18 November 2012

The poly test, and how to fail it

The Poly Test.

There is something I love to call the poly test. It is not an official category, just something I invented for all the folks out there who're unsure whether they are poly.

So when explaining the reasoning behind polyamory or open relationship, the first subject that will usually be touched is the one of multiple romantic interests: It is kinda pointless to give polyamory a thought when somebody just doesn't feel like he or she can love more than one person at a time. The mechanics of jealousy also change for most of the people that feel their partner could have sex with, but not love, another individual outside the couple. So loving more or just fucking more is also a relevant question.

Anyway, you're there talking about loving many and a certain comment often pops up, that goes something like “Oh, I've felt that. Maybe I'm poly”. This is my cue to enounce the poly test in its one-phrase-on-the-back-of-a-cereal-box form:
"Anybody can love many, not everybody can share."

If 'sharing' is the right term (you would need to own something in order to share it) I won't go into that here, this phrase just sort of illustrated the point quickly. It is my belief that pretty much everybody alive has the capacity to deeply love and care for more than one individual at the same time, and that it's a monogamous effort (constant or sporadic) the one that prevents such feelings from developing. This however does not mean that a person can effectively deal with knowing the love of his life has similar feelings for others. This is where the sharing comes in, even if just sharing one's own presence in the loved one's mind.

Be it that possession is possible or merely a reassuring illusion, the possibility to allow the loved one to love somebody else is where polyamory is really at, because it makes consensus happen and honesty possible. To be polyamorous, you must confess, and they must agree.

So how can you tell if you've got the grit?

Well, the test can be materialized in many ways. In truth any moment of knowing the other exists for your partner, another love, another interest, is a moment of reckoning, for it is the moment in which the mental comparisons begin and the sensation of risk appears. The risk of being less in any way. Hell just to think of it kinda gives your a hint already of the real deal, what it would be like.

“I'm interested in soembody”, “I have another boyfriend”, etc etc, she's met somebody, an old girlfriend has come back into town for him. And of course much more complicated places and scenarios are possible: meeting the person, going out together. All things that may have beneficial consequences for the relationship or make you go completely out of your poly head.

Each level has it's benefits to reduce the impact and allay your fears, or indeed increase them and worsen them exponentially. For most poly's, I hear, the initial levels of contact are enough for things to be neither too close and intimate, nor so impersonal that too much space is given to imagination to fill with ghosts and monsters. Finding the right spot for you to take the poly test is thus essential to getting good things out of it.

But I'm not gonna talk about the right balance. I'll tell you how to fail the poly test spectacularly.

How to fail it. 


Newflash: B is actually a cat. I mean, she does look and talk like a beautiful young woman but inside she's just a cat, she even meows. This is why from now on other ways to reffer to B will include all kinds of cat sustantives: Cat, kitty, pussy. Ok perhaps that last one will be reserved to other subjects...

When I showed up, B (the cat) was already in a relationship with M and with L. When i came into town I caused quite a rumble for L found in me a great reason for fear and doubt. His jealousy sparked fast and hard and a small crisis ensued. This actually reassured me of my worth inside the relationship, of my fitness to face what the others were offering. The marketing mentality was probably the first mistake I made, and I knew it was a big mistake to make, but at the same time, knowing I was the hot new stuff was too alluring and felt too good to not take that pill.

In the meantime, the poly test were many. Just developing strong feeling for B was already a poly test of sorts, since I already knew there was other people in the relationship and I was already being measured up and compared, even if unconsciously. I already knew the other boyfriends in person, so that test too had been passed a priori, it was kinda like homeschooling and then facing the class and exams mid-year, no mysteries or surprises. Watching them kiss, or cuddle, all this I faced like a true master in the matter, and being the favorite, there was a constant complimenting of my abilities and me in general. I had nothing to fear and as such I was too self-assured to doubt.

But time passed and you're the new kid only until a new guy comes along (or girl, alas). And my relationship with B moved on not without big fights that put all fireworks to rest for a while. I was brought down from the pedestal, and Lu got kicked out of B's heart, and then readmitted. He had changed and things were not gonna be the same with him anymore, possibly for the better. Although he was not a new face, my mistrust for how he had been kicked out the previous time was never gonna go away, and as such his presence irked me.

So then came the inevitable, I am even surprised it didn't happen before. A poly meeting in the Italian capital of polyamory, Bologna. The House of Poly greeted us with arms open and beds made, and as soon as the general, public meeting was over, we readied ourselves to stay over. According to the diagram things were kinda clear-cut: the master bedroom was used by fond enemies of ours Mr. Curl and Mrs. Hänchen (there are no enmities in the poly community, just people we love to hate), the couch that lay in the dining room would be used by L and M to have their loving wiles, a small bedroom built behind the kitchen (the House of Poly holds many wonders) would host a new addition to the group, a girl that goes by the name of Almond. Fair and cute she is, by the way, though with a tireless mouth that has a life of its own. And in another section of the house, separated by a door and some stairs, the studio was to be our bedroom, where I would hold the kitten (B) in her sleep.

Yes well, that was the plan, at least. We also went out. On bikes, nothing less, and to the disco! We danced all night, me and the kitten, along our host and master of the House of Polyamory, Emerald, and some other poly additions, who would stay over at Emerald's own apartment outside town.

Once we were all done blazing on the dance floor, we were given a lift back to the Poly House. As we walked in, however, a plot unfolded: M was asleep on our bed. Not in, tucked and cozy, but sitting on it, apparently waiting for us (or death, or destiny). And the gasping moaning that came from across the house could only mean Almond was getting better acquainted with our frenemies, a story on which I won't abound.

Almond and I had gotten close as well, we were talking much of late and when I met her, several encounters before, I was struck both by her beauty and her charming goofiness. So Kitten, seeing that M had been waiting for us, had to talk with him extensively. They needed to talk. A small crisis had erupted between L and M and the kitten had to smooth it out. It was then that Almond showed up.
Having apparently finished her job over at the Curl/Hänchen, she wanted to know what we were up to. Specially if it was sexual. I was indeed in the mood for love, but the evening had spun so magically around the cat, with the cycling around Bologna and the dancing (cats hate to dance and this one in particular). We were tipsy and tired and I just wanted to hold her in my arms and kiss the entirety of her skin.

In this scheme, Almond could not be allowed. But I didn't tell her right away, I just didn't find the strength. The kitten wanted to take some time to talk with L and M over at the dining room and in the meantime, I might as well caress Almond's fair and soft skin, to then gently excuse myself for not being able to go further, as the evening belonged, in my mind, to the cat. B said, “I'll be right back”, and went off with M to save the world of polyamory.

Then the unimmaginable happened. As I stroked Almond's hair and ran my nails on the shriveling skin of her naked back, I heard moans. Moaning I could have recognized anywhere and in any circumstance. Cat's moaning. Apparently the frail emotional need that had lured the cat away had just grown a hard-on.

I was shaken. I was waiting for the kitty, not certainly in bad company or without distraction, but still I waited. Instead she now moaned loudly and I knew that her pleasure was poignantly strong and that it was going to last long. Because M lasts for hours. I froze. I began finding it hard to think, my heart aching. Jealousy. I boiled with jealousy. Tipsy, tired, horny, the cold chill of jealousy poured on me with the cat's every loud moan of pleasure. I couldn't handle it, I had to escape it. Escape it at all costs.

“You need to leave, Almond” I said, my voice cold. She didn't understand. She asked if this had anything to do with her previous visit of our frenemies. “No, I'm sorry. It has nothing to do with them, it's me. You need to leave.” She began putting her shirt back on, “Uhm... quickly?” she asked somewhat tense. The tenderness of her apprehension soothed me. “No, I'm sorry, take your time.” She dressed up and hopped off the bed. As soon as she was out of sight, I realized I had to solve my problem as quickly as possible. I had to leave the house. The kitten's moaning could not be quelled with a door or wall, she's a loud one.

To my misfortune, however, I was in a dire position. The studio happens to be on a mezzanine 3 meters above the ground. The easy way to get off of it and onto the exit door is quite simply to take the stairs. But the moaning of the kitten were so clear I feared they were closer than expected. That they came from the bathroom, perhaps, which I'd inevitably have a peek into if I climbed down the stairs. The horror of such a vision chilled my blood, as I already sustained the pain of the moaning with unease. No, the stairs were not an option. A second mezzanine was built right next to the exit, a meter from the one I stood on. Jumping on it left only the problem of a one and a half meter high jump to the floor. I got dressed for a cold night, jumped to the second mezzanine, then tried to slide down from it by stepping on two chairs which lay beneath, one turned upside down on top of the other.

One broken chair later, I exited the House of Polyamory.

The night was dark and the air freezing, I began shivering after a few steps. “I just failed the poly test” I told myself as I quickly paced away from the house, to produce heat but also to escape cleanly. I had left the cellphone behind, the last thing that I wanted was somebody calling me “Where are you, are you out of your mind?” sinking me deeper into my shame. The frenemies would know and scorn “So he went nuts and jumped down mezzanines to leave the house, can you believe that, how quaint!”

I hoped the cat wouldn't notice I left. I hoped they wouldn't notice anything at all, I hoped I could be all by myself for at least an hour. Well, that's about what I had, I told myself, for M wasn't gonna be done in at least an hour. The pain refreshed. The jealousy. I began crying. The sense of failure, the sense of entrapment. The unwanted resentment against M. Against myself.

I walked for about a mile. I went to the fringes of the city, which lay close by. Alone in the empty brightly lit streets, I spoke loudly to myself. Scolding, interrogating. I tried to put my thoughts in order, to clean my heart of remorse, to calm down. To quell jealousy. To quell jealousy, to kill it. To allow myself to understand why I hurt so badly, what made me need the cat so much. Need her mine. Need her at my disposition that very evening. To have her for myself, instead of somebody else. What fed my sense of possession, what made me feel so dispossessed, so crossed.

It was the romantic expectation. Monogamic in a sense, perhaps. The perfect evening, the perfect night. They do not include other people, there is no metamour when you turn off the candles on the table of the dinner for two. I though this was a night for us, when they were right there. They were supposed to have their own thing going on, M and L, but they were still there, and were entitled to change their mind at any given time. And so they did, and I just didn't get the fax. Nobody warned me.

“I gotta get back,” I told myself at last “if the kitten realizes I'm not there and have left the cellphone behind, she'll go completely berserk.” Few minutes later, I walked back into the Poly House. In a wink of fate, they were not done, but were finishing up. I had to hear her moan little more, before it was all over.

I got back into bed and as the kitten came back up the stairs of the mezzanine into the studio to sleep with me, she didn't notice anything odd. She excused herself for taking so long. I couldn't hold back. I thought it would be best to wait until the next day to talk things out calmly, but tired as I still was, and very emotional, I began telling her I had just walked in from the freezing cold of the Bolognese night.

Lack of communication, misunderstandings, biting more than you can chew. That's how you ensure a spectacular failure of the poly test.

I'm Léunar and I'll be taking that exam again soon enough.
Happy poly testing.

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