This blog is about what I’ve learned, and what I’m learning, about being in relationships that don’t follow the standard social script. In particular, I write about solo polyamory (being poly without having, or necessarily wanting, a primary/nesting-style relationship).
I’ve been actively polyamorous for the better part of two decades.
I’m not interested in being monogamous, nor in riding the relationship escalator inexorably from dating toward the goal of getting-married-till-death-do-us-part. (I always thought there was something weird about the notion that a “successful” relationship means someone has to die to get out.)
I am interested in pondering questions, challenging assumptions, trying things out, finding solutions and options, and sharing what I learn about how people can love and connect (or not). Hopefully I’ll pull this off without getting too heavy, preachy, idealistic or cynical.
I read a lot about how to have ethical nonmonogamous relationships…
…Especially polyamory. Most of this advice seems to be written by or for people in established couples (primary partners) who are opening their relationship, or who did so awhile ago. Typically the emphasis is on how to open a relationship “safely” — but safe for whom?
While it’s admirable to consider how to keep an existing couple strong and healthy, the point of having an open relationship is that other people are involved.
Who are those other people? Often they’re folks like me — the lovers, sweeties and partners who aren’t primary — and who generally aren’t seeking to usurp anyone’s primary status or edge anyone out of an existing relationship.
So far you probably haven’t heard much from the perspective of non-primary partners. Personally, I think our lack of visibility is a big problem for everyone involved in nonmonogamous relationships.
It’s especially problematic, I’ve found, in the community of people who consider themselves polyamorous — since it leads to a lot of blind spots and hidden double standards. It’s not uncommon to hear poly folk resort to astounding feats of verbal gymnastics, doublethink, or occasional tantrums to justify this conduct.
It’s ironic: Polyamory is grounded in the values of consent and communication. But in real-world poly relationships, these values can get applied inconsistently — often at the expense of non-primary partners.
My goals for this blog:
1. Give voice to the non-primary partner perspective on ethical open relationships, especially polyamory. Mostly I’ll be sharing my own views, as well as those of other non-primary partners in interviews and perhaps occasional guest posts.
2. Suggest ways that non-primary partners can be treated more fairly, even in open relationships with a clear, mutually agreed-upon hierarchy. “Fair” doesn’t always have to mean “equal” — but in a network of overlapping relationships, it does mean that everyone involved should have a voice in how things work, and agree to the terms. Or at least, everyone involved should get enough information to decide whether this relationship is right for them.
3. Suggest ways that non-primary partners can stand up for their own interests in relationships — both through communication and collaboration with their partners and metamours, and by recognizing and refusing to tolerate unfair treatment. (And yes, I loathe the neologism “metamour” too, but I find it just slightly less grating than saying “my partner’s partners.” So deal with it it.)
4. Encourage the broader poly/nonmonogamous community to be more aware, respectful and supportive of non-primary partners. Really — without us, it would be almost impossible for anyone to be more than theoretically poly or open. Who would you have relationships with?
5. Share my ongoing learning curve. Right now I’m learning how to do “dating,” as such. Yeah, I know: late bloomer. Go figure. Also, I never stop learning how to do relationships — often by faceplanting in one way or another. Hopefully others will learn from my successes and missteps. Or at least find them amusing.
…I don’t know how much or how long I’ll be posting to this blog. Right now I’ve got a bunch of things I need to say, but I’m a pretty busy person and I don’t want to overcommit. We’ll see how it goes. But feedback and encouragement are always helpful! And the haters can bite my ass 🙂