The Polycule: As Told by a Couple of Queers
POLYCULE (n.): a network of non-monogamous relationships.
I like the term polycule because it acknowledges the sprawling and complicated relationships (of all kinds) forged in polyamorous communities.
A hypothetical example: My partner Alexis starts dating Dotty. When this happens our polycule expands and Dotty becomes my metamour—my partner's partner. Let's say Dotty is also dating Phryne. While Phryne and I aren't metamours, we are in the same polycule. I'm not dating either Phryne or Dotty, we might not even be friends, but we are operating in the same smaller social unit. Our choices may intimately affect each other; our lives are now connected.
This is a blog about those connections.
It is community and imperfection, queerness and non-monogamy.
What it's all about
My reasons for starting this blog are twofold. In the realm of polyamory, most of the advice strikes me as either geared toward beginners or as highly philosophical with an aftertaste of heterosexuality.
My relationships are queer
I have found that many people who identify as queer and sex-positive on the internet also practice some flavor of non-monogamy. Additionally, bisexual ladies are (in)famously a large part of the poly scene. And still, most explicitly polyamorous resources are delivered through a straight lens. Part of this, I think, is because all of our relationships get set up against the heterosexual, monogamous standard. Defending or explaining non-monogamy tends to push aside any concerns about queerness, and vice versa. We do have places that don't feel exclusively straight, and that involve many lgbtq individuals, but there are very few resources that seem to come from a predominantly queer perspective.
But here's the thing: my community is real queer, and our queerness informs how we relate to each other. We operate under a different set of assumptions and have our own specific challenges. When I read about polyamory I rarely see anyone that looks like my friends or lovers.
So let's do that. Let's make a space to showcase our values, concerns, and desires.
I am interested in the muddy in-betweens
Queerness and polyamory have brought unbridled joy and fulfillment to my life.
Living as queer and polyamorous is also fucking hard.
Much of the advice I've found doesn't quite speak to that murky emotional period when I am hurting, confused, or uncertain. I can find approximately a billion articles dissecting why I might feel a particular way, but they lack any powerful solutions; at some point the words communicate and negotiate lose any real meaning. And then, of course, there is the defensive tendency to avoid talking about the truly messy disasters, for fear that people will blame the relationship structure itself.
While the face of polyamory is changing rapidly thanks to the hard work of my foreparents, I suspect we could all benefit from even deeper discussion of the feelingstuff—especially the hard feelingstuff.
There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they're inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they're choosing to live disappointed.
—Brene Brown, Rising Strong
It is dangerous to ignore hurt, and it is dishonest to pretend we are perfect. I don't quite know how to talk about that dark center, but I know that we need to.
It's all well and good to talk about how jealousy is the manifestation of insecurity, but when you feel that burn deep inside what do you actually do? What do we mean when we say "chosen family," and what makes a gay relationship feel queer? How is straight poly culture different than queer poly culture? How do we integrate our past selves with our present lives? Why do so many of us have some kind of mental illness, and how can we support each other while taking care of ourselves? Anyone can google calendar the shit out of their schedule, but how do you decide what you really, truly want?
I will delve into these questions, and more. I might even have some answers (no promises).
But, most importantly: I am hungry for our stories. Let's discuss every detail of our warm, communal joys and bleak, lonely despairs. I want us to make mistakes, and learn from them, and then make them again. We are imperfect, and that is dazzling. Perhaps together we can discover how to create more intentional and loving communities.
Ok but... who are you?
My name is Erica. I am cisgender, and use the pronouns she/her. I am queer, kinky, and polyamorous.
Here are the broad strokes of my relationship history:
In 2006 I graduated high school and, much to my parents' chagrin, left for a college that was explicitly not the church-run college in the church-run town where I grew up.
I quickly fell in love with the nerdboy in my mythology class; she is now my lovely partner of almost ten years. She is a trans woman named Alexis, and we are both now queer as fuck. We moved to Boston five years ago, and have been practicing polyamory for the past three. We each have other romantic partners, and have become part of a thriving community of queer 20- and 30-somethings. Somehow, despite both being stubborn introverts, we have found our people.
I'm proud of the life I have built with Alexis. We broke our own hearts and reassembled the pieces into a magnificent mosaic. All of the hopes and dreams I had for myself have been surpassed a hundredfold. Each of my newer relationships is robust and nuanced, and every one of the people in my life, regardless of romantic involvement, expands my capacity to love. I feel more me. It hasn't always been easy, but it has always been worth it. Reflecting on where I've been has lead me to realize that I know some stuff. Some of that stuff might even be useful to other people, and now I want to write about it.
But! I don't want to write about it alone. Alexis has graciously agreed to be my partner in blogging as in life, and once we know what the hell we're doing we will collaborate with friends and partners. They are a smart group of people, and I'm excited for you to get to know them!
TLDR; This blog is about all the stuff that makes up our queer, kinky, and/or polyamorous lives. I've got some insights and advice, but mostly I want to swap stories and figure shit out.