See. I edit things and post them later like I say I will. See the beginnings of this post here.
A theme that I have noticed within poly is a harsh divide between personal accountability and freedom. Indeed let’s think about how this could be…. I would argue that a lot of poly rhetoric must have been created within the context of poly people trying to justify their actions to unsympathetic partners.
When I say poly rhetoric, I mean casual rephrasings of general self help, trauma recovery, and nonviolent communication that gets used by and for poly people on our poly quest to be poly. I’m not putting the work into this article I could by researching and finding specific quotes. So I’ll use an anecdotal piece of rhetoric. Someday. Perhaps I will write an actual article with like. Actual references.
- “I can’t make you feel a specific way about something, only you can make you feel a specific way about something” [SUBTEXT: You’re just choosing to be upset with me about this and you can list all the ways and reasons my behaviour affects you but I can’t make you feel good about life if you don’t want to!] I truly saw my boss’ partner say stuff like this to her despite routinely omitting facts, obscuring their behaviour and refusing to communicate about why they were behaving that way. Despite that person being ‘poly’ and routinely giving advice on poly 101 pages that was GREAT ADVICE about listening and communicating. If only he had been walking his talk offline.
- There are others which I might add but the ‘I can’t make you feel a specific way’ is a piece of information I feel like I watched disseminate into the poly community as the poly community grew and I found that on the ground the PRACTICE of this information is that it is being used by jerks on people who don’t know better.
The true twistiness of the “I can’t make you feel that, only you can make you feel that” argument is that it actually is true. We *do* choose how we feel about something and often times there are reasons we are chosing to feel disrespected when we feel disrespected. Dismissing the feelings of another person just because you don’t agree with their reason for feeling that way is really shitty but that’s essentially the dark side of the “I can’t make you feel a specific way” argument. When we can see how we have influenced another person’s emotional landscape; and agree with their interpretation, we are able to see sense and either make changes to our behaviour or as to whether or not we do things around the people we are affecting (like date them).
So I think I keep seeing Poly Rhetoric, which I believe has mostly been created for unsympathetic parties, that is used indiscriminately upon sympathetic parties. And thus, rhetoric that upholds personal freedom; when used on someone who does not agree with you, becomes twisted into avoiding personal accountability when used on someone who does agree with you.
Let me be clear I’m saying that I have seen a number of people in my life honestly try to engage poly with their very-much-more-interested-in-poly-than-them partner only to find; when they bring up very real, very tangible problems with their poly partner’s poly behaviour, that their poly partner responds to them as if they are a monogamous hater and refuses to change their actions: because asking someone to modulate their behaviour in poly seems to be the most heinous insult of all?
I posit that there is a dearth in our rhetoric surrounding dealing appropriately and kindly with other poly people… Because we are so used to being the special snowflake that must do the enlightening.
I posit that the very position of being the ‘enlightening special snowflake’ introduces an imbalance of power in the relationship that is hard to navigate for people because the relationship is not just a romantic partnership but also a student/teacher.
I posit that we need actual rhetoric that was designed for us to communicate with each other… and not with a wider populace… and that those two things might be different.
I posit that not discussing the affect hypocrisy can have on rhetoric is UNCONSCIONABLE because my father was a self hating hypocrite and trained me to hate them.
… at least I should own my shit right? This personal thing about hypocrisy? Its my shit. And its bananas. B-a-n-a-n-a-s.