicals that they generally lack.
I wonder sometimes why I’ve chosen polyamory. I know plenty of people who have been exposed to the concept, who have little to no fear of social stigma from being polyamorous, who still choose to be monogamous. I think I could live a happy life monogamously, and it would certainly be easier, but I chose polyamory, even when I was in just one relationship. I chose, we chose, to be open. To us, it was a rational decision, and yet, it’s a bit odd to make a rational decision to go against the accepted, “tried and true” norm.
Why did Ember and I do this? Why, even though I worried about Ember finding a new girlfriend that he liked better than me who he wouldn’t hesitate to settle down with, why did I decide “Well, that’s just a bridge we’ll cross if we get there.” Even among those who choose polyamory, many couples open up with rules that are designed to protect the existing relationship. Us? Our rules were (and are):
- Safe sex (which is a whole set of rules of its own)
- The other person has to know that you are not single (and that you’re not cheating either).
- We have to disclose to each other, at the minimum, that we’ve had a non-platonic encounter of some variation (in reality, we are extremely open and honest and sometimes we overshare, but we decided not to make it mandatory to do so).
I think my reasons why I chose to do this, or maybe more accurately, why I’m still doing this, are tangentially related to the above concepts.
- I really enjoy the depth and nature of romantic relationships. To have even one was an amazing and wonderful thing. To be able to be that close to more than one person? Really? I can do that?! But I also don’t get intensely jealous. The extent to which I get jealous is fairly minimal, and the things I get jealous over required me to deal with them long before Ember ever dated anyone else. I get jealous about being left out, and when I feel like I’m not getting enough quality time, so these are issues that came up when Ember spent time with friends and family, and it was obviously unhealthy to isolate him so that I never felt a little bit jealous. It is less unusual to expect your significant other to not sleep with other people, except that was never one of my triggers. So I really enjoy romantic relationships, and I don’t get a lot of the usual negative feedback that goes along with forming new romantic relationships (or allowing your partner to do so).
- I would not characterize myself as someone who is completely unemotional, but I sometimes get the sense that other people’s emotions are more vibrant and run deeper than mine. Sometimes I wonder if I challenge myself emotionally (aside from being polyamorous, I also do things like take a Pediatric Palliative Care rotation, because why not see what it’s like to work with dying kids and their families?) out of an underlying desire to feel something strong for once.
I’m not sure how much of this makes sense. I don’t know how much of this is just me fishing for an explanation where there really isn’t much of an explanation to be found. But it was on my mind yesterday and I found myself with some unexpected downtime tonight, so I’m putting it to words. Maybe someday I’ll decide that these were the silly ramblings of a twenty-something year old woman, or maybe I’ll realize that I was onto something significant.
And the most simple reason why I’m currently polyamorous is that I’ve in love with two men, and they’re not making me choose between them.