I imagine the feeling I have about labeling myself as polyamorous is the same feeling that the rest of the alternative world inevitably has. I say so because I am officially joining the “I don’t subscribe to labels” crowd. I used to laugh and make fun of the way “those people” would rebuff labels. At the time, it was my understanding that labels were useful in that they had the ability to communicate to others, on some level, the idea of what or who you are in a concise manner. However, what no one ever outright explained to me and what I’d never considered is the association factor. Now that I am in my feelings about being lumped in with other people that I know and know of that describe themselves and represent polyamory, I get it. Also, I’m not too fond of how “normies” think of polyamory. Nor am I too particular of the people within the poly world; at least the ones that I’ve encountered so far.
This association crisis makes the third, I believe, disassociation in my life. First, there was Christianity, then there was swinging, and now poly. Ugh, my departure from swinging, or “the lifestyle” as they would call it [ I shutter as I think of how audacious that name for swinging is. It would roll off of everyone’s lips as if it were some secret, “high society,” limited membership club], still, stings fresh in my memory. The concept of swinging is solid, yet idealistic. In practice, people are tripped up by their most basic developmental and undealt with flaws, resulting in everyone being over protective and defensive; which is the polar opposite of what that world represents.
I’ve begun to have the same sentiments for polyamory. Yes, “polyamorous” best communicates my views, understandings, and actions in romantic relationships on one end of its spectrum, but that word is used to describe romantic relationships on the other end of the spectrum as well. For example, to the untrained eye “hierarchical poly” and “non-hierarchical poly” aren’t much different. But, in truth, they are like apples to tennis balls; yea they are both “roundish,” but that’s about it. To make matters worse, polyamory and swinging, actually overlap in a few places. I gag thinking about it.
I had an argument with an ex recently. She was telling me about her dating life and how she was seriously dating two guys. We broke up because she did not want to be poly, so my assumption was that the two guys didn’t know about one another. However, she proceeded to tell me that they did and neither of them had a problem with it; which irked me on so many levels, but I digress. We argued because I was trying to get her to understand that by definition, her relationship configuration was polyamorous. She scoffed and said “I’m not poly. We don’t have all those rules.” To which I replied “See that’s the thing though…the underlying principle of polyamory isn’t about rules. The only two pieces you need to be poly are communication of desire and consent by all parties involved, which you have!” She never came around, and I eventually dropped the point. But in mulling the conversation over in my head afterward, I had to agree with her. Her relationship was probably better described as an open relationship, but only because she didn’t want to identify herself as poly. And that is what bothers me about identifying myself as poly.
I just…the name poly just…ugh. “Polyamory” doesn’t have a backbone! It doesn’t carry any weight. It’s flimsy, too inclusive. If someone tells you they are a homosexual, that means something. It’s not the same with polyamory. The word “polyamory” doesn’t invoke any immediate ideas. I have been in countless conversations, even with other poly people, where I have to explain what polyamory is or how I poly.
Me shaking off the identifier “poly” leaves me back where I started, just “me” and having to explain in a non-concise fashion who I am and what I’m about everytime I meet someone new. It also leaves me tribeless. I want to hang and associate myself with others that think like me like every human being does. The world of poly is just too inclusive for me to “be at home.” For now, I guess I will have to default back to the umbrella term “non-monogamous” which encompasses even more than poly, but still, let’s me disassociate myself from polyamory. Ahhh well.