You’re poly, you’re new to it and you’re excited. Then some jerk starts picking apart your happiness and excitement and you feel smacked. What the hell? You know the community you joined said it was talking about polyamory. Aren’t these people supposed to be sympathetic?
A newly poly person, having a new interest, is probably very absorbed in the ideas, wanting to learn what other people think, excited to try out the joys of multiple partners. This is all good and valid and the way it should be, I think. I’m all for diving deep into new interests and ideas.
What’ll happen is that they’ll encounter an established community start talking to someone like me, and it’ll feel like a damn’ brick wall. It’s not that I’m jaded and cynical… Okay, fine, I am jaded and cynical. But the point is that the newly poly who truly does want and need to explore all the options around hits into the person who has done an awful lot of exploring and isn’t really excited about talking about the shiny new, nor is this person willing to overlook some things that one does (and maybe even should) in the shiny new phase.
This is not to say that cynically shooting people down is okay just because you’ve been around the block a few times. It’s not okay. I think a little sympathy and understanding is a good thing, even when you’re hauling out the “stick of grandmotherly kindness.”
I’d like both sides of this to understand each other. If you’re over 35 and cannot look at a 17 year old who is newly in love and hormonally carbonated and put your own mind back to those days when it was you, you need to work on your empathy for a little while before you start mouthing off in the poly community. Remember when you got into something new and exciting and overwhelming to your life. Keep that in mind as you’re trying to explain things you think are necessary to talk about to the new ones.
On the other hand, you newly polys, when you get a comment that seems a bit negative or jaded? That person is probably opening her shirt and saying, “See this? Over my heart? Big fucking scar, innit? I want to explain to you how I got it so maybe you can avoid one of your own.” Believe it or not, that person is not trying to blow off your happiness, excitement or joy in the new, but is trying to help you keep your happiness. Poly is not new to that person, and unless she’s a psycho like me who writes about it all the time and starts communities on it, the concept of poly probably does not absorb even as much time as what a churchgoer spends on religion. They don’t have lifestyles so much as… well… LIVES.
I’m not gonna say I’m innocent of the “Been there, done that” eyeroll routine. You really do see a lot of the same issues over and over and over and over and over and over. What I try to remind myself when I’m actually concentratin’ on bein’ a decent human being and all, is that while it’s not new to me, it’s new to the person talking about it.
But you new people? Keep in mind it’s new to you.
Mama Java, out…