Blog, Kink, Non-Monogamy

Embracing the Difference

I don’t really write about my poly much. Mostly because my poly doesn’t take a lot of work, effort, or thought- and when it does, those things are usually highly personal and usually not the kinds of things I want to share on a public forum. My poly works pretty well for me and, of all the things in my life, probably takes the least amount of brain processing power.

So I don’t write about it much. I don’t really think about it much, to be honest. Which isn’t to say I don’t make efforts to maintain and communicate and make sure things are solid. It’s just that those things are so ingrained at this point that it’s not something I’m actively, consciously processing through.

When poly stuff comes up for me, it’s almost always at the intersection of other things that do take more processing space. So it’s weird for me when two things that don’t usually require a lot of attention- gender and poly- intersect in a way that makes me stop and need to to actively, consciously attend to it.

Something I have noticed about myself is that my poly is really, really easy for me when my partners are dating other people with similarities to me. I’ve heard others say the opposite, which I also understand- when metamours are too similar, it brings up feelings of insecurity, replacement, competition- but that’s not how my brain works. For me, I exist in these weird intersections of culture- politics, gender, presentation, sexuality, etc.- that I usually feel like I come from a divergent set of experiences than most people.

And I’m pretty ok with that. I like the way I view the world, the experiences that have built and shaped my life, the way I think about things. But it’s a double-edged sword: I often feel like an outlier in a lot of social groups. And again, that’s ok… but gets harder with poly.

When I can look at my partner’s other partners and see something I can relate to, it makes me feel calm. Like less of an outlier. Like I’m not a weird social experiment, or the exception to their attraction tendencies. Like me, as a whole person, fits into this person’s life.

I realized this when I was standing with a sweetheart and a group of their current and ex-partners, and realizing how aesthetically divergent I was. Me, with my body hair and beard, kinda dirty and not wearing any makeup or really…caring at all how I looked, next to clean, fully shaved, makeup-wearing high femmes (all of whom are friends, and fantastically wonderful people that I adore). But I viscerally felt the difference between myself and this person’s “type,” and it made me question why they were interested in me. Was it because of that difference, that novelty? Was there something about me, the things I bring to the table? Was it because of these differences, or in spite of them?

And I honestly couldn’t decide which was harder: because of or in spite of. One felt tokenizing, one felt erasing. And I realized that it’s just so much easier when there aren’t these large differences between myself and other people that my sweethearts/partners/etc. tend to date.

Because my insecurities say, “well, that’s what they really want.” Because my insecurities say, “you’re just a novelty, but that wears off.” And then I catch myself making small changes. Trying to stay interesting. Changing something to be more like someone else.

Because I get scared, and self-sabotage.

I caught myself on a brain spiral the other day that made me think about all these things. Going into the summer as a person who is doing more rope, I’ve been contemplating shaving my legs because it’s just so much easier and more comfortable. But then I had to wonder, in that small part of my brain, if I was just using rope as an excuse to shave, something I have been perfectly happy to not do for years. Shaving fucks with my body dysphoria and issues with weight more than it fucks with gender, but it also lends itself to a specific idea about my gender that feels weird (yes, I know guys shave their legs all the time; they aren’t combatting years of social messaging around body hair removal and sex appeal, plus don’t run the risk of being mispronouned because they shaved their legs. So yes, while it doesn’t have to have gendered connotations, it does because of how the rest of my body is put together.)

Is it what I want to do, or is it what I think I need to do? It’s a small, silly thing but it made me think about standing in that group a year or so ago and making mental comparisons- and finding myself coming up short. Because my brain catalogues difference as “less than.”

I find myself apologizing for divergence instead of embracing it. I find myself wanting to fit more than I do, and being frustrated that I never will. I find myself believing that I am attractive as a novelty, desirable until the NRE wears off, but that’s about it. I want to minimize the differences, and that’s impossible. I am not anything other that who and what I am.

It’s learning that difference does not mean less than. That attraction runs a spectrum and I am somewhere on it. That there are not many people who move through the worlds than I do in the ways that I do, and that space is mine- whether I embrace it or not, whether I’m ashamed of it or not, it’s who I am. So I can either fight it or own it, but I can’t change it.

Maybe I don’t write about poly so much because it doesn’t often come up as a thing to process… or maybe I don’t write about it because I don’t want to acknowledge the ways it does come up. I don’t want to draw attention to the differences. As an apology for the ways I look, I will be extra low-maintenance in every other regard (in fairness to myself, that part actually isn’t too hard. I don’t need much in the ways of reassurance, and I’m a pretty easy person to share a partner with. Also, there is nothing wrong with needing more reassurance, or needing more maintenance than that. I just don’t tend to need those things.)

But I don’t want to talk about these things. Including owning insecurities. Including acknowledging that I have them. Including recognizing the ways in which I do struggle, sometimes, especially when I just want things to be easy.

Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes I want to do things that make me feel more attractive to the people I’m attracted to, and sometimes I want to take up the loud, boisterous space that is my body in all of its divergent, difficult complications. It doesn’t have anything to do with other people- partners, sweethearts, or their other people (which, by the way, all my people’s other people are pretty stellar human beings and I like and respect all of them). It’s learning to step up and hold my own space. Carry myself through the world without apology. Recognizing that difference isn’t bad, and it doesn’t mean that I need to change. It’s not about “in spite of” or “because of.” It just is what it is. I am who I am.

Ehyeh asher ehyeh. It’s tattooed on my arm, the state of being and becoming, transient and fluid. I am grateful for the challenge my life, my poly, my experiences provide- to learn to take up my own space. Unapologetically and unafraid, to learn to embrace the difference.

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