“How does one deal with the ups and downs of a poly relationship?”
My immediate thought upon reading this question is to wonder how one deals with the ups and downs of ANY relationship?
How do you deal with the problems in your monogamous relationship? I spent more than 10 years in one. We certainly had problems. I believe the way we dealt with them was to identify them, communicate them, and attempt to adapt.
Now, I’m in a poly relationship. We have a few ups and downs. Not a huge number of them, but they exist all the same.
Does the poly part make a difference?
Seems to me that if it weren’t that, it’d be something else. Relationships have ups and downs. It is known.
But, are you on a roller coaster or a trampoline?
Do your ups and downs have forward motion — or do you keep revisiting the same spot over and over again? Are there new twists and turns and challenges to overcome together, or are you trying to achieve some sort of flight stasis by pushing yourself into taking higher jumps?
Gravity is always going to bring you back down again. Trampolines are a fairly binary activity – your feet are either in the air, or on the mat – and there is a very short amount of time that you spend in either state as you travel back and forth between the two.
Roller coasters are different. Roller coasters can be frightening, and disorienting, and for some people – completely off limits; BUT…
Roller coasters have nuance. And the amount of time spent soaring to new heights, or hurdling through a loop-de-loop varies.
My first roller coaster ride was Space Mountain at Disneyland. I had just gotten tall enough to ride, and everyone was always talking excitedly about it. Already pretty geeky by then, I loved the futuristic feel and “story” that they’d created around the line to get onto the ride itself. It looked and felt right up my alley.
I didn’t know it was a roller coaster, though.
I really didn’t know it was a roller coaster in the dark – where you couldn’t see the tracks.
I hated it. I didn’t see one of the twists coming and by the time I walked out of the attraction, my neck had stiffened and I was in tears.
I was completely unprepared for the roller coaster and developed a fear of all roller coasters based on that experience.
My first poly relationships were a little bit like that. I wasn’t well prepared – we hadn’t communicated effectively, and I was a little bit in the dark with what their expectations were. I just knew that they didn’t give two flying craps about my expectations. They were gonna do what they were gonna do, and if I got hurt – it was my own fault for wanting…what….light? a road map? A sense of where we were headed?
For years I swore up and down I would never date another polyamorous person again.
Years after my first Space Mountain experience, a friend convinced me to go on one of the kiddie rides at another theme park. This was a short roller coaster that just rolled along with a couple of ups and downs, but no loops or quick turns.
I enjoyed it. So she said, “If you like that, then you should try Colossus. It’s basically just like that, but bigger.”
So, I agreed. Colossus was a staple at this theme park. It was one of the oldest and largest wooden roller coasters, and it didn’t have any loops either.
I loved it!
“Well, if you like that….then you’ll LOVE Revolution! It’s the same thing, but with only one loop. You won’t even feel it!”
By the end of that day at the theme park, I’d tried every roller coaster there was, including the newest one – Viper – which had multiple loops, corkscrews, and even one that went backwards.
Roller coasters still had ups and downs and even took me for a loop; but, out in the light of day, I could see the tracks ahead of me, brace myself for the scary bits, and enjoy the rush of coming out the other side unscathed.
And the slow progression into the larger rides helped, too. I was able to take small steps at a time. Try it out and see if I liked it. There was no pressure to get on any ride – just a suggestion that if I liked the last one, the next one would be just like that, but *more.*
Roller coasters have ups and downs, but (with the exception of Space Mountain) – you can kind of see them coming. And you deal with them the way you deal with them. Put your hands in the air, and scream…..
Okay, maybe not – but you anticipate, communicate, and adapt.
There was another attraction at the theme park a summer or two later. By now, I was emboldened. I fucking *love* roller coasters, I’m going to try them all!
This one was called “Free Fall.” The car took you up like 30 stories high….and then just dropped you. There was no warning. No forward motion. No feeling of the track guiding the way. You were just falling, trapped in a carriage, unable to even see the person beside you.
I never went on that thing again, nor any other attraction that featured anything like that.
If the ups and downs of your relationship are more like the free-fall than the roller coaster, then …yeah, I don’t know how I’d cope with that, other than to get off that ride and never get on it again.
And if your ups and downs are like being on a trampoline? Well, some relationships are like that in the beginning. The same fights, and an exhausting workout.. If there’s never any forward movement, my choice would be to slow down and climb off. Eventually it’s time to rest.
But, if your ups and downs are more like a roller coaster…well, again. Roller coasters have nuance. Is it the peanuts coaster in the kiddie park – where your biggest fight is over the baseline status of the toilet seat? Is it like Revolution, where you have a couple hangups that take you for a loop, but you get through them fairly quickly?
Or are you on Space Mountain, and coming out of the experience with a stiff neck and face full of tears?
Depending on your answer is how you deal with the ups and the downs. Regardless, it’s important to remember that all relationships have ups and downs, and polyamory in and of itself isn’t the “villain” at the center of it.
Sometimes you’re just not compatible with the passenger in your carriage.