Beyond the Fad: Polyamory and Relevance

As I write this, my fourth post to this blog in as many days, acknowledging a newfound urgency to express the things I’m thinking, I also find that I need to admit one of the reasons I wasn’t posting for so long:

I worried that polyamory had become a fad.

It was a moment of weakness, I admit. I faltered under the weight of the fear that all I wrote might be summed up by readers to simply be anecdotal contributions to the trendy new lovestyle that has garnered so much attention in the media, including TV shows like “Polyamory” on Showtime. I stopped working on my novel because I decided that, by the time I was done writing it, finding an agent, and doing the work necessary to get published, I would have “missed the boat” – the fad would have passed, polyamory would be old news, and no one would want to publish the book.

Discussion and visibility of polyamory has skyrocketed in the last year or two, and while the benefits of that include visibility, the drawbacks include the fact that people enjoy simplicity, and trying to simply define something as complicated as polyamory just doesn’t happen. Instead, people define it by comparing it to things they already know – infidelity, swinging, commitment phobias, sex addiction, etc. I feared being lumped into those definitions.

I should have been stronger. I should have waved away the possibility that I’d be just another voice in the polyamorous cacaphony, just another polyamorous person whining with other polyamorous people about being misunderstood.

But this blog, and my book, and my writing in general, are not about that.

This isn’t about polyamory and its visibility. This isn’t about convincing people that polyamory is okay.

This is about love; about rethinking relationship norms. That will always be worth writing about, even if the whole world suddenly became polyamorous. Ultimately, my biggest hope for every single person who reads what I write is that they stop to think about the way they love, and decide for themselves what ways of loving work for them. If polyamory is not a model for you, I have no intention of trying to “convert” you; I simply want you to know that for yourself because you actually took the time to think about it.

Blogging about polyamory has never, for me, been about getting more views and attention by playing into a popular topic. When I started doing it in 2007, it wasn’t a popular topic at all. Just because it has become one shouldn’t deter me. If it is a fad, then like all fads, it will pass. When the dust settles, I’ll still be here, plodding along, thinking about love, sex, and relationships and how people can be happier with all of those things in their life.

Hopefully, if it is a fad, it will be one that changes some love lives for the better.

Egads! (More Fear)

I used to read http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/ before poly was cool, nyah nyah nah nah nah nyah!

But, to be honest for a moment, back in 2007-ish, when I was just discovering that there was a word for what I was feeling, polyinthemedia posted instances of polyamory appearing on/in the internet, news, television, radio talk shows, documentaries, podcasts, you-name-it, and it kept me emotionally alive. It was hard to find mentions of polyamory outside the existing online communities. The monthly run-downs had less than 10 new poly-mentions to share, but it was stuff that I didn’t have the time or networking to find myself. Thanks to that blog, I felt less alone, less crazy, and more hopeful that one day the world over might more widely understand me and what I was feeling.

The word is out, friends. Just use Google. I did today, under the “News” filter:

googlepolyamory

 

Not only that, but, friends, we’re even in Merriam-Webster!

websterpolyamory

 

It also hit me while I was doing NaNoWriMo, and discovered in the 20-somethings message board a thread about relationships, where a whole, pardon my lack of better word choice, buttload of 20-somethings identified as polyamorous.

Huzzah!

I really did celebrate. I really did smile. I was so excited. I still am, honestly, but I’ve started to feel a small stirring underneath that excitement.

I hate to keep this theme going two posts in a row, but the ball is already rolling. I feel a twinge of fear.

I’ve been reading recently that polyamory is trendy, hip. I guess I’m not surprised. At the risk of sounding patronizing, what scares me is the immense potential for hurt feelings and bitter tastes that come with jumping into something like polyamory too quickly. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying, “Whoa, hey, don’t do what I’m doing, because I’ve been doing it longer and am better at it than you.” I don’t want to sound like I’m immune to mistakes and hurt feelings and bitter tastes. I also don’t want to sound like a worried mother.

I’m sure I’m not alone, and I’m sure that many will wave me off. That’s fine. I just want there to be fair warning. And reliable representations (as some have pointed out popular media may or may not be doing right now). And resources. And, well…

It’s not so much that I want anyone to do it “right”, just that I want everyone interested to do it carefully, considerately and not with the same attitude that you would approach slap-bracelets or flared jeans or Gangnam Style. I just foresee a whole lot of yelling and screaming and “there is no way in hell polyamory could ever work, ever, ever, ever it sucks and made me hate my life ahhh!” And I care about people. So I worry. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do.

People have their paths to follow. For me, polyamory was a very divergent path from the others I could see around me. It still is, in my real-life community and circles. It was hard to take, but because of that, I had to think about it long and hard, and I became damned sure that I had to take it because I realized, “This is who I am.” I’m happy that it will be less hard for other people who find that this is who they are, but scared that it will be so easy that some tread this way, even though it’s the wrong path for them, and they’ll wind up hurt.

Deep breath. People step onto the wrong path every day. For some, the wrong path is the popular one. If this becomes a popular one, and some people head down it simply for the sake of popularity, and it’s not for them, they’ll learn that they need to find another path, right?

I hope so.