People in the poly community tend to be shamed for any number of things, simply because of their feelings, choices or lifestyle. Each poly relationship is different – and I suppose the very concept of change or deviance from the “norm” is scary to others. It’s funny, honestly, that some people think (for example) that having multiple sexual partners is morally wrong. There are plenty of people out there cheating on their spouses, yet somehow the topic of having sex with more than 1 person in a consensual manner is thought of as some horrific demon-induced thing. Even those who are sleeping around in secret will give you the evil eye if they think you’re openly doing something that doesn’t match up with what you’re supposed to (i.e. monogamy). [Who knows, maybe they’re just jealous.] Why does the concept of multiple partners freak people out? Sometimes others will see it as okay if things aren’t serious. If you’re just dating around, then it’s okay. But if you have any major feelings for anybody, why would you ever do that? they ask. Why can’t you commit to one person? Why are you so greedy? What’s your glitch? Simply put – nothing, nothing is my glitch. I’ve decided to live openly and honestly and respectfully to and with all who are ever involved with me. I’ve decided to connect with and love multiple people because I feel it’s unnatural to do otherwise, and because it seems more healthy to do it this way. What other explanation could you possibly need? But if you’re still not convinced, here you go…
First, let’s start with something simple – like hats. Hats come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors and textures, etc. So many different beautiful kinds of hats. Although I appreciate the uniqueness of all hats, I know some hats just aren’t for me. They aren’t my style, they don’t mesh well with who I am, so I don’t choose to wear those types of hats. There is nothing wrong with those hats, but they are just better suited for other people. Occasionally I’ll try to pull off other types of hats, and put myself in a different persona and think I could be the type of person to wear that kind of a hat if I really tried to be. But I don’t want to try to be who I’m not. So, eventually I decide that I shouldn’t wear that hat. Sometimes, in situations like those, it can be hard to let a hat go. I mean, I picked it out over all the other hats in the store, brought it home. I saw all its potential. I daydreamed about wearing it to fancy parties someday. Maybe I should just keep it, in case. But ultimately, no, there is no use keeping something that will just end up at the back of my closet, completely forgotten. I know I’ll end up just pulling it out much later down the road, it will be all smashed up and dirty, and I’ll feel bad I hadn’t gotten rid of it before and that I have to do it now. It deserves to go with someone who will wear it and treat it well – not hide it in the back of their closet waiting for some far off possibility of a day.
To be completely honest, I don’t like wearing hats at all. I’m not a hat person. My husband is, though. He absolutely LOVES hats. And he treats each one with more care than almost anything else in our home. He’s got a lot of hats, but he takes good care of each one of them. They all get worn (sometimes more than 1 of them gets worn on the same day). But no matter what he keeps them all in good shape. He treats them well. He makes sure they are clean, and they don’t get squished. He’s a hat person. I can barely manage to take care of 1 hat properly (let alone 10), because that just isn’t the kind of person I am. But he can easily take good care of many hats, because he really, truly cares about each and every one of them. Sometimes I do tease him a little bit about it, about how much he cares about them all and how much time he puts into keeping them all looking nice. However, I still accept him for who he is. I accept that he’s a hat person. I accept that he keeps tons of hats in our home, and that when we travel he brings a bag specifically full of hats. It seems odd and unusual to me, as I am not that type of a person, but I can see that it is something that makes him happy. And I am happy that he can be himself around me.
Now, let’s move on to something a little bit more dynamic. How about dogs? A hat can’t return your emotions – it can’t love you back. But a dog can. A dog can be fiercely loyal and always by your side. Other times dogs can just be reckless and independent. But dogs are dogs, and I love dogs. I’ve had 3 dogs in my lifetime. Well, only 3 that were ever really mine. I’ve had many more that I was close to, though. When I was growing up in the mountains our neighbor had a dog that just roamed around the big property where we both lived. So, although I only technically had cats at the time, I also had a dog. I didn’t know much about the person who owned the dog. I didn’t see him very often, and when I did it was extremely brief. But I knew he loved his dog and took good care of him. And I suppose that’s all I really needed to know about him. I loved this dog too, so as long as he was happy it made me happy.
Years later, and many, many doggy-ships later, I finally got my own dog. It wasn’t until high school (at which point I was doing independent studies and had a lot of time to care for another life force). I had lots of experience with dogs. Many friends of mine growing up had dogs, with which I had varying depths of connection. Some dogs and I just seemed to click. They liked me, I liked them. Boom. It didn’t matter how often we saw each other, we just had a great relationship. Others tended to not like me so much, they preferred to stay by their owners, and that was fine. I could admire them from afar. But when I got my own dog I was so giddy. I loved him like no other person possibly could. I spent endless hours taking him on long walks all across town. We went everywhere together. Did everything together. I remember, there was even one time when I went into a store while on a walk with him and I bought the both of us sandwiches. That’s right, I bought my dog a sandwich. Mine was avocado, tomato, lettuce and such things. The one I got for him was just straight meat on bread. (He loved it!!)
As time went on I acquired two more lovable dogs. All my dogs got along well, and I loved to give them all tons of attention. However, this did cut down on the individual time I got with that first dog. I couldn’t spend quite as much time focusing on him anymore, because I now had 2 more dogs to focus my time on. But it was fine – I made sure to give them all the love and attention they needed. Sure, sometimes they may have wanted more, but when I couldn’t give them their wants, they still got their needs met. And it was good for some time. Except that the first dog was a Big dog, and he continued to grow and grow and grow, long past the time I thought he couldn’t possibly grow anymore. So my dad started having to be the one who took him out on walks. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t fulfill that need anymore. I still cared for him in other ways – I fed him, and cuddled him, and we spent tons of time together at the house. I even went on walks with him and my dad sometimes (sometimes with just them, and sometimes bringing my other 2 dogs along with me). It was still great. I still loved him, and he still loved me, but he also loved my dad, and most importantly he was getting what he was needing. My dad even took him out for early morning runs, and sometimes skateboard rides. They did lots of fun stuff together that I couldn’t have ever done with him. And it made me so happy to see him get all this attention and love.
Well, time continued to move forward, and I moved out of my dad’s house (and halfway across the country). Unfortunately, since I was unable to walk him (and a dog needs to be able to be walked) I couldn’t bring him with me. It was sad, but I had to let him go. He had a happy home there with my dad. It was hard, but I knew he’d be getting what he needed there. So, I moved out and I no longer lived with him. I still had my other two dogs, yes, and that made me so, so happy. But, nonetheless, I missed having my other dog at home with me. As time has past my relationship with that dog has changed many times. At this point I am just like an old friend. Actually, I just recently visited my dad, and my dog remembered me (of course) and was so incredibly excited to see me. It’s as if I had never left. I had missed him so much, it was great to see him! And he had missed me too – he came over to me the second I got there and wagged his tail and knocked into me and walked around and around me and spent a lot of time by my side. It was great catching up with him. It was great that he was able to stay with someone I knew and that I was able to visit him. Honestly, though, even if I never saw him again I know we’d still miss and care for each other. It was just one of those connections, you know?
Now I’d like to talk about children – I have two of them. If you want to read more specifically about Loving Multiple Children then click here to read my other blog post. Children are something out of this world. They’re magical, amazing, and awesome…and, sometimes, they just make you want to pull all your hair out, or drown in a pool full of jello…but there is just something so special about them, and about the connection you share with them (at least when they’re your children, other people’s kids just plain suck sometimes). I’m not sure what it is that hooks you in, but you just suddenly feel this overwhelming sense of happiness and love. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever felt in my life. Especially when your baby is first born, you just get this sense that you’ll love them no matter what. You just want them to be happy – no matter who they turn out to be, or what they decide to do with their life. The day my 1st child was born was the first time I truly understood what unconditional love was.
I, as many parents do, thought the feelings I held for my child could not be matched. And I was even worried about having a second child because I thought I couldn’t possibly love them as much. I knew I loved my 1st so much, and I thought about how I would feel so badly if I had a 2nd child and I didn’t love them as much as the 1st. But in my mind I thought, how could I possibly? And then the day came when I gave birth to my 2nd child. It was so beautiful. My love didn’t split in two like I had suspected, and it definitely didn’t split unevenly. It expanded. My ability to love expanded to encompass and surround, not only my other child, but this new little life as well. And just like that all my worrying went away. I loved, deeply was in-love, with both of my children. Nothing could have possibly been simpler or more amazing.
What’s even more amazing than that? My children are surrounded by love. They are surrounded by not only my love, but also the love of many other people. Other adults and other children – friends, family, etc. They’re surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and any number of types of relatives. They’ve got biological relatives and step-relatives and also those we have decided are our chosen-family (close friends and such). And what makes it good for my children to be around all these people is that all of them deeply and truly love my children. Like I said, they are surrounded by love. Every person I bring into their lives is someone who ends up loving them. Even if it’s just someone we meet one-time somewhere when we’re on vacation – my children are able to deeply connect with that person (or people) and truly appreciate them and enjoy their company. That, that is a gift. To be able to find a sense of home within others everywhere you go. That’s magic. And I truly believe their ability to thrive in any social situation is due to their abundant and diverse array of people who love them.
What is poly if it isn’t love? If it isn’t acceptance? Understanding? Compassion? What is poly if it isn’t honesty? Integrity? Trust? Polyamory, simply put, means “to love many”. It is a kind of love that is consensual among all involved. It is a type of connection that is based off of respect. And it is a self-love that promotes equality, internal-strength, and commitment to one’s true self. It allows for growth – it adapts and changes as need be. It’s like a breath, continuing to fluctuate inward and outward, finding balance where two conflicting sides meet. Whether we’re talking about hats, dogs, or people (or anything else you can think of)…love is a positive thing. Love is a beautiful thing. Love is a natural thing. And love is a valid thing. Polyamory is all of these things – it is positive, beautiful, and natural. But most of all, it is valid. Whether you can understand it or not, and whether you agree with it or not, it is valid and it is real.