As with any fairly smallish group, when it comes to polyamory bizarre stereotypes abound. While I could (and probably will, with with BloggyWriMo/NaBloPoMo) expound on many of them, today I’m gonna stick with one: the idea that poly people are all massively extroverted social butterflies. I can see where this one came from. After all, the whole idea of polyamory is that you’re up for having more than one partner. It’s not a vast jump from “likes to have more partners than I do” to “likes spending a whole lot of time with lots of different people”. And while plenty poly people are like that, there’s also a lot of us for whom that isn’t true. So from one somewhat-introverted poly person to you lot, here’s why it works for me.
Smaller, closer groups
If there’s one thing that distinguishes extroverts from introverts, it’s our preference for spending our time with smaller groups of people who we’re close to. I’m like that. Lovely as they can be (and they really can!) I have only so many spoons for acquaintances. It’s the people who I know really, really well that I prefer to spend lots of time with.
That doesn’t make me poly, of course. Being poly just means that in those small groups of people I love dearly, I’m able to fall in love with more than one. And I’m only okay with getting in relationships where that’s fine by everyone. The way that I ‘do’ poly fits in with my introversion. My poly is all about letting relationships find their own level, embracing the gray area between ‘friend’, ‘lover’ and ‘partner’, and seeing what kind of interacting fits me and a particular individual best. That isn’t unique to polyamorous people, of course. For me, though, one of my favourite things is seeing how my close relationships evolve over time. How they ebb and flow, and how we love each other in different ways and the months and years go by.
The Basic Social Unit Is One
I have no idea where I first heard this. But it’s something that I really, really like about lots of poly ways of interacting.
You know the way that sometimes the world feels like it’s built around couples? Plus-one on invitations. Hotel rooms booked per-person-sharing. Talking about your partner as your ‘other half’ (or even more vomworthy, your ‘better half’). The entire rom-com industry. I could go on, but you get my drift.
In poly circles, you don’t get to do that. If a person could be seriously involved with four people or nobody at all, then you can’t make assumptions and you end up with two choices. Either you put plus-n on your invites and risk your party being six times larger than you had planned, or else you start acting as if the basic social unit isn’t people in a romantic relationship after all. And the basic social unit ends up being one.
As someone who likes my solitude, being in communities where it’s assumed that the individual is a perfectly great social unit all on their own is fantastic. If there’s no assumption that I’ll be with a particular number of other people, then it’s perfectly fine to be on my own. Poly also comes fully-loaded with language to describe my need for alone time. I tell my partner- mainly just kidding- that although she’s the only person I’m dating right now, I’ve gotta take time for my other primary relationship with nobody at all. And as we’ve mentioned time..
I have this friend who is both mono themselves, and who is one of the biggest introverts I’ve ever met. They’re a sweet, caring, loving person who needs absolute oodles of alone time. And while they’re generally either cheerfully-single or monogamous themselves, they’ve said to me several times that, when they do date people, they prefer their partner to be polyamorous. You see, the handy thing about dating someone who’s in another relationship or two is that they’ll be wanting to spend time with them. Lots and lots of time. Time when you can be pottering about by yourself with not a smidgeon of guilt that you’re leaving your lovely partner(s) alone. In fact, you could even describe yourself as delightfully giving! Your partner is off spending tons of time with their other partners, with nary a hint of complaint from yourself. Shure, you’d get a medal for it if you weren’t not-so-secretly loving it.
- The Silliest Things I’ve Ever Heard: Poly Misconceptions (pearlsandpentagrams.wordpress.com)
- Perceptions of Poly- A Mindchaotica Blog (pearlsandpentagrams.wordpress.com)
- A Guide To Introverted Polys, Featuring Pie (http://modernpoly.com/)
- Answers to (burning?) questions… (rhetcomppolydiss.wordpress.com)