Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Boring as watermelon

When I talk about polyamory I struggle a bit with getting across the feel of it to other people.  One of the greatest difficulties I have is getting people to understand just how boring polyamory is once you are doing it and are comfortable.  I read an article written by someone who grew up with polyamorous parents and he talked about how his mother's lover lived with them for many years, and how he was quite aware of his parents' various relationships because they all interacted with him just as a set of family or friends would.  One thing he does communicate well is the fact that for him, in the middle of a poly web, it just wasn't particularly interesting or weird.  The rest of the things in his life like his school and peers were infinitely more important than whether or not his mom or dad had occasional sexytimes with other people he knew.  He grew up quite happy and healthy, surrounded by lots of people who cared for him.

This challenge is increased to some extent by people who take the role of poly evangelists.  They wax eloquent about how wonderful polyamory is and how it makes everyone happy and free.  Those poetic statements about how you can have wonderful times with everyone lead to people getting confused and overly optimistic if they can get past the very justified doubt they experience.  Recently Ferrett wrote a piece about how people get really destructive ideas from poly idealists and talked about how the 'endless party' mindset causes a lot of trouble.  Rather than painting polyamory as an nonstop vacation or a solution to all the world's ills I would prefer to paint it as quite uninteresting.  That is, almost exactly as interesting as monogamous relationships.

I see it this way because I don't think there is anything to be gained by convincing everyone to be polyamorous - some people don't like it.  Which is fine!  My goal in this case is somewhat analogous to my goal in going about barefoot and talking about it - I have no intention of convincing everyone to do the same, in fact I don't care at all if they do.  All I want is for everyone to consider my way of life quite boring and not worth fussing over.  Whether or not you wear shoes or have multiple relationships just isn't something I care about.  I just want you to extend the same level of indifference to me in return.

Achieving indifference is actually quite the problem, strange as it may seem.  When you see homophobes making speeches they often make it clear they are worried about gay recruitment - as if that was a thing.  Talking about polyamory is similar in that people get worried that you are judging their lifestyle and that you are going to try to get them to swap sides.  I prefer to avoid that sort of talk at all costs precisely because that isn't what it is about.  It isn't about conversion, or recruiting, or winning, or any of that nonsense.  It is just about people treating polyamory like a thing they could do, or not, and either way is fine.  It is quite a challenge though because some people have an incredible sense of tribal belonging and they aggressively recruit to increase the strength of their group.  I guess it is hard for these people to grasp that just because they believe in conversion and consolidation of power that others do not.

In this sense polyamory is like watermelon.  It is good that there is watermelon because some people really love it.  I want polyamory to be more like watermelon in that people might look at me eating watermelon and think "I want some of that!" or "Watermelon, not for me." but don't ever think "Watermelon!  What a bizarre and possibly deranged person.  His child will be scarred by such eating!"


  1. Here in China at the moment, the watermelon is particularly delicious :) That doesn't always lead to people understanding it though. I myself didn't really understand the appeal of watermelon juice until I tried it and it is actually very refreshing. I found that as well when I started being poly. Everything seemed new and awesome. Then I realized, it ain't all a picnic. After a few years of it now, it does seem boringly normal.

  2. Ftr I like watermelon less now that I'm an adult who needs to spend money for one, lug it home, and carve it up before eating it. But I still like your analogy