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Where I am right now: A genesis of Polyfidelity

(I began this April 16, 1999, but I may add things to a section now and then. I'll try to remember to make a note if there's an update on a section. Most recent update: addition to "jealousy," and "rules of the game" was added.)

Well, Mom, it's like this...; on love - falling in and out; on the usefulness words and labels; promiscuity and me; polyfidelity; jealousy; rules of the game

Well, Mom, it's like this...

I seem to have plenty of room for love in my heart, and I feel completely confident that Eor does, also. Like me, he never seems to fall out of love with anyone he's ever loved. This makes me feel... happy. confident. secure. I feel like he is a very solid person in my life - even if we broke up, we'd probably still care a lot about each other. I am madly in love with Eor, and the attractions and occational crushes which I feel to other people don't impact my affection for him at all, and vice-versa. In fact, we put our conniving little heads together and chuckle and tease each other like teenagers, and if anything that sharing makes our relationship stronger. That's why we think of each other not as "girlfriend/boyfriend" but as "accomplice", and instead of "couple" we think "diad". (Though of course we have to use the socially accepted words to other people, because they wouldn't get what we were talking about.)

Since we talk so much about how we feel, I don't fear that he'll harbor any attractions unbeknownst to me until they grow into "affairs" behind my back. Also, contrary to societal myth, I don't think it's possible for any one person to fulfill all the needs of another. Eor is wonderful, and fulfills many of my needs - I'm extremely happy with him and wouldn't trade him in for the world. But, I do want a girlfriend also. Maybe my statement (that no one person can ever fulfill all of another person's needs) is just my excuse for being greedy. A lot of people seem to think that it's just the sexual part that Eor can't fulfill for me, and that's why I want a woman. I don't think so - though I always try to be the egalitarian, I think there might actually be a difference in the relationship with another woman. Certainly there'd be a difference in how Eor and I relate, if, as I hope, we can find a woman who likes both of us. I might as well be honest - I'm not going to settle for anything less. I need someone who wants to be involved with both of us, because I cannot keep one part of my life seperate from the others. Anyone who is involved with me -is- involved with Eor, to some extent or another, because I talk with him about everything. So, if I'm greedy, then I'm greedy. As they say, you can't always get what you want, but it doesn't hurt to try.

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on love - falling in and out

Something interesting that I learned, (or maybe, rather, I always knew it, I'm only just trying to put it into words) as an aside to polyamory was a bit more about love, and what it means in my life, and to my relationships. On the one hand, love, as I've said, is absolutely essential to my relationships - sex would be meaningless excercise for me without it. However, the flip side of this is that love also is not the be-all end-all evaluating factor of whether I want to be with somebody as a life partner. Unfortunately, I have found that some people who I loved very much I really could not live with. One, I still worry about, and it's been years since I saw him. It's not near as easy for me to fall out of love as into it. When I had to leave him it tore my heart up, because I knew that he loved me, and I hated hurting him. But, it was literally making me crazy living with him. It may sound cold and calculating, but now when I meet someone a lot more goes into my train of thought than just whether I could fall in love with this person. I can fall in love with lots of people, that doesn't mean I can live with them, or that it would be good for either of us to try, no matter how much we might both want to.

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on the usefulness words and labels

Maybe I'm just focusing on Poly right now because it's, in a way, newer to my life. I've always been both poly and bi, but I found the words for these things at different times, and having words can be very important. Having a word means there are other people out there like yourself. Until I had words, I thought I was just some freak of nature. I found the word "bi" when I was 14, I didn't find the word "poly" until I was around 26. I like polyamory as a word, because it's defined in and of itself. Unfortunately, it has to be explained to everyone. There are good arguments for using the term "responsible non-monogamy." It's even more of a mouthful, but it does put that word "responsible" right up there in front. However, it probably shouldn't be used as a blanket term - not everyone is responsible. Of course, not everyone is aware of what they are, either. And then again, different people's definitions of what they consider "responsible" will differ. Some people call themselves "polysexual." I don't even like to be known as "bisexual," but simply as "bi," because the actual sex is so unimportant to my definition of myself. I'm not going to go around compromising what I want out of a relationship so that I'll fit other people's definitions of bisexuals or polyamorous people. That's probably why I was so happy to find the word "polyfidelity," which I talk about below.

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promiscuity and me

A confusing issue for me around both polyamory and bisexuality has been the popular notion that both groups are sexually promiscuous. That myth made me hesitant to identify with these groups, and therefore slower to accrue information, because of course I didn't want people to see me looking for the information. I'm definetly not what most people would define as promiscuous. A little hot chatting on irc was all it took to make me realize that I am not able to get sexually involved with someone without also feeling emotionally involved, and very hurt if they don't return that. Eor understood this, he's pretty much the same, though he also cited health considerations for keeping a closed system. At some point it dawned on me that bisexuals didn't necessarily have to be promiscuous. From there it wasn't a huge jump to realize that poly people weren't necessarily promiscuous either. And at the same time I was finding out that plenty of people who might well be defined as promiscuous by someone are also really great people. So now I just think that people should keep their opinions about promiscuity to themselves - it's not only nobody's business who I sleep with, it's nobody's business how many. Even though in my particular case it's currently only one. I did actually have a bi woman tell me that I was not bi if I wasn't having sexual relationships with both a man and a woman at the same time. I suppose that means if I'm not having sexual relationships with anyone, that would make me asexual? No, I don't think so. As I see it, the definition is in the potential, at least for me. Thankfully, no polys have ever told me that I'm not poly if I'm not having relationships with more than one person at a time.

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The particular subdivision of poly which I use to define my ideals is "polyfidelity". This might be defined as a normal relationship, just with more than one other person. Eor objects to the term "monogamy with more than one person," because there are so many negative things which come out of monogamy. (Monogamy burned him bad and he's still feeling negative about it.) My ideal would be to find a woman who I could be just as much in love with, who I'd feel just as much love back from as I feel from him, just as much a life-partner with, and who would be able to have the same kind of relationship with both him and me as we do with each other. An equilateral triangle. (I suppose I wouldn't mind if we found more than one woman who fit so well, but finding even one is really difficult!) Since Eor and I move so slowly in getting close to people, not being interested in casual sex, and telling each other about every step of the way, I would hope that she would be similar. So that the relationship would be open to all of us looking at other people, and talking with each other about them, but that bringing a new person in would be just as slow and methodical a process as our looking for a third has been.

We've been together going on seven years, and we haven't found anyone who's right for both of us, and also interested in both of us, yet. I've been putting personals ads out, and trying to meet people - I've been actively searching. And I would stop searching if I could find one woman, I'm not that greedy. :) Oddly, part of the reason it's been so difficult is BECAUSE I want a partner/sister/'best friend' (you can have two best friends, right?)/lover. I thought at first that this wouldn't be hard - after all, everyone wants a full and rounded relationship, and presumably there are other bi women out there like me (I mean, I really don't think I'm a complete freak) who would like to have a nice, normal relationship like any other, they'd just like to have it with both a woman and a man. Turns out, apparently the people who want normal relationships already have them, or think that what I want could not be like a normal relationship, somehow. The only people who respond to my ads don't want relationships, they want just sex. I find it baffeling. Of course many people are assuring me that it's also been difficult because I was in Maine, and that it's easier to find people in Boston.

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"Jealousy is neither proof of love (as some people feel) nor proof of emotional immaturity (as some other people feel)." (Responsible Non-monogamy: A Brief Introduction to Polyamory - by Eric Bloomquist) A very complicated issue. I suspect different people have different basises for their jealousy. Bloomquist hypothesises that jealousy often is a very useful emotion, if you don't just give in to it. If you analyize it, you can use it as a pointer to show you what you are wanting and desiring and apparently feeling as if you aren't receiving. Perhaps my desire to be very closely involved with people who I have sex with is a bit of jealousy. I do want to be important to them. I don't seem to mind the thought of being on the same level of importance with someone else who I'm also involved with. Maybe because I would feel they are "worthy". I'm always upset when my friends go out with someone who I don't think is good enough for them, because I want the best for my friends.... But I also have to admit I've got a low enough self-esteem so I'm afraid my friends will disappear themselves from my life when they start paying lots of attention to someone else. I have to think about jealousy in relation to friends, because I'm much more jealous around my friends than around my lovers - I know, exact opposite of most people! So I'm pretty sure that this is jealousy caused by a low sense of self-esteem. I'm not as certain of where I stand with friends... I have to be very certain of where I stand with someone before I want to be lovers with them.

(January 6, 2001) I'm getting a little better with jealousy in some arenas, and better at understanding why I feel it in other interactions. I feel less and less jealousy where Eor is concerned, probably because he and I have been so solid for so long that I feel quite confident of where I stand with him. I'm even thinking I might be to the point where I wouldn't mind if he dated someone else who I'm not involved with. With my friends, I've found that I feel happy and confident with certain friends that we are solid - they are not going to disappear. This is actually a new thing in my life, I had never had friends who didn't disappear, at some point, when we got physically seperated.

When a friend has grown increasingly distant, my jealousy has waxed each time distance has been emphasized. It appears to me that what 'circle' (of closeness) one is at with respect to another person is shown by what level of information one is given, and what level is asked of one. For instance, close friends will tell you things they won't tell others, and they know they can ask you things which you wouldn't give to other people. What I have learned, lately, is that when I feel like I'm getting a lesser level of information than I used to be privy to (or think I used to be privy to), then I feel jealousy. Jealousy compounded with feeling as if I've made a fool of myself because perhaps I only thought I was important to this person. It nags on my mind that maybe I never really was as important as I thought. When I find out through someone else or (worse yet!) through public information (such as a website) that something good has happened for a friend of mine, I am happy for him, but at the same time I'm upset because, in not telling me first before telling the rest of the world, he has emphasized that I'm not important to him.

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rules of the game

(January 6, 2001) This section, I'm afraid, is something of a tease. I feel I ought to say something about rules of relationships, because some people have them, and that it fits nicely right after the bit on jealousy because for many people they are a way to avoid jealousy. However, Eor and I don't have much in the way of formalized rules. We talk a lot about what we feel, so that what we each need will be understood to the other day by day, because everyone changes, slowly, over time. For us, rules which are set in stone are not useful, because they give us a false sense of security and encourage stagnation. Neither of us asks the other to stop feeling love and attraction for another person, because we understand that would be similar to asking the rain to stop falling. Yet, because we talk about what we need, we both are clear on the fact that physical involvements with other people will NOT happen independently of each other. (Or to put that a different way, we currently want both of us to be involved at roughly the same emotional level with the same person as progress is made up to physical involvement, whether this is a casual or long-term relationship.) Though we might love someone very intensely and be very attracted to them, the most physical touch they will generally get from us is the occational hug or kiss on the cheek. This is not really a formal agreement between Eor and myself, but more just how we are - we're not particularly demonstrative people. Very small demonstrations of affection can go a long way for us, with people we feel really intensely about.


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