Portability and Polyamory March 18, 2014Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
Tags: Philadelphia, polyamorous relationships, re-locating, regional
Over the last several months, as I was looking for work, I kept limiting my searches to the Philadelphia area. In addition to the fact that I really love Philadelphia, the simple fact is that I have many connections here. And in addition to the various family and friends that are in the area, the majority of my lovers are local. Moving would, therefore, mean a shift in the nature of those local relationships. For me specifically, having a local relationship become a long-distant relationship would be a painful and unhappy transition. I very much like close physical proximity to my partners, as physical intimacy (and by that I don’t just mean sex) is very important to me in a relationship.
Therefore, I feel anchored to Philadelphia. The fact that this town has been my home for the vast majority of my life does not hurt either. The idea, then, of moving to another city (because I don’t want to be far from a major city for more than the time a vacation might take) fills me with sadness and anxiety. Thus, I have been limiting my searches to local opportunities, career-wise. What would i do if offered a really good job faraway? I don’t know. It would have to be a damned good offer. I wouldn’t mind a job that was partially travel, however. I think I would actually like that.
Monogamous couples may, therefore, have an advantage that many polyamorous people may not have. The nature of sharing, creating networks or families, and finding those people locally which is often common in polyamorous relationships means re-locating for a new job opportunity, or whatever else might cause a move to a new city or region, might be more difficult than it might be for a monogamous family. Leaving a place, when polyamorous, might also include leaving behind people.
That is, even if I did win the lottery and wanted to buy a house in Italy, I may have to leave behind people I’d rather see frequently. So, if I win the lottery, I guess I’m buying a large house in West Philly. Then spend a month of the worst of winter in Italy, or wherever. Because winter sucks. Seriously, go away winter! You suck. Also, I don’t play the lottery, so that’s not likely.
Now, there are many polyamorous people who have partners of various level of intimacy who live all over their country or the world. Some people are able to maintain long-distance relationships, where the people involved may only see each other a few times a year or less, while keeping some local relationships as well. Certainly, being polyamorous does not require that our partners be close to us, geographically. It just makes it easier, in many ways.
Certainly the ability to travel frequently will be a function of wealth, and while polyamory might seem to be dominated by relatively wealthy people, there are many people who are polyamorous for whom taking a plane, train, or automobile to visit someone 1000 miles away may not be realistic. Hell, I have a lover who lives less than 2 hours away (by car) who I may not see easily for a while. Timing and scheduling is also an issue, even if I have the money to make the trip.
But even in situations where one might have long-distance partners and lovers, any potential move might cause changes in the frequency of visits, especially as you move farther away from some and possibly closer to others.
Certainly, this implies that the more remote or spread out communities are, the more an issue location becomes. In major cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc (yes, including Philadelphia), you will find a greater opportunity for creating larger networks, families, and communities of polyamorous people. Meetup groups, facebook pages, and other tools for interconnection make creating closer networks more possible, and will allow you to find like-minded people in your area. That is the major advantage of metropolitan living, and one of the reasons I think city-living is awesome. Of course, I just love cities, so I’m likely rationalizing, but not completely.
More remote locations, far away from cities, will have a harder time making connections to local people. Of course, as various types of non-monogamy spread in our culture, this problem may alleviate itself, assuming that all of the wierdos (and I love wierdos, so I’m not using that in a deroigatory manner) don’t move into the cities. Certainly, the phenomenon of wierdos moving to metropolitan areas, and out of the boonies, is a trend many of us have noticed. But there are still many of us wierd people out there in the sticks, and if they want like-minded companionship they may have to rely on the internet to communicate with them, unless they have already snagged those people in their web of sticky, booniness. Hopefully not without consent; there are enough stereotypes about wierd people in the boonies already.
Of course, the internet has been a huge boon to social connections of all kinds, and certainly the increased ability to communicate has helped the polyamorous as well as the atheist communities, and will continue to accelerate their growth in terms of exposure, understanding, and even the spreading of our good news (monogamy is not the only way! Tell your friends!). This tool of interconnection will allow people of all locations, boonies, suburbs, or city, to find people that may provide joy, growth, and intimacy to their lives. And then when we go out into the world for whatever reasons we do so, we might have a better idea of where to go.
In terms of actual physical closeness, insofar as that is a factor that matters to specific people, the interconnections we create may tend to anchor us to a specific region, city, or even neighborhood. And if those people in the boonies do want to move, they have the option of moving closer to other poeple that they want to be near. It makes me wonder how poly people compare to everyone else in terms of mobility; how often they move, how far they move, etc. I have no idea what those numbers would look like, and I don’t know if anyone else does either (if anyone is likely to know, Elisabeth Sheff is probably the person).
The other side of this issue of being anchored to a location by relationships is that I get to feel more at home where I am. Philadelphia, and the surrounding suburbs, is my home. If I’m in South Philly, I’m near home. I’f I’m north of Vine, I’m not far from one partner. If I’m over in South Jersey, I’m near another. The more connections I have nearby, the more it feels like home. And of course, if I’m in West Philly, downtown, or even out in the near suburbs, I feel at home. But, that’s always been the case for me. And now that I’m back in the city, I find that I’m really looking forward to long walks in warm weather. I’m so done with winter!