Entry 38

What Child Is This?¹

Six years ago when my wife and I opened our marriage for the concept of Polyamory, more precisely: because I fell in love with another woman with whom I wanted to have a full-value relationship, too (see Entry 1), I shared this decision as well with our children – who were then 7 and 9 years old. Thereby I wanted to contribute to all-round transparency”, and anyone who has read my previous bLog-Entry on the subject knows how I would like to approach it: “absolutely honest” and “immediately” are the keywords.
Since my children were and are part of my life, they are part of my (domestic) community after all. And by that, they are in fact entitled to receive new information, which will somehow affect the life of their community, as quickly as possible.
In more conventional social networks you’ll hear by now something like: “Oh no, when children are concerned it is going beyond a joke…!” – probably from people who imagine that “Polyamory” is something like a restless orgy in the bedroom. And – more the pity – I must confess what some people try to pretend as “Polyamory”, unfortunately, is also often predominantly sexually accentuated (my criticism see Entry 2); accordingly I’m talking about “Oligoamory” from now on, because this is what it’s all about on this site.

As far as my children were concerned at the time, I considered child-friendly information to be necessary in any case; so I told the two of them that from now on Ms. Z. would regularly live with us, then we would be more people and that would have a lot of advantages. As far as relationships were concerned, I went on to explain, it would be great if nobody would have to go away before someone else would be allowed to join in, and how much nicer it would be if something like family and community would be able to grow.
My children conferred briefly before my son announced: “Dad is now like an oriental sultan…!”, whereupon he was interrupted immediately by my (always very correct) daughter: “Well, then he should have now rather more than a hundred women…” – and I cried tragicomical down the stairs to my loved ones: “I think I’ve messed it up…!”.
But more importantly, the relationship to our children has virtually remained like that unto this day: From the very first second, they looked at our network of relationships with a lot of subtle, benevolent humour – and by that gradually accepted the overall situation as their own.
No matter whether they said to me during another infatuation: “Well, daddy has a little girlfriend again…”, whether they instinctively judged a couple we met after the first date at home “They’re strange…” (indeed we weren’t able to establish a relationship after that), or whether they began to call all adults in verbal speech for themselves instead of “Mum and Dad” with the collective term “the parents” á la: “The parents want to go shopping, wanna join?” (and that term stuck to the present day, patchworking be praised!).

From a child’s point of view, they did what was most natural for them – and modern educational research is in complete agreement with that. Because they chose from the new constellation what gave them stability and reliability and what they needed most for their optimal development: The maximum of emotional security, comfort and reassurance and the widest possible variety of different motivations and challenges that they could handle alone or with the help of adults².
And the adult’s view?
Well, contrary to superficial official assumptions and projections, ethical non-monogamy consists much less of the above-mentioned restless orgies rather than of day-to-day work, profane household organisation and very worldly social interaction. And most of it is pretty boring for children, which makes it irrelevant in these areas whether you live as a single, monogamous or with five lovers – during all of that you won’t see much of your children anyway, or maybe you will only see them from a distance. Well, maybe it’s not completely irrelevant, because with more adults you start to benefit from the incredible advantage that now there is often someone who still has enough energy to admire the latest crayon-picture, to answer the same question for the 63rd time, or to come up with a creative answer to an entirely new question (e.g. “Is it possible to fall asleep during sexual intercourse?”).
By the way, mentioning sexuality, which is always called “highly problematically” when having children in the house: For children is all that normality what adults do with habitual sovereignty. So it’s pre-eminently important how we approach that topic ourselves.
In our polyamorous beginnings we lived in a very small terraced house, where the children during their night walk to the bathroom, for example, had to pass our bedroom door. Well, then one stops any potential X-rated actions just as long, until the little ones are back in their own room. And in the morning? Well, then the kids now visited the three of us in the grown-ups bed (as they had done with two of us in the years before) and distributed their compliments: “Oh, Z.”, my little son on one occasion said to my new partner, “you are so wonderfully wobbly…”. Who wouldn’t blush, astonished by so much affectionately expressed sincerity?
I could come up with a thousand – but usually less spectacular – examples we experienced during the following years, but what is important is that in the end children will subdue their world in the most sophisticated manner. However, in their respect, a lot, probably most of what we adults do or say or arrange among each other, is of minor concern to them.
Once I even worried about that. We had spent a weekend in a medieval castle during summer-vacation, which the kids found great, especially because the five of us could all be there together. After the holidays my children had to tackle at school the traditional theme “My best holiday experience” and in the corresponding essays I finally read that both children had treated the issue concerning the castle almost subsidiary. I talked about it to the school’s social worker, explained her our somewhat unconventional domestic situation, and the very open-minded lady said to me: “You know, Oligotropos, children have a very good sense regarding their own piece of normality. Of course, children also compare with each other and also experience other families living differently – but they do not take that half as serious as we adults believe. For children, conducive attachment figures are much more significant, they want response and dependable structures. And I can see that all this is present.”

And in respect of this “good sense regarding the own piece of normality” I would like to present in the second part of this article, what I have learned from our children about it referring to my ideas of Oligoamory:
For as far as the actual identification with the relationships we take up is concerned, hardly anything is a more distinct litmus test than how we arrange these relationships towards our children.
In Entry 35, which speaks of the “right time” for the official acknowledgement of a new love, I point out that a common argument against this acknowledgement would be that “while flirting/hooking up/getting together one would be rather uncertain for a very long time, whether the new person would be somebody “serious”, which would make it so very difficult to estimate, if any “existing partners” should be taken into consideration – especially if ‘nothing tangible’ would result in the attempt…”
Since our children are indefiasible commitments, who belong to our lives with the moment of their emergence, at this point they have the same rights as all the other aleady existing partners and loved ones – and now the question is: Will I accept a newly emerged relationship as a full-fledged part of that life – or will I falter?
If I falter or try to elude that acceptance then perhaps I am having a fling, a romance, an amour – but I do not conduct anything, which according to oligoamorous standards can be evaluated as ethical (multiple) relationship of integrity.
Because what is the alternative? To keep the fling/romance/amour out of my usual life, to hide it, to compartmentalise it, to split it off.
But concerning your children, even more than concerning existing partners, this will not work. Because maybe we are jaded enough that we would leave an adult partner in the dark about our true motivations for a while, concerning our children this behaviour is disastrous anyway. For, above all, infantile brains react exorbitantly sensitive regarding every deviation between reality and pretence: After all, it is vital for children who are absolutely dependent on adult care to pay attention to our signs of coherence (consistency/ confirmability) or incoherence (inconsistency / contrariness). Precisely because we are their caregivers – so the whole infantile mind is totally adjusted to our signals regarding attention, security, meaning, enthusiasm, affection, motivation, (self)awareness and commitment. Accordingly, if we try to attempt this with a hidden agenda, sooner or later we will conjure up the first hallmarks of educational and developmental issues, whether as retreat, aggression, or as a turn towards external “bearers of meaning”.
Which is quite evident, if we do not do justice to our role as adults by such a behaviour, if we do not behave like grown-ups, because true adulthood definitely involves a certain desire to assume (self)responsibility.

Such peculiar secrecy and reluctance in the face of our children displays a somewhat distorted attitude towards one’s relationships in general, which in my view also has a further socio-political dimension.
Though we are bravely stepping forward into the 21st century, there are still dogmas and beliefs like the following abroad: “A child belongs to his mother!” or “A family consists of a father, a mother and their children.” ³
Anyone who actually still adheres to these traditional ideas, I urgently ask to overthink her*his activities concerning multiple relationships, whether in the context of BDSM, swinging, casual dating or ostensible Polyamory. Don’t you think that’s rather “queer”?
Because ethical non-monogamy (such as Poly- and Oligoamory) are full-fledged lifestyles and relationship philosophies, as are e.g. conscious vegetarianism or veganism regarding nutrition: And in respect of that, one is either fairly unswerving in the matter and is convinced because of good reasons – or one is not.
I choose this example because regarding nutrition we usually try to display consistency towards our children. We wouldn’t eat tofu and salad secretly on the weekend, then share beef roulade with our child on Monday to convince the poor thing – contrary to our own beliefs – what a “normal” child should eat. Or do you practice such ambivalence when you visit grandmother?: At home you are already vegan – but at Granny’s we praise the chicken fricassee and loudly ask for a second helping to show that we are all still “in line”. Of course, then we also wouldn’t tell grandma that there are Katja and Frank at home, with whom we live together since two years – no, that wouldn’t be convenient… But will we be able to be a good role model for our children that way?

To someone who really wants to reply to me now: “Oligotropos, what I do privately is of no one’s concern…!”, I answer: “That may be – but with that attitude nobody is capable of maintaining a true relationship or even any kind of community”. In a context of multiple relationships such a kind of insular thinking is no longer sustainable, because all of our decisions will always directly affect somehow all parties in our relationship-network,community or family.
And no, I consider it not at all pleasant or “cool” to have to act in my own house or in my family like a secret agent. The people who surround me should be those to whom I can completely entrust myself, where I truly can be “myself”.
Therefore, it is simply not possible to exclude any existing partners or children from our “second identity” by means of the twisted argument of their potential “vulnerability”. Because “vulnerable” we are in these cases most likely ourselves: because we ourselves haven’t resolved the reasons for our wish regarding multiple relationships yet, or are secretly ashamed of ourselves (see Entries 26, 27 and 28).
But with this inner ambivalence we would renounce some truly brilliant allies – our children. Because they apply very different standards to us than we do ourselves in our self-reflection: To them, we are not only “wonderfully wobbly”, but we are also the most competent guides to the world. In this case, to our world, in which we can show that tofu tastes good and that Frank and Katja are trustwothy “parents” too.
But grandma? Well, either grandma proves that she is still able to adjust, or we will have to look for someone else who is taking care of the kids on Thursday afternoon. But we can not allow to be blackmailed on the way to the new world – conscience against chicken fricassee, no deal, no Madam!
And what are you saying, Oligotropos, Frank and Katja now count among “the parents”? I wouldn’t entrust the education of my children to strangers… Oops!
Regarding that, two remarks:
On the one hand – if Frank and Katja are your loved ones in an ethical multiple relationship, then you should gradually gain enough confidence that you can let them interact with the other parts of your community, i.e. your children. By the way, Frank and Katja are probably also being considerate of you an your needs when you are interacting with your children. And anyway – I already said that it actually gets easier with more people (at least in that respect).
On the other hand, Frank and Katja, for their part, will have to entrust themselves to the strictest judges when it comes to “interference in education”, they will have to entrust themseves to your children! And children, I know that from my own point of view, distribute this privilege very purposefully: By balancing competence, coherence and, not least, a huge dose of mutual sympathy, as they are doing with their biological parents as well. Therefore, hand on heart, I can confirm: If your child has decided to bestow its love and trust, then you can certainly do it too.

Well. And then a small patchwork universe actually arises, where “yours”, “mine”, “his”, “hers” and “theirs” becomes “ours” in the best oligoamorous sense.
My daughter, of course, recently expressed it a little differently (by now she’s 15 years old). In the week before Christmas we visited a hardware store, and as we were all standing at the cash register, we were offered some small trinkets and giveaways.
Cashier: “Look here, young lady, there I have a great family calendar for you ..!”
Daughter: “Nah, we don’t need that. We’re no family. We only live together because we don’t want it any other way!”

When we passed the exit a few moments later she giggled: “Whether the cashier is afraid of me now …?!”
It’s like I told you: The kids will subdue their world in the most sophisticated manner.
So let’s involve them straight away if we want them to be on our side.



¹ Christmas carol whose lyrics were written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865.

² Karl Gebauer & Gerald Hüther “Children are looking for orientation“, walter / Patmos, 2002

³ e.g.: “European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Father, mother, child – for the protection of marriage and family’ 2016/17” (petition failed)

Thanks to Ben Wicks on Unsplash for the photo.

Entry 37 #Transparency

Crystal clear

In Entry 35 I had just been dealing with the “right time” when existing partners and loved ones should be informed of the potential blossoming of a new love. In this Entry I would like to supplement this question with the important idea of “transparency“.
“Transparency” is already one of the terms occasionally mentioned in Polyamory; it is in any case a basic value of Oligoamory – which I already introduced in Entry 3.

“Transparency” is a somewhat cumbersome term, which is rarely encountered outside ethical non-monogamy, especially concerning the context of relationship management. Transparency – this is actually better known from the political discourse, the financial sector or governmental proceedings. But even in the those areas, says Wikipedia, transparencydescribes actions and approaches that radically increase the openness of organizational process and data”.
But transparency also has a social dimension, so that it “is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability”.
And the Psychological Dictionary states: “[Transparency means] genuineness in relating to other individuals, with little attempt at making a positive impression”.

Accordingly, what I want to say as an author is thus: Without transparency, it is difficult to imagine any formation or conduct of a relationship that craves for all-round sincerity and knowledgeability.
For what is the task, more precisely: the function of transparency in a multiple relationship?
The authors of the book “More Than Two – a practical guide to ethical Polyamory” (2014), Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert explain in the chapter describing their “Relationship Bill of Rights” that transparency combines three ideas that are fundamental to ethical multiple relationships – consent, honesty and agency; in their words:
Consent is about you: your body, your mind and your choices. Your consent is required to access what is yours. The people around you have agency: they do not need your consent to act, because you do not own their bodies, minds or choices. But if their behavior crosses into your personal space, then they need your consent. […]
Honesty, therefore, is an indispensable part of consent. Being able to share, to the best of your abilities, who you are in a relationship is critical for that relationship to be consensual. You must give your partners the opportunity to make an informed decision to be in a relationship with you. If you lie or withhold critical information, you remove your partners’ ability to consent to be in the relationship. […] Your partners deserve to have a choice about how they want to participate in a relationship with you given new information. You cannot force someone to make the choice you want them to make, and if you lie or withhold information, you deny them the ability to know there was a choice to be made. [Also] an omission is a lie when it is calculated to conceal information that, were it known to the other party, would be materially relevant to it.
Agency is also intertwined with consent. […] We ask you to look at your partners and ask yourself if you respect their ability to choose – even if a choice hurts you, even if it’s not what you would choose – because we cannot consent if we do not have a choice.
Empowering people to make their own choices is actually the best way to have our own needs met. People who feel disempowered can become dangerous. Communicating our needs, and equipping others to meet them, succeeds more often than attempting to restrict or coerce another into meeting them
.”

In the oligoamorous understanding, “transparency” therefore always has two dimensions:

On the one hand, towards the new emerging love and potential new partners. Although there is much talk of a “freedom of expectation” in polyamorous circles (see Entry 2), we should be very realistic and truly straightforward here: For, of course, there are good personal reasons in everyone of us, why we are currently dating, or, to make a long story short: why we would like to have more or new people and loved ones in our lives – even if we are “just” at a point where we feel that we have the capacity to engage in a new relationship… And as far as the “how ” is concerned, it would be rather dishonest if we would try to operate with the stereotype of “everything is possible“: Almost all adult people are involved somewhere in at least temporal obligations and commitments, such as work, existing relationships, family, etc., which very rarely makes us “completely free” in the arrangement of further additional relationships.
Therefore, according to Veaux and Rickert, we are asked to actively put our potential new loved ones in a state prepared for “informed decision-making”: Do they want to come to terms with our “given circumstances”? From their perspective, is the “wide space” that we offer them in our hearts definitely more than a mere niche in an already densely packed crowd?

On the other hand there are also the dear people in our existing relationships. And since they already share significant parts of our lives in which they are invested and participate, they are already as well part of our personal triad of “consent, honesty and agency“. Anyone who doesn’t say “But of course!” now either already has a dramatic black hole in the existing relationships or a highly spectacular view of his*her personal integrity. Because: Transparency, as I formulate it here, is – relating to the existing relationships – a characteristic of whether we really identify ourselves with these relationships – which means: if we have accepted them as part of us and our lives.
Since at this point we touch the so often disputed “faithfulness in multiple relationships”. If our identification with our assumed relationships and commitments is intact, then we are definitely faithful. Exactly, as even Wikipedia puts it: “the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something, and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances”. And trust and loyalty literally form the bedrock on which every human relationship stands or shatters.

Transparency thus always acts as a signal in two directions:
Even if we haven’t accumulated a common basis of trust yet, I can at least demonstrate to a newly arrived person that I am doing my best to be consistent regarding my value system in every possible way. Questions about my motivations may then still confuse me (because undraped self-honesty is something we are not necessarily used to from everyday life) – but they can not throw me off completely, as there are no more “corpses in the closet” who, on inappropriate opportunity, will suddenly rise to reveal a completely different picture of me than I pretended to display. Even if the potential connection doesn’t come to realisation in the end, I have always been on an ethically secure ground: I did not try to advertise a pretty façade of mine, but the other person decided freely for or against me for her own good reasons.
And regarding my present partners and loved ones I demonstrate with my transparent behaviour that I am a “reliable customer” and thus complement the existing trust. Because my motivations and my mindset may be changeable, but they are not arbitrary: My integrity, the indication “that my actions are based upon an internally consistent framework of principles” ” remains comprehensible for my direct environment. And that means that I remain accessible to all my significant others, that they, too, with their consent, their honesty and agency, are in an open-end dialogue with me. Which, in it self, is a good sign that our “emotional contract” is based on equal terms.

Impressive in terms of the consequences of transparency – and therefore recommended by my side – is the movie “Thanks for Sharing ” (2012) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo as the characters “Phoebe” and “Adam”.
The movie is about a woman and a man, each of whom has a trait that could possibly be problematic for other people: Phoebe is considered a cured breast cancer patient, Mark in turn has managed to control his sex addiction by group therapy (analogue Anonymous Alcoholics) for five years in a row. The latter is therefore also the reason for Mark to challenge the possibility of a new relationship, and soon he also has a promising first date – with Phoebe. When the main characters “Phoebe” and “Adam” meet for the first time, a remarkable scene unfoldes:
As soon as the two have met (and a visual sympathy is quite obvious), Phoebe plainly reveals as the very first information about her the breast cancer issue. She admits that while she is considered a “survivor” and cured, she knows that for some people there may be a problem in such a case due to a statistical probability of recidivism, which is why she prefers to clarify this information about herself always right at the beginning. Mark Ruffalo plays “Adam” in this scene in a successful mix of surprise and compassion. And even as a spectator you are touched in this scene bya strange mixture of perplexity, being run over and astonishement: Was that truely necessary, bluntly and point-blank as that? Therefore, you can almost perceive in the movie scene the insecurity in the face of Mark Ruffalo, as the character Adam seems to briefly consider a pacifying social phrase like “Oh, no matter, everyone’s got breast cancer nowadays…”, but then he actually captures what Phoebe just truely said – and he manages to pull himself together in time, to remain serious and understanding, and to demonstrate that he is sympathetic with her condition.
While the audience still ponders “Now that was really extraordinarily self-honest, was it?…” the Phoebe-character chatters on in relief. And we think: “Come on Adam, be brave; she has put her cards on the table – now it’s your turn, she can handle it, having edges and flaws of her own…!” The Adam-character also struggles visibly for a few seconds with this good intent, as Phoebe suddenly speaks of her brother who is an alcoholic, which is why she never wanted to get into a relationship with anyone who has an addiction-background… Outch! Of course, just now, the moment for last minute painful transparency and audacious truth has arrived. And maybe Mark should have tested Phoebe anyway, to see if 1. initial sympathy could overcome her old resentments and 2. to demonstrate that, like Phoebe herself, he is considered “cured”… But of course – this is Hollywood Cinema (which sometimes looks like real life): Mark remains silent, partly rattled, partly anxious – and he is so glad to finally have a date again, that he ommits an important detail of his personality, thereby withholding essential information. The drama that later unfolds is a major feature of the movie…

(And that’s why in Oligoamory, as mentioned in Entry 35, for transparency also applies: “timely” means “immediately“, or “100% from the outset“. Empower yourselves!)


Thanks to Michael Fenton on Unsplash for the photo.

Entry 36 #Jealousy

Concerning Jealousy

You and your ubiquitous jealousy…!”, we hear, “You’re victim to your complexes!”
And anyway, those are: “Outmoded bourgeois resentments…“, – and with an ironic wink often the quotation* is added „In jealousy there is more self-love than love.
But even in circles of supposedly empathic and well-informed ethical multiple relationships, “good advice” is dealt out quickly: “I think, you’d better work on your jealousy (= so that the rest of us can continue unmolested as before!)”. Or the knockout argument of all kitchen table psychology is put into the field: “The problem should be left to the person who has the problem (= so that the rest of the relationship-network can continue unmolested as before).”
Ouch!
That’s hardly non-violent, mostly inaccurate, and the remaining bits of truth contained in it are so distorted that in such a case they will hardly help. But what’s certainly clear is that jealousy is an issue where emotions and feelings quickly escalate on all sides – and where it is therefore not so easy to blaze a path through the matted jungle of hasty diagnoses and categorical blame.

Take a deep breath.
According to my life’s experience so far, there is no “jealousy” per se. Jealousy is as individual and different as the people who are plagued by it. Plagued by it, I say, since – also according to my experience – I have never met a single person who is gladly and willingly jealous. And unfortunately, even with the latter reproach, those affected are also regularly confronted: jealous people would “instrumentalise” their jealousy with pleasure, to deliberately mess things up for all others involved.
Even a look at Wikipedia makes this unlikely:
Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions. Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness or disgust. Jealousy is a typical experience in human relationships, and it has been observed in infants as young as five months.
At this point I already hear how the people, who feel restricted by a jealous person, prepare for a counter-attack: This definition would show that jealousy would be a mere “sensation” – that is, a purely subjective assessment. And anyway: It would be a pretty demanding claim to rely on other people regarding an adequate supply of “recognition, attention, love, peace and security” in such a fashion. The affected person clearly would be well advised to improve its self-esteem…

Take a deep breath.
I think that the Wikipedia-Entry on the subject is quite useful – but in my opinion it still falls short in a few important aspects. If you read through the rest of the article (as so many other contributions regarding the topic), then the descriptions there are rather focused on occurrences in the present. The article acknowledges: „These definitions of jealousy share two basic themes. First, all the definitions imply a triad composed of a jealous individual, a partner, and a perception of a third party or rival. Second, all the definitions describe jealousy as a reaction to a perceived threat to the relationship between two people, or a dyad. Jealous reactions typically involve aversive emotions and/or behaviors that are assumed to be protective for their attachment relationships. These themes form the essential meaning of jealousy in most scientific studies.“

If the circumstances would always be that simple, then in my opinion most cases of jealousy – at least in ethically-non-monogamous realms – shouldn’t become so often the threatening dramas that those involved usually experience. And even if we object that most of us have just arrived from the “old world of monogamy” with its elaborate rules of thinking in terms of “claim and possession”, there remains still a considerable amount of relational dynamite, which can not be defused just by a mere paradigm shift, as far as the relationship philosophy is concerned.
Why do I think that this is so?

First and foremost, it seems important to me to neatly separate the concepts of “cause” and “stimulus”, usually mingled in our thinking and speaking as “fault” (“It’s your fault that…!”). Therefore, the most part of the circumstances described in the Wikipedia-Entry, belongs in my estimation to the category of “stimulus”: People are in a relationship, a relationship-parameter changes (for example, by the addition of another person or a time-consuming hobby), this changes the relationship-symmetry, and a sensitive person now experiences deprivation and feelings of inferiority, accompanied by anger, sadness, fear and shame.
Of course it is therefore also a good idea to look at this “stimulus” as well: Does the change violate in any way the emotional contract, which belongs to the already existing relationship? For example, if all parties involved had agreed on a kind of ethical non-monogamy, such as Poly- or Oligoamory, and now there is the possible initiation of another relationship, then such a thing could be totally covered by the standing agreement, if not suddenly other arrangements (job, household, finances) are grossly neglected. Probably, however, the existing agreement “emotional contract” would at least have to be readjusted, as the resource “time” is not infinitely divisible and reproducible…
Alas, the frustration in non-monogamous relationships with regard to jealousy exists mostly, because even after all such reasoning, because in spite of all these good agreements and adjustments, jealousy can lunge out like an untamed tiger, though.

In my experience, jealousy is mainly a “phenomenon of causes” and not primarily a “phenomenon of stimuli “. Hence the good news first: Jealousy is most likely less causally related to the people interacting just now. Or rather “only” that much: What happens in the present is the repeatedly provoked trigger (psychologically called “stimulus”) for the underlying cause of the jealousy.
But this is where our good news comes to an end, for with this conception we are literally removing the lid from Pandora’s box, under which there exists an often frighteningly mingled situation in all of us:

Our brain is a truly great organ. Its storage capacity is legendary, as well as its economic efficency¹. In order to maintain its economic efficency (e.g. to ensure that we can absorb new knowledge on a daily basis, can drive a car without thinking too much, and efficiently carry out our day-to-day work with changing challenges), it processes and stores numerous impressions with a simplifying “data-chunk procedure” (in the form of compressed information-chunks), so that the sheer number of incoming information and sensory impressions may not incapacitate us. This “information-chunk-procedure” starts with the development of the brain before we are born and is active throughout our lives. The “secret” of this chunk-processing is an important part of our brain’s memory called “the unconscious” (or the subconcious), which is able to pick up, store and allocate large amounts of information as needed. During our socialisation, the “unconscious” also serves to absorb all the emotions and feelings that – for some reason – we can not or do not want to deal with immediately. The latter, however, is not always a good thing, because in this way over a longer period of suffering a phenomenon builds up, which is psychologically referred to as “complex“, because the brain – economically efficient as it is – usually files similar experience, so to speak, in a common bundle. Or as the psychiatrist C.G. Jung once said: “internalised, generalised conflictual experiences that are emotionally conspicuous and linked to a particular relationship issue“.
Concerning that the psychologist Verena Kast explains²: “If topics or emotions associated with the complex are addressed, then the whole of the unconscious linking is activated, along with the associated emotions from the entire life as well as the resulting stereotyped defense strategies. In such a situation you can no longer control the emotions, you can not think calmly about a situation, you have an ’emotional rupture’.
At this point it can already be seen that “trigger” and “cause” are linked in that way. Jealousy is almost always a “resentment “.
Again Verena Kast: “The word resentment comes from French re-sentir ‘to feel sth. again’. It is about the repeated experiencing and re-experiencing of certain relationship occurrences. E.g. again and again one remembers how one has been treated unfairly, how one had no opportunity to defend oneself successfully. […] Here the impotence of action, which has led to a development of resentment, is clearly visible. People feel exposed, trapped, defenceless. In other words, they have a loss of self-efficacy, an important aspect of self-esteem, and this corresponds to episodes of complexes which deal with humiliation and violation of self-esteem.”
The anthropologist Max Scheler called this “psychic self-poisoning“, because these resentments were once based on normal human emotions and basic emotions that could not be expressed at the right time and now – when triggered – erupt with violence and drama.
Which means: Our jealous persons, yes, they are now actually feeling anger, sadness, fear and shame with a life-threatening violence, as if the events that had once occurred would have happened just yesterday, but today they feel them as if they were connected to the triggering event – for example in Non-monogamy, when additional potential loved ones are appearing.

The issue that those affected should “work” on their problem – as the well-intentioned advice likes to call it – is challenged by two main problems:

On the one hand, there is the bygone time, which usually makes it no longer possible to clarify the inhibited experiences with those who were truly concerned at the time in a satisfactory and beneficial way. Nevertheless, perhaps one could consciously reflect upon those past occurences for oneself today (if the “causal participants” are no longer available); since now we are grown-up and have a broader view on past events – this clue is also contained in numerous guidebooks.
But on the other hand there is our brain itself, which sets up its own obstacles because of its mentioned working strategies. The science author Stefan Klein describes in his book “The Formula of Luck” ³ how the brain strengthens neural pathways (= data highways!) which are used frequently, and how it reduces those that are seldom deployed. When thinking in resentments and complexes, this has a disastrous effect. Klein writes: “Once we’ve started perceiving the world through darkened glasses, the brain is trying to maintain that negative mood: It picks stimuli that fit the emotional situation. Gloomy thoughts, negative experiences, and bitter memories are given priority access to consciousness. That way one sees misery everywhere, and the whole organism reacts accordingly. This works, as if the cerebrum thinks an abstract negative thought and manages to convince the rest of the brain that it is as real as a physical stressor (e.g. a real attack). In such a state of depression, this survival function is directed against ourselves. […] Accordingly, we delve into every detail of what might occur, dealing with concerns and possibilities that are unlikely to ever happen. But even the thought of it pulls our mood down; a price that we all pay for our imagination and intelligence.”
By which Stefan Klein also classified the great archetype of all jealous beings, the gloomy Othello from the eponymous drama.

What can be done?
Such a ‘one-way street in your mind’, which was created during your growing-up, and which has been strengthened and reinforced by ‘re-experiencing events’ over a long time – and now it’s a four-lane highway – you will never get completely dismantled...” said a friendly psychologist in this regard to me. “But,” she said, “with the same mechanism that the brain has used to build that path of thought, you can strengthen another path today to counter that thinking with something equal or superior.” Thereby virtually creating a new highway of your own, which would then require a most confident and courageous mental leap in order to guide the ways of thinking back to painless realms (see below).

But this requires courageous commitment, and I would like to briefly sketch here – at the end of my article – four basic requirements, which in view of my oligoamorous experience are indispensable to it:

  1. Initially, the jealous person must have the opportunity to feel and express the totality of their feelings free of shame. In order to succeed, she must be granted that freedom by everyone else in the relationship network – and of course she has to first empower herself (which, since this “way of thinking” is unusual, can be really difficult). Strategies like Brad Blanton’s “Radical Honesty” but also the “Radical Permission” according to Mike Hellwig can be useful approaches to doing so.
  2. All participants in a relationship-network must work actively together for a common good. Attitudes like “Get a grip…!” are completely counterproductive. The distinct decision of all parties concerning a committed and firm will to be together (Entry 33) should be highly evident and perceptible to everyone involved.
    Since in Oligoamory, of course, all participants in the sense of the totality, which is “more than the sum of its parts”, ensure recognition, attention, love and respect in the overall relationship.
    [By the way: A transparently stated “2.” will also prevent the jealous person from being considered a “boycotter” who “uses” the jealousy to ultimately prevent the overall relationship.
    In particular, allocating “blame” (“Because of you, I can’t see X as often as I like…“) must be prevented as much as possible. After all, a jealous person already feels deeply guilty inside already – and feelings of guilt and shame will only lead deeper into an existing trauma.]
  3. Under no circumstances choose the unpredictable tactic “Continue as before”! The jealous person otherwise has no chance to strengthen their “new pathway”. If the same triggering stimuli are repeated over and over again (such as spending intimacy / time with new loved ones), then only new cascades of resentment and complexes are initiated – and the already existing highway of bitter thoughts will grow.
    For many multiple relationships this is the most difficult part in practice: Because it means “Hold your fire, slow down”. And for the newly unfolding connection, it means suspending newly discovered goodies (such as intimacy) until the new pathway is strong enough.
    If the jealous person experiences complete, unrestrained assurance that they are trusted with all these tools to regain their competence, then that is far more helpful at the empathy level.
  4. Paths “away from the highway“ are concerning the individuality of the afflicted person. Often these people have to learn to believe themselves, to trust themselves again. By succeeding in doing so, they can also change their perspective regarding the present occurrences with their current triggers (even if at the beginning it may only be possible for a short time). But that way there is a chance that a new idea, a different perspective may arise. And finally this idea can help to evaluate a (otherwise triggering) situation differently than before.
    Warning: This is NOT to be confused with a positive mental attitude. Positive thinking, applied to jealousy, works like a superficial self-programming that is not fit to reach the causal nucleus of stored old complexes in an individual. The brain will register “positive thinking” in that case as a “distraction manoeuvrer” from the true underlying cause and in such cases tends to increase its distrust and caution for further self-protection!


* François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1665

¹ The currently most understandable explanations of the latest findings of the neurosciences regarding the capacities of our brain are to my opinion currently being provided by Prof. Gerald Hüther in his various publications and video contributions.

² Verena Kast: Wi(e)der Angst und Haß: Das Fremde als Herausforderung zur Entwicklung, Patmos Verlag, 2017

Recommended reading:
Verena Kast: Neid und Eifersucht: Die Herausforderung durch unangenehme Gefühle, Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, 1998

³ Stefan Klein „Die Glücksformel – oder: Wie die guten Gefühle entstehen“, Fischer Verlag, 2014

Thanks to my nesting partner Kerstin, without whom the jealousy for me would have remained a nebulous and irritating stranger, and thanks to Thomas Wolter on Pixabay for the photo.

Entry 35

Hidden chests

This is the 35th Entry on the subject of “Oligoamory” – and that is why it is important to me to once again address a subject that is important to me with regard to this relationship philosophy.
Since because of the cute prefix “Oligo-” (I remember: from ancient Greek ὀλίγος olígos “little/a few”) it may be easy to forget that its approach is not just meant for neatly arranged multiple relationships with only a few participants, but that it also wants to invite to a significant focusing on the inevitable “essentials” of ethical non-monogamy.
Since, as the saying goes, “there is no second chance to make a first impression“, in this respect the “starting phase” of any oligoamorous relationship is particularly important – although at the same time it is a characteristic of every kind of relationship: Concerning things we screw up at an early stage, we have to try hard to get them back on a good path in the aftermath.
In real conversations and while surfing through numerous forums on the subject of non-monogamy it still strikes me, for example, how arbitrary the time span is still handled, when (existing) partners should be informed in case of a new romantic “get-together”.
I hear and read things like “promptly” or “soon”; however, the views on what “promptly” or “soon” means usually differ a lot already in the next half-sentence. From “during the first 24 hours” to “within 14 days” I have heard and read everything – and the people who said or wrote such things were always quite sure about their cause. Critical enquiries were regularly met primarily with the argument of effort – which is actually rather an argument of self-shame or convenience: While “flirting/hooking up/getting together” one would be rather uncertain for a very long time, whether the new person would be somebody “serious”, which would make it so very difficult to estimate, if any “existing partners” should be taken into consideration – especially if “nothing tangible” would result in the attempt…

Well. As the author of this blog, I’ve been advocating an approach of “radical honesty” since Entry 20, which I believe could make life easier for everyone involved. Therefore, however, this radical sincerity or radical honesty must begin at a very early stage: Namely already in the knowledge of our own motives and motivations. The two central questions that I sketch in Entry 21 are still: Do I want multiple loving relationships – and if so, why?
And if I can answer the first question with a huge and clear YES!, I think it might be a bit like back in our school days if I would finish my homework in advance completely by determining at least the idea of an answer to the second question. Since then could apply: Monday morning – homework done, school-bag packed. Which, as we know, contributed enormously to a stress-free departure and a much calmer conscience.
As a result, it would not matter to us poly- or oligoamorous people whether we’d go dancing in the evening or attend a work-related advanced training seminar on auditing: We would know about ourselves that we are potentially open to multiple relationships – and therefore, optionally, we could meet a new interesting person in any environment.

However, if we haven’t completed our homework in terms of our primary motivations behind our Poly- or Oligoamory, then we are in immediate danger of being embarrassed by ourselves by shaming ourselves with the social stereotype: “That poly-/ oligoamorous person over there, he/she/it is permanently needy/horny and therefore always latently looking for a date…“.
Our proud self will hold against it for a while: “Really, I’m above any such social-normative condemnation – after all, I have deliberately chosen my poly-/oligoamorous lifestyle! “… But, alas – the small nagging voice has been awakened, which tries to whisper into our ear that our attitude is somehow not quite OK, because we are probably really always looking for someone to get between our sheets, for the next hormonal infatuation-kick, for a (new) exciting person who may distract us from the monotony of our everyday life, at least for a while.

Incidentally, the latter would be perfectly fine if we had previously clarified it as the deepest reason concerning our motivation. But since we most often haven’t thoroughly settled the reason for our motivation , the very first person with whom we are not honest and sincere, when we have a night out, are we ourselves! For inside us there remains a hidden chest with reasons that we prefer not to look at too closely. And we remain chained to this “hidden chest” because an “informed choice” (as Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert call it in their book “More Than Two“¹) would require that I have all the information. However, if I try to start off now with that inner “partial truth”, I am never really free, because I’m always invisibly dragging my chest with my “unacknowledged share” behind me.
But being unfree and above all feeling somehow restricted, especially when moving among other people, does not make anyone happy – especially if someone interesting might be among these people about whom I might be curious. The only strategy that is left to me in such a context – and in order to act freer than I really am – is to silence my inner voice and to hide the annoying invisible chest under the table. Consequently, in a possibly developing conversation will try to present myself competent and uninhibited.
In his concept of Radical Honesty (Entry 20), Dr. Brad Blanton calls exactly this behaviour “creating one’s own myth“. Blanton further explains that our contemporary culture is extremely influenced by this kind of everyday insincerity, because most of us only interact with these myths-selves henceforth. Myths in which we present ourselves as more brilliant, more rational, more coherent, or more as master/mistress of the situation, than we truly are.
The next person, accordingly, with whom we are not honest and sincere, is our potential dialogue partner/date. And I’m not talking about the fact that we may not let our feathers shine a little while flirting or dating!
I’m talking about the subliminal incoherence (see Entry 25) that we signal to our counterpart each time, because we – or rather our spun myth – are always somewhat ambivalent about our motivations and interests that we are now advertising to the outside world, and accordingly at times we will remain strangely indefinite and vague. No surprise – thanks to our “hidden chest” under the table. Because we are used to such strategies, there are even people to whom such a “nefarious impenetrability” is just the charm of a flirt – but concerning the area of ethical non-monogamy, I have to strongly advise against it. “(False) Expectations” and “assumptions” will become a critical trouble spot medium-term in any configuration, especially if we initially toyed with the idea to integrate a (new) person in a multiple relationship at eye level…
At least at this point, nevertheless, it is easy to see why a dizzying foggy dimension opens here, full of breakneck evasive manoeuvrers: With my unclarified needs I got myself into a situation where I met a person to whom I offered a favourable advertising myth of myself, and – since I suspect it of myself – in the worst case I have to accept that, above all, I fell victim to “wishful thinking”. The other person may feel the same way – and even in the best case he/she/it probably still doesn’t know exactly where he/she/it stands. So what should I do? “Ride the wave” – in spite of it, maybe until all guises drop off anyway and everything goes up in smoke?
If there are already existing loved ones in such circumstances, who know the better part of me, my situation can worsen even quicker, since because of my tentativeness I am inclined to project my inner nagging voice onto any harmless enquiry. Or as I wrote in Entry 26: “Frequently, however, our fears may manifest in a very tangible appearance: Fears of (too often experienced) rejection, afraid of being left out or of being left alone. Or we have to face fears of embarrassment and shame (which by now we impose on ourselves) – because we weren’t as careful or thorough as we would have wished in a number of matters. Caught by ourselves – an awkward feeling…
That in such cases people are insecure because they don’t longer know “when” it is the right time to inform their existing partners, because they just do not even know “when” anything is real – especially because they know it so little about themselves – that’s a thing I perceive as humanly comprehensible.

In my opinion, however, the “chain of events” described above can only be broken in one place – and that is right at its beginning: Doing your homework, clarifying for yourself the if and the why regarding your own whish concerning multiple relationships. And that means that the result of this homework, before any further steps, will provide the base for all negotiations with already existing partners and loved ones. Because in Entry 9 I would not have dealt so fully with the “Emotional Contract” (= “Implied acknowledgement and agreement – as a result of a mutually established emotional close-knit relationship – regarding the totality of voluntary yielded obligations, self-commitments and care which have been reciprocally contributed and are potentially enjoyable by all parties involved.”) if its content would not be significantly linked to our mode of attachment behaviour. And, as a result, any further (potential) emergence of any other relationship will always influence and thus change the symmetry of this convention. And if it concerns only the freedom that we have to be able to think in dimensions of new/parallel/multiple relationships at all.
Because of that kind of dynamic, in ethical non-monogamy (at least those kinds which deserves this designation), it is no longer possible to manage our inner world – and thus our hidden views of ourselves – as a private little kingdom and to exclude our intimate partners and loved ones.
Because the alternative would always be only the “myth”, the “beautifully shrouded truth”, a promotional version of ourselves which we would present to our loved ones, just to keep them – but especially ourselves (!) – away from possibly difficult facts.

Conclusion: “soon” or “promptly” in oligoamorous phrasing spells “immediately“. Full stop!
And yes, that means in Step 1, e.g., to send an SMS like: “At the disco now. Totally great and super-attractive people here today. Music just my cut. Things might happen.” Or a WhatsApp-message: “Had in the coffee-break (auditing) a totally intense conversation with X. I realized I blushed all over. Agreed on going afterwards for a nightcap.”
These examples, dear readers, are exactly the occasions concerning “informed choices” which we crave for in ethical non-monogamy. Occasions in which one’s own situational excitement and one’s own insecurity are allowed to be communicated – and yes, even a bit of one’s own irrationality, because that makes us human beings.
From that point on, Step 2 demands now not to immediately dispose of the communication-device in the glove compartment or the wardrobe, but to wait for an answer. Perhaps answers that were previously agreed to communicate needs, concerns or encouragement of the other side: “Alright! ” or “Please be home before 2 AM, though.” or “Use condoms! ” or “Please notify me once again, if it gets more private.“.
Because nearly everyone owns such a “chest” with personal fears, old resentments, small worries and tweaking trepidations – including our existing loved ones. And we on our side would act ethically and very honestly, if we would take into account that these exist.
The huge advantage that would result from such an approach would be that we were 100% committed to our reality and the all-around truth at all the time: Wild guessing, assumptions, or embarrassing pretence could be left out in this way.

All right, I admit that by this approach not all the “waves” might realise that perhaps would be there to ride – to stick with my picture above. And right again: This is exactly because Oligoamory is designed in a way that its essential feature is “mindful inclusion of all potentially involved persons”. But in my opinion, Oligoamory can only adorn itself with the label “ethical” if this condition is guaranteed – the very condition which, in the positive case, facilitates the experience of “more than the sum of its parts” – as I have depicted in several of my bLog-Entries.
If the downside would be secrecy, dishonesty, vagueness and ego-tripping then I know what line of action I will continue to strive for.
And – free from my chest or leastwise consciously aware of its contents – how I want to contribute to the freedom and well-being of all those loved ones involved.



¹ Franklin Veaux und Eve Rickert „More Than Two – A practical guide to ethical polyamory“, Thorntree-Pres 2014.

Thanks to Frank Winkler on Pixabay for the photo.

Entry 34

For better, for worse…

“Surprised he heard true pain in her voice, and he remembered how she had been like during their escape over the stairs, uncomplaining and strong, a companion he couldn’t have wished for any better.”

(Tad Williams, The Dragonbone Chair, 1988)

The citation above suggests a linguistic¹ link that seems to touch the very heart of the romantic narrative: Companions stick together through thick and thin – since joy as well as suffering, which may concern only one of them, is always experienced and felt by everyone, nonetheless.
The little word “companion”, which today we use for persons who are dear to us in some sense and therefore also occasionally for our loved ones, can provide on that behalf an interesting linguistic story of its own: According to etymological sources the word derives from “one who accompanies or associates with another“; from Old French compagnonfellow, mate, friend, partner“, from Late Latin companionem (nominative companio), literally “bread fellow, messmate,” from Latin cumwith, together” (see com-) + panis = “bread “.
A companion is therefore literally a trusted person we “dare to share our bread with”.
Incidentally, quite the same is true for the word “mate“, which nowadays is often used to describe a person we have a rather intimate relationship with. Originally it meant in the old days “associate, fellow, comrade“; “habitual companion, friend“; from Middle Low German mate, gemateone eating at the same table, messmate“, from Proto-Germanic *ga-matjon, meaning “(one) having food (*matiz) together (*ga-)”.
During the times of the Romans or throughout the Middle Ages these “messmates” or “companionships” often had a rather severe background: People joined in these ways for support and protection e.g. during military operations, to go on a journey or on pilgrimage. “Company” thereby always meant a certain “risk-optimisation” in the face of imponderabilities.

As I was pondering about the quote above in this way the other day, I also wondered if there was still some ancient truth in it, which after all approached the idea of community and the choice of our “associates” as I considered it regarding my conception of Oligoamory.
Any brave Roman, journeyman or pilgrim would probably have agreed with me that the selection of “companions,” i.e. people with whom you “share your bread with” – and with whom therefore you engage in some kind of serious joined endeavour – would have significant meaning. Especially because of the “open-ended” nature of such a venture. Since in those old days, at least, people seem to have been well aware of the fact that it was never certain in advance whether a risky business like e.g. a journey could be completed – or whether this completion would be in any way lucky or successful.
In turn, this possible risk would have most certainly affected any potential “companions”: Would I like to be part of a venture with a possibly uncertain outcome? Would I like to contribute and possibly take part in the responsibilities for its progression and its outcome (however that may be)?
Journeying in particular is and has been always so chancy that in the course of human history, groups of people have repeatedly gathered for reasons of security and cooperation, and if it was just to minimise the amount of risk and anxiety for each participant involved. And that’s why it was usually not arbitrary, “who” was travelling together: At way-stations and caravanserais groups with similar destinations assembled – and a good reputation or a recommendation could be worth a fortune. In this way, people with similar destinations “got together” as travel companions – and regarding the “getting to know each other”, well, there was usually enough time during the trip (about “getting together” vs. “getting to know” see also Entry 25).
Concerning the phrase “(travel) companion” it is not even half a step to the word “relationship” – which inevitably arises when people spend some time together depending on each other.

And a “relationship” truly has a lot of analogies to a journey… After all, a relationship is also an venture that has something to do with motion in the truest sense. If you just think of two or more people involved in a relationship who “move to or with each other”, then you might think of the dynamics of a magnetic game – or maybe dancing (or – if you like a broader canvas – you might think of planets in a solar system): Arrangements in which at some point an energetic balance of distance and proximity begins to develop – if the parties involved do not collide with each other or repel each other permanently.
At any rate, our life’s journey, our companions, and therefore our relationships are never fixed, predetermined, or static. And we, who live in an age today in which we easily can assume a certain mentality of “full-comprehensive-cover”, are well advised to regularly remind ourselves of the truth of all travellers: there is no absolute guarantee concerning a “safe course” nor ever a “destination beyond dispute”.

Nevertheless, for more than Roman times, people have been telling tales about how we may counter these risks and uncertainties. By the choice of and the cooperation with our “companions”:
Gilgamesh would almost have gone mad without his best mate Enkidu, or at least he would have become a bad king; without his brave companions Odysseus would have remained a lonely castaway; the early medieval Myth of the Grail told in detail how without humanity and the combined wisdom of men and women neither maturity nor love could be experienced; and what would have become of Frodo without Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas; what about Luke without Han, Leia, Chewie, R2D2 and C3PO, what about Harry without Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Neville?
All and sundry tales in which the connection between “companionship”, “mutual trust” and “suspense” is conspicuous – and yes, especially because of the aforementioned “romantic narrative”.
The core of the “romantic narrative” – as much as its opponents are reluctant to hear it – is the voluntary self-sacrifice² offered to the community. And it doesn’t always have to be a question of life and death, which in the more dramatic stories is so preponderantly at the centre. For the greatest sacrifice, the greatest gift that we humans can offer as spatiotemporally limited and finite living beings is simply: our (life)time. Our own time, which we make for the others. To be empathic, to put up with somebody, to laugh together – but above all: just to be with each other.
Progress: uncertain; result: open-ended.
If Franklin D. Roosevelt was right and “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important “, then for a finite living being it means tremendous courage and significant self-awareness to get involved in the adventure “togetherness & companionship”. Because we irretrievably and at “our own risk” invest our definitely limited and therefore most valuable lifetime in a venture with other people.
Again, it can be seen why the committed desire concerning “wanting to be together,” which I mentioned in the previous Entry 33, is so extraordinarily important in respect of (multiple) relationships. “Companions” opt for both: for the journey – that’s the venture, the conceptual relationship, an ideal, a possible goal or destination – as well as for each other – and thus for the other companions. However, since journey and destination (= progress and aim of a relationship) are – as mentioned above – “indeterminate”, effectively our “companions” make up almost 100% of our day-to-day reality. Concerning risk, fear and uncertainties, our ideals, plans and conceptions will scarcely help or comfort us – it is up to our companions to overcome these challenges with us – and it’s up to us to overcome their challenges with them.
That’s why it’s a bit like a roped party while mountaineering: All participants have to watch out a little bit for the others, thereby taking responsibility for the whole, so that a misfortune or a human error is possible without immediately endangering the entire group. Or – as well-travelled shipmates say: “One hand for you, the other for the ship.”
Companionship and sharing more than just bread – it seems to be as up to date as it used to be in Roman times.

►How many companions should I choose? See Entry 12.
►And if I meet myself on such a journey? Entry 18.
►Or encounter what is hidden in me? Entry 21.



¹ Linguistics are the science of language. A very good online tool, which also offers detailed etymological as well as linguistic, knowledge, can be found here: Online Etymology Dictionary

² Although in my texts, as a romanticist, I often express a positive attitude concerning the romantic narrative, I am painfully aware of its misuse for the purpose of exploiting certain groups of people as well as individuals in past and present. If in doubt, please be sure to read the last paragraph of Entry 5!

Thanks to Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash for the photo!

Entry 33

Why not?

©NetzTeufel¹

One of the most important “formulas for success” concerning multiple relationships – or rather relationships as a whole – is to contemplate their level of “inclusiveness”.
The psychiatrist and psychotherapist Scott Peck² once said that it would be great if the key question for successful integration and “inclusion” would read “Is there any drastic reason why someone could not become a part of us? ” – rather than the usually (excluding) phrasing: “For what reason should anyone become a part of us? “.
As the author of the Oligoamory-project, I like the “inclusive” version very much (of course), because with this bLog I’m trying to promote multiple relationships in which the individual participants experience that jointly they can generate “more than the sum of their parts” – by creating synergy effects, getting encouragement and benefiting from resource pooling.
The access to this integrative as well as inclusive approach of living and loving together requires – as Scott Peck puts it – that we change our “default mode” of “rugged individualism” to a philosophy of “gentle individualism“. “Gentle individualism” begins in all community-building processes – and therefore in Oligoamory as well – with a distinct decision for committent and a firm will to be together – a committent which has to be constantly renewed by all parties concerned. And – of course – there will be ups and downs in this process.
Scott Peck wrote:
Community, togetherness and loving relationships require it that we hold ona bit when things get uncomfortable. All of it requires a certain amount of commitment. Our individualism must be balanced by commitment. […] Perhaps the most important key to achieving this goal is recognising differences. In real communities, human differences are not ignored, denied, hidden, but valued. […] And in all cases, overcoming [the differences] has a lot to do with love.”
And because all this may sound rather idealistic, he added two pages later:
An important part of realism or proximity to real life must be mentioned here: Modesty. While rugged individualism tends to self-exaltation, gentle individualism leads to modesty. As we begin to appreciate the talents of others, we begin to recognise our own limitations. When we hear others speak about their inadequacies, we become able to accept our own imperfection.”
A (multiple) relationship that would be understood by its participants in this way would be oligoamorous in the highest possible degree. For the above-mentioned declaration of commitment would facilitate personal integrity (“continually maintained agreement of the personal value system and personal ideals with one’s own speech and action”) – which would concurrently lead to a substantial level of responsibility for the overall relationship.
Once more Scott Peck:
As soon as we think with integrity, we realize that we are all (co-)caretakers, and that we can not deny our responsibility for the maintenance of any part of the whole. […] As caretakers, we can not be adherents of isolationistic thinking.
So far – so wonderful. If we could reach that level in our loving relationships, then we would be close to a kind of inclusiveness which the cartoon above depicts – and we probably would have far fewer problems on Earth and especially with each other…

If we were 100% inclusive, then probably all dating-sites in the world would lose their power immediately. For example, getting to know one another would become like the (intended) anonymised application processes – and we would be very close to a potential “universal love”: Any human being on this planet could become our feasible relationship-companion if the famous metaphysical component of love would turn up as well and light a mutual fire. Especially for multiple relationships, this state would be auspicious: Other loved ones and even the beloved of our significant others would be relatively easy to include, because our universal confession concerning inclusiveness would regularly pave the way, and the relevant question would simply be “Is there any reason at all that wouldn’t make it possible?”.
At the same time, we are all human beings who live in this world today. And in this world, there are currently ecological, social and political processes that put our “will to be inclusive” to the test every day:

In her highly topical song “Liebestöter” (Love-Killer) the musician “Alice im Griff” (a wordplay: English meaning approximately “All under control”) describes how she suffers when she finds out that she’s in love with an AfD³ voter.

It all started so well when you contacted me at Parship
I started falling in love already by your first message
120 Magic Points – Wow! – how could that be?
When you finally hugged me I completely fell for you
but now we have to part – oh my god it hurts so much
why are you doing that to me, why do you vote for AfD?

I would have chosen you, even if you were poor or a snorer
would have fried meat for you even if you didn’t insist on it
I would have stayed true to you, alas, if it would only be a bad joke
but you say you vote for AfD and thus you break my heart.

I look in your beautiful eyes and feel your tunnel vision
your yearning for a sympathetic ear, for trust and some happiness;
you’re getting to few cuddles, you feel mocked and left behind
but your search for the culprits has limited you mentally a lot.
Perhaps it is my duty to save us at this time
but as much as I want you, man, damn, I can’t do that!

Chorus: I would have chosen you, even…

I was already hormonally prepared for you, I called you god of love
oh why didn’t I recognise the fault in you at first sight?
Your appeal was so erotic – but not in my back yard!
I was prepared for “50 Shades of Gray” but I can’t stand this.

Chorus: I would have chosen you, even…
Oh, please tell me that you think about it and please do not break my heart!

According to this song, the counter question in the cartoon above would have to be “And if he is misogynist, animal abuser or a Nazi?
Well – then what?
Regarding Polyamory I criticised in my 2nd Entry that some participants of multiple relationships are routinely “compartmentalising” their loved ones. Because that would be really convenient in such a case: simply ignore the political attitude of the gentleman in the song and still share with him board and lodging (and bed) – problem solved.
But I wouldn’t be “Mr. Oligoamory”, if I did not point out in my 6th Entry that this approach is not viable in Oligoamory, because it’s philosophy is about loving a human being as a”whole”, including all parts of her/his/its life. And such an approach of “compartmentalization” certainly wouldn’t be “inclusive” at all – and a “sum of the parts” could of course never emerge in this way.
Even more, if we go one step further and extend this problem to a multiple relationship network: What would happen if my significant other brought home a misogynist, an animal abuser or an right-wing extremist voter as an additional sweetheart? Then, according to Entry 6, I would have to love this new love as a part of my significant other as well – even if I wouldn’t establish an independent relationship with the “new arrival” on my own…
According to Scott Peck, I would even be a kind of “caretaker”, responsible for the new arrival – and thus her/his/its words and acts.
That’s when Alice sings: “Man, damn, I can’t do that!” No, I couldn’t do that eiter.
Our “will to be inclusive” obviously touches personal boundaries. And these personal boundaries are apparently rather individual; because concerning her vegetarianism Alice wouldn’t have sacrificed it on the altar of love – but at least she put into perspective for the sake of her new sweetheart – something she failed to manage concerning his political attitude.
This seems to be almost a kind of paradox, because if these boundaries exist, then the approach to any true integrative coexistence is pointless from the outset.
Or alternatively: To ensure “true togetherness”, would I have to put up with everything, or wouldn’t I be allowed to have any personal viewpoints and boundaries at all?

When I think of a human struggle for “inclusiveness”, I think of my favorite figure, the Jewish dairyman Tevje, from the musical “Fiddler on the roof“:
It’s not easy for Tevje to dispose of his three daughters in marriage. They all choose successively a husband who for different reasons does not fit into the system of the paternal ethos. Thus, Tevje gets utterly upset every time – but then he withdraws to the stage for an inner monologue (in which the audience participates that way) and ponders by a detailed “On one hand…” / “On the other hand…” until he calms down and is finally able “integrate” the new son-in-law into his personal value system.
The figure of the “Tevje” depicts vividly a phenomenon, which also Scott Peck describes:
“Integrity is never painfree. It requires that themes rub against each other, and that we feel the tension between conflicting needs and interests and feel emotionally torn between them.”
Tevje, too, encounters in his story – as Alice in her song – his personal limits. His youngest daughter wants to marry a Russian, which would not only result in a change of religion regarding the daughter, but also make a “Jew’s enemy” the new son-in-law (because at the time shown in the musical, the Russians are trying to expel the Jews from their country by force). Consequently, Tevje gets stuck in his third monologue and finally recognises “There is no ‘other hand’…! ” – because this time he would have to deny himself spiritually, ethnically and politically too much to be able to obtain “inclusiveness” for the sake of family peace. In the musical there is a dramatic quarrel and a subsequent rift with the daughter, which can only be cured after many hardships for all involved. But also because in the end all (!) participants recover their “will to be inclusive”, overcome prejudices and approach each other once more.

Scott Peck’s book “A Different Drum – Community Making and Peace“², often quoted in this article, describes various kinds of community and relationship, all of which, like Tevje, are struggling for their “inclusiveness”. As examples the author outlines numerous incidents – from external difficulties, such as war and economic crisis, to individual dramas, such as meetings where one person regularly appears drunk. And at the end of this paragraph, the author reassuringly explains that in his long practice he hasn’t experienced any community that has ever been 100% inclusive at all times.
Is “inclusiveness” therefore an unattainable ideal, maybe just a “paper tiger”?
As to that Scott Peck answers:
Perhaps the first step on the path to community is recognising the fact that we are not alike and never will be. […] I would like to remind that people in communities [in multiple relationships as well! (Oligotropos)] are in a state where they learn to dismantle their defense mechanisms rather than hiding behind them. Not only do they learn to accept their differences, but to rejoice over them instead of putting them down as usual. Through community diversity loses its charcteristic of being a problem. Community is truly an alchemical process that transforms the difficulties of our diversity into golden harmony.

Transferred to loving relationships, this means what Tevje, his youngest daughter, and the Russian son-in-law are experiencing at the end of the musical – and what Alice is whishing for at the end of the song: That a loving relationship and a loving togetherness can be the place where all voices are allowed to be heard.
Thus, Tevje learns that his son-in-law is ultimately a great guy (and a political oppositionist even on his side) – and that his daughter has become an idealist who follows the voice of her heart – a trait Tevje has always longed for in his fatherhood.
In this way, Alice’s new sweetheart might also find out that he no longer needs the AfD because he eventually experiences trust, happiness and acceptance in his new relationship – and thereby he may discover that accepting responsibility is always the job of everyone involved, and that there is no need for “scapegoats”. And Alice might learn that she was strengthened in her “integrative persistence,” because she held on to her love (nonetheless) because of her inclusiveness which made her believe in ultimate understanding (at least the last scene of the music clip could be interpreted like that).

Therefore, inclusivity does not mean acceptance at all costs, nor does it automatically mean harmonious appeasement.
To that end, I’ll leave the closing words to Scott Peck as well:
“Integration does not mean equalization; it does not result in a stew. Rather, one can compare community with a salad dish whose individual ingredients preserve their identity and are highlighted in the interaction. Community does not solve the problem of diversity by eradicating diversity. Rather, it looks for diversity, welcomes different views, embraces opposites, wishes to look at the other side of every issue. It includes people into a living body.



¹ Photo credits: With NetzTeufel, the Evangelische Akademie in Berlin has launched a project that operates directly in digital spaces: In Social Media is analysing the dissemination of group-focused enmity in the name of the Christian faith. On this basis it encounters questions such as how #DIGITALEKIRCHE can strengthen moral courage on the internet:
https://www.netzteufel.eaberlin.de/

² Scott Peck: The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (Simon & Schuster, 1987) ISBN 978-0-684-84858-7

³ AfD (Alternative for Germany), German nationalist, right-wing populist and Eurosceptic party.

Entry 32

Dark Traits ¹

The treasure trove of the Oligoamorists is teeming with heroes and monsters, idols, mythical figures and chimeras.
When the little children have gone to bed, and those who are still pure at heart have long since snuggled into their alcoves, there are dark nights of the new moon when the elders conjure up an awesome figure by the darkly flickering hearth-fire of stories. Its mere name captures most listeners in a teeth-chattering spell; its fate to roam this world in search of the energies of the living makes the blood curdle even among the hardiest Oligoamorists.
That these beings nevertheless exist, I myself had to experience on a baleful day under the dark moon at the end of a cold October, when the following story befell me as it had always been told with superstitious whispers at the campfires of the Oligoamorists…:

The Nissiscrat entered my house unrecognised and in the company of his favourite toy.
Asked to my table, the Nissiscrat spoke at first very little and when he did so, he had a soft and muted voice. At first he asked little questions and in general he seemed to study his surroundings and the participants at the table rather intensely. His toy – although capable – spoke little or not at all. The Nissiscrat complimented me on my coffee table and on my interior, thereby looking closely at my extensive book collection.
At length, the Nissiscrat remarked that it had become quite difficult to find people befitting the own soultribe these days and for that reason it was always a pleasure to meet like-minded people.
I continued talking to the Nissiscrat and his toy, but mainly it was me who did the talking and the Nissiscrat listened and probably also his toy, at least it remained for the most part silent.
After some time, the Nissiscrat asked how I could be happy with my life. Inwardly, I was a little annoyed, because the Nissiscrat had touched a point there that wasn’t exactly sore – but at least sensitive nonetheless.
I replied that by and large I was content with my life, as I had arranged it for myself, but that of course occasionally some ingredients were too scarce to be fully satisfying all the time. Since we had already spoken of like-mindedness and of the soultribe, I explained that I sometimes thought it frustrating that in the rest of the world regularly committed humanity, philanthropy and kindness were less pronounced than I would sometimes wish for myself.
As an answer the Nissiscrat declared that nothing out there in the world was philanthropic or even humane any more and that he had turned his back on the world for that reason. He added that, after all, people nowadays would simply strive to exercise control over everything. Therefore, concerning himself, he would solely acknowledge what nature intends; he had withdrawn from the mundane world and henceforth would be living just for the good of himself (and that soultribe he was about to create). My enquiry, what he thought what it was that nature intended, astonished the Nissiscrat for a moment noticeably, but then he praised my interest. He declared that nature intended the acceptance of all and everything, especially the approval of any feeling and emotion – however awkward these might be. Of course, he said, there would be a great deal more regarding that subject to be deepened and elaborated – and that he was perfectly willing to expand upon that matter another time.

Next, there followed a pause in our conversation, because we set off on a walk “to put our thoughts in good order”, which the Nissiscrat however gladly covered alone with his favourite toy – and accordingly I remained for an hour or so with my nesting-partner.
I was confused – what meant this strange encounter? I lacked clues and information high and low, because I had hardly learned anything about the Nissiscrat and his favourite toy yet (the toy had occasionally nodded with sparkling eyes, but seemed otherwise unwilling to contribute anything) – I, on the other hand, felt a little, well, questioned. Accordingly I was looking forward to the afternoon’s “second half-time”, hoping to learn more about my astonishing guests.

As we returned home from the walk, the Nissiscrat immediately began to explore my house, unobtrusive – but also unsolicited.
When I managed to lead my visitors back to the table after the “inspection”, it was again the Nissiscrat, who now resolutely took up the thread of conversation – and wouldn’t let go of it until the very end.
The Nissiscrat stated that the “first half-time” had almost exhausted him: So many words had been spoken – which he wouldn’t usually exchange with his favourite toy on a whole day. So much information, so much talking – whereas he, the Nissiscrat – and his favourite toy – would hold one’s peace and utter silence at other times in the highest esteem. On most days they would hardly exchange a word at all…
Nevertheless – to continue our conversation – the Nissiscrat proposed a joint feedback session, which he himself commenced immediately. He felt welcome and safe, he stated first of all. Once again, he emphasised how rare it was these days to meet people who would appreciate values similar to his own philosophy. Though he had noticed that we occasionally tried to interrupt a speech, which was not very attentive in his view, he otherwise attested us a thriving atmosphere appropriate of more profound people. Especially the keyword “highly sensitive” had touched him deeply, because he was highly sensitive himself and his favourite toy certainly as well. To that effect he would also be very curious to find out what had befallen us in order to become “highly sensitive”², but surely there would still be time for that later – because in that respect – of course – there would be a detailed history of his own bad experiences, which right now would be too extensive.
Now it was the favourite toy’s turn to give feedback, and the Nissiscrat’s precious neatly framed a variation of his words, equally emphasising wellbeing and comfort.

When it was eventually my turn, the Nissiscrat eagerly wanted to know how I felt. I honestly replied that I had entered a state of increasing confusion and conflicting ambivalence regarding the course of the afternoon and didn’t know how to adequately express myself. The clever Nissiscrat immediately seized the opportunity, asking me directly in what proportions I would feel fear, grief and anger in me.
Sincerely I answered that I would feel anxiety in the manner of an unfamiliarity with the sudden intensity of the present situation, that I usually experienced an accompanying sadness in me (even today, but not because of today) – but that I couldn’t find any anger, just the confusion I previously described.
The Nissiscrat nodded knowingly, explaining that he would often experience such fear in respect of his charisma, a familiar effect that the power of his presence would often produce.
The Nissiscrat readily explained that this was the occasional effect of all evolved human beings, but that I could easily overcome my fear if I would strive to become like the Nissiscrat myself – a purpose in which he could help and guide me.
Therefore, the Nissiscrat now offered that I could have a relationship with him. He wanted to be not only my partner, but also my therapist, my mentor, my priest and my healer. When I replied that I would question him constantly in all those qualities, he generously declared that he was up to the challenge, and he invited me to scrutinise him in any possible way. The Nissratz explained that actually all developed humans would eventually become healers. Acordingly, he and his favourite toy were also healers. In this capacity they would let themselves be “found” by those who were in need and craving for recovery. Therefore the Nissiscrat now offered his living space and even his lifetime, affirming that he would always dedicate all of it to those souls who were in need of his help – whether for days, weeks or longer. His favourite toy nodded in fervent agreement.
When I said that I was looking for committed-sustainable loving relationships, but not for a therapy relationship and therefore couldn’t agree to his proposal, the Nissiscrat dismissed my objections by pointing out that for him there would only exist pure “relationships” in the universe – and these always contained all qualities together in itself.
When I objected that in a relationship like that I would be troubeled recognising when he would speak to me as a lover and friend, or when he would speak to me as a teacher and therapist, he repeated that there was no difference regarding developed human beings and he expressed that he was worried about my obstinate as well as petty mistrust.
Therefore the Nissiscrat now offered me his body that I might embrace him, in order to recover basic trust, which I denied according to his presupposition.
Therefore the Nissiscrat now offered me even his favourite toy (without asking it for consensus) in order to recover basic trust, which I once again rejected to his apparent consternation.
When I reasoned that I would not be able to enter any kind of intimacy so quickly with strangers, because, as in the story of the “Little Prince and the Fox“³, one first of all had to “tame” one another in order to gradually reduce distrust and to establish confidence, the Nissiscrat lectured me that my distrust was just another word for fear. And fear would be limiting and unfree and for that reason against the intentions of nature.

When I answered that “fear” seemed to me mainly a personal affair, because most of the time, even if one were worried about another person’s vulnerability, one would actually rather be concerned for oneself – because one would be mainly worried about how to deal with the consequences of this vulnerability oneself – the Nissiscrat doubted this idea immediately. For he, too, he expressly emphasised, would most certainly dread a possible loss of his favourite toy. And as he had previously mentioned, he too was highly sensitive after all – which meant that everyone at this table had a terrible and traumatic past – not only his listeners, no, even he and even his favourite toy.

Thus, the Nissiscrat diagnosed, I first of all had to discard my physical distrust. At our next meeting he would conduct a workshop where he would guide me in giving and receiving touchings.
Had he not understood, did I once again object, that physical contact with me would be coherent only after a period of time spent together and mutual trust-building?
Now it was the Nissiscrat’s turn to become truly ungracious: He hadn’t meant to touch me personally, he exclaimed. But in my woundedness it was obvious that I could only have understood his selfless offer in this twisted way, although he had by no means intended it like that.
The patience of the Nissiscrat seemed finally exhausted by my hesitancy concerning his promise of salvation he offered so fervently.
And indeed, by now I also felt a surprisingly strong reluctance against my guests and the whole rather peculiar and derailed event that had unfolded on that afternoon.

Departure! ”, the favourite toy suddenly uttered – truly audible for the first time that afternoon.
“I also believe that there seems to be a time for badly needed consideration here,” even the Nissiscrat snarled, rising to his feet and striding towards the door.
Bitter resignation and resigned bitterness spoke from the looks and words of the Nissiscrat with whom he considered me, as he shoved his big-eyed favourite toy rudely to the exit: “I wish you a most depressing evening!”
The last words of the Nissiscrat, already on the stairs, spoke of pity and that hereby I would never find a place for my tears…

When the Nissiscrat was gone I felt strangely embarrassed and a little ashamed.
For a while those feelings stuck to me, but they gradually diminished, as I bit by bit realised what an oligoamorous nightmare the still veiled new moon had brought into my home – but that I had happily banished it after all.

And so I write it down here today for you, as a warning and admonition:
Beware the Nissiscrat, its slippery tongue, its flattery and its thousand promises. Beware for your own sake, watch out for your needs and fears that you may accept them and are a good friend to yourself – so that you will never be in danger of serving the Nissiscrat for a long time in its hiding places and lairs under the unsuspecting dark moon.
Always stoke your fire, love yourself and your loved ones, and stand united together; that way the Nissiscrat will spare your home, will remain a ghastly whisper, a grim tale befitting a cold day at the end of October…



¹ I choose the title because of the “Dark triad”, a psychological approach to the phenomenon in my story. “Oh, and I shall tell you – the name is an anagram”, Grace Cardiff would have said in Rosemary’s Baby.

² Among the many theories concerning the origin of sensory processing sensitivity there exists the highly disputed idea that this trait is usually caused by traumatisation during childhood.

³ In the 21st chapter of the novel “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry the protagonist strikes up a friendship with a fox. The story can be found online HERE.

Thanks to Joachim/Max and Anke for their inspiration and
thanks to „The Yorck Project (2002): 10.000 Masterpieces of Painting“ (DVD-ROM) and the picture (in public domain) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – , distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=148809

PS: Considering that this story happened in such a way, because I had originally contacted the “favourite toy” on a dating platform for a meeting, which then took its course as depicted, I have to say that in the world of online dating there are a lot of “interesting encounters” one might rather skip…

PPS: I expressly apologise for using in this story – and especially concerning the figure of the “Nissiscrat” – predominantly masculine pronouns. Nissiscrats may be encountered in any disguise, regardless sex or gender, and therefore we should be vigilant all the time.
I have told this fictional story as it suited my narrative style as an author in the best way.

You would like to read more legends of the Oligoamorists now?
Then HERE you go to another legendary figure and HERE you’ll find a love story.

Entry 31

Horse-trading

This weekend, my nesting-partner received a message that gave her reason for some concern.
My nesting partner is a horse owner and has kept a few horse in the course of her life. A horse, however, is a somewhat costly passion – definitely in terms of time and finances – and accordingly it may happen in the life of the owners that changes to the overall circumstances concerning their everyday life eventually impair the constant responsible care such an animal claims. In such moments of crisis it may happen that most horse owners (which at least I know) try to pass their animal into the much sought-after “good hands“. The search for a suitable takeover is therefore as much a service to the own conscience, as well as to ensure the continued well-being according to ones own standards even after the change of ownership. In those favourable cases, such a procedure results in the fact that even after the animal has been transmitted, the former owner is periodically provided with status messages on health or even with photos – provisions by which the new owners on occasion confirms: the horse is (still) well.
In this way, horse keeping still sometimes resembles to some extent a switch-yard – and of course it may happen at some point that by a further change of ownership such an arrangement is eventually broken or forgotten – and as a previous owner * in the second or third row you no longer learn how the further fate of the animal develops.
Exactly such a “second-degree change of ownership” was pending concerning one of my partner’s former horses: Her former pet was about to pass from the originally thoroughly selected “good hands” once more into a more uncertain future of further ownership.

Of course, there is a certain ostentatious arrogance of impropriety regarding this quite regularly occurring transfer of ownership – even and especially among seasoned equestrian enthusiasts.
If you want to own a horse, then you have to think about the like of it before! “, is a typical remark in such cases. Or even more extreme: “If you are not ready to take on responsibility for a horse for a lifetime, then you should not get one in the first place.”
Pithy appeals regarding our loyalty, integrity, responsibility and sustainability towards a living being – and thus we are immediately in the midst of the complexities of Oligoamory (see Entries 3 + 4 ).

Because as an observer of the happenings at the weekend I immediately felt reminded of a more personal area, which perhaps manifests not quite the same – but nevertheless similar implications and moral calls: Being a parent. And as a father, I know quite well that “in the long run” you sooner or later encounter stages during that vocation, where you are overchallenged, helpless and dependent on support in any possible way. And here, too, there are similar “moral guardians” who are always at hand in such situations with the most helpful advice of all: “About something like that you should have thought before! “. That’s why there exists not only “Rider-Shaming¹” but of course the well-established “Parent-Shaming¹”. And from there it’s only a small step to “Husband¹- or Spouse-Shaming¹” – or to keep the picture of the “owner change”: the well-known “Divorcee-Shaming¹”. All and sundry life situations in which “well-intentioned” fellows appear – just to knock us down with their virtuousness reminiscent of fortune-telling skills: “Such an occurence should have been considered sooner/beforehand! “.

Anyone who has followed me valiantly through 30 entries on the subject of Oligoamory up to this point, knows by now that I as the author of this project, as far as relationship-management is concerned, gladly immerse myself in drafting rather ambitious ideas. Sometimes my texts sound rather passionate, sometimes they become almost idealistic. And, of course, Oligoamory is idealistic, because an ideal is for me a beacon, a signpost – something worth striving for, and the steady journey is the destination.
But I also hope that I have succeeded in clarifying that it is not “only” an ideal, for a mere ideal is always in danger of becoming means to an end: In such a case pure idealism invokes precisely those moral guardians, who just want to depress us even more in our tentativeness with their twisted advice “You should have thought about a thing like that before!
Oligoamory – and that’s why I chose the symbol of the double spiral – should be humanly. And humanness means finiteness – and thus limitedness as well.

The moral guardians of idealism (and a dwarfish variety of them dwells in almost everyone of us) forget as participants in the “game of life” that life itself is not a static condition, but the very essence of the game itself. Consequently, not much of it is “predictable” or can be “planned ahead “.
Our human nature and our biological inheritance may be attuned to favourable energy management (“Make a break an put your feet up! “). And as the most sophisticated ape we are somewhat prone to social cooperation (“Treat others as you would like others to treat you…“) – but in the “third Dimension” regarding precaution and planning we are rather limited exactly because of our finiteness.
Current example: That’s why we have such difficulties concerning the pending energy-transition (concerning the exit from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy). The assumption of responsibility for human generations, which are not yet born, is difficult for us. Accordingly, this step requires a very conscious and active willingness, because it’s not “in our nature” – a “primordial” Homo sapiens would have hardly ever thought beyond the generation of his*her grandchildren (genes passed, mission accomplished).

But now we are no longer “primordial” hominids – and meanwhile our lifespan has increased significantly. And as a consequence we are confronted with a much higher degree of “ending” and “finiteness” in our lives than ever before in human history – and are also challenged by the need for increased “precaution” and sustainability. Of course, this development didn’t happen all of a sudden, because on closer examination, thoughts and insights about “life cycles” can be found in different philosophies and spiritual systems since antiquity: Ideas, that in a human life we pass through different stages, sometimes repetitive, sometimes similar (depicted by the symbolism of circle and spiral). And both ancient philosophy² and Buddhism³ have developed the phrase “What does not want to cease can not emerge“.

Regarding our idealism, that seems to be a bitter blow at first. Because it means that on the human scale there is no perfect loyalty, no absolute integrity, no total responsibility and never complete sustainability.
A relentless penchant for perfection that spawns phrases as “forever (and ever)” or “for a lifetime” however, likewise compromises the ideals. Because people who only try to live up to their ideals quickly lose sight of their fellow human beings – and themselves in their own humanness (and fallibility).
In his book “The Art of Not Being an Egoist” (“Die Kunst, kein Egoist zu sein”, 2010) the contemporary philosopher R.D. Precht illustrates, that we human beings are above all committed to our self-image:
»That’s why it’s only half as bad for us if a particular desire can not be fulfilled or if we fail regarding an intention. It is much worse if we feel attacked as a person. If we are questioned as a human being. When our self-esteem is hurt or destroyed. Our being – otherwise this sensitivity can scarcely be explained – is always more than our intentions, our speech, our actions.«
As to sabotaging our self-esteem with our inner “moral guardians”, however, we are at least as effective as our patronising critics in the outside world. R.D. Precht therefore recommends with Aristotle that it is important to become “a good friend of yourself” – beyond any alleged perfectionism.

I started this entry with an example concerning horses, because already the topic “animals”, at least if they are considered as pets (rather than livestock), can quickly become very sensitive. However, I believe that in the end it does not matter to which living being we position ourselves in this way if we feel that we are in a relationship with them. Because in that case loyalty, integrity, responsibility and sustainability inevitably interlock: The advocacy of a common goal, the agreement with one’s own values, accountability regarding the (self-)commitment, adherence of boundaries.
Nevertheless, personal goals, own values, self-commitment and individual boundaries are no static entities of eternal continuance. Definitely not concerning a finite human life, which has to be able to adapt to changing external conditions (and I’m not talking of the changeability of character in the manner of a chameleon!).
However, I would like to concede to all of us that even apparently weighty values and in particular their contents may change over time – and some may simply expire.

My conclusion for today is therefore also somewhat philosophical:
Regarding the initiation, conduct and termination of our relationships, we are all like potters who sit together around the potter’s wheel and form a vessel. Because of the nature of our working material – if we dare to think that way – it is quite obvious that our joint product will probably have a limited lifespan, it’s definitely finite. We may therefore be tempted to create an artless, robust standard model, which will hopefully serve its purpose for as long as possible, but would deny by that part of our idealism, our inspiration, and our individual expression.
But because we are concious regarding it’s finiteness, we could also create a design that represents precisely the greatest possible degree of our (artistic) skill, as the spatio-temporal creation of our presentness and our striving. In this way, our relationships will become much more unique and appropriate to those involved – and their appropriateness will truly be “more than the sum of their parts“.
By accepting finiteness (which means: ceasing, expiring) in this process, we simultaneously gain the potential motivation for new emergence in this process, which on the relationship-level allows fallibility, adaptability, and negotiation.
Therefore, if we are reasonably certain that all those involved in a relationship are as loyal, honest, accountable and sustainable as they can be, it will take tremendous pressure of all the participating individuals regarding the relentless penchant for perfection. And it strengthens the conjoined experience of freedom and connectedness, which I consider as one of the core-qualities of Oligoamory (see Entry 7).
The long-term nature of relationships in the context of ethical non-monogamy is very important to me, because longevity is needed so that the values of Poly- or Oligoamory can be experienced and shaped (!) by everyone involved. But “forever and ever” and “you’d better think of such things before”? That isn’t human, that does not do justice to any living being and our common changeable and versatile nature.
And that’s when even horses say “Na-a-a-a-ayyyy !” ☺



* “Nesting-Partner” is a phrase which is sometimes used for loved ones you share living quarters with.

¹ Though the term “Rider-Shaming” is a humorous phrase I made up myself, the terms “Parent-Shaming”, “Husband-Shaming”, “Spouse-Shaming” and even “Divorcee-Shaming” do exist. These terms describe a behaviour where certain individuals are (verbally) attacked and denounced for not fulfilling their function up to a socially claimed standard.

² Teachings regarding immortality by the Greek philosopher Plotinus, authored and edited by his pupil Porphyrios.

³ Teachings of Nagarjuna in early Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Thanks to Crawford Jolly on Unsplash and the photo showing one of the heads of the “Kelpie-Monument” in Falkirk, Scotland.

Entry 30

Dating is as dating does…

Once again, Oligotropos is dating.
No, stop.
In fact, he does not yet date. He’s roving around on dating platforms first of all. At least this time on websites that guarantee both monogamous and non-monogamous variations of search options.
So far, so good.
However, after he has viewed half a dozen profiles he is struck by a peculiar tentativeness, when he realises that his “oligoamorous search” has deeper inner implications of its own on such websites:

Level 1 – Monogamy as an example: Almost all dating sites seem to have been made for monogamy. I don’t think that dating there is really easy for monogamous people – but all the criteria seem to be tailored to monogamy: Jack is looking for Jill – or Jill is looking for a Jack. Women or men are searching for the „one special person“. And if two people find each other on such a site in this way, they get together and both disappear from the pool of potential seekers – in order to do henceforth those things monogamous people usually do together. Accordingly, we can dismiss those people furthermore from our story, since first of all they will sally forth inevitably in pairs and secondly we are not monogamous ourselves. Hence, we gaze after them somewhat admiringly, somewhat baffled: These two have “bonded” somehow – until who- or whatever will part them…

Level 2 – Non-monogamous / polyamorous search: To all the world this mode really sounds like great freedom par excellence. On this level it seemingly does not matter if I am a free atom or an already bound molecule when looking for further potential bonds.
Of course, there is some “homework” here one has to finish beforehand: One has to practice, or desire a relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. This practice or desire has to be seasoned by equality regarding all possibly involved parties, consistent assumption of responsibility for own risky behaviour (e.g. sexually) – plus a dram of commitment concerning the potentially emerging relationship-network and a longer-term perspective (otherwise occasional swinging or casual dating would do just as fine).
And then the merry dating may start. And all the people who feel like it and whose parameters fit my ideas of multiple relationships – and my parameters in turn to their ideas – may meet. If distance and/or logistics as well as communication with each other work out.
However, I, Oligotropos, as the author of this bLog, still find one-two-three snags regarding the relationships which this approach would enable. I have described these three “snags” in detail in Entry 2, because I have seen too often with regard to “Polyamory” that the relationships arising from such guidelines are often based on sexuality as the main (or sole) common interest, the involved parties are entangled in a unrealistic dictate regarding mutual non-possessiveness, and eventually personality-fragmentation is facilitated.
But it’s not my place to decide on the appropriateness of such relationships. The parties involved must decide for themselves whether the resulting kinds of connections are conducive to them (anyway). And for many configurations such polyamorous arrangements are also completely sufficient: Wether sexual freedom is acted out in a (established) relationship, while participating in the neotantric community or regarding BDSM-relationships, or even in terms of category-free relationship anarchy.
And that’s why I also believe that sooner or later this kind of search will lead to dating-success in the end. Because in this way people will get together who want to share selected special moments of their lives with each other: During leisure time or vacation, at events or workshops, based on accordance, shared interest and mutual passion.

Concerning myself, all that still wasn’t enough. Regarding my own peace of mind and peace of heart, Polyamory manifested too many discontinuities in terms of reliability/predictability, loyalty and sustainability (see Entries 3 + 4).
Moreover, contrary to its founding concept, “Polyamory” often no longer seemed to be regarded as a “relationship-philosophy” but as a kind of novel philosophy of love and personal freedom.
Influenced by a mix of ideas containing Zen-Buddhism, free love and the codependency-movement, in the 21st century considerations like the following started to affect the argumentative focus:
»A relationship is a structure. So love relates, certainly, but never becomes a relationship. Love is a moment-to-moment process. Remember it. Love is a state of your being, not a relationship. There are loving people and there are unloving people. Unloving people pretend to be loving through the relationship. Loving people need not have any relationship – love is enough. Be a loving person rather than in a loving relationship – because relationships happen one day and disappear another day. They are flowers; in the morning they bloom, by the evening they are gone. […] A relationship may be just out of fear, may not have anything to do with love. Relationships may be a kind of security – financial or something else. The relationship is only needed because love is not there. A relationship is a substitute. Be alert. A relationship destroys love, destroys the very possibility of its birth.¹«
Or:
»Real persons love each other as a luxury. It is no longer a need. They enjoy sharing: they have so much joy, they would like to pour it into somebody. And they know how to play their lives as a solo instrument.²«
“Poor Rajneesh!”, I would now almost exclaim loudly (see also Entry 8), “did you experience your relationships predominantly that way?” Because in the increasing human disability to attach and to relate as well as in the increasing rate of “solitaries” I currently see more of a problem than a visionary (re)solution.
And that’s one important reason why I set out to explore the “Oligoamory” for myself, especially with regard to the needs and wishes that I had concerning multiple relationships.
But that way I encountered new challenges while dating and looking for likeminded people. Or, at least, questions popped up I had to face.

Level 3 – Oligoamorous search:
Let’s counter these Rajneesh/Osho quotes above with a citation from the British actor Anthony Hopkins:
»None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else
What I particularly like about this quotation from the oligoamorous viewpoint is the direct reference to our deepest humanness with its joys – and to our finiteness.
Mr. Hopkins also says, “Stop treating yourself and each other like “afterthoughts”, like bonuses or “give-aways”. And he adds: Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure – by that he appeals to our radical honesty.
Precisely these two aspects seem to be of significant importance to me concerning the quest for potential lovers and soulmates in Oligoamory.
Because according to the principleDo not do to others what you would not want them to do to you”, I do not want to be considered or treated as a “luxury” or a “bonus” at any rate. I am a whole, complicated person with my weaknesses and strengths and I wish to be accepted as such. Whoops, with that request I touched the second aspect as well: Because in order to be “accepted”, I must be able to accept myself just as sincerely. In Entry 26 and 27, I discuss how I can overcome my internal fragmentation in order to experience real closeness and true intimacy once again. And concerning that, the somewhat tenacious and relentless utilisation of straight self-honesty plays a major part.

Let’s assume that, according to Mr. Hopkins, we would be tolerably able to treat ourselves no longer “as an afterthought” because we managed to accept us and each other in our quirky-beautiful, definitely human, uniqueness, to which our valiantly applied honesty would significantly contribute.
Then, in return, this would clearly mean that our potential loved ones should be treated just as equally…
Upsa-daysie!
Since now we have stated an aspiration regarding our “search” and regarding possible dating, concerning which we ourselves have to do meet the requirements first:
Do I currently have the capacity in my life to appreciate a WHOLE (additional) person as such?
Maybe some people will think now: “Oh, please, dear Oligotropos, I would never ask anyone else for something like that, that he*she*it considers me in such a way. It would be enough for me if they would appreciate me as a good guitarist/surfer/bedfellow – whether I pay my taxes correctly or where I stand politically is quite unimportant in that respect…!”
Oh yes? Then you may(be) still get lucky in Polyamory – but in that case this website has nothing to offer for you. And do not complain any more about experiencing such a deep miserable inner discrepancy between pretence and reality – because you seem to favour a “Reality of separation” or at least a life far away from integrity and coherence.
I apologise for these outspoken words – but there are consequences, if we want to stand up for the equal well-being of all parties involved regarding the relationship level.
And it’s a good thing if we try to incorporate these consequences already at a very early stage, virtually unilateral while setting things in motion on our side.
Our goal of an “oligoamorous relationship” would be marked by the desire to find a (additional) person, who in this way becomes part of our “soul tribe”, becomes one of our “associates“. That way, we hope for a relationship that is characterised by familiarity and a level of intimacy that allows all participants to put off their “everyday-armor” in front of each other. In such a relationship, the affected people would be important to one another precisely because of the many little things that – according to the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – would “gain the colour of wheat³ “: (Just) Seemingly insignificant details, which make the respective personality shine and highlight it in the view of the loved ones.
After all, every human relationship is based on the fact that in such relationships, beyond our visible achievements, beyond our successes and beyond our knowledge – and also beyond our sorrows and worries – we simply want to feel accepted as human beings. And, to be sure, not as a kind of validation from outside – here Osho and all his co-speakers err in my opinion – but as an encouragement and an assurance of our own inner acquired certainty regarding our value, the value that every other human being owns – without being diminished by anything or anybody.

Conclusion: That’s why for me as an oligoamorous-sensitive person online dating is more exciting and complicated than it could favourably be.
E.g. many websites appear to prefer a strategy that suggests multiple introductions to as many profiles as possible. I can’t do this without feeling somewhat incoherent and disloyal in a strange way: Every profile stands for a whole person (as I am behind my profile). And no two profiles or people are alike. That is why I think that each of these people has earned its own approach. Otherwise it would be a little bit as if I had yelled into a pub to a group of women “Hey girls!” And would hoped that one of them approaches me now because of my eloquent and individualistic speech…
And in fact, when I read a profile, I think about whether I have the capacity to be more than just a projection surface for the desires and needs of the other side – which in case of doubt would be badly thin veneer, which wouldn’t withstand any acid test.
And I’m always wondering if it’s a good moment for such a step right now in my life:

  • Whether there is room for a WHOLE (additional) person in my already rich life (I recall the Anaïs Nin quote from Entry 6, “that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born”).
  • Whether I’ve tidied up my “inner space” sincerely enough to let a (additional) person in – or if I only provide a tight spot in front of my best-decorated showcase.
  • Whether I am currently a secure harbour where another person can be safe enough to get rid of their “everyday armor”.
  • Whether I have enough inner certainty that I do not have to cling to myself, in the panic of losing myself – but have both an arm for me and an arm for somebody else to welcome him*her*it, to encourage him*her*it – and to endure him*her*it.



¹ Osho/Rajneesh/Bhagwan, “Walk without feet, fly without wings and think without mind “, Talk #8

² Osho/Rajneesh/Bhagwan, “The Power of Love” He said /She said: Love in a relationship

³ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The Little Prince, Chapter 21, Excerpt from the Fox’s Speech: »But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me back hurrying underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: do you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. The golden wheat-fields have nothing to say to me. That is said. But yo have hair that is the colour of gold! Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…«

Thanks to Simon Müller on Pixabay for the photo!

Entry 29

…and missed the forest for the trees.

A few days ago, an acquaintance of mine, who cancelled an agreed meeting, wrote to me the following lines:
…I turned my life around spontaneously in the last few weeks and for now I am monogamous once more. I fell deeply in love and right now we just want to be on our own. He had only normal relationships in the past and I realise that this is beneficial to me as well. Especially after all that constant back and forth I experienced before...”
Well.
Maybe it’s a pity concerning our meeting – but if they want to concentrate on their twosome togetherness because of their fresh infatuation, I can understand that.
And yet…– in a sense a “disturbance in the Force“, as actor Alec Guiness stated as the sensitive Yedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the movie “Star Wars” (Episode IV).

A far more greater “disturbance in the Force” I felt just last September when LGBT activist, actress and comedian Margaret Cho revealed in a podcast interview¹:
You know, for me, I get polyamory-fatigue and I get total BDSM-fatigue. It takes so much energy in terms of negotiating and what you want and what you’re doing and I just don’t have the energy for it. Also, the processing that happens, so I did get tired of it. To me, it’s very stuck in the 90s and early 2000s, but I do love it.”
Well, at least she has added the last half-sentence… Because otherwise such a statement from someone who had committed the last 25 years of her life intensively to a lifestyle of ethical non-monogamy appears to me like an earthquake of seismic magnitude. Especially if this person adds in the same interview:
I have this idea that because I’m now single, my thought is I would like to try to remain unpartnered for the rest of my life and I’m going to really try.”
And when asked why, she answered:
Well, because I’ve been partnered for so long. For my adult life, I’ve had partners pretty much since I was like 25 or whatever. I feel like now that I’m 50, I should really give a college try to see if I could just be a lady alone.
Well.
These are also understandable reasons for me.
And yet both statements unsettle me. Since I have heard such explanations in polyamorous circles before. However, Mrs. Cho was a very prominent example to me recently which is thought-provoking – and somewhat troubling.
“Polyamory fatigue” – that sounds serious, like a medical trait; to quote Wikipedia »significant tiredness, depleted reserves of strength or increased need for rest disproportionate to recent exertion«.

Concerning someone like Margaret Cho, much of it may be true, especially with a quarter of a century of experience and an active life including major media presence, her support regarding gay and LGBT rights, BDSM, and queer lifestyle altogether.
Especially if you are somehow “different” yourself, then there is often the need to stand one’s ground, to defend the “divergent”, the “deviant” against the prevailing morality and the established lifestyle – thereby making the personal political – and the political personal.

As an explorer of non-monogamous-oligoamorous lands I am nevertheless concerned. For it seems to me that my acquaintance as well as Margaret Cho query two values which are crucial to my view of Oligoamory – crucial to a point that I put those values in the subtitle: Commitment and sustainability.
To be fair, I would like to add that neither my acquaintance nor Mrs. Cho ever declared themselves oligoamorous – and that even I, who am the author of this blog, would by no means want to decree that a once-chosen lifestyle must be retained at any cost.
And yet they exist – a substantial group of people who will confess after some time: “Polyamory? I tried it. It didn’t work…, I’m back being monogamous/single again…” Maybe the more sincere people in this group say somewhat more specific: “It didn’t work for me.”
Everytime I hear those stories, I sigh and think: “Oh, folks...”
For personally, I often experienced that if something does not work, very rarely “the thing” itself is the problem, but much more often our quality management.
“Quality management” is a broad term in this case. However, there is evidence that many people apply ethical non-monogamy (such as Poly- or Oigoamory) in much the same way like that devastated guy who returns a chainsaw back to the hardware store and groans: “I’m totally exhausted, it didn’t work, I drudged all day and barely managed a single tree...” The salesman looks at the chainsaw, pulls the starter, listens to the engine and says: “I can’t find any fault...” While the stunned customer stares at him: “What’s that noise…?!”
If people try to handle multiple relationships in this way, it’s no surprise that they actually experience them as “back and forth” and are threatened by “Polyamory fatigue” in the end.

At the same time, I absolutely do not want to deny the strenuous ramifications while practising ethical non-monogamy: Time management with multiple partners, constant (self-)justifications comcerning the own way of life, a lack of legal foundations and the difficulties of finding like-minded people – these are all real hardships and therefore potential sources of conflict. A single bLog-Entry on an obscure Oligoamory website can not even list the numerous challenges, or offer in a few lines adequate practical solutions to the various living conditions in which people can get in contexts regarding multiple relationships.
What I want to offer is some calming for the waves of exhaustion before those affected believe that the only way out is to pull the plug entirely and to be “monogamous once more” or “would like to try to remain unpartnered for the rest of their life“.

I do not know either my acquaintance or Mrs. Cho well enough to be able to tell anything for sure about their inner motivation. And as I wrote, the road to ethical non-monogamy is truly not exactly adorned with a red carpet.
Aside from the many inner and outer pitfalls which we seekers of multiple relationships have to deal with, I nevertheless believe that we create a certain amount of pressure all by ourselves. And this pressure has an effect on our mentioned “quality management” – particularly because we want to become proud “chainsaw owners” as soon as possible so that we may live it up at the next tree straight away. Next, you will find yourself visiting chainsaw workshops, the local chain sawing regulars’ table, browsing through chainsaw forums on the internet – all the while the stress is mounting: When you realise how many logs the other people seem to be finishing off – and your knees are trembling just because of only one tiny tree trunk…
Because analogously, “the other polyamorists” can very quickly appear as seasoned jack-of-all-trades, who happily manage several intense relationships with a multitude of interesting lovers. Whereas oneself e.g. is stuck in an unpleasantly tough dating-swamp, finding not a single soul who shares the own preferences regarding multiple relationships even approximately halfway. At the same time you will still get more and more confused, because at the side of the road you will spot exciting monogamous people or solitary singles, who unfortunately do not share your own view now. Oh, everything was much easier back then, when you were still monogamous or leastwise solitary yourself… On top of it all, the pressure even increases, if you are possibly in an already existing relationship, joined with a slightly dusted (marriage) partner, – you have perhaps mutually agreed on opening your relationship – but in a strange way nothing substantial happens… Or when you get into a multiple relationship with people who said “poly-/ oligoamorous”, but meant realistically “promiscuous”. In addition all that constant processing (which often fluctuates somewhere between sore soul-searching and self-defiant justification): That’s more Polyamory-fatigue than anyone can bear. Put that chainsaw back right where it came from or – so help me…!

It is said that especially men always want to try out new devices immediately, without wasting even a thought regarding its manual. In the case of ethical multiple relationships, this applies in fair equality to all participants – independent of gender. Otherwise, we all would rather notice that we could achieve a better result if we first of all would be paying attention to the performing engine. And even a running engine does not “guarantee” any yield – but it makes it in any case more likely.
Perhaps it is important to reassure us by what it does not mean to be a chainsaw owner – I beg your pardon – a human being in the context of ethical non-monogamy:
It does not automatically mean that you have immediately many exciting parallel relationships – or rather, that they are instantly available to you. In general, “availability” seems to me the key word here: A change of our choice, how we want to lead relationships doesn’t change the status quo spontaneously. And then? Am I a “failed polyamorist” because I do not have any other relationships right now? Or just one? Would my conviction or my activism concerning matters of ethical non-monogamy be less credible in such cases?
Does being “non-monogamous” mean that you (or other participants) are always available, always potentially accessible – or, what’s more, that you (or they) have to be it?
If we actually begin to think about ourselves like this, then we would summon up a considerable amount of stress and polyamory fatigue on ourselves.
Because it would accordingly mean that we pay more attention to the (chain)saw – regarding the “if ” – instead of its quality and performance – regarding the “how “. Which could mean in consequence that we would be willing to make concessions concerning the “how” to ensure the “if”. Transferred to the relationship-level, this could mean that we end up sooner or later in relationships which don’t match our needs (being a “constant back and forth”) or in circumstances where we feel restricted and dependent (and you crave to “try to see if I could just be a lady alone”). Even from an oligoamorous perspective such conditions wouldn’t be either sustainable or committed.

In the best case, it would be up to us to decide for ourselves what kind of concessions we would agree to in order to finally get involved in multiple relationships.
But.
Wether pragmatist or idealist – this time your being determines consciousness at any rate. Since we convince ourselves that chainsaws are unsuitable and unreliable in the long run, which means: That ethical non-monogamy can not provide fulfilling relationships. Because it’s always such an abnormal back-and-forth with tedious processing, which in the end fatigues us “disproportionately to the previous efforts”.
Who wouldn’t return the chainsaw now?
Who wouldn’t be tempted to think that monogamy was “normal” and “beneficial” – and that being “unpartnered” finally meant to “be a lady alone”?

But that is somewhat flawed reasoning, since that way we didn’t prove whether ethical non-monogamy, Poly- or Oligoamory wouldn’t have been capable. We did prove that our expectations eloped our neediness – because, when we first heard of a chainsaw, we grasped the story as though this miracle saw was doing our job all on its own. Referring to multiple relationships: that choosing this particular lifestyle would ensure need fulfilment [And here’s a bitter blow for those poly-preachers who still believe in the argument that polyamorous people are better off than monogamous people because “one single lover/partner can neeeever fulfil all the needs of another lover/partner”. Fiddlesticks. Non-monogamy, even with 100 lovers/partners, doesn’t achieve this either].
That way, in the worst case, we will create “converted polys” who will report (more weird than the usual opponents of multiple relationships) back their (bad) experiences: “Never again multiple relationships, they did not only fail to make me happy, but exhausted me and left me burned-out…”

Just as the possession of a chainsaw calls for a great deal of due diligence, I would like to invite you, with regard to ethical non-monogamy, to exercise this carefulness, which should primarily benefit your own self. In the context of Oligoamory, I desire precisely for that very reason a distinct honesty, which is first and foremost a combination of self-sincerity and self-responsibility.
And in fact, we would not get around those values in any kind of relationship, even if being solitary or monogamous seem to ensnare us as “social default mode”: Just because something seems familiar it does not mean that all our questions had already been solved by our predecessors (parents, teachers, social philosophers, politicians) – and without our further contribution. The ubiquitous “default mode” conveys this illusion only by its dictate of musty-familiar normativity.
To continue my metaphor: In this respect, any relationship-philosophy would be some kind of saw – a jig saw, a folding saw, a hacksaw… – and the risk in case of incompetent use will inevitably lead to self-injury or collateral damage.
In that respect, no one can provide us with finished answers, as Confucius said: »Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.«
We ourselves have to fill our relationships with our own lives – thereby learning to apprehend ourselves, the relationship(s) and the other people involved. “Processing”, which Margaret Cho perceived as tiresome, is an important part of it. But if I’m tired of it and no longer dare to face my own intentions and motivations, how am I supposed to be credible and authentic anywhere – or believe I “could just be a lady alone” (red-incoherency-alert)?
If I wish in Oligoamory “Have good relationships!” I mean that you shall have appropriate relationships – but most of all, conscious and honest relationships. Usually we are not used to such an high degree of honesty – neither towards ourselves nor towards other people – even less in an early stage of a relationship. We may improve – I agree with Confucius – but only by practising, by involvement – not by abandoning or resetting the strategy.

I wish that regarding the renunciation of ethical non-monogamy in those affected applies, what Charlie’s mother explains to her son in the book by Roald DahlCharlie and the Chocolate Factory“: »Ah yes, well, sometimes when grown-ups say “forever” they mean “a very long time



¹ The podcast is available HERE but requires registration on the site.

Thanks to Andreas Scherbel on Pixabay for the photo.