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Thoughts on Polyamory

"Mock, three blogs in the space of a month? Who are you?"

I know! But I've got this very rare bit of downtime between writing a full novel so I'm stocking up the blog space. I hope you find my little musings entertaining. I will try not to ramble.

One of the most common things I get emailed to me or mentioned in a comment is something like this (note: I am paraphrasing), "Mock, I don't really read poly because I don't like it much, but I have enjoyed this. I just worry that someone will be left out."

This comes up so often it's made me ponder it and the difference between poly wiring and monogamy wiring. Okay, so I'm going to journey back to a bit of my "poly evolution". Because why not? LOL But also, I wish I had someone to talk to when I was learning these things about myself and so I offer up my life experiences in case they might help someone else.

My First Love

The first time I ever fell in love, I was thirteen. I don't fall in love often, but when I do it's overwhelming and remarkable. And because I have never been much of a child, even at thirteen I wondered to myself if it was really love. Even the songs about love spoke about how love as a teenager was "puppy love". I concluded that I must not know what love really is and looking back, I think that's crazy. Of course we know what love is. There is nothing like love and if we even think we are feeling it, then we are. (That's my new deduction)

But for my first love, let's call him Sim, there is still little to this day I can compare to how I felt for him. We dated for two years and they are still two of the most favorite years of my life. Near the end, we were having some issues. One of our issues was jealousy. Me because he was a huge flirt and all the girls in our group liked him. Him because I was a huge flirt and all the boys in our group liked me, LOL. At this point we were 15 (me) and 16 (him).

There was also this feeling in the air for me. I am an intuitive, which is a blessing and a curse. I know things sometimes years before they happen. I pick up on the things that are not said. But our world doesn't really believe in such things and so (especially at this time) I told myself I was crazy. The bad feeling in the air had to be paranoia.

I'd had an inkling that he was into someone else. I wasn't sure who. I don't always get details in this little "visions" it's more like a vague whisper, which can be frustrating at times. There were no outward signals. Even looking back and knowing who it was, there was nothing out of the ordinary that I could see with my eyes to tell me and who it ended up being was a shock.

I went on a trip with a girlfriend of mine. We were figuring out where we wanted to go to university and we'd won the opportunity to go on a week-long trip to one university in particular (the one I would later earn my degree with, UBC), all expenses paid, to check it out.

My gut told me that when I got back, things between me and my first love would be changed forever, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go on that trip. My parents had little money. We wouldn't be able to afford something like this otherwise. So I went.

When I returned a week later, we broke up. I don't remember how that part happened (this is 27 years ago now). Just that things were weird. To this day, it's still one of the most gut-wrenching moments in my history. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I felt empty. I turned into a zombie. All I wanted was for us to get back together. The pain was surreal.

My mom, also an intuitive, had a gut feeling of her own. AND, she was a mother bear. Nothing was said to her, or said near her, it was just a feeling she had and she went with it and cornered my then best friend. The ethics on that ... my mother cornering a 15 year old girl and making her confess ... I'll let you decide, but that was what she did. I promise there was no violence involved. Anyway, she confessed that she had been dating Sim the whole time I was away (and more).

My heartbreak reached new levels I still don't have the words to describe.

In my ever-exhausting need to find answers to understanding human nature, I had to know why. I knew it would help me ease the pain somehow. My most pressing concern was, "Didn't he love me?" because if the love from him hadn't been real that would have been worse for me. And it was odd, but it didn't bother me as much as Then Me thought it should that he slept with my best friend. It was more the feeling of "left out" that plagued me.

He agreed to meet up with me one night. We sat in the driveway by the tire of his new car and he held me and it felt so good after weeks of the pain of living my new reality that we were slowly untangling. I now understand why it was a such a physical process for me---when you love someone, your particles entangle (this is a scientifically registered phenomena) and when you part, you have to untangle your meshed particles. It fucking hurts.

But what I knew in that moment with absolute certainty was that he DID love me.

And that was something to think about.

In fact, he never stopped loving me. I know he loves me to this day, just as I love him. I no longer want to be with him. He's married with two gorgeous children, but the rare times we interact, there is no dying that chemistry still exists between us. It's so electric that even with our new loves through the years, they somehow could feel it between us even after decades. It's so wild.

And side note, he didn't even date my best friend after that. He ended up dating another one of my "good" friends, which I was pissed about because she knew I was still in too much pain for that. I may not have picked some of the best friends when I was younger, Ha! But she and I did not stay friends and years later (when we were adults and were over our teenage hormones and behaviours) she told me that I still felt like "competition" even though I was 100% out of the picture.

But my point?

1. The common belief is that, "If he/she cheats on you then he/she doesn't love you." While this might be true in some cases, it's not always true. It wasn't for me.

2. I may not have known the terminology, but poly existed in me even then. I was socialized to believe that we were only to have one mate, but it felt off to me and this first gut-wrenching experience with it only made me analyze the whole thing from a new perspective. It was the beginning of the bloom of one of the pieces of my sexuality.

Gaining New Perspective

Keep in mind, these are my conclusions for myself. This is what resonated for me. Others may feel differently and that's okay---we're not all wired to feel the same way----but this is one human experience and it's real.

After Sim and my resulting analysis, I formed a new policy. I was open to other partners. I hadn't a clue how to work that, I was only 15. It took me a few more relationships and being "cheated on" several more times to form my new policy which was: "If you find another that you would like to engage with,I want the opportunity to engage with others too." I think I was about 23 or 24 when I was finally able to articulate this for myself.

Side note, if you don't want someone "cheating" on you, there is nothing more potent than this. It's very powerful. I didn't form this policy to protect myself against cheating, rather, I realized cheating is part of our culture because of how we've pigeon-holed those of us who would otherwise pursue a poly-style relationship into only having one person. We are made to think that falling in love multiple times with multiple people is wrong and so we cannot share this with our lovers. There isn't a narrative for it and that person is simply put into a "bad box". But love is powerful and it's not something that we can fight or overcome, we can only submit to it. I want to underline that I'm talking about Love not lust---that's a whole other topic!

Despite very good intentions, if you fall in love with another person, you will be pulled to them especially if you are poly. The actions you take are up to you, but these forces happen whether we like it or not. If you are poly, you are inclined differently than if you are monogamous.

So yeah, I'd casually explain to any partner this. In the first part of my life, I didn't encounter any openly poly peeps. I didn't get to know my first one until university. But my partners claimed to be into "monogamy" and said they didn't want me having other partners. I would say, "We'll try it for now. If that changes, let's talk. I just ask that we talk." I was still exploring and learning about myself.

I thought it was a fair request for numerous reasons. I was concerned about STI's, but also, I knew I didn't want this to be it. The idea of only one partner was daunting to me. I still didn't have a guide on how one worked all that out and I was very aware (and still am) of the stigma surrounding having more than one partner, but I was clear: I wasn't against my partner having other partners, I just wanted to also have the opportunity and to be included. I didn't have to love their partner or be "with" their partner, but I hoped for a kinship of some sort.

In other words, I very much get this idea of "left out". I just wanted to be included.

Understanding Love

The lesson from my first love still haunted me because I wasn't done learning from it. It's easy for me to look back and "see" (the whole hindsight is 20/20) but back then things were muddled.

I had to push out many of the preconceived notions I'd grown up with and that I was, frankly, still surrounded with in my life at the time. I had yet to meet someone like me who was open about it.

But then I did.

It was my second year of university. Such a wild time in my life. I was in my early 20's. I was failing first year calculus. Please never ask me to find the derivative of anything. But I'd hired a tutor who was the boyfriend of a girlfriend I worked with. As a disclaimer, I want to say that even though I would go on to fail first-year calculus the first time through, it was not because he was a bad tutor. That I understood anything at all is because of his tutelage. I just had zero interest in calculus. I have zero interest in math in general. I'm not terrible at it, I'm just not calculus-level inclined enough to care about it and if I don't care about it, the best teacher in the world isn't going to help that, lol. I later passed first-year calculus with a "C" in summer school and I was super glad for my "C" and glad to be fucking done forever with that nonsense! Calculus, I appreciate you, but we are on a break forever.

But back to poly tutor guy. He shared with me about the open-style relationship he had with my co-worker. I did know something of it already (she had mentioned, it wasn't a secret) but as me and the dude became friendly, he shared about it.

As I listened to him, I understood how much he was into my friend even though they had other partners. I knew from working with her just how into him she was. That's when it hit me. When you're with other poly people, you don't feel left out because we are wired to be in love with more than one person at the same time. It doesn't take love away from any one partner. We don't give "slices" of love away to each. We love them as much and as completely as any partner we are with. There is no chance they'll be left out because they intrinsically understand that love isn't split. It's infinite. There is so much love available. There's no need to worry about that. Kinda like how you love all your kids the same. I mean, we might have a favourite ;) but our love is the same for each. Having more children doesn't take love away from the others.

People can fall out of love with the other, but this is not connected to "polyness or not" it's simply one of the pains of life we have to learn to get through and accept if it happens no matter our sexuality. There is nothing we can do about it and we're better off to let someone go who is no longer in love with us as painful as that is.

But for poly people, we are IN LOVE with more than one person at the same time and we crave to be with each of those people, perhaps for varying reasons, but the desire is equal. Because we know and feel this, jealously is just not something that registers. We don't feel left out when we're an active member of that "family" or at least "in the know".

My first relationship ever, with Sim, is the only one I felt immense jealousy in. I'm glad for it because I still love those feels. It's why I write about it so much and have real places to draw that from even though it's not an emotion I feel all that much these days. I think part of why I did with him was more to do with how I thought relationships had to go and the uncertainty about love at the time. Once I knew how much he loved me, that jealousy died away, even though I didn't get back together with him. I even remained friends with my then best friend. We grew distant later for other reasons, but I didn't hold it against her. It was more the lying/betrayal aspects that got to me and the, "but didn't they love me"? If only we had been raised in a more openly sexual society. I always had a sexual attraction for her. We could have been an awesome little trio. And um, yeah we were all having sex at that time. I don't know what teenagers do these days, but in my day, we were definitely doing it.

Like with everything, there is a spectrum of Poly. There are different ways people engage in these relationships. That's for each polycule to decide.

But the thing is, no one is left out because you simply don't feel left out when the love is still present and when you're all "in the know" about what's going on.

Final Thoughts

In my books, I do my best to portray this feeling, but I know it's hard when it's not part of someone's wiring. If you are monogamous, you crave that one person loving you and only you. If you can believe it, THAT feeling is still there for poly people (at least for me) but you kinda ... feel it with each person. I know that might not make sense, but it's the best way I can articulate it at this time. I'm not sure that it's exactly the same, probably not, but I think it's at least a cousin of the same feeling.

So in a way, I can still relate to that on some level. I even write it sometimes. But because I am poly in my heart of hearts, there will still be threads of that even in my "monogamous" people. It's hard for me to write a purely monogamous piece because while I understand it in theory, it's not my wiring and so like with those who have a hard time understanding poly, I have a hard time understanding monogamy ... even with getting the basic premise! Even with partaking in monogamous relationships. It's like, "okay, don't date someone else, got it." But then when I flirt with everyone, that gets me into trouble. However, NOT flirting takes away who I am. It literally kills a piece of me. It's part of my sexuality. It's not always sexual and due to my "demisexualness" (another conversation for another time) MOST of the time it's not sexual at all.

It gets complicated.

So, yeah. I think it's pretty clear in my books that no one is left out. If anything, love expands in my verses. They find room for yet one more and yet one more. The only jealousy that comes up is the fun kind.

And if anyone's getting "hurt"? It's usually a hairbrush to their bare bottom!

Have a great Monday peeps!

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