You might think that polyamory is amazing all of the time but, sadly, you’d be wrong. As with other types of relationship, there are bad times as well as good. As far as I’m concerned, the good times more than make up for the bad, but it would be remiss of me to never mention the bad times in my writing. How would that give you a decent insight into the life of someone who is polyamorous? There are many tricky aspects of being poly and some of them aren’t quite what you’d expect. One of those is coping with loss, as it is often a very different experience to that of the monogamous majority. However understanding people usually are, some of them will probably find it difficult to relate to our circumstances. We may be coping with losing a partner, but we are far from alone.
If we are out to monogamous friends and colleagues, missing a long-distance lover or a recent ex-partner can sometimes be made worse by insensitive comments. “Never mind, you’ve still got another girlfriend!” are not words which lessen the hurt of a break up. Missing one partner when you live with another can be met with a sort of “and I’m supposed to be sad for you, why?” confusion from non-poly folk, especially those who are single. We’re living the dream so why on earth should we be sad? Well, guess what folks? Having more relationships means that you get more of the sad stuff too. Having another partner doesn’t make the loss of a relationship less painful. Having many lovers does not make you miss the one who’s out of the country any less. Travelling towards a boyfriend doesn’t make the sadness of leaving your girlfriend behind go away. All our relationships are individual to the people involved.
That said, being polyamorous does help in these scenarios to a certain degree. Having partners, lovers, metamours and poly friends around you can work wonders because, not only do they care about you, they understand too. The hurt of breaking up with someone you’re still in love with can only be healed with time, but it can be soothed by knowing that you’re not alone. Polyamorous people aren’t impervious to emotional pain, don’t always know what they’re doing and aren’t always in relationships – just like everybody else. We’re not perfect and we’re certainly no better or worse than you at this. Missing someone sucks. Let’s hope none of us have to do it that often, eh?
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month seven bloggers – ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin – will write about their views on one of them.
YES to the points you've made about the reaction from non-poly people to missing someone. Missing is a very personal thing–it's not about being alone, it's about missing a particular person.
In a way, I think this might link in to the mainstream perception that we're all massive sex pests to whom everyone is interchangeable, and in that construction, it would be a bit silly to miss a particular individual. But obviously, that's not how it works, and thank you so much for writing this.
I was talking to my partner last night about the weird-but-awesome sensation, familiar to people in poly relationships and perhaps not to others, of the split brain. Missing and pining for a love you're not with, while AT THE SAME TIME being totally ecstatically happy to be in the arms of another love.
@Stavvers – I saw an image on Facebook that was one of those “this is what my friends think I do, this is what my parents think I do” type of things, but about poly. There were a few clever references in that to other people's impressions of poly folk – orgies, date-a-thons, a revolving door for partners – but the truth involved a schedule on a whiteboard 🙂 I'm hoping that lots of non-poly people will read the #PolyMeansMany posts and learn that it's not quite what they thought.
@closeenoughtoread – Split brain! I like that idea. Every new relationship gets its own section for its emotions.
@lipsticklori I loved that image, I shared it (hoping my parents would see it because MY GOODNESS they totally think I'm a date-a-thon machine). It's good work you're doing here. We all need to be more open about being poly where we can.