Poly means many: I am a work in progress

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com

I didn’t spring fully-formed into how I am today. Anybody who says they have is either a liar, or, less probably, a deeply stagnant individual.

Once upon a time, I was a complete and utter mess. I was having a lot of incredibly bad sex, much of it that I didn’t really want. It was all with men, and all profoundly and disappointingly heteronormative. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I couldn’t conceptualise anything else.

So I quit sex, and I quit relationships. For a good few months, I was completely and utterly celibate. I barely even wanked for all that time. I focused on friendships, on the depth and joy that these relationships can bring–“just friends” is such a misnomer. And I spent a fair amount of time working out what it was that I wanted. Sex ceased to be a central issue to me, and I had all the intimacy I wanted.

It was quite by accident that I came to realise polyamory was the thing that was right for me. I’d been reading Yes Means Yes–which had gone some way to explaining why my sex life had been so dire previously–when the title of a book cited caught my eye. It was, of course, the book on poly: The Ethical Slut. I devoured that book. It opened me up to things that had been dimly playing at the back of my mind since I was young. It felt right.

My journey didn’t end there. Once I plunged into polyamory, I kept on learning and growing. Through experience, I learned what sort of things worked for me, and what didn’t. I discovered I’m highly averse to hierarchical relationships, and that even worse than that is where hierarchies are denied but still present. I learned how to sort out my scatty timekeeping, a skill which was highly beneficial all across my life. I learned that for me, poly is probably an orientation, and it often doesn’t work out if I enter relationships with people who see poly as a largely political choice. I learned how to communicate, better and better. I learned that I have a knack for turning a gathering of beautiful people into an orgy, and I relish in applying this skill.

The learning curve was riddled with heartbreak and regret along the way, but when it comes to matters of the heart, when isn’t it? And what is regret if not an opportunity to learn what it is that you really, really want?

And I’m still not there yet. I’ve still not written a manual of What’s Right For Stavvers, and, to be honest, I doubt I’ll ever be able to do that. With each new partner, I discover new things which are right–and new things which are wrong. With each change to my life, my relationships flex and shift. I am a work in progress. And I always will be. I’ll never have a complete handle because everything changes, and that’s a good thing.

What’s right for me isn’t what’s right for anyone else in the world. We’re all unique in that way. We are all works in progress, testing the waters and seeking the things that make us happy. I’ve found a lot of mine–but I look forward to being surprised again and again.


2 responses to “Poly means many: I am a work in progress

  • Lori Smith (@lipsticklori)

    It’s always surprising when some people think that we’ve a) got it all worked out, and b) are preaching the joys of our perfect choices to everyone else. If they actually bothered to ask questions, they would discover that we’re all working it out as we go along. The main difference is that nonmonogamous folk are usually *talking* to their partners about the tricky stuff.

    • stavvers

      Agree 100%. I’d say the biggest skill I’ve learned since I started “doing poly” was to say to someone “I’m not sure if this is working”, Or even the happier flip side “this is really awesome, I like this a lot”.

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