The conversation usually starts with ‘Are you dating anyone?’, as most small talk within new co-workers always leads to, as if that creates the value of my existence, whether I’m tethered to another human being. I always have to test the water a bit before giving in to someone, to see whether my answer will shock or disgust them, changing their perception of me entirely. If I feel it’s safe with them, in the simplest of terms I’ll reply: ‘Multiple people’. The general response is: ‘Oh, I could NEVER do that, that sounds like a lot of work, keeping up with everyone’.
I’m always shocked by this response. Mostly because before I was dating multiple people I’ve always considered my relationships with everyone I care about to be work. In an honest and realistic way, every relationship is work. But if it’s a relationship you care about then it’s not work you mind doing. It’s all about communication. But communication also comes down to you wanting to start those hard conversations.
Before any of my romantic relationships I would like to think I was a supreme candidate for polyamory because I’m very good at relationships. I have a vast sea of friends I could call up any day. Mostly because I am an avid texter, I check in with people, and I think about all the people I love every day, I… may also just have an obsession with my phone, I wouldn’t recommend it. But it has helped with my multiple relationships.
The “Hard Work”
I am a strong believer that if you want a relationship to work out then you have to do that hard work. If communication is feeling strained, or you feel that someone is in the wrong, you can’t be butt hurt if someone isn’t picking up on your feelings when you’re not voicing them. That being said, yes, some relationships are toxic, and that’s a topic for another blog post, knowing the difference between fighting for a relationship by having those hard conversations, and letting something go. All that aside, you need to work at being good at conversations. No one is a mind reader, and people can’t assume things of you, no matter the physical ‘signals’ you may be giving.
On the topic of communication, we all just need to learn HOW to communicate properly. Most people get upset over something and don’t voice how they’re feeling, which is where arguments can happen. An argument led by anger can end up being a lot of ‘you’ statements that don’t get anyone anywhere. It doesn’t feel good when someone calls you out for your behaviour, but it feels much better after you talk it out, give it some time, and realize that how you acted could have upset someone. Or be able to explain your reasoning in a calm manner.
Being polyamorous, yes, there’s more communication involved. Who sleeps where? What details your partner is comfortable discussing about your other partners? Protection! Bringing other partners around, sexually, emotionally, platonically, I could go on… But I think in general, people need to be more aware of the communication that goes into any relationship, and they need to stop getting into relationships if they aren’t willing to do that work. It’s exhausting for us who do the work to pull teeth from those who won’t try.
I’m tired of friendships that end because one person didn’t like something I said, but they won’t even try to talk to me about what that ‘thing’ was. I’m tired of people who ‘put up’ with their families, but don’t want to discuss the reason they’re unable to spend a lot of time with them. I’m tired of people getting into relationships because they’re sad and lonely, but don’t want to do the work it takes to have a real relationship with someone.
I just recently had to have the ‘is this something you want’ conversation with someone I was dating who then admitted to me they were thinking me being poly was stopping them from caring about me in a deeper way. I had to have that conversation to say ‘well, if that’s how you feel then I respect myself more to walk away from us romantically’. It wasn’t easy, and those conversations can also lead to things ending, but out of it, and the aftermath of it, I feel ultimately better than how it ended with my ex, who still won’t look at me in public or admit we spent any time together, and refuses to talk to me about it.
We need to stop being lazy, because communication takes work. If we realize that communication will unlock so many doors, once you put in that work, then we get to live in a world of deep conversation and meaningful connection. And that’s the world I want to live in.
So yeah ‘that sounds like a lot of work’. It is. But, I’m good at it, and damn anyone who says otherwise. And being good at it really makes me feel good about my polyamory.
How about you? Can you handle the heat of deep and intense conversation?