I’ve run into a little problem lately that I want to air out.
I’ve encountered this in a few places lately. After a few months of getting comfortable, I’ve started the slow process of coming out at work. It’s been going pretty well so far, which has been a great relief. The conversations are a bit awkward because my coworkers have never really conceptualized polyamory in a concrete way. So they ask the somewhat regular gamut of questions one encounters in that situation. But the question about the number has seemed to come from a place of scandal and intrigue in a way that I’ve had a hard time understanding.
I’ve also run into this a bit at cocktails and other poly events. I touched on this a bit a while ago. Folks new to poly, especially men that are brand new to things, always take the number asan indication of how “successful” I am at polyamory, or even relationships. While I do understand a bit about where that comes from, this isn’t how I come at it at all.
I think, and I know others do too, that polyamory is much more about how you construct and approach all relationships. It’s about introspection and boundaries and communication and trust and calendars and philosophy. Boiling it down to a number that goes on a scoreboard is minimizing at best. It tries to quantify something that is inherently unquantifiable. My relationships are all multifaceted and enormous, and trying to boil them down to a hash mark feels super wrong.
Yes, there is a number of people who I am seeing. But that number is the just the tip of this very large iceberg, and I’m afraid that people will pay attention to the number, and skip over what that really means to me. Especially when a lot of the context of polyamorous experience is absent. So I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of two conversations: one that I really want to have, and one that I feel like I need to have.
Does this resonate with anyone else? How do you handle these situations?