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24 March, 2012

Maybe Maimed: Polyamory's Superpower

Ah, I meant to post this a week ago! Here's a piece of writing that a non-primary love of mine sent me. Please, take some time to read this and think about it. I'm doing the same. I'll get back to you.

This keynote address from the recent Atlanta Poly Weekend offers a serious challenge to all poly people to practice a more consciously revolutionary style of relating. For a taste:

'In many of our experiences, the people with whom we have pre-existing relationships still claim certain “dibs” on us, and we claim certain “dibs” back, on them. In one way or another, especially in romantic entanglements, most of us are subtly told what to feel, told what to do, and told what to want. Even if a new person is welcomed into an existing relationship structure as an “equal,” it’s common to assume the pre-existing dyad’s relationship agreements are automatically enforceable on the new person, unless and until they are re-negotiated. However, for the most part, the polyamorous world considers this treatment of people acceptable because we were treated in much the same way and internalized the idea that “that’s the way you have relationships.”

'The essence of couple privilege is disrespect of individuals and individuals’ agency. Consider how the following statements are essentially disrespectful. What are the assumptions behind each of them? Do you remember having heard any of these when you were developing your polyamorous relationships?

“You’ll really like your metamour.”
“Before you get involved with someone else, you need to check in with me.”
“You need to get along with my other lovers.”
“You need to meet all the people I’m involved with.”
“What do you know? You haven’t met her!”
“We have an agreement that we only date as a couple.”

'...a metamoric relationship is a structure. It is not a form of intimacy, or closeness, or even a kind of “togetherness.”'


Maymay argues, to give you an insufficiently detailed synopsis, that the conversations poly people tend to have about our relationships obscure their operations in a way that winds up oppressing us -- especially oppressing people who are secondaries to all partners. Other, non-romantic, relationships can and do cause the same structural problem. He also argues that, because polyamory affords an opportunity for conversation about this problem -- polyamory's "superpower" -- the solutions we develop to overcome the problem can serve us elsewhere. The address offers tools for thought that can lead to better relationship anarchy practice.

Read the thing. It's good. It might make you question the way you operate, and it might make you inclined to take action in new ways.

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