Polyamory Week 2020 – The Future

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory
Day 5: Book Review: ‘More Than Two’
Day 6: I Don’t Do Valentine’s Day

It’s the last day of Polyamory Week 2020. So where are things headed for me going forward?

One of the things that has become ingraining in my philosophies in the last few years is things change, and you can’t possibly foretell where your journey will take you. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have considered my life to be what it is. Who knows where I’ll be in another decade.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about where the person I am now will take me.

I suspect that some people would consider this lifestyle a phase. Something that you grow out of once you eventually find “The One” and settle down. When you’re younger it would get dismissed as sowing your wild oats, or just a fear of commitment. Luckily, as someone who’s come into this lifestyle after setting down, there’s less traction for those arguments.

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There’s still the old mid-life crisis, I suppose. But we started down this path years ago, and I don’t consider myself quite at “mid” life just yet.

My being polyamorous is here to stay. As I mentioned earlier this week, if for whatever reason I ended up with only one partner, or even no partners at all, I would still consider myself polyamorous. It’s a belief and a lifestyle, not a situation.

How will this affect my future?

A Growing Family

Well, children will be the big thing. Frankie and I have always planned on having children. We’d actually meant to have them by now, but life has taken us done roads and this plan has had to be postposed more than once due to health issues.

And when we do, it’s going to involve conversations with everyone we’re involved with. We may have decided we’re going to have children, but we can’t decide that other people have to be involved. It’s possible this may be a reason for someone to step away, and that would be hard. But it would something we’d have to face and deal with.

Personally, I love the idea of an extended poly family. I’ve nothing against the traditional two parent dynamic, but from a purely practical sense having more adults involved can only make things easier. And having a child grow up with multiple different adults in their life, each acting as a different type of role-model, be really speaks to me.

As with everything Poly, it will involve a lot of talking and making sure everyone is comfortable. Things might not end up the way I would like, but I know for certain there are ways to make it work. Nothing satisfying is easy.

In My Writing

I want to play a part in correcting how polyamory is portrayed in media. I have plans for a polyamorous romance novel. (I’d say ‘chick-lit’, but I hate that term.)

IMG_2440I was reading an article about books with positive depictions of non-monogamy, and every one on the list was science-fiction. Polyamory isn’t some futuristic idea only suited for high fantasy. I want to see it in a traditional romance story, just not as a gimmick or a fetish. And above all I want to avoid the trope of it being used to save a failing relationship. I want it to just be part of the protagonist’s life. Non-monogamy won’t be the cause of conflict or the pivot of the story. I want it to simply be there, as part of people’s lives.

I have rough ideas, but I’ve not put time into bringing it into shape. I have a couple other books higher up on the to-do list. But I’m not planning on leaving this one too long.

Learning and Spreading the Word

Above all, I want to keep learning. Engaging with this life has opened up whole new areas of culture and society I’ve not engaged with before. Sexuality, gender, politics, all of these are intertwined and fascinating.

There is so much in our perception of the world that’s been ingrained by society. Even if we think we’re more aware of these things, actually discovering something that you didn’t know that you didn’t know is enthralling.

nonmonogamy3-largeEthical non-monogamy has so many facets and styles and ways to live. I love meeting new people and discovering their journeys and lives, even if I discover things I have no wish to try myself. I want to keep meeting new people with interesting stories to tell. I want to learn more about what people feel and do. I want to be someone who immerses themselves in all those areas our culture has traditional avoiding talking about. Sex. Sexual health. Gender politics. Equality. Love and relationships. Different cultures and how they feed into each other.

And, hopefully, doing this will help me be a change for good in the world. Maybe I’ll be better able to advise people who need it. Maybe I’ll be able to open a door to a life someone didn’t know they wanted. Maybe I’ll be able to spread awareness so that people’s decisions may be a little more informed. To be someone who calls out these subconscious biases as well as I can, doing my bit to stop all these little inequalities that survived only because most of us don’t even see they exist.

Here’s to the Future…

My name is Tom, and I’m polyamorous.

I love Frankie. We’ve been together for fourteen years, and married for ten.

I love Aine. We’ve been together for almost a year.

I love my friends, both old and new, or everything they have brought into my life.

The future is uncertain, but above all I am determined to continue to learn and expand my mind.

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We’ll see you there.

Polyamory Week 2020 – I Don’t Do Valentine’s Day

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory
Day 5: Book Review: ‘More Than Two’

Okay, I’ve been told by those who read this before it was posted that it’s more of a rant that I meant it to be. So prepare yourself for a rant, and for me to pour scorn on a day dedicated to love and romance.

Ready?

I don’t do Valentine’s Day.

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Never have. Once, in a time long gone, I would have liked to. But that time passed, leaving me jaded and full of bile for the 14th of February. By the time I finally did have a girlfriend on this day I had already made the conscious decision to boycott it forever. And luckily, Frankie wasn’t bothered about it. We shared the ideal that if we wanted to do something to show our love it wasn’t because we were obliged to by the date. So for the next decade we happily ignored its existence.

But now my life involves other relationships, some of whom may well consider Valentine’s Day important. So I thought I should sit down and think about what it is I feel about this “holiday”.

Let’s start with the simple answer…

Personal Hurt

I was single all through school. I spent every Valentine’s Day throughout my teenage years single. I had to watch as people around me experienced and explored the joy of first love and requited teenage infatuation, while all my infatuations were very much unrequited. While my hormones raged, I remained alone, forced to watch from the outside as everyone around me – it seemed to me at the time – revelled in something I desperately wanted but couldn’t have.

And as petty as this sounds, it was a big deal to teenage me. I was a romantic, and wanted all those things that Valentine’s Day celebrated. And it had a lasting affect. To me, Valentine’s Day became a day where I was made to feel bad for being single. A day for couples, when those of us still single were pushed aside to be happy for others. Fit only to watch, unwanted, from the sidelines.

Teenage me wasn’t dramatic at all.

You could try to avoid it, but that always seemed impossible. Society seemed desperate for this day to be celebrated. To rub it in my face. Alone again this year? You must have not spent enough on single roses and pink greetings cards. Oh well, at least you can stand there in the corner and enjoy how happy other people are today.

I never felt lonelier that I did on Valentine’s Day.

So, once I was finally in a relationship, the idea of engaging with Valentine’s Day disgusted me. It had made me feel so bad for so many years that being on the other side made no difference. The idea of being one of those people who’d made me so unhappy – however much that was my problem and not theirs – was something I could never accept. I had no desire to add to the suffering of anyone else feeling as lonely as I had.

Dramatic? Me? Not at all.

But why don’t I just get over it? Because there is more that make Valentine’s Day terrible than my adolescent angst.

Such as…

Commercial Obligation

I hate the way it commercialises love.

There’s this inherent idea that how much you love someone depends on how much you spend on them. Didn’t you buy your partner something nice? Why not? Don’t you love them enough?

I object to any part of love becoming an obligation.

And I also hated how this always seemed – at least for the most part – to be a pressure focused on men. I’ve heard so many conversations about how much a woman’s boyfriend or husband has done for them, or complaints about how little. Where woman talked about their partner failing at his obligations, while not having done anything themselves. As if his romance was the payment with her agreeing to stay with him the prize.

(Let’s not discuss the concept of “Steak and a Blowjob Day”. I’ll get angry.)

Love should never be an obligation. There should never be a time when you are required to show someone how much you lover them. And love should never be quantified by money or expectation. Even if you don’t spend money and just do something nice, I still feel uncomfortable with the obligation. I like to think I do that kind of thing anyway, not because I have to but because I want to.

If you want to do something nice for your partner, go ahead. But if you to need an allocated day to show your partner you love them, then that’s an issue with your relationship there, my friend.

But you can argue any holiday is tainted by commercialism. I won’t argue Christmas isn’t commercial, and I love Christmas with a passion.

But the my ultimate problem with Valentine’s Day is…

What it Represents

Valentine’s Day, to me, has come to represent everything wrong with the modern view of what love is. The monogamous, patriarchal, capitalist view of love.

Love is great. Relationships are great, in all their forms. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with the traditional two person relationship. But there is so much toxicity in modern media about love and about what love is.

No, not what love is. But what love should be.

There is no such thing as “The One”. There is no “Happy Ever After”. Love never falls into place and becomes easy just because you find the right person. Finding “True Love’s First Kiss” (TM) won’t solve all your problems. Falling in love never means you need to stop trying. There is no situation where you are able to do whatever you want with love as an excuse.

Love also isn’t two straight, cis people settling down together to the exclusion of all others and having children.

Yet all these things are so prevalent in modern culture. How many films have you watched where someone was unhappy because they hadn’t found “The One”? Or where the goal was finding and keeping love, no matter how creepy or abusive you’re being.

Disney have a lot to answer for for this. They’re not the only ones, but they most prevalent culprits. Frankie and I have had long discussions about which classic Disney movies our children will be allowed to watch, for various reasons. One of these is the way they have conditioned multiple generations of children into the fairytale view of love. But at least these movies have the excuse that they are from another time, and Disney do at least seem to be trying change, at least in some areas.

But Rom-Coms?

This genre has done. So. Much. Damage.

There are good Romantic Comedies. I don’t have a blanket anger at an entire genre. And I’m also not going to criticise a movie for having people finding love as its plot because it didn’t go out of its way to show all the possible permutations of modern relationships.

But so many of them just perpetuate terrible, toxic ideas of love and relationships. Single woman are incomplete. Men don’t look for love until “The One” walks into their life. Married couples are tired and fed up with each other. Ignoring someone’s clearly stated wishes because it’s “meant to be”. Wearing someone down until they accept you.

These are traditionally spoken of as “women’s movies”, but they drip with toxic masculinity. It’s no wonder so many people excuse men for being terrible people when the media has been normalising it for so long.

Let’s just state this for the record: Pursuing someone who has made it clear they are not interested is stalking. Manipulating or tricking someone into loving you is abusive. Settling down with one person and having kids isn’t the single true goal on mankind.

And don’t get me started on Richard Curtis. That man has done more damage to people’s views of love than any single person I know. His films are literally filled with toxic men stalking, manipulating, and damaging woman in the name of “love”. This man has gaslit a generating into conflating abusive behaviour and romance.

This could turn into a much longer rant. (So long. Don’t get me started on Love Actually…).

But if you’re someone who enjoys Valentine’s Day, who can see through everything I’ve said above then wonderful. In the end, the important thing is…

You do you

I may not celebrate Valentine’s day, but I don’t begrudge those who do. If you and your partner(s) take it as an opportunity to do something together then more power to you. If you see it as a celebration of love as a whole, then dive right in. Revel in it.

But if you’re doing things today because you’re obliged to, because you’ll be called a failure if you don’t, or because you feel some big gesture on this specific date will somehow make up for something you did or convince someone who has no interest you’re worth giving a second chance, then please, please!, take a step back and reevaluate your relationship with this day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Make of it what you will.

Bah Humbug.

Polyamory Week 2020 – Review: ‘More Than Two’ by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory

When coming into a new area of life, research is important. I may have all the necessary skills and tools for this life, but it’s possible that I don’t know how to use them. And it’s a simple fact that as much as I consider myself a modern, open minded person, I’ve had thirty-six years of conditioning that the romantic ideal is to find “The One”.

There are books out there designed to help people into the non-monogamy world. But we need to remember that just because someone has been living the lifestyle longer, and may even be seen as a leading figure in the scene, it doesn’t mean their advice is perfect.

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More Then Two, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert has been referred to in a number of circles as the “Polyamory Bible”; recommended as the go-to resource for discovering and working out the basics of polyamory.

More Than Two is comprehensive. There are sections aimed at those coming in to polyamory from different points of view – single to poly, couples opening up, families with children – and more general topics like communication. A lot of it seems simple, and I’m certain that everyone who reads it will find parts are just common sense. But I’m also certain each person will find a chapter that will really benefit them. There were parts I skimmed through, but there were parts that really made me think about what I was doing and how I was doing it.

There are also lots of real life examples, most often taken from Veaux or Rickert’s personal experiences. These are useful, as not every topic will be relevant to each reader and these examples show the real world application of what is being discussed.

However, Franklin Veaux has been revealed as a problematic source. And in the last few years he’s been called out by a number of women he’s had relationships, including co-author Eve Rickert, for being manipulative and emotionally abusive.

I’m not going to comment strongly on this area here. I don’t know a huge amount about about the situation. I would recommend visiting https://polyamory-metoo.com, created by Louisa Leontiades, and https://brighterthansunflowers.com/2019/09/02/thoughts-on-the-fifth-anniversary-of-more-than-two/ for the views of the co-author Eve Rickert.

I was lucky enough to have met Louisa Leontiades at a party. When I started reading More Than Two I recognised Veaux’s name from posts she’d made regarding the issues with him that had been raised. So I reached out to her and asked if it was still valid to read the book. Her advice was it still was a valid resource, as long as those reading it kept in mind that the book presented polyamory through a single viewpoint; and knowing how Veaux had misused it to manipulate his partners was vital as a background understanding.

Reviewing More Than Two is difficult. It’s a useful resource of foundational knowledge. But it also filters polyamory through the point of view of a straight, cis, white man who believed it was something that benefited him over his partners. It is a book that cannot be viewed on its own merits alone, but requires outside context.

So, should you read it? I think it’s best put into words by co-author Eve Rickert (from the post I linked above):

I’m glad that people are thinking critically about More Than Two. I’m glad people are pointing out its flaws. This consensual nonmonogamy thing we’re all working on is not static, and no one has all the answers figured out for everyone. More Than Two represents, at best, a snapshot of what was important and how certain communities were thinking at a certain point in time, just like The Ethical Slut was two decades prior. Ideas and practices will continue to evolve, and that’s a good thing. Some or all of what’s in More Than Two may eventually be thrown out—and I think that’s okay, too. 

So I guess all I can say is: It’s flawed. Maybe it’ll help you. I hope it will. But be careful. Read other things. Take what works for you from each. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to that feeling. 

So would I recommend More Than Two?

Yes, I think I would. It’s not perfect, but no book on relationships will ever be perfect. If you’re looking to learn more about coming into polyamory it’s a good starting point, as long as it isn’t taken on its own. Do some further reading on Veaux, read the testimonies of the woman he talks about in this book, and indulge in some critical thinking.

Above all, take from this that there is no clear and easy resource to tell you how to “do” ethical non-monogamy. And just because someone’s been involved in the scene longer doesn’t mean they know more than you, or are necessarily doing it “better”. In polyamory, as in monogamy, people have their own issues that they bring to the table. Be aware, and be educated.

Polyamory Week 2020 – What Polyamory means to me

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory

Polyamory means different things to different people.

For me, polyamory is the freedom of possibility.

I found a description that I thought best fit my personal views. Unfortunately, I can’t recall exactly where I read it. But the general ideas was as follows:

Polyamory – and ethical non-monogamy in general – offers the freedom to know when you meet someone and make a connection, it has the space and freedom to develop to its natural conclusion.

I know if I make a connection with someone it could go anywhere from a one-night stand to a long-term romantic relationship. There’s no weirdness, I’m not hurting anyone. As long as I keep those I’m close to up to date, and take into account their feelings, I’m not constricted by having already reached a point where society dictates I can not longer explore that connection.

In short, it opens up new experiences to explore the world without traditional views becoming barriers.

I’m not saying people in monogamous relationships can’t make connections with new people. But they know, deep down, that those connections are restricted. Any sexual connection can’t be acted upon, for a start. And worse, we’re programmed with the idea that even feeling the desire for that connection is somehow wrong.

And even if you don’t take that into account, there’s that unfortunate notion that doing anything without your partner is somehow wrong. I remember one time I visited my parents on my own as Frankie had plans, and my Grandmother was convinced my marriage was failing. She couldn’t imagine any reason we wouldn’t go everywhere together without there being a serious problem.

Yes, these are old fashioned views. But they’re views that are still out there, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s called “toxic-monogamy”; the idea out there that once you find “The One” they will be all you will ever need, and wanting more is somehow a sign of a failing relationship.

How many people are there in the world who’ve fallen in love and thought that that was it? That this person was all they ever needed? I know I did. My first relationship was tainted by this idea that this was it. But what if your partner doesn’t share an interest with you? If “The One” is supposed to be everything you need, doesn’t the fact they don’t like something about you mean you’re not truly compatible?

This can be a little thing, easily addressed. Each person in a couple can have separate friends and do different things with them. But for so many people the doubt it there. I can recall having it myself, when I was younger. That nagging feeling that something it isn’t right that this disconnect is there.

And what if it’s something you can’t share with friends? A kink or sexual preference you and your partner don’t share? Should you have to give it up for the rest of your life? Or should they be forced to do it to keep you happy, despite not enjoying it?

I’ve always held the belief that sex and emotions are not necessarily directly connected. It’s fine to have casual sex, but once feelings developed, then you settled down. Then, as I’ve grown older, I’ve seen that it works the other way as well; if you’re in a committed relationship, having casual sex with someone else has no effect on that commitment if you don’t want it to.

And now I’ve realised that it goes even further. Developing feelings for someone doesn’t lessen the feelings you already have for someone else.

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The symbol of polyamory is the Infinity Heart. It symbolises that love is infinite. Developing love for someone new doesn’t require taking it from somewhere else. In the same way a parent who has a second child doesn’t suddenly love their first any less, committing yourself emotionally to a second person doesn’t mean you love the first any less.

This is why I chose an Infinity Heart as my first tattoo. Even if, in the future, I was only in a relationship with one person, or even none, I’d still be polyamorous. It’s who I am, and the tattoo represents that. Love is infinite. We’re free to hold and give as much or as little as we need. If you want to love one person, two people, or more, you’re free to do so.

We make the amount of love we need for the people we need it for.

Polyamory Week 2020

I was browsing Instagram last month and came across the following post from the account of @polyamoro.us:

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Polyamory week is February 9th-15th! Mark your calendars! In spirit of the new year, we thought to bring together the polyam community in a new way. Be sure to like, share, repost, and tag to spread the word (We didn’t add our watermark because this info is meant to be shared)! The hashtag will be #polyamoryweek 

Now, so far in my journey I’ve not made a big thing about my polyamory. When Frankie and I decided to go down this path, we decided we were going to keep this personal. It was new to us. We were seeing where things went. And then, as things grew, we decided it wasn’t something we wanted to make a big thing out of.

We weren’t ashamed. We just weren’t the sort to make a big statement about it. This was always about us. Not about what other people thought about us. If people asked, we would happily explain it. But other than family and very close friends we weren’t going to go out of our way to announce this was something we were doing.

But when I saw this post I thought, “Why not?” It seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about our new lifestyle and how it’s impacted us. I’m proud of my life, the choices I’ve made, and the people that those choices have led me to. I will never be a polyamory-evangelist, but I love the idea of spreading awareness of the lifestyle.

I also hope it might answer a few questions some of you might have about our personal journey that for whatever reasons you didn’t feel comfortable asking us directly.

So, through Polyamory Week – today to next Saturday – I will be posting about my experience with polyamory; the community, the lifestyle, my own personal experiences, and some wider thoughts on relationships and love in general.

Hopefully you’ll find it interesting. If you have any questions feel free to send them my way. I’m always happy to talk about all these things. I’m planning on summarising these posts, and any questions I get, and putting up a section on my website for the future.

A little disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert. I can only talk about my own experiences. I’m sure there are people to whom polyamory and non-monogamy mean something else. And those who’ve been doing this for far longer who have a much deeper understanding of all of this. Their lives are their own, and I will happily engage with those who see things differently.