“You’re doing it wrong, you know?” she asked before she took a sip of her drink.
“Wrong?” I asked. “What am I doing wrong?”
“Poly. You really aren’t poly because you aren’t doing it right. Very VERY few people do poly right.”
I was a bit perplexed at this random, right-field comment she had suddenly made as we sat there at the munch. I don’t know what prompted it, and it would have been easy for me to get upset and defensive, but I chose a different tactic.
“What do you mean people are doing it wrong?”
She crossed her legs and leaned back on the bench she was sitting, put her hands on her knees as she drew a breath to launch into, what I could tell, was going to be part explanation, part rant.
“Poly is when everyone has a relationship within the relationship. I mean, you kinda have the poly thing but because SB and G don’t have a thing going, it can’t truly be poly. Just because people are fucking other people or playing, doesn’t mean they are poly – yet they like to claim they are,” she put her fingers in air quotes before she said, “poly.”
“Well, polyamory means many loves – so if someone loves multiple people, then that is poly. Configuration of who loves who is pointless. Poly can have many configuration. While I partially agree with its overuse at times, I must say that there is not just one specific way.” I had to point this out to see if she understood that.
“Yeah, but if everyone isn’t living together under the same roof, how can you say you have a poly relationship? That’s poly. I mean, SB doesn’t live with your family – how can that be true poly?” She asked.
“SB came over for Christmas with my family. He and Brian have had great conversations. He teases the kids like I do. He plays with the dogs. He and I can be, for the most part, how we are with each other in their presence – and it’s no big deal. He doesn’t have to live there to have that experience.”
“True,” she conceded, “but I still don’t think it’s real poly.”
Someone came by and interrupted us at this point. I realized how much this conversation was amusing me more than annoying me. This is a woman who is in her early 50s, but going on 70, I think. She has been in BDSM for most of her adult life. I just wondered what poly meant in the days when she first came into the scene. Was it all centered around a Master and his harem of bisexual slave girls who all lived under one roof? Because it seems like that’s the only option with her definition of poly unless the guys involved are all bisexual. The possibilities of what it could really mean in her world entertained me almost as much as her telling me I’m loving people wrong.
And I shook my head later when I replayed, in my head, the conversation with her – because, all I kept thinking of was the line from The Princess Bride….
…except in this case, I would be saying this to her.