Guest post: Sometimes solo polyamory is selfish, and that’s okay


September 10, 2013 by aggiesez

Note: This post was written by Thea Nova, and was originally posted to the group Living as a Single Secondary (an excellent forum that I highly recommend). Reposted here with permission.

Solo polyamory, for me, has many benefits. Some of these benefits could be construed as selfish. I say to that: So what?

When I first found myself divorcing, at the age of 41, I was a bit a loose ends. So much of my daily life and goals were centered around being part of a couple and taking care of “him.” I even found it a bit odd to make a simple decision like, “what am I going to have for dinner?” Because, when you share a home with a life partner, you always have to take someone else into consideration when making even such simple decisions.

I found out pretty quickly that many seemingly simple daily choices weren’t really so simple. Like watching a TV show that I believed I liked — but really I just tolerated it, because hey, that’s part of being a couple.

One day, about nine months after my marriage broke up, I looked around my home. I was overwhelmed by all the stuff I had let go. I was overwhelmed at all the things I needed to do. I was depressed.

But then I looked around and it occurred to me: “What if I could take care of myself as well as I took care of him?”

That thought was quickly followed by: “What if I gave myself the same consideration and treatment that I give others?”

At first I judged these thoughts as selfish. Then I considered further and decided that giving the best parts of me to myself is not only not selfish — it’s imperative! Why should I do “better” for others than I do for myself? Where is it written that I’m required to always put others first?

I began imagining what it would be like to see what I could achieve on my own. I began hoping and working, and things began to get better.

Once I started feeling like I wanted to date again, and began slowly dipping my foot back in that pool, I realized that I did not want to tie myself to one person. I didn’t want to make all their needs my top priority. I realized that I didn’t want to take any energy away from my life and my goals and my well being in order to “have” someone.

Other than the drive to have good sex (not just sex, GOOD sex), I really felt okay on my own. Solo poly suits me, in large part, because the title “solo poly” already infers that I am not seeking a primary partner. It already infers that I am my top priority.

So, I thought, why not? Beats having to have those awkward conversations about why I am not on the relationship escalator. Beats having to talk about why a partner might be confused that I felt a certain way about them, but that still doesn’t mean I’m hitching my wagon to anyone.

In short, this label helps other people to understand something important about me, right up front. And that is: I will not make all of their needs my top priority.

Is that selfish? Probably. But again: So what?

It’s always a good time to be solo poly

The next thing I began to realize as I continued my journey was that there really isn’t bad timing when it comes to being solo poly. You meet two folks who you want to date? Date ’em both! You have feelings for more than one person? You don’t have to make a choice, as long as everyone is on board with polyamory.

Is this selfish? So what?

It seems to me that people spend a great deal of time attempting to not appear selfish — and trying to explain how they really do care about other people’s feelings (partners, metamours and other free agents). And I do agree that people should take others into consideration when practicing any kind of nonmonogamy.

Still, I am not solo poly because I am so overflowing with love that I can share it with multiple people. No: I am solo poly because I don’t want to make other people’s needs my top priority, or even my second priority.

I expect that if my partners have needs I cannot fulfill, they will find that fulfillment some other way, whether they stay with me or not. I expect that they are okay with not being my primary partner, not being on the escalator with me, and will either take care of themselves or find someone else to take care of them.

I can be both beneficially selfish and still care about others. I can be my top priority and I can still have love to share with others. I find it odd that many people would consider me pretty kick-ass person were I to mostly focus on taking care of a primary relationship — but will judge me as selfish because I choose to devote my most of attention and energy toward my own life.

I love me first. I take care of me first. I am selfish. So what?

6 thoughts on “Guest post: Sometimes solo polyamory is selfish, and that’s okay

  1. Harper Eliot says:

    Sounds to me like exactly the kind of selfishness we could all do with. At least a little bit.

    Excellent piece.

  2. […] Guest post: Sometimes solo polyamory is selfish, and that’s okay. […]

  3. polyhydra says:

    That’s not selfish. I don’t understand why it’s considered a good thing to sacrifice your own needs and desires for others. Why it’s considered a good idea to treat yourself worse than other people you meet. It’s self-destructive and it cuts at the heart of the principle that you cannot give more love (or other positive energy) than you have for yourself, instead what you give is a facade, but not the real thing springing naturally from within you.

  4. Stella says:

    Agree wholeheartedly!
    (But cant quite get myself to post it to fb cause Im afraid it will sound too selfish:()

  5. Laura Jane Landis says:

    Nice read. Thank you.
    Two things I would like to offer in response.
    Back when I was working in chemical dependency/codependency rehab, we put lots of effort into offering that it is self-caring, not selfishness, Taking good care of ourselves is foundational to well being. And yes, sometimes I have to make sacrifices and put other’s first. And sometimes I don’t get what I want and someone else does. Thats part of the negotiations in relationship. Insisting in always getting what you want, all the time sounds very selfish. Relatedness and relationships will continue to require some give and take.
    Also. maitri is the Sanskrit word for unconditional friendliness and loving kindness towards all being, starting with yourself.
    Practicing maitri well, leaves little room to use the punitive word selfish.
    Practice maitri. Practice self care. Practice kindness to all beings. Start with you.

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