Specialness in polyamory

StrawberryMoon

New member
Hello

I am new to this site and I have a question for everybody.

I have always wondered,
How do polyamorists/polygamists deal with the/think about the "Specialness"issue?

If you are one of many, aren't you unspecial?
If everybody is special, isn't everybody not special?
Isn't love/time spread wide, spread thin, hense unspecial?
Wouldn't you actually be able to/want to just choose one lover if you really wanted her or him to feel special, because you deeply love and care about her, instead of chasing lust?
If you are intimate with lover A, arent you forgetting about lover B in that moment? (Hense lover B is not special?)
If you aren't giving 100 percent, isn't it unspecial?

I would like everybodys opinions and thoughts please, thank you.

I have always been curious about polyamory but just cannot get past the special issue.

I am trying to understand.

(Btw I do not believe romantic love is the same as sexual lust, or family love, I think it's more)

Please shed some light.

Strawberry Moon
 
If you are one of many, aren't you unspecial?

No, each relationship has its own unique special elements.
If everybody is special, isn't everybody not special?

everyone is as special as each other, just in their own way.
Isn't love/time spread wide, spread thin, hense unspecial?

You can become too busy to put enough time and energy into each relationship. It's true that lots of things can make you that busy, like work or family commitments, but you can also become overwhelmed simply because you have too many relationships on the go.
Wouldn't you actually be able to/want to just choose one lover if you really wanted her or him to feel special, because you deeply love and care about her, instead of chasing lust?

when you're poly, you usually pick partners who wont feel like they aren't special when you have other partners. It can make some people feel that way and they cannot help that. Those people aren't a good partner match for a poly person.
If you are intimate with lover A, arent you forgetting about lover B in that moment? (Hense lover B is not special?)

I really do love my partners, but I don't think about them every second of the day. There are times the person I am with (who may be a friend, a relative, a partner or just someone interesting) is who has my attention. Sexual or otherwise.

A healthy relationship isn't obsessively fixating on your partner to the detriment of other friendships and familial relationships. That's toxic.
If you aren't giving 100 percent, isn't it unspecial?
You can give 100% in one relationship without it meaning you give less in an other.

Some people might feel like unless you give all your romantic and sexual energy to them, they are getting less than 100%. They can't see it any other way.

That's okay, that person just isn't suited to a relationship that isn't totally monogamous.
 
If you are one of many, aren't you unspecial?
Every person is unique and special in their own way. In my relationships, nobody else has my personality. Nobody touches the way I do. Nobody kisses the way I do. Nobody has my exact sense of humor, smile, special happy dances, reactions to rainbows and rabbits. I am one of a kind and my partners cherish me for my individuality.

just as you have many family members. Some are more special than others because of who they are and how they relate to you. Same with siblings…with your thinking they all must feel really un special because they aren’t only children.
If everybody is special, isn't everybody not special?
nope. Each person is special in their own way

Isn't love/time spread wide, spread thin, hense unspecial?
To me this depends on HOW you spend your time. I was married and spent every day with my husband and NEVER felt special. Now I spend 3 days per week with my partner that’s quality time and I feel more special than ever. ALL time I spend with partners now is quality time and it’s way better than Lots of non quality time together.

Wouldn't you actually be able to/want to just choose one lover if you really wanted her or him to feel special, because you deeply love and care about her, instead of chasing lust?
I don’t chase lust. I have 3 partners that I love and cherish. Each touches me differently, kisses me differently, makes love differently, enjoys different activities when we go out, different music, different movies, different food, etc. I have a very full life with TONS of variety and get to do things with one partner that the other isn’t interested in.

If you are intimate with lover A, arent you forgetting about lover B in that moment? (Hense lover B is not special?)
I am present with the partner I’m with for sure and intimate time is all about them but that doesn’t mean my other partners aren’t special. Do parents think of their kids while intimate? Or their parents or their best friends? Just because you don’t think of someone while intimate doesn’t mean they aren’t special. It would be weird if you were thinking about them in that moment.

If you aren't giving 100 percent, isn't it unspecial?
Love isn’t a pie you cut into pieces and hand out until it’s gone. I give 100% to each person in my life regardless if I’m in a sexual relationship or not.

people that mean a bit less get less. I’d say strangers get the least love from me, acquaintances get more, etc.

right now you have 100% of my attention as I write this. Does that mean my partners are less special because I’m dedicating my time exclusively to you, a complete stranger? Nope. I still love them as I’m giving love to you through feedback.
 
If you are one of many, aren't you unspecial?
Whether it is family, friend or partner, any connection has its own special thing in a dyad.
If everybody is special, isn't everybody not special?
Everyone is special in their own way.
Isn't love/time spread wide, spread thin, hense unspecial?
Depends how the people in the connection value spending their time together. Life is about making memories, there is no such thing as a long time ago and how much, only memories that mean something to you and memories that don't. Up to you how you decide to do that.

Wouldn't you actually be able to/want to just choose one lover if you really wanted her or him to feel special, because you deeply love and care about her, instead of chasing lust?
Zero interest in going after lust.
I have a lot of love to give, how I give it to each of my partners is different but doesn't mean my love is or means less. It's just different because they are also different. Each dynamic has its own specialness.

If you are intimate with lover A, arent you forgetting about lover B in that moment? (Hense lover B is not special?)
If you aren't giving 100 percent, isn't it unspecial?
At that moment in time said partner will have 100% my attention. Like anything else will get my full attention at that moment in time, like my kid, friends, family, work, hobbies etc.
My 100% attention will vary depending on person and situation, but still has its own uniqueness.
 
I find that the more each person is fully themselves, instead of trying to fit into a mold, the more exciting and interesting they are.

Take musicians, for example. There are some pop musicians who just want to make money, so they follow the formula of some other successful rock star. I don't have interest in that. I like musicians who bring something unique to the world. That makes me want to listen to them. For example, Buble is not as interesting to me, because he's too much in the Sinatra mode. He's fine if he comes up in a playlist, but I don't seek him out. I'd rather listen to the originator of the style, or to someone who makes music in a different style.

So, with both of my partners (and former ones), I get excited by their uniqueness. That's what the theme of variety in polyamory is all about!

Currently, one is a woman, one is a man. One is white and the other is biracial. One is tall, one is short. One has red hair, she's sassy, and speaks French. One has black dreadlocks, he's calm, has big muscles and is great at heavy yard work.

Of course, my partners have things in common too, with each other, and with me. You do need some common interests to have a solid partnership.
 
I like the thread of uniqueness being spun above. "Special" is inherently a comparison against that which is not special. Either one thing is elevated or another is pulled down. Zero sum game. But it doesn't have to be. Don't play the losing game with yourself. Shift your view toward uniqueness.

Think about a sale... or what is literally today's "special". You can say this widget is 50% off, but doesn't that just mean everything else in the store is overpriced by 200%? Devaluing everything else that's not "special" only makes sense if everything in the store is exactly the same and what is on sale is arbitrary.

I think it's also instructive to describe our capacities as humans to express our complete authentic selves all at one time as being limited, but that is ENABLING of presence, not disabling. Each of us is already incapable of holding our entire complex self in one moment. Call it compartmentalization, if you like. It necessary to compartmentalize to not feel overwhelmed with dissonance.

You can hold a different slice of yourself in the present with one partner and hold a different slice with another, and maybe there's some overlap. It still forms a unique slice of one's self, the way those parts of that slice interact to form emergent traits, and how that slice interacts with another partner to form the emergent traits of that relationship. Mono-leaning people are familiar with sharing a different self with different friends, family, groups, contexts. Just imagine they get the poly Eureka moment... now you're doing the same thing with deeper emotions, deeper platonics, multiple romances, multiple sexual partners, multiple kink playmates. It's a lot of the same processes, just applied in ways that run up against the mono-normative stories we've internalized.

No one human being is a perfect replacement for another, but neither do we share the exact version of our authentic self with another person.
 
Btw I do not believe romantic love is the same as sexual lust, or family love. I think it's more.
You can have that “more special” love with more than one person, just as you have familial love, friendship love, etc.

We are conditioned from birth to believe there's this magical “one” person that will complete us and be everything to us. We learn over many relationships that nobody can be everything to us, so we seek an arbitrary “one," the one we think we are meant to be with, and then, magically, we lose interest in everyone else, or we learn not to act on it to keep that person our one, special, above everyone else. We do this because we are programmed to.

Upon exploring polyamory, I had to work through that deprogramming. I loved the connection I had with my first poly partner. (I also had a husband). The first sexual experience was wonderful, intimate and very connecting. I loved every minute of it and felt no guilt… until I left his place and thought of Hubby. I didn't feel bad about what I did, nor did I regret it, and it did not change the love I had for Hubby at all. It was programming that told me I did something wrong. I immediately went home and talked to Hubby about it, and he assured me he loved me, knew I loved him and he was really happy that I had such a wonderful time and could share that experience with another. In that experience, I felt more love for hubby and for the experience I shared with another. The only thing that got in my way was the THOUGHT that I was SUPPOSED to feel a certain way, and when that didn't happen, I was confused.

To have that monogamous programming in your head and experience something else is truly mindblowing. I now understand when partners cheat, its not about lack of love. You actually can have sex with others and even love others in that special romantic way without it changing the love you feel for your partner. Love is created by the connection you have with THAT person, the relationship, the intimacy, the sex, the trust, the transparency. What you do with others has no influence at all. Relationships end in monogamy because the relationship isn't working for some reason, or because one partner found someone more compatible to them, and can’t have two, so one must go.

In polyamory, relationships end because it's not working for some reason. It doesn't have to do with feelings for another. Sometimes, someone will meet a partner that wants to be mono, and a hard choice has to be made. But again, it's monogamy getting in the way, not polyamory. Same with married couples opening up. They want to keep mono rules to limit the poly relationship… monogamy getting in the way again.
 
Hi StrawberryMoon,

In poly, every person is a giver and receiver of specialness because no two people, and thus no dyad relationship, are the same. It just isn't like monogamy, where only one person is special. In that case, part of the specialness is defined by being "the only one."

Regards,
Kevin T.
 
It’s interesting how people interchange unique and special. I think we can regard people as unique and at the same time NOT deem that as special. I think poly teaches people they’re special in their prospective time slots or prospective roles. This is hammered home with “every relationship has a shelf life.“ Appreciate what you have in the moment, because frankly, you are not that special and everyone is replaceable.
 
It’s interesting how people interchange unique and special. I think we can regard people as unique and at the same time NOT deem that as special.
people can be very unique, and not special, agreed. But if someone isn’t special to me, then I’ll end that relationship. There Has to be a lot more than love for me. A lot of factors determine specialness to me, and the more a person has in relation to me, the more special they are To me.

I think poly teachs people they’re special in their prospective time slots or prospective roll
I disagree. Poly doesnt teach that. But some people who practice poly think that way. Anyone who feels replaceable or like a role to play or any other superficial part should examine if its worth being in a relationship with a person who treats them that way. This is not a poly trait but a person trait. Shitty people practice poly just as shitty people practice serial monogamy. Learn to be discerning to avoid these situations and once it perks out, get out.


Which is hammered home with “ every relationship has a shelf life “
Thats a general statement to say that we arent meant to be with everyone forever. Relationships last until you learn your lesson about not being discerning enough, or grow beyond the other person, or decide that the thing you thought you could live with (or live without) is no longer true. This applies to ALL relationships regardless if they are poly or not.

Appreciate what you have in the moment because frankly not that special and everyone is replaceable.
I would never date a person who thought this way. And no, everyone is NOT replaceable. If a person is easily replaceable to me, then they aren’t in my life. I have no desire for any superficial relationships with people who are replaceable (to me means I could spend with anyone, and it wouldn’t matter). None of my partners are replaceable. At the same time, I don’t just date anyone deemed dateable. I look for deep, Intimate, fulfilling relationships, and if it doesn’t become that then I end it.

people in polyamory and monogamy can have the same standards. Some like to collect hook ups or FWB, don’t become serious and even run when it does. Some are looking for forever loves, the ones where everything lines up and is very deep. meaningful, and reciprocated. Then there’s those who are aromantic that find people who they are compatible with, but never feel those loving, romantic feelings. Others thrive on NRE and the relationship is over when that fades. Lets not stop at some are abusive, have addictions, are freeloaders, etc. you have to be able to find the gems and be extraordinary with them.

NEVER LOVE ANYONE WHO TREATS YOU LIKE YOU’RE ORDINARY. Oscar Wilde
 
Would Oscar really have YELLED it, though? 😜

OP hasn't come back yet, but their post is an awesome piece of bait; just a bunch of leading questions that fans of polyamory are going to react to strongly.

I sense a false premise: that there is a state called "special" that can only be attained and maintained in an exclusive relationship.

If you had to (uncharitably, cos that's the mood I'm in) rewrite the OP in a sentence, it would be:

Given that monogamy is what makes humans valuable to each other, doesn't polyamory make all of you worthless to each other? Discuss.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
I sense a false premise: that there is a state called "special" that can only be attained and maintained in an exclusive relationship.
That could be their thoughts…..the reality is so many people never feel that mythical “special”. It has more to do with the people they choose than the relationship type they practice. Id say peoples pets make them feel more special than other humans….sad but true
 
that there is a state called "special" that can only be attained and maintained in an exclusive relationship.

I think it is just that way for some people. Those people are better suited to monogamy.

I guess, over the years, my thinking has changed. Before, I thought all people had the ability to adapt, so they could learn to feel special without monogamy. They just had to change their thinking on it, and that was achievable for all.

Then I began to acknowledge that doing that emotional labour just wasn't desirable for some people. It wasn't a priority, unless it was intrinsically linked to some other priority, like keeping your family together.

Now I think that there are genuinely people who aren't able to change the way they think. That's because the events of their life have shaped the way they think to such a degree that it is now set.

This isn't always about having unhealthy relationships and/or trauma, although it can be that. It can just be that the entirety of your experiences have led you to value monogamy in a way that cannot be reversed or deprogrammed, even if you really want it to.

I don't think it's a good or a bad thing. It just is what it is. Some people won't ever be able to thrive in a relationship that isn't monogamous because they don't feel special enough, and that's okay
 
Special means better, greater or otherwise different from what is usual.

Unique means being the only one of its kind, unlike anything else.

I once had a heated discussion about the concept of "specialness" in polyamory, with a poly ex, just a few weeks prior to breaking up with him. (He was also a narcissist, as I was learning at that point.) His NRE had worn off for me, in the second year of our relationship, and he was dating other women and men, like a new person every week. He had basically devalued me at that point, and was ignoring me most of the time. I no longer felt "special." He told me no one was special. I guess I was feeling like he thought the new and shiny people were now greater and better (more interesting, more rewarding to be with) than I was.

I think it's possible to be poly and still treat each partner as if they are special. Maybe they aren't greater or better than your other partner(s), but they are otherwise different from each other, and fully worth your time, love, attention, care, etc.
 
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I’m loving this discussion.
Then I began to acknowledge that doing that emotional labour just wasn't desirable for some people. It wasn't a priority, unless it was intrinsically linked to some other priority, like keeping your family together.

Now I think that there are genuinely people who aren't able to change the way they think. That's because the events of their life have shaped the way they think to such a degree that it is now set.
Not a priority. Not without motivation. Some people are just exhausted by the whole idea. Others feel like their sense of self is assaulted by making any change they don’t feel came from within them (a bit of an illusion to be sure).

For some people, it’s faith. Those people cling to their stories like a warm blanket that eventually becomes their death shroud. It’s a challenge to them to never doubt, never surrender, and to die unchanged by the dirty, filthy, messy world and thereby exercise some defiant control over reality. I suppose that’s one way to handle the fear and terror of life. Certainly not what I would choose. I don’t like living a comfortable untruth.
 
people can be very unique, and not special, agreed. But if someone isn’t special to me, then I’ll end that relationship. There Has to be a lot more than love for me. A lot of factors determine specialness to me, and the more a person has in relation to me, the more special they are To me.

We all have our unique entry points into poly, as well, and IMO, that can have a profound effect on this topic. Being in a mono marriage for 15 yrs and being a poly-bomb-dropper vs a poly-bomb-catcher makes a difference.
I disagree. Poly doesn't teach that. But some people who practice poly think that way. Anyone who feels replaceable or like a role to play or any other superficial part should examine if it's worth being in a relationship with a person who treats them that way. This is not a poly trait, but a person trait. Shitty people practice poly, just as shitty people practice serial monogamy. Learn to be discerning to avoid these situations and once it peeks out, get out.
OK, after the bomb has dropped, and some of the smoke has cleared, and you get the batteries pulled out of the smoke detectors, you start looking around to see how you contributed to what’s happened. Because here’s the fact: you’ve been in charge of delivering romantic energy for the last 15 yrs and now you haven’t been completely fired, but you're on notice that your efforts in that regard are not appreciated. You know, it's time for a change. DESPITE assurances to the contrary, you still feel some level of failure. This is sort of the emotional set point after the blast.

Now mix into that a nice helping of NRE, to provide paper cuts, and bleeding and demotion and displacement feel pretty fucking real.

I had a friend here on the forum going through some rough NRE situations with his wife, and he asked her once how often she thought about her BF. With zero hesitation or thought she said, “ALL THE TIME.“ Sort of a duh moment.

He then asked, "What about me and the kids?" Blank stare and a long pause and then equivocating and back-peddling. He took it as a very teachable moment.

The point is, priorities shift and change, expectations shift and change as the new dynamic is built. And, you know what? NRE gets a bad rap most of the time, but if you think about it, it's totally honest. Heart and head are operating with single-purpose razor-sharp focus. Truth on display. It might not be a long-term forever truth, but it’s truth in the moment.

That's a general statement to say that we aren't meant to be with everyone forever. Relationships last until you learn your lesson about not being discerning enough, or grow beyond the other person, or decide that the thing you thought you could live with (or live without) is no longer true. This applies to ALL relationships, regardless if they are poly or not.
Sure. But it might take on a more temporary meaning when bantered around where there’s a more revolving dynamic. Someone who’s an NRE junkie might use shelf life the clock they enjoy.

I would never date a person who thought this way. And no, everyone is NOT replaceable. If a person is easily replaceable to me, then they aren’t in my life. I have no desire for any superficial relationships with people who are replaceable (to me means I could spend with anyone, and it wouldn’t matter). None of my partners are replaceable. At the same time, I don’t just date anyone deemed dateable. I look for deep, Intimate, fulfilling relationships, and if it doesn’t become that then I end it.
I think there’s some freedom in knowing the hard truth. People die and life goes on. People bow out of relationships/fall out of love and life goes on... Sometimes better than before.


People in polyamory and monogamy can have the same standards. Some like to collect hook-ups or FWBs, don’t become serious, and even run when it does. Some are looking for forever loves, the ones where everything lines up and is very deep. meaningful, and reciprocated. Then there are those who are aromantic that find people who they are compatible with, but never feel those loving, romantic feelings. Others thrive on NRE and the relationship is over when that fades. Let's not stop at some are abusive, have addictions, are freeloaders, etc. You have to be able to find the gems and be extraordinary with them.
Yes, I’m sure the same standards and methods are applied, because after all, it’s the experience and memories we are all trying to cultivate. Otherwise, what’s the point?
 
I think it's possible to be poly and still treat each partner as if they are special.
I agree very much; I think my strong negative reaction to the OP is because they seem to disregard this idea or assume it isn't true. Regarding what that shitty person said to you, Magdlyn:
I no longer felt "special." He told me no one was special.
Yeah, I think it's exactly the opposite: Everyone in a relationship with someone is (or should be) special to them, that's the whole point of being in intimate relationships! The notion that "Specialness" can only be earned through exclusivity is obnoxious*.

*Obnoxious to me, anyway, which is what ultimately led to me pursuing polyamorous relationships. Lots of people want to live some form of Specialness Through Exclusivity, and that's fine for them. But let them not put it forward as The Way Things Are.
 
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