They Say I’m Doing Poly Wrong.. What Should I Do?

Find out with Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo and Reid Mihalko and


Cathy: What do you do if you’re shame for not being poly enough or doing poly wrong? This is Matie Fricker from Hunter Riley who works at Self-Serve and has and I am Cathy Vartuli from So what have you noticed about people being poly-shamed?

Matie: It happened to me, maybe some other people. It’s really weird when we break apart all the rules and then we put them back together we can sometimes still create really strong hierarchy like the right way to be.

Cathy: I’m more poly than you so therefore I’m cooler. And you- not the Hunter but if you’re monogamous that’s not really cool at all.

Hunter: Right and it’s funny that you mentioned hierarchy too because there’s a thing where like people who are into relationship and anarchy oftentimes in my experience of it has been it’s like they’re the real poly people but then people who do hierarchy are like not poly enough. So, it’s this weird thing like how do you figure out what your specific brand and flavor of non-monogamy is and how do you own that.

Cathy: Or you’re might be monogamous so you’re still cool.

Hunter: Great. Exactly, exactly done and that’s still cool too. So, it’s just a bummer when like maybe you said you’re going to break down the rules and then you kind of build it all back up again and there’s still all the shame in it and there still all this, this is the right way, this is the wrong way. I think what I do for me is I had to kind of need to sit down and think about what are my needs , what are my partner’s needs and if we have other partners, what are those people’s needs but mostly how can we be ethical about all of that. So it comes down to ‘are you being ethical’?

Cathy: And consensual.

Hunter: Yeah, ethical and consensual and are you meeting the needs of people involved. There’s a lot of bad talking like swingers in non-monogamy community and I’m like swingers don’t have to be this way. They don’t have to be unethical. They don’t have to be detached. There’s a lot of really amazing swingers who love their partners. And again, it’s like, are you putting it out there in a way of saying hey, here’s what I can offer you, I can’t offer that we’re going to live together for two years. I can’t offer that I can spend every night with you next week but I can offer this and if that’s not a good fit for you, please take care of yourself and don’t get involved with me. Let’s not get involved with each other cause I could not offer you what you need and so that you’re going to leave feeling hurt. I’m going to leave feeling like an asshole because I didn’t do these things that you needed. Maybe we didn’t know you needed them, who knows? But just not assuming that there’s only one right way to do polyamory and it’s my way.

Cathy: Right.

Matie: Or when you feel like there’s a right way to do polyamory and no matter what it’s not the way you’re doing it. It’s very aspirational like I was really poly I wouldn’t be jealous.

Cathy: I have 15 partners, it would all be cool.

Matie: I’m going to be cool, we don’t be sitting together having game nights like the way they’re having poly-.

Cathy: All my lovers, all their metamours are all like each other.

Matie: I’m going to be the triad, we’re all going to live together and that’s not it. That’s not on it right now so I’m doing poly wrong. I think that a lot of times, it’s really easy to feel shame about the way we live our lives and for me, I call myself baby poly, I’m like a new poly right now in a really conscious way in this moment of my life and sometimes people who’ve been around the block a lot are really clear with me like later you won’t know. I think that’s also sad to create this like well if you have been doing this for 15 years, you don’t know what you’re doing and I’m like sure but you could be doing this for 15 years and get a new relationship but not know what you’re doing with that person. Just really trying to let go of that expectation in our communities that there’s a right way and often when people are pointing in each other saying you’re not doing it right, it’s really speaks more to their judgment and speaks more about them that it does about us.

Cathy: that locks everybody in. There’s the best way to do it and you’re kind of locked into that space and our desires and our needs change. We may meet someone work who brings out something else in us and if we’re locked into one thing, we’re never going to explore the present with ourselves.

Matie: Oh, I have an idea. Who here has not feel like they weren’t doing poly, right?

Hunter: And I don’t identify as polyamorous only because I like the term non-monogamous only better because of this culture in polyamory community it’s like well you’re not really poly enough because at this point of my life, I like to do things with my partner. We kind of come as package deal.