‘Same-sex marriage’ vs ‘marriage equality’ and polyamory

Okay, confusing title, I know. But I’ll do my best to untangle it.

Mariage equality is a burning topic of debate right now, and one of the little things I’ve noticed in these discussions is the use of the term ‘same-sex marriage’ or ‘gay marriage’ vs ‘mariage equality’. Many people insist that mariage equality is the more politically correct term.

Well, you might see where I’m going with this blog entry.

The thing is, ‘mariage equality’ implies… well, equality. In general. Not specifically for same-sex couples. But, that’s kind of what people mean when they say marriage equality. They mean to say they support/condone same-sex marriage without regard for other types of relationships and their legal status. So why do people want the term ‘marriage equality’ to be used?

From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the main two reason are ‘same-sex marriage’ excludes trans and non-binary people, and the other being that it alienates gay people, making their marriage seem different from ‘normal’ marriage. Sure. Those seem like good reasons to use a different term. But then there’s the kicker. The alternative term, ‘marriage equality’ implies that once gays can marry, marriage rights will be equal across the board. And you can bet your ass I don’t agree with that sentiment.

So it seems that no matter which label you use, you are going to be incorrect- either alienating gay people, excluding trans people, or excluding poly people. For a while I was divided on this issue in my own mind. And then I read an article that made me see things another way.

Murray Lipp’s (2 year old) article explores the uses of both terms, and in it I found an interesting excerpt:

Marriage equality,” […] refers to the equal allocation of rights and benefits to all married couples, regardless of whether those couples are opposite-sex or same-sex. It does not describe a type of marriage.1

That’s when I found a happy medium in my own mind. We don’t need to change the term
‘marriage equality’ to be inclusive of polyamourous relationships. We just need to change its context. Marriage equality is a term that can be used for both same-sex couples and polyamorous families… and it doesn’t have to mean both at the same time. The US recently achieved marriage equality for same-sex couples, but that doesn’t have to imply they achieved marriage equality all-round.

At the end of the day, as long as any consenting adult can be in the relationship they chose without fear, the jargon doesn’t matter so much. It’s just always good to think about this stuff.
‘Till next time!

-Emma

Warts and all

Despite being slow on the updates lately, a lot has been happening in our little family. Over the past month, Aidan and I have done a lot of learning and a lot of growing.

I decided I wanted a short-term casual relationship on the side, and I ended up meeting someone I liked pretty quickly. I grabbed it with both hands and ran with it. That’s kind of a personality quirk of mine; I’m spontaneous and often find myself knee-deep in something before I’ve really thought it through. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not so good.

In this case, I was moving too fast for Aidan to really be comfortable with it. So after much negotiating, compromising, talking and (I won’t lie) a bit of fighting, we decided it had to end. I think everything’s back to normal now, but it’s sure been a hell of a ride. I learned a lot about Aidan and his core values, in ways I’d never have known if we hadn’t had this experience. That’s what I love about polyamory: it opens up issues that one wouldn’t experience in monogamy, so it means you learn things about your partner you’d have never known otherwise. So even though this whole experience has been…. somewhat negative, Aidan and I have come out on top, knowing more about each other than before. And that, I think, is the only real way a relationship can grow.

I also learned a few things about myself, and how I feel about polyamory. Since getting into it, I’ve kind of romanticised it, making it seem like all sunshine and roses. And for some reason, I found it really important that everyone around me see it as sunshine and roses too. I wanted people to see what polyamory is at its best; what it can be. But only showing the good side is just setting up for disappointment. And I think I am finally starting to accept polyamory for what it is, warts and all. I want to start showing people the negative sides too, because without them, you don’t grow and develop your relationship in that special way that only polyamory can bring.

Polyamory definitely has its downs, and sometimes the low points can be worse than in other kinds of relationships. But if you are strong enough to get through those low times, you will be rewarded with high points you could never dream of in monogamy.

-Emma

How to have a poly wedding

Ash and I were already engaged when I met Aidan. As young teens we always talked about having a white wedding and starting a family. When Ash popped out a ring, I was happier than I’d ever been (so happy that I started crying and forgot to say yes for about five minutes).

But things changed when Aidan and I hit the two year mark, and we realised that this was going to be a long-term thing. At first we agreed that Ash and I would have a wedding as planned, and later down the track Aidan and I would have a private exchanging of vows followed by a holiday. As time went on though, I started to feel guilty that I would be having a public celebration with Ash, whilst Aidan and I were planning something that felt like it needed to be kept secret from our friends and family.

I wanted something that would feel more ‘equal’, and Aidan and Ash agreed that we should think of another plan. There were a few scenarios that came up, but each seemed to have some kind of problem. We thought about having two separate weddings, a few years apart, but we felt like the second wedding would be less special, and our friends and family would resent having to do it all again. We thought about having a big combined wedding, where the three of us would celebrate our coming together as a family. But the boys really wanted their own special day with me.

For a while, I felt like I didn’t want to have any kind of wedding at all. The whole thing is just an expensive waste of time anyway. But deep down, my childhood dream of wearing a beautiful white dress and walking down the aisle could not be suppressed. And a few weeks back, as I was having a conversation with Ash, we figured out the perfect scenario.

We will be having one wedding over two days – a weekend – with one day being dedicated to each partnership. This way, each of us have our special day. Friends and family members can chose to come to one of the days or both, so that Aidan’s family won’t have to sit through Ash’s wedding and vice-versa. Because it’s on the same weekend, guests won’t have to make extra travel arrangements, can wear the same clothes, and only need to buy one gift for the whole event. 16

Since coming up with this idea, the three of us have been pretty excited. It seems like we’ve found the perfect solution. I know that organising a wedding is not easy, and having one with three people instead of two will make it all the more complicated. But at the same time, having the chance to make everyone happy is worth the extra effort!

-Emma

Polyphobia…?

6No matter where you go or what you do in life, there will always be someone who will be offended or disgusted. Polyamory is no exception. I’ve come across a few ‘polyphobes’ in my time, and most of the time it doesn’t even bother me. In fact, closed-mindedness and unfounded anger tends to make me laugh.

But there’s one thing I just don’t get, and that’s how someone could be pro-gay and anti-poly.

JUST HOW. THE HYPOCRISY BLOWS MY MIND.

This isn’t just me venting about one dumb argument I had with someone, by the way. Out of all the polyphobes I’ve met, MOST of them were also pro-gay. It’s made me realise that when people say they are pro-equality, many actually just mean they are pro-whateveriscooltosupportatthemoment. It saddens me to think that ‘gay’ is just one more label that’s becoming accepted, rather than people themselves becoming more accepting.

The arguments I hear are the same that people use when comparing interracial marriage and gay marriage. “BUT IT’S DIFFERENT!!11”. Yeah… I guess it is a bit different, but it still doesn’t concern you. So um… kindly fuck off? Thanks.

-Emma

Polyamory: a choice or hard-wired?

I hear a lot of poly people insist that they are ‘born this way’ and couldn’t ever be comfortable in a relationship with only one other person. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of couples out there who are happy just being monogamous, yet would also be prepared to let another join their family if it worked out that way.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this dichotomy over the years, and I still don’t know whether my own instance of polyamory is one or the other. On the one hand, I know that I can be happy in a monogomus relationship as I had been with Ash in the years before I met Aidan. But at the same time, I feel more at peace knowing I have the both of them to love me in their own way.

Since polyamory is still fairly new (and sometimes, completely unknown) to the wider public, there hasn’t been much research on the topic, let alone specific questions like this one. I think it would be really interesting to see a study on this; to see if polyamory can be chosen as a lifestyle preference, or if it’s more like a sexuality that you are born with. For me, I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle, but with some more self exploration I might start to lean to one side or the other. What about you? Post a comment and let us know if you are polyamorous by choice or hard-wired this way!

-Emma

Roses are red

So I thought it was about time I wrote a little about how things are going with the newest member of our family.

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Honestly, I’ve never had a friend like her. We just share so many interests – the kinds of interests that are so specific or obscure that we rarely find anyone else to talk about them with. It makes communication really easy. If something important comes up, it’s never awkward striking up a conversation out of the blue. And if there’s a problem we need to discuss, we can sort it out then smoothly segway into a happier topic.

So I’ve never had even the smallest issue with her on a personal level. But as is to be expected, polyamory makes emotions a little more complex. Although I’ve always been comfortable with the idea of sharing a partner with someone else, this is the first time I’ve had a proper metamour. And I’ve been dealing with a lot of new emotions and thoughts which I wasn’t expecting. But it’s helped me grow as a person. It’s helped me pinpoint why I feel uncomfortable about certain things, and it’s forced me to tackle my fear and uncertainty head on.

One thing I learned from all this was that most of my jealousy/discomfort came from a fear of the unknown. I wasn’t afraid of something bad happening; I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen, be it good, bad or neutral. When you break down your emotions like this, it becomes so much easier to deal with. Unfortunately, I can’t see into the future, so I can’t just find out what’s going to happen and settle my fears that way. I have to take a different approach. I’ve been encouraging schedules and structure between the three of us so that we can set goals and make short-term plans. I’ve also made an effort to communicate with both Aidan and Rose, so that we can discuss hypotheticals and how we can overcome possible problems.

So I’ve been able to ease my mind a bit with these strategies. But there still is (and probably will always be) a certain degree of fear, uncertainty and jealousy that I will experience. That’s the main thing I’ve learned; being polyamorous doesn’t mean you don’t get jealous or scared. It means that you find ways to deal with your emotions via communication and compromise, so that they don’t become an issue in your relationship.

Signing off!

Emma

Emotional support and polyamory

So far most of my blog posts have been lighthearted stories or resources, with some sarcasm thrown in to disguise my lack of writing skills. But today I’m going to write about something a little different, and a lot more personal to me. Like many women, I have pretty low self esteem when it comes to body image. Combine that with an unhealthy relationship with food and you get an eating disorder.

Being in a polyamorus relationship makes my issues both easier and harder to deal with at times. On one hand, I have two men constantly telling me how beautiful and wonderful I am. But on the other hand, I sometimes have thoughts like “with the way I look, I don’t deserve having two amazing partners.”

The great thing about being polyamorous is that you have twice (or three or four times) as much support. Between the two guys and Aidan’s backward-ass work hours, I have 24 hour access to someone who I can cuddle or talk to about personal stuff. But the best part is that each of the guys have their own way of supporting me. Ash will make cute faces, say silly things to make me laugh, and play games with me to take my mind of things. Aidan will have deep conversations with me and help me get to the core of what’s bothering me. He’ll stay level-headed when my emotional side gets the best of me and offer me practical solutions. Thanks to my two lovely boys, I get the best of both worlds.

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‘Till next time!

-Emma

Being polyamorous in Hobart, Australia

Ash, Aidan and I live in a small but slowly developing town called Hobart. It’s at the bottom of the world, quite literally. If you look at a map of Australia, you’ll notice Tasmania, the little triangle-shaped island south of the mainland. Almost at the very bottom of this island is Hobart. It’s a beautiful place and there are lots of great things about living here.

But one of the best things is that Tasmania is full of hippies progressive people. While not legalised yet, gay marriage is widely supported. It’s culturally diverse and everywhere you go there’s art, community projects and good food and wine. Being the place that it is, Hobart is a pretty damn convenient place to find yourself as a polyamorous person.

Don3‘t get me wrong, we do get some weird looks when we walk down the street hand-in-hand-in-hand. Polyamory is only just starting to come into the public eye, and a lot of people still don’t even know what it is. But for the most part, the residents here are pretty relaxed and easy going, and I like to think that’s not just because they’re all high on weed.

‘Coming out’ to our friends and family was actually pretty easy. Aside from a couple of people who were worried I was taking advantage of Ash, the news was quite well received. But I’m leaving the details of that story for another post :)

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

Thoughts on compersion

As you might have seen in my recent article with definitions of common polyamorous terms, compersion is the beautiful feeling one experiences when someone they care about is happy. It is often described as the opposite emotion to jealousy. There are two examples which are often used to describe the feeling to those who have not experienced it in a polyamorous sense. Those two examples are: being happy for your partner when they get a promotion at work, and the feeling you get when your child gets a good grade, or gets picked for a position in a sports 1team/band/play etc.

While they give the general idea of compersion, they are not perfect examples. In both of these situations, one might find themselves feeling happy, not for their loved one, but for themselves. “My kid got a good grade, I can brag about this to my friends!” or “this promotion will mean extra money for us/me!” Most people, myself included, will have been guilty of receiving someone else’s good news and been happy for themselves. It doesn’t make us awful people, it just makes us people. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

Here is another analogy I came up with. You might switch on the news one day and hear about a mother whose child was cured of a life-threatening illness. That mother’s experience doesn’t have any positive consequences on you or anyone you know, yet you still feel relief and happiness.

Maybe this example is a little serious for the lighthearted, fluffy emotion that is compersion. But I feel like I needed to make a more concrete example that separates feelings of being happy for yourself from feelings of being happy for other people.

All that said, I think it’s just one of those things you need to experience for yourself to understand the true gravity of it. In short, it’s a wonderful feeling!

Talking to acquaintances about polyamory

Ahhh, did I say I was going to update every single day? That was a bad typo on my part. What I actually meant to write was, “I’m unbelievably lazy and I’ll update whenever I feel like it, probably no more than a few times a month”. It’s funny how a few incorrect letters can change the whole meaning of a sentence, isn’t it?

So, to business. This topic has been on my mind for a while, since as I’ve started university recently and I find myself interacting with the human race a lot more than I used to. The last time I talked to strangers about my relationship(s) was in high school, and that was easy because I would just talk about my one partner and nobody would bat an eyelid.

Now I want you to think back to before you knew anything about polyamory. You’re chatting with someone you’ve just met, and the topic of relationships comes up. “Do you have a partner at the moment?” you ask casually. “Oh, I actually have two.”

Say what?

This seems to be an increasingly common scenario in my current life. And for me, the concept is so normal and mundane I often forget that most people haven’t even heard of polyamory. The next two or three hours of the conversation are usually spent explaining how I can be having sex with two guys without either of them wanting to rip the other’s jugular out.8

It can be exhausting explaining it over and over. You might be wondering why I even bother to tell people at all when I could just answer with “I’m in a relationship” and not be lying. For the first year or so of being polyamorous, that’s exactly what I did. But I hated pretending to be someone I wasn’t. And more importantly, I learned a lesson. That is, the longer you know someone, the harder it becomes to tell them that you’re actually a freak. I have a few friends who, to this day, don’t know I have two partners. Whenever I talk about Aidan or Ash I just say “my partner”, leaving them with a weird hybrid impression of both of them as the same person. Which leads to another problem: “Wait, you said your partner is a librarian? I thought you said he was a baker?”

So as time went on, I started telling people at the earliest possible convenience. Even though I am putting myself out there as a poly person and will thereafter be judged as such, it saves a lot of stress later on, especially if that acquaintance becomes a friend. And it also filters out those superficial people who only want to be your friend if they think you’ll be a good-looking accessory at their dinner parties.

Stay tuned!

-Emma