I came across Monogamy is for Manhattan after reading Natalie’s story in the 1000 Families Project on thenewfamily.com, which is a wonderful project showcasing all kinds of families. I love reading about these amazing families in all their various forms. I highly recommend you check it out.
I started skimming and reading through the posts on Monogamy is for Manhattan, a blog about rural life and polyamory. I stopped at “Hey, I’m Poly!” and read the whole post. I loved what she said, so I contacted Natalie and asked her if I could share it here, and she said graciously said yes.
Here is the “Hey, I’m Poly!” post as it originally appears on Monogamy is for Manhattan:
You know, I didn’t want this blog to be political. I simply wanted a satirical rendition of my adventurous life that I could share with my family and friends. The only mention of my relationship status was to be my references to Partner #1 and Partner #2; casual and nonchalant, like it should be. I should not have to make some big “Hey I’m poly!” announcement. I should not have to explain myself. Nor do I suppose Ihave to in any sense of the word… However, as circumstances would have it, I am in a position of constantly being reminded of the people who disagree and outright hate my choices. In trying to maintain the few familial relationships I have left, I expose myself to painful reminders of the people I am trying to forget in an effort to preserve my emotional sanity.
This leaves me in the awkward position of trying to understand them, their reasoning, their ignorance, if only so I don’t have to face the fact that perhaps this whole time they have thought little to nothing of me? I shouldn’t hate someone just because they are misguided and stupid, right? But how do you rationalize easily rectified ignorance? How do you make allowances for hate?
In my attempt to explain away these peoples painful words and actions I have come up with this understanding,
Humans have a need to categorize, it’s how we interact and function in life. For example, we introduce some one as “This is my wife, [Name]” or “This is my friend, [Name]”. We need to qualify things, we need categories in order to understand and relate to the world around us. The problem lies in the fact that there is no frame work for polyamory, there are no categories because people don’t know about polyamory! The only relations we have to categorize it are Polygamy, Subservience, Brainwashing, Cheater, etc. So you tell someone you’re polyamorous and the only way they can understand is to file it under one of these headings. Which unfortunately is completely misguided. The general public is simply misinformed.
It says a lot about about society in general, that a person can understand hate, can understand child abuse, can understand spousal abuse, can understand damaging patriarchy; can understand infidelity and lying and cheating, but someone says that they love more then one person and that all parties involved are agreeable, they simply cannot compute. Period. That’s not possible. We are exposed to hate and violence day in and day out through all forms of media, so we understand it. We don’t necessarily agree with any of it, but we understand that its there, that its very real, and its part of our lives. The only exposure we have to love are limiting Hollywood rom coms and fantasy romance novels. Even coming into typical monogamous relationships, we have this unrealistic expectations that if you find “The One” everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows, and you will never fight, and never be unhappy for all the days of your life. And that’s just not realistic. We haven’t been exposed to a realistic portrayal of what real life relationships are like. On the same vein, we have not been exposed to the fact that there are alternatives to the standard “nerdy guy gets the cheerleader”. How about “nerdy guy gets the cheerleader, who also happens to be with the quarterback, and they all live happily ever after”? Where is that movie?!
When we hear “polyamory”, we hear all the terrible things that could be associated with it, because that’s all we know. We do not hear all the wonderful things that are definitely are associated with it, because we have never been given the information to know. We have never been given the framework to understand.
If I look at it this way, I can forgive those people whom I trusted. At least, I can not hold their ignorance against them. As it stands, with the limited exposure they were given by society, they were set up to fail the sibling/father/grandparent/friend test. Where this explanation falls short is in the fact that there ARE resources, there ARE venues for these people to understand. I didn’t expect anyone to necessarily “get” my decisions, they certainly didn’t have to like them, but if they cared for me, they should have, in my mind, made some minuscule attempt to understand them. They should have trusted my judgement enough to have made an effort. A comparison that makes sense to me is that like extremely devout people who ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs, these people in my life ignore any information or evidence that I can give them because it may contradict what they need to believe my relationship is. I would gladly answer questions, I would cheerfully point them in the right direction to find answers, I would have very happily provided them with the building blocks on which to expand their categories!! But that would have required a base desire to understand on their part, which I am coming to realize these people did not have. They did not want their narrow little worlds shaken by fact and knowledge, by love and understanding.
I am not going to go radical and overhaul Monogamy is for Manhattan to become a politically charged medium. In fact, I sincerely hope that this is the last time I bring up my poly status at all! But I want to start an understanding. I want for when someone mentions polyamory, that the other person can say “Oh yeah! I’ve heard of that!”. I want to provide society with the absolute very basics of understanding simply by introducing the term “Polyamory” into peoples lives, so that it is not this completely foreign concept immediately categorized and understood with hate. I am in no way saying that this life is for everyone, in all honesty, it is extremely hard. I simply want to try to help make things ever so slightly easier for future poly folks who are brave enough to come out to the world.
I am lucky enough that I have this blog, that I have people who enjoy reading it! It boggles my mind sometimes, and I love it! So I feel like it is my responsibility now to try to spread this around a little. So please, to the dear person reading this post right now, please share this post with someone. Please share the concept of polyamory with someone, introduce someone to the idea that maybe there are other options, that there are people out there who actively practice alternatives. Heck, if you want, simply whisper the word “polyamory” to someone, so that maybe their curiosity will get the better of them. And pass it on. Let’s give someone the first brick needed to build a foundation of understanding. I realize that sounds cheezy, but if it means I helped a fellow poly person out, I will risk my ego lol.
So please please please share it.