If it seems self-evident to you that we need an occasionally humorous, often educational, maybe too nuanced or niche some days source of information on polyamory, I love you, you are my karass (even if you had to google what a karass is). You are my obvious audience, but you’re not the only reason why I write this, or why I’m learning to record and edit a podcast. I write this for people who aren’t sure what the world needs to know about polyamory, but they think it’s something. They’ve heard of it. They’re friends or family of polyamorous people and they want to be able to give advice if their friend or sibling asks; or at least listen and have a reaction that isn’t “well if it’s so hard, just don’t.” They’ve thought about if it’s for them, and, like me a bit more than a decade ago, have to stick toes in the water and read a lot first to decide if this will work.
I write this because there’s a lot of 101 books with a One True Way undertone; and a lot of 301 “you’ve done this for years and made all the mistakes at least once” articles online, but not a lot in the middle. I’m here to fill in the middle for people still in their first polyamorous relationship but already doubting the Way they were presented, or in their tenth who need something oddly specific at a digestible pace, or who read When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous and found it useful, but really, not enough for sisters and friends who want to help carry emotional burdens.
I also write this because a lot of media coverage until the last couple years was absolute problematic garbage that hurt more than it helped - if you’d seen Polyamory: Married and Dating on Showtime, you’d agree, and if you didn’t, there’s an episode of the podcast taking apart the problems of just the first couple episodes, because we didn’t need to go farther to tear it to shreds. Modern coverage is a bit better - we made the New York Times’ Modern Love in a positive tone, that’s really the last step to enable someone to pitch a good poly sitcom. But until we get our Will&Grace equivalent, I’m here trying to fill the gap.
Sometimes, I get carried away by my own excitement about a topic (did we really need 3 parts on Mary Shelley? If I let either my boyfriend or my best friend, both editors, at it, the answer would have been no). And sometimes, I lack the expertise to present something I want in an appropriate way, and it ends up on the “to do” list while I pitch collaborating on the next season of a brand new podcast to actual experts. But I do my best to try to acknowledge nuance and detail while keeping it fun.
So, here’s some Polyamory Facts to round out this entry and keep it on message:
There’s no such thing as a relationship structure that’s innately bad. Some are much easier to abuse, so you need to keep an eye on other aspects of power and implementation, but if everyone involved is a consenting adult, have at.
Polyamory is no “woke”-r than monogamy. Toxic monogamy is unfortunately normalized in our present society, but monogamy entered into with eyes open, as an agreement, is exactly as “liberated,” as “radical,” and as “intentional” as any form of polyamory.
Polyamory isn’t the only ethical way to practice non-monogamy, and the media using it as a blanket term for all forms of non-monogamy is not only erasure of Relationship Anarchists who don’t identify as polyamorous, but also of swingers and of ethically non-monogamous people who have issues with the term polyamory for one reason or another.
Triads and quads aren’t better than other polyamory; nor is kitchen table superior to parallel or vice versa.
Getting “off the relationship escalator” means you and your partner get to choose what are milestones to you, not that you don’t have any, and some of them may look traditional to others even if not all of them do.
Whether polyamory is an inborn trait, like a sexual orientation, that one just has to go against cultural programming to discover; or a relationship style that one can choose to engage in or not, is a question of hot debate. As a firm “relationship style” believer, “polyamory as an orientation” people would say I’m “ambiamorous,” a word coined by Page Turner of Poly.Land to describe being happy in either monogamous or polyamorous relationships. (If the “you’re born with it” people win this discourse fight, can we at least come up with another name? Something about ambiamorous sounds like a medicine I’ll take when I’m old.)
It’s human to be jealous and to need time to process emotions. Be gentle with yourself when you’re the one who needs to. You don’t need to love yourself perfectly for other people to love you, but you do need to give yourself a little grace and a little space to process your feelings so you can communicate effectively with the people who do instead of reacting from the instincts that say you’re unlovable.
For the little it’s worth, gentle readers, I love you, and not just for the clicks, but also for the effort you put in to understand better a really complicated subject that goes against all the childhood (and adulthood) expectations you received.
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