This is the second in a series of entries about the little parts of polyamory, from individual perspectives.
It’s so easy to look at polyamory and boil it all down to sex, and then maybe love and relationships. That’s certainly what it can look like from the outside when there’s no additional context. The media has a habit of treating poly folk with an air of scandal and sensationalism, revolving around how sexy poly lives are. Intolerant folks point to that aspect of poly, and build cases based on their moral code. And I think for some people this base definition is the extent of their understanding, or perhaps the limit to how they want to understand.
I know that among the poly folk that I know, there is an emphasis on the communication. It’s the only way to make relationships work. It is how we work through problems with each other. It is what keeps us sane when our feelings get the best of us. I think that is really important too, and I work on my communication as much as I can.
But for me, the first thing I think of is introspection. More than any other relationship, more than any other conversation, poly has forced me to look inside myself, and that has meant the most to me.
Poly has forced me to truly evaluate where my feelings are coming from. If I’m feeling jealous or envious or upset or frustrated, the first place for me to look is at myself, and try to determine what those factors are that are making me feel that way. Is there something that I want or need for myself that I am not getting? Do I feel like I am shorted or mistreated in some way? Is there something in my past that is keeping me from being truly in my relationships? Is there something that I need to talk about, not because I need to, but because I want to?
I have to ask myself these questions, even when I don’t want to. How can I have a reasonable conversation with my partner if I don’t understand where my side of the conversation is coming from? How can I reasonably expect them to give me what I need if I can’t tell them what it is I need? These answers can only come from inside myself, and I am the only one that can go in there and get them. And it also gives me the framework to ask these questions of my partners. Because I know what doing that looks like for myself, I can talk from a position of knowledge of how that process works for me.
I’m writing this like I am some kind of maven that has figured all of this out. I haven’t, not even close. There is always more work to do, and more dark corners to investigate. But I do know that this inward evaluation is critically important. I am a heather, more self-actualized person for taking the time to figure myself out, regardless of the number of relationships I have.
Poly pushes me to do the work. There is something important to be said for that.