Polyamory: Thoughts and Experiences

Some of the things I've written about poly:

Poly Pie

I recently attended a poly workshop held by Oberon Zell, a strong advocate of poly lifestyles. At that conference, someone made the comment that a lot of people think of love like they think of pie -- that if you give some of your love to one person, you have less of it to give to another.

Obviously, I don't agree with this attitude. In fact, I'm not even sure I understand it. We don't, for example, assume that if a family has a second child that they love the first one less (to use a common example). IMO, humans have an almost limitless capacity to love.

What confuses people, I'd hazard to say, is that when the people you love have many other obligations in life, one can worry about not getting enough time from your partner so that your emotional needs are satisfied. I find I barely have enough hours in a week to spend enough time with Siobhan and L, and still have time to myself (which is very important to me).

I know people who picture an ideal relationship involving spending every waking hour together. These people would ideally do the same activities, engage in the same hobbies, and go to the same places as their partners. I'm not like that. And perhaps the needs of people who are like that are best served in a monogomous relationship, but in my life, those people have been in the minority.

You're "Just" Jealous

On a regular basis, the alt.polyamory gang will debate the origins of jealousy. Usually it starts when someone says something like this:

"Jealousy is rooted in insecurity; if you weren't insecure, you wouldn't get jealous"

There seem to be a couple of assumptions here:

  1. That jealousy is bad
  2. That jealousy is not a "real" feeling

The people whom I respect the most on alt.polyamory, however, have a different take on this. They would argue that it's futile to tell a person that their feelings are invalid; doing so would only seem to make the jealous person guilty in addition to being jealous. They also maintain that one cannot change one's feelings any more than we can stop our hearts -- we are human and we will have feelings, and they transcend our ability to consciously control.

The reason most people seem to believe that jealousy is "bad" is that typically the actions people take when they feel jealous are not desirable: jealous people may make accusations, say hurtful things, or threaten violence. But note the distinction between the feeling and action. Feeling jealous is still valid. What is needed is a vehicle to express and manage that jealousy. Because people have always been told that jealousy is bad, they don't generally have strategies to express their jealousy in positive ways.

Many of the people on alt.polyamory say that talking about jealousy is one of the best ways to manage jealousy. By talking about jealousy, they say, they can desensitize themselves to the situations that cause jealous reactions. Obviously, communication about jealousy is difficult in an environment where it's invalid to feel jealous. There's nothing less helpful than someone saying, "oh, you're just jealous."

Copyright © 1997 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated: August 1st, 1997.

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