In every relationship, much as we hate to admit it, there is bad stuff as well as good. There are times when you are feeling so sad you want to cry, so angry you want to scream, and so frustrated that you want to smash things. Whether it’s an argument or a break up, bad things happen so… how do we cope with them? Do we blame ourselves and look at how to improve the way we handle a similar situation in future? Do we blame the other person and wish they would change and just ‘be better’? Or do we blame the relationship structure for being bad and wrong?
Strangely, when things go wrong in a polyamorous relationship, many folk assume that this is clearly evidence that ‘poly doesn’t work’. If a similar thing happened with a monogamous relationship, these same people would probably just assume that this one particular relationship is broken. No one ever blames monogamy for the bad stuff. They blame the disagreements, dishonesty, or one/both party behaving like an utter dick. Which is, of course, exactly how it should be.
If I can’t make a relationship work, it’s not because I’m cis female, bisexual, British, white or middle-class. It’s not because I’m monogamous or otherwise. It’s because I didn’t get on well enough with one specific person to make things work at that level. We couldn’t fix the bad stuff or, in the end, we didn’t want to fix the bad stuff. A relationship doesn’t fail because you’re nonmonogamous any more than it would fail because you’re a vegetarian. If you’re both on the same page, where does the problem lie? As Polly Oliver wrote in a recent post on An Open Book:
The reason polyamory can sometimes feel riskier is that there are more relationships, more people, more opportunities for wonder and magic and love, and more opportunities to fuck it up. So, yes, polyamory means you will get hurt. So does monogamy. So does caring and trusting anyone, ever. There is no magic ‘never get hurt’ life choice.
Getting involved with other human beings in romantic and/or sexual relationships means that, at some point, you will probably have to deal with some bad things and hurt feelings. So, how do poly people deal with it? Pretty much in the same way that everyone else deals with that kind of stuff really. Find your coping mechanisms, find a shoulder to cry on, friends to talk to, time to heal. Just try not to assign blame. That’s when the bad stuff really starts to happen.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com
Image via bored-now‘s Flickr photostream.