I found something written recently today (4/23), so I’m reading it. (I finished the book in four days.) It’s by Fosse (2021) and I am now hooked. She is a psychologist and the book is “The Many Faces of Polyamory: Longing and Belonging in Concurrent Relationships.” Much of it is reflections on her practice with couples. Here is a quotation that I particularly liked in the introduction: “At the core, all relationships are about the same issue—a sense of connection and belonging, and hope for a lasting, secure attachment” (p. 2).
I think that the difference, for me anyway, between desire in monogamous and polyamorous relationships is being present and asking questions rather than making assumptions. I was able to take communication for granted when I would see my wife every week, but with a partner who is poly, you have to let go of filling in any details and ask instead gently-phrased questions. You also have to make your needs known directly.
For jealousy, the whole thing seems complex. There were three chapters dedicated to it in the book.
“In polyamory, jealousy is considered a complex phenomenon too, consisting of many underlying emotions and affective states, including sadness, anger, anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem, possessiveness, territoriality, envy, and fear of abandonment” (p. 67). I felt envy that the climber already has a partner who lives on the West Coast and has been with him off and on for 5-6 years, but then quickly rationalized it. I’ve not even been divorced for a year yet, and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have something that long because my last marriage wasn’t open. I told the nice guy from work that maybe I could have two Portland women: one from ME and one from WA. Hahahahaha. A good goal though. 🙂
I know that my first ex-mother-in-law always thought it was weird that I did lots of stuff with female friends. I just feel more emotionally close with women. I also know that my ex-wife resented and was jealous of many of my friends and colleagues. Envy makes the most sense to me for jealousy. It’s largely because I’m in transition though: my kid moves out next summer and I’m barely out of a monogamous marriage. These goals with 2-3 partners shall materialize.
Are there often poly structures in female friendships? I think that I get a lot of emotional needs met with my best friend and always have. I talk through pain with friends whom I’ve had for years. It’s not sexual though, but rather close, emotional intimacy. My ex-wife and I shared our past rather quickly and then she would reference my other girlfriends to ensure that I wasn’t as “weird” with them. I am weird. I have elaborate inside jokes that few can follow and like to laugh about really odd things. I wouldn’t necessarily need a partner to act weird with though, and can do odd stuff with family members and some of my friends. Right now I just want some sparks for romantic partners.
The CEO got jealous about all of my friends all of the time. It’s funny because it wasn’t romance, but I’ve had long-term close emotional connections with women. I still have those too. My son and I just had lunch with his godparents and their kids for her birthday (I bought for all six.) and we all had a good connection. She wants to hike a high peak with her husband this summer. I’m not interested any longer in re-summits though. There is no way he’s in shape enough to complete some of the longer ones that I’ve not completed yet. Anyway, I still feel emotionally close to her, but it’s not sexual chemistry. I feel that via good conversations that I’ve had with the climber or the ones during the initial part of the hike with the photographer.
I also read more in Fosse (2021) about how NRE can impact stability and feelings of ease in a long-term relationship with a partner. I can remember being excited to see my best friend and make dinner together for our kids years ago when I was single. I loved it too that I would get closer with colleagues at work, and we’d do stuff together. That always felt so fun to me. Like I wrote earlier, I remember some jealousy from my ex-wife too when I’d hang out with colleagues or my best friend. I think that pushed me in our last few years of marriage to do things solo: join a rope team, do some hikes with our dogs only, etc. Fosse (2021) writes about “companionship and security” which is present in marriages (p. 92). My ex-wife was a companion, but we never honestly had any security. Regardless of her narrative, she was always one foot out with me and sometimes it was literal wherein she lived elsewhere.
Knowing your identity seems to combat this dissention which can be found in another partner. I still think, too, that relinquishing any desire for control and remembering that you can only control what you do is important. I identify as completely solo poly, lesbian, and like the term “relationship anarchy.” I don’t want convention, and rather want to communicate individual needs with each woman. There will be no cohabitation, or mixing of finances. Trips and even dates will be paid for by the person who makes the date or will be decided on before we go out. I don’t want another triad or quad. I’m fine with lots of vees, and I don’t want to hear complaints about anyone from a woman about another partner. I’ve got experience in those things and don’t want repeat mistakes. I don’t want sex without love from me and love from her either. I want to kiss whoever I want and have sex rules with women with whom I’m in love and with whom I am physically and sexually intimate.
A majority of the last part of the book was about unpacking and working through jealousy. The vignettes that the author used were mostly about married couples who opened up their marriages, so it didn’t apply to me. My ex wife wasn’t committed to me in a realistic way. She would have to take long breaks from me or my son all the time. If we’d opened up our marriage, it would have been like many of the vignettes in the text in which the marriage was simply ending anyway so the inevitable was postponed via sharing about NRE within the couple or sometimes falling love with a partner and being monogamous with them and restarting a new monogamous relationship. I guess that could happen to me in a couple vee. I’ll have to work through that stuff if I sleep with a woman in an open marriage. Again, don’t bitch about your husband to me. I’ll exit that date!
“It is possible that polyamory attracts people who are prone to intellectualization, rationalization, and reaction formation as coping strategies. (p. 96).” I’m fine with having defenses that help me get through situations. I’m also pragmatic to a fault. I feel secure to explore now and want to interact. I’m going to ditch kickball and guitar on May 16th and sing karaoke with poly folk, and will blog about that experience fully. I enjoyed this book and now am ready to apply my knowledge getting to know more people who have been poly for years and with whom I can hopefully have close friendships.