June 5, 2012

The Light That Flows Through Everything

One of the main points of conflict that I have seen in mono/poly relationships is each partner trying to understand how the other experiences love. For example, a monogamous person explaining to their polyamorous partner that romantic love is exclusive and that "sharing" it with more than one person cheapens it. While the polyamorous person explains to their monogamous partner that love is multiplied when shared, not divided and that each connection is unique and special and, therefore, not "shared." This is a very dangerous difference in world views between partners and can possibly end a relationship.

My mono/poly relationship with Kare (roughly pronounced Kah-reh. It is Japanese for boyfriend. I thought it a fitting nickname for him in my journal since he is half Japanese) has never encountered this particular conflict. From the beginning, Kare has accepted that this is how I love. I'm not sure that he fully understands the way that I love, but he has never questioned it. He doesn't appear to need or care to understand poly to know that I love - him and anyone else - with all that I have. Perhaps it's because I had the advantage of explaining poly to him and showing poly to him from the very beginning of our relationship. (I had a serious partner when I met Kare, so it gave me the chance to demonstrate to him that I can maintain healthy, loving, concurrent romantic relationships.)

Based on how supportive, encouraging, and understanding he's been of my other relationships, I have always been bewildered by Kare's monogamous identity (or monogamish identity, to be more accurate). Personally, I think he is in a transitional period and is currently unsure of how to identify so he uses that label because it is the one with which he is most familiar and comfortable. (I have shared this theory with him.) For example, he has a very doting friendship with Ryder, a mutual friend of ours. He has let me and her know that he has the biggest crush on her and they are absolutely adorable and cuddly in each others' company. If she were open to a romantic relationship with him, I'm sure he'd be open to dating her in addition to me. But he doesn't recognize his openness to such an arrangement as being poly-minded. He seems to believe that poly is a state of circumstances (how many partners you currently have) rather than a state of mind (views on love and relationships). (With me for a girlfriend, I have no idea why he holds such a belief.)

On the other hand, he can have very mononormative views. For example, we both love to laugh, even at our own expenses so we often playfully rib each other. After a particularly good time (in which I had bested him), I started to tease him about how awesome I am. The banter went something like this:

Me: "You hit the jackpot when you met me and you will never have another girlfriend as cool or as funny."
Him: "Well, to test your theory, I'm going to break up with you and check out my options."
Me: "The joke is on you. You don't have to break up with me if you want to date other people. You're just stuck with cool and funny me. Sucker."
Him: "Oh yeah. You're poly like that. You're the worst girlfriend ever for ruining my joke."

Regardless of how he identifies or expresses his love, I am appreciative that he supports my identity and expression so surely and unwaveringly. However, there definitely appears to be some sort of cognitive dissonance between his conscious and unconscious thinking. Reconciling the two can be a long and arduous journey. I look forward to joining him on his path of discovery and supporting him in his choices as fully as he has supported me in mine.