Polyamory isn’t all triads (throuples) quads and poly families. Lots of people do polyamory solo and are their own primaries. Zayna and Jonathan talk to Eunice in London and Kelli in Seattle about the great things about being SoPo and also the challenges – ‘who turns up at the hospital?’, social pressure to get on the relationship escalator and lack of representation in the media. It’s just a great discussion. Tune in!
Jonathan Kent (0:17) Hello and Welcome to Beyond monogamy, the podcast that explores relationship options outside the mainstream. I’m Jonathan Kent,
Zayna Ratty: and I’m Zayna Ratty, and in this episode we’ll be talking about solo poly, one of the many popular approaches to polyamory,
JK: And we’ll be finding out about it from London based poly activists Eunice who’s with us here in the Sussex countryside and from Kelli, who joins us on the line from Seattle where they’re a community event organiser and DJ.
Welcome Eunice welcome Kelli thank you very much for joining us. We’ve talked about solo Polly before, at least in passing on beyond monogamy, but not in great detail. So, Kelli first then Eunice. How would you describe even define solo Polly.
Kelli: It’s a unique subset of polyamorists who the solo part refers to essentially the opposite of entwined so entwined being like living together, sharing finances getting married, identifying as a couple of we a shared identity in that way. Solo is essentially going for the opposite of that of being autonomous individual having as much agency over your own life and your choices as you can. That’s can be pretty impossible in some situations. That is essentially my take on solo polyamory in a nutshell.
Eunice: For my part, I mostly define it as, not wanting to be legally and financially entangled with a primary partner, and with a focus on autonomy. Some people sort of think of it as being their own primary. And I also make a distinct difference between solo poly and single whilst poly, and some people don’t. But I consider solo poly to be an intentional choice, not just, I don’t happen to have a partner right now, which I would define as single.
ZR: I wonder if we could go into that a bit further actually and this being single as opposed to being so low poly practising so low poly, is being single something of a suggestive around the relationship escalator and things like that.
Kelli: I was actually gonna say something along those lines, is that single is kind of a weird word to me nowadays, because it’s like I’m also a relationship anarchist. I guess I should define that really quickly is its anti-hierarchical in the sense of and anti-monogamy also but hierarchy, even to the point of prioritising your romantic sexual relationships over your non-romantic non -sexual relationships. And so in that realm, if I say I’m single I’m saying I don’t have any romantic or sexual partners, but I still have friends, and I still have community and I still have family so I’m not actually alone at all you know, So it’s like the word single To me it was strange and it does. I think have is directly correlated with that relationship escalator of the mono-normativity of we’re all striving for. What a mono-normativity means is the idea that we are all striving for this ultimate romantic sexual companionship. And we ride the escalator all the way up. And then when we reached the top of the escalator we’ve succeeded in life. We’ve won the game. And if we don’t have that, then we’re single.
Eunice: Yeah, I think for me, some people consider single to have some kind of negative connotation. Precisely because of that expectation about everyone needs a romantic and sexual, and it’s always romantic and sexual, relationship. For some reason they don’t really seem to consider having a romantic but not sexual relationship and sexual but not romantic as being as ‘worthy’ in air quotes, as one that is both and likely I’m sort of relationship anarchist leaning, although I don’t necessarily consider myself fully relationship anarchist. And for me, a lot of that is allowing my separate relationships to each settle into a way that works for them. I don’t have to define my relationships beforehand. And because this one is labelled in this way, it must look like this certain particular style. And equally some of my relationships don’t have to be important just because they include sex and some of the etc etc but I haven’t been single for a long time but I have been solo for a long time. And for me the single side of it when people use the word single, there is this feeling for a lot of people who use the word single that they mean single until I find someone, and the people that aren’t single till I find someone are quite obvious about this. I’m quite happy alone I’m quite happy I’m alone but not lonely because I have a community around me I have support networks I have family I have a bunch of friends. And so they make that really clear, you know, they’re very proud of that. But for most people who use the word single to refer to themselves they mean single until they find someone.
Kelli: It’s interesting too because their romantic- sexual component. It’s like if you’ve been married for 20 years, neither one of those things are very present, if at all, and yet that still is considered a romantic-sexual relationship. And that they’ve still considered winning, and that relationship is more important than anything else. And yet if you have that same dynamic with somebody, but you’re not married you were never romantic you were never sexual suddenly that relationship is just not as important to the world
Eunice: and especially if you’re co-parenting with someone, it’s expected that you started off that relationship with romantic and sexual and yet there’s so many kind of jokes and expectations about how the first six months after you have a child there’s neither in that relationship like there’s so many jokes about that. Right. But it’s expected that you’ll start there.
JK: When people started talking more widely about consensual non-monogamy 20 or 30 years ago. The common models seem to be. Some were communal, some seeedm to be hierarchical a lot seemed to be couples plus in one form or another. The communal ones may be multiple partners in like poly families or poly communities and so on, but not so much solo poly.Tthere seems to be in terms of it’s, to the extent it has a profile of a more recent development is that fair, or is it just less visible
Kelli: definitely just way less visible. And now that we have words for the first time I ever heard the term solo polyamory was in that book, opening up. I don’t recommend that book at all but that is the first time I ever heard that term. And the chapter on solo polyamory was about a paragraph long, and I read it and I was like oh my god that’s me, y’all. That is me,
Eunice: there’s a word for how I feel. So many times I’ve had that feeling, there’s a word for this, there’s a word for what I do.
I mean that’s a very interesting topic in itself. How empowering it is to have language to describe who and what you are
Eunice: someone else has felt this way before.
JK: I am not alone.
JK: Yes. So, not so visible and we can come back to that and ask why in a while, but do you sense that it is becoming a more popular option, or is that very specific to places, I mean Eunice you were saying that it’s seems to be quite prevalent in London.
Eunice: So I was saying that it seems to be fairly prevalent in London, but I did want to add some caveats which is that London has a very distinctive polyamorous scene, because it’s very, very queer friendly, And it’s also a place that’s really quite expensive to live, but a lot of the people who live here are often younger, and it’s quite normal to live with sort of flatmates and housemates, which I think makes it easier to be solo poly, whereas I think for a lot of people, if they are in a hierarchical relationship and they decide to you know have their house together and have kids and do that relationship escalator thing, a lot of them move out of London because it’s really hard to afford a family in London and I say that as someone who grew up in London. So, it’s also the fact that a lot of the London polyamorous Organising Committee. We are solo poly, a lot of the London based ones of us are solo poly, which I think results in a certain amount of self-selection. We don’t intend in any way to make that the more kind of general norm in our group, but just the fact that more of us in our group organisers in our team solo poly it’s probably going to have an impact. and it’s probably going to lead to hierarchical poly people, perhaps being more prevalent in other groups. And because the London poly polyamorous community is one of the larger ones just by dint of numbers and the fact that we’re the capital city that has an impact on maybe the UK communities as well probably, although I’m not as familiar outside of London.
Kelli: From my perspectives I am pretty involved in the solo polyamory Facebook group. And I have run three out of the last four solo polyamory unconferences in the US and Canada. We were actually going to do Sopo in London in 2020, but the person who lives there didn’t end up spearheading that one. So anyway, and then COVID happened so it wouldn’t have been able to happen anyway. This year, so the sopo Facebook group started out, I want to say like six or seven years ago, spinning off of a different one. And it had three or 4000 people in it and then the first solo polyamory unconference in 2017, I believe there were 7000 people in the group, and now today there are 11,000 so in three years, the group, almost doubled in size. Now, not everybody in that group is Sopo, but the people who aren’t are there because they’re dating somebody who’s sopo, or they’re interested in being sopo or, you know, that kind of thing. It’s definitely been growing a lot in the last few years especially, and the group itself you can go in and see the demographics of where people live, and New York, San Francisco and Seattle and Vancouver BC, are the four top places where people are from in that group. And then there’s a pretty big group in the UK as well so
ZR (11:57) Do you think it somehow has socio economic element to them. When you’re looking at that demographic.
Eunice: Absolutely. I mean, the thought that it might not do I don’t think has even occurred to me because it seems so obvious. I mean, I will say that I have a huge amount of privilege because I’m able bodied, I can afford to live in London, to just about I mean I’m not, I’m not looking at my bank account right now. I can afford to live in, you know, London, I have family in London, so I tried to stay here. I’m not looking to get married I’m not looking to have children. I have a lot of privilege in many ways which makes it easier for me to be able to be solo poly. And if I didn’t have those privileges, it would be a lot harder, I think.
Kelli: Yes, absolutely. Like, I am white. I am white as fuck. I live in Seattle. It’s a very expensive city to live in. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the US to live in. I am essentially able bodied, and able minded, if that’s a term. Gosh. Now I need to look it up because I need to make sure that wasn’t an ableist term. I live by myself, but also I’m on food stamps. I mean I’m struggling because it’s COVID and whatnot but like I would rather be struggling in that way, then be living with a partner and dealing with that stress like to me that stress is just way worse, but also like being in a large city, if somebody isn’t like what I’m doing. I can just go out and find another group of people that are cool with what I’m doing, you know, whereas if I’m in a small town, and I am not doing the usual thing of getting married having kids living with partner. I could be ostracised from the community and I would have nobody. It is definitely a privilege to be in a demographic that I can just find my people wherever, and also to be in a location where there are concentrated amounts of diversity, to find my people.
JK: Is there a sense that there is prejudice against being solo, independent, not part of a family unit that… often when, when people are interviewed about their attitudes towards non monogamy people who are polyamorous are seen better for instance and people who are swingers because people appreciate the romantic element. And in a way, the more non-conventional relationships mirror conventional relationships, the more accepted they are but solo poly seems to be saying something quite different; it’s not being single. it is being independent and connected subsidiary past that question I wonder if there is colour more of a slant against women, or female presenting people being solo, than men, that independent women are dangerous things.
Eunice: I’m a bisexual says woman. There’s a lot of people who have certain opinions about that demographic including what type of activities, such women should be engaging in, and I do not necessarily agree with all of those choices, shall we say…
JK: I mean it’s exacerbated though because one chooses an avowedly independent way of life, where, you know, it is not stand by your man it is stand by your refrigerator until you can be bothered to ring up your man say come around and have sandwiches or whatever it is, or one of them.
Eunice: Yeah, I’m not visibly ‘owned’, as it were, you know, air quotes, in their glory here but I am not visibly owned by a man. And I actively refuse to be visibly owned by a man and that’s an exaggerated way of phrasing it but sometimes. That is how it feels. I’m not willing to use the line, ‘my boyfriend wouldn’t like that’. I refuse I flat out refuse. But then that means that I am required. And, again, air quotes to justify not being willing to do whatever this thing is. And for me that autonomy that you know intentional deliberate choice to make my own decisions, that is what separates solo poly for me. And I carry it over into all of my other choices. So, yes, it definitely has an impact, but just being visibly female or not married, has an impact of its own.
Kelli: Yeah, I mean that has an impact in me in my business my DJ business. When I was working, just for myself my myself, people didn’t take me nearly as seriously as when my little brother was the one on the phone, being like, Oh yeah, Kelli’s great you’re gonna love them. Trust me, be like, Oh, okay. People look a little bit more funny at female socialised people, when they appear single than male socialised people, from what I can tell, it’s like men are just playing a field and they’re just not ready to settle down women it’s like what is your deal? What’s wrong with you? And you’re not as legit right. I will say though as far as the bisexual thing goes I think for men, there’s a little bit more stigma around that, because of misogyny…
Eunice: Yeah, bisexual women don’t really count but bisexual men are yuck, like that’s the impression right lots people, sort of,
Eunice; get for some reason.
Kelli: Yeah, and I mean it is true with you know you, the more normative you look the more credit you’re gonna get back in, I want to say it was the 50s or 60s. But I could beginning my decades wrong but in the US there was an organisation of lesbians, and they would get together and the rules were they had to look like women at a dress in dress and makeup that was that was how you could attend these parties, because the idea was what you’re supposed to look like everybody else. But you just have this one thing that’s different. And so, that’s homo-normativity. And now you have Poly-normativity is like if you’re polyamorous but you look like everybody else, then people are like, okay, I might be able to get behind that. but for solo people, it’s like, we don’t..
Eunice: we don’t want to do them monogamy plus one thing, basically.
Kelli: Right. And so you really do have to have privilege in other areas in order to counteract that in order to be solo so it is it is a privilege to be able to be solo. And as much as the all the setbacks that are happening you have to be privileged enough to be able to fight against those setbacks.
ZR: So I guess you’ve both spoken kind of about the locations that you’re in, and so do you think it’s easier to be solo poly in somewhere like London.
Eunice: I think it’s definitely easier to be solo poly in London because there’s fewer expectations about being visibly coupled. If you’re living somewhere where people move there to have families and gardens and things than to not be visibly coupled up that does imply something about you. Whether rightly or wrongly. Being in London. It is a little bit of a younger demographic, and even if they’re getting the wrong impression by the fact that you’re not visibly coupled up. There are more things set up in London, to enable someone to be able to live life more solo. I mean I had a flatmate, and once once pandemic is eased a bit, I intend to get another flatmate because living in London is expensive. And it is still true that living in London in a coupled unit with a nesting partner, that is still cheaper. Right, even with a flatmate there are some things that are still just cheaper, but I can do that more in London because there are more things, more services set up with the expectation that a significant chunk of the population might well not be in a couple unit. There are good and bad sides with it, because there is still the expectation that actually most of these things are set up for single people as opposed to intentionally not couple-unit people. But it’s still there and I’m gonna make use of it.
Zayna (20:52) So, what’s the situation like in Seattle Kelly is there the infrastructure there that facilitates you to be so low poly easier.
Kelli: Absolutely. In any big city really right like maybe not any but I would say a lot of big cities. When you think of Seattle when you think of LA when you think of New York. You think career, people live there because they’re in. Career driven. And now Seattle is a little bit different than LA and New York is a lot more of like small- town big town, and you drive half an hour in any direction you’re going to reach the mountains and everybody goes hiking, not me, but like everybody wears Birkenstocks and plaid flannel, and goes hiking before work on a Tuesday morning like just like in that same sense you also can go not too far away and you get the suburban areas of Seattle. And so, Seattle is maybe a little bit more setup for having a family. and then commuting to Seattle for work. We don’t have the kinds of traffic’s problems that LA and New York have. Seattle, in these kind of downtown areas just aren’t set up for families, like I can take the bus to the nearest Planned Parenthood which is only like a five minute bus ride from work probably Wherever I am, and there’s just a lot lot lot more resources and Seattle’s full of resource,s for white people anyway.
JK: Yes. That just opens up a huge subject
just I am speaking from a white perspective.
Eunice: Although I’m a low I’m not actually white. Number one, London is very very multicultural, but number two, even though our racism issue looks different in the UK, that doesn’t mean we don’t have one, we definitely do have one that’s been ever more visible in the last few years, I think,
JK: okay, big subject, coming back to solo poly and not trying to put the entire world to rights, do you find there’s anything intrinsic to solo poly that is challenging.
Eunice: I think there are challenges with every single style of relationship you pick for me those challenges are not outweighed by the benefits, but, for example, I have disabled partners, and metamours, and also, especially in the middle of a pandemic. If a lot of us are solo poly and living away from each other, someone gets sick in the network and you suddenly have a choice. What do you do, one of my metas, who is sick right now. Fortunately, not with the pandemic, but is still sick, they’re not based anywhere near where I could get access to. They’re not even in the team country. I can’t take care of them. I can’t go and see them. And being so low poly, it also means that if I get sick, it’s gonna be a lot harder for someone to come and see me because they have to make an intentional choice to enter my social bubble along with my family my whole family, due to circumstances that currently in my social bubble but that forethought is something that needs to happen when you are solo poly, I think, in a way that someone who is in a coupled unit doesn’t need to have to think about quite so much, usually. Because if you’re sick and you’re living alone, what do you do when you can’t get out of bed and make yourself food, things like that.
Kelli: Yeah, yeah well and it’s also assumed that if you have a nesting partner that they are capable of taking care of you, or that they want to. Right. The idea of monogamy culture is like, oh, if you have a partner, then you’re good. We’re all good and like that’s actually not nearly always true.
JK: It’s not?
Kelli: But that’s, that’s the assumption. So, was that a legit question Are you being sarcastic.
JK: It is the lowest form of wit I know, and my wit is quite often at a very low level so I’m afraid that was sarcasm.
Kelli: I thought so but I’m autistic and sarcasm goes over my head. So I just had to double check.
JK: Thank you for letting us know. Aside from not having a nesting partner not having people you can assume you can count on are there other challenges,
Eunice: explaining what it is. Some people have no idea, even if they’ve come across polyamory. They might not have ever heard of solo poly. That takes a little more explanation sometimes.
Kelli: Yeah, I was gonna say, being seen and believed. So I’m autistic, and just getting people to comprehend what that even means, even on a very basic level is seemingly very impossible for me to convey to people, unless they are around me for long periods of time, and they believe me. You know you have to believe every word that’s coming out of my mouth, because I’m not making any of this up, and it really is like this for me and you can’t compare to your own experience at all. This is nothing like that, you know. And like I have examples of things that you can kind of compare. But, you know, you really have to see me And believe me, and if that’s the same with solo polyamory, and if you, if you don’t believe me, then I’m the one that goes without, not you. Intwined couples nesting couples hierarchical couples. If I’m dating somebody who’s in that kind of dynamic with, with somebody else, and I’m trying to explain to them like ‘I have needs to and just because I don’t want to live with you it doesn’t mean my needs are less important’ and they can’t grasp that it’s a non-issue for them except for that our relationship is at stake, you know, but it’s, other than that it’s a non-issue for them because they’re not going without, I’m the one that goes without. And then I’m the one trying to advocate for that. It’s like a swimming upstream kind of situation where it’s like, I really need them to be like going out of the way to make space to to understand this about me but if they don’t even know to that something that that that’s what’s needed, and they’re not willing to put in that effort and then they sit even tougher stream to swim up against. And so I would just personally rather not go there with people and that’s why I prefer dating other SoPos, when I say SoPo I mean solo polyamory just for the audience. Because anyway there’s just so many little tiny like microaggressions that happen with hierarchical people and nesting people and whatnot that you know enough of a build up and it’s really really painful, and it can really put me out. For example, like, who takes care of you when you’re sick? I’ve been dealing with the biggest health crisis of my whole life in the last year, where it’s pretty much invisible unless you’re around me all the time, and it was very very difficult for me to get help, beyond my anchor partner, because everybody else just assumed, one because they see me in my anchor partner as a unit, even though we’re each of us are solo polyamorous, and we live separately, but we’re visibly, the way that we act in the community, people just couple us together, and then they think, oh, Kelly’s taken care of Kelly has helped, even though I’m like asking them begging I’m on my knees begging people and like almost nobody came to help me, one because they couldn’t see me, and two because they didn’t believe me and three because what they saw was that I was already being taken care of, you know, it’s just like it was horrible. I had another SoPo that I had met at a conference, who lived two states away from me, called me twice a week to help me with stuff, and it was the most amazing thing, but it was another solo person who understood. You got it, you got to be able to have that understanding.
ZR: I do wonder whether sometimes having to explain what solo poly is and people getting confused between being single and being solo, and being solo poly and wondering whether that’s kind of a visibility and representation issue, so kind of the media portrayal of heteronormative relationships, let alone, polyamorous relationships, do you think that there could be more done for visibility and representation and therefore you wouldn’t have to have this huge mountain to climb when you’re explaining solo poly
Eunice: (30:09) media people don’t like us. We don’t look nearly as obviously polyamorous, right> People ask for polyamorous couples, or polyamorous throuples. And then we turn up, like hi were an entire group of people who all live separately. So what do you want to do, and they don’t know how to deal with that.
JK: Can we get the shot with all of your feet sticking out at the end of the edg.
Kelli:Yes, yes. I mean, I would say, you know, having media representation would help if they could actually understand what they were trying to represent you know if we had solo people representing other solo people that would make more sense. But like I was in. So here’s Cosmo magazine issue February, 2018 teen. And here’s me in it right over here. And this is, this is my polycule part of it. And we described to them in so much detail over so many interviews and emails, and what they said was, Seattle based Kelli and so and so anchor partners, these other two people are married my anchor partner and one of these other people are close friends and sometimes more. Is like NO!. We are a family. And that is one of that is one of my anchor partners, other partners, they’re not friends and sometimes more like this is Cosmo like this is what I would say everybody is 140 year old magazine is a big deal and they just messed that up.
Eunice: Yeah, sometimes even my mother who we’ve talked about polyamory over the years. She understands she’s met I think all of my partners, now, like they will come for dinners. A couple of Christmases ago I turned up to Christmas dinner with two of my girlfriends and we haven’t talked about me being bisexual since I was 21 so that was totally not mentioned and she had occasionally throughout the years still sometimes talked about, ‘oh, when you settle down’. And my longest running relationship is 11 years. Now if I’d been cobbled living in, in a house together with that partner for 11 years, she would never have asked, ‘When are you settling down?’ But because we live in two different places, and we always have and we always intend to, It doesn’t quite feel real to her, it doesn’t feel like a real and I am using air quotes real relationship. And she knows that particular partner that I’ve been together with for 11 years she knows the partner I’ve been together with for 10 years. She’s met the other partners I’ve been together for five years. I’m really bad at time time doesn’t exist as an illusion.
Kelli: Doesn’t really matter,
Eunice: some number of years, but like, every single one of them. We have been together for over a year which is what I consider my, you know, we’ve had at least one anniversary. And she knows, and seems to like all of them as people, but I think there’s still a part of her brain that doesn’t really think of them as real and doesn’t really think of them as proper settling down which sorry that term in itself. Ew. I don’t, I don’t want to settle down. I’m quite happy as I am.
JK: It means picking out scatter cushions, and bedlinen together. Basically, right.
Kelli: Yeah, yeah. But it’s not just the nesting you know even if you have been living with this partner for 11 years, it’s still about the relationship escalator it’s like well now you need to settle down more and get married and now you need to settle down more and have kids, and now you need to. I don’t even know what’s next I don’t remember Aggie, Aggie says with the relationship escalator book, it’s all laid out in there. And then you die.
Eunice: Yes, and then you’ve won.
Jonathan Kent: when I was researching the book I’ve written, A World Beyond Monogamy, it was put to me that one of the issues with consensual non monogamy. In general, and I think solo poly probably does much the same job, perhaps more so in certain respects. Is it confronts people with the choices they didn’t make monogamous people choice if they didn’t make choices they perhaps didn’t know that they could make, and that having found themselves in a situation, perhaps, which is not ideal for them the romance has gone, not enough sex living, with somebody who ever ever takes the hair out of the plug hole kind of thing, whatever it is they’re going ‘Why did no one Tell me? I feel cheated’. And then, that kind of gets turned back on non-monogamous people and so people and it’s like, well, why aren’t you going down the same path of unhappiness as I did.
Eunice: It feels like a judgement on them which it totally isn’t you know you living your own life should not be considered or seen as a judgement on other people but sometimes people do look at that and go, ‘Oh, oh you mean that was, that was something I could have done?’ And my mother has actually acknowledged that I don’t want to get married and I don’t want to have kids and sort of surreptitiously mentioned to me ‘hey if I was your age right now. I probably wouldn’t either which…’. Thanks, Mom. Okay. I mean I’m you know Yeah, I’d have supported you had I been born. That was a very convoluted time thing.
Kelli: Oh, well, going back to representation in the media, I know that more and more monogamous couples are coming out as a-partners. Have you heard that term. When you live apart from your partner, they are in apartner.
So like that Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton had like two houses next to each other or something yeah
JK: in a very smart part of London where most of us couldn’t afford
Eunice: I can’t afford a shoe box there
Kelli: sure, but it’s it’s becoming I think more and more known and the more it’s not just a polyamorous thing monogamous people can be solo too, you know. And so, hopefully, hopefully we’ll be seeing more and more accurate representation. That would be nice.
JK: Well to wrap this up, and we can always pick up another time. Is there anything about solo Polly that you feel that monogamous people particularly take away from it, that they can bring these values to monogamous relationships and enjoy the benefits of them.
Kelli:I would say, really unpacking like why do you do things like why is marriage, suddenly make things more legitimate you know marriage is rooted in women being property and protecting your genetic lineage for passing on your wealth your next of kin. And in the last 100 years it’s become about romance. It was never about that before, and why why does that make it feel more legitimate to you. Why does living together make things feel more legitimate? For me the reason why I chose polyamory is because I do not want my living situation to be dependent on my partners, because if I’m living with romantic- sexual partner, then anytime anything goes down, like my living situation is now in jeopardy. And it’s either very uncomfortable to be at home because drama, or if we break up. I lose my roommate, or I lose my housing situation altogether, in addition to losing my best friend, my companion, all these other things like this it was just so completely devastating to me personally, I just cannot go through that ever again, if I can help it.
And it turns out I don’t actually need to live with somebody in order for my relationship to feel the exact same as it did before and I’ve pulled people on Facebook about this like, what are things that you get out of nesting with a partner that you think that you could not get if you weren’t living with your partner? And nobody could come up with anything that I don’t already get from from the relationships I have. Like, I have a space if my partners help my partner’s house does feel like home to me. If I want the feeling of somebody waiting for me when I get home. I call it my partner and I tell him to wait for me at my house, so they’re there when I get home. It does feel legitimately like somebody was there waiting for me to get home but I don’t have to have that every night if I don’t want to. And I don’t have to have somebody in the bed with me every night if I don’t want to. But I can, I can make that phone call and make that happen.
The only the only thing that somebody came up with that I was like you know what, I’m going to give that to you because even though it’s not totally true I’m going to give it to you anyway, is buying a house together is something that you probably wouldn’t do if you weren’t trying to nest with somebody that you could you legitimately could buy a house with somebody and not nest with them in that house. But generally speaking, I think most people don’t just go out and buy houses with with another person without the intention of living in that house with them. Right? So I was like you know what I’m gonna give that to you but everything else, if somebody could come up with an example of something that I’m like, that is something that I definitely don’t get in my relationship, being solo, they will win a prize because I just don’t think that that answer exists.
Eunice (39:21): on my part, yes definitely agreed with everything Kelli just said there but there’s also two additional things that I think the anonymous people who are working on the default assumptions could really learn a number one that is that you are still an individual you should still be an individual because what you do in your personal life, your individual personal autonomous life, you can bring back to that relationship and you will be a more interesting person. If you never, ever do anything that isn’t with that partner. I hate to say it this way but you’re gonna run out of things to talk about possibly because you’ve done the exact same things for 30-odd years. And sometimes it can be quite nice to just go away, do things that maybe your other partner isn’t interested in, come back and be like, ‘I did this amazing thing and it was so cool and that, you know, let me tell you all about it and then you can tell me all about the really cool, interesting things that you did that I’m just not as interested in doing with you’. blah blah blah blah. So for that, you know, reminder that you are still individuals, and you can still bring that separate interest separate individuality, back to your relationships if you would like.
And the second thing intentionality being so low poly has meant that I need to be intentional. I can’t just expect you know I’m we’re going out so I got an invite to this thing so of course they’re the person I invite. I can’t rely on that. I have to be intentional about seeing my partners making time for them, checking in with them making sure that we’re okay. And for some people that feels like work, that feels like effort. For me, that feels like me maintaining my relationship. It feels like me reaching out and connecting. And that’s something that Solo Poly kind of requires, if you’re going to be able to do it successfully I think, because you have to maintain that relationship, even when you’re not seeing each other every day.
I was really engrossed there, even
Kelli: with that.
ZR: No Jonathan just looked at me and then I was like, oh wow she was just really engrossed listening to Eunice. Okay.
Kelli: I was just gonna tag on to what Eunice was saying, I know somebody know somebody who knows somebody who went to a John G… retreat and asked him personally like I really want to go on this cruise and my husband doesn’t want to go with me. And I really want to go and John G… was like your husband should go with you. It’s like, What. Hi friends, it’s entirely possible. Yeah, it’s entirely possible that John G… you know, only having this much of a snippet of the thing, you know, gave the wrong advice. But in general, like that is kind of the assumption is like if your partner wants to do it you should do it with them like No. Absolutely not. There’s no reason for that there’s 8 billion people in this world somebody else is gonna want to go on this cruise with you. And then it’s gonna make it more fun.
Eunice: The thing I find as well, is that there is nothing that brings my excitement and my mood down faster than having someone I bought sit in a corner and just be bored. Why do I have to be here. No, I want to bring someone who is just as excited if I want to go out and dance the tango. I want to bring someone who wants to dance with me. I don’t want to bring the person who just sits there and props up the bar and waits until I’m done. Even if I’m dancing with other people. I want to be able to dance with them as well.
ZR: I think even if you look at the when you were saying about that kind of acceptance of ‘Well actually we haven’t been together, you’re not in a proper relationship because you don’t live together etc etc.’ And you look at, even the kind of the heteronormative values of sleeping in the same bed for instance, so this also has a socio-economic part to it because the people who could afford not to sleep together even though they’d been together 50 years probably wouldn’t sleep together. So, maybe where we need to start looking is actually usualising that we don’t need to sleep in the same bed as any partner. And once we begin to move away from that, ‘well you’ve only got one bed, you’ve got to sleep in the same bed’, then we can maybe transfer that to actually you don’t need to be in the same house.
JK: I keep coming back
to the idea I separate bedrooms really sets things apart and gives you just that much more space to be your own individual, you get to decorate your room the way you want to.Even if it’s in the same house.
JK: And years ago I lived on a boat in Oxford. As it happens, and it was a very tight knit community, and there was something about everybody having their own space, but being friends and neighbours, and because living on a boat you’re quite closely connected with the outside world much more so than than in house your walls are thinner, the boat moves with the, with the water, you’re all in it together and as much as you’re all faced the same kind of discrimination for your life choices, at least in the way that you live on a boat. It was a very tight-knit community but you have your own space so you have friendship and companionship and boundaries. And I was always kind of particularly impressed by the children and the way that they were also taken under the wing of the whole community so they’d run in and out of other people’s boats and other than their parents and be looked after and people keep an eye on them. I keep coming back to this really silly idea I have whenever I look in paper and there’s a whole village in Italy up for up for sale and just to get in touch with all my friends I said why don’t we buy a village in Italy that we could go and live there and have kind of like little house we could all live next door to each other and that means we can close the door and say go away when I’m really just not in the mood for company, and you can do the same.
Eunice: I’ve run the numbers. It’s hard getting supplies in
Jonathan: I knew you were going to say that. There had to be something, This is such a beautiful idea I just get I was about to go into how nice it would be and we can have been nice. You know rent a nonna who makes pasta in the corner shop and stuff and a vineyard
Eunice: I don’t think there’s a rent a nonna service. Pretty sure that doesn’t exist,
JK: My dreams collapsing as we speak…
Kelli: I have a dream of a tiny house community as well.
JK You see, it’s a valid dream impractical. A valid dream. Anyway, Eunice Kelli thank you both very much. It’s been lovely listening to you both. As such, articulate, I won’t say advocates but ambassadors for solo poly and explaining something which is often misunderstood.
JK: And that’s all for this edition, tune in for new episodes every month. Next time we’ll be talking about insecurity. Almost all of us can suffer from it at one time or another. So how do we recognise it, how do we manage it, and how do we support others dealing with it.
ZR: And we’ll be joined on the line from Singapore by Jamie and frm Philadelphia by the author and educator, Kevin Patterson.
JK: In the meantime, if you liked the programme please leave us a review on the platform you use to listen. And if you’d like to support us, visit our website that’s beyond monogamy dot world, and treat us to a coffee courtesy Patreon
ZR: intro and outro music by Jeris for via CCMixter. Beyond Monogamy is a Chris P Duck production. Catch you next time.