Last weekend I was at a party where the subject of polyamory was discussed in some detail and at great length. As often happens it took the form of me standing there answering a seemingly endless series of questions from a crowd of monogamous people. In this particular case The Flautist was with me and that changes the tone of the questions substantially. When it is just me there is usually an overtone of disbelief, mostly from the straight men in the crowd who don't quite believe that my life can be what I claim it is.
Most of the questions I get are some form of the questioner being sure polyamory must be dysfunctional and/or evil, and they try to catch me up in some manner. This past weekend there was one person insisting that polyamory must not work because people need someone who will stay with them their entire lives and be willing to change their diapers when they are old or sick. I find that sort of thing kind of hilarious because it is so obviously an attack of desperation. People don't refuse friends because those friends aren't going to wipe their asses when they are 95. I don't meet someone at a board gaming event and say "Wait, random board gamer #5. You won't come visit me in the nursing home in fifty years. Fuck you, I don't need you in my life!" And yet somehow this is necessary for somebody I am going to go on a date with?
I don't always know how to approach that sort of question when it comes with a slick of vitriol. For many people I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and answer their questions straight up, generally with the phrase "Just substitute 'close friend' for 'person I am dating' in your question and the answer will be obvious." At some point though I really want to just stop them and demand to know what about polyamory has them feeling so defensive and desperate to justify their life choices. It isn't actually that hard to tell the difference between someone who is curious about something outside their realm of experience and someone on a mission to discover my deep dark secret and reveal it to the world.
I wonder how I should decide when to switch from patient explainer to telling people to take their passive aggressive shit and stuff it. For someone who genuinely wants to understand and has an open mind I have a nearly endless patience to explain. Trick is, if I go all nuclear on someone who is being a jerk to me people then I get written off as the irrational, angry man who must then clearly be wrong.
My life is a privileged one, that I only have to deal with that particular bind in one way, and that I didn't have to deal with it until middle age.
The other really weird sort of thing that happens in this sort of situation is a hero worship sort of thing. With me wearing a wedding ring standing there holding hands with the Flautist while we both sport a 'just fell in love ' stupid grin it is easy to see why other people would want a piece of what we have. Usually it is the straight men who look at me like I am some sort of wizard who has broken the rules of the cosmos. You would think bangin' people and falling in love by accident were equivalent to tossing fireballs out of my fingertips and flying. They often act as though it is an impossibility for any mortal human to do these things, as if perhaps I was The Chosen One and born with some astounding power.
Hell, wouldn't it be a great super power to be filled with love all the time? Better in the long run than being super strong or having invisibility or some other thing people usually wish for.
If I do have a super power it is the ability to not give a fuck. I was not born with it, that is for sure! My garden where I grow the fucks I might give was incredibly fecund when I was young and it took years of pouring poison on it to keep the fucks from growing back.
I want to get across that treating polyamory like magic is in fact the barrier. When you just look at it as a choice with benefits and costs, smiles and sorrows, a thing anyone could do, suddenly it becomes possible. These folks often say that polyamory sounds great and they would love to do it but their partner / parents / neighbours / extended family / coworkers / etc would disapprove so it is impossible. It isn't an impossibility, just a cost, but they have been trained to see that cost as infinite, rendering all possible decisions incurring that cost as moot.
I get that for many people that cost is too high. Fair enough. But it is important to see it as a cost, a finite number, a thing that can be reckoned with. How your reckoning ends up isn't a thing to me either way but thinking that you can do this whole polyamory thing if you want but after thoughtful consideration you chose not - all good! Just consider, is all I ask.
And while you consider, I am going to go make a sign that says "replace 'girlfriend' with 'close friend' in your sentence and ask again" so I can flash it to people at parties to reduce my workload some.