The #polyamory hashtag is apparently an arsehole magnet

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  1. I was reading someone's blog, and they mentioned polyamory in passing. This reminded me of a long-standing peeve I have with poly blogs: the unquestioned assumption that one love relationship is good and therefore multiple love relationships are better. I was in love for six years, and it scarred me so badly that I still can't hear talk like that without wincing at least a little.

  2. I didn't mean to imply that polyamory is a bad thing: I actually think it's pretty neat. But I do see that as a major problem with the current state of poly discourse. I'm in a poly relationship right now, and attitudes like this are shutting me out of the conversation.
    Someone then spotted my tweet on the #polyamory hashtag and decided to open a discussion. But not a discussion aimed at figuring out some common ground or taking my concerns into account. This discussion was to be about proving me wrong. First, replying to an earlier version of my tweet:
  3. No, caring is not universally a good thing. It depends on how you care and who you care for. To lovingly nurture and take care of a mass murderer, for instance, would not be considered a good thing.
    Even love that is, on balance, positive, is rarely an uncomplicated good. Most of what I know about love has come from raising a child, and although that love has enriched my mind in any number of ways, plenty of words spring to mind quicker than "good" to describe it.
  4. My child is on loan to me from the universe. At any moment, he could be taken from me by the whims of fate, leaving me bereft. Or hurt so badly that my own heart can't help bleeding in sympathy. I cannot imagine being a parent, loving your child, and not sometimes being afraid of these things.
  5. Is the assertion that I'm abusing my child, or that he's abusing me? Or is it just that Flying Free's definition of "love" is too narrow to encompass this relationship?
    Perhaps it's unfair to talk about a parent-child bond when the original topic was romantic relationships. But I don't think so. If you're going to make generalised pronouncements about "love", you ought to make sure they fit as many models of love as possible. And although parent-child relationships have many differences from romantic relationships, I'm not convinced the basic love is so very different underneath it all.
  6. To love is to give a hostage to fortune. To love is to have someone or something outside yourself that matters at least as much as your own comfort. Perhaps there are people are so serene that this doesn't frighten them, but I imagine they're in the minority.
  7. Perhaps Flying Free is one of those lucky few who can face an uncertain universe with calm acceptance. Perhaps Flying Free has never felt the kinds of love I've felt. Either way, there's a difference between saying that you have never felt afraid of love and saying that I am wrong to feel that way.
  8. To care intensely about someone else's well-being is not automatically to be emotionally dependent on them. Does the metaphor of a piece of your heart imply dependence? Perhaps. But it's very difficult, in my experience, to find a metaphor, definition, analogy, or any other way of talking about love, that wholly excludes the idea of dependence. The two are easy to confuse and hard to separate, which is one reason love is often painful and always hard to discuss.
    But leaving that aside for now, Flying Free also had an answer to the fact that my love has made me vulnerable to emotional abuse.
  9. My abuser didn't love me. But I loved him, and my love made it possible for him to continue abusing me. My love, in many ways, made the abuse worse. I've heard the claim before that genuine love only happens in certain conditions, and I have no time for it. There is no clear, bright line between "real love" and all those other strange emotions. I loved him, and he took advantage of my love. Don't rub salt in the wounds by telling me my love wasn't real.
  10. So my love was real, but it was also dependence. Or perhaps Flying Free intended to say that the victim doesn't love - it's always possible with tweets. Either way, it certainly felt like love at the time, and I'm not sure what good it does to wrangle with philosophical definitions so long after the event.
    The whole attempt at defining love and drawing a circle to exclude love-like feelings that might cause fear or vulnerability had begun to exhaust and frustrate me. Even if it were possible to create a watertight definition of genuine love, it would have no practical use. I've had the argument before: if I pursue it hard enough, I can only conclude that I have never loved anyone - not even my child - and will never love anyone in my life, because the whole thing is a pure abstraction.
  11. "Learning not to seek false goals" is a ridiculous characterisation of the discussion. Something so abstracted cannot possibly result in any kind of learning, and emotions rarely seek goals, false or otherwise. Learning not to seek false goals might, in some circumstances, be a valuable undertaking, but that is not what's happening here.
  12. This is my standard angry response when people who know nothing about my history try to tell me what I should think, feel, or believe in. After my abuser was finished with me, I had something of a breakdown. I tried to purge everything from my life that was based on the same shaky foundations as my love for him. I tried to put myself in a position where I would never again make myself so vulnerable or rely on anything I couldn't completely trust.
    It's no exaggeration to say that nearly killed me.
    One day, I might describe the precise chain of events that led from that attempt to the night I drank too much, tried to burn a telephone number, and ended up setting my house on fire. It was a stupid mistake, but only my dad's habit of leaving his house key in the front door prevented me from dying that night. Because I was trying to abandon everything that might possibly prove false, and some of those things turned out to be necessary for survival.
    I learned a hard lesson about myself during that breakdown, and one of the quickest ways to make me incoherently angry is to suggest that I didn't learn that lesson or need to unlearn it.
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