“Every time I think of you I feel a shot right through with a bolt of blue.
It’ no problem of mine, but it’s a problem I find, living a life that I can’t leave behind.”–New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
So, apologies in the delay with this update. I was telling Vixen’s husband the other night that I really need to try to put new stuff up every 48 to 72 hours. Part of the problem is that I’ve discovered that I can’t crank out a meaningful post in under two hours. It’s so important that I put out good material, and I got to get it right the first time.
So, as I promised in my last blog entry, we’re going to do a follow-up on Unicorn Hunting. If you remember from the story I relayed about “Gwen”, an existing couple looking to open their relationship to polyamory is quite common, yet also one of the more complex situations in which to start your poly journey.
So before I go any further, I wanted to say that this isn’t going to be an “Intro to Unicorn Hunting post” (hence the title). There’s so much stuff out on the Internet about the topic that I don’t want to continue to beat a dead… unicorn. Instead, I’m going to position my two favorite articles on the subject. I recommend you visit Unicorns-R-Us for a great primer followed by The Most Skipped Step which covers a lot of what I’ll be discussing today. Maybe stop what you’re doing right now and go check them out. It’s cool, I’ll wait.
Back? Okay then, let’s roll! While Gwen’s situation wasn’t Unicorn Hunting, it did carry many of the aspects that make Unicorn Hunting problematic, namely the prioritization of one relationship over another. Now, while there are legitimate reasons why one relationship should take priority over another under certain circumstances, we’re not going to delve into that here (*Makes note* Do future post on types of hierarchy). Instead, I want to talk about “Entanglement”, why it happens, why it’s so hard to overcome, and why it’s absolutely crucial you do so in order to be successful in not just your poly, but really any relationship you might have, be it professional, familial, or platonic.
Even before Panda and I embraced polyamory, our relationship was always… atypical. To us, it made perfect sense. To others around us, particularly my family, it was unusual. I remember being at a baseball game with my father when I got a text from my sister. She had seen that Panda was out and about with one of her partners the night before while I was home alone by myself. Now, I’m a World-Class Introvert and I will GLADLY take a quiet night home alone with pizza, TV, and my cats every now and then. I need that time recharge my social batteries. Sometimes, the way Panda says “I love you” is just by giving me some time to be by myself.
Anyway, my sister, in her usual “beat around the bush” way was asking questions like “How often does Panda go out with friends?” and “Are you sure you’re okay just being by yourself?” While innocent enough, what she was really asking was “Is your marriage okay?”
It’s really weird, if we stop to think about it, how one person, spending the night on the town with a friend, is viewed as “There’s trouble at home”. At least Panda was out with one of her female partners. Can you imagine the blow-back I would have gotten is she was out with one of her male partners??? It’s almost as if there’s this societal expectation that, once you partner up, that person is expected to be not just your top priority, but your ONLY priority. It’s one thing to voice concerns if you see someone engaging in time away from their partner for a romantic tryst. It’s something completely else to say “How dare you have a social life outside your life-mate!!!”
This, my friends, is what I consider to be THE HARDEST part of the poly journey. Toxic Monogamy has many problems, and the most visual is the idea that two people morph into one person, devoid of individual thought or feeling. Like a joint Facebook account, two people see, act, and think as one person, and it is just so unhealthy. When exploring polyamory, it manifests itself in unhealthy habits as insisting that you date as a couple, placing unnecessary rules around “secondary” relationships designed to protect the “primary” relationship (this is what Gwen was running into), and arguably the most dangerous, it stunts emotional growth and prevents us from blossoming into the beautiful flowers we were meant to be.
I’ve often said that there’s a big difference between “Simple” and “Easy”. Running a marathon is simple. You merely put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. It doesn’t get much less complicated than that. As someone who has run a few 5Ks and thought he was going to die during each and every one, I can attest that running a marathon is not easy.
Disentanglement, the process of “undoing” entanglement, is the same way. You just… do stuff that doesn’t involve your partner. Go to the bar to watch a game with your buddies. Go eat a meal at a restaurant, by yourself if you have to. Just leave the FUCKING HOUSE and don’t let your partner come with you! It’s not easy because of the emotional obligations we feel we have built up and have been ingrained into us from our mono-normative society.
I remember the exact moment I broke out of this cycle. I was over at a former partner’s house one night for our weekly Date Night. We were sitting on her couch, her head in my lap, half asleep. I looked at her adoringly, and I just started to cry. Like, not the “tears gently drip out your eyes” crying. This was full blown “someone get me a tissue to get the snot out of my nose” crying. She asked me what was wrong and I said ” I think I love you as much as Panda”. I felt like I had betrayed my wife by showing the same level of care to someone other than her. She stared back at me lovingly and replied “Does this mean that you love her any less?”
It was then that it hit me. I was living under the impression that my heart was a finite box that held a certain amount care, and I had to portion it out the best I could. I was afraid my love for this partner meant less love for others. It didn’t. I wasn’t rearranging room in my heart that night. My heart had just gotten bigger. Now, keep in mind, this was a full THREE YEARS into my poly journey, so believe me when I say that this is not an overnight process.
As someone who has been happily married for fourteen years, I get it. A long-standing relationship is a thing of beauty that one wants to protect. We’re taught that bringing a new romantic relationship into our lives can only end in pain. I watch a lot of Hallmark Christmas Movies and True Crime. I’ve seen it. However, we have to ask ourselves “What is it we are trying to protect?” Is it a fulfilling relationship, or “the idea” of a fulfilling relationship? Are we more enamored with the our partner because of who they are, or because they are “ours”?
No one can “steal” someone away from you. If someone wants to leave, they’ll leave, and if you have to fight to keep them, are they really worth keeping?