Dan Savage column: "Poly Wants"
Many alternative newspapers
The "Savage Love" advice column is all polyamory this week, with letters from people who have blundered into all too typical hierarchical-poly messups.
Such problems are why some polyfolks refuse to get involved with a newbie primary couple, or maybe any primary couple — because in a pinch, all the couple's talk of their commitment to compassion, communication, honesty, and the Rickert-Veaux basis of ethics, don't treat people as things, may go out the window.
I'm a 25-year-old woman currently in a poly relationship with a married man roughly 20 years my senior. This has by far been the best relationship I've ever had. However, something has me a bit on edge. [His wife said] she didn't want to go [to the restaurant I thought she'd like] because she didn't want "sloppy seconds." It made me feel dirty. Additionally, the way he brushed this off means this isn't the first time. I go out of my way to show him places I think they would like to go together. ... I hesitate to bring this up, because when I have needs or concerns, they label me as difficult or needy. ...
Joe Newton / The Stranger
—Treated With Outrage
I'm having a hard time reconciling these two statements, TWO: "This has by far been the best relationship I've ever had" and "when I have needs or concerns, they label me as difficult or needy." I suppose it's possible all your past relationships have been so bad that your best-relationship-ever bar is set tragically low. But taking a partner's needs and concerns seriously is one of the hallmarks of a good relationship, to say nothing of a "best relationship ever."
...It's a really bad sign that your boyfriend's wife compared eating in a restaurant you visited with him to fucking a hole that someone else just fucked, i.e., "sloppy seconds." ... Some people are poly under duress (PUD), i.e., they agreed to open up a marriage or relationship not because it's what they want, but because they were given an ultimatum: We're open/poly or we're over. ... PUDs [often] engage in small acts of sabotage to signal their unhappiness — their perfectly understandable unhappiness. ... The most common form of PUD sabotage? Making their primary partner's secondary partner(s) feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. ...
My wife said she didn't care who I slept with soon after we met. ... After a couple years of playing together with others in private and in clubs, she said she wanted to open our relationship. I got a girlfriend, had fun until the new relationship energy (NRE) wore off, and ended things. Then ... I got a new girlfriend. ...
Here's the problem: Last night, my wife confessed to me that being in an open relationship was making her miserable. ... I told my wife that I would break up with my girlfriend immediately. ... But my wife told me not to break up with my girlfriend. I don't want to string my girlfriend along and tell her everything is fine — but my wife, who doesn't want to be poly any more, is telling me not to break up with my girlfriend.
—Dude Isn't Content Knowing Priority Is Crushingly Sad
Your wife may want you to dump your girlfriend without having to feel responsible for your girlfriend's broken heart, DICKPICS, so she tells you she's miserable and doesn't want to be poly anymore, and then tells you not to end things. Or maybe this is a test: Dumping a girlfriend you didn't have to dump would signal to your wife that ... you will prioritize her happiness when she won't. ...
I don't know if I'm poly or not. I mean, Jesus H. Christ, this has been so difficult. How do I know when to go back to monogamy?
—Pretty Over Lusty Yearnings
...If the polyamorous model is making you miserable, POLY, it might not be right for you.
But you should ask yourself whether polyamory is making you miserable or if the people you are doing polyamory with are making you miserable. People in awful monogamous relationships rarely blame monogamy — even when monogamy is a factor — but the stigma against nontraditional relationship models, to say nothing of sex-negativity, often lead people to blame polyamory for their misery when the actual cause isn't the model, POLY, it's the people.
The whole column (week of October 11, 2017).
Labels: advice columns