polyamory: a primer

I scrolled through my DVR with as low expectations as I could muster.  Having missed the premier of Polyamory: Married and Dating, I had successfully avoided peer reviews, but no matter how much I would have liked to imagine a well represented poly arrangement I know better.  Expecting a realistic reference for polyamory from reality television would be like taking parenting classes from 18 Kids and Counting or however many they’re up to now.  In any case, what I managed to give myself was a double dose of WTF and healthy side of assurance that even on our most human days Hubby and I are not as far behind the curve as it sometimes seems.

My first impression of the actual show was pretty much on par with my expectations.  It started with a photobooth, so I was pretty happy.  There was a huge focus on sex, and it seems like these people just break off and randomly have sex a lot, but it’s Showtime, so I guess I expected it.  The rest of the show was hit or miss.

The initial group, a triad, clearly had some issues with jealousy that are being glossed over and sugar-coated with rules.  I want to write them a letter telling them that what they’re looking for is a house slave, not a girlfriend.  I can understand having input from established partners, but “veto” powers breed power trips and resentment, and I’m not sure I would stay with a couple who required me to ask for permission to fall in love.  Then to berate her and whine about her being insensitive about their feelings while telling her she had to back off from someone she loved without seeming to care about her feelings?  I was angry for her, honestly, but it got serious when they showed up at her outing because they didn’t trust her, and that wasn’t the first time they interrupted her like they were  peeing on her to make sure the new boyfriend knew his place.  I guess it made up for it that once they got their way they were magnanimous enough to let them have some alone time.  It didn’t seem to me like she broke the rules.  They obviously knew this guy existed, but because they weren’t comfortable with NRE and they didn’t feel included she had to step away?  Then she bothered to use logic and the same reasons they used against her and had it thrown in her face!  Friends, Lindsey showed a whole lot more self-control than I might have in her situation.  My tertiary concern is for the boyfriend and his perception of polyamory because of the actions of Lindsey’s partners.  I’ll be interested to see how it pans out.

The second group, a foursome, seemed to have their communication a little more worked out despite the misleading quote, “who better to learn about relationships from than someone who’s doing, like, twelve relationships”.   While they admitted jealousy did exist, because they are human, they discussed it like adults for the most part.  I say for the most part, because towards the end one of the women mentioned that her girlfriend was not allowed to see anyone else.  I guess if the girlfriend can accept that arrangement it’s no one’s business but theirs, but it seems a little selfish and silly to demand a partner in a poly relationship not have other partners.  What followed was a childish “he called me mono because he wants to sleep with my girlfriend, and I don’t want anyone to sleep with my girlfriend, but I’m the queen of poly. I just want to be special!”  back and forth that broke the glamour of their mastery of communication.  I admit it was really neat to watch them enter this part of their lives together.  Hubby and I talk a lot about building our household, and originally I had some of the same questions and concerns, but the overall feeling has been hopeful.  I am really looking forward to seeing how the household functions and how the son is incorporated, how they work as a family.

I intend to keep watching, not just with a sense of train-wreck-esque awe, but to see how it all develops.  So far it’s been a good reminder of two things.  One, no matter how any relationship looks on paper, each one has its issues and weak points.  The difference between a successful poly relationship and a failing one is how those points are addressed and handled.  The second thing is this.  Showtime could cast a different group of people every episode and not portray a typical poly relationship, because none that I’ve ever come across has been like any other, which is why I laughed when I heard Micheal use the words “poly rules”.  There are none but the ones my family decides to use.  I may not agree with the way these groups run their houses, but they’re not mine.

Thank gods.