A friend of mine asked me a question yesterday – out of the blue:
do you find that marriage complicates poly
After reading it, I breathed for a moment as the urge to smack him (he’s married) was too great. I was a bit annoyed that he would phrase it as such – as though his marriage was getting in the way of his polyamorous aspirations. This is a great lesson in the message you can send when you ask a question wrong.
My simple answer was “no more or less than any long term relationship would where you live with someone and share finances and other responsibilities. why?”
This lead to an interesting discussion. Apparently, the fact he is married and poly is a red flag to people. So, he is finding people shy away because they fear the marriage will equate to drama or problems or complexities that will result in the other person getting the short end of the stick by default. That the other love will look like the problem – breaking up the marriage and all – and their reputations will reflect accordingly.
And I can understand this fear. I really can.
In our local community, successful poly relationships are not prominent. But the unsuccessful ones – the ones that get ugly and have its ugly splashed on Fetlife feeds and brought into munches and parties – those are the ones we all know. Those are the ones we see all over the place. The people who hurt – that don’t ever recover – we have plenty of examples of those people and situations. Many say they learned the hard way they weren’t poly when the other woman tried to get too close or want too much. So, looking in immediate circles, poly looks like an overwhelmingly failing social experiment.
People can look online – can look to bloggers and podcast-ers and tweeters for examples. If you travel in those circles, we all know many who are poly and are making it work well. Not just short term poly relationships but long term ones. And also, some are married and all is fine. But watching through a browser doesn’t allow you to see or understand exactly how they are making it work and how that could translate to you and yours as you only see snippets.
A few months ago, I read a great article and listened to a related podcast where they talked about the fact people entering into poly for the first time look for structures of which they can base their poly relationship off of. Sort of a formula of sorts where you follow this model, do X, Y and Z, and ta-da, you have a great fully working poly relationship!
But therein lies the problem – you can’t do it that way. People and interactions and relationships and baggage and kids and pets and jobs and all that stuff – all of that makes each situation a unique one. The formula is interesting but when you plug in values for the variables (people, baggage, situations, etc) you learn how variable and unpredictable things still are. And, at the end of the day, if the people in the poly relationship do not trust each other, do not own their shit, do not communicate freely and openly, and do not help each other through shit – well, nothing will work – poly or monogamy or anything.
So does marriage complicate a poly relationship – it can – especially if there are problems in that relationship. It can if people are not on the same page. It can if the additional relationship is seen as a way out of the first one. It can if no one keeps all relationships going and going well. All of these things can cause the marriage to complicate it.
But if you feel your marriage is going to complicate poly…..
……I would ask that, if you ask that question, that you reevaluate yourself – and why you want poly. Or if you really need out of your marriage.
Because the point of poly is positive additions – not negative distractions.
But to quote Dennis Miller, “that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”
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The great advice columnist and podcaster Dan Savage makes a similar observation about Poly, swingers, Bi’s and such, in that, you probably know quite a few of these people, but you just don’t know you know them. And it is only the crazy disastrous relationships that seem to end up in the public forefront. I think that there are numerous approaches to relationships of all varieties, but the ones we see blown up in public aren’t the best examples.