This month, the Poly Means Many team is looking at assumptions.
I’ve written here before about how – thus far – I’ve had a pretty easy time of it when when coming out as polyamorous/explaining polyamory. Either my friends/acquaintances/colleagues are too polite to state their negative assumptions right up front, or they were able to take my words absolutely at face value. I suspect a bit of both.
I’m in a very long-established primary relationship, and it seems evident to anyone who spends time with us (or so I am told) that that relationship is not ‘fading’ or ‘on the rocks’ or any of the other unpleasant assumptions that surface around the longest-established relationship. So that’s a deflection already.
I have, on rare occasions, fended off the question ‘but why isn’t he enough for you?’. My answer is always similar – it’s not that The Rake isn’t enough, it’s that I see poly as adding to our lives, not taking away. It’s a hard question for me to answer, because we’re starting from totally different assumptions – theirs includes the idea that poly is an attempt to make up for a lack of something. I have an abundance of so many wonderful things in my life, but I don’t see that as a reason to say ‘Right, no more wonderful things now. All done.’
If anyone’s assumed that I live a wild and slutty life, or that poly means endless rounds of threesomes, they’ve been polite enough not to say so to my face (the boring truth is: not so much).
Probably the most common assumption I’ve dealt with is that non-primary relationships don’t count and are less important or less real.
When the Rake and I announced we were getting married, a friend of my mum’s asked whether we’d be stopping all this poly stuff (delightfully, my mum was minorly outraged on our behalf, and said that of course not, why on earth would we do that, it would make no sense). Someone told me repeatedly how amazing and inspiring and intimate my relationship with The Rake was, but maintained a deafening silence on my relationship with my then-boyfriend, despite spending time with all three of us. Someone else made it clear that they assumed I would always end any other relationship at the request of The Rake, no matter how long-established the other relationship was or what the reason for the request might be. Someone once asked me who I loved ‘most’, evidently expecting a firm answer in favour of The Rake (I said I didn’t think love could be ranked like that, and experiencing love was different between every pair of lovers, and their question didn’t really make sense to me).
I suspect some of my friends were a little suspicious when they were first told about poly, but they had the sense and kindness to keep any negative assumptions to themselves. As the years have gone on, I hope many (if not all) of their concerns have been assuaged. I’m sure, as I move through different life stages, there will be plenty of strange assumptions to fend off from unexpected corners – but I’m ready for it. I’m happy in my life, and confident in the choices I make; if people choose to disbelieve me or to make false assumptions, that will eventually become clear to them. The truth always becomes clear in the end – it’s patience that’s hard work.
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