Sunday, October 12, 2014

Talking it up

So given my last two posts we know that I am polyamorous and why I am poly so this time I want to talk about why exactly I feel the need to talk about it.  There are certainly people out there that really want to keep their relationships private and I support their decision but for me being public about it is very important.  It is necessary for me to be this way but I do not expect others have the same reasons, pressures, or desires that I do.  How you run your life and what you tell others is your business; this post is about why I do what I do.

Part of my desire to talk about being poly is this blog itself.  There are a lot of things in my life that serve as jumping off points for my writing and some of those involve my relationships.  There were a lot of things I couldn't say without outing myself and it restricted my writing in ways that frustrated me.  I have a lot of thoughts on how relationships work and ideas that I think are amusing that could not be shared without lying as long as I remained closeted.  I want to share those things and I want to let those thoughts flow and I will not lie about my life to do so.  I write personal and powerful things about myself here because it helps me understand myself, assists in framing my thoughts, and because freeing my secrets makes me feel so much better about the world.  To do that I can't be sequestering off a large and important part of who I am.

When I was young I had no role models whatsoever for open relationships.  The only sort of nonmonogamy I was aware of was straight up cheating and I was rightly taught that this is terrible.  What my family, peers, teachers, and cultural experiences taught me is that there is only one ethical romantic relationship model:  Serial monogamy.  I carried that forward through my adult life and it took a lot of reading, talking to others with different viewpoints, and reflection before I managed to come to terms with the fact that monogamy simply isn't right for me.  Not that my life was bad before, far from it, but now I am living in a way that is better for me.  Breaking that mould required a huge amount of rewiring as I unlearned all the lessons I had absorbed throughout my childhood.

I want to be that role model for other people.  Not in the sense that everyone should do what I do, but in the sense that if you want to do as I do you can see how it is done.  I want people to see that you don't have to live the RomCom / Disney story in order for your life to be joyful, honest, and successful.  I want to be a living example of how you can set aside powerful cultural expectations and do what makes you happy.  I want the next generation to know that they have choices, and that there are people out there making those nonstandard choices right now.  I also want those who are adults now to realize that there are a lot of people out there not following the standard narratives and that they should not be dismissed as freaks.

To achieve these goals requires people to be out.  Every time someone comes out of the closet they make it easier for others to follow.  There are those that cannot do so because of physical danger or because they would be ostracized by their communities and I am not subject to those concerns.  It is safe for me to be out (though not without difficulty and conflict, to be sure) and I feel a deep obligation to do that because somebody needs to do it and I can be that somebody.  The world is made a better place by small things, incremental changes, and whether it be opening up about depression, sexual orientation, relationship style, or other things that people feel obligated to hide, every single person that comes out improves things.  It acts as a beacon giving those near them who aren't part of that group an understanding of the issue and giving those that are part of that group a sense of belonging, of normalcy, that they are not alone.

I also feel very strongly that denying my relationships disrespects my partners and grants all of the power to those who do not accept those who are different.  Every time I call a romantic partner "my ... ummm.... friend?" I am making it clear that honesty about what we are to one another is less important than pandering to those who think what we do is wrong.  Each time I say that I am implicitly telling my partners that though I might love them I will sweep them under the carpet any time it becomes convenient.  I wouldn't do that to a friend - if someone was offended that I had a friend of a particular type and insisted that I pretend that relationship didn't exist I would tell them to shove it.  Why would I treat a romantic partner as less than that?  I will not disrespect those I care deeply about in order to make it easier for people to shame me.

There are all these reasons - wanting to make the world a more tolerant place, respecting the bond I have with my partners and the choices we make, and having this place to write about myself honestly.  The most powerful reason though is that it makes me feel positively ill to lie about myself to people I care about.  I want to spend my life being around people who like me for who I am, not people who like me because I pretend to be some other guy.

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