When we came up with daily life as the topic for this month’s Poly Means Many, I wondered what on earth I could possibly write that would be of interest. Polyamory may not be an entirely conventional way of arranging one’s relationships, but the actual practicalities of my life at the moment look pretty ordinary – I live with my primary partner, who is male, in a one-bedroom flat in an interesting part of London; we have no children, and regularly have friends visiting. So far, so much like tens of thousands of other young couples in London.
Some of the differences that might not be immediately obvious are a bit of a giveaway, though; reliance on google calendar, for one. There’s a reason that’s become a bit of a poly cliche – being able to see other people’s calendars as well as your own makes it much easier to handle all the scheduling. The diary management that’s sometimes needed does make me wonder why we can’t list this as a transferable skill on CVs… “oh, you’re in a poly relationship? Right, we’ll put you forward for work that requires complicated schedule management, that’s excellent.” In phone calls with my mum, I have a few more people’s achievements and successes to tell her about than most do.
Given that we’ve got pretty limited space in the flat, The Rake and I do sometimes have to negotiate around each other if either of us want some time with someone else – ‘ooh, I spotted you’ve got a date with x on Thursday – are you thinking of coming back here? I’ll see if anyone fancies a pint if so; otherwise I’ve got some work to get on with, so will be at home.’ ‘when does Fafhrd get here? I’ll go and practise in the park for a few hours so you can have the flat to yourselves for a bit.’ As Fafhrd lives in another city, he and I stay in very regular contact via some combination of phone calls, texts, email, IM and Skype, and when possible I go and stay with him for long weekends of catching up together and seeing friends there.
The Rake and I generally have a good balance between getting alone time with other partners, alone time with each other, and general Collective Hanging Out Time in some combination or another. I really love the times we’re able to spend, say, an evening with Lyra, the Rake and I playing silly board games and drinking cocktails, or when Fafhrd, the Rake and I go out for dinner together (look for the woman with the biggest smile in the restaurant…), or some combination of partners, lovers and friends go camping, or out clubbing, or to a festival, or just to the pub.
As far as I know this has only once caused any confusion – we met a few people for drinks, and a friend of a friend apparently spent some of the evening a bit puzzled over whether I was cheating on The Rake with Poppy, until our friends set her straight. I only found out about that the next day; I suppose it’s not an unreasonable guess, given that infidelity is sadly far more common than consensual negotiated non-monogamy, but really I would have had to be the world’s most incompetent cheater to be holding hands with the Other Woman practically under my partner’s nose.
Other than careful advance scheduling, and higher than average phone bills, I really can’t see anything about my daily life that’s worth noting or writing about – but then maybe that’s of value in itself. I recently read Jenny Block’s “Open”. I didn’t get on with it; it seemed to me to come very much from the perspective of ‘opening up my failing marriage saved us’, which I don’t connect with at all as it’s just not my experience in any way. But one of the points she makes is that they look like an ordinary suburban American couple – and it’s not about ‘the scandalous secrets behind apparently ordinary couples’; it really is that ordinary. There’s just more love, and relationship forms that an outsider observer wouldn’t have assumed.
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – so Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina. I’ve always taken this, to some extent, to mean that happiness is pretty boring (except to those experiencing it); it’s unhappiness, conflict, disagreement that make for good stories. Even the fairy stories that end with ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ have unhappiness and challenges to overcome before they get there. I keep hoping we might get a poly storyline in one of the soaps, but of course where would be the interest unless it all ended in a flaming ball of drama and disaster? Other than for me and my loved ones, replete with love and joy in the middle of it all, my scandalous, perverted, outrageous lifestyle is pretty dull for everyone else.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggersz – ALBJ, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, One Sub’s Mission, Post Modern Sleaze, and Rarely Wears Lipstick – will write about their views on one of them.