Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



June 3, 2014

Elisabeth Sheff: "Why I am not polyamorous, but you might want to be"

Psychology Today blogs


Elisabeth Sheff of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families1, who will speak at Atlanta Poly Weekend this weekend, has built up a large set of explanation-of-poly materials on her blog at Psychology Today. It's a good place to send journalists and others interested in our sociology. Now she reveals more about where she's coming from personally.


Why I am not polyamorous, but you might want to be

How to make cliche mistakes and still think polyamory can work well for others.

By Elisabeth A. Sheff, Ph.D.

I decided to write this to both clarify my status for people who comment on my various blogposts and seem to assume that I am polyamorous, and to explain my perspective on the research I use to inform this blog. In this first part I explain why polyamory did not work for me in the past, and the second part explains why I do not identify as polyamorous currently.

The Poly Debacle

My own brush with polyamory was long (in one way, quite brief in another), slow, and painful, so much so that I am reluctant to try it again. To make a long story short, when I was 22 I fell in love with a man — “Rick” — who wanted to be non-monogamous. We discussed it for 10 years, with him excitedly detailing how great it could be for us to find another woman to add to our relationship, and me dragging my feet and trying to manipulate us in to a monogamous relationship.... We both made mistakes that ultimately destroyed our romantic relationship and damaged our friendship almost beyond repair. Our mistakes are so common as to be cliché in poly circles....

Three Cliché Mistakes

1. Unicorn Hunting....

2. Making a Lot of Rules....

3. Expectations Collide with Reality....

...I thought I would be jealous and insecure so I created rules that I thought/hoped would “protect” me, and it turned out that I was surprisingly comfortable with Rick’s additional relationships. Rick thought he would be secure and loved by two women, and it turned out that he was very jealous when I wanted to establish a romantic relationship with another man. Rick and I found ourselves abruptly switching places....

-----------------------------

Leaving Rick

When I realized I had to choose between Rick and Steve – not the ideal poly model, but a surprisingly frequent poly occurrence when things go south – I chose my one- and three-year-old children. Because Rick was their father, and things had been good with him in many ways for the 10 years before the poly debacle, he seemed like the logical choice....

For the next five years I tried everything I could think of to stay with Rick – got a new job in a different state and sold our house so we could move away from the small town we had shared with Steve, got couples and individual counseling, married Rick, and went through bouts with exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, and denial. None of it worked very well.... One night I came home from work and thought to myself “I need a drink if I am going to deal with this family life tonight” and it suddenly dawned on me that my next coping mechanism was going to be alcoholism. That same night I made the decision to leave....

Poly Single (in practice)...

Monogamous (mostly)...

After I had sown my wild oats, I fell in love again (something that does not happen very often) and simply stopped dating other people. Not because she asked me to, or because we had a big talk about it, but because I was just not interested in other people. Now “Kira” and I refrain from polyamory for three main reasons:

1. Low(ish) Sex Drive...

...[and] I am surprisingly vanilla for a sexuality researcher. I intellectualize things that frighten me, so I have ended up studying polyamory and sexuality because each of them freaked me out until I understood them.

2. Too Busy...

3. Love of Solitude...

While I do not identify as polyamorous, I am also not in a traditional monogamous relationship. In the final installment of this topic, I [will] explain my monogamish and polyaffective relationships.


Read Part 1, Part 2. (May 18 and June 2, 2014). I'll post a note when Part 3 goes up. Update: Part 3 (July 6).

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1. For a 20% discount on the book (better than Amazon's), use the code 4M14SHEFF at the publisher’s website through the end of 2014.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished her book. Really informative, and pretty much the best (if not only) book on how to navigate poly living when you have children. I'm glad I bought it.

June 03, 2014 8:51 AM  

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