The latest online game to sweep across my social circle is The Candy Crush Saga and it recently celebrated its one year anniversary. I avoided it for a long time; simple lack of extra energy and stubbornness to not get swept into what everyone else was doing. But the comments I heard here and there got to me and so one day, I added the app on my phone. The rest is history and so the lessons began ….
1. Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture
The polyamorous way of life can be challenging at times. It can create moments of tunnel vision; especially in less than successful moments. Keeping with the thought that love is infinite, so is life and its numerous possibilities.
The way you have chosen to weave your love life is an intricate puzzle with many pieces of sweetness forming its whole. In addition to the pieces of the puzzle that you can currently see, there lies other sweet pieces on the outside edge waiting to fall into place. Leave your heart open to the possibilities that you can’t even consider in this moment.
You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things,
so that all the small things go in the right direction —
2. Never Underestimate the Power of BABY STEPS
Small changes over a long period of time often leaves room for monumental pieces to enter the picture later down the road; making room for bigger changes to take shape. These changes may open up worlds of possibilities or they may stump you a little as you step back to figure out what the next move should be. At the end of the day, we’re all on an individual adventure, where the focus is on a collective of small moves — not just one big one.
Remember that everyone starts somewhere. While polyamory as a concept may be easy for you to wrap your head around, we still live out our lives in a society that breeds judgement in the face of change. You will meet many people who will challenge your belief in this way of living and loving. Taking baby steps and devouring the plethora of information available will assist in meeting those challenges with confidence.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
There are going to be some levels in this game that seem harder than others; this is ok. Our ability to love many may come natural but the strength of our relating tools may need some fine tuning when navigating multiple relationships. Most humans did not come equipped with the skills or strategies to overcome the multitude of obstacles faced when taking on any meaningful intimate relationship. We need to unlearn old, ineffective ways of relating in order to build healthy, reliable skill sets. We need to unwire our hardwiring from our early role models. This is not an easy task.
Picture these skills sets like tool boxes — we are given basic tools of relating at the beginning — a hammer, screwdriver and a wrench. Some people are only given 1 or 2 of these tools; others may be given a variety of each type — Carpenter’s hammer, Sledge hammer, Gavel, Mallet, Phillips screwdriver, Robertson screwdriver, Flat head, Open-end wrench, Adjustable wrench, Monkey Wrench, Ratchet Wrench or a simple Allen Key. The varieties are endless.
As we grow and interact with others in the world, we learn to perfect our relating style with the tools we’re given. Practice turns newly learned skills into effortless habit. And just as we sometimes hit our thumb the first few times swinging a hammer, emotionally we will gauge, take appropriate aim and still manage to hurt others. This is life, this is love and this is learning. Try to minimize the frequency and depth of the hurt but accept that it may happen even when we don’t want it to. Along with multiple relationships comes a multiplied risk of pain but there is also the multiplied rewards of love which are oh so sweet. Enter each interaction genuinely and authentically, willing to learn and love. The hurt may still occur but the blow may be lessened when you approach with an honest heart.
4. It’s Tempting to Compare
It may feel like you’re the only one stuck on level 55. Everyone has surpassed you and you tell yourself that it’s you — you’re not capable of passing this level. But then you meet someone who is stuck on level 33 and you remember how difficult that lesson was — it took you five tries!
We’re not all at the same places at the same time. We don’t all have the same insecurities to work on. Those tools we’re equipped with — well some people have had opportunities to trade in their older tools for newer, more efficient ones. Some people replaced their hammer with a shiny new nail gun or their Phillips screwdriver with an adjustable screwdriver set with a selection of multiple bits. It’s hard not to be envious but if you want a nail gun too, you have the power to make that a reality by recognizing the right opportunities and making a commitment to doing some hard work.
Polyamorous loving is not a competition with others. We each have our own paths to walk. When you come across people who are where you’d like to be, chose to see them as an ally and not the competition our early roots have taught us.
Oh and when you come across someone who is loving in ways you can’t even fathom … leave them be! Live and let live. Repeat after me: Your poly isn’t my poly but your poly is still valid! Leave the judgements for those who have nothing better to do. Concentrate on loving more.
Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts they way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people —
5. You Need a Little Help from Your Friends
You’ve hit a wall, you just can’t figure it out. You’re wasting time, energy and valuable life over and over again. It’s time to visit your neighbours tool box!
Our friends and family are our support lines to happiness and success. They can help in many different ways, even if they’re not polyamorous — by offering advice on how they overcame the level, by sharing their valuable energy with you or providing a much needed distraction when you require a refocus.
Granted, living a polyamorous life can be somewhat isolating in the beginning if your current emotional support system has never heard the word polyamory before. Coming out to these people can be scary and overwhelming. This is why finding and building a community like ours is so beneficial. I have heard countless stories of people who suffered little to no adverse affects when coming out to their loved ones. Give your family and friends the benefit of the doubt and when the time is right for you, share your news and feel the warmth of their continued support.*
(* Disclaimer: Coming out to the variety of people in your life does carry certain risks and I am by no means belittling or ignoring these concerns. This blog entry by Franklin Veaux is a great place to start when considering opening up to family and friends.)
Never underestimate the benefits others can bring to your game. Following the game principle, a match of three is great to eliminate small obstables but wonderful things can occur when we match up four or five pieces of sweetness. We’re all connected and as independent as we all want to be, we all need help from time to time.
6. Nobody Likes a Compulsive, Obsessive Whiner
Ok, here’s your dose of tough love. If your game; the triumphs and difficulties of your game, are all you can talk about, you’re going to find yourself alone and fast. Realize that there are endless games to choose from and not everyone is playing the same version or variety as you.
Now that you’ve discovered this utopia that is loving more than one, don’t be a jerk! Being polyamorous does not entitle you to criticize the relationship choices of others. There are still many valid options under the huge umbrella of relationship styles. Swingers are not dirty. Monogamist are not lost souls needing conversion. The couple who are monogamish are not wrong. Just as it is unacceptable to tell someone their sexual orientation isn’t valid because they haven’t tried ALL the options, it isn’t acceptable to bully people into polyamory.
Keeping an open mind means just that. Once in a while, ask someone about the types of games they like to play and how this contributes to their overall enjoyment. You might just learn a thing or two.
7. There are Short Cuts But They Have Consequences
So you learned a new way to cut some corners, to cut out the waiting game to recharge. Your energy is replenished right away and you feel invincible! Nothing can stop you now. You’re engaged in your game ALL. THE. TIME. Well, there’s a price to that immediate gratification. The pressure to always be actively playing wears thin. You become cranky as your frustrations are exemplified and you become egotistical as your triumphs occur at stupendous velocity. You speed through levels but are you really absorbing all the joy, lessons and skill sets at this pace? Patience is a virtue for a reason.
When you first learn about polyamory and find a great community of like-minded people, it can be really tempting to not take the time to do the homework. You want to rush out into the world and date all the people! Because, you know, you’re poly and you can do that, right? Wrong! Polyamory is not a game of quantity. Two fulfilling, whole relationships will always be better than ten mediocre half connections. Dedicating some time to yourself for inner introspection is just as valid! No one can revoke your poly card based on your active number of relationships. You’re polyamorous because you feel it in your heart, not because of the number of partners you have. More is merrier but more doesn’t equal any and all. Be selective; Polyamory is not Pokemon.
8. Revisit Your Past
While we’re not aiming for perfection, it’s valuable to take a step back, look at the entire map and see where you’ve been.
There are some levels you passed right away but you passed with only one or two stars. There are some levels you struggled with for days and weeks that you were grateful to pass with that one star.
Re-evaluate. You may have acquired the skill sets and tools to turn those one star achievements into two or three star achievements. Perfection isn’t the goal, but challenging ourselves to be better is. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to retest yourself with an old situation to reinforce how far you’ve come.
With polyamory, there is no rush to scoop up ‘the one’ when you come across them. Or to jump into a situation you’re not quite ready for. Timing can be everything when it comes to fruitful interactions. That cute barista you had a crush on a few months but never acted on, now may be a great time to see if there’s something worth percolating.
9. Celebrate the Majestic Explosions that Change Your Game Page
You’re working away, making baby step after baby step — removing obstacles three red jelly beans at a time. Then it happens; you make a seemingly insignificant move that allows the space for a yellow lemon drop to turn into a striped candy which activates a blue lollipop head to turn into a wrapped candy. When that blue wrapped candy explodes, a pretty purple cluster falls between 4 other pretty purple clusters to create the ultimate obstacle busting tool — the Chocolate Ball coated in Sprinkles! Exchange this decadent chocolate with a striped candy and be prepared to witness your picture frame radically change for the better.
Take the time to watch old obstacles melt away into the background, feel the sense of accomplishment and relish in the idea of a new different looking horizon. Give yourself permission to celebrate arriving in a place that seemed so far off only a short time ago. You may feel like shouting from the roof tops when this occurs. Go ahead, do it! It’s ok. Be your own Cheerleader and share with whomever you can. We love hearing other people’s happy poly moments.
10. Get Some Rest
You need to take a break and recharge your energy. Sometimes this game becomes far too exhausting and you need to shut it off/shut it out to gain perspective.
Sometimes You’re Not Ready For This Jelly!
Being continually open to relationships and love means experiencing a ton of emotions and processing on a regular basis. Even when your relationships are going well and others consider you to be ‘successful’ at being poly, you still may need to put self care first. Poly saturation is a very real phenomena. I use to say that time was our only limitation to the number of people we could love. I now know this to be energy instead of time. My energy tank must be refilled often and in a variety of ways in order for me to be at my prime. If my self care is suffering, I’m going to be cranky and in turn, my partners are going to be cranky too.
Take a bath, have a tea, go for a walk, laugh, remember that you are a person outside of your relationships . We don’t have forever here — the bigger picture game ends for everyone at some point. Sometimes all too soon. Enjoy it while you can.
There are only so many moves we can make. Make them count. If you’re lucky, you will have a few moves left over and your game will end with the colourful dance of the gummy fish.
Bonus #11: Control The Chocolate
Anyone that knows me, knows I love Milk Chocolate. And some things, like New Relationship Energy, can be addicting like Milk Chocolate. But this, too, needs to have its limits of moderation. If you over indulge in the sweet Milk Chocolate and let it overtake your life, it spreads until there’s no room to make the moves needed to grow. It can cloud your judgement.
I have set boundaries with Milk Chocolate Squares. It can have a small corner at the bottom of my puzzle. It takes hard work to keep it there because Milk Chocolate is stubborn. Being aware of the hazard it poses to the bigger picture is half the battle. And a little bit of Chocolate is a good thing J