November 17, 2017

The Case for Better Polyamory Representation

Polyamory smallerA friend of mine, Stormy Styles, related strongly to a recent post she saw on Facebook. She copied and edited the text a bit to add some of her own thoughts, then posted it to her Facebook timeline. The reaction was remarkable. The post was quickly shared and copied and widely discussed. I copied and shared her post too and the reaction was equally viral. It struck a nerve.

That nerve it struck is the frustration so many of us polyamorous (poly) people feel when the topic of our way of loving and configuring relationships is discussed outside of our own poly circles. Yes, poly is slowly becoming a viable alternative to the traditional two-person or monogamous choices, but it’s nowhere near to being widely accepted. We’ve got a long way to go.

To nudge that acceptance along, here are some of the reasons why us poly folks feel positive representations of our relationships are so important. I’ve modified the language used by Stormy somewhat to be more widely applicable and included some input I saw when it was posted. If you can think of others, or wish to discuss this topic, feel free to comment.

Why do I want better polyamory representation?

  • Because when someone doesn’t want to date me because I’m poly it’s “understandable,” but when I don’t want to date someone because they are monogamous it’s “ridiculous.”
  • Because all relationship advice tells you that if you have feelings for someone else while you’re in a relationship you’re a bad person.
  • Because even feminists try to slut shame (but believe me, all types of people try to slut shame).
  • Because when I tell people me and my partner have an open relationship they assume it’s because we’re going through a rough patch.
  • Because people equate “multiple partners” with “predator” and think everything I say is an attempt to get in their pants.
  • Because I am fed up that love triangles are easy plot devices in media.
  • Because the LGBTQ movement is so desperate to show “allies” they are “just like everyone else” that they shit on everyone with a non-monogamous dynamic.
  • Because when a monogamous couple have sex with each other every night it’s having an active sex drive. When I have sex with a different partner every night I’m a nymphomaniac.
  • Because people assume polyamory is just about multiple sex partners instead of multiple “loving and committed” relationships and instead conflate polyamory with swinging when they’re totally different lifestyles.
  • Because people think that monogamy equals validity, always.
  • Because monogamous heteronormativity is so ingrained that I don’t even feel like I can dance with someone without telling them the complete logistics of my love life.
  • Because people genuinely believe that raising a child communally is damaging to development.
  • Because when I say “I could never be monogamous” I get dirty looks.
  • Because too many people have tried to confide in me when they’re cheating because “I thought you, of all people, would understand.”
  • Because I can’t talk about my relationship troubles with my monogamous friends because “I always have something to fall back on.” As if my relationships are meaningless.
  • Because being polyamorous isn’t an “alternative lifestyle.” It is just how I choose to live “my” life so I can be happy.
  • Because being polyamorous does not mean I’m afraid of commitment. I’m able to commit to many types of relationships. And love more than one person.
  • Because it’s unfair to ask any one person to be your or their everything.
  • Because needing multiple or different kinds of energy or chemistry does not make me greedy or selfish.
  • Because if I talk about a relationship problem, it will be assumed that our non-monogamy is the problem. (Therapists, take note of this one. Too many therapists default to misconceptions about polyamory.)
  • Because jealousy is a symptom that needs healing, not a proof of love.
  • Because my family isn’t comprised of what I was born into, but rather what I create with intention and integrity.
  • Because I’m tired of people saying to me “I could never share,” as if there is a limited capacity to love others. Yet, if you press them on loving their kids, relatives, parents and best friend, they say “oh that’s not the same.”

Those are just some of the many reasons why poly people want to see more positive representations of who we are and what we do in the media and wherever the topic is discussed.

(I may update this post if I think of other reasons or a reason in the comments resonates with me.)

2 Comments on “The Case for Better Polyamory Representation

Stormy Styles
November 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Thank you Race for giving the post life beyond Facebook. I look forward to reading how others feel.

December 8, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Love this! Just to let you know, though, the advice column “Dear Prudence” (I read it on _Slate_) is pretty knowledgeable (and approving) of poly.

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