Imperception

I was speaking to some of Carrie’s friends-who-are-becoming-my-friends-but-still-much-closer-to-Carrie (metafriends, perhaps, much like metamours (well, one is a metamour, or was, and will be again perhaps, let me expound on this outside the parentheticals) although the implication is that metamours are not one’s own “amours”, and I would consider these people my friends) this weekend, and mentioned that I was seeing L.  It then came up that these (meta)friends had been under the impression that Carrie and I were monogamous, to which I replied “not on purpose, at least on my part”.

This has happened on occasion before, and it worries me a little for a couple of reasons, which depend on the source of this impression.  The sources I can imagine are:

  1. I just seem like the monogamous sort.
  2. The fact that I wasn’t seeing anyone else was assumed to mean I didn’t want to see anyone else.
  3. Carrie’s hanky-panky-hiatus is being taken as something that I requested or wanted from her, meaning that I wanted a monogamous relationship.

And the corresponding worries are:

  1. If this is the case, I don’t even know if it’s addressable. Is there a special way I should wear my hair?  A handkerchief that I should be putting in my back pocket?
  2. This is just frustrating in that it’s more need-money-to-make-money style stuff along the lines of how hard it can be to get a date in a poly crowd while single. How does one establish a second relationship if the lack of one is taken as indication that one does not want a second relationship?
  3. This makes me seem like an enormously insecure jerk, especially now that I’m seeing other people.  And I don’t know how to address this short of going to her friends and once-and-future paramours and saying “Look, this wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t something that I wanted, and it doesn’t help me, anyway”, which would be along the lines of actually being an insecure jerk.  That cuts a little too close to interfering in Carrie’s other relationships.

A first step, naturally, would be to ask exactly where this impression comes from, but I didn’t think to do that at the time.   Until I do that, to some extent this is idle speculation, and so of course I will.  It just always catches me flat-footed when people tell me this, almost as much as when they tell me that they didn’t think we were serious.  Short of hanging a sign around my neck, I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to send the signal that I’m “available” but not unattached.

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3 thoughts on “Imperception

  1. I think that impression was largely due to the amount of time that had passed since I was involved with other people. Which is to say, they’d either forgotten or simplified what I said at the time, which was that it was an open relationship but that neither of us were in that place right then, though we knew we would be later on. Which was exactly where we were at that moment. It was an assumption on their part that we were still in such a place; I wasn’t exactly giving them the play-by-play.

    Or maybe it was just your monogamous-looking hair.

  2. The main way I bypass this is to talk about it with my friends. For my friends, or friends of my lover, to not know that I/he are polyamorous is a sign that they are not very close to me. In your case, I imagine it is a sign of the predominant culture of the area you’re living in.

    But, personally, it it something I mention to anyone who I have a more than passing friendly acquaintance with (also possibly because I have strong opinions on relationships and I tend to qualify them as my personal opinions this way). If you don’t talk about it, how are people going to know you aren’t mainstream vanilla, after all?

    Although, if you do not see it as a big part of your identity or you don’t want to be judged adversely for it, I can imagine why you would not mention it.

  3. I don’t really avoid it, but I don’t go out of my way to bring it up. If it comes up in conversation, sure. This is less to avoid stigma and more to avoid having people think I’m hitting on them; for much the same reason, I don’t tell men that I don’t know yet that I’m bisexual.

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