Poly bio-etiquette?


This article really captured for me the greatest and hardest parts of long distance polyamory.  Many of these components are magnified and extended by long distance- particularly obsessiveness, emotional ups and downs, and intrusive thoughts.

If polyamory follows the biological description in this article, it would make sense that once a couple reaches the long term attachment phase, they could be ready to fall in love with someone new.  Husband and I were together 8 years before we started exploring swinging and then polyamory.   I wonder though, maybe for some people, they truly can be in the active “in love” phase with two or more people at the same time?   The article says that is biologically impossible.  Is this accurate?

If it is, what if someone is actively dating two or more people in the same time frame?  Poly philosophy actively encourages acceptance of doing this.  But if the science is correct, they can’t form genuine love with both simultaneously, so then why are they doing it?  Eventually, isn’t one just a fuck buddy and the other one is getting the real feels?  This means that if two or more people are being dated at the same time and in the same time frame, only one person can “win” the real feels at that point in time.  In this sense, poly dating is monogamous.  The others will now have to wait their turn.  Maybe in about 6 months to two years (or longer if long distance), they will be able to be a contender for a real relationship.   In other words, polyamory may be loving more than one at the same time, but it’s really being in active “head over heels” phase with only one at a time, while being securely loving/attached to the other(s).

It seems that an etiquette should evolve based on this information (maybe it has and I haven’t heard of it).  I know there is a lot of recognition of NRE and encouraging people to be sure not to neglect their longer term partner(s) while being excited about their new partner, but I haven’t read anything about etiquette in terms of dating and relationship timing.

Using the science of this, etiquette ideas include-

-Only dating a new partner once you have reached the attachment phase and are no longer in the NRE phase with pre-existing partner.

-Date around with multiple people to see what connections form, but once you start developing NRE/in love biochemicals for someone, just focus on pre-existing partner(s) and current dating partner.  Politely end things with other dating partners because biologically, you are incapable of having the interest and emotional investment they might deserve.

-If someone is in active NRE/love phase with you, even if you are tempted to start seeing someone new, you might save a lot of drama and pain by respecting their NRE and waiting until stable attachment phase.   Although it could be possible that some poly people are completely fine with ongoing dating regardless of NRE phases and they don’t experience the intense obsessiveness, instability, addictive like behavior that can make it a lot harder to “share” someone.

-Don’t blame yourself or others for not being “poly” enough at these times, blame the biochemical brain bath!


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Summer cycle

After three years of long distance poly, I’ve become all too familiar with carrying around a heavy heart at the end of each visit.  Yesterday was particularly hard since it was the last day of three weeks of summer visiting.  Feast, and then several months of famine to follow.

My youngest daughter has a particular talent for being the barometer for the unspoken energy in the room, and that morning she whined and wailed over oatmeal like her heart was breaking.  We were running around, emptying out the vacation rental before checkout time.  I went to make more coffee and the pot skittered out of my hands and shattered everywhere.  Then, not so long afterwards, unbelievable, I’m putting the coffee maker away- sans coffee pot- and I knock the blender off a shelf and it too shattered in the same spot I had just swept clean of a million glass shards.

Then I somehow tweaked my hip in a spot that I didn’t even know was tweak-able.

Then Husband and I arrived home and the force of the three weeks hit me like a tsunami.  There were reminders of week 1-when we were at their house- and week 2- when they were at our house-  all over the place.  Week 3 feels like a suspended state that evaporated suddenly and now I’m surreal.  Dropped upside down like a container of glass, muddled and in shards.  Then I’ll climb out of it, then I’ll regain my energy, then the growing force of longing, then scheduling visits, anticipation anxiety, reunion and then cycle again.  And again, motherfucker.

For me, this has been the summer of grappling with “what’s the point?” as I reconcile with reality.  This question probably would have occurred years earlier, but I was in anticipation and wait mode.   For most of our time together, Boyfriend’s big project and deadline hung over us.  My focus became about waiting until it was done, and- I’m now realizing- the fantasy that came with that.  We are now, finally, in Post-Project life.  I didn’t realize I had a whole fantasy about what this would be like until week 1 of summer visiting.  After a few days, I realized oh right..we are still stressed, tired, parenting, working adults.   

We are not re-energized.  We are about to have a second youth.  We will not achieve some new state of reunion.  We are not free.

So we are tired, stressed, working adults and we still muster up the resources and energy and time required to travel 4.5 hours and visit approximately 8 times a year and…then what?  We’re just going to continue to do that?  And if we do, what’s the point?  95% turmoil and 5% bliss?  The cycle of visits and life in between visits is one of physiological and emotional upheaval.  Husband and I bottom out after visits and we look at each other over an abyss of pain.  Then we climb out and look for re-reconnection, and sometimes that’s hard too.

Sometimes I start to worry that this was all in my head, an idealized, projected fantasy of what this is and could be.  Then I see Boyfriend and catch that glimpse of soul connection and re-remember that I didn’t make that part up.

After a few years, it becomes easy to forget that it’s some sort of craziness that we ever connected in the first place- the four of us- in the way that we have, and that it persisted in spite of life stress and depressions and anxieties and crushing Projects and misunderstandings and resentments and long distance.   But then again, maybe I’ve imbued this with a sense of fate that creates an idealized expectation.  Maybe there is no fate.  Maybe we are not a soul group traveling lifetimes together and meant to meet in this life or something nutso but awesome like that.  Maybe just is and nothing more.

Look at it this way- if it was allowed to follow the usual course of relationships and we were all living together- we would be habituated.  Emotionally, things might feel more stable and predictable and plateaued, but then what?  Everyday hassles and taken-for-grantedness and why-haven’t-you-taken-out-the-garbageness.  I don’t want that either.

Boyfriend aptly reminded me of the great scene from Louie that re-frames the suffering that comes with love.  I get to suffer because I get to love.  We do it because we lucked out and a life that rips you up and makes you uncomfortable on a regular basis means renewal and it means needing to figure out a new way to live it.

Louie – Misery Is Wasted On The Miserable

Louie – Misery Is Wasted On The Miserable


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The Art of Waiting for a Thousand Days

When Husband and I first met Boyfriend, he told us he was working on a project that was bigger and more consuming than expected, but it would be done in the fall.  Unfortunately, the project only continued to become more massive and stressful, with repeated deadline extensions.  The project did not technically finish for another thousand days- 1,042 to be exact.

During all this, Boyfriend’s time and availability was limited.  He was in chronic ‘work mode’ and even when he did allow himself to make time for a visit or a chat, the constant feeling of “I should be working” hung heavily over him.  The project consumed everyone it touched, and as he pointed out afterwards, it should have failed.  There were so many obstacles, so many points where it should have just collapsed on itself.

The same holds true for our quad.  The poly quad is a configuration that often doesn’t work in the best of scenarios- and here we were, plugging along while also doing long distance and with this beastly project on our backs.  This is not to say that we have survived wholly intact.  Most of our interactions with Boyfriend individually and especially as a group began to revolve around his stress levels and work load. We stopped voicing concerns and issues because it would take time to process them. Husband and Boyfriend’s friendship fell by the wayside and Husband became more frustrated the longer it went on and with how it impacted everyone in different ways.  Husband’s anger began to impact his relationship with me over the past year.

Now we are on the other side and have begun to work through it.  Adjusting and working through the emotions and frustrations that built up will take time, but I feel very optimistic.  We are all still here, despite the odds.

Now that I can turn and look at my thousand day wait, it is interesting to see the progress and movement I made even when at the time it felt like I was at a standstill for an eternity. Polyamory is valuable to me because I believe in the enrichment, ongoing communication, and growth that it brings.  Since I had to experience this in such constricted blips of time, it became about how to endure and how to feel love and to feel loved even when someone is absent.

Year 1:  Falling in love and weaning myself off.   The first six months were the all consuming process of chatting, visiting, getting to know each other and falling in love.  Then he began to withdraw to focus on the project.  The agony of seeing messages dwindle and the increasing gaps of time between chats was like coming off of an addiction.  Logically I knew this was what needed to happen, but my body experienced it like a break up and I desperately longed for interaction and reassurance.   It was not a normal transition from the giddy falling in love phase to the bonding phase.  My body didn’t know what the fuck was up.  I also had a lot to learn about his communication style and how he compartmentalized his emotions while working so hard.

Year 2: Poly drops and logic/brain vs emotion/body.   This dilemma between the brain and the body continued.  I would have visits, then long periods of time of minimal communication.  The visits were all inclusive, confirming that the connection was as strong and soul warming as ever, and then I would go home and it would fall off a cliff.  I would crash emotionally and physically.  I would grapple with my logic that understood why things were this way and with my attachment system that could only howl like a toddler at the absence.

Year 3: The coast.   After many hundreds of grappling bouts between brain and body, one day my body “got it.”  I could see and feel during visits that he clearly loves me, and I could retain that knowledge at all levels after visits and in between visits.  I became accepting of the way things were, enjoyed my deepened and supportive friendship with Metamour, and looked forward to the future.

The irony is that now that the future is finally here, I’ve reconciled so well that I don’t feel all that different.  I’m not feeling deprived or starving for his attention like I was during Year 2.  I want things to be more balanced, I want to receive support as well as give support, but I’m content to just be and not actively go looking for it to be a certain way or for it to “make up” for all the time we missed.  I’m content to sit back while he recovers and begins to become more active on our chat threads.  Metamour was here this weekend, and I’m excited to visit Boyfriend next weekend.  Life is good.




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Politics ptsd

Words fail to capture the devastation, heartbreak and terror I felt when I watched the numbers roll in on election night.  Since then I have been grappling with numbness, discouragement, helplessness, fear, resolve, hope, dread, grief, not wanting to read the news, morbid fascination with reading the news.  I attended a march in my area and the numbers exceeded everyone’s expectations.

What a feeling to be stuck in a country that is starting to violently trample every value and moral and human right that I have.  I want out, but I can’t.  I want to resist and fight in the most effective way possible, but I don’t know how.

Fascinating how this feels like the end of the world and extremely ominous for some, and for others, they gladly voted for it.  I rely on my ability to be empathetic and understand other perspectives, but I can’t even begin to comprehend this.




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Poly in the psyche

Oh hi.  It has been a while.

The video clip (see below) from the Young Turks about monogamy is interesting.  Lots of nervous laughter, assumptions, and really not quite getting it.  It reminds me again of how the topic has to be truly absorbed and experienced and twisted on its head, and when you come out after, you have a different lens altogether.  If you try to discuss the idea without doing all that work first, you fall short.  You’ll keep returning to a variation of “it’s pretty much cheating, with permission.”


I visited Boyfriend last weekend and we have a group visit coming up in a couple weeks.  Adjusting back to everyday life after a mostly poly summer took some doing.

I’m pretty amazed when I reflect on how constant this has been, not only outwardly, but in my psyche.  Boyfriend and Metamour live in my brain, all the time.  What a curious thing, to have a part of my mind always devoted to people I don’t see in person.  I don’t have to consciously generate any effort or focus, it fuels itself.   “Out of sight, out of mind” does not apply here and sometimes it’s surprising to me when I think about it.  It just doesn’t stop or fade away, even after this much time.   This is probably what happens to parents when their children leave home or to military spouses or others in LDR relationships.   Only in a situation like this can we be so aware of how love internalizes the other and makes it part of the self for as long as we live.  It’s pretty amazing.  Why do we fear loss so much, when this is possible?






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Expectations vs Reality in Poly Life

Got a kick out of this-

The polylife logbook

What people that do not know me think of, when I tell them I’m poly:


What people that do know me think when I explain to them that I’m poly…


What my life mostly looks like:


Oh well… baby steps! 😉

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Poly Space

Metamour and I were talking one day about relationship transition and how the next phase of our relationships doesn’t translate as well to long distance.  Phone and chat/text is a pretty good vehicle for phase 1:  the getting to know you/NRE phase.  The extra boost in curiosity and energy generates a lot of exchanges and flirting.

If it was an in-person relationship, often the transition to the next phase is barely noticed. Things happily go from the honeymoon phase to a cozy, comfortable, bonded phase and likely accompanied by an event such as moving in together.  In a long distance relationship, however, the transition from the energized phase to the next can sometimes feel like dropping off a cliff.  The next phase is characterized by…less chat.  You have cozy, comfortable, connected visits and then you go home and you have…less chat.

We are in weird territory.  Most people probably do not continue past the end of the first phase with long distance, at least in the monogamous version.  By two years, people either move to be together or they break up.   I’ve been with Boyfriend for over two years and by all rights, should have that phase 2 cozy, daily connection, but here I am, feeling disconnected and not knowing what he’s thinking or feeling on a given day and vice versa.  When you’ve been with someone that long, it is jarring and discombobulating and sucky to have no window into their life unless they are typing to you enough so that you can see.

Metamour and I started joking about having a camera in each other’s houses, so we could look at a screen and, in a glance, be able to resolve that disconnected “I have no idea what they are doing” feeling.  Then after the conversation, I thought of that again and thought “Why not?”  If we are going to do long distance indefinitely, we have to get creative.  Boyfriend went out and got the “Nest” camera.  Now, with one touch on my phone screen, I can see him in his office.  Nest is technically a security camera, but it works great for what I had in mind.  I don’t feel blind and cut off anymore.

Ideally someday we could have a full size monitor on a wall in our house, and it would be like a ‘window’ into their house.  We could wave at each other as we walk by, have coffee together, etc.  This way we can together in a new kind of space, with visual and audio, even though we live over four hours apart.  Amazing what technology can make possible.






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