Fooled ya! Also, what have you gained by being solo poly?


April 2, 2013 by aggiesez

If my post yesterday, I’m giving up on solo polyamory, it’s just too hard, left you despairing that I’d fled to the alleged security of mono-land, you should have double-checked the date.

Like the old man said: I’m not dead yet! Nobody gets rid of me that easily.

Plus, seriously: I’ve been having intimate relationships for 30+ years, mono and poly, as a primary partner and otherwise. Through all that experience, I can honestly say I am far, far happier, more stable and more satisfied living the solo poly life than I ever have been before. It truly works for me — even though it’s not always a bed of roses, not every day is a good day, not every relationship works out well, and I do sometimes encounter boneheads who just won’t understand or respect me.

Yeah, nothing is perfect, certainly not in real relationships involving real people. But for me, being solo poly is pretty damn good.

Still, my April Fools Day prank did have a point. There is some really hard stuff about being solo poly. Fortunately, there’s really great stuff too.

That litany of obstacles, insecurities and negative stereotypes I rattled off while reeling in hapless readers was rooted in truth. Some of it was my own truth — I have experienced some of those problems and fears. Some of it I’ve heard from other solo poly people. And some of it I’ve heard from people, poly and not, who persistently misunderstand or discount solo poly people and non-primary partners.

I'm writing a book about non-standard approaches to relationships. Want to help? Take this survey to share your views and experiences of relationships that aren't on society's standard relationship escalator.

I’M WRITING A BOOK about non-standard approaches to relationships.
Want to help? Take this survey to share your views and experiences of relationships that aren’t on society’s standard relationship escalator

Yes, bad shit can happen to solo poly people because they’re on this path by choice or circumstance. Those experiences and fears breed mental demons that can gnaw at you fiercely. And for some people, the right choice really is to give up on being solo poly. This path is not right for everyone — just like monogamy isn’t right for everyone.

Developing the self-awareness and experience to know what you really need, and can provide, in intimate relationships rarely happens quickly or easily. It takes time, experience, missteps, misfortune, and success. People have to bump up against each other a lot — and not just with the fun naughty bits. If you’re doing it right, this process of discovery and learning is profoundly painful at times. But being willing to work through discomfort and adversity in order to gain skills, understanding, and fulfillment — and to love, honor and nurture others well — is a big part of Being a Grownup 101.

People do get hurt when they put their hearts on the line. Lives get changed, and sometimes derailed, by love and relationships. That’s just life. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t have relationships. But, oh, wait: that hurts too. Fuck.

OK, since escaping pain in relationships isn’t really an option, it’s generally better to choose a path that allows you to honor your true nature, needs, and gifts. Focus on what you and others gain in compensation for the inevitable pain of relationships. And when you find a path that’s right for you, stick with it despite obstacles. Find ways to deal with the awful things that hurt you and others most. Gain resilience and compassion. And never lose sight of the good stuff that makes it worthwhile.

So: What good stuff has being solo poly brought you?

I’d love to hear from more solo poly people (who have open, honest relationships — just not primary-style partners) about what you gain from being solo poly. I’ve already had a lot to say about what I find wonderful about being solo poly (part 1, and part 2).

What’s your take? Please comment below to share your good stuff — how being solo poly has improved your life, your loves, your character, anything at all. Big epiphanies and small details welcome.

Thanks — and sorry if I scared you yesterday! 🙂

14 thoughts on “Fooled ya! Also, what have you gained by being solo poly?

  1. melanie says:

    I have always been a starkly independent creature, and while trudging through my monogamous relationships, this always caused issue. Why didn’t I want to see my partner more? Why didn’t I want them to move in? What do you mean you don’t ever want to have kids or get married? These are all things that made my mono life hard, and make being solo poly so easy.

    I only date people who already have primaries because I am not at all interested in having one. It just isn’t something that interests me. I like seeing someone once a week or so and having my free time to just be me, or hang out with friends. I have been accused of having fear of intimacy, but my relationship with my current boyfriend is extremely intimate and we are madly in love. He is the first person I’ve been with, at age 38, that I can actually see myself being with for the rest of my life. That is saying A LOT as I never had a relationship longer than 3 years give or take a few months.

    I love this life, and I have very sparse lonely moments but then I get up, wander in to my kitchen and look around and realize, “This is MY house. I can walk around naked, burp, read a book, change the channel 100 times in a minute, turn the heat or air up as high as I like, and no one is gonna bitch about it!” and then I laugh and the loneliness subsides.

  2. SHG says:

    Because I live solo, I have not been tempted to make any person “my everything”. I know I would lose myself if I did that.

    I love that I can always garantee myself *some* quality time rejuivenating by myself, even when I’m busy. I sometimes take this for granted, but it really is significant.

    I’m incredibly picky about the emotional impact of things in my space. I can’t have any violent or scary books, movies, video game, or magazine covers visible in my home. (Yeah, I’m kind of a delicate flower.) I love that my boyfriend can have whatever things he likes, and I can be happy for the happiness it brings him, because it’s not in my space.

    • aggiesez says:

      Yeah, solo time definitely helps me rejuvenate myself. Like being about to take time to journal most days, just helps me works stuff out and digest events.

  3. Rosa says:

    Over the past 8 years and after the breakup of my last marriage of 15 years, I have found deeper intimacy and in turn deeper love than I ever thought possible with “solo poly”.

    I do not have primaries, nor do I want them. It is useless to me to have some kind of heretical system of who is more important or less important in my life. You know, “just friends” or “a friend” vs “primary” or “beloved”, or “intimate” or whatever label that lets others know status and position as well as confirming (for someone else’s ego) status and position.

    What I what is what I have-deeply committed, deeply loving, and deeply intimate long term relationships.

    What friends and family and dates see are two at ease with each other and loving towards each other. Most frequently that is perceived as “less than” because we fall outside the “norm”. They see “just friends” over beloved or intimates or spouses. We jokingly told family that we were married. But only when we are together. And when we’re not, we’re not. We are at our wits end trying to legitimize and explain the context of our 7 year relationship.

    What people don’t see are the difficult, brutally honest, peeling back the layers of ourselves, naked and intimate conversations that need to be had as we work through life and loving and changes in our lives.

    We are out of the “norm” because our relationship is based in deep and committed friendship first with everything else second. If true friendship comes first there is nothing greater because we put all the other needy, self serving, ego driven, wanting, expecting, assuming, less compassionate and less understanding hats aside. And I truly think that was my biggest lesson; where there is deep friendship, there is also a deep and committed love. It’s more open-handed and less conditional to me.

    And with this I also realized I was not really friends with any of my husbands. We were lovers turned partners turned legal spouses. We were expectations heaped on assumptions of what was supposed to be “normal”. What lacked was the deep and committed friendship part. Those I causally gave up when I got married and (once again) practiced monogamy. What a terrible and hurtful thing to do – willfully abandon deep and loving friendships (with or without sexual/romantic components) for societal norms and the ego of believing that exclusivity in investment would make a true marriage relationship. Ouch. It’s something I am not willing to ever do again.

    We are out of the norm because we are free to date whomever we like in whatever way works for us. We are free to choose whatever we need for our happiness, first. We are honest about what we want and what we can give the other. We hare honest about who we see and why,. We are financially independent. We do not and will never (again) live together, lol. We both need plenty of autonomy and alone time. We are not dependent or attached at the hip, but we always have each others backs. There is no relationship escalator and there never has been one with us. Sounds a bit trite, but it is what it is, and we are more than content to just let it be what it needs to be.

    What we do, we do extremely well. And that is to love deeply, in every moment. Everything else flows from that no matter how others perceive it.

    • aggiesez says:

      >We jokingly told family that we were married. But only when we are together. And when we’re not, we’re not.<

      Oh wow, I LOVE this!!!! Thank you!

    • Adverbesque says:

      Your perspective takes my breath away. I feel like Dorothy discovering her ruby slippers:

      Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
      Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
      Dorothy: I have?
      Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
      Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

      I have been poly for a year. And overwhelmingly, quite happy in it. At the same time, I’ve wanted a primary. No rush, I said, but it’s something I want. Meanwhile, I’d find myself not-so-infrequently roiled by moments of jealousy because I feared that my beaus wanted their other lovers more, or they were better, or whatever. Hierarchical thinking in the house.

      And the other day, a beau told me that one of his GFs said that “she wanted to be primary… I want a boyfriend.” First reaction: Stab in the heart. Oh no! It’s happened! Second: Wait. Hang on. What the hell does that really mean? And — why exactly do *I* want a primary?

      I suddenly realized that I’d been chasing the monogamous norm because that’s what I’m programmed to do — it’s the prize, the proof That I Really Matter — without really looking at what primacy means to me now.

      One of the tenets of monogamy, I think, is that you promise to cut off the flow of feelings that might develop for others. Forsaking and all that. A tenet of polyamory (for me, anyway) is you are not going to cut off the flow — in fact, you’ll nurture it — while also understanding that it comes with tremendous personal responsibility (thou shalt not be an asshole) and that nurturing one flow doesn’t stanch another (moments of NRE notwithstanding).

      I don’t know what’s going to happen w/ my lover’s discussion. (He seemed a little confused on the matter himself.) But suddenly, having a primary is less of a priority — and I don’t envy this woman’s position. Looking for affirmation through a label seems like a really bad idea, one that will have short-term benefits at best. For me, being poly means you aren’t going to turn off the flow — and that’s the joy of it. If that’s not true for you, no label in the world is going to make you happy being in a poly relationship.

      • aggiesez says:

        Wow, what a great story, keen insight. Thank you!

      • Carly says:

        “One of the tenets of monogamy, I think, is that you promise to cut off the flow of feelings that might develop for others. Forsaking and all that.” yeeeeeesssss

        “thou shalt not be an asshole” HAHA LOVE IT. Should be the first commandment of Poly Religion.

    • Carly says:

      It’s been 6 years, but I just wanna say I resonate with your comment SO MUCH.

      I was reflecting today and realized friendship is the most deep connection a person can have with another, with or without sexual/romantic components like you said, it’s independent of that, and the last time I had them so deep was like as a teenager, it’s been soooo long since I had a real REAL friend like back in the days, it was so fun, talking rubbish all night long, unpretensiously, so light and natural, now I’m so lonely, my “”official”” (lol) boyfriends were not real reeeal friends, I couldn’t talk ’bout everything with them. Once I started my sexual life I slowly drifted from them and they from me as well, everything fell apart!!! We humans just don’t know how to deal with sex do we???

  4. Stella says:

    Hey u scared me! But my mom, with whom ive sharing your posts, didnt buy it for a minute!

    Im solopolyish, independent, love my much younger married man and feel he loves me back. I dont have to punish him because he happened to be married before meeting me, wouldnt want to deprive him of loving me:)
    Also wouldnt want him to divorce because that would be sad but thats his life and his family and i have my own kind of extended family. So in short, its great that you write this blog and help to give us strength to be ourselves. Remember: “normal” is a setting on your dryer:)

  5. Isis Galaxy says:

    I feel “solo” in that I’m a single mom raising my kid, and it will be just the two of us at least until he leaves the nest. I don’t have a desire to cohabitate with another adult, and i’ve never had a desire to get married. I do enjoy being in relationships, though, and dating can really wear me out. I seem to end up with people who don’t live nearby, so in some ways I’ve felt solo even when I’ve had a “boyfriend” or “girfriend”. The one who moved in across the street (ideal, if you ask me) broke up with me, so that was a big fat bummer. I like my independence but I really enjoy relationships and I really love sex! So that can make it a tad inconvenient.

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