By Maria Padhila
Valentine’s Day makes people insane. I’m sitting here watching it first-hand. I’m trying to work on a laptop computer in the anteroom of the dance studio, where there are long lunch tables for parents with electronic devices, kids having snacks, and both doing homework, while behind long banks of glass windows are the studios.
The place is designed so you can watch your child at all times if you like, and that’s pretty legit. There are two other things I really like about this studio: they’re open to children with all kinds of learning and developmental disabilities (they have a lot of specialists and therapists on staff), and they’re rigorous about not enforcing body size or shape standards. Come as you are is the rule, and we’ll all work with it.
As a result, most of the kids seem to fall into an average body size range. Isn’t it strange how these things can fall into place when you stop worrying about it? But there’s something to be said that most of them get healthful, regular meals, largely organic, I’m betting; good medical care; and lots of exercise. Lucky girls.
Anyway, there’s a lot of noise and running and playing, but that doesn’t bother me, and usually I can work through it with no problem, but on this Valentine’s Day it’s a freaking zoo. Screaming, flouncing, sulking, even pushing furniture around, all ages, 2 to 14.
After an hour of this, I’m wondering what the hell is up, and then I remember what day it is. The majority are probably on a sugar high, and anyone who’s not is on a love jones. Insane. Blame the holiday!
I ignore major holidays like Christmas and even Halloween some years. I know that ignoring Valentine’s Day amounts to criminal negligence for a writer about relationships, but it’s just so boring. However, few other writers were similarly inclined to let the occasion go by unnoted.
The first thing I read this morning was something I’m not even going to bother to link to, about how painful it is to break up in the age of social media. The writer had collected all kinds of quotes from young ladies who claimed they were just starting to get over it… when… his name popped up in their Facebook feed, either solo or going out with someone else. A few of them even said they had gone off social media so they could avoid even seeing any mention of the former flame.
Now there are a couple things mono-folk do that puzzle me. Can anyone out there explain if it really is common practice among the monogamous to demand that anyone you break up with vanish from the face of the Earth?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. But why are some people so incensed that those they have left behind apparently continue to live an independent life?
There seems to be a whole rulebook I missed. First, when you break up, the other person must cease to exist. Second, they are not “allowed” to date anyone else. Third, someone you used to go out with — even someone you were sort of interested in — is not allowed to go out with anyone you know. Fourth, a friend never goes out with someone another friend used to go out with or be in any way interested in.
I know it’s a big world, but if monos carry on that way too often, y’all are just going to run out of people to get with. Six degrees and all, you know? As much as I hate to do the mono-bash, these kinds of rules just seem insecure and disrespectful of everyone’s autonomy. End of bash.
In the Valentine’s Day madness, of course, some piped up to say, hey, not being coupled up is not so bad. Several of these spoke up on the potential benefits of poly. The Live Science article boils down to: if you communicate in a relationship, you’ll probably have a good one. Shocking.
CNN wove poly into the basic rundown of how different types of people might spend Valentine’s Day, putting it squarely, so to speak, in the mainstream of the commercial holiday. Polyamory Media Association, representing! The headline put it all out there, too: “From DINKS to polyamory, the guide to how people spend Valentine’s Day.”
“Each of my partners is like those in any monogamous relationships,” said Shara Smith, a representative of the Polyamory Media Association, which provides members of the press with information and spokespeople on how polyamory works. “There’s really no difference between how I feel about my current partners or how we relate to each other. The only difference is I didn’t have to break up with one to start the other.”
Smith, her three male partners and their additional “metamors” are going out for dinner at a nice steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. All told, there will be six of them around the table.
“I don’t personally observe Valentine’s Day, but my partners’ other partners do,” she said. “The holiday’s not important, but making my loved ones feel that I care about them is important.”
Meanwhile, in the alternative press, a piece made the argument that poly marriage will never happen because it’s silly and too complicated and none of us polys are interested in it anyway. The author is a professional dominatrix and introvert who needs time alone.
It’s clear that marriage of any kind, at least at this point in her life, is not for her. I myself would sometimes like to be a professional dominatrix and have some time alone, but I’ve made this here other bed, and now I have to lie in it.
Once again, the twin spectres of aging/sickness and children rise: these are the big reasons to formalize a relationship. The second level of benefits to formalization is about the societal recognition and social mobility. If you have a kid and hold down a ‘straight’ job, you’ll probably be more interested in ways to formalize your relationships.
Can you feel me trying hard not to get huffy about this young’un who appears to assume that she’ll always be that fetching little thing with a whip who’s too cool to ever get knocked up or have to work a square gig? The assumptions of privilege by hipsters are just as insulting as those made by Your Freaky Soccer Mom Correspondent here. One set assumes that everybody has an endless supply of youth, energy, public transportation, coffee and cheap apartments on streets free of bigots; the other, that everybody has time to worry about school meetings, strep throat and getting canned.
There is, however, a very interesting take in the comments: why not form a limited liability partnership (LLP)? This really appeals to me in some ways, but I doubt the instrument as written is flexible enough to work with parental rights.
Another nontraditional VDay take from the alternative press was on asexuality. It intriguingly notes the similarity between asexuality and polyamory: “those who identify as asexual face the same core issue as the polyamorous, distancing their innate orientation from the behavioral choice of celibacy.”
Dan Savage’s remarks on orientation and poly (i.e., that it’s not an orientation) are the takeoff point, but his quotes on masturbation in the article show he’s just as clueless and/or biased about asexuality as he is about poly. That’s OK with me — he’s done a lot of good; not everyone has to be expert about everything.
It would be nice if he’d open up to an expanded definition of orientation. Much of the LGBTQ argument for civil rights — and always the male gay argument for civil rights — is centered on the ‘born that way’ element. And as I’ve said before, I feel arguments about orientation vs. behavior, much less civil rights, are just too early when it comes to poly. I’m still hurting from the LGBTQ struggles; they’re still going on; people are still dying. Do we have to fight now for out polys to keep their kids, too, right this minute? Can we wait until we’ve got the other stuff wrestled to the ground? Guess not.