37 year old Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a long time lover of
many. Having grown up with family acceptance and involvement in a
"commune" and having been involved in two separate triad relationships
and still forcing herself to committ to a monogomous (failed) marriage,
Rhianon has finally begun to accept her own needs, wants and desires.
Focusing on the communication and honesty necessary to navigate the
shadows and the required humor needed when one begins to explore her
deepest being; Rhianon Leto shares her experiences as she travels the
many paths of self discovery. Come along and join Rhianon as she
explores the whys, whos, wheres and politics of polylife.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
So Much for the Fantasy!
Having found the "poly community" I was overwhelmed, excited and eager to start a new chapter in my life. Being the "bubbly", enthusiastic person that I am, I jumped right into the idea and found myself surrounded by none other than... normal people. How did that happen? Somehow I had this idea in my mind that "poly people" were not just people, that they were "Super Evolved Humans" with a superior capacity for love, affection, and honesty which obviously made them incapable of telling lies, being selfish or causing harm to others. I got a bit ahead of myself, as usual.
I was just so sure that everyone who was poly was “good people all of the time” and that honesty was the word of the day. I read a lot of articles and searched through the websites looking for information. I found out that “Poly People” have different terms to describe different types of relationships. That in some cases people weren’t just talking about 3 or even 4 all together. Not everyone was interested in a love relationship nor even having their partners be together. And there were different definitions of kinky in the “Poly World”. I actually found that there were so many different variations of EVERYTHING that it boggled my mind, like 9th grade algebra. BUT I repeatedly saw articles and forums and profiles that said the most important thing was honesty and respect, that to avoid being hurt and hurting others we tell the truth. This would also keep you from getting involved with people who didn’t have the same vision of a relationship as you do. Somehow I distorted my excitement into facts (who me???) and got a little carried away.
I had found several websites that offered to introduce Poly People. I signed up to every, single one without really knowing what I was doing. I was very specific about who I was and what I wanted because I had already “learned” there were many different “versions” of Poly and that people liked different things. But I was working in the spirit of honesty that “all Poly People have – 100% of the time.” And so I shared openly and completely.
Between several websites, and over one week I had almost 60 responses to my profile. I had many solicitations for straight up sex and it seemed there was A LOT of requests for the “Hot Bi Babes”. (???) There were some folks who immediately told me that they liked my profile but they were into “insert personal preference” and would that be a problem(?). Some people I turned down immediately, some I choose to talk to because they were interesting and I was really trying to have an “open mind” because “that’s what Poly People do”. There were others that told me exactly what I wanted to hear. That wasn’t hard to do after all I was very open and honest in my profiles. Soon however I began to learn that “Poly People” are really “just people” like everyone else. Good and bad with likes and dislikes similar and dissimilar to my own. I talked to some who I later found out things that I wish they would have told me from the beginning (like very strange-to-me fetishes) or that their spouse/significant other really didn’t know about Poly but they were sure “we” could convince them. How do you convince someone to be Poly or Bisexual??? If I could do that then wouldn’t it stand to reason that I could convince a gay person to become straight??? Or myself to be monogamous and happy??? How ridiculous is that??? There were even some who didn’t really have a spouse/significant other from the get go but thought that if I liked them then together we could find a third and so lied about having one. And the sad part was in a few cases I did like the way that they “seemed” BUT a relationship cannot last if it begins with a lie. It was very sad that they didn’t know that.
I started to feel let down and disappointed. Here, finally I had found MY PEOPLE, and they were just like everyone else after all. I had put all of my energy and efforts into this like it was the fountain of youth only to find out that it was water, like every other fountain, just a more colorful water…that’s all. I teetered on the edge of going back to my previous philosophy “I will never find what I am looking for so I may as well accept that fact and find comfort, peace and happiness with myself at least.” I get into those funks on occasion.
Something held me back. I kept reading. I don’t give up an idea that has gotten that deep into my head very easily. I kept talking to others. I changed my profile to say that I only wanted friends. And I began talking to a couple who seemed sincere, loving and all of the things that I was looking for … finally. The only problem was that they lived two states away from me and it really didn’t seem possible for us to meet for awhile. They had been looking for a third, and an equal, for a long time. They had some very hurtful and disappointing incidences along the way. We shared stories and some long talks and I thought everything was going well and it was. Unfortunately they were at a complicated time in their lives and that made putting an “us” together more difficult than just being two states away. They are truly good people and I care very deeply for them but I choose to step away because I could not see my place in their lives. I couldn’t see where I would fit. It was no ones fault but it just was what it was. I believe we all said ouch on that one.
But I left that encounter with hope and a more realistic point of view. “Poly People” are just people – some good and some bad and most of us just doing the best we can. We love and we hurt, we succeed and we fail. Just like the rest of the world we have hopes and dreams and fears and desires. Some of us vote, pay bills, and/or have children, we have some who are “normal” and some who are not.
I learned a lot about the difference between being a single Poly woman and being a single Poly man. I have become close acquaintances with a few men and woman in my efforts to meet others. Being a Poly woman who is actively seeking a relationship puts you out there for fraud and game playing that goes beyond what straight folks do, if only because in many cases being “Poly” often means being openly sexual. Being a Poly man who is actively seeking a relationship puts you out there for rejection. One of my Poly male friends told me once, “It’s easy to be female and Poly, everyone is looking for the ‘hot bi-female’ – when a man is Poly and contacts others we are often viewed with suspicion, either because we don’t already have a mate or because some other guy lied before us.” And it’s even harder still to have even more differences, such as being trans-gendered or being straight in a Poly world.
I have had to modify my enthusiasm, put a damper on it so to speak. I learned that I have to be myself, and be honest because that’s where I am comfortable but I cannot expect that everyone else will do the same (ummm…didn’t I learn this in grade school, I mean high school, I mean when I was 25???) I feel fortunate that I found this “community” at this point in my life because I respect myself a lot more than I used to and I am able to back off and make choices that are respectful to myself, without running away entirely. I still believe that being honest is important, the most important part of a poly relationship, but in truth it is really the most important part of any relationship. But honesty isn’t a prerequisite of being Poly and you can’t just assume that everyone is. I can be honest, make choices that I honestly feel are best for me and my loved ones and insist on honesty from those same people. But I can’t just jump in both feet first any more safely in a “Poly Pool” than I can anywhere else. Although we have different ideas about love and desire, we are still just people. People who need to be approached with the same caution and respect as anyone else, people who need to be sometimes involved and sometimes left alone, people who do desperate things and beautiful things in the name of love.
So a little less unreserved but much more aware, I continued on my journey.
Now I need to say that I feel very fortunate because although I did talk with some people who were not exactly honest with me, the people I spoke with were good people most of the time if a little unusual in some cases (but who am I really to say what’s unusual anyway – I have a boyfriend and a girlfriend!!!).
Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.
Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) ; December 10, 2006
folks have read this article.