Polyamory, self-improvement, and mainstream conservatism (oh my!) January 26, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory, Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: conservative, progressive, self improvement
I was pexting (poly texting. Alternate ‘ptexting’. All rights reserved. That’s right folks, I share partners but not patented phrases) with Gina earlier and we started talking about how being in the relationships she is in is providing motivation to be a better person.
Specifically, she was talking about how awesome I am by saying…well, I will let her own words express it:
I know…becoming addicted to you has resulted in me becoming more responsible, more organized and more committed to a positive lifestyle.
And I was all like, that’s awesome. I like being with people who are into self-improvement and all that stuff. And I appreciate how being with her has a similar influence on me. She and Ginny, together and individually, inspire me to persist in my own project to grow and mature further.
She capped it off by saying
My love for you makes me do dishes
See, for those of you that don’t know me well, I’m a bit on the tidy side. I’m not crazy about it, I just do dishes after cooking (the vast majority of the time), put away clothes rather than letting them stay on the floor etc, and do things like organize my various objects. The other people in our little polycule (I can’t claim that term as my own invention), not so much.
But that has improved, largely due to my influence as well as their genuine desire to make me a part of their lives. You see, I clean because to be around significant clutter makes me viscerally uncomfortable and anxious, which they know about me. And because they want me to be calm and relaxed in the space we share, they (often, but not always) make an effort to make themselves more organized.
As demonstrated by these positive attributes, there is a general sense of wanting to actually grow as people among the people in my life. There is a desire to actually improve ourselves intellectually, emotionally, and sexually. It is a result, I believe, of having the right attitudes towards relationships and the world.
These attitudes are not unique to polyamory, of course, nor are all polyamorous people actually good at such things. But in my experience, having these complicated networks of relationships with people of various strengths, weaknesses, and different levels of experiences exponentially increases your own relationship experience and makes it more likly that we will mature faster.
Either that, or like natural selection it will eliminate those who are not capable of such lifestyles and those people will usually return to monogamy because it is easier and less emotionally challenging.
My experience with polyamory has opened me up to people of quality (and some not so quality who have returned to either normality or to unhealthy poly relationships), circumstances of personal challenge, and the freedom to truly be myself in ways that I don’t often see in mainstream culture because of the conservative and restrictive nature of hetero-normative monogamous culture.
In many ways, self-improvement is a progressive trait, even if most ‘progressives’ are too conservative in other ways to see what I see as regressive sex and relationship norms. it’s my belief that the progressives of today will largely be the conventional and mainstream social conservatives of the next few generations. As the current conservatism dies out, it will be replaced with a less crazy mainstream conservatism. As gay marriage becomes mainstream, polyamorous marriage will become radical and eventually progressive, for example. Time will tell if I am right.
But back to today….
Having now surrounded myself with people whom I actually like, as well as a more recent attitude to only spend personal effort with people I think worth the time, means that I will likely find new challenges and see new possibilities for more substantial personal growth.
My polyamorous lifestyle creates motivation to make myself a better person. It has contributed significantly to this effort that is, frankly, invisible to much of the world. When you live in abnormal lifestyles and have abnormal opinions, the abnormality is most of what the world sees, even the friends you have had for years but whom you don’t see every day.
I wish more people could understand what both skepticism and polyamory have done to improve my life. Sadly, most of the people I know and see only rarely have only a superficial understanding of it all, and usually avoid talking with me about much of it.
Its a consequence of being weird, I suppose. So, thank you, weird people in my life, for getting it. May we continue to be weird together.