Everyone likes to put their best foot forward… to look like we’ve got “it” figured out, whatever “it” is. And perhaps we try to fool everyone else just to convince ourselves we know what the heck is going on, that we’ve got this, and that everything… or even just something, anything… is going to be okay. No one wants to admit that life is just one big experiment and, while we can try to learn from other peoples mistakes, we’re all just learning as we go. It’s a scary thing to recognize we don’t have all the answers, and perhaps even scarier to admit maybe no one does.
When this line of thought came to me today I realized I too am guilty of this. Perhaps when you get so much flack for stepping outside the accepted norm, you feel you only have room to share information that supports your decision and affirms why you’re so much happier because of it. But I realized I’m quick to portray the beautiful parts of polyamory (because there are many). And I’m not so eager to discuss the messy hard parts. And there’s value in both. People are all too quick to pretend like they have all the answers, but even if we’ve actually found some answers it helps no one to gloss over the journey that brought us to them.
I think it’s important to note that polyamorous people are still just people, flawed and human. While many want to claim some higher level of enlightenment, I’m here to say that’s bullshit. While I think polyamory takes an advanced set of communications skills to execute *well*, many people don’t have said communication skills and still try and practice poly anyway. No one ever said you had to do something well to claim you’re doing it. And Polyamorous relationships are just relationships. They have just as much potential, or more, to get messy and complicated just like any other relationships out there. Poly people aren’t necessarily any more “enlightened” than anyone else. We haven’t reached some higher plane of existence. We’re simply choosing a different path, a different style of relationship that we believe is more conducive to our own happiness for whatever set of personal reasons. Granted this relationship style often pushes people… it makes us face our fears, insecurities and various causes of jealousy head on in a way that many monogamous relationships may not… or perhaps polyamory just sheds a light on fears, insecurities, and jealousy faster due to the nature of multi-partner relationships; but how you choose to respond to a light being shed on your shit is still up to you. Just because someone identifies as polyamorous or is in a poly relationship does not mean they’ve actually done the self work. Anyone making that assumption is likely setting themselves up for disappointment.
Contrary to some beautifully painted pictures out there, polyamory is not some magic wand that can be waved and all our problems with jealousy, communication, etc. will be solved. It’s really hard. It takes work. It takes some serious soul searching, sometimes heart breaking, gut wrenching self-work. And for anyone who thinks relationships shouldn’t be work if you’re with the right people — I will politely beg to differ. I have some of the most loving, communicative, unusually self-aware, generous, kind, compersion-filled partners out there, and it’s still work! Granted without those qualities it would be a certified shit-show, but because they are loving, communicative, self-aware, generous, kind, etc…. it’s *just* a lot of work.
I met someone recently who asked to meet and talk about their relatively new journey into polyamory and their experience thus far, and also asked me to share about mine. When it really came down to it they just wanted to know they weren’t alone. I realized that is what we are doing when we pretend to have it all together all the time… when we’re not honest about our struggles. We isolate ourselves and create a world in which we’re all going through very similar things, yet we all feel completely alone in it.
So in case no one has told you yet, you are not alone. Whatever kind of relationship you are in, monogamous, polyamorous, or otherwise, and whatever struggles you are facing, whatever self-work you are learning to do at this point in time… you’re not alone.
And for those of you who’ve been convinced of the mythical polyamorous relationship that is free of fear, jealousy and tough emotions simply because everyone is being honest and you’re wondering why you’re the “only one” having a hard time… you’re not alone. Poly people have struggles too… We have depression, we go through pregnancy (whether our own or a partner’s), we suffer from hormonal imbalances, we lose loved ones, we have injuries, we lose jobs, we struggle with our partners dating someone new, we process new fears and emotions (not always gracefully), we sometimes think we know what we want and who we want it with until we have it, then wonder what to do with the complicated web that we’ve already weaved and how to hurt the least amount of people, we struggle to be transparent about something or someone new while worrying about our partners’ reactions… We are human, we are far from perfect, we royally fuck up sometimes… shit gets real. And you are not alone.
As we walk into 2020, I wish us all a new found ability to seek out community and support. I wish us the ability to be real and raw about our struggles, not only our successes, so that we may all feel less alone in our experience. May we use that to propel ourselves forward and motivate ourselves toward growth instead of merely berating ourselves for not yet being where we’d like to be in our journey.
Happy New Year. Let us make it beautiful.