I sleep with a few different guys, but I’d never use the word ‘polyamory’ to describe what I do. This is mainly because my selfish brain struggles with the idea of engaging in an actual relationship with multiple boys rather than just shagging them, twatting about and then going for beer and pizza.
Ever in search of the truth about these matters, and a bit of filthy gossip, I asked someone who actually is polyamorous to come along and disagree with me.
Below is my pathetic rambling, and her embarrassingly good response. As ever, feel free to disagree vociferously with either of us, or tell us deliciously sordid things about your own sex life in the comments.
Here’s why I’m not polyamorous
As far as I understand it, poly means you love more than one person – you exist within a group that can have often very complex emotional attachments between multiple people. And that, my friends, sounds bloody hard.
OK, on the up-side, you get to have not just sex but also all the nice relationship-y stuff with more than one person. But on the down-side, you have to invest into each of those people the same amount of time that monogamous people invest in their one-on-one commitments.
It’s difficult enough finding one person to love, let alone two, or three, or sixty-seven. And it’s hard enough keeping one person happy without having to worry that the time you’re spending with number 1 is time you should really be spending with number 2, helping number 3 redraft his CV, or shopping for a present for number 4 because it’s his birthday next week and you want to do something special.
I’m not polyamorous. I’m a slag
Despite people explaining my general sluttery to me by saying “oh, OK, so you’re poly”, it took me a while to figure out that I’m actually not. I am very fond of all of my regular boys, and I’m very grateful to the odd few who are willing to furnish me with one-night stands or occasional play. But I don’t love them all – I don’t have relationships with them all.
To call what I do ‘poly’ is probably deeply offensive to polyamorous people, who take the ‘amorous’ bit seriously and treat their partners like they’re special. Give me a stable full of boys: willing boys, kind boys, beautiful, funny, hot boys of all different shapes, sizes and inclinations. But don’t make me remember their fucking birthdays.
Polyamory is usually a two-way street
If I were in a poly relationship I’d become rapidly unstuck – the agreement is such that if I can shag other people, and hang out with other boys, then so can my boys. I have to care for them and make them feel special, and give them attention, and love them like they’re precious. I then have to let these special, precious, hot-fucking things bugger off every now and then and bestow their hotness on people who aren’t me. I categorically hate this.
I think what I’m saying is that polyamory requires you to a) have emotions and then b) rigidly control them. Which is not only not easy but, I’d argue, an incredibly difficult thing to ask of fallible human beings.
Guest post from LB: Why I am poly
The single most common response when I tell people that I’m poly is “where do you find the time?”
It’s a reasonable assumption when the word for that relationship style literally means “many loves”. To most monogamous people, being poly means that you’re having serious loving relationships like they do, but lots of them, all at once.
But the truth is – and you might want to sit down for this – I don’t love everyone I’m fucking equally. I don’t love some of them at all. If I had to love everyone equally and spend as much time and emotional energy on all of them, just to get in their pants, I’d be too exhausted to do anything once I was there.
I can’t claim poly is simpler than monogamy; I’m not the Official Polyamory Ambassador to the Court of St Monogamous, for one thing. But it isn’t necessarily more complex – and complexity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Polyamory doesn’t make relationships complex; people do
Poly doesn’t have a monopoly on relationship complexity, or on drama. Everyone knows complex, high-drama monogamous relationships.
Some of the common features of poly relationships actively reduce drama and complexity. There’s generally more, and more honest, communication, and people are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own needs. When you don’t suspect your girlfriend is interested in someone else, you know she is and you agreed it was OK, the basis for a lot of drama vanishes.
Yes, arranging your diary so you can see all the people you’d like to as often as you’d like is hard – but that’s true for everyone who’s busy. With poly, you just have to remember to pack your toothbrush, some lube and enough clean underwear.
Poly means ‘many options’
Not all relationships are the same, and ‘relationship’ can mean any number of things. But when you’re monogamous your options are (usually) limited.
Monogamous people might have a sexually and emotionally intense fling which combusts after a month; then a long-term committed romantic relationship; then a matey series of no-strings-attached hook-ups. Poly people can have all of those relationships at the same time – and more unusual relationships too.
Once your relationships aren’t predetermined by societal norms, suddenly everything’s up for negotiation. So, tweak until you get it right: how often will you see each other? Will you fuck, or just do kinky shit? Are you emotionally exclusive or sexually exclusive, or both? What does ‘sexually exclusive’ even mean to the two of you?
If you’re monogamous and your partner hates eating greasy pizza naked while playing first person shooters; is totally disinterested in S/M or anal; or never wants to move in together, you can either suck it up or try to find a new partner that meets all your needs.
You don’t have to make that choice when you’re poly. Because you don’t have to rely on one relationship to meet all your needs, you have a better chance of getting all these needs met – and you don’t have to give up on a perfectly good relationship because it’s not ‘perfect’.
We need to talk about our relationship
This might be where polyamory really gets its reputation for complexity. Talking about relationships stops being just a good idea and starts being a bloody necessity when you’re involved with more than one person.
Guesswork in relationships is about as successful as it is when you’re trying to get someone off. Talking honestly about what you want, what your partner(s) want(s), and where that crosses over makes it far less likely that anyone will end up hurt or not getting what they need.
I’ll happily sacrifice a little time, some self-examination and some talking to get a range of romantic/sexual/kinky, serious/casual/one-off relationships that meet all my needs. Surely that’s better than a simple life spent missing out on half the things you want?
Edited to add: check out this fab resource on exploring relationship styles for yourself.