We live in a world that teaches us that there is only one possible way to do relationships. On this point the world is wrong, but it is so fucking loud. Every movie, every TV show, every love song (yes I know there are exceptions, it’s almost every but darn close enough) tells us loud and clear that we can have one and only one romantic and sexual partner or we are just the worst person ever.
As much as we can unpack that message in our heads, read The Ethical Slut or More Than Two and really get it, these messages are imprinted long and deep and it can take a long time to shut them up.
Then there are poly/open relationship related online resources. Facebook and reddit have some great communities around open relationships (and some awful ones too). These help immensely. They do tend to suffer a specific problem though. People tend to only post the big stuff, often people post about their poly/open related problems. Which is smart. it’s a good place to do it, it can be very helpful, but it can leave the impression that poly/open people have a lot of problems.
Sometimes people post about peak moments or new successes, and those are great and can give hope to people who are struggling. But most of life is not peak moments. (I have a lot of peak moments [sex parties are my hobby] , but not every week let alone every day)
The more people can start to really feel what poly feels like when it’s normal, the easier it is to accept it as normal. This helps let go of a lot of shame and anxiety and awkwardness in people for whom the transition from monogamy to poly or open relationships is challenging. This is why I encourage everyone who comes through Open Relationship University to attend any poly or open social events that they can. Facebook and Meetup are good first places to look for groups in your area.
The normalizing effect of hanging around people who are already poly, who have been doing it for a while, maybe they are in established relationships, maybe they aren’t but they still get it. They can have conversations about having sex with their wife’s boyfriend without somebody’s head exploding. So much less blood to clean up! For real though, if the mention of an open relationship freaks someone out the depth of the conversation is lost. When people can talk about it as normal without some existential freak-out then they have the spaciousness to get into new levels of realization.
Normalization. It is a great friend to people new to open relationships.[Note from editor Michon Neal of PostModernWoman.com “While I detest the entire idea of “normal” (maybe simply present it as…hm “healthy”, “legitimate”, and “alternative” all present problems as well… maybe just “more of the mundane”), this is a fantastic point.”]
So to that end, tonight has been a normal poly night for us. My wife came home from work. One of my long term partners, Stellar had had a horrible very bad day and came over and vented some and snuggled some. My wife gave her a shirt that was new and nice but too small. (Stellar is petite.) She was braless and changed right there. I made some lame joke about seeing her tits, as if Gloria would be jealous. (a weak “Oh my, scandalous” level of witticism.) Gloria played along but it was too lame for Stellar to get at first. Then Stellar joked about getting hand-me-down clothes being a great side benefit of having a metamore.
Gloria and I wanted to go to the gym, Stellar and I made out a little bit as a goodbye. We were able to leave some pasta sauce simmering when we left for the gym because Stellar could turn it off on her way out. By the time we got home she was off to her next thing.
A normal everyday Tuesday evening with a wife, a husband, and a long term poly partner. #winning