So I just recently moved to the Portland (OR) area from the San Francisco Bay Area. Obviously alot of things are different. Some of them I expected, some of them I didn’t. But the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the HUGE polyamorous community up here. Maybe I was living under a brick in San Fran, I dunno, but I never hardly encountered it there. And now, nearly everyone I’ve met is either IN a poly relationship or totally into being in one. But that’s not really what I’m posting about.
Everytime I strike up a conversation with one of them, the topic eventually gets around to that (which is how I know in the first place). They mention that they’re into it, I mention that I’m not and the first thing they say to that? “Well why not?” Excuse me? Why the hell should I have to explain it to you? When you told me you were into being with three+ people at once in a relationship, I didn’t ask you to explain this weird (to me) preference. No, I respected that it was your own choice and you weren’t obligated to explain to to anyone, let alone someone you just met. And about fifty percent of the time, when I reply “I’m just not” they’ll let it drop. But the other half usually say something along the lines of “Oh, you’ll change your mind” or “That’s what gfriend/bfriend #3 used to say”. And the worst part is…nearly everyone who’s found out I’m not into it, breaks off contacts with me. I never hear from them again. It’s really disheartening since I don’t have any friends up here and I’m more than happy to just BE friends with a poly person.
Has anyone else ran into this? Be it here in Portland or other places? Is it the feelings of the community as a whole or have I just run into the jerks?
Several years ago a pen-pal in Portland told me there was a serious surplus of single men. More recently, there’s been a lot of jobless or underemployed men. Maybe the poly thing emerged out of lopsidedness in the dating pool.
I know a couple of poly folks in that area. The impression I have is that there’s a reasonably large community, though not as large as the Bay Area one (I know a lot pf San Francisco area polyfolks). I had not, however, gotten the impression that said reasonably large community was that full of pushy assholes. Proselytising polyamorous people piss me the hell off, personally.
I can’t say whether or not you’ve just run into the jerks – I can say that I know there are poly people in that area who aren’t in desperate need of being smacked, though.
My impression is that polyamorousness (I’m not certain of the correct term) means people belonging to and being faithful to groups or marriages of more than two people, but I have also heard of ‘open’ marriages, where additional partners are accepted on a short-term basis.
I am certain that cheating and lying to one’s partners are not accepted. Marriage fraud remains marriage fraud, no matter how many people are involved.
I’m sure that the poly folks on the board can enlighten us more.
The generally least-argued about definition is “consensual non-monogamy”. While a number of people who are poly do group or mutiple marriage, I don’t personally have the impression that that is the most common form, though it is my own preference (mine is strongly multiple marriage; group creeps me out).
Lying and cheating are, y’know, not consensual. Some people want to specify ‘ethical’, which also precludes lying and cheating, but I think they’re daft, since cheating in a monogamous ruleset doesn’t make someone suddenly not under a monogamous ruleset, it just makes them a jerk.
As to enlightenment, I would love to see a thread that mentions polyamory on the Dope not have the “What, didn’t that free love shit go out of style in the sixties? This is just a whitewashed term for sleeping around” comment, but since every one of them does, I’m not sure whether patiently explaining yet again is capable of being a worthwhile use of my time. No matter what I do, the next thread will have another random person on mesage board saying something functionally identical.
(I’m just cranky because I had a round of this fairly recently, all over IMHO and the Pit. I actually will probably answer polite people who have questions.)
I’m meeting these people online since I really don’t have the oppurtunity right now to get out into social settings, through either lack of time or money. But someone finally clued me in about where the majority of them are ‘coming from’ for lack of a better term. There’s a huge crowd up here who are either Wiccan/Pagan or into SCA or both. And apparently up here, being in one of those groups tends to mean (more likely than not) that you’re poly. I know it’s a gross generalization but every poly I’ve met is one of those. Which is probably why I keep running into them because I tend to share alot of the same interests as those groups.
I dunno, maybe I didn’t run into it in San Francisco because I already had a set group of friends and I wasn’t really on the lookout. It’s kind of annoying actually to try and find new friends and such and constantly be pushed away just because I don’t care to share the bed with more than one person.
I completely empathize. It’s really annoying to try and find new friends and such and constantly be pushed away just because my husband and I don’t share monogamy as the relationship ideal for us.
(Not to say you’re doing that, just that I literally do understand how irritating it is when people push their lifestyle onto you when you’re not interested.)
For what it’s worth, all the poly people I know are also neopagan or SCAers. Must be the romanticized notion of otherness and the openness to weird ideas that gets into our heads somehow.
It may be they’re doing it on purpose - we do tend to get defensive at times, simply because we’ve taken so much judgemental shit from other people. Frankly, if I could find a group of likeminded poly pagans who weren’t batshit insane, I might be reluctant to draw monogomous folks into it as well. Sooner or later, mixed groups seem to end badly. It’s like those two sticks of stuff you mix to make plastique - either one alone is safe, but mix the two and thigs can get kablooey real fast.
Since I haven’t found a poly pagan group that isn’t batshit insane, I just muddle along the best I can, being very, very patient when someone thinks I have designs on her man or I’m corrupting her kids by my very existance.
I’m voting for the ‘jerk’ option. I’ve met several poly people and some take the attitude of “Oh, you’re just not enlightened like I am”. They are the same ones who are condescending, know-it-all jerks in other areas in life too. I know many more people who don’t make an issue of it either way.
Being a jerk appears to be independent of the structure of one’s love life.
A few years back “swinging” (the term was used in the scene) was popular in Portland-- around the same time that Fetish Night was the big thing. There was at least one well-known club on Powell (Queen of Hearts? Something like that) and the practice was “in.” Perhaps the looser sex-based polyamory sort of held on there since, culturally?
Back in the early nineties I was peripherally active in the Toronto pagan scene, and my best friend and I went to the International Pagan Spirit Gathering, which at that time was held in Wisconsin. Later, I drifted away from the pagan scene. I don’t know anyone in person who is openly polyamorous, although I’m sure there are some in Toronto.