A word or 903 about hierarchy in polyamory

You know what I see a lot of in online groups about polyamory relationship structures? Entitlement. A lot of people think that it’s inherently wrong or “gross” to have hierarchy because they themselves don’t want hierarchy, therefore it’s always wrong for others to want it. Someone else’s relationship preference excludes them, therefore it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter that there are people who actively don’t want the same level of priority in someone else’s life and that there are people who don’t have an interest in elevating a new partner to the status if a partner they’ve had for 15 years (or to lower that long-term partner so the new one feels equal in all ways). All that matters is that someone else’s relationship desires “robs” them of a chance they’re entitled to.

Someone else wanting something different than you want is FINE and it is ETHICAL as long as all parties are open about what they want and want the same things. Trying to shame people who want something different, trying to shame them into a relationship structure they don’t want is unethical, and think about what that really means, and you might end up ashamed of what you’re actually trying to shame people into. You’re trying to shame them into relationship situations they don’t want! That is HORRIFYING. Claiming to want one thing and doing something else–that’s unethical. Honestly and openness is not unethical.

If you meet and fall in love with a monogamous person, they’re not wrong for wanting a different relationship–monogamy. Right? Or do you think they’re wrong? (I have seen people in these groups blame cheated-on spouses for being upset since those spouses don’t want polyamory, which would somehow solve everything since cheating can’t happen in polyam relationships…nope…not possible…) That’s just a fundamental incompatibility, and we all have those in various ways.

For me, some fundamental incompatibilities are that conservatives and Republicans are out of the question, as are people who see religion as a very important thing, people who don’t like kids, and people who don’t see civil rights as important. For someone else, a socialist like me who turned on religion and who has a kid might be out of the question for these things alone. And that’s fine. I’m not entitled to their consideration, and they’re not entitled to mine, and relationship structures are another fundamental where there can easily be fundamental incompatibility. Sometimes you’re compatible, and sometimes you’re not, and not being compatible doesn’t mean someone else is inherently wrong or unethical for what they want in a relationship.

When you think someone else is wrong for wanting something different than you want, what you’re saying is they’re wrong because they aren’t gong to give you the same chance they’ll give someone else. You’re not entitled to anyone’s affections or bodies, so aren’t even entitled to any chance at all. It’s all a privilege.

And no, parents putting their children’s other parents first shouldn’t have to couch is as “we’re really putting the kids first.” Sometimes that first position is earned. Someone who has shown that they’ll be there through the most horrendous of situations, the worst of traumatic situations, the biggest of medical situations, losses of babies, credible death threats by parents, the lowest of financial lows and homelessness, are going to end up prioritized over a newer partner of a few years who hasn’t gone through so much hardship with you. You’re going to prioritize friends who’ve gone through hellfire with you over friends who haven’t had to go through much, and who might actually bolt when the going gets tough, right? That doesn’t mean you don’t cherish those other friends, but places are earned, and anyone honest will admit this. No matter what, it’s ignorant to think that a relationship that hasn’t been tested in the worst of ways can withstand anything just because you really love something. Contrary to what the Beatles said, love is NOT all you need.

If what you want is for the people YOU are in relationships with to see you as equal to their other partners, that’s fine, but it absolutely don’t mean that someone else is wrong because they have a partner who will be prioritized when push comes to shove. And it doesn’t mean someone else is wrong if they don’t want equal status with someone else. It just means different people want different things, and that you won’t be compatible with all people. This is something adults understand and accept instead of whine about and trying to shame others into compliance with their wishes. If someone else wants something different and they’re open and honest instead of trying to trick or manipulate anyone, them what you say is “We aren’t compatible when it comes to what we want when it comes to relationship,” NOT “You’re wrong for not wanting what I want.”

Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, the vast majority of society sees open and plural relationships as wrong altogether, even with consent of all involved. Polyamory is a relationship minority. If you don’t want to be called wrong for the relationship structure you’re honest about wanting, then don’t call other people wrong for the relationship structures they’re honest about wanting.

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