More Than Two Chapters 4 & 5

Note: While this outline will give you some things to talk about actually reading More Than Two is probably going to be incredibly valuable. I have outlined and asked questions about the things I have found interesting and thought-provoking, but you may find different things more helpful to yourself.

This was made for use by The Denver Nontraditional Relationships Meetup. Feel free to use it for other groups or for your own use as long as you credit Poly Talk. Going through it with a partner or your polycule might be especially helpful!

If this tool has been helpful please consider donating to our group so I can create similar tools and pay for Meetup fees. Google Wallet: polypretzels@gmail.com or Patreon: www.Patreon.com/PolyTalk

Benefits of Polyamory

Poly is rewarding, but developing the skills you need is hard work.

Has polyamory been easier or harder than what you anticipated?

Has anyone got to the point where openness, honesty, and communication are more reflex than work?

Benefits you beyond the relationship. Skills will improve life independent of relationships you’re in.

There aren’t stages. You don’t suddenly reach a point where you are good enough to be poly. Has anyone felt like they aren’t good enough to be poly or haven’t reached certain levels?

Recommend psychologist for certain mental health issues- anxiety, depression, etc.

Necessary to question/ challenge yourself to know what you want from relationships. Without this, you end up with a relationship that reflects what the world thinks is right for you, not what is truly right for you

Self Awareness

Owning your self-awareness are key.

How/ with what have you had a hard time owning your shit? How do you look at yourself without getting defensive?

What are your relationship needs? How do you communicate these to others? How do you stay responsible for your needs when they aren’t being met?

When you are looking to have your needs met how do you keep from treating people like need fulfillment machines?

Personal Limitations

Ease in. Many of us are idealists and want our idea of our poly utopia NOW before we grow enough to be able to handle those situations.

Don’t feel like you have to be the perfect poly person without jealousy or insecurity. Knowing your limitations is necessary and makes you a better poly person.

What limitations have you encountered? How have you taken care of yourself when this has happened?

Don’t build walls around fear and jealousy.

Discrimination

May run into judgement and discrimination. What have you run into? How did you handle it? How did you keep from internalizing these issues others had with your relationship?

Saying “don’t give others the power to hurt you” can belittle the struggles of someone’s closest friends and family shaming them for who they are.

Self-Efficacy

How do you keep from turning the thought “I did something bad” from turning into “I am bad?” How do you feel worthy of love when you mess up?

Self efficacy- one example is remaining calm in new scary situations and believing you can do it

Small successes are important:

Such as staying home alone while your partner is on a date/ talk to your partner about the jealousy you’re feeling/ coming to a discussion to talk about poly and your feelings. How do you celebrate your small successes? What ones have you done? It helps you realize that you can do this?

Do you have a poly role model? How do they keep you positive that you can do this?

Being poly and developing the skills we need is a commitment in itself. It gets better. It gets easier. Courage is important.

How do you remain courageous through your relationship? What strategies do you use to not get hurt? Are they helping or hurting?

Polyamory has a way of illuminating weaknesses in ourselves and in relationships.

Security

Seeking security can lead to placing rules over your partner or to agree to the controls they place on us. Lasting sense of security comes from knowing your partner can leave but chooses to stay.

Insecurity is not something you are born with; it is not a personality trait. How does this insecurity hold you back?

Security is something we practice and get good at- whether it is practicing self doubt and becoming adept at insecurity or practicing confidence and self assurance and becoming adept at security. What thoughts and behaviors do you practice that contribute your security? Insecurity?

Guide to Being a Secure Person

  1. Understand you have a choice
  2. Act like someone who is self confident- even if you aren’t
  3. Practice feeling secure

Has polyamory helped you become more secure or shed a light on your insecurities?

This is a better exercise for when you are on your own: write a list about the good things about yourself.

Fear of Loss

Commitment and fear of losing your partner are only sometimes related. Often in monogamy feelings of loss come from fears of being alone more than loss of that specific partner. In reality, we do lose everything we love in our lives- through death or life. Be happy for what you have and focus about the now.

Beginning couples try to keep everything about their relationship from changing with rules. But polyamory will change them and their relationship. Accept that changes will come. Just communicate through them.

We can feel entitled to have partners experience new things with us.

Fear of being alone can lead us to be irrational. Do you practice being alone? Fear can lead us to resent our partners for doing things that make us scared to be alone. How do you stop yourself from being a part of this fear- resentment cycle?

Love Scarcity vs. Abundance

People who tend to think of love as scarce thing don’t see there as enough love to around. People who follow the abundance model see opportunities for love as endless. Do you tend to think of love as scarce or abundant? What we believe is self fulfilling. How do you remind yourself of the abundance of love?

Believing in love scarcity keeps us in relationships that aren’t good for us. Has this happened to you?

Confirmation bias- the tendency to notice things that confirm our already held beliefs and discard what does not fit into our beliefs.

Flexibility is key to lasting relationships. Must be willing to face discomfort. Discomfort is inevitable in self growth. Avoidance of discomfort in relationships can keep us from being ethical. It disempowers our partners.

Sometimes you have to make choices that are minimizing issues rather than maximizing gains. These decisions can be hard to make. Integrity is the best guide. How do you make these choices?

Compassion

  1. People in the relationship are more important than the relationship.
  2. Don’t treat people as things.

(1) can be hard for couples. How do you keep this in mind when deciding what is best for you both? Have you made decisions that favored the relationship first? How did that turn out?

Compassion is not something you are; is is something you practice. It is not kindness, politeness, or a lack of boundaries. Have you mixed up compassion and not having boundaries? Why is it actually more compassionate to have boundaries?

You don’t have to be a poly perfectionist. Have compassion towards yourself too. It’s normal to have insecurity and jealousy.

Expectations

Check them. Do they present themselves as an entitlement to other’s feelings? We cannot have expectations for others without their consent. For example, expecting your partner to tell you before they have sex with someone else but not discussing this with them- then getting upset is not fair.

Polyamory Survey Results- Part 1

General

In this survey, 172 polyamorous people were surveyed. In general, people were reached through Facebook support groups and through sharing with their friends. Obviously, there are limitations of a survey that only reaches 172 people, but the results are interesting to consider nonetheless.

Participants varied from 18 to 56 years old, but responses weren’t accepted from people younger than 18 due to the sexually explicit nature of some of the questions. The age with the most answers was 26 years old. Most responders to the survey were in their 20’s or 30’s.

If you would like to answer the survey and haven’t done so please do so here. This will be periodically updated with additional answers and will only get more illuminating and reliable.

Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

The polyamorous community seems to be far more diverse in many ways than the general population. Gender identity and sexual orientation make this clear. 96.6% of the general population considers themselves straight, but less than half of polyamorous people surveyed consider themselves straight. It is their turn to be the minority! 54.1%, the majority of the polyamorous community surveyed are polysexual, attracted to more than one gender. 23% of people have witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation in the polyamorous community despite the diversity.

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In the polyamorous community surveyed, 82.5% are cisgendered and consider themselves strictly a  man or woman. Even with these large numbers or minority gender identities, 13 % people have witnessed some form of gender identity expression in the polyamory community.

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-12-10-23-amPolyamory Basics

More people new to polyamory responded to the survey than people who had been polyamorous for a while. This could be due to where the participants were found, online support groups because people new to polyamory are more likely to seek out support. It could also be due to the fact that more responders to the survey were younger and therefore have been dating for less time.

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Some people consider polyamory to be choice while others consider it to be an orientation. People who see it as an orientation explain that polyamory is just a part of who they are, just like their sexual orientation. It was surprising to find that the majority of people who responded felt that polyamory was an ingrained part of who they are.

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Some people consider polyamory the best choice for them currently, but that they could be monogamous again in the future under the right circumstances. However, 58.7% of people who are polyamorous are unlikely to become monogamous in the future. Only 7.6% of people would definitely be in a monogamous relationship. Most seem to be here to stay.

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Frustratingly, many people incorrectly conflate polyamory and cheating. Most people who are polyamorous are not cheating and never have cheated. In fact, only 40% of polyamorous people have ever cheated. Some studies suggest that about 71% of the general married population have cheated. Cheating seems to be a hard statistic to measure as people are unlikely to admit they have cheated. The important thing to take away from this is that polyamorous people don’t seem to be more likely to be unfaithful like everyone assumes.

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Coming out, as anything not in line with the majority of people, can be difficult. Polyamory is no different. Only 15.1% of polyamorous people surveyed are out in every aspect of life. 5.2% of polyamorous people surveyed were not out to anyone- family, friends, work, or close friends. They are only out to their partners (god I hope so).

Participants who were out were far more likely to experience discrimination for being polyamorous.

Religion

A lot of polyamorous people have to deal with the assumption that polyamory is the same as polygamy that is associated with religion. Forget the idea that all the poly people are Mormons. Most polyamorous people, 85.5% in fact, are actually atheists or agnostic.

Sex

Safe sex is especially important when people are having sex with multiple partners. Experts suggest getting tested every 6 months. Our survey suggests that the polyamorous community could do a bit better on staying safe and healthy.

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BDSM & Kink

85%  of people surveyed are interested or actively into BDSM or kink. People surveyed reported discrimination within the community for both being into kink/ BDSM as well as being vanilla.

Polyamory Community Problems

The polyamorous community is great in many ways, but there are many things that can be improved upon. I think the first step to doing so is to listen to the problems people have encountered and attempt to improve upon them. For example, racism was reported by 20% of the people who answered the survey. Polyamory is often critiqued as being for rich, white people and I think this statistic confirms that we need to work harder to include minorities and consider racism.

There are some ways of doing polyamory that are inherently sexist. 41% of people reported encountering misogyny. Polyamory as a whole is weakened when it is used to oppress women instead of empower them.

I have written on ageism in the polyamorous community. 40% of people also reported this experience within the polyamorous community.

Ableism and inaccessibility are things that able-bodied people often forget in communities. 11% of people have witnessed ableism and 13% reported inaccessibility at events within the polyamorous community. It is important for people who plan events in the polyamorous community to consider accessibility and make it a priority. The community is stronger when you include everyone.

I have also written about couple privilege and couple-centrism within the polyamorous community. The majority of people- 63% have encountered couple-centrism in their polyamorous community.

Discrimination

There is a National Coming Out Day on October 11. Many polyamorous people began to come out on this day. In response, they were chastised by the LGBTQIAA+ community. One argument was that polyamorous people were never discriminated against so taking their day was inappropriate. That is an argument for a different day, but I do want to address the claim that polyamorous people are not discriminated against. These survey responses gave many examples of proof otherwise.

There were multiple accounts of people saying they lost their jobs, friends, and even their children. People also reported being denied housing and being evicted. In fact, I have had the personal experience of being kicked out by a landlord because I am bisexual and polyamorous. Additionally, people from the survey reported discrimination and losing their family, friends, and significant others. If having their children taken away or being denied a place to live, specifically because they are polyamorous, isn’t discrimination I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

Relationship Anarchy

Definition

Relationship anarchy is one of the (roughly) four types of polyamory. It can also refer to a type of monogamy, but we are going to focus on the polyamorous relationship anarchy. Basically, relationship anarchy means that only the people within the relationship dictate what they want that relationship to look like. Societal norms for relationships are questioned and often discarded.

Philosophy

If this definition seems a bit vague- it is because it is. There aren’t rules or guidelines to follow; after all, it is anarchy. People within the relationships dictate how they want the relationships to look. Therefore, each and every RA relationship is going to look different. It wouldn’t be true to say “there is no wrong way to do relationship anarchy.” It would be wrong to not communicate about this being your relationship style or be honest throughout any and all relationships.

Couple Privilege

In nonmonogamous relationships, an existing marriage or relationship often is rewarded certain privileges. Often a lot of rules for dating focus on protecting the existing relationship at the expense of all other relationships and everyone else’s wellbeing. Read more about it here.

One of the focuses of many people’s relationship anarchy is eliminating couple privilege. Many of the rules that are created out of couple’s privilege dictate relationships outside their own. Because relationship anarchy is about only the people in the relationship dictating how they want their relationship to look these rules don’t really mesh with rules that come out of couple’s privilege.

Friendship & Platonic Relationships

In our society, there is a lot more emphasis and importance put on romantic relationships than friendships. One of the appeals of RA to many people is that friendships can be focused on and made as important as they want. Sex isn’t the end all be all to relationships. If the relationship anarchist wants to spend most of their time in their friendship or if they want their friendship to be the closest, most important relationship in their life they can choose that.

Practice

Not letting people outside of your relationship dictate your relationship doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considerate towards our metamours. I strive to be considerate and think of my metamour’s feelings. However, I no longer enter into relationships with people who allow their other partners to make decisions for our relationship. I won’t date people who give their partners veto power, make rules about what their partner can feel, make rules about what their partner can do sexually, etc.

Dating only people who value their autonomy as much as I do means that my partner and I are the only people making decisions within our relationship and it really helps to uncomplicate things.

I currently have a nesting partner, live with partners, and have a few casual partners. None of them are my primaries or secondaries and none of my relationships look the same.

My nesting partner is also a relationship anarchist. He and I share a room because right now it is right for us and our relationship, both our financial situations, and with my disability. We spend the most time together and are the most serious, but we have discussed that we are both okay with our relationship changing and embracing the fluidity of our relationship. We’ve discussed that this might not always be the case.

It is hard to imagine or talk about our relationship ending because it is currently not what either of us wants. However, we also both agree that ending our romantic relationship would not necessarily be a failure of our relationship and that a breakup doesn’t have to devalue that relationship. This leaves room for both of us to date others with freedom, let those relationships grow organically, and allows our relationship to grow. It is what we prefer to placing limits on each other’s relationships.

I have a few undefined relationships with people who I don’t see often and still mean a lot to me. I think on average I value friendship and nonromantic parts of relationships more than most people. That is why relationship anarchy is perfect for me.

The Danger Of Using STI Risk To Control Others

STI Risks

One of the most common questions polyamorous people hear is: but what about STIs? It is a valid question, but when most of what people think about STIs it is hard to sort out fact from fear. For example, people think that polyamorous people are far more likely to have STIs than their monogamous peers. In fact, this isn’t true. The reason for this lower rate can not be definitively identified, but I think it probably has a lot to do with the openness with how many of us discuss safe sex and frequent testing. Many polyamorous people, on the whole, are more likely to get tested more often, learn about their risks, and explicitly discuss STIs and risks before having sex.

It is absolutely understandable for people to want to minimize their risks for STIs. However, it is important to do so without basing risk control on stigmas and misinformation. It is also important that steps towards safer sex do not become unhealthy and controlling.

Boundaries vs. Control

Boundaries focus on yourself and what things you are comfortable participating in once you evaluate potential risks. Control focuses on what things you are comfortable with your partner participating in and here within lies the problem. In life, all you can truly control is how you yourself react to situations. While people commonly try to control and manipulate other’s behavior we cannot healthily control our partner’s behavior in relationships.

In terms of STIs, the key is to focus on your comforts and limitations. Before the time comes when sex might happen you should have (at least) the following questions answered:

  • Are you comfortable fluid bonding (not using condoms) with anyone? How many people?
  • What would someone need to do to for you to be comfortable fluid bonding with them?
  • Are you comfortable having safe sex with someone who has an STI? What about sleeping with someone who sleeps with someone with an STI? How many degrees away would they need to be away before you felt comfortable sleeping with them?
  • How many months can go by before people need to be tested for you to be comfortable sleeping with them?
  • In the case of accidental pregnancy, what are you comfortable doing?

Then make the decision of whether to sleep with someone based on your own boundaries instead of dating someone and then trying to control their behavior to fit what you are comfortable. There is a big difference between “I feel comfortable sleeping with people who do _____” and “You have to do ______ or I won’t sleep with you anymore.” One is asserting your boundaries and the other is trying to control your partner’s behavior.

More Than Two Chapters 1-3

Note: While this outline will give you some things to talk about actually reading More Than Two is probably going to be incredibly valuable. I have outlined and asked questions about the things I have found interesting and thought-provoking, but you may find different things more helpful to yourself.

This was made for use by The Denver Nontraditional Relationships Meetup. Feel free to use it for other groups or for your own use as long as you credit Poly Talk. Going through it with a partner or your polycule might be especially helpful!

If this tool has been helpful please consider donating to our group so I can create similar tools and pay for Meetup fees. Google Wallet: polypretzels@gmail.com or Patreon: www.Patreon.com/PolyTalk

Part 1: Starting Out & Ethical Polyamory

Polyamory vocab arose so we wouldn’t have to use the same jargon as wifeswapping, cheating, and swinging. Do you agree that it is important that these terms are different to prevent more confusion with people thinking that polyamory is the same as cheating or swinging?

  • Compersion- A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.
  • NRE- New relationship energy
  • Wibbles- A brief or fleeting feeling of jealousy
  • OSO- Other significant other (metamour)

Are there any poly related terms you want to discuss the meaning of? This is a great resource to learn the lingo.

Themes:

1. Trust– A lot in polyamory comes down to: how much do I trust my partner? 

2. Courage– Confronting fears and going against societal norms.

  • Talking about feelings when afraid.
  • Giving partner freedom to explore relationships when we fear abandonment.
  • Challenging ourselves to step out of comfort zone.

3. Abundance– plenty of people to love & endless love to give.

4. Ethics– treating people with compassion, integrity, & respect no matter what our relationship.

5. Empowerment– to shape relationships, to ask for what we need.

“[Polyamory] means having multiple loving often committed relationships at the same time by mutual agreement, with honesty and clarity.”

What are your thoughts on this definition that goes farther than the standard “many loves” definition?

Why is it a problem when people confuse polyamory with polygamy, polygyny, or polyandry?

Commitment isn’t commitment to sexual fidelity. It is a commitment to making the relationship work. How does this shift in commitment change the way we think about marriage vows? When commitment is usually so centered around fidelity, how do we need to shift our understanding for this new definition? What does commitment mean to you and your relationship(s)?

 

The happily ever after fairy tale is a myth

  • People are not static
  • One person cannot always meet all our needs
  • Sometimes there is more than one “the one”

That doesn’t mean romance doesn’t exist or isn’t important. In what ways can we be more realistic about love but still maintain “fairy tale” level romance?

Some benefits to polyamory:

  • More financial support
  • More emotional support
  • Splits the responsibilities in parenting/ housework so each person has less expected from them
  • Having the amount of sex you want doesn’t depend on just one other person

What other benefits to being polyamorous have you come across?

MTT suggests these are some reasons to be polyamorous:

  • It is part of who you are (orientation)
  • It seems more honest
  • It makes us rethink control and property
  • This answer shouldn’t be “because of my partner”

Why are you polyamorous?

Downsides to polyamory

  • Can be complicated. Complication is not proof these relationships are wrong.
  • You will grow whether you want to or not.
  • Polyamory is not safe. Vulnerability is painful. Rules are not the answer.
  • Polyamory means giving things up. Lose time & attention.
  • Polyamory changes things.
  • People don’t always get along. You can’t make people like each other.

Polyamory is not an easy fix to relationships. Are these struggles worth it for you personally? Are you at the right stage in your life to take on these struggles? Which have you found the most difficult?

Relationships don’t meet a blueprint- they are as individual as the people in them. This means that people have to be flexible. How do you make goals for your relationships but still allow the flexibility relationships need to grow? Have you encountered the need to be flexible in your relationships? How did you adapt to new struggles?

MTT Suggests There Are Two Axis:

 

Relationship Anarchy   

free- agent →

community oriented   

Prioritize decisions by the needs of the group

 

Solo polyamory            

Solo →

entwined                

cohabitate, share finances, etc.

 

Are you more of a free agent or community oriented? Do you feel like relationship decisions should be made with only the people in the relationships in mind or with the polycule in mind? Are you more solo or more entwined? Do you like to maintain complete autonomy in everyday life or to share responsiblities and spaces with your polycule? Why do you prefer this?

Relationship Structures:

  • Triad- relationship with three people involved
  • V- triad where two people do not date
  • Quad- relationship with four people

What type of relationship structure has been your favorite? What type are you looking for and why?

Have you encountered an attitude of “I forbid you to have anyone meet your sexual needs but me, but I refuse to meet your sexual needs?” What other needs does this attitude apply to?

Ethical Polyamory

Pokemon poly- dating people for the needs they can meet rather than the whole person they are.

How can you use polyamory to fix this problem and get your needs met while still treating the people you date as people?

What has been the right number of total partners for you? How many is too many? How did you come to these conclusions?

Dunbar’s # says that humans can have only 150 stable social relationships at a time (family, friends, and lovers). Is this number higher or lower than what you would think? 

Flexibility is key. What most people think is important at the beginning changes the longer they are poly. How does what you want now differ from what you wanted when you first started polyamory? What rules did you have then that you no longer do? 

Polyamory has a steep learning curve. It gets easier as time goes on. How long did this harder time of learning take? What advice do you have for others in their steep learning curve phase?

You will hear “there is no right way to do poly.” This is true, but there are plenty of wrong ways and ways that people experienced will tell you don’t tend to work. Listen to the wisdom of people more experienced before getting defensive. What are some of the wrong ways (for you or in general) of doing polyamory? What do you wish you knew when you started polyamory? What mistakes have you made that others can learn from?

Ethical polyamory- being willing to look at your actions and the effect they have on other people. If someone says you are hurting them LISTEN and think about what you can do to limit this. Be willing to have convos without getting defensive and accusatory. How can you set aside the tendency to get defensive when someone tells you you’ve hurt them? What listening skills are important to master?

You have the right to want what you want, but not to get what you want. 

Rights

  • The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship
  • Don’t treat people as things

Relationship Bill Of Rights

Consent: your body, your mind, your choices

  • You do not have the right consent to what other people, including your partners, do. You can share what you are comfortable with, but they have the agency to do what they want.
  • Honesty is vital. For example, not telling someone you have HIV before helping with them is a huge violation of consent.
  • Communicatie dealbreakers. When you don’t you deny them knowing that a choice is being made about them.
  • Lies of omission aren’t acceptable when consent is involved.

Consent applies to things outside just sexual encounters. What aspects of relationships can these ideas about consent be applied to? Why can you never consent for another person, sexually or otherwise?

Is Solo Polyamory Ableist?

I can’t imagine a world where what I am about to say isn’t controversial, but it is time to get this off my chest. Solo polyamory is often inaccessible and ableist. For those of you who don’t know, ableism is the discrimination of people who are not able- bodied. It is rampant in our society and even more so in some groups.

I’m an extremely independent person, so when I figured out polyamory was a thing and I wasn’t alone I looked into solo poly online groups. I was upset to find that by many solo poly people’s definitions I could never be one of them.

If you ask solo polyamorous people what solo poly looks like to them, the answer obviously varies. Some of the answers include not marrying, not raising kids together, not sharing finances, and almost always- living alone. I have never been able to live alone and I never will. I frequently faint and have high risk of a blood clot and stroke so it is too dangerous for me to live alone. Doctors regularly tell me I can’t live alone. And don’t try to suggest one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up buttons” as you usually have to be conscious to press a button.

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To so many solo poly people living alone is a big part of their solo poly identity. I am so envious when they share pictures of their single apartment talking about how they are having alone time. I’m envious that they have a space that is theirs and only theirs. They throw it around, and like so many ableist actions, they have no idea what a privilege they have in living alone. They don’t know how lucky they are and it hurts.

After so many posts and so many discussions about living alone and how living alone is essential to their freedom I came to the conclusion: Many people’s version of solo polyamory is simply inaccessible to disabled people like me.

I later noticed the posts on not sharing finances. So many people also considered this a cornerstone of their solo poly identity. But what about the people who can’t work because they are disabled? Disability pays out far less than you think. Medical bills are the most common reason for bankruptcy in the US. On my own, many months I have to choose between food and my medication or my medication and rent.

If I combine finances with someone I love it creates a buffer between me and starvation, between me and homelessness. The tables are stacked against me and I fight so hard- but I can’t do it alone. I need help. It is the sad reality of living in a country that doesn’t believe healthcare is a human right.

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Their take on what solo polyamory means to them is accessible to anyone and not ableist- way to go Kimchi Cuddles!

I am about to get kicked off my parent’s insurance and my best option for getting health insurance is to marry my partner who gets it through his job. In addition, if something ever happens to me (which is more likely with my conditions) having a spouse rather than a partner means a lot in medical decisions and visitations. I never saw myself getting married and now find myself rushed towards it due to circumstance. I love my partner, but I never felt like I needed or wanted a piece of paper declaring that.

So is solo polyamory on the whole ableist? No, but too much of the discussions and attitudes are. Not everyone can afford to or safely live alone. Not everyone can be financially independent. Not everyone can stay unwed. Putting so much emphasis on living alone, independent finances, and not getting married as a part of solo polyamory means excluding people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. It means that not everyone who wants to be solo poly is able to.

While there is not necessarily explicit solo poly gatekeeping, I couldn’t help but get the message from solo poly groups- this world isn’t meant for you. Discussions of solo polyamory don’t include people like you. You don’t belong here.

And that is why I consider myself a relationship anarchist.

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Freaking Out About Being Flaked On? Think Again.

Planning With A Chronic Illness

Online dating is hard and being flaked on is supremely annoying. That last minute change especially annoys us all to no end. Let’s take a look at it from the other side. Imagine having to constantly make that change or having your life be so variable you can’t even make plans in advance. Imagine having to constantly change your plans when you do actually make them because of how you are feeling. It is incredibly difficult and unimaginably frustrating to the person having to “flake.”

When someone asks me to go to a concert I have to predict how my ridiculous variable health status will change by that time. I have to predict if I have enough energy to make it to the concert, stand in line, or if I can even enjoy myself sometimes months in advance. Even simpler plans have huge obstacles because I literally never know how I will feel.

There is no easy fix. Low-key hangouts or dates run amok too. Sometimes I grab dinner with someone and then end up getting stuck puking in the bathroom all night. Other times people come over to watch a movie and I end up fainting (turns out dates aren’t too fun when someone is unconscious- who knew???). When these situations happen I feel guilty, embarrassed, and frustrated. Having no control of your own body is infuriating. When I cancel last minute it is because I am trying to keep my date from feeling awkward and frustrated as well. My attempts to do so usually have the opposite effect. Often they end up frustrated and I awkwardly apologize for something I have no control over.

How To Find The Real Flakes

There are plenty of people out there in the dating world who are genuinely inconsiderate flakes. But what about those of us who have to “flake” and do the best we can to fix it? When you make “flaking” a deal breaker you are shutting out people like me who are trying to date with a disability, as a parent with a sick child, or anyone who needs a mental health evening. The only way to get to know if someone is going through all that is to give them a chance- and actually get to know them.

You might ask, how do I tell the difference in people who have something legitimately come up and the inconsiderate jerks? Well, when I flake on people I feel bad and I try to reach out to them to plan the next thing. I try to explain the situation (my illness) and explain why I had to flake. I let the person know explicitly that I am interested in them. If someone wants to try again then I gladly work with them.

“Sorry I had to cancel last night. I was super bummed because I am excited to get to know you better. Are you free anytime after next Tuesday?”

Use The Free Time

Are you seriously telling me you can’t use that one night they flaked on you? I know very few people, especially polyamorous people, who don’t need a night to themselves. So use it! It sucks they had to cancel, but prioritize some alone time.

If you can’t be understanding about things coming up then I don’t want to date you anyway.  

Planning Privilege

Healthy people have the privilege of not having to constantly change their plans and cancel. If they plan to go to a concert three months from now they will likely be able to go. If they plan a date next week you will be able to go. Not all of us are as lucky to be so able- especially those of us with disabilities. Writing off everyone who has a disability, is a parent, or needs mental health days is going to keep you from meeting some amazing people. So give someone the benefit of the doubt and don’t write them off for canceling.