How Can I Ever Come To Understand Polyamory?

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Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I've sent you a question before, regarding my sexual frustrations during sex, thanks to my physical handicap. I have a new problem, unfortunately. It has nothing to do with my sex life, but it does have to do with the emergence of polyamory in our popular culture.

More and more, I hear about and I meet people practicing or interested in polyamory. A good friend, a man who's been like my brother for the past 6 years, has begun polyamory with his recently-wed first wife. When they dated, they slept around a lot. He told me about both of them admitting multiple times that they had cheated. I always felt like he proposed to her in order to save a sinking relationship. I worried for this marriage, even though I never had the heart to tell him. But my discontent grew, and I knew I'd have to say something, some day.

It had gotten better for me when I met a girl. She is beautiful and fragile, and the coolest hippie girl. I fell in love, and a year into that friendship, I told her I loved her. She let me down easy, but strangely enough we actually got closer. I began to think of her as my sister. She and I had the best times hanging out, exploring different methods of pagan spirituality, and learning about the ins and outs of pre-Christian cultures.

I lost my friendship with my "bro", when he began polyamory, with his wife's agreement. The person he chose to join he and his wife in their marital bed, was my hippie sister, whom I once desired but always will love. I was incredulous. And after awhile, very pissed off.

There are definite flaws in my buddy's personality. I once hung out in my dorm room with him, a gay friend, and another female friend, who was a virgin at the time. He was very drunk, we all were, and he admitted that he'd be willing to, right there, have sex with him, her, and even me if he was still horny enough. Didn't happen, but I was definitely taken aback. Add that to his and his wife's cheating pasts, and now their polyamory, I'm sure you can understand that I began to realize that my bro was an incredibly sexually greedy man.

That's exactly how I felt when he told me he wanted her. I asked him to choose someone else. He was pretty pissed. Saying that I only wanted her because he does, I'm jealous that I can't have her, etc. I told him it wasn't about that. That he wouldn't take care of her, that he couldn't love her and his wife. His response was, "fuck you, you don't understand poly, it's designed for more than two people to be happy..." etc. So after failing to be diplomatic, I went another way.

I tried to warn her. I was terrified for her, I begged her not to do it, because I was convinced that she'd not be cared for, emotionally or otherwise. She told me, much to my dismay, that she'd already tried it, and that I was right, that it isn't for her.

I felt even more pissed off. Knowing the law like I do, I was careful to never insult my bro or his wife, but I called him back and I told him exactly what I thought of polyamory. I think it's stupid, greedy, prone to jealousy among the people involved, and I don't see how more than two people can be in love, real romantic love.

He told me off pretty hard in response, and he hasn't spoken to me in at least the last six months. I presume they have a new girl that they added to their bed. I still hate just about everything that happened in this falling out. I still think he's a sexually greedy, egotistical narcissist. And I know that I'm an over-thinking, prideful, moral busybody who needs to get off my high horse. I'll be the first to admit all of that. It had nothing to do with me, and in retrospect, if I left it alone, she probably would've still come to the conclusion that poly wasn't for her. Possibly.

I want my friend back, but even after I apologized to him and his wife about it, the last thing he said to me was that I got what I wanted, that my hippie sister wasn't in his bed anymore. I never wanted to lose him as a friend. But I've always disliked his never-ending libido. His having sex with our friends, while I was still a lonely and frustrated virgin. Nobody ever thought that maybe I'd like to experience sex, to know what intimacy was about. And she makes the third of our mutual female friends that he's screwed, that I know of. I am a little jealous of his good looks, and that it took me until I was 21 to sleep with a girl whom I cared about, but it turned out that she was using me to get back at her cheating boyfriend.

I don't think I can accept polyamory as a lifestyle. I keep trying to invent hypotheticals that would make polyamory into a legitimate thing in my head. I think it ought to be possible for polyamory to work. But I don't think this was a situation where it did. I miss my friend, but I think that in the end, he cared more about my acceptance of his kinky lifestyle. I have issues with him, and while I miss his friendship, part of me can't stand him.

I'm sorry for this being so long. My point is, half of me wants your help in accepting him enough to be his friend again. The other half wants your help in understanding polyamory, since that would pretty much need to be solved first, before I can be his friend again. But then I think, is it worth it?

Hi J,

Yes I remember your pic. Your request is impossible for me to fulfill. However, the old saw, "live and let live" is a good one to remember when dealing with friends and friendships both new and old.

Your long email was beneficial for you in that you got to think it through by writing it all down. While you are upset with poly lifestyles, I have trouble accepting monogamous marriage, but they are both facts of life. The thing that I admire about poly is the honesty of admitting most people want more than one significant lover in a lifetime. So following the tradition of monogamous marriages, it usually means the husband will cheat at some point, she finds out, they get divorced and society is left with serial monogamy. Many people find that acceptable even though we know that divorce is often devastating to both the couple and their kids. However, commercial society loves multiple marriages as it means couples start another family which requires buying everything new again.

Time is a great healer. I would hope that you can rekindle the friendship you lost by being set in your ways. Romantic Love has a very short shelf life and yet we all adore it, wars are fought over it and friendships lost because of it. In these later years of my life, I
see it as a delightful curse on humankind. I would hope that I never have to go thru it again, but I can't be sure. It is one of the heaviest and most addictive drugs known to humankind. One day at a time, I have managed to avoid it since my last fall from grace into a marvelous sex life that ended several years ago. Ah the pain of breaking up that's so hard to do. Like I said, time is a great healer.

Dr. Betty

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