Friday, April 8, 2011

Model minority.

One of the subtler nastinesses about having an "alternative" lifestyle is the fear of revealing any personal conflict or angst to any "normal" people, even the nominally friendly ones, for fear that the answer will always be "See, this proves your whole lifestyle is flawed!"

If I'm arguing with my boyfriend, he's being a jerk or you two just need to work this out. If I'm arguing with my poly boyfriend, well, sounds like this poly thing just doesn't work in the long term, huh?

23 comments:

  1. I understand this. I'm trying to navigate my first poly relationships and when I say to my friends I'm struggling, some of them take it as indicative that polyamory is inherently wrong.

    To me that's as bad as telling women they represent ALL women, whilst men are just men. Like that xkcd comic where the girl bad at maths is met with the response: wow, girls are bad at math instead of just YOU are are bad at math.

    It's when people are afraid or unsure of a group, girls or in this case an alternative sexual lifestyle, they resort to simplistic responses.

    That's why meeting other like minded folks is good. :)

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  2. I think it depends on what you're arguing about. But yeah, all the het/monogamous divorce doesn't seem to stop people from having straight marriages, now does it? All relationships have challenges and dysfunctions.

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  3. And once you've mentioned a mundane problem that happens to afflict your alternative situation, it's very hard to get the mainstream down to a baseline amount of prejudice against the lifestyle:

    "Yeah, and communism works, *in theory*"

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  4. ahahaha...currently in a lesbian relationship while in a deeply homophobic place, and fuck do I hear you. I can't ever say I'm pissed off at my girlfriend, without my parents immediately starting in on how it proves I'm making a mistake...

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  5. ...and though lots of people probably tell poly folks to solve their problems through monogamy, nobody but Dan Savage tells arguing monogamous couples to try fucking other people. :D

    -perversecowgirl

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  6. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought of this XKCD comic...

    http://xkcd.com/385/

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  7. Ah, yes. I've been in one primary but open relationship for ten years now, and I still feel like I have to represent perfection to the outside for this reason, especially to my parents. It is not easy to find people to talk to when things do get fucked up. Even when I try it often quickly turns out that my 'normal' is already difficult for them to grasp, and then I usually give up on my hope for understanding of whichever problem I happen to have. Possible exceptions: other lovers past or present of my lover. With women who also like him a lot I can trust that they understand that I love him, that he is not just being a jerk because he sleeps with other women, that the relationship model itself is not the problem etc. Only when these are out of the way I can actually talk. But then, it is not always a good thing to burden them with my problems, being so close and involved. Nor do I always know or like them if I do...

    There is a funny turnaround to this as well: When people hear how long we've been together, I quickly get upgraded to 'person that can tell me how to keep my relationship together/find true love/dispense general relationship advice'. When I mention the open character of my relationship this quickly turns to 'none of what you tell me has any relevance to my life'.

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  8. This is SO TRUE.

    I am almost compulsively functional, because I don't want to be "that whiny chick who lets her depression ruin her life." Which makes people doubt whether my depression EXISTS, so.

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  9. @Ozymandias: That is extremely familiar. Sadly.

    Also, I feel I have to hide the fact that I'm despondent and see no real meaning in life, because, hey, us atheists keep banging on about how great and meaningful life can be without religion. I don't want to let the side down...

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  10. Urgh. We're transgendered and multiple, and we end up in this situation a lot, particularly with family. Everything from cutting our hair short to having to move due to the residence becoming dangerous have been blamed on us being "different" with the implication that if we were just to change, these things wouldn't happen.

    It means we spend a lot of time keeping our mouth shut and trying to be the Perfect Minority. It can be pretty exhausting, honestly.

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  11. The basic premise of the argument is magical thinking: follow the "right" lifestyle and some higher power will protect you from all misfortune.

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  12. I feel weird talking to monogamous friends about insecurities or issues that come up with the openness of my relationship because of the high risk of hearing, "Well, stop having this dysfunctional relationship where you're allowed to cheat on each other, duh."

    Fortunately I have a lot of friends who are also open or are comfortable with the concept.

    The most surprising thing, I get free counseling at a local University, and my most recent student counselor didn't bat an eyelash when I told her about my open relationship and orientation. She never once suggested or implied that either thing was a problem. It was surprising, refreshing, and saved us both a lot of time to work on real problems.

    I think the "mono&hetero ├╝ber alles" tide is turning. Slowly.

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  13. Anonymous 1 took the words right out my mouth. Also that specific XKCD.

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  14. Ugh, yeah. When I was cheated on in an open relationship I had to pick and choose who I could vent to about it.

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  16. People marrying and having intimate contact with Coach Leather Handbags? That's pretty kinky.

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  17. It doesn't get any better if you decide to leave the poly lifestyle for the monogamus one. Trying to explain my past to my current (and only) lover was interesting. He understood the whole 'I usualy prefer women' thing and took it in stride.. When it came to explaining that I used to have multiple lovers at one time, I had to explain just what poly was and he came back with 'I have another word for that...'. It was a rather exasperating conversation.

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  18. >> When people hear how long we've been together, I quickly get upgraded to 'person that can tell me how to keep my relationship together/find true love/dispense general relationship advice'. When I mention the open character of my relationship this quickly turns to 'none of what you tell me has any relevance to my life'. <<

    Yes, this exact thing happens to me too. (And then I sometimes go all Dan Savage on them and suggest they open the relationship... d'oh!)

    Totally seconding the original post too. It's good/crucial for me to know other poly/kink-friendly people who will GET IT.

    flightless

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  19. "See, this proves your whole lifestyle is flawed!"

    Actually, it proves that relationships are flawed; we really should just stick to solitary hunting and gathering.

    Actually, it proves that humanity is ultimately flawed, and we should just die off and let the other species have their habitats back.

    Actually, it proves that this whole "dry land" thing was a bad idea, and we never should have left the oceans in the first place.

    Actually...

    (P.S. I third the Anonymous comment about "magical thinking". I think that's very much behind a lot of this stuff.)

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  20. I am almost compulsively functional, because I don't want to be "that whiny chick who lets her depression ruin her life." Which makes people doubt whether my depression EXISTS, so.

    OMG Ozy YES.

    I have a few mental and physiological things goin' on that other people often don't understand: depression, low blood sugar, various food sensitivities, etc. And because people don't understand those things, they think I'm faking all of them for attention or something.

    My boyfriend is one of the first people ever to fucking accept that my body and brain work differently from other people's. And I remember one day we were walking home from somewhere and I was having a massive sugar crash and I realized "Oh my god, with Minx I can actually let myself be draggy and tired and easily winded and he won't get annoyed with me for 'being dramatic'. I don't have to fake being okay!"

    I'd never realized before how taxing it had been to not only be having health issues, but to have to "pull myself together" and hide those issues for the sake of those around me.

    Yeah, I'm keeping this boy. :)

    -perversecowgirl

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  21. You know what's especially shitty? I do that *to myself* sometimes. In that very first heat of hurt and unhappiness that comes with any kind of relationship conflict, I still, after all these years, find myself jumping to the "well, if we didn't date other people this would all be fine" conclusion.

    Because it's easy; because it's an explanation that the majority of the people you know will probably take at face value. Whatever's wrong, it's always turned out to be not because of the poly. But it's still a really tempting easy out when my brain's in oh-shitballs-everything's-falling-apart mode.

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  22. Thank you for pointing this pressure out. Between depression, atheism, and asexuality I've been dealing with this a lot, and seeing so many people respond in a way other than "it should be there, you have a duty to represent X" or "X is flawed, neener-neener" is refreshing.

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