Tag Archives: Planning Ahead

Polya Relationship Expectations: Nothing for Granted

Updated version of a previously published article on Postmodern Woman.

Up front and honest. Heard and understood. Let’s both (all) be right. No either-or thinking. Surface vs. Substance. No expectations. Humanity (individuality) first. No defaults.
In all things, my values came (and still come) first. I didn’t grow up with stability or honesty or respect. More often than not I was the wall at which everyone decided to throw their shit. I grew up seeing humanity’s worst. Yet, instead of giving into it, instead of becoming a statistic, I chose another path. I’m addicted to discovering new things. If I don’t consider at least five different perspectives on something before settling on the most rational one then I haven’t done my job. As the world fell apart into nonsense around me I sought knowledge about anything and everything. I incorporated that knowledge into my writing, into my books. I’m especially partial to philosophy and the way that brains and minds work.
Being on the outside of the world’s typical human experiences allowed me to come to certain conclusions more quickly. I was (and am) living proof of an extreme intersection of categories that shouldn’t even seem possible to most. Much of the world can’t conceive of a person like me existing, rendering me effectively invisible by default. People tend to search for the familiar. This phenomenon does serve to leave me alone more often than not. I learned to love my own company very early on.
These experiences made it easier for me to put my values into practice; they made it easier to clearly define what was truly important to me. They allowed me to see through the layers of bullshit societies build up around things like family, romance, sex, education, and so much more. I literally cannot take anything for granted. There are no defaults in my life save change (and perhaps pain, if my physical ailments are any indication). My bedrock has always been a shifting, amorphous blob. So I learned to dance. Buddhists meditate for years to learn how to remain unattached from outcomes, people, and things. People try for years to be comfortable being alone (being single). People hurt one another so much before they realize that you must treat people as people.
Many polya people (or people in general) have disastrous relationships because they are embedded into common cultural narratives that separate human beings into categories. Most of us grow up learning to see people by their attributes first. Using those categorical lenses serves to help us miss one another on a most basic level. I couldn’t understand why labels were so important to others, why people built tribes along arbitrary lines, why they couldn’t conceive of a person being both or neither instead of always either-or, why they only extended logic bit by bit to each facet of their life instead of universally.
It’s because I’m such a weirdo. Most people don’t experience the world like I do. I have several forms of synesthesia, I’m left-handed, an atheist, Aspie, and noetisexual. I’m many other very queer things that are normally listed on the fringes of every scale. I cannot afford to take anything for granted. I can’t rely on heuristics to run my life. I don’t have defaults to fall back on to build the illusion of safety around me.
Going back to that list at the beginning, those are my only “rules” for dealing with reality. How much heartache would be avoided if people dealt with humans first and foremost instead of labels? Most people don’t have that sort of focus, that self-awareness, that desire for autonomy and that willingness to see reality as it is. We learn to view ourselves as empty halves needing to be filled. We expect others to fix us. We open ourselves up to abuse because we don’t even see ourselves as human first. There’s a reason people learn to dehumanize the enemy. You can do anything to a non-human. The more human someone becomes, the less likely you are to want to hurt them.
I find a lot of people tend to run aw`ay from me. I’m much too honest, and perhaps too serious, from the start. I value my time and others’. Because there are so many things about me that I know many might have issues with I’ve taken the up front and honest route. I’d rather have people in my life that truly want to be there than to take their time and have them feel I’d tricked them later. I have no expectations for how things need to shape up. Knowing what others expect allows us to discover what actually works, even if that means saying goodbye. I don’t dump everything on a person at the first meeting, obviously, unless it naturally comes up. But I do make certain to state my intentions and to inform them I’m not anything close to normal as soon as possible. Informed decision-making all around!
The purpose of heard and understood is to communicate diametrically-opposed ideas without devolving into an argument. My longest-term partner (and my deceased partner) and I have never yelled at one another. I can count on my fingers the number of times that I’ve yelled at him (and I can be a very, very, angry person). We keep in mind that the goal of communication is to understand one another. And even if we don’t agree, we search for a “let’s both be right” solution. That goes right along with the “no either-or thinking”. It’s not us against each other; it’s us both searching for the truth. Meaning, if we come to an impasse about something we go out and do our research before making our own decisions. Heard and understood also works well for sharing thoughts that may be difficult to hear, fears that could eat us alive, and experiences we’d rather forget. We’ve learned things about each other people don’t even write down in their diaries. It may be that most people are fine knowing much less about their significant others but my partner(s) and I do tend to be a bit nosy. And our trust was (and is) built gradually and actively.
Having no expectations requires you to be active and vigilant when dealing with other people (or ideas and other things). For instance, the ideas of romance and marriage were always suspect to me. I see people as individuals; couples (or other configurations) don’t matter to me. I’m a person first and foremost; my relationship configurations aren’t relevant to how I define myself or how I feel about myself. Knowing the history of marriage, I never saw a reason to tie the knot. I thought it was odd that two people being in love was such a big deal that it needed to be flaunted in public and then shared with friends and family with a ceremony.
I knew it was mathematically impossible for “the one” to exist. I knew that “safety and security” were illusions. I knew that love didn’t mean availability, longevity, stability, or compatibility. I knew that most people are hurt by their own expectations rather than by others’ actions. I knew that most people will naturally leave your life; that everyone is walking along their own unique paths and, though your lives might entwine for a while, inevitably you are the only one following your path to completion.
I know that every second, every breath, every step is a moment full of awe and worship of life. I know that substance (reality) trumps surface (illusion). I know that endless possibilities echo in every moment. I know that life is short. I know I’ll spend mine in appreciation, wonder, and awareness. I take nothing for granted. I never get comfortable (which he always playfully complains about). I never default. There’s so much to learn and see, after all.

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Legal Stuff

Removed gendered references to the other (ie not pregnant) bio parent. Corrected some info. A few other minor changes. Revised Jan 15, 2017.

Probably the biggest potential hassle in being polyamorous and pregnant is the birth certificate. (Yup, legal messes are always the worst kind.) In this case, it’s the issue of legal paternity.

First off, and to the best of my knowledge, as long as you aren’t legally married, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the birth certificate. Leave the “father” field blank until you have get a DNA test, put your primary down, put the partner your new baby looks like down… Seriously, if you aren’t married, whoever you say is the legal parent, is the legal parent.

If you are legally married, then it can get complicated. (Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, I do not know the law throughout the US, never mind the world. I have given birth in two different states, and know polyam people in a few other states, and so far this issue seems common.) Y’see, some states have this rule that if you are married, your legal spouse’s name goes on the birth certificate automatically. It’s possible you were artificially inseminated to be sure that a specific partner would be the other bio-parent–if you aren’t legally married to that partner you still need to jump through hoops to prove it. (My second to last child, my husband and I had been separated for three years, he lived half the country away and we were in the middle of a divorce–they still wanted to put his name down.)

So, if you are married, and either don’t know who the other bio-parent is or know it wasn’t your legal spouse, what are your options?

Option 1: Save up for DNA testing. Yes, there are DNA tests you can get for $30 dollars through the mail – for this, they don’t count. DNA testing that will be accepted as legal evidence can run up to several hundred dollars (we paid $400 6 12 years ago). Save the money, and inform the hospital ahead of time that you will be having the test done. You’ll have to jump through some legal hoops and forms after the birth to get the certificate straightened out, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Option 2: Amniocentesis – there is a way of testing DNA through an amnio. Obviously, all the possible side effects apply. It is more expensive then regular testing, though if you need to have an amnio for health reasons, you may be able to tack the DNA test on without much extra cost. Big advantage: when the clerk shows up in your room after labor to take care of the birth certificate, you have the papers proving paternity right there.

Option 3: Put your legal spouse’s name down and don’t worry about it. You can get the $30 test later just to know what the medical history is, and otherwise who cares, you are all parents together anyway. Upside – cheapest option with the least hassle. Downsides – emotional impact of the other biological parent of your child not being acknowledged as the legal parent and/or not being certain who the other bio parent is. Some people won’t care, some will – a lot. Possibly greater expense down the line if for any reason you need to change the birth certificate to have other bio parent’s name.

Biggest thing – don’t be blindsided. Happened to me twice, cuddling new baby, happily enjoying motherhood and not a care in the world – bam legal shit. You can speak with a lawyer, your local health department, or the birth registrar at the hospital about the rules your state, so you know in advance what you are getting into.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

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Polyamory and Pregnancy: Planning for the Expected

I’ve done what I can with this post without taking it down and re-writing it entirely. When I wrote it I was really ignorant of the many forms polyam can take and was kind of focused on a hierarchy/group relationship dichotomy. I was also stuck in the normative cis-hetero mindset. Unfortunately, I don’t have the spoons for a full re-write, so I’ve revised this as best I can. Please take the built in assumptions with a grain of salt. Revised Dec 7, 2016.

polyamory planning pregnancy

You couldn’t take five seconds to decide who would catch?! Where’s customer service, I’m gonna return these parents!

With the advent of effective birth control, the stork doesn’t always come by surprise anymore. My earlier warnings about unexpected pregnancies stand. However, often either you’ve decided to forgo birth control, and let nature take its course, or you deliberately set out to have a baby.

If your polycule is considering either trying to start a pregnancy or let nature take its course, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Polyam Parents

Who are the birth parents going to be? If you are a primary couple with rare exception this will be you. But if you are a triad, quad, group, network, etc . . . who wants children? Are two of your polycule going to try to start a pregnancy? Is your group relationship comfortable with a free for all and see who gets pregnant first? Do you want to know the bio parents from day 1 or are folks okay with a paternity test later?

Living Arrangements

If you all live together, things are simpler in some ways, more complicated in others. Same for if you don’t live together. Say you are a cis-hetero quad with each couple having their own house. The obvious set up is couples that live together have children together, but fertility, finances, and personal preference can all throw in monkey wrenches. And for couples that live together and aren’t cis- hetero the “obvious” set up flies right out the window. If for whatever reason you end up having children across households, complications galore. If you all live together, there is no ’obvious’ set up for who has the children with who. So more complications there, but easier to support each other and raise the children together.

Be aware that if you are living in different households, a new baby can drive you apart. Babies need a lot of time and attention and cut into the time and attention you can give each other. You know ’love is infinite, time is not’? Well, babies take 24/7 care, which leaves very little time for anything else. On the other hand, if you all commit to taking care of the baby, it can bring you closer together. Even if it means getting out of work and going straight to your partners’ home, playing with baby to give live-in parents a break, and sneaking dinner together during nap time.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

For a more in-depth look at Polyamory and Pregnancy, check out the book.

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Planning for the Unexpected

Revised 11/6/16. Minor updates here, fixed some typos and that kind of thing.

I ran across a discussion on a polyamory forum once where a woman said she absolutely could not deal with the possibility of her husband getting someone else pregnant. A bunch of people were trying to reassure her of how unlikely it was, how with birth control, yadda yadda yadda.

They were right, but they were also wrong. There is no 100% foolproof method of birth control. Would be great if there was, and maybe one day we’ll get one. IUDs and implants seem to be heading in the right direction, but we aren’t there yet. There is no perfect birth control. Accepting that is part of accepting a polyamorous relationship.

Because pregnancy can be so life changing, it is important to discuss what you and your partners will do in the event of an unexpected pregnancy.

 

polyamory unexpected pregnancy

It can happen to just about anyone.

Each relationship will have to work out for themselves what options and possibilities they need to discuss. A lot of things will be specific to different polyamory relationship styles (a polyfi family that lives together, doesn’t need to worry about a secondary who lives across the country getting pregnant after a visit) and it would take several dozen blog posts to cover all the possibilities. But here are a few considerations to start you off:

Obviously, abortion is the mother’s decision. Knowing if they might want an abortion gives a starting point for the rest of the discussion. All the following assumes that the mother does not wish to abort.

  • If you have more than one relationship (primary/secondary, DADT, polyamorous networks, etc), discuss options with each relationship separately.
  • Potential mothers – there is no guarantee you will even be able to guess who the father is. Think about that.
  • Other potential parents – if your primary gets pregnant it WILL affect your secondary. And vise versa. Discuss it with them individually. (This applies whether or not you have a hierarchy, whether or not you live together. Do not kid yourself, life will not go on as normal if there is a baby on the way, it will affect ALL your relationships.)
  • I shouldn’t need to say it, but potential mothers, if you get pregnant it will affect all of your relationships, regardless of who may or may not be the other bio parent.

There is a lot to think about, and you don’t need to hash over everything down to what hospital you’d want to give birth at. If all you say is ‘How would we handle it?’ ’I don’t know, but we’d find a way,’ you both (all) know that you are aware of the possibility, and no one is likely to utterly freak out if it happens. That’s enough.

It should go without saying that ‘How would we handle it?’ ‘I refuse to discuss it because you will not let it happen.’ is an indication that you have a lot more to talk about it, though not necessarily regarding pregnancy.

What do you think needs to be considered when discussing an unexpected pregnancy in a polyamorous relationship? Please leave a comment with your ideas.

Originally posted June 30, 2011

 

Polyamory Meal Planning

Revised and re-posted 10/11/16. My polycule has changed several times over the past few years, and the details of my meal lists have changed as people moved in and out of my life. But I still keep these three lists. Main changes here are fixing grammar and typos.

meal planning polyamory

Are family meals ever really this idealistic?

In a few weeks, my metamour will be coming to visit. She’s allergic to vitamin K. My partner is on a restricted diet due to heartburn. And I keep Kosher. My metamour’s husband is staying home this time, so we don’t need to eat vegetarian.

Yup, polyam meals can get complicated. If you live together, the process can become habit, but sometimes it will still be a hassle. Luckily, there are ways to make life easier.

Polyam Meal Lists

My favorite trick for putting together polyam meals is to keep these three lists. The first two I keep saved on my computer though if you live together it might be easier to post them in the kitchen. The last one I keep in my head.

  • Food restrictions – what doesn’t each person eat.
  • Food preferences – what does each person like to eat.
  • Emergency meals – what can you throw together on the fly that everyone can eat.

Here is an example of my food restrictions list. I combine this with food preferences, and I have a pretty good guideline for planning meals, depending on who is going to be there.

Restrictions list:

My partner –

  • tomato-based sauces
  • ‘hot’ foods
  • broccoli (he just can’t stand it)

My metamour –

  • Anything with vitamin K including
    • Dark leafy vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus

Me –

  • Pork
  • Anything that mixes dairy and meat
  • Organ meats
  • Shellfish

My sister –

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary

Metamour’s Husband –

  • Meat (includes fish)

One time, when my metamour and her husband came down, the ‘vegetarian’ boxed meal I picked up, wasn’t. It was a massive scramble to find something everyone could eat. That’s when I came up with my emergency meals list. It’s 3 meals that everyone I might expect to be at my home can eat and that I can throw together quickly. This way, if a planned meal falls through, I have alternatives.
My emergency meals list is:

  • Pasta with light pesto sauce
  • Rice balls with corn or another veggie filling
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

These are meals that I reliably have the ingredients for, and can cook practically in my sleep.

I hope somewhere there exists a polyamorous relationship that doesn’t need to jump through hoops to make a meal everyone can enjoy. So far, every polyam family I’ve been in has had multiple food restrictions, often contradictory ones! A bit of thought, planning ahead, and most of all keeping these lists, makes meal time a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable.

What are you polyam meal tips? Share them in the comments!