But the privileged don’t always look like this:
About a year into this polyamorous experiment, I feel confused, overwhelmed and exhausted. I feel like there is a growing number of people who are either mad at me, feeling hurt by me or about to get hurt by me. And because of this, I’m craving alone time more than ever… which is strange, because being alone has always been my biggest fear.
I almost feel like throwing in the towel… almost. But I don’t know what I’d be throwing the towel in on – Polyamory? Monogamy? Human relationships in general? Surely the purpose of polyamory was not to lead me to a life of solitude as a hermit, was it?
I understand now why people have complained that polyamory is a game only “privileged people” have the luxury of playing. People who are caught up in the 7-to-7 (not 9-to-5) grind – who have to wake up before the sun, get their kids ready for daycare, race to work, pretend to be productive for 9 hours, race back to daycare, stop at the grocery store with screaming kids, feed them and put them to bed, before waking up and doing it all over again the next day – barely have time to make love to their spouses one night a week, much less take on a second or third romantic relationship.
I feel slightly more privileged than a lot of other people I know – in that I get to work from home, my partner Brad sets his own hours on his food truck (though they are still long) and we don’t have to rush our only child around to daycare or school or extracurricular activities – and polyamory is still hard as hell.
Four months into my sexual relationship with Ben, Brad is still torn apart every time we have sex. And I still feel insecure and afraid when Brad goes out with women I assume want to “steal him away” from me.
I know this is because we both feel stressed, overworked and economically insecure in a world where economic security comes in monogamous pairs, rather than tribes, where your next meal is not dependent upon whom you’re having sex with.
This point was proven to me when Brad was unemployed for over a month in January while his food truck was getting fixed. Our relationship had never been better. We sat around having sex, philosophizing and processing our emotions all day, and because of that, Brad said it didn’t even bother him when I slept with Ben. But the very moment he got thrown back into the daily grind, he became bitter and resentful that he had to go to work all day to support me and our daughter, while in his imagination I lay around all day eating bonbons and “f**king other men.”
My point is, in our backwards “civilized” world, where slaving away 60+ hours of our weeks working is considered normal, polyamory is nearly impossible.
Navigating all the emotions that come along with sharing our loved ones, sexually and romantically, is too taxing in an environment where we’re already stressed out to the point of cancer and heart disease and stuck in survival mode.
So we’ve been conditioned to stuff our unmet emotional and sexual needs and press forward in stifling monogamous, nuclear units – forward and onward – toward the “success” and “progress” of our “beautiful” culture.
Screw that. I’m not giving up. I’m going to stay free to form all the sexual and romantic relationships and friendships I want, while nurturing my familial relationships. If something’s gotta give, it’s not going to be my connections with other human beings. It’s going to be my “civilized,” modernized, “luxurious” lifestyle.
The real “privileged” people
Because the most privileged people in the world are those who have the TIME for human connection and self-exploration, not those with high salaries, big houses, fancy cars and mounds of plastic crap.
If you want to know who those privileged people are – the ones who have very little problem with polyamory – read the book Sex at Dawn. They are pre-agricultural, gatherer-hunter tribes. They are people who spend about 17 hours a week “working” alongside their loved ones, and they consider their “work” – gathering nuts and berries and hunting with bows and arrows – play. They are the original affluent society, with more leisure time than the wealthiest white man in Western civilization.
(The people pictured above are the San !Kung of Botswana. Like other immediate-return gatherer-hunters they practice “fierce egalitarianism” and “free love,” according to Sex at Dawn. They share everything, including their lovers. Most tribe members “marry” several times before settling into a long-term relationship, and even after they do, they are free to come and go as they please. The !Kung spend only 15 hours a week gathering food. Other than that, there’s not much “work” to be done. That’s the kind of “privilege” I’m hoping to find.)