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Polyamory_meme_poster

So, much like last season I am late to the review game on Showtime’s Polyamory: Married and Dating, but I did want to cover it, so here we go.

As you remember, last season my criticism was pretty much what you’d expect of any review of any reality show, its lack of reality.  That was the trend that poured from the poly community, and Showtime must have absorbed it all.  The result was a season that dealt with some pretty serious issues if your household is going through them.

In season two we see the newly introduced triad experiencing some friction right out of the gate.  We see a lot of lessons from this triad that I’ve written about before.  Leigh Ann is feeling left out of the loop because life sometimes just isn’t cooperative with the schedules we’d like to keep.  Instead of talking to her husband, Chris, and their girlfriend, Megan, about it she has an affair, which she tries to justify with the poor excuse that she feels she’s being neglected at home.  We find out after some time that she has some resentment over how involved Megan is in their marriage and that she has felt this way since the beginning.  The two remaining member of the triad are railroaded by this sudden revelation, as it had not been discussed in the entire three years of the relationship.

The lessons here are:

  • Communication, communication, and even more communication.  Before poly. During poly.  Communicate.
  • Cheating is always cheating.  Own your behaviour, don’t excuse it.
  • Never be poly or arrange your relationship just to make a partner happy.  Talk about it and compromise, but don’t just let it happen, or it will most likely fall apart on you all later.  There is no room in poly for conflict avoidance or placation.

The situation with the triad also brings up a few good points.  What do you do if you’re deeply committed to one partner and the other decides it isn’t working?  As a triad this is huge.  Do you ask to continue with the other person outside of the triad?  Do you risk your marriage trying not to lose either one?  Do you agree to have the conflicted partner see others as well?  Chris grapples with these questions as he tried to save his marriage and be true to Megan and her feelings, and neither of them seem to consider the place it puts him in as she fights for her relationship with him.

From last year’s pod we see a lot of new energy.  There are new partners, but there is also new drama.  Jen’s relationship with a man who can’t quite accept polyamory puts her in a rather awkward situation where she agrees not to even play with anyone new.  I have made this request myself when I felt a need for some foundation building in a new relationship, but in this case it seems like he doesn’t want to try to embrace polyamory.  This kind of attitude can be detrimental to a relationship, and unless the monogamous partner is at least willing to be open-minded about the poly partner’s lifestyle.  Towards the end of the season Jen is already starting to feel the strain of the restrictions and emotional needs of the relationship.  We see the exact opposite with Michael’s insistence that his new girlfriend be involved sexually with his wife.  They are both unable to accept that she might not be interested or willing to be, and she makes a good point in asking that their relationship be focused on the two of them for a while not her interactions with his other lovers.

I do have to commend Showtime for how they portrayed Tahl’s experimentation with bisexuality and his budding relationship with Christian.  We’re usually so inundated with homoeroticism on a very carnal level that we are barely presented with a real, emotional picture of how these interactions can go, especially when bisexuality is involved.  We hardly ever see two masculine hetero-normative  bi men represented showing tenderness and playfulness with each other.  Kudos, Showtime!

In the end I got exactly what I asked for last season, a portrayal of the side of poly that was not of some Shangr-la existence.  No, we got to see some of the human aspects of poly relationships.  The catch?  This is what opponents of polyamory want to see.  These are the things that say “see? this is why this relationship model must fail”, because we most commonly associate things about which we are unsure or blatantly against with negative portrayals.  My family grocery shopping is boring.  My family constantly having our hands on each other is unrealistic.  My family having issues to work through like any other relationship in the world is proof that polyamory is a sham.  The moment we come out as poly we are examples.  We are lessons.  We are representatives, and anything we do, any way we act, and any mistakes we make are takes as typical.  Season 2 brings up the most important lesson I have had to learn being poly.  Just because the relationship falters or fails doesn’t mean that poly has failed.  It just means those particular people needed to grow or move on from each other.  If these people were having these issues as single people in the dating world there would not be a show about it.

Go now, live your reality,

Namaste

 

I know I’m a little late to the game, but what else is new.  I finally got around to my long-lost DVR to watch the last two episodes of Polyamory: Married and Dating.  I have to admit, that while I still have my fundamental issues with the show as a whole I was able to find some good points hidden within like gems of epiphanies.

Trust and honesty are key.  Whether or not you believe in the rules set forth, you have to be able to be trusted to follow them.  If you have a serious problem about it, you talk about it.  You do not get sneaky and look for loopholes.  You do not just decide that they don’t matter and you can break them whenever you feel they are unnecessary.  You do not try to justify breaking them.  You apologize and do what you can to resolve the situation.  Poly or not, lying is lying.  On the flip side, if someone has told you she would do something you’ve asked, believe her.  Do not follow her and show up to validate.  Again, sneaky.  Trust your partner, and do not give your partners a reason not to trust you.

Coming out is extremely freeing and empowering.  I was extremely nervous about my family reading my blog and talking to them about our family at first.  In the end, once I was able to be open and honest about it I feel more free and strong than ever.  I finally felt like we could be  family and grow as a family.  I know not everyone has as supportive and loving a family as I have, but I cannot describe how much more complete I felt to share such a big part of my life with them.  Even if they don’t always understand they try, and that’s what’s truly important.  We are still working on the “well, it’s just family, so just you two” mindset, but in time it will come. In time our family unit will be a normal thing to those around us.  It’s been much easier to move in that direction now that my mother-in-law has seen us interact and express our love in a very healthy and non-spectacled way.

Commitment is beautiful and possible.  During the season finale the triad has a beautiful commitment ceremony.  It was inspiring and hopeful.  The dice were a little cheesy, and mine would include our families, but the idea and intention were spot on.  We do this for family, at least our family does.  We do this to be connected as kindred.  Just because it isn’t legally recognized doesn’t make it any less meaningful or lasting.

Will I watch the next season?  Most likely.  Will I be just as critical?  Probably.  Will I still keep an open mind despite my skepticism? Definitely.  If this is what works for them, more power to them.

Go now, be your own reality.

Namaste

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.

Today I had a fantastic Valentine’s Day adventure with my boyfriend, Matt.  It started with a scavenger hunt through the Philadelphia Museum of Art and focused on nudes.  When we got there we were given a sheet of clues and an answer sheet and sent on our way, slipping in and out of galleries like Indiana Jones on a quest!  We had two hours to answer 30 witty questions, and the timing was pretty much perfect.  At the end of those two hours we reconvened, our answers were scored, and the winners were announced.  We got 25 correct answers!  Not bad for our first hunt, eh?

My overall impression was fantastic!  The questions were challenging, but most of them were clear and not impossible to answer.  We learned a lot of new facts about artwork we’ve seen dozens of times, noticed a few we hadn’t before, and really took the time to look at the details of the museum itself.  A few of the directions were a little vague, but we only got lost once.  Most of the time the prompts were easy to follow and the description of what we were using to verify the correct location were spot on and quite amusing.  The hunt was an excellent workout, but also very well laid out, so we weren’t too exhausted to finish, nor did we waste time traversing the building.

Upon review of their website, I am highly impressed with Watson Adventures.  Teaming up in groups of two to six makes it an excellent date or poly family outing, and while the nude hunt was adult only they have several designed for kids and families.  They have hunts at the zoo, historic locations, and other museums as well, so your family can pick one that suits your interests.  While the point of the hunts are to answer questions, they also give you the Reader’s Digest tour of the venue and provide a little education at the same time, and the two-hour duration was perfect for my weak bladder, and would be just enough time for a child’s attention span or an afternoon date.  The organizers make it fun and exciting, and it really does serve as a team building and mind flexing exercise. They also do a great job of having everyone start on a question that puts that team in a location different from any other team to avoid a mob taking over the venue.

A few quick facts about Watson Adventures, found on their website (here).

  • They have existed since 1999, and I don’t know why or how I haven’t known about them until now!
  • They are in eight cities all across the nation, including my favourites, Chicago and San Francisco.
  • They will do private hunts, including birthday parties, corporate events, bachelorette hunts (again, why did I NOT know this?), and more.

Whether it was the hunt, love, or the simple fact that we’re both pretty serious geeks, Matt and I had a blast and are planning to do more of these scavenger hunts.  If the rest of the family can behave, we might take them with us.

Go now, find some clues!

Aloha!

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