This is a question that has a million answers. I don’t know if I can adequately give you mine. It would take a book, probably. Let me try.
Now, I make a hundred thousand mistakes. Now, I hurt myself and others by keeping relationships closeted too long; by having dramatic reveals of facts slightly too late; by falling head over heels for people who are wildly incompatible in their goals and approaches to relationships and HAVE TOLD ME SO TO BEGIN WITH. I do this over and over, mostly because I am young, but partly because I still like monogamy-based fairy tales and I’m not sure polyamory really works even though I’m in love with more than one person pretty much always and so are all my partners. (It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? I’m sure some of you relate to this mistake pattern, and others of you are very alarmed that you are taking my advice now. This is approximately ten years ago me, if you feel any better knowing that.)
Next, I commit to my relationship style. I get educated about the words for it, I realize it’s important to be more open with more people (but my family still lives far away and I’m still a chicken about them) and I grow up pretty significantly into myself. There’s still changes and growth to happen - because there will be forever - but I’m flailing a lot less. I stumble through a very bad for me relationship and a very good for me relationship at the same time. #polyproblems.
I make big life changes. I move. I get divorced. I have very important relationships, I have kids, I come out to my family. It’s tumultuous and important and life-changing, and it can’t be gone back from. Some people would classify this as the part where I grew up. I’d say this is the part I couldn’t have handled doing if I hadn’t already grown up. This is the part where I can look back on all of it and actually be a bit self-aware and reflect and say, “oh I made these mistakes and learned these things. Here’s what I should have done instead. Let’s try that next time…” and then test it. (Remarkably, it seems to work sometimes.)
This doesn’t sound like a polyamorous story - it sounds like a story about me - because for me, polyamory is a story about autonomy. It’s a chance to have relationships and grow together, but care for myself. I’ve had relationships almost continuously overlapping for 13 and a bit years. It’s definitely a polyamorous story.
I’ll be teaching my Beyond the Kitchen Table: Modes and Models of Parallel Polyamory class at Tethered to Wifi 2.0, the digital version of Tethered Together, on Saturday March 20 from 11:30am -1pm. The con as a whole runs from the 19-21 and you can get tickets at tetheredtogether.net. Tickets are $30 until sales close the day before the event. There are a lot of great presenters on topics ranging from relationships to movement to rope and a couple cool shows; come play with us!
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