Thursday, 8 April 2010

Desperately Seeking

There are a lot of people on poly internet boards who have recently found out about poly, or discovered that they are interested in living a poly lifestyle, and are now keenly seeking their first poly relationship. I can only say...

Don’t. Please. Just don’t. Don’t seek out a poly relationship.

That’s easy for me to say, I know, as I am already ‘living the dream’. And, believe me, I can truly understand the desire to live poly as it is a very rewarding lifestyle for those it suits, despite the additional issues it also brings. So I feel a bit mean advising people to give up looking before they have even started. But I do not mean that people who feel attracted to a poly lifestyle should give up on poly, only on seeking out a partner. And I say this only because I have seen this particular situation go horribly, painfully wrong so many, many times.

There is a huge difference between being open to the possibility of a poly relationship, should someone come along who you naturally fall in love with, and seeking out another partner.

It is horribly easy to get carried away by the excitement of the idea of poly and to leap at the first person who is willing to give it a try, regardless of how incompatible you may actually be with them. If everybody involved is interested in a sexual relationship only, or a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement, this may work out perfectly well. But if romantic emotions get involved – if one or more people fall in love with the other/s – and then things fall apart, the pain can be terrible, even if the people involved were always completely incompatible and this has been the driving force behind the break-up.

When people are following a dream, there is a kind of self-delusion that comes into play that makes any actions taken towards the fulfilment of that dream seem reasonable. An obsession with the ideal of living poly can all too easily masquerade as obsession with a particular person, whereby a person convinces themselves that the first willing person who comes along is actually the ideal permanent poly partner they have been looking for all their lives, and neatly slots them into the ready-made gap. That delusion will fall apart, sooner or later, as the people involved fail to live up to one or more of the illusory characteristics which have been projected upon them by their partner/s. And it will hurt. Sometimes it falls apart even before the ‘lovers’ meet in the flesh, and it hurts people more than you would believe to lose these internet romances. Other times it may last a few weeks or months in real life.

As a side note, I have noticed that people are often a great deal quicker to make a strong practical commitment to a poly relationship, such as moving in together or having a commitment ceremony, than they would for a mono relationship. So the real-life break-ups can end up being terribly complicated in practical terms, more so than a mono relationship that has lasted the same amount of time. A further complication arises when one or more of the people involved has come out as poly to their family and then the relationship falls apart, confirming all their family’s fears about poly. That person then has to face social humiliation as well as emotional pain. And may face increased scepticism and / or hostility from their family should they start another poly relationship.

There are several things people can do to avoid getting caught up in this sort of situation.

First: Identify specifically what need you have that drives you to seek poly and find alternatives that help feed that need.
• It may be simply that you are lonely: if so, try to get out more and meet like-minded people by joining local clubs that cater for a strong interest of yours.
• If your interest is in intentional community, see if you can find one you are interested in; they may be happy for you to get involved on an occasional basis.
• If your current sex life is unsatisfying, make an effort to spice it up inside whatever relationship you currently have.
• If you are currently in a relationship, find a hobby or other activity which you can share with your partner: anything from role-playing games to home improvement to starting a small business. In other words, anything you can both feel passionately about. Make time for this hobby: it is very unifying to have a common interest and a common goal. And it will prevent poly becoming your only (and obsessive) common interest and therefore reduce the liklihood of you encouraging each other into self-delusion with regard to poly itself or to any person you might meet (sadly, all too common).
You can still live poly if / when the right person / people turn up, but your needs will be met in the meanwhile and you will be less likely to latch onto something or someone unsuitable. In any case, we bring a great deal more to any relationship we are in when we are content within ourselves, and not reaching out in the hope that somebody else will meet our needs.

Secondly: Find out as much about poly as you can, by reading books, joining internet forums etc. People have different opinions on what kinds of poly relationships they prefer, and on how to manage the issues that arise within them. The more different views you see and read about, the more likely you are to find an approach that resonates with you. Reading about how other people have dealt with issues in their poly relationships helps to develop your own skills. Internet forums, especially, can be a kind of cultural immersion: just as growing up in a mono family helps you to learn how to deal with relationship issues in a mono relationship, reading threads on a good internet board, especially those which the OP has updated regularly, gives you examples of how people work through their issues in a poly relationship.

Thirdly: Get out and meet people, in real life and on the internet. But approach those people as friends. If something develops from that friendship in the fullness of time, then that is fantastic. If not, you still have a friend. But looking at everybody you meet as a potential poly partner is likely to lead to poor choices. Plus, as anyone knows who has come across a hopeful but desperate individual in a mono situation, it can be just plain creepy.


  1. One Love Deorccwen,

    Thank you so much for this post.I came into poly quite by accident. I joined this forum that was based on issues for folks of my ethnicity. I used to like reading the post by this man and his wife posted a few times as well. I wasn't looking for any romantic relationships. I was happy enough with what I had I just needed some support and I wanted to move out of that city to somewhere so we could work and have a deccent life. And then one day I found myself dreaming about this man who wasn't my partner and we were making love. I felt like I had cheated on my partner and that made me so affraid. We moved again and I stopped reading or posting on the forum. Months later I had my son, I went back to reading and posting on the forum and the husband called and invited me to listen to him on the radio. I found myself becoming obsess with him and I mustered enough courage and I sent him an email telling him that I loved him. And he wrote that he didn't think that it was possible for one to fall in love with someone that they had only met on the internet. I was heartbroken.
    It's been 7 years and my feelings have deepened. My partner moved to another country and my children have now joined him. I am still trying to make a way for myself in this post-9/11/01 culture and society. I have written the husband hundreds of emails. I admitted to him that I was actually in love with him and his wife. And he doesn't reply to my emails nor has he blocked me which I appreciate. I am friends with the wife on facebook. But she doesn't respond to my comments or my posts on her wall. I learned a few years ago that my feelings were polyamorous and that I wanted to have a closed vee triad relationship with them This I learned from a Cable program, My 2 cents.
    I have tried to find help from all kinds of people. I need to pay for the help of a homeopath who can prescribe remedies especially the bach flowers, I have no money for a psychic healer either. I contacted one and he wanted to charge me $500. I also communicated with a Tantrica who advised me not to have sexual relationships with anyone as long as I was feeling as I do about them. Frankly, there have been opportunities but I'm glad that I didn't take them. I would have hated myself afterwards.
    I have written to dozens of people on so many websites for polyamory and self help but no one has been able to give me any solutions to help me stop my obsession. In fact, I've never even heard or read of any situation like mine.
    At this time, I have decided to stop writing as of the last day of 2011. That will be my gift to myself. In the past, I managed to stop writing to him (I only have his email address and I'm too affraid to message her on facebook) for a few months at a time. This time I will try to stop emailing him for good. They are not interested in having a relationship with me of any kind. And it makes me sad because I feel that if I were someone more successful they would have responded differently. I don't want any money from them but they seem to equate relationship with material possession or having to give money to the female partner. I am used to being the one with the money in the relationship. Go figure.
    I would appreciate any insights that you might have about my situation. And thank you for all your work on this blog. It is so refreshing. I love reading it.

  2. Hi Marijannayiti,

    Thank you for your kind words about our blog.

    I think you are probably suffering from Limerence I'm sorry it has gone on for so long: it must be incredibly distressing for you.

    Since this couple is not interested in a relationship with you, it is probably best to stop contacting them and being FaceBook friends altogether. Hope nurtures limerence, and makes it hard to get over the limerent object. You and they probably think they are being kind in not blocking you from emailing and FaceBook, but it is almost certainly making it harder for you to recover and move on.

    In a relationship situation, limerence usually passes within a maximum of three years, and often within six months, which is why so many relationships fail within the first three years (and often within two). If you had been in a relationship with these people from the start, the limerence would be over by now; it is lack of fulfilment coupled with hope that is keeping it alive for so long. You need to lose that hope, to recognise that if they haven't chosen to start a relationship with you in seven long years of writing, then they never will.

    You might like to read some of the posts on this group: I have only skimmed through them myself, and I know nothing about the group personally, but it may be helpful to you to read about other people's experience with limerence.

    A visualisation exercise might help. Relax in a quiet, dark room (just before sleep is a good time) and visualise a cord, like an umbilical cord, connecting you and this man. Then visualise yourself cutting it with a sharp knife, or with scissors. See it break. See his end fly away out of sight. See your end retreat back into your body, leaving you whole again. You can repeat this as often as you like.

    If it is any help at all, you might ask yourself why you would want a relationship with people to whom your financial status makes any difference at all. If they loved you, that simply wouldn't matter. We all deserve to be loved for who we are, not for what we have to offer, and I believe that we should hold out for that and not settle for less.

    Please understand that I am not a professional, just a person who feels for your pain and hopes you can get past it soon.

  3. One love Deorccwen,

    Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful response. I had read about limerence before on wikipedia a few years ago when I was looking for answers to my problems. You really helped me figure out that this is what I am troubled with. And the visualization exercise is brilliant. I will do it often and hopefully I will be free soon. I am praying that I'll also be able to get additional help next year.
    Blessed love.

  4. I'm truly happy that my response was helpful to you.

    It's important to find something positive and enjoyable to fill those blocks of time when you used to write emails to him or think about him. Try making a point of going to visit friends, starting a new hobby or exercise routine, volunteering to help a charity, or seeking out an interesting new internet forum. When you want to write an email, do one of these things instead. Habit can be a powerful thing, and distraction will help.

    Seek out people and environments where you feel valued, respected and liked for who you are. Walk towards the positive in your life, and the negative will fall behind.

    Here's to freedom!