Patterns That Poly Covers Up Perfectly
Whether you are Poly or Mono, relationships demand a lot of your time and attention. They can inspire growth and self discovery, teach compassion and empathy, and build lives that we might not otherwise have.
They also provide us with quick and easy escapes from self care and self reflection. Behaviors and ideas that are ultimately harmful can easily get lost in what culture has taught us about relationships. Polyamory is no different in this area and has a special place in certain patterns that harm our emotional health and inhibit our emotional intelligence.
The truth is, every adult is capable of taking care of themselves. No adult should ever expect anybody to take care of them and no adult should ever take away another’s right to take care of themselves. This may not be the romantic narrative we hear about relationships but it is the truth.
This particular hurt-fueled pattern is tricky because it looks so good on the outside. There are plenty of ways that taking care of others is helpful and even admirable. There are times, however, when we are acting out of places of fear and trauma instead of an actual desire to help.
Are you a great listener but nobody holds space for you? Are you always giving and giving and nobody ever gives back? Do you take care of everybody but never get what you give back? These are indicators that it is time to stop taking care of others and start taking care of yourself.
It is not honorable to self-sacrifice to depletion.
It will not be easy to find the roots of this hurt but it will be a liberating journey. The reason Polyamory hides this pattern is because Poly requires a lot of relationship management inherently. It allows us to fill all of our time taking care of our partners so we can conveniently pretend that we are doing it for their benefit rather than a pattern.
The most obvious patterned behavior that Polyamory can cover up is loneliness.
If you have six partners, you never have to spend a night alone. Hell, I’ve been known to evade that with one or two partners pretty easily. This really only applies if loneliness is a hurt for you. Keep in mind: Wanting company is different than a pattern of loneliness.
A good way to confront the pattern is to, you guessed it, spend time alone! It will be hard. My partners need me. I need to show up for them. I just enjoy their company, is all.
Only you can know if it is true for you. Only you get to feel what being alone really feels like and only you get to heal this hurt if you see that it controls your behavior.
If you find yourself with no alone time, just try it. Take two or three nights in a row and see how it feels. Does it hurt? Look at why. It may be that the freedom from loneliness that you’re looking for is not hidden in partners but quietly waiting in being alone with yourself.
In our histories, we can find many times that we were asked to perform and be perfect. We can remember stories we were told about what we were supposed to be for our partners. What kind of wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend we would be is deeply rooted in messages that were put there by others.
Normally, the adults in our life that were dealing with their own baggage are the ones telling us what relationships look like. You may own your sexuality or your ability to meet all of the emotional labor that is demanded of you, but do you ever think about why? Do you find that expectations of you are unrealistic but you still rise to meet them?
Take a moment to decide what role you would actually like to play in a relationship before falling into it. This can happen easily with sex and emotional labor but can play out in more subtle ways as we do favors, clean up after our partners, put pressure on ourselves to make all the money, or manage the household.
The idea that you are not you unless you perform this specific task perfectly (maybe even when you don’t want to) is a lie that we get told. It doesn’t have to be that way.
This pattern that Poly covers up perfectly is also reinforced by societal gender roles. Fun, right?
The idea that a man will come and save woman materially (house, car, money) and the idea that a woman will come save a man emotionally (child care, emotional labor, maternal love) can and does destroy relationships.
While we may be on a journey to abolishing these external expectations, there is still the psychological and emotional effects of internalizing these messages that plays out right in front of our eyes with our partners.
The internet and the people that rant on it have done a great job of tearing down these perceived realities. The pressure it puts on men to be the sole provider and freedom it strips women of to provide for themselves can feel just as bad as it looks.
So, how does Poly cover up this pervasive pattern? By allowing us the luxury of never having to take care of our own needs. Before you jump through the screen to punch me in face, remember that this is not true for everyone.
Most people, especially Poly people, have a great gauge on what their needs are and how they can take care of them. Some people, even Poly people, act out of this pattern easily and without questioning it.
Unfortunately, this post is not “Ways to Solve Patterned Behavior” because it is a journey that we go on as individuals. You cannot overcome patterns by ignoring and denying them and you can’t overcome the hurts that put them there by reading a blog post.
If any of these make you upset, start there. Make it a point to think and talk about it until you get to the root of why it hurts to think and talk about it. You can also do none of these things and still be a perfect human being that is worthy of love and respect. So, do you, boo.
Britt Vasicek is the host of Poly Wanna Podcast and creator of Sell Your Body Show. She is an advocate for Poly-Visibility and Sex+Love education.
www.fullabritt.com – firstname.lastname@example.org