I was sitting on a rock about a week ago, surrounded by water — just sitting there gazing down around me at the complexities of the water below. It was amazing! Every ripple was braided together and woven around in an endless intertwining web. Not only that, but it all moved together like one entity, one body. It looked like an enormous jellyfish! The lapping of the water against the rock was like playful hands reaching up for me – asking me to jump in and join them.
As I gazed at the ripples again I also noticed multiple layers. There were the layer of rippling water, and below it swam a current of water that darted like dolphins against the wakes. And there was also a very, very thin layer above the ripples that floated across them, heading in the opposite direction – like a light breeze over the hot desert sand, the layer road across the tops of each ripple (giving slight resistance like wind flowing down the hills of sand). It was so beautiful! I just sat there for like 20 minutes, or half an hour, watching as this enormous body of water pulsed and swayed with every breath of the earth.
Then I wrote this letter to a close friend…
Today has got me contemplating. Just because something is good doesn’t mean you need it in your life all the time, or even regularly. I love having bonfires in our backyard, but I don’t need (or even want) to have one every single night. In fact, the more regularly I try to incorporate them into our lives the less excitement and joy I have about them. It’s not as if I’ll forget about how enjoyable it is simply because I go without one for a long period of time. Ultimately, if I have on next week, or not until a year from now, it will give me the same amount of pleasure. Refusing to have one every night is not somehow taking away from my love of bonfires – in fact it makes them somewhat more special. I’m not missing out by only having them once in a while.
The same could be said about people. Though I enjoy some people’s company, I by no means NEED to see them EVERY day in order to continue feeling that enjoyment each time I do actually see them. Even filling my time full of one particularly loved hobby, or passion, will end with the feeling of dullness. So why then monopolize so much of a partners time when engaged in a relationship?
I enjoy spending time with my husband. I also appreciate him taking time to help with dishes and other cleaning, as well as child care. But we are two very separate individuals – we enjoy different things, different people, different hobbies, and we have different lifestyle preferences. I fully support and encourage him in all his own endeavors, but the issue is that I’m here for ALL of it. There’s no separation, even when we try to create it. I am an integral part of how his life is running, and he is an integral part of mine. And it’s NOT because we’re married. It’s not even because we have kids together. Ultimately, it’s because we live together. Every aspect of our private lives merge. If he wants to bring someone over, but I want an empty quiet house, is he then obligated to not do something he wants? Or am I obligated to feel uncomfortable and let him have his time?
Deciding what to do in OUR space is challenging – neither of us has full say over the happenings in our own home. Every choice has to be deliberate. How will we spend our mornings? Will we spend them together or apart? What happens when we both wish to be home, but we also both want space? Where do we put things? How do we organize? When do we clean? How late is too late to bring someone over? How late is too late to go out? Do we take turns with the kids? Do we both take care of the pets? If one person cares about the way something is in the house do we both have to commit to it or is it their task alone? How do you deal with jealousy and resentment over things you would have otherwise done yourself and not thought twice about? How do you deal with the feeling of obligation? How d you allow for independence to flourish while simultaneously coming together as one – merging yourselves and your lives, even unknowingly?
Honestly, I think I’d like to live alone. Not just because of clashing parenting styles and an unmatched pair of needs (when it comes to personal space and household living), but because I want to start my days with the sense of wanting. Wanting to create, wanting to explore, and wanting to see that person (or people) I so greatly love and care for. When I am constantly surrounded by what has come to be known as “my life” … what’s the point in waking up and going out to live? Aren’t I already here? What do I need to get up and get dressed for? And also, if I can’t find solidarity within my home – if I can’t feel a sense of safety and comfort from the outside world (if I’m forced to interact with reality in ways I’m not psychologically compatible with) … what hope am I to have for my say over what my future urns out to be?
As of now, with the children so young, I feel this situation of incompatibility is a somewhat necessary reality (as I am unable to part for long periods from my baby). Financially, right now, living with my husband is smart. But at some point, when the kids have grown a little, I hope to have my own home – where I can create my own life, my own reality. And then I’ll be happy to open it up and allow those I love to enter into it. Only then will I fully feel like my own individual. Only then will I feel like I am somewhat of a success. And only then will I fully appreciate those I am currently too close to. Like I said…there’s no need to have a bonfire every night.
Back to now…
And so I’ve found my way to the idea of solo poly. It’s a concept, like polyamory, that felt a bit odd to me at first. Society has ingrained in me so deeply an image of what relationships should look like. My parents were never married when I was a kid, but the concept that if you love someone you move in together and have children was never questioned. That’s just what people did. If people quarreled endlessly because of their differences in how they chose to live, it was seen as an area they needed to work on and learn to compromise in. A person’s own needs had to be flexible in order to mesh well with someone else’s. But what if that’s not what you want? What if that doesn’t work for you? What if you want more control over your own life and what happens in your home? What if you just want more space?
Of course there are people everywhere who are dating and who also don’t live together. Many in the monogamous community, as well as the polyamorous one. But what about married couples? Monogamous or not. Not people who were separated or hoping to divorce. But those who genuinely loved and cared about each other and wanted to continue their romantic relationship but did not want to live together? Where are all those people?
It’s funny really. I read something over a year ago about how a famous author (I can’t remember who at the moment) was living separately from his wife. They had a large building or something and two separate condos side by side. I believe there was a door that connected the two, but they could lock it. And thus this situation provided them both with the ability to be close, but it also gave them their space. When I saw this article I thought how genius! And it suddenly occurred to me that I could still love someone and not want to live with them (which was a completely paramount idea at the time).
Since then I’ve come to many realizations about myself and my own needs and wants. I now know I am polyamorous – whether my past or current or future lifestyle reflects a polyamorous lifestyle, I am always going to be polyamorous at heart. That’s who I am deep down. I can fall for more than one person at a time, and I often do. And I now understand this to be okay. I accept this about myself. And I refuse to ever hide my true feelings from myself, or anyone else, again. I also refuse to feel ashamed about it. I also now know that my husband and I are not compatible living partners. But more than that, after discovery the concept of solo poly, I have realized that I don’t truly wish to live with any of my partners. Close to perhaps, but not with. I need more control and space. And that’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t mean I love anybody less. It simply means I am aware of my own needs, and in a sense my own boundaries (when it comes to relationships and space).
Luckily, my husband completely understand and agrees with me that him and I do not live well together. I can’t imagine we will ever split up (though I cannot predict the future), but I do know we will eventually need to veer off from each other and live apart. For the health of ourselves and our relationship. It’s better to be true to yourself than to live a life you’re unhappy with just to stay with someone. I am always in favor of 100% honesty, even in the toughest situations. I’m just lucky that this particular situation wasn’t that tough. We both completely understand, accept, and respect the others’ needs. And that begins the making of a beautiful and healthy poly relationship.
Relationships are so complex – like the water, with all it’s layers and it’s multiple and diverse forms of movement that are all somehow connected. Relationships, like individuals, have many layers. And there are always many different working parts that come together to form a relationship. It’s easy to look at something like a lake and say simply, “That is water. It’s wet, and it moves when the wind blows against it.” Yes, you’re right. But you’d completely be missing the point. There are SO many aspects to the water itself, to each little part of the water, and how it interacts with the rest of itself and how it interacts with other things. There are so many variables. So many little pieces to consider. So before you go around assuming you know what is what and who is who and how or why things work the way they do … I urge you to look beneath the surface, and try to figure out the deeper reasoning behind the things you see.
What is Solo Poly?
Solo polyamory: Flipping these words around, polyamory is, broadly speaking, one approach to engaging in (or being open to having) ethically nonexclusive relationships involving sex, romance, or deep emotional intimacy. What distinguishes solo poly people is that we generally do not have intimate relationships which involve (or are heading toward) primary-style merging of life infrastructure or identity along the lines of the traditional social relationship escalator. For instance, we generally don’t share a home or finances with any intimate partners. Similarly, solo poly people generally don’t identify very strongly as part of a couple (or triad etc.); we prefer to operate and present ourselves as individuals.