How Trying Polyamory Makes You A Teenager (Again)
(This list is intended to be humorous. If you think it’s a subtweet at you, then rejoice upon this phase in your journey and don’t look at me, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Last I heard all my friends were done with this.)
You’ll have to learn how to date: Have you been in a committed relationship with your college sweetheart since the aughts? Dating is a whole different world, and just like we awkwardly navigated learning the ‘rules’ of that as teens, so you will do again now - maybe with the bonus of a spousal cheerleader who will re-write your Tinder Profile when it makes it look like all you do is watch football.
Getting ready for dates, if you got used to chill nights in for a few years, will feel as much like rocket science as trying to put on eyeliner or tie a tie for a school dance did when we were 14. And our moms will not do it for us this time.
Finding your niche/clique might be hard: Did you, like me, take a couple of awkward pubescent years to find Your People? I’m sorry to say it may be just the same now. If you’re lucky enough to be in an obvious and welcoming niche like kinksters, congratulations, you are the kid who built their friend group by 12 and was spectacularly loyal - but the rest of you are going to have to try out what feel like thirty but are actually five different sets of events before a friend group or a polycule adopt you and it “feels right.”
Every new connection will feel like life or death: Especially if you’ve been in that long term relationship, and are re-learning dating, you will suddenly be reminded how much of a drug limerence and new relationship energy are. You will be occasionally obsessed. You won’t have a notebook to scrawl their initials in, but you’ll stare at elipses floating between messages, you’ll start to worry if you’re “left on read” too soon, and the discovery that someone you meet in person wasn’t who you imagined will be just as devastating as that first time that someone checked “no” on a “Do you like me?” note.
We’ll then go through our moping phase: Maybe you, like me, were an intellectual, poet, posing moper, who just listened to “I Am an Island” on repeat with a notebook open, or maybe you at least had a sense of style and hit goth or grunge hard whilst moping, but either way, as a polyamorist revisiting your entire teenage period over the first year or two of this journey, you’ll have one too many breakups, or a metamour you mutually can’t stand, or your partner will have all the success… and you’ll mope better than a modernist writer told he’s running out of money (or the South Park goth kids in that episode they become emo - whichever speaks to you more).
You’ll need a best friend more than anything. No, seriously, having someone who isn’t your partner to dump out to is almost essential, even if they’re a great cheerleader, and not just because they might be who’s on your nerves. And, just like high school, you might not have one. Unlike high school, instead of A Catty Group Of Girlfriends (™) you can hire a therapist to get you over the hump until one of your close friends comes around with you to this Crazy Polyamory Idea.
Parents just don’t understand: Will Smith was right. Enough said. ...well, ok, just like in real life some people will have parents essentially well equipped to deal with teenagers, so they’ll have an easier time. But for a lot of us… parents just won’t understand. For a long time after we tell them.
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