One of the concepts that crossed my desk a while back was that of “Solo Polyamory.” As I sat unexpectedly alone on Christmas eve, and was reading some discussion on one of the polyamory lists I’m on, I realized that this is the style of polyamory that I’m apparently now practicing.
Many people feel that “solo poly” is an oxymoron. After all, how can you be single and “love more than one”? Seems incompatible, at least from the monogamous/couple paradigm. So what the heck IS it?
On one of the lists, one person had this to say about solo poly, in response to another writer in the forum:
First, solo poly is not about single people only. It is a way of approaching poly that claims to be valid for singles, as equally for each individual in a couple, triple, quadruple, or any tuple you care to think of.
Solo poly, which is not my own take on poly, and which I only know from a single presentation followed by a group discussion, shares with yourself a strong critique of couple privilege and of couple-oriented thinking.
Solo poly is saying remember you are at the centre of your life, not some other person who you label a primary partner.
It is reminding you that when partners ALL let you down, your truly primary resource is yourself (whether it is expenses, housework, or any of the other rhythms you list).
It is reminding you that all your relationships (no doubt to varying extents) only augment the care that ultimately is your care is your self.
For more information on solo poly, you might want to check out this article by researcher Elisabeth Sheff:
As my own relationship map changes and shifts in this new year (the only constant is change!), I find myself resonating even more with this concept of solo poly. Four years ago I wrote a list of Agreements/affirmations for myself. And I’ve been thinking it might be time to revisit them.
What do you think about this concept? Does “solo poly” make sense to you? Resonate? Seem ok, but only for someone else? Seem like a contradiction, or nonsensical?
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you US folks (or anyone else) who celebrate it today! Today I am grateful for the skills that I’ve learned through polyamory, which have helped to bring our tribe(s) into relative harmony and alignment that couldn’t have been imagined only two years ago. I created my “usual” — fresh cranberry-orange sauce, an apple pie, and a pumpkin pie — while my daughter made fresh bread with our breadmaker. My partner took the potatoes, the stuffing, and the turkey over to his ex’s house, and cooked them there. I helped my daughter’s boyfriend’s family get costumed for the Dickens Fair this weekend, and then we headed over to my partner’s ex’s house, and consumed a marvelous feast and chatted while watching Rob Roy on DVD and enjoyed the attentions of a variety of domestic critters. All in all, a good day.
I hope your day was as good, and I wish you a wonderful Holiday season. I am thankful for you. 🙂
Ever wonder how we got from the Free Love movement in the 60’s/70’s, to the polyamory movement now? If so, you’re in luck! Loving More is doing another of their teleseminar series this coming week. Check out the details below!
…because Love is ALWAYS ok!
From Free Love to Polyamory
Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM America/Denver (Add to Calendar)You can choose to hear the audio for this meeting either through your computer speakers or by dialing the following conference call information with your phone:Conference Call : Toll Number: 213-416-1560 | Attendee Access Code: 201 9893
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Personal message from Loving More Nonprofit
From Free Love to Polyamory A history of non-monogamy, open relationships and the future of the Polyamory Movement. This webinar goes through the rich history of the polyamory movement taking a look at the origins of marriage, monogamy, free love and the roots of the modern polyamory movement. Where do we go from here and what is the role of polyamory play in the future of family, love and relationships.
This webinar is $8 or free for current Loving More Donating Members. Members need to contact Robyn@LoveMore.com to receive member code.Please include membership type; annual or monthly.
Hey polyamorous and open people, what do you think? Is feeling jealousy ever a “good thing?” What do “feelings of jealousy” mean to you? or about you? Check out the letter below from one of my readers, and my response, for some more thoughts on this topic.
I hope this is quick. I don’t feel I have any place in a jealousy workshop, because I don’t see myself ever feeling jealous, because I think jealousy has to do with feeling upset because I’m not getting attention I feel is owed to me, and I don’t feel anyone owes me, or would ever owe me, attention. Is that a sign of low self-esteem? That is, is feeling jealous when one’s beloved gives attention to someone else ever a good thing? Thanks!
Jealousy is neither good nor bad. It just IS. It’s a collection of feelings, and those feelings are *information.* What you do with the information is up to you, ultimately (though for some folks, it doesn’t feel like it.) If you feel “jealous” when your lover gives attention to someone else, in my view that means it’s a signal that there’s something there for YOU to pay attention to. Ask yourself questions like “what need do I have that feels like it’s not getting met (enough)?” “has my ‘love tank’ gotten filled enough recently, and if not, what could I possibly ask for (not demand!) that might have me feel more loved and more at ease with my partner?” It’s not about your partner “owing” you attention — it’s about you and your partner/s having a “winning relationship” in which the *relationship* wins because everyone’s needs are getting met, and everyone in the relationship feels like they’re “winning” (i.e., getting what they need in a win-win-win… manner.)
PS: Have you signed up for the 3rd and final teleseminar with Kathy Labriola and myself, on Monday October 21st at 5:45 – 7pm Pacific Time? Called “More Options for More Jealousy,” this is ANOTHER all new call, feature a new relaxation meditation, more models and options for dealing with jealousy, and a step-by step process for examining your beliefs and fears around your jealousy triggers. We’d love to have you join us! (or, if you can’t be on the call live, sign up anyway, and get the recording and the FREE “take home materials”!)
You’ve all heard the songs. In fact, if you’ve been poly/open for a while, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at them. Songs with themes of how “I can’t live with out you,” “you complete me,” or “you broke my heart” with the subtext “… AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Singer/Songwriter Scott Kalechstein Grace took a few of the most common from the 50’s – 70’s — and most egregious — and wrote a very funny parody mashup. It’s worth the listen:
Of course, being polyamorous or open doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t also co-dependent… but I find that it at least tends to force one to confront some of these tendencies. It becomes harder, for instance, to imagine that one person can possibly be the answer to all of life’s problems — and that you will DIE without that person — if you’ve discovered that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time … and to have more than one person love you. 🙂
With best wishes for INTER-dependent, not co-dependent, love!
The poly mantra, as they say, is “Communicate, communicate, communicate,” hereinafter represented as “C^3” for brevity in this article. 🙂 We all know (or we learn quickly), that polymory and open relationships take a LOT of communicating. In fact, a therapist friend of mine, Cat Maness, said yesterday, that her top 5 skills for poly/open relationships are:
And I’ll add that the most common thing to communicate about is… scheduling! We do a lot of talking and writing around here. It’s just part of the process.
That said, there comes a time when some folks feel that C^3 is OVER-communicating. Recently, for instance, in publicizing the second workshop I’m doing with Kathy Labriola, MORE Jealousy First Aid, I sent out a couple of invites, and Kathy send out an invite, and at least some people on both lists have started to feel like it’s OVER-communicating. (Theoretically, having Infusionsoft is supposed to help with this, but I’m such relative n00b at it that I’m still figuring out how to use all the fancy bells and whistles.) The fact, is though, that one person’s “communicating” is another person’s “OVER-communicating.” People have different preferences, and different levels of comfort with communication. And that’s natural, too.
What’s your comfort level with communication? Do you believe in C^3? Or do you have other ideas about communication? No matter what, I hope your communications are helpful in whatever sort of relationship/s you have. Because no matter who or how many you love…
Those of you with cable will probably know that Showtime’s second season of Polyamory: Married and Dating started in August. Based on early reports of “more diversity,” and the producer talking to “families from the heartland,” I had had higher hopes for this season than last. I haven’t seen the show myself yet (viewing parties are being scheduled!), but I have heard from some of my friends, and frankly, they weren’t impressed. “You’d think all we poly folk ever do is have sex, or talk about having sex,” was more or less the comment from one of my friends who’s actually seen all of this season’s shows so far. Since that was pretty much my complaint last year, I have to say I’m not shocked by my friend’s assessment. The show isn’t a particularly representative sample of differing poly relationship styles, unfortunately. Of course, this is a “reality” TV show, not a documentary, so we do have to take that into account. Sex sells, and sales drive ratings, after all.
As usual, Alan M. of Poly In The News is covering the show in detail, including some clips and a lot of analysis. Alan’s opinion seems fairly favorable (again), though that’s not without reason. The San Diego group, and Kamala in particular (in my opinion), have pretty good communication skills, and really are interested in showing the world that polyamory can work — and how their version of it works, in particular. Kamala often says things that I agree with wholeheartedly, such as this quote that Alan M. reports:
“You need a tribe. You need a community. It’s so much better than trying to do this alone.”
— Kamala Devi, as quoted in Poly in the News
It’s not that polyamory is never about sex of course — I myself have said that polyamory is just as much about sex (or not) as any monogamous relationship. Sex is part of the vast majority of adult human romantic relationships. It just so happens that their version of polyamory involves a lot more sex than the versions of most of the people *I* know! This clip from episode 3 encapsulates some of my sense of Michael’s heavy focus on sex:
He seems to have a hard time separating sex and closeness. His new partner Rachel seems to have a hard time understanding his difficulty:
Rachel, bemused: “I’m trying to understand the way this conversation is going.” Getting into bed with her lover’s wife is not how she usually thinks of “going deeper” with a lover, she explains.
— as quoted by Alan M. in Poly in the News
So what’s the harm in portraying polyamory as primarily about the sex? Hard to say. After all, it’s actually true for some percentage of poly people. On the other hand, as my friend expressed to me, if this were your only exposure to polyamory, you might get the wrong idea, or at least a very skewed one, and think that polyamory is always primarily about sex. [Hint: It’s not.] I myself have a suspicion that my having suggested that an old friend watch the show (before I saw it, last year) might indeed have contributed to said friend’s sudden cessation of contact shortly thereafter. Certainly he seemed to think I wanted something much different than I actually did.
In my opinion, the real concern, though, is that all this focus on sex contributes to the cultural ideas that lead to “Michael Carey” on Slate writing this excellent article “Why I’m Still in the Polyamory Closet.” As “Michael” writes:
I have never, ever been out as poly in a workplace. Start trying to explain consensual non-monogamy, and some people—a lot of people—are going to think you’re obsessed with sex. (Never mind that I’ve been with my wife, Rose, for 10 years, have been married for three, and in all that time the two of us have dated fewer people than plenty of serially monogamous singles I know.) Some co-workers may avoid polyamorous colleagues because they’re paranoid that they may be on the prowl. Others will become distrustful because they think that poly is an attempt to re-label behavior that they consider cheating, and cheaters aren’t trustworthy.
Exactly. The assumption is that polyamory is all about sex, whether or not that’s actually the case. It’s stereotyping. So again, what’s problematic with portraying polyamory as being “about sex”? Here’s what:
“…you don’t know if your neighbors are poly (or whatever other term they may use), because they’re still afraid that if they don’t hide that aspect of their lives from you, something bad might happen. Those potential consequences range from having all future interactions feel awkward to having authorities take away their children.” — Michael Carey, in Slate
(Note that that link he gives above is to the relatively old April Divilbiss case, but many more recent instances of polyamorous people losing their children in custody battles have occurred, enough to cause there to be several polyamory legal defense funds and organizations created. It is definitely still an active concern for many polyamorous families.)
So this, then, is why I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress. But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.
I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV,” than about “reality.”
PS: The teleseminar I did with Kathy Labriola on Wednesday was a rousing success! So much so that we’ve scheduled a second one for Thursday afternoon September 19th at 2:15pm Pacific time. We’ll cover several more tools for dealing with jealousy in yourself, and in your partner/s!
A recent post in Facebook by Veronica Monet spurred me to post this poem I wrote a few years ago, about boundaries, in particular that “liminal space” where things are changing from one thing to the next. Veronica referenced the article “Monogamous, Except Online” and asked the question “What about you? Do you consider online sex to be “cheating” or is it harmless fun?” My answer there:
“Cheating” is breaking one’s agreements, whatever those are. So if you and your partner/s have an agreement not to have sex of any kind, even virtually, with someone else, then yes, it would be cheating. For me personally, I don’t have that sort of agreement, and it’s more about whether I feel like I’m hiding something from my partner, or vice versa. If I am able to be open with my partner, and not feel that “oh, I’m doing something wrong” feeling, and if they are able to hear about what I’m doing (online or elsewhere), and be ok with it (possibly even enthusiastic!), then it’s not “cheating,” and I know everything is ok. If they have a negative reaction, or if I feel “weird” or “furtive” about what I’m doing, then it’s a call to be in better communication with my partner.
So what about you? How do you know that you’ve come to “the edge of the world”? What kinds of Agreements do you have … or not? Do you prefer fences? a sign? guards? a guided tour? or complete freedom? As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, either here, in Facebook, or in email (LoveOTB@gmail.com). And if you’d like to talk about Agreements as a path to safety, or any other topic related to polyamory, love, and relationships, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and tools with you.
May you always love boldly, safely, and well!
PS: I’m running a summer coaching special, so now’s a great time to contact me by email, or call me (510-686-3386), and save 30% on a package. Find out how to make your relationships happier, safer, and more fulfilling! 🙂
Today I ran across an interesting article, about one woman’s journey of self discovery. You can read it under the title: Finally Embracing Desire.
The author, Monique, chronicles some of the changes taking place within her, as she moves her consciousness from the compulsory-monogamy paradigm, toward the idea that she (as the original title apparently said), can “own her own bed,” (http://www.purpleclover.com/relationships/576-finally-owning-my-bed/) and make her own choices about with whom she shares her bed — and her life and love:
…I watched myself as many old beliefs dissolved. The first to go was my need to feel like I’m “special.” This need had fogged my desire for love and acceptance, preventing me from offering my true self in relationships. I’d preferred to disguise myself as whatever I thought my partner desired so that he would make me the most special love.
I think the original title gets to the heart of some of the changes necessary in making this shift from compulsory-monogamy, into other ways of viewing relating (e.g., open relationships, open marriages, polyamory, etc.) A reliance upon external authority is gradually replaced by an understanding of personal responsibility. Ownership and control of partners (e.g., in marriage) is replaced by respect for individual needs. The dichotomy of Dependence/Independence merges toward freely-chosen Interdependence. As Monique shifts from others “owning her bed” (e.g., partners, religious authorities, or the government through marriage), she takes on more and more of her own authority — and her own power — to make her own choices, and to live with the consequences of those choices, thoughtfully and responsibly.
I never thought I would actually place myself, at forty-five, on a new road to self-discovery that would challenge something so core to my way of being. But I’ve decided that being myself and honoring the call to be sexually expressed as a sensual woman is not only okay, it’s paramount.
What paradigm shifts have you experienced in your life? Which ones have most affected your poly/open relationships? What values are of of “paramount” importance to you, and honoring the call to be fully yourself? What choices and actions might take you away from your true self?
Love is an amazing thing. It can be a wild tempestuous journey, or a sweet, quiet smile between friends. It can make us feel the best and the worst that we ever feel in our lives. Love is often a teacher. Sometimes it’s a spiritual journey… or a crucible of change. We often don’t choose who and how we love, even though we can choose how and when to express that. But no matter what makes your love special, no matter how long or short that love is, no matter who and how many you love…
The series will include topics such as polyamory and dating, making agreements, developing authentic communication, moving through jealousy, raising children in a polyamorous home and much more.
The Webinars are online and can be accessed from anywhere with a computer and good Internet connection and are also available by phone.
The July webinar is:
July 15, 2013 – 7:00 pm Mountain Time
Polyamory Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts of Polyamory Dating and Relating
In polyamorous relationships we are often breaking new ground. Etiquette is not about having good table manners but about treating our partners, loves and metamors with respect and consideration. How do we bring in a new partner? How do help a new love know they are important and matter? How can we be respectful of our partners when we are enthralled in the euphoria of NRE. This webinar will ideas and potential solutions for real life situations many of us face in our everyday polyamorous relationships.
PLEASE NOTE: Time listed is Mountain – Space is limited!!
*Registration for this webinar is FREE for Loving More annual and monthly donating members, or is $9 for non-members, and is on a first come, first serve basis. You must fill out the registration form from the link below to attend.
Members need to contact us directly — Robyn@lovemore.com — to receive member discount information. Include full name and and type of donating member – monthly or annual.
Should be another very interesting and useful call! Space is limited, so grab your spot before it fills up. 🙂
May you always love boldly, safely, and well!
PS: Want to set up a time to talk with me about polyamory, monogamy, and how to design your own best relationships? I’m happy to do a free 30 minute, or a 1/2 price 60 minute phone session with you. Get clear on what your relationship structure is, and underlying assumptions about rules and boundaries, and your relationship/s will be easier and happier! Or call me (510-686-3386) to set up a time for a free intro session!