Prioritize Me!

A friend asked for my thoughts about polyamory and the aphorism “Don’t prioritize people who don’t prioritize you.” Here is my response.

It really sucks when you get the sense that someone is not prioritizing you in the way you are prioritizing them. It seems to be one of the most frequent problems in all types of relationships not just poly ones. Early on in a relationship, prioritization mismatches seem to loom much larger than later in relationships. I surmise this has a lot to do with lacking a history of connection with the corresponding sense of confidence that the waxing and waning of prioritization isn’t a lack of interest but a natural flow of our complex busy lives. My best relationships (friends or loves) have shared the characteristics of being able to connect deeply, on broader aspects of ourselves, over a sustained period of time. It is easy to miss remember that the mutuality of these connections evolved over time with a typically uneven frequency of connection.

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Mo’ Poly, Mo’ Problems

My first several years of poly were a series of false starts and broken hearts.  I’d get involved and emotionally connected and then WHAM!!! the rug gets pulled out one way or another.  It is a hard, bad thing.   I’ve had a partner go mono with new a partner, a partner who was actually cheating and subsequent dissembling of the web of deceit (blowback sucks balls), and a partner who decided she was mono and wanted me to forsake all others for her (and, if I really loved her, of course I would do this… or so went the logic).  Also, a partner who insisted I push all other relationships to the periphery – essentially making those others casual and very tentative – which I refused to do. 

It has been painful.  And, it seemed that I couldn’t manage a full year without one of these issues cropping up.  I was disillusioned and heartbroken.  I wondered why I was doing it so wrong.  Some of these folks were new to poly.  Only dating experienced poly people (the no newb rule) is only partially effective – as it didn’t help me in two of the four cases above.  They were more experienced in poly than I was.  I couldn’t suss out a pattern to help me select more judiciously.

I decided on two things about a year ago and I’ve essentially stuck to them.  The first, and probably most important thing, is that I decided that a broken heart isn’t the thing I’m most afraid of.  I must “love with abandon.”   A broken heart is not desirable but well worth the risk.  So, I need to place my bets on compatibility, chemistry and mutual investment.  Poly is only one element in that complex equation.  (more…)

Getting in Shape for Poly

Use your outside voice
She encouraged softly
Be bold, expressive
Become intimate with desire
Walk the line 

Who are you waiting for?
Every moment’s new
Now’s your chance
Don’t hold back

Live out loud

I’ve found this easy to say, but hard in the living… Living out loud is exhausting. It draws on an astounding range of the resources we bring to this life. On most days, it requires a constant push. And, on a precious few glorious days, there’s a pull that draws me effortlessly along. Work is typically required.

Do you have the energy to be poly?  Is there enough of you to share more broadly?  Everyone should routinely ask themselves similar questions, when beginning poly and/or when entering new relationships.  I take a very simple (and probably common) approach to answering them by thinking about the different and limited levels of resources people have that are needed to manage the daily acts of living. When we engage in challenging and engaging activities, we often find our resources consistently drained in one area or another.  These depleted states limit our capacity to regulate our emotions and effectively apply our intelligence, our compassion, and our skills when needed.  Choosing a demanding life, a soulful life, or even a poly life requires building and maintaining the resources and energy needed, if you want to live it well. (more…)