People Who Hide Behind “Poly”

I found the following article from the website “Heartless Bitches International.” So much of what she’s said in this article I agree with wholeheartedly. It’s wonderful to read this, as this truly sums up some of the “poly” encounters and “relationships” I’ve had over the past two years.

I’ve pasted some excerpts here that I can most specifically relate to. I have a problem with her final paragraph about mental illness, although I can relate to that as well, especially the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as I’ve written about here. “Acknowledging” the “problem” is certainly the first step, and it’s not nothing, and I agree with her about a commitment to work on one’s issues, no matter what they are, as I’ve so often stated here. The biggest problem I have with these diagnostic labels is that it throws a lot of individuals in a category of “crazy” when there is a wide spectrum of behaviors within any given label, and that’s assuming that the given label is accurate to begin with. Still, labeled or no, we all must face our inner demons and struggles and actively work on them. I’ve covered this in my post “The Problem with Self-Awareness,” so I’ll stop there.

The rather long article is called “Poly People I Can Do Without,” and below are my favorite parts.

I have discovered that there is a segment of the poly population I can do without: The people who label themselves “polyamorous”, and forget the “amorous” part, or think it means “sex”; People who find the concepts of “ethics” and “values” detrimental to their pursuit of self-gratification…

Now I have nothing against casual sex and the people who enjoy and practice it *responsibly*. The “poly” people I can do with out are the ones who want to be able to do WHAT they want, WHEN they want, with no regard or consideration for the feelings of their other “partners”. And I’m not talking about the occasional time that we ALL do something that we didn’t realize would adversely affect a partner – I’m talking about people who USE other people for their own gratification and don’t CARE if something they do is hurtful to another. They think that by using the word “poly” to describe their behavior, they can somehow legitimize discourteous, disrespectful, careless, and self-centered behavior. The worst of these types will be courteous and considerate so long as nothing impinges on THEIR want of the moment, leading a partner to trust and believe in them. But the moment they want something that might adversely affect a partner, consideration and caring are conveniently discarded as unnecessary burdens. And any bad feelings a partner may experience as a result of this behavior are also treated as excessive burdens which THEY don’t want to have to deal with.

Boy have I come across this time and again. Emphatically so. Polyamory is not the same as swinging. Certain “swingers” and “players” have taken up the term “polyamorous” because there is less of a stigma attached to it. I find this highly disturbing and confusing for those of us who focus on establishing and maintaining multiple loving, committed relationships.

It’s dishonest and potentially (usually) quite damaging to the loving polyamorous person in the coupling. These people have no trouble justifying this, as shown in her next segment:

In justifying this behavior, the hallmark phrase of these “poly” types, is “Your feelings are your own. I’m not responsible for your feelings.” While in the truest sense of the word, we are all responsible for our own feelings, in order to have REAL emotional intimacy, one must show CARE and consideration for a partner’s feelings. While you can’t be responsible FOR them, you can be responsible TO them. One must NURTURE and feed the feelings of your loves, for to be truly emotionally intimate with someone is to be vulnerable. This is NOT the same as “being responsible for another person’s happiness”, it is about the kind of bond of intimacy and genuine caring that builds a truly deep, meaningful relationship.

“As people involve themselves in a growth movement, at first, they often develop a “Screw you, it’s YOUR problem” attitude. This misinterpretation of the concept of individuality reflects a misunderstanding of power, aggression, and assertiveness.

The ‘It’s YOUR problem’ philosophy is an attacking, aggressive position which doesn’t allow for real listening and sharing of wants, needs and thoughts. While assertiveness is also a non-passive position, IT does permit listening and encourages understanding. Assertiveness is the ability to create and maintain the conditions you want. It is a process and not an end in itself. This kind of power permits choices without losing sight of others.”

– Dr. Melvyn A. Berke

If someone is just into casual sex without regard for the feelings of their partners, then I’d call the behavior “swinging” or “fucking around” rather than “polyamoury” or “responsible non-monogamy” – because to me, the word “responsible” in the latter phrase means more than just wearing a condom. (And some folks can’t even be responsible enough to do THAT). “Responsible” means being responsible to/for more than just your OWN feelings:

  • “Responsible” means KEEPING relationship agreements and sticking to your word, even when you really WANT to do something different – in other words, not sneaking around behind a partner’s back just because your commitment is now uncomfortable.
  • “Responsible” means being honest and mature enough to sometimes change your plans (delay gratification) to show care and consideration for how your actions might affect a partner.
  • “Responsible means talking to a partner in advance when you KNOW that something you are about to do is going to adversely affect them. (and willful ignorance just doesn’t cut it in my books).
  • “Responsible” means *talking* to a partner when you HAVE made a mistake, apologizing, and genuinely showing consideration and compassion for the partner’s feelings as well as attempting to repair the damage and help heal the hurt.
  • “Responsible” does NOT mean invalidating a partner who has been hurt by your actions as if somehow the very fact that they have expressed any pain is an unreasonable infringement on your “rights”.
  • “Responsible” means telling your partner the TRUTH when you are having uncomfortable feelings instead of encouraging them to do something, and then complaining that it hurt you after the fact.
  • “Responsible” means being HONEST and not having a hidden agenda. It means talking to your partner OPENLY about expectations. It means telling your partner the same thing you are telling other people.

I’m tired of people who pay lip service to “personal responsibility”, saying that they “take responsibility” for their actions, but then refuse to do anything about any resulting pain or damage those actions cause. What they are REALLY saying is, “I take responsibility for the EXECUTION of my actions, but I take no responsibility for the EFFECT or RESULTS my actions may have on you or others.” And there you have it folks, Personal Responsibility Lite ™. Tastes Great, less filling! All of the lip service, none of the work! Any expectation of true acceptance of responsibility will have them parading themselves around as “victims” of your unreasonable expectations.

Actually CARING for a partner means fessing up and fixing up when you fuck up. If a responsible person broke something accidentally at a friend’s house, that person would either attempt to fix the item or offer to pay for a new one – they would try to repair the damage. People’s feelings are no different, but somehow there is a segment of the poly population that thinks the only “feelings” that are important are their own.

Another classic responsibility cop-out line, used by the “Personal Responsibility Lite”-polys is “What happened, happened. There’s nothing I can do about it now.”, as if the very passage of time absolves them of all responsibility for restitution. There is ALWAYS something you can do about a mistake or action which caused a partner harm – the question is HOW MUCH effort are you willing to put into fixing your fuckup? The worst of it is that these people don’t even want to put any effort into NOT MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER AGAIN…. It’s just so much (hand at brow, *sighing*) WORK!

I quite honestly could not have said it better myself, and I’ve been struggling with the subtleties of this issue for a few months now. Bravo, Annesthesia

I’m tired of “poly” people who go on and on ad nauseam about “communication” and how IMPORTANT it is, but then go on to snipe, backstab and otherwise attack others and reject any offer of open face to face dialogue.

I’m tired of poly people who would rather play the VICTIM and seek sympathy from others, rather than CONFRONT a problem or issue head on and DEAL with it like an adult.

I’m tired of double standards: People who want consideration for THEIR feelings from other partners, but then don’t want to make the same concessions and consideration for OTHERS. Someone who identifies as “poly” actually said to me “Taking your feelings into consideration means I wouldn’t get to do what I WANT”.

This is not about changing fundamental behavior and sacrificing basic NEEDS – this is about people who cannot delay gratification for a WANT long enough to take someone else’s feelings about their behavior into consideration. They will imply that *any* expectation of consideration for how their actions might hurt someone else is “manipulative” and “controlling”. And I’m not talking about mono/poly paradigm issues here, I’m talking about people who call themselves “polyamorous” and have “poly” partners, but think any expectation of modifying behavior to take someone else’s feelings into consideration is unreasonable. They call themselves “polyamorous” as an attempt to legitimize ego-centric behavior, or because they can’t trust themselves to be honest or faithful. This doesn’t meet MY definition of “responsible” and it sure as hell doesn’t do anything with the “amory” half of “polyamory”… Ironically, these are the FIRST people to get upset when someone ELSE doesn’t take THEIR feelings into account. And if you can’t trust yourself, what the HELL are you doing encouraging other people to trust and believe in you?

I experienced this (and the rest of these for that matter) with my most recent ex. He was all about “personal responsibility for one’s own emotions,” and he fully meant that if I felt anything other than happy, he didn’t want to be bothered. On the other hand, when it was he who felt hurt by a misunderstanding, he made it very clear that it was my fault and I wasn’t taking his feelings into consideration before saying something. IN THE SAME BREATH, he said he didn’t want to have to take my fears into consideration before doing or saying something. Honestly.

I’m tired of people claiming to be polyamorous when all they really want is a “guilt-free” opportunity to get their rocks off with whomever is available when they’re horny, without regard to the consequences to the other person, OR their other partner(s). Why not just say you are monogamous but you want the opportunity to fuck around when it suits you? The net effect is pretty much the same.

I’m tired of “polyamorous” people who misrepresent their intentions and their desires for relationships. If you have been moaning that you don’t want casual sex and fuckbuddies, you want a committed long term relationship, but then jump into bed for a one night stand when the hormones are raging, you won’t get any support from me. And if all you want is something casual, then don’t mislead your partners into thinking you want something more serious so that you can get them into bed.

To that end, I’m tired of narcissistic “poly” people who do the “romantic” thing, who prey on other’s deepest desires, just to evoke adoration, stroke their own egos, and to get a rush from someone “falling” for them, but they don’t want to be responsible for the consequences. Especially those that KNOW full well what they are doing, and still continue to do it, all the while complaining about the *inconvenience* of the after effect:

“Some of the problems I bring about by vamping, pumping up the emotional content of a situation. Of course that’s easy to do with a new friend. I have a stock of techniques and behaviors, tested. I’m also inventive … so I pick up new techniques fairly quickly…

It’s just I’d rather enjoy the “romance”. It comes naturally to me. I enjoy doing it. It’s also a head trip for me, with my poor self esteem, to have someone so taken with me. I like the first results, the joyous feelings, the elation, the euphoria, just not where it leads.”

These people give their partners mixed messages – the actions imply romance and love, but the words (especially when called on the behavior) backtrack quickly to “friends” and “casual” and “nothing serious”… They want the “head trip”, not the relationship. When the expectations and demands for real emotional intimacy surface, they quickly become cool, and refer back to their “words” around the relationship expectations, denying any culpability for the fact that their actions were often seemingly in direct contradiction to those words.

Even WORSE, they continue the relationship KNOWING full well that they are not ANYWHERE as deeply emotionally involved as the other person. They use excuses for USING this other person, like: “Well I TOLD [person x] that I’m not as emotionally involved, and there’s no chance for a long-term relationship. If she still wants to see me and have sex with me, well, she’s an adult, so who am *I* to say anything? SHE knows the score. It’s HER decision.” They will imply that by taking any action themselves, they might be “patronizing” to [person x]. It’s a clever manipulation of psychobable that CONVENIENTLY glosses over the fact that [person x] is EMOTIONALLY VULNERABLE, and is very likely NOT operating from a very healthy place. This “It’s YOUR decision” behavior (which is very close to the “it’s YOUR problem” behavior mentioned above) abdicates any responsibility that the USER might have to NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE of someone who is clearly vulnerable. Invariably the vulnerable person gets hurt MUCH worse than if the USER had broken it off the moment the imbalance in expectations was uncovered.

RESPONSIBLE Poly’s do NOT continue relationships with people where there is a clear imbalance of feelings, expectations, or ability to meet needs. They don’t take advantage of emotionally vulnerable people because they happen to be a convenient sex partner.

OMG! Did this woman date the same man!? Uncanny, really. And this last short paragraph was exactly what he was setting me up to be. The exact same thing he said about his other girlfriend the week before. After realizing, again, for I heard this several times over the three-month relationship, that he didn’t know what he was getting out of the relationship with his other GF and considered ending it, he decided he wasn’t going to end it because he “want[ed] to be sexual with her when [he] wants to be.” To my knowledge, the poor woman is still with him, suffering his covert abuse. My heart goes out to her when it’s her turn to be devalued and discarded.

I’m tired of poly people who encourage, subtly, overtly, or by turning a blind eye, their friends and partners to be rude to, and inconsiderate of other friends and partners. These people ENABLE and CONDONE by their SILENCE.

I’m tired of poly people who won’t “call” a partner, or so-called “friend” on unethical, rude or inconsiderate behavior – Not because they don’t think it’s their place, not because they think that it is wrong to take a stand on their values and assert reasonable boundaries in relationships, but because they want to reserve the right to pull the same self-centered stunts themselves at some later date. They think that by fence-sitting, they have somehow exempted themselves from the label of “hypocrite”, and they do it at the cost of their own integrity. Invariably, their rice-paper “values” only apply to how other lovers/friends treat THEM, and not to how they, or their partners treat other friends/lovers. It wouldn’t be so hypocritical if they didn’t get so indignant when THEY are the object of the disrespect, however.

I’m seeing this throughout the poly community here in Austin. I have no doubt it happens elsewhere. And I can understand to an extent, especially when it comes down to a He Said, She Said scenario. I don’t particularly think (in my experience) any of these people are turning a blind eye so they can do the same things themselves, but they are turning a blind eye just the same. This is a dangerous business, matters of the heart and soul, especially when Sexual Safety is a huge issue in a community that shares partners with others and the concept of open, honest communication is at the core of the lifestyle. It’s a feeding frenzy for predators if the community doesn’t look out for their own.

But, everyone is too afraid to get involved.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)


And nothing is exactly what they’re all doing.

And finally:

I’m tired of manipulative poly people who insinuate that any open statement by a partner about expectations and needs is being “manipulative”, “demanding”, or “controlling” because it forces them to actually FACE up to their behavior and make choices. (Some times you just CAN’T have your cake and eat it too.) These people find it so much easier if their partner doesn’t say anything, because then they can claim plausible deniability when they behave badly. If the partner actually SAYS something, however, they can’t get away with it as cleanly. I’m tired of the types that subtlely or overtly try to browbeat a partner into NOT expressing feelings of hurt or anger, because they don’t want to deal with the consequences of their own actions…

Safe People: People who draw you closer to who you were meant to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. They encourage you to be your most loving, growing self.

Polyamoury – the loving kind, isn’t an easy road to travel. It requires immense amounts of communication, honesty, trust and WORK. For me, I would add that “Safe Poly People” are people who don’t AVOID problems by dishonesty and betrayal of trust, but have the strength of character to work (and yes, suffer) THROUGH a problem in order to solve it. They don’t cop-out and blame their inability to deal with a problem on the other person’s “anger” or because they “fear confrontation”. They don’t blame others for their fears, problems and mistakes. And they don’t play the “martyr”. They exhibit the following characteristics:

“What are these tools, these techniques of suffering, these means of experiencing the pain of problems constructively that I call discipline? There are four: delaying gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing. As will be evident, these are not complex tools whose application demands extensive training. To the contrary, they are simple tools, and almost all children are adept in their use by the age of ten. Yet presidents and kings will forget to use them, to their own downfall. The problem lies not in the complexity of these tools but in the will to use them. For they are the tools with which pain is confronted rather than avoided, and if one seeks to avoid legitimate suffering, then one will avoid the use of these tools. Therefore, after analyzing each of these tools, we shall in the next section examine the will to use them, which is love.”

-(from The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, MD)

I have looked inside myself, and know that I am still fundamentally polyamorous, despite bad experiences with unsafe “poly” people. It hasn’t changed my belief in poly, but it has made me more cautious and more assertive about what boundaries I will maintain now and in the future. For me, the inviolate boundaries are around honesty, courtesy, consideration and respect. I require that from/for my partner, AND from/for my partner’s partners.

In fact, I highly recommend anyone interested in learning about living life responsibly and growing spiritually to pick up and read a copy of “The Road Less Traveled”.

If you are on a quest for understanding poly, there *are* genuinely caring, responsible people out there. Unfortunately, the marginal types are really good at “talking the talk” so it takes a tremendous amount of awareness and trust in our own gut instincts to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s important to note that the unhealthy ones are the first ones to accuse you of being “judgmental” when you start asserting healthy boundaries and confronting them on their bad behavior…

And I’m with her on this one, too. I am still poly, albeit a celibate one for the time being. I believe that love is infinite.

Love breeds love.

Desire breeds desire.

There are no limitations, and I believe there are good people. The past two years (and especially the last 6 months) have taught me that predators run rampant everywhere, including the polyamorous community, where, I naively thought, I would be safe from them.

Despite the predatory people who prey on loving people, I know there are good people out there as well. Some predatory people (as well as some of the loving people) suffer from mental illness, diagnosed or not.  As long as those good people are self-aware and working on their issues, even if they are significant like BPD or NPD or others (the individual is what matters, not the label*), and as long as they are open, honest, caring, and take responsibility for their actions and words, then I look forward to meeting them and loving them.



* side note about mental illness: some of the most honest, real, and stable people I’ve met in my life suffered from “mental illness,” and some of the most drama-causing, crazy-making, cruel and deceptive people I’ve met in my life don’t. Or are at least undiagnosed. Let’s not perpetuate the stigma of mental illness, whether that be depression, anxiety, bipolar, or a personality disorder. Anyone who not only acknowledges their issues but also works on them is self-aware enough to have a wonderful, fulfilling relationship.

~ by omgrey on June 13, 2012.

24 Responses to “People Who Hide Behind “Poly””

  1. Whenever there is a problem in the relationship or someone seems hurt or angry the very first question I ask is :”Did I do anything to cause this?” The second question is “What can I do to remedy this or to put YOU at ease?”

    To me Love is all about the other person and meeting their needs. If two or more people are both concerned about the other person’s needs (and not so much their own) they both will get what they want/need out of any relationship. It’s a recipe for mutual happiness and not based around self-gratification.
    A poly relationship to me is about loyalty, honesty but also calling people on bad behavior and not letting people trample over others feelings when things go awry. It’s very much polygamous in nature in that the other women (or even men) are treated as wives or husbands by me. This distinction for me from the term girlfriend or boyfriend carries with it a sense of responsibility that usually isn’t present in simple girlfriend/boyfriend relationships. I’m unsure if I am making my point clear. When I am dating someone (before they enter into an already existing group) they are simply a boyfriend/girlfriend, in other words their behavior is on probation. I will not allow a new person to bring to harm the feelings of others already in the group just because they happen to be good in bed, which in my opinion is only a small part of a Poly relationship. To be sure many people use Polyamory as an excuse to fuck around and that’s all they’re interested in. For me it’s not.

    Over and over I would hear about potential girlfriends or boyfriends being spoken about (their person’s sexual prowess) but rarely anything about the person’s personality, their value system or common interests. The groups I was in would go to the theater together, share household chores, bills, help out monetarily if another member had some unexpected crisis, etc. More often than not though I see people I was once interested in treating others as islands or “it’s their mess they got themselves into and not my problem to fix.”
    In my last reply to your blog I spoke about how this girl I was interested in had car trouble and no one in her group so much as lifted a finger to help her. In my experience I or another in our group would have been “Johnny on the spot” to help her. Polyamory isn’t all about sex, it’s about Love, commitment, and helping one another out when needed )or when not needed). A relationship based upon sex is doomed to fail as anyone can learn different techniques when it comes to pleasing others. Learning to Love others more than yourself is much harder and I think this is where problems occur most frequently.

    More often than not I myself get labeled as a “bad person” because I have high expectations of any potential partner. I call them on their bad behavior, don’t put up with their excuses for their bad behavior but at the same time I’m willing to listen to what they have to say and make any adjustments in my own behavior if needed. I also don’t rely soley on my own counsel when it comes to matters of the heart. I’ll ask others what they think of this other person and get feedback on what they think should be done. The thing I have found that works best when a problem arises is not one on one discussion, but group discussions. That way there can be no “he said/she said” or someone bad mouthing me to the Poly community.

    I have lost count over the years of the times a potential girlfriend (it happens more with women than men) will be unwilling to address their behavior, label me as a “Stalker” because I expect some sort of answer to my questions (rather than just letting them do as they please) and am proactive in warning the rest of the community about this person’s behavior. Sadly though my warning have gone unheeded most times and it’s only after many others have been hurt by this person that the truth comes out. Even sadder still is that because this person might be exceptionally good looking, the men or women they have sexual contact with will comes to their defense and phew phew all the negative talk about this Narcissistic person.

    Because of things like this I too have become celibate for the foreseeable future. I’d just rather not deal with these types of people and they are becoming more and more commonplace.

    • Thank you for your reply.

      I’m hearing the term “stalker” thrown around a lot lately, especially “cyber stalking.” Perhaps it’s minimizing the importance and violation of actual stalkers. My ex supposedly has a stalker. It’s interesting, is it not? That the last two major breakups before me were women who are “crazy,” which is, I’m sure, what he’s saying about me. One of them is his “stalker,” who believes that he’s the reincarnation of her dead lover from the past, supposedly from what he says, and the other threatened to burn his house down. He found this so personally threatening that he called the police on her. After hearing both these stories, among others from exes who “had a tendency to get hurt” & had a “hard time letting go.” I was very careful not to do anything that could appear even the least bit “stalkerish.”

      Since the split nearly four months ago, I haven’t been to so much as his Facebook page, let alone anywhere where he might be. I’ve seen him once since then, when he invaded my space and community, a community I’ve since distanced myself from because of his continuing presence in it. He’s sent two emails, neither of which I’ve read. My husband read the first one and gave me the gist, which was anything but loving and friendly, and the second was in response to an auto-reply gone haywire (damn computer) that I had written in case he wrote again. An email in which I expressly stated that I felt violated when I heard from him, and if he ever cared about me at all to please not contact me until he was ready to at least take responsibility for his actions and his part in this. He responded almost immediately. Again, didn’t read it. My husband tried to, but the tone was so arrogant and cold that it infuriated him and he deleted it.

      Not a word since. And since the break nearly 4 months ago, not one loving word at all.

      I digress, as usual. My point is that if someone is talking about all his/her “crazy” exes, there is a good chance that s/he brings that out in them with crazy-making, vacillating, Jeckle & Hyde-like behavior. Next week is four months of freedom from his crazy-making anxiety. And I’m really, really close to being over this. By the end of the summer, I’ll be gone for good.

      Love and loving relationships are very much about emotional support and responsibility. They take serious investment and effort. Commitment, responsibility, self-awareness, compassion, and empathy.

  2. […] People Who Hide Behind “Poly” ( […]

  3. […] people who love to call themselves (and hide behind) “poly” are really fucking focused on quantity rather than quality. Hmmm…I CAN have more than one […]

  4. Man, I think I know who you dated. I don’t know you, but I sure know his MO. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. A wake of destruction is what he leaves.

    • Yes he does. If you would like to compare notes, please email me. You can find my email on the about page

      • Turns out it ISN’T the same guy! Another friend did contact you. I’m amazed they’re so alike. It’s not cool that there are TWO guys like that out there in Austin. 😦

      • Two that we know about and are talking about, and hopefully warning others about. I’m sure there are many more.

        I know of at least one other I’m wary of, but I didn’t spend enough time in the community to know for sure.

        The important thing, ladies, is for us to share our stories.

        Break the silence.

        We have to stop keeping abuser’s and manipulator’s secrets. Let’s take our voices back and use them to help stop this trail of broken hearts and lives.


  5. […] People Who Hide Behind “Poly” ( Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  6. […] People Who Hide Behind “Poly” […]

  7. I want to thank you for your note on mental illness. The blog as a whole is great, but that just made my day. As someone with mental illness, and in a long term relationship with someone who has mental illness, I get sick of all the times I see things like ‘if you have mental illness you shouldn’t be in a relationship until you fix yourself.’

    Go to hell. My flash backs and anxiety attacks have nothing to do with my ability to be in a healthy relationship, and the self-awareness I’ve learned while dealing with my illness has made me better able to understand and communicate my feelings.

    It is such a lift to my day finding your note and support for those of us with mental illness.

    • I’m so pleased you find the blog helpful. Yes, it’s ridiculous the way mental illness is stigmatized in our culture. No one tells people with diabetes they must stay out of relationships until they’re well. Through the support and love of a committed, compassionate relationship, both partners can face fears and inner demons better than they can alone. I’m thrilled to hear you have someone with whom to share this journey.

  8. […] people who love to call themselves (and hide behind) “poly” are really focused on quantity rather than quality. Hmmm…I CAN have more than one […]

  9. Thank you for your posting. I grow tired of reading the blogs where the idea of poly is constantly put upon a pedestal, as if it were an issue free phenomenon. The reality is that there are many manipulative poly people out there who do not consider the feelings of others, and use polyamory as an excuse to have sex with past lovers while already in a steady, current relationship with two or more partners. It seems like it used as a “free pass” when the poly person wants to re-explore relationships or begin new ones without considering their current partner’s feelings. I found this post to be a very supportive one, one which assigns accountability for ALL parties!

    • Thank you for you comment! Yes. I’ve met some extremely selfish, cruel, and unconscious people in my former poly community. Those kind of people are everywhere, of course, but I suppose because of this idea of polyamory being somehow more enlightened, more honest, more open than other lifestyles, I foolishly assumed there would be more enlightened, more honest, more open people practicing polyamory. There aren’t. Certainly not any more than in any other walk of life. If anything, there are less because there is such a focus on hedonism and carnal pleasures, regardless of feeling. I was so disappointed to find that for all their talk of communication and accountability and honesty and investment, they just want to fuck, and fuck a lot. Without responsibility or accountability for their actions or who they hurt.

      If anything, I find it more dishonest because of that.

  10. I have been in both monogamous and non-monogamous (I won’t say poly, because to me that means long-term multiple) relationships. I have not had this problem, mainly because I always do my due diligence.

    You must meet the primary partner. You must make sure everyone is informed and OK. If you date someone who says they are with someone “but we’re poly, so it’s OK if I sleep with you” and you are not doing anything to verify this, you are asking for trouble and deserve any drama that ends up coming your way.

    Check people’s reputations, meet their friends, give your primary partner a “dry run” where they think you are going to do something that you don’t actually do so if they are wrong about how they expected they’d feel about what you were supposedly doing (and it happens frequently) you have found out without doing any actual damage. This is all just basic common sense.

    I dated a couple of Poly girls while I was with somebody else who made it a point to meet, be polite to, and bring gifts for whoever might have been considered their “rival”. There was never any drama when I was dating girls like that and they were mostly able to see whomever they liked in any way they cared to. I respected them and was careful to always be equally polite when I was the “other girl”.

    Dating poly is an awful lot like dating very, VERY old school. It used to be people needed their parent’s permission to marry, and you courted not an individual, but their entire family (or at least, also their parents). Poly is a lot like this. The more people involved in a relationship, the more restrictive it is, because the more factors and opinions will need to be considered.

    Actually, IME monogamy is easier and offers more freedom than polyamory because of the additional responsibilities. Lots of skills you can afford to be weak on (or only show up later in monogamous relationships) are absolutely required for poly, or at least non-fucked-up poly.

    But then what do I know. I tried Poly and turned Mono. I’m biased 🙂

    • While I agree with most of what you say, I have deep issues with the idea that anyone “deserves” the “drama” that comes their way. That’s like saying because a person wasn’t in full battle armor and a black-belt in karate, they “deserved” being knifed in the street.

      Certainly we can do our “due diligence,” but those who are highly skilled manipulators will pass a lot of those tests and convince you out of any doubts around red flags.

      No one deserves to be exploited, raped, devastated, and destroyed because they trusted the wrong person.

      The other issue I have is with the word “drama.” I’ve written about this in other blog posts, and I suppose it’s time to dedicate an entire post about it.

      I hate that fucking word.

      It means too many different things to too many people. Much like the word “polyamory,” with too many definitions, it becomes meaningless.

      Define DRAMA…

      Do you mean insecurities and fears and showing human emotions?
      Do you mean jealousy and temper tantrums?
      Do you mean back-biting and gossiping and manipulation?
      Do you mean drug addiction and deceptions?
      Do you mean trouble with the police and/or stalking behaviors?
      Do you mean irresponsibility with exes or issues with boundaries?

      I’ve met people who define “drama” in each of these ways and then some. Seriously. It’s become such a catch phrase, “I don’t do drama.”

      Well, news flash, if you do human romantic relationships, you do “drama.” And those who scream and shout about how much they don’t tolerate “drama” have a tendency to cause most of it.

      I once was starting to date a guy who’s other GF kept telling him she was afraid I would bring too much “drama” into their PolyPod, and she based that on me being upset after being raped by my previous BF. In the mean time, she threw jealous fits at sex parties with him, gave him hell about getting another GF, even though she had a husband and another BF, and steered him towards women who were either heavier or older than she was. I was younger and thinner, so she didn’t like me. Now…who was causing the drama?


      This is more along the lines of how people I’ve dealt with speak and act surrounding “drama.”

      My ex BF, who we now just refer to as The Rapist, claims on his OKCupid profile he’s “as drama free as they come,” but he can’t let go of his exGF, who he leads around on a leash doing his every bidding, refuses to deal with any human emotion other than happiness, punishes with rape when he feels questioned or threatened, stalked me at Burning Man, and splashed huge personal stuff all over a public FB group.

      Is that Drama-Free?

      So, define DRAMA.

      As for the rest of your comment, I totally agree. I tried Poly, and I met mostly “drama” mongers, narcissists, sex-addicts, predators, and highly questionable/immature/shallow people who wanted to fuck a lot without any responsibility or investment.

      And, agreed, it takes MORE commitment/effort/investment/compassion than monogamy, not less. Most people I met had very shallow, highly sexual encounters.

      Not my cup of tea, especially after being raped.

      I’m glad you’re mono again. I might be joining you. Although I’m poly at heart, I don’t trust people enough anymore to let them anywhere near my heart, body, mind, or soul. No sir. No how. No way.

  11. […] People Who Hide Behind “Poly”. […]

  12. […] day was December 9th with 1008 views. Most popular post that day, and a very important one at that: People Who Hide Behind Poly. Overall, my most popular post is PTSD from Emotional Abuse, followed closely by Pathology of the […]

  13. […] Artikel “People Who Hide Behind “Poly”  von O. M. Grey auf Caught in the Cogs erhielt viel Aufmerksamkeit, positiv und negativ. In jedem […]

  14. Reblogged this on CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

  15. […] Artikel „People Who Hide Behind “Poly”  von O. M. Grey auf Caught in the Cogs erhielt viel Aufmerksamkeit, positiv und negativ. In jedem […]

  16. Hi there – years late to the party, obviously. I stumbled across this post while trying to make sense of a woman I had been dating fairly recently, and I wanted to just say “thank you”, sincerely. Even though I’m not reading anything that I hadn’t already figured out myself, seeing these examples printed so clearly, and so obviously parallel to my own experiences was like a lightning bolt to my brain, and has filled me with an immense sense of validation (which says quite a bit, since I deal with depression and still am fighting off feelings for the woman that broke my heart).

    I’m not poly myself, but ended up dating a woman who was also seeing other people casually at the time – I was legitimately okay with it, and the discussions were open and honest. Things started amazing, and our affection was reciprocal, even though she wasn’t in a place where she could commit and trust as fully as I. We talked about it extensively, and I told her I wasn’t uncomfortable at all, and that she needed to always tell me if she felt pressured from me. Long story short, she “needed space” to sort out problems in her personal life, and strung me along for a couple of months (benefit of hindsight). I found out she’d started seeing someone else entirely during the time she said she’d needed to be alone, and that the two of them were totally smitten with each other – much as she and I had been before this other guy had come along. When I expressed my feelings to her (I’m glad you have someone that brings you this kind of joy, but it’s going to take me a while to process this and be okay with it, but I bear neither you nor him any ill will), I did my best to handle it like an adult, accepting her explanation that she didn’t mean to hurt me, that it had just kind of happened. I then found out she’d lied to me repeatedly, felt a bit betrayed on top of the heartbreak of feeling like I’d lost something special (even if she still wanted to be friends), and tried to address it with her calmly. She denied the lies, naturally, and took no responsibility. When I told her the depth of how the situation made me feel (with clear language indicating that I was trying to provide context for how I felt – acknowledgement rather than a guilt trip), she first tried to play dumb regarding my feelings (which were always super clear and out in the open, as recently as the previous time we’d talked), and then lashed out at me and played the offended victim. “I knew this was going to happen. I warned you not to get hurt.” That sort of thing. Turning the situation back on me, rather than having to face the fact that she was incredibly dishonest, dismissive, and disrespectful to me. Whether she wanted to be with me or not is one thing (I could accept if things had gotten to serious for her, it made her uncomfortable, etc.) – but any reasonable person deserves an open discussion about such things when the other party has been treated lovingly and respectfully in return.

    “Responsible means talking to a partner in advance when you KNOW that something you are about to do is going to adversely affect them. (and willful ignorance just doesn’t cut it in my books).
    “Responsible” means *talking* to a partner when you HAVE made a mistake, apologizing, and genuinely showing consideration and compassion for the partner’s feelings as well as attempting to repair the damage and help heal the hurt.
    “Responsible” does NOT mean invalidating a partner who has been hurt by your actions as if somehow the very fact that they have expressed any pain is an unreasonable infringement on your “rights”.

    Ugh. If only…

    “To that end, I’m tired of narcissistic “poly” people who do the “romantic” thing, who prey on other’s deepest desires, just to evoke adoration, stroke their own egos, and to get a rush from someone “falling” for them, but they don’t want to be responsible for the consequences. Especially those that KNOW full well what they are doing, and still continue to do it, all the while complaining about the *inconvenience* of the after effect:”

    “These people give their partners mixed messages – the actions imply romance and love, but the words (especially when called on the behavior) backtrack quickly to “friends” and “casual” and “nothing serious”… They want the “head trip”, not the relationship. When the expectations and demands for real emotional intimacy surface, they quickly become cool, and refer back to their “words” around the relationship expectations, denying any culpability for the fact that their actions were often seemingly in direct contradiction to those words.”

    This quote hit me the hardest, I think. SO close to home! She’s tried to retroactively define our time as “just friends”, hiding behind “I’m worried about you getting hurt”, when her actions (and other words) were incredibly affectionate, passionate, tender, etc. Sharing secrets with me she’d supposedly never shared with anyone else, giving the kind of praise and affirmation that I’d never expected to her from another human being – phrases like “this has been more magical than words could describe” after our first date, and it sounded completely sincere – 24+ consecutive passionate hours in bed together, etc. The kind of intimacy – physical, mental, and emotional – that no objective outsider would call “just friends” in a million years, no matter how this woman might have defined things. She’s now got another new guy who’s madly head-over-heels for her, and I seriously feel for the poor guy – another broken heart in her wake she’ll be complaining about the feelings of soon enough, I fear. I hope he gets treated a little better than I did.

    Anyway, thank you for your patience if you ever happen to read this, and thank you a thousand times for the bolt of clarity.

    • I’m so pleased my words helped you during this time.

      So sorry I didn’t see this post before now. I rarely check this site anymore.

      May you find peace.

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