Concern trolling and solo polyamory: No, really, this IS good for me!

19

September 23, 2013 by aggiesez

“Come on, are you really saying that you wouldn’t want a primary partner if the right person came along? That must just be because you’ve been burned in prior relationships, right? Why would you want to cut off your options?”

Concern trolling comes in many guises...

Concern trolling comes in many guises…

…Yeah, I get that a lot, even from poly or poly-friendly people: a blatant refusal to accept that I truly am solo poly by choice. That this is not a reactionary in-between phase until I find “real” love. Disbelief that I actually prefer to avoid deeply logistically enmeshed (and probably hierarchical) primary-style relationships — no matter how wonderful a certain partner might be. That surely I’ll change my mind someday, once I get over being bitter about my dissatisfaction or betrayal from previous relationships enough to open my heart to the “right” partner(s). That by claiming to be eminently satisfied with the solo poly life, and having no desire to change this, means I must be “cutting off options” that could make me “really happy.”

Quite recently I found myself in precisely this kind of conversation, as a matter of fact.

I was at a party for a sex-positive subculture (not poly, but very poly-aware). It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it immensely. I attended with one of my lovers — a very cool poly friend with lots of benefits who I’ve been dating on a fairly regular but relaxed basis for several months. He and I are definitely not riding the relationship escalator anywhere in particular. We just enjoy each other’s company and friendship.

In contrast, almost all of the other people at this party were in established couple relationships, and were there with their primary partner.

One gentleman at the party struck up a conversation with my lover and me. He seemed pretty intelligent, and had a long history of being active in sex-positive communities. He asked how my lover and I met. We mentioned that we’d met through our local polyamory meetup group.

The gentleman asked, “Oh, so are you two primary partners?”

My lover answered first, saying no, we aren’t primaries. Then I chimed in to say: “We’re friends, and we’re dating. But personally I don’t do primary-style relationships, or hierarchical ones. They don’t work for me.”

(Yeah, I know, I could have just left it alone. But me being me, that’s what I said.)

This sparked the gentleman’s puzzled response, “Well, surely you’d want a primary partner someday, right? You can’t mean you’re not open to that possibility…”

“Actually, that’s exactly what I mean,” I replied. “Strictly speaking for myself: I’ve done the primary-partner thing a lot. It’s not a structure that works for me at all. I’ve learned that I really love being my own primary partner, not putting anyone else in that role. This works best for me, I’m happiest that way.”

He didn’t seem inclined to accept that I was speaking my own truth. And here, I need to preface the rest of our conversation: I am not assuming that this guy was being a jerk, or judging me, or mansplaining, or trying to convince me of anything. I’m assuming his goodwill and that he was honestly attempting (if ultimately failing) to understand why I prefer solo polyamory above having more conventional primary-style relationships. And I also acknowledge that many people are solo poly by circumstance, not choice — or that they’re fine whether or not they have a primary-style relationship. So I can understand why those questions probably occurred to him, and I don’t blame him for that — even though it did bug me that he felt the need to voice them to me.

He pressed on, “Well, just because you got burned in prior relationships doesn’t mean that you need to cut off options for something really wonderful. I mean, if the absolutely perfect partner came along, are you saying you wouldn’t want to be their primary partner?…”

“Yep,” I reiterated, “I don’t do primary-style relationships. If someone really only wanted our relationship to move toward that structure, they wouldn’t be perfect for me. Anyway, I have lots of options for great, meaningful intimate connections that do work well for me.”

“Also,” I continued, “You just met me. You know nothing about me or my prior relationships. So it’s a bit of a leap to assume that I’ve ‘been burned before’ just because I said that I’ve learned through experience that a particular style of relationship doesn’t happen to suit me.”

At this point my lover chimed in to note that he, in fact, happens to be open to having a primary relationship someday. Which is wonderful for him — and a fine choice for many people. I said so.

The gentleman then said to me, “So if you think having a primary partner can be wonderful, I just don’t understand why you’d want to cut off your options.”

We ended the conversation there, because it clearly wasn’t heading in any useful direction, and I didn’t want to get into a real argument or start banging my head against the nearest wall in the middle of a fun party.

6 reasons why these conversations irk me

1. Presumptions. Sometimes people who are highly intelligent and well versed in non-monogamous relationships options (as this gentleman appeared to be, based on other things he said before our conversation took this frustrating turn) still assume that everyone must either have or want a primary-style relationship. It seemed that he could accept that my lover and I aren’t in a primary relationship; but not that I might not desire a primary partner someday.

2. Personal relationship preferences are not up for public debate. When someone speaks their own truth about how they view themselves and choose to run their lives and intimate relationships, it’s really out of line to deny or question their self description or decisions if you are not personally involved, and if others are not being clearly harmed or put at risk of harm.

For instance, if someone tells me they are monogamous, love monogamy and only desire monogamous relationships — I wouldn’t try to deny, question or dismiss that choice. I might mention that other viable approaches to relationships exist, if they indicated a lack of awareness of this, but I wouldn’t suggest that they “should” investigate or consider other options. They’ve made up their mind, and it’s not up to me to second-guess such a personal choice.

3. Concern trolling The gentleman kept returning to his contention that I was “cutting off options” — which implies that I may be making a self-destructive error by avoiding conventional primary-style partnerships. Often people who concern troll honestly believe they’re trying to help by clueing you in to risks you may not have considered; they don’t realize how patronizing and disrespectful this behavior can be. They just can’t conceive that other people might not want or value something that they personally hold dear.

Here’s what I mean: From my teenage years I was certain that I never wanted to have a baby or be a parent. I was pretty vocal about that, and am glad I never wavered from my choice to avoid parenthood. And as a woman, I’ve certainly heard many people warn me that I might regret this choice once it’s “too late,” and that I might miss out on immense joy and fulfillment — without acknowledging that there are plenty of ways to achieve joy and fulfillment that don’t involve childbirth or parenting, and without crediting me for the joy and fulfillment I have achieved in my life. That’s concern trolling. Fortunately, having long experience with standing up to concern trolling in the context of my reproductive choices helps me resist and refute it in other situations.

4. Conflating relationship style with partner selection. When someone implies that I would (or should) stop being solo poly once I find the “right” partner(s), they’re missing the point. They’re assuming that any difficulties I’ve had with being a primary partner stemmed not from being in the wrong kind of relationship, but from having chosen the wrong partners. Which implies that I might have been happy in a primary relationship, if only I’d chosen more wisely (or been luckier).

This frankly reminds me of when a lesbian gets told, “Oh, you just need to find the right man.” The gentleman at the party apparently presumed that the desirability or goal of having a primary relationship is beyond question. Also, his use of the term “right” could easily imply that if I don’t share that goal, there might be something “wrong” with me or my partners, past and present.

But in fact, I’ve learned through experience (good and bad) that I’d probably be unhappy in any relationship that most people would recognize as “primary.” Therefore, what-iffing about the relative merits of my potential partners is a red herring. And, to be honest, it’s rather insulting, too — because everyone I choose to remain in relationship with is “right” for me in the context of our relationship. (Unless, of course, they eventually demonstrate otherwise, at which point I’d end or sharply curtail that relationship.)

5. Dismissing my decision as emotional acting out. His assumption that my preference for solo polyamory probably results from bitterness over “getting burned,” rather than from learning to recognize and honor my own needs, probably rankled me the most — because it contains a kernel of truth.

Yes, like most people who’ve had substantial relationship experience, I’ve been burned by some former partners and metamours. And yes, I’m still a little bitter about how some of my past relationships went wrong. And yes, that emotional history inevitably colors my current perspective and choices somewhat — just probably not in the ways that most people might expect.

In my case, my major experience of being in a primary-style relationship lasted 18 years, including 12 years of legal marriage — and that relationship was indeed rocky. But I’m not bitter about having “failed” at my most substantial primary relationship. Rather, in the years since our divorce, my former spouse and I remain close friends, allies, and emotional anchors for each other. That’s hardly a “failure.” In fact, he and I agree that, while getting unmarried was a difficult choice, ultimately that transition marked the start of the most successful part of our deep, ongoing relationship.

This realization and experience — plus noticing a consistent improvement in my quality of life, emotional well being, self esteem, and peace of mind since I started living solo (despite having occasional hard times and bad breakups here and there) — helped me understand that being solo poly really is my best approach to life and relationships. I have finally found in myself what I’d long believed I could only find through a primary-style partner.

My main regret (which I’m sometimes a teensy bit bitter about) is that I didn’t figure this out much earlier, because I was too scared to stand on my own.

Truth be told, I’ve been burned far worse in some significant non-primary relationships I’ve had with men who had primary partners of their own. This is probably why I’ve had a lot to say about the couple privilege, particularly the problems it can cause in polyamory. And it’s why currently I’m very reluctant to get more than casually involved with someone in an existing primary relationship. (Although that’s something I might get over eventually, if I meet the “right” partnered poly guy, LOL…!)

Yes, sometimes I do feel bitter about my prior run-ins with couple privilege. However, that emotion does not invalidate my observations on the topic of couple privilege — any more than bitterness about encountering sexism invalidates women’s rights.

I will say this about how my own bad relationship experiences have affected me: I see that I navigate and weather bad breakups and disappointing partners far better as a solo poly person than I did as a primary partner. Being solo poly, I’m more likely to respect my own boundaries, and less likely to cling to something that isn’t working because I fear “ending up alone.” I’m more likely to make better decisions about how I behave in relationships, and whether I stay in them. I’m more likely to take a lot less for granted about my relationships and partners. Plus, I find that I’m more able to be there for people in all kinds of relationships (friendships, family, colleagues, community, etc.) as a solo person than when a primary partnership commands much of my focus.

All this is why I say that being solo poly is a big reason why my life is now the best it’s ever been. Go figure.

6. I took the bait. Immediately leaping to my own defense was a mistake I made in that conversation, and I regret that a little. When people express disbelief or discomfort when they hear that I’m happiest not having a primary relationship and so am not seeking and don’t want one, defending my choice won’t make it a constructive conversation. That sets up an irreversible adversarial context, which sucks — especially at a party.

If I choose to engage people who are inclined to disbelieve or dismiss my preference for solo polyamory, there’s a better approach: I can question their questions.

I wish I’d done this at the party. For instance, when that well-meaning gentleman asked me, “Are you really saying that you wouldn’t want a primary partner if the right person came along?” I could have asked in return, “Do you find it difficult to believe that someone might prefer to not have primary-style relationships?”

And when he said, “That must just be because you’ve been burned in prior primary relationships, right?” I could have said, “Do you assume that I’m unhappy, or at least motivated by unhappiness?”

Yeah, this “question the questions” strategy can lead people down a rabbit hole too — especially with people who generally resist recognizing or examining presumptions. But using this approach means that these awkward conversations at least stand a chance of being productive. Everyone has their own blinders that prevent them from really seeing and accepting others. In order to take off your blinders, you first need to recognize that they’re there.

Of course, I’m no angel, either. Solo polyamory is a topic I obviously feel passionately about. I definitely can take it personally. So there’s always the possibility that when I start to explain my choice to be solo poly, I might leap to conclusions too — about what other people are really trying to do when they question my choice (i.e., quell their own discomfort, mansplaining, etc.). When I ask people to clarify their questions and concerns about my choice to be solo poly, that gives me the chance to understand them, and maybe myself, a little better.

Which means there’s a chance that I’d learn more, too, from these conversations. Even if what I learn is that someone truly won’t understand or respect my choice, I’ll learn more about why that’s so. That can be useful information for navigating life. Or at least for navigating awkward conversations at great parties.

So yeah, next time I end up in one of these conversations, I’ll try that. Because, yes, there will always be a next time…

19 thoughts on “Concern trolling and solo polyamory: No, really, this IS good for me!

  1. Jessica Burde says:

    I don’t get solo-poly and how it works for people, but then I’m group oriented and I don’t really get how couple oriented poly or monogamy work either. I’ve been in couple relationships, eve long lasting stable ones, but they are never fully satisfying for me. Meh, I’m strange that way. And it doesn’t matter if I ‘get’ what makes your relationship style work. What matters is, it works for you.

    I’m sorry you need to deal with so much concern trolling.

  2. […] Concern trolling and solo polyamory: No, really, this IS good for me!. […]

  3. John H. says:

    I’m really new to the whole concept of a poly life, and the label “solo” seems to fit based on what I’ve read so far. What I don’t get and is a bit confusing is why relationships need a label at all (in the poly world)? My logical (conservative) mind says if I’m not exclusive/non-monogamous what would be the purpose of ranking one higher or more important than the other? Wouldn’t they all just be relationships? That said I’m noticing more than a few oxymoronisims in my new world……it’s been an interesting journey so far.

  4. I’m amused that the notion of rejecting something one finds unhappymaking is considered being “not open to the possibility.”

    I’m not open to the possibility of dating homeless crackheads with open oozing sores, yet no one seems concerned about that.

    I’m not open to the possibility of crushing my dick between two bricks, yet no one seems concerned about that.

  5. edwardmartiniii says:

    So, here’s a ponder.

    What would you describe as the difference between what you call “concern trolling” and “I might mention that other viable approaches to relationships exist, if they indicated a lack of awareness of this…”

    It seems as if (as presented), the difference is mostly one’s perspective. That is to say, when one is offering, it’s “mentioning other viable approaches” and when one is receiving, it’s “concern trolling.”

    I mention this because I’ve encountered this same thing before, and decided in my own head that I would err in the direction of keeping my mouth shut in either direction.

    • aggiesez says:

      Specifically in this case, I’ve found a general lack of awareness that viable alternatives to conventional monogamy even exist. Even for people who love & only want monogamy, that can be useful info. It’s not about questioning their choice (and I always make that clear), it’s about a general social education process that happens a little bit at a time.

      Usually, mono people who weren’t aware of options are glad for the info; often they say they know someone they’d want to pass that along to.

      On a related note, many poly/open people haven’t heard of the singleish/solo approach to polyamory. Usually they’re glad to hear about this option, even if it’s not for them. Unless they’re already convinced that you can’t be poly without having or seeking a primary-style relationship, that is. :-)

      In my experience, the way this usually works is that in the course of a normal everyday conversation, somebody mentions their monogamous relationship. And then they ask me, “So, are you married or seeing anyone?” At that point I often respond, “I am dating two lovely gentleman now, thanks. I don’t do monogamous relationships, I practice ethical nonmonogamy.” At that point, they usually have questions. Or else they quickly change the subject. :-) Usually, and I mean the vast majority of the time, the mono people who have questions really are happy to have a little new context.

      • edwardmartiniii says:

        “I’ve found a general lack of awareness that viable alternatives to conventional monogamy even exist.”

        Huh. I guess I don’t really have that problem on my end — by the time I’m engaged in ANY kind of conversation with people-who-are-otherwise-unaware-of-multiple-partner-relationships where boundaries are sufficiently lowered that we are talking about relationships, then they usually know about it because I’m a chatty-kathy. That is to say, the kind of people I would talk about with it already know about it and the kinds of people who don’t know about it are really unlikely to know me (and thus vice-versa) well enough for me to feel even REMOTELY comfortable suggesting it to them.

        “It’s not about questioning their choice (and I always make that clear), it’s about a general social education process that happens a little bit at a time.”

        I dunno, that seems like a pretty… subtle… difference.

        “Usually, mono people who weren’t aware of options are glad for the info; often they say they know someone they’d want to pass that along to.”

        I guess I don’t chat with strangers very often about relationship issues.

        All the encounters I’ve seen where those subscribing to a restrictive sexuality encounter someone who isn’t seem to have been encapsulated into three basic types of responses:

        ~ 50% say they’ve heard of it, but they know it’s not for them.
        ~ 35% say they’ve heard of it, and respond strongly in a negative and dismissive fashion
        ~ 10% say they’ve heard of it, and think it would be great, but their spouse/partner would never be into it.
        ~ 5% say they never knew this could be done and jump into it like a fish to water.

        That 5% is probably a smaller number, but I’m trying to be approximate. In my entire life, I’ve only met two people who had never heard of the idea that you could have multiple concurrent adult partners.

        “On a related note, many poly/open people haven’t heard of the singleish/solo approach to polyamory.”

        Oh lordie, yes. I think this is ENTIRELY the fault of people who try to make it palatable by describing it as “marriage ++” and claiming such things as “it’s okay to do this and if it doesn’t work, you can simply dispose of your secondary to ‘preserve the primary relationship’.”

        Bah! Nothing but a huge and fundamentally evil disservice.

        Probably also a carryover from the notion that people aren’t “whole” unless they are a social “half.” Talk about fucked up!

        “In my experience, the way this usually works is that in the course of a normal everyday conversation, somebody mentions their monogamous relationship. And then they ask me, “So, are you married or seeing anyone?””

        Ah.

        Well, I don’t usually talk overmuch with strangers about my personal relationships, and no one — in my memory — has ever asked.

        But then, I’m a guy. In this society, a guy can exist outside of his sexual relationship potential.

        I HAVE had people ask me questions, but they already knew about me. I’ve had many friends-of-friends contact me and ask if they can talk with me or ask about something. But not strangers.

      • aggiesez says:

        Yeah, often in this society people tend to mention their relationships a lot, especially when talking to women. This comes up in conversations with acquaintances quite often; it’s common small talk. It’s not like I’m causally accosting strangers to discuss relationships! There is some context here :-)

        I figure, if someone is comfortable mentioning their spouse/partner in casual conversation and then asks me about mine (often people think that’s the polite thing to do, it’s not always about being nosy), then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t feel free to engage similarly with them, offering my perspective/experience. And also, I see that as a valid social education opportunity.

        Sometimes I just leave it at mentioning “I’m dating two great guys right now” and leave it at that — but even that is unusual enough to spark questions from them.

        Yeah, usually people will preface their response with, “Well that’s great for you, but *I* could never do that!” (which I consider to be the “verbal evil eye,” but whatever…). But in my experience most people do take the information well, sometimes thank me for telling them something interesting they weren’t aware of, and they sometimes mention that they know someone who’d be interested to hear about it.

        YMMV, of course.

      • edwardmartiniii says:

        “It’s not like I’m causally accosting strangers to discuss relationships! There is some context here.”

        Sure, I get that. If one is in a context where personal relationships are discussed AND where the people involved aren’t already somewhat aware of each other’s situation, then I can understand that.

        it’s just that in my experience, that context is optional. And I’ve generally opted out, because the TEMPTATION to proselytize (or engage in “valid social education opportunities”, perhaps) is awfully high.

        One of my partners regularly reminds me “Always know what you’re trying to prove.” ;)

        “And also, I see that as a valid social education opportunity.”

        Yep. That’s the part where it blurs.

        You might call it “a valid social education opportunity” when it’s you doing it, but when it’s done to you, it might look a lot like “concern trolling.”

      • aggiesez says:

        Well, concern trolling is implying that someone else’s choices are harmful or entail risks. Concern trolling is, “Aren’t you afraid that…” it’s a backhanded putdown.

        What I’m doing is outing myself. I’m not saying or implying anything at all about their choices. I’m not saying what they should do. I’m just speaking my truth in a way that they feel free to speak their truth. And also, I think it’s generally a good thing to foster awareness by being out. That demonstrably reduces prejudice, a little bit at a time. That matters. Normalizing is not proselytizing.

      • edwardmartiniii says:

        “Well, concern trolling is implying that someone else’s choices are harmful or entail risks.”

        Sure.

        Or maybe they just think “Wow, this person doesn’t understand this issue. What a great education opportunity.” ;)

        I suspect pretty much the instant one thinks “I’m engaging in ‘a valid social education opportunity’,” instead of “we were just chatting about our partners” then one is attempting to right (“educate”) what one sees as a wrong (someone who is not educated).

        That’s the part where I’m really not seeing the bright-line difference.

        “What I’m doing is outing myself.”

        Well, that’s the first half, yes. The second half is the “And also, I see that as a valid social education opportunity.”

        The part where the assumption is that the person is UNeducated or at least NEEDS education.

        “I’m not saying or implying anything at all about their choices. I’m not saying what they should do.”

        No, no, I understand you’re not actually puppeting them. But there’s an implication that they are uneducated and that it’s your job to educate them. How do YOU feel when someone decides to educate you? ;)

        “I think it’s generally a good thing to foster awareness by being out. That demonstrably reduces prejudice, a little bit at a time. That matters. Normalizing is not proselytizing.”

        My question has nothing to do with being out or not. Go for it. Be out. Be the awesome you are. Be all “Yeah, my fellas and I liked that movie a lot, too. We thought the piranhas were a little unrealistic, though. Did you watch the DVD extras? Holy smokes, those were amazing!”

        But what happens if you stop before you actually engage in “valid social education opportunities”…

        …just as an experiment. To see how it feels.

        I’ve done this exact experiment. So I know how it feels. It often feels weird. That’s my internal warning bell that I want more than to simply “be out.” And if I want more than that out of the conversation, then I REALLY need to be examining what and why I’m talking. Or, as one of my partners reminds me: “What are you trying to prove?” (because my partners are bad-asses with a keen eye for spotting bullshit)

        As the kids say, “your mileage may vary,” but I offer my thought experiment for free: Consider that the difference may be a lot more subjective than you think, and maybe this isn’t the cat that needs skinning.

      • aggiesez says:

        Well, question my motives if you will, that’s your prerogative. :-) If you equate spreading awareness of options with trying to prove something, proselytizing, trolling, etc., you’re welcome to do so. I see it differently.

    • edwardmartiniii says:

      “Well, question my motives if you will, that’s your prerogative. :-)”

      I’m not questioning your motives.

      I have neither questioned your motives, nor made even the slightest tiniest itty-bittiest hint of a flavor of the merest whiff of a suggestion that being out is problematic, either.

      “If you equate spreading awareness of options with trying to prove something, proselytizing, trolling, etc., you’re welcome to do so. I see it differently.”

      Oh, well, the language games aside, I DO see a difference. ‘Subjective’ is a difference. I was looking for a bright-line difference OTHER than that, though.

      If the thought experiment causes you troubles, feel free to ignore it.

      Myself, I think of it as a valid social education opportunity. ;)

      • Sara K. says:

        “How do YOU feel when someone decides to educate you?”

        Speaking for myself … it depends on whether or not I already know about what they are trying to educate me about.

        If I actually don’t know about it, then I am often grateful. Even if it’s an uncomfortable topic (racism, for example), while I might be upset at the time the conversation is happening, I am usually grateful afterwards if I really did learn about something I wasn’t aware of before. If it’s something I don’t know, but I’m not interested in, I can ususally find a nice way to get out of the conversation or change the topic.

        If someone is trying to educate me about something I already know – and insists on educating me even when I indicate that I already know – especially if it’s about a widely accepted cultural norm (for example ‘you might meet somebody you want to marry and have babies with’), then it’s patronizing.

        So, to me, the bright line difference is that a lot of people don’t know that being off the escalator is a valid option. Most people I know are aware about it in theory, but there is a difference between something hypothetical (‘I saw that mentioned in a weird TV show’), and something that you know happens among ordinary people in your life. I’m pretty sure that if they indicate they are already aware, Aggie will stop the ‘education’ immediately.

        However, it is downright insulting to suggest that somebody isn’t already aware that escalator-style relationships are an option, and to suggest that ‘you haven’t met the right person!’ I’m not poly, but I know the escalator is not for me, and I have lost count of how many times I’ve gotten this reaction when I’ve said that I don’t want to ride the escalator. It’s not news.

        As for me, I generally won’t even out myself because fully outing myself requires a lot of education (if I ‘out’ myself, most people won’t even understand what I’m saying), and I usually want to save my time and energy for other things.

      • aggiesez says:

        “I’m pretty sure that if they indicate they are already aware, Aggie will stop the ‘education’ immediately.”

        Yes, exactly.

        “However, it is downright insulting to suggest that somebody isn’t already aware that escalator-style relationships are an option, and to suggest that ‘you haven’t met the right person!’ I’m not poly, but I know the escalator is not for me, and I have lost count of how many times I’ve gotten this reaction when I’ve said that I don’t want to ride the escalator. It’s not news.”

        I don’t quite follow you. Could you explain how this might work in a hypothetical conversation?

  6. Laura Jane Landis says:

    Nice balance of describing solo polyamory and the lack of acceptance of it as a relational style, even among poly-oriented people. Your self-disclosure made it real, and was just enough to bring it to life. Thank you.
    Where I struggle isn’t so much about other people’s concerns about what you are doing (or what I am doing!), I appreciate your clarity about your own relational style and comfort with ruling out dyad-based polyamory. Congratulations for finding what works for you.
    As someone who recently discovered there is a name for what I am doing/my relational style, it is an exciting and liberating time. My last “primary” relationship ended as a result of my feeling claustrophobic cohabiting. A pretty good indicator. Still, I have had two prior primary (marital relationships where this was not a concern. And i carry the stain of decades of being told that a primary dyadic relationship was the goal to strive for.
    I am still not permanently committed to the solo poly relational style (even though it is working magnificently for me at this time)- and perhaps not to any label that defines my relationship style.
    I’d like to think that is the form of relatedness that defines the relational style that develops. Or that the interaction between people defines what it is – not that a particular relational style is what only works for me.
    For me, there is a dynamic balance between my identified relational style, AND an openness to what life puts on my plate. Some of it may be a residual attachment to culturally prevalent dyadism and its romantic media expression (the current commercials for pharmaceutical antidotes to Erectile Dysfunction, with happy couples taking dancing lessons comes to mind).
    And yes, I still have some disappointment that life and myself haven’t provided me with a very long term falling in love forever kind of deal. But I KNOW that it hasn’t worked for me for years and value privacy and primacy in my life. Still, there is a lingering stain of hope that maybe someday I will be “swept away” and want that and a concern of the price I may pay.
    In the pursuit of dyadic bliss I had a series of relationships over an extended period that never evolved to something remotely primary,and I often felt bad about myself for not being someone else’s “the one”. – or not finding that. I also suffered from not having most of my (broad spectrum) intimacy needs met.
    I have reclaimed my personal power as a solo poly person and am enjoying a greater level of intimacy than I have known in years, with more choices for companionship, friendship, affection, love, and sex. Relationally, I am in fullness! It feels so much better that what I had (and lacked) before. I am living with an abundance of loving, interesting and fun relationships.
    However, I am still not committed to solo polyamory forever – but know that it is working great for me at this time. I am very open to what life brings me. I am not still hoping for “the one” to appear – but am a little wistful at times. I’d like to find someone to wake up with on Sunday morning – but I have learned I dont have to be in a primary relationship to enjoy that. I just need to schedule better!
    I really do appreciate your clarity, ability to make this work for you, and your commitment to solo polyamory. You remind me I have wonderful options, that what I can co-create is more than enough, and that it is OK to be happy with things as they are. I hope to continue appreciating what I have, but clearly am enjoying having a name and model for what I am doing.

  7. E.H. says:

    I find so much value in your strong stand and boundary setting with regard to solo polyamory! Frankly, I don’t prefer hierarchical relationships, myself. If I were to find myself single again in the future, I think solo polyamory would be a near ideal choice. Thank you for sharing your experience with it.

  8. Sara K. says:

    “I don’t quite follow you. Could you explain how this might work in a hypothetical conversation?”

    Here’s a hypothetical convesation.

    Me: I don’t want to get married.
    Person: Why not?
    Me: There’s nobody I want to marry.
    Person: You’ll meet somebody you want to marry.
    Me: How do you know?
    [I’ve noticed that, when it is somebody my age or younger, they will usually stop at this point – but ‘my elders’ may continue]
    Person: You need to find somebody.
    Me: Why?
    Person: Everybody needs to marry. You’re so pretty, you’re so young, it’s would be a shame if you didn’t marry, what about your parents [actually, my parents don’t care], everyone has their destined partner, blah blah blah…

    I admit that I am never ‘educated’ in the sense that people think I don’t know what marriage is, but when I bring up that I’m not on the escalator, I hear a lot of the standard justifications for why *everyone* should get on the escalator. As if I had never heard them before.

  9. Cis_male3 says:

    This post made me realize that I concern troll people in long distance relationships all the time, because I don’t like those kind of relationships for myself. I am a little bit shame-faced, but glad to have this knowledge so I can stop doing it!

    I really like your “question the questions” strategy. This seems applicable to pretty much any situation where someone is making claims based on preconceived notions.

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