The trouble with solo polyamory, in a word or two (Guest post by Lo Redkoan)

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August 24, 2013 by aggiesez

At my best, I sometimes say, “Well, if I gotta be alone at least I’m a helluva guy.” The problem is: at my worst I can only muster, “Well, if gotta be alone…”

I have avoided — and perhaps still am avoiding — considering solo polyamory Further, I have avoided its Facebook group and even writing this article. For while I may be a helluva guy, I may also be coward. (This is the kind of shit I say to myself, at my worst, all alone.)

This is why I’ve feared a full exploration of solo polyamory — a term I have only recently learned, one I don’t know that I yet understand, but one which I have avoided due to one word: solo.

That’s a tricky word I’ve come to embrace. Because I must be in order to write. I must create in order to know myself beyond the savior complex and the part of me that wants to believe in fairy tales. But what has proven even trickier for me is the other half of that phrase: polyamory.

This is neither new, nor unique, to the subject of solo polyamory.

I struggle with all writing — indeed with all words, with all silence and with all solo states. I struggle with fear, loss of confidence and loneliness. Yet I also insist on art, and on myself as artist — mostly in the form of words, as a meditative spiritual path. I also insist on life as activist, as an attempted philosopher and as a mostly unapologetic experimenter.

For me, the word solo represents both the cheer of “helluva” and the dreaded “but.”

I do not reconcile this. Nor do I recommend that anyone reading this article attempts to reconcile this dissonance, should you feel it as well.

When I spot problems with words, I investigate them. Reading Merriam Webster’s polyamory definition, I discovered something that troubles me. After giving the definition they list related sociology terms, some of which are: bourgeois, ethos, eugenics, intelligentsia, mores, and subculture.

Now, nowhere does that dictionary say those words are synonyms for polyamory — but is this truly the class of word that polyamory fits into? Do people hear polyamory with the same implied disdain I detect in bourgeois, eugenics, intelligentsia, and most uses of subculture? (Here, I’d always joked that my issue with the word polyamory was merely that it put “many” before “love.”)

The problem is not the word, but forcing the word.

The problem is not the word, but fearing the word.

This linguistic friction grates on my sensibilities, since in my own life I tend to choose everything society silences (it may choose me) — AND THEN SCREAM IT. I’m a sensitive poet, hardcore sober punk, bisexual who is presently very gay, a shy and shaking thinker, an aspiring-to-be-practicing ethical slut, an indulgent over-consumer and an ardent anticapitalist revolutionist.

I offer no reconciliation of this definitional morass because I never set out toward polyamory — a word I use merely as shorthand for some beliefs and practices my heart holds, and that I may resemble. But I don’t self-apply it as an identity label. I offer no reconciliation precisely because society built my contradictions, as much as that group of sociology terms.

So I can accept solo or singleish without feeling isolation and loneliness. Just as I’m an anticapitalist who can be an overeater, I CAN embrace the joys of solohood (peace, poems, growth and revelation). I also can reject the isolation, doubt, cowardice and shame often associated with being solo.

So can you. And we had better do so, alone and together. Otherwise, lies and marketing are all we get. You probably know yourself best anyhow. Like me, you probably hear your solo voice first and most strongly. You and yours decide where this goes and what is your own truth.

This, I’m coming to feel, is the beauty and potential of this thing: solo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lo Redkoan is a fiction, but one he likes. One that feels truer than most things. Get to know him in these words if ya want. Lo enjoys writing especially poetry, art, music, activism, and dreams of helping build better socialist and sexual revolution than has been hitherto seen.

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