Polyamory = Xtreme Relationships?

(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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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):

  1. Safe sex (which is a whole set of rules of its own)
  2. The other person has to know that you are not single (and that you’re not cheating either).
  3. 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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

6 thoughts on “Polyamory = Xtreme Relationships?

  1. I’ve come to realize through my first poly relationship that my jealousy triggers are very similar to yours. I think everyone’s reasons for getting into polyamory varies, though they could probably be placed into broad categories. My first conscious realization that poly was a suitable possibility for me came while I was in a monogamous relationship and not able to have my physical affection needs met by one person. I tend to form strong emotional bonds with those I’m physically affectionate with, so an open relationship probably wouldn’t work as well, not that I’ve tried it yet. I haven’t seen you in a while; I hope all is well with you! :)

    • I definitely agree with you about how everyone’s reasons are different, but that there are probably broad categories that most reasons fall into.

      I’m doing well! How’re you? You haven’t seen me for a while because I’m mainly back in the Midwest these days. :( I have been in town a few times since I’ve been back, but I’ve been antisocial. I’ll be there in a few days actually, but I’ll be missing the party on Sunday night because I fly out early Monday morning. I’m sure I’ll bump into you again eventually though! =D I have at least one very good reason to keep coming into town. ;)

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. I’m doing pretty okay! I’m back in school now, not for an advanced degree (someday), but for something that will make money here in Seattle. I definitely understand that feeling of being anti-social; it’s one of my 2013 resolutions to make sure I don’t turn into a hermit like I have in the past. Hopefully I’ll see you soon, and if not, eventually :)

    • Well good luck with your degree then! I hope it opens up the doors you’re looking for. And good luck not being a hermit. There’s too many good social events up there! You can’t miss too many of them. :)

  3. I am poly because even though i dated monogomously. I have never been a mono person.

    I cant imagine having to have Bugg rely on JUST me, or CxD or Jedi, just me. I love that they have each other and others. That other people bring things in there relationship that I dont.

    I love sharing my loves, that other people also love!

    I love having crushes. I love flirting. I love being poly

    • I have definitely met a lot of people like you! :) Ember used to say something similar. That he really liked the idea of at least a triad situation, so that the other two people also had each other and not just him to rely on.

      I’ve always been the sort to crush fairly often, though usually lightly. Even if I was going to be in a monogamous relationship, it would be unacceptable for me if my partner got unbearably jealous over little crushes and the occasional flirting.

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