Originally posted on
Gather ye round, little poly chillun, ’cause Mama Java’s got something to say to all of you.
A lot of you poly people, in an attempt to explain that you’re not hedonistic sluts with the morals and sexual code of an alley cat talk about how hard relationships can be. The thing is, you’ve gotten yourself too caught up in your subculture and you’re losing sight of the Big Picture.
All good relationships take a lot of work. The skills necessary to maintain a good poly relationship are actually not appreciably different from the skills required to maintain a good monogamous marriage, a good friendship or a good relationship with one’s children.
My fondness for terseness says that it could boil down to one word: Love.
However, let me explain. Love is one of those very simple and basic things that refracts into incredibly complex ramifications.
Whenever you interact with someone, you need to ask yourself, “Is this the loving thing to do?” That’s not to say always nice, sweet, kind and gentle. Sometimes it is, mind. Even often. But any parent can tell you that this is not always so. When your child is screaming that he wants frosted cake instead of carrot sticks, you have to go into Thoughtful Mode. “Hmmm… well, Little Johnny hasn’t really had a sugary treat in the past week, so no it’s not going to hurt him to have a slice of cake for snack today, but I don’t want to reward the screaming, either. I want him to state his wants calmly. Now what?”
That’s an example of love in dealing with a child. It’s the time and attention and focus on welfare.
That’s going to look different when dealing with an adult, of course. You’re Not Da Mama there. (Yes, yes, I know. I referred to myself as Mama Java earlier. Do as I say, not as I do. Jeez!) Thankfully, blissfully, it is not your job to teach an adult with whom you have a relationship how to be a grownup. But, the time, focus, attention and learning are the same and come from the same place.
It doesn’t really matter the relationship or the form. The only reason that people do get up in arms about the whole poly thing really is a cultural hang-up about sex. Your relationships as a poly person really aren’t harder. You’re just romantically involved with more people. A monogamous person who is focused on being loving in his relationship is going to go to the same trouble you are and is going to have the same issues with learning to communicate well, and is going to have to go through the same process in focusing on being a truly loving, involved parent, spouse or friend.