I’m a big fan of scheduling. My google calendar makes my life run smoothly. Why?
I’m hyper-reliant on timetabling because I am currently dating three people. Well, maybe four. But it’s hard to tell.
One relationship has been kicking strong for over a year now. This partner lives with me, and we’re kind of like flatmates with separate bedrooms who are in L.O.V.E and make sexy faces at each other. Oh, and we both obsess over House and take care of each other while we’re sick.
The other relationships or connections exist in various states of establishment and flow. One of them I’d consider myself properly dating, and the others are…yet to be decided. They’re fledgling things that are all distracting with how fascinating and shiny they are.
I’m not sure I knew that I’d opened Pandora’s box when I became polyamorous. Of course back then I was married, and it certainly didn’t work in that context because of too many contingent factors to speak of.
Now, though, my life is different. I’m part of a very strong and supportive poly community – with overlaps into the queer community – that provides a lot in the way of positive support, resources and education about how to make your life as a non-monogamous person both bountiful and functional.
Sometimes though, poly is exhausting. I’m glad that people are pretty honest about this. I mean, loving or fucking more than one person is one thing – but being able to budget for it all time and energy wise is another.
Sometimes I feel like a rabbit on crack. I’m bouncing all over the place, trying to keep up with dates and communication about dates and sexy tiems and poly events (ok, I barely ever go to these in all honesty) and the general ebb and flow of the people in my life. Whether it is one partner or six, I’m always on the go – whether in my bed or in my head or at a workshop. Even when I was only partnered to one person, I still had lots to do emotionally while I computed the presence of their other partner in their life and mine.
It was lovely, don’t get me wrong. It was fantastic having a partner’s partner around so much – it helped build a sense of family that I cherished.
But the nature of poly is flux. At least, in my experience it is. You have to be prepared for a certain amount of wear and tear on your resources – whether that’s your body, your emotions, your bank balance or your time. Those who think polyamory doesn’t involve any work – or ‘processing’ as it often called in the community – are either liars, extremely lucky or are doing it irresponsibly.
Poly is not the easy option. It is a fun, stimulating and rewarding one though. For those who think they can have open relationships or non-monogamous connections as a ‘default’ position to make their life easier – well…I’d hand them a bex and tell them to lay down before the truth hits.
I think, on reflection, something I’ve come to value is the ability to communicate to my partners when I need to holla for a time-out. That’s a skill I’ve had to work on and now I’m getting good at it. I have a lot of other considerations in my life beyond and before my partners and this is important for me to remember. Sweeties are, in the worst case scenario, expendable – but I’m the only me I’ve got.
I have chronic back pain from a car accident which left my spine a mess and that eats up a lot of my ‘spoons‘. I struggle with that daily. Some days I barely get through work, I’m all full up with held back tears because I’m in so much pain. It fucks with my ability to do physical things and it makes me feel weak and stupid. I hate asking shiny people I’m on a date with for more pillows or for them to not move my body that way, thanks, or in the case of this weekend having to move beds altogether because I just couldn’t deal with their bizarrely soft mattress without agony.
My back pain, and how I manage it, is my number one concern each day. After that, I manage a mental illness – bipolar disorder and co-morbid anxiety. After that I manage full time work. I try to keep in touch with my family, and see my friends, and take good care of my cats. I try to manage my finances well and eat right and go to bed on time. All that there is a full life in itself – full of stimulation and challenge.
Now add a sprinkling of lovers, people, squeezes – whatever you want to call them. Now we have discussions about boundaries, expectations and needs. We have booty calls and hanging out and snuggle time. There’s the complexities of partners meeting/them being friends/them dating your other partners to consider. There’s the sheer circus act of balancing your schedule so everyone gets a slice of pie. You also have to think about how you move in the world – how do you talk to family, friends, workmates and doctors about your relationships? That’s pretty full on, particularly in the early days.
To be honest, I’m no alchemist. I’m not a perfect poly person. I just try my best to adjust to often rapidly changing circumstance with dignity and glee. Sometimes I fuck this up and sometimes I balance everything well. I do what I think is fair and right and try to remember to have fun and be joyful.
But most important of all, in this, is to be mindful that one cannot give to others what one doesn’t already have. If you’ve depleted yourself of energy and spoons and happiness, you’re screwed. If you’ve pushed yourself too hard and lost your puff, lost your ability to navigate well, you’re no good to anyone.
Most of all, you can’t make yourself happy. If you can’t remember the last time you sat under a tree and read a book, or did your favourite sport, or slept in by yourself in your own bed – you’ve tapped out your poly meter. Glitter is good, yes. But it isn’t everything.
One of my partners and I have worked to respect each other’s sleep patterns, both needing it for work and in my case, to replenish my spoons. At midnight we turn into pumpkins, we say. So at 10:30pm he leaves my house, or I his (roughly) so we can get home and get to bed on time, knowing we’ll feel better for it the next day.
I’m glad we both felt we could ask for this and do so assertively. Respecting pumpkin time is symbolic for how we need to respect each other’s resources as polyamorous people. Respecting pumpkin time is also about respecting myself, and knowing I’m worth good sleep and a healthy daily existence.
Anyway – who wants to be a pumpkin when you can be a well-rested golden carriage with a spacious back-seat?
That’s what I’m talkin’ bout.