Believing Vs Knowing — Coping With Polyamory

Written at the B terminals at the Dayton, OH airport on my way back to my cohabitation partner in Baltimore…

I’ve recently had some great trouble with my own personal journey in polyamory. A partner of mine and I decided to move to the east coast together and we’ve come under a tremendous amount of stress about this.

I’m not usually close to my partners on a day to day basis. I come in, twice a week, have a lovely date, talk about life, maybe stay the night, but I always return to my own life.

This is why I’m a solo polyamorous person, and why I’ve loved the way that I live my life.

But now I have new issues to deal with. I actually have to deal with sending my lover on a date with someone else.

Just knowing that my lover no longer spends time with my family back home, but with the families of new lovers, is a very difficult thing to swallow.

For me, there are different boundaries than with other partners. For all other partners, they get what I had. Here are two big ones.

  1. They get the advantage of never needing to be jealous of me. I’ll always be the “oldest” lover. That’s rarely a threat. Most people don’t report jealousy moving into someone else’s relationship. I never have felt jealous over an existing lover either. But that new lover… they’re ALL new lovers for me.
  2. They get the advantage of always having place preference. They have their place, they have hotel rooms… But I have her place, she has mine. If she brings a partner home, I have to share my space with someone I may not have even met. But they’ll never have to share their space with me. It’s not as though I’m going to crash at their place with my partner.

So, from my new point of view, not only am I dealing with all new people who I may or may not like (something I’m already used to), but they all get a shot at taking my time, taking my space, and having a lot of influence over my life.

I’ve never had a situation before where metamours had so much influence over me. I don’t like extra-relationship influences. I believe all relationships are fully independent.

I recently had a bit of a blow up with my partner.

A date was scheduled with a brand new, super exciting partner, and NRE was in full effect, and the plans were a bit short notice, and escalated and evolved very quickly.

The date turned into an open ended ordeal where miscommunication caused no communication, and I ended up having to call very late at night.

It ended badly for both of us. The date went 4 1/2 hours without communication, my partner fell asleep in a hotel room, I was calling and yelling on the phone loud enough to embarrass her in front of her new partner.

We both felt horrible for our actions.

I felt disrespected, hurt, furious… and worst of all, like she was just abandoning me at the drop of a hate for the new toy without any disregard.

She felt disrespected, hurt, depressed… and worst of all, like I was a shithead control freak who couldn’t control his anger or jealousy.

That almost ended things. I started having a nervous breakdown that night, something I’d not had in 6 years. We’ve worked hard on some things, and I’ve since been considering something.

What is the difference between believing in polyamory and knowing polyamory. This really goes into a theological area.

My partner recently told me “Have faith in me.”

I was struck by that.

I used to be very conservative religious. I’m now an atheist who has no regard for religion, but I don’t go out of my way to attack anyone who has religion.

But it still struck me. And I thought of a beautiful passage from the bible, which if nothing else, has one of the world’s best collections of beautiful poetry, a view shared by ultra liberal atheist, Christopher Hitchens.

For those of you of other faiths or of no faith, indulge me here for a lesson. This is one of the most beautiful things the human race has ever written:

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:1–13

When I heard her say, “Have faith in me,” I was struck by the memory of this passage and felt ashamed for how I dishonored my partner, how I was angry at my partner.

I did not live up to the promise of love, even as a firm atheist. I was a child. And, in her way, so was she. But that’s not my issue to work on. My job is to work on me, to be the best person I can be.

But I want to focus on something here. I’ve believed that this is what love is, but do I know. “I know in part; then I shall know fully.”

I know my Greek very well in terms of the biblical, and in many passages, there are different words for love, and different words for knowing. One form of Greek is to say that a man “knew” a woman, meaning he slept with her. He “knew” her intimately.

In the English language, we have things like “to believe” and “to know”. And we understand these things similarly:

…believing is the state of mind where we can choose whether or not to accept what we hear or read. We have the choice to consider second-hand knowledge, e.g. we may read in the newspaper that a lion escaped from London Zoo yesterday or hear on the radio that there is a fivemile tailback on the M25. But, if we have not actually witnessed the escaped lion or the fivemile tailback, we cannot know the reports are true.
Knowing is the state of mind where we have first hand awareness of an event, something that we have personally experienced through any of our five senses or through our own accomplishments. — https://philosophynow.org/issues/6/When_Does_Believing_Become_Knowing

I’ve “believed” in Ethical Non-Monogamy for most of my adult life. And in the past 8 years, I’ve “known” it… partially. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror... Now I know in part…”

I think I’ve been a bit self-deceived. I’ve known in part. And I’ve walked as though I’ve known fully.

This has happened before. I was an “experienced” swinger of 3 years, I walked into a play situation with my wife at the time, and went into a full on nervous breakdown break from reality and fell into a short self-induced coma.

That’s covered in my book, and it happened for the same reasons.

HUBRIS

Hubris (n) — excessive pride or self-confidence.
synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority; More
(in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

I like that last… defiance of the gods… leading to nemesis. What’s nemesis?

Nemesis (n) — the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall.

That’s what comes from too much confidence in belief, too much confidence in knowing in part.

And it’s happened twice. I’m the “poly expert”, and my hubris was that I, too, can jump into the deep end without help. Watch my recent Facebook videos, and you’ll see that I’ve been talking about this a lot.

I now “know”, in full, that I have parts of polyamory that I am learning like a newbie. Now I get to see it like married couples do. And I’ve jumped in thinking I’ve already conquered jealousy, fear, envy…

“Love is Patient”

Patience is sitting at home losing your fucking mind watching the phone.

“Love is Kind”

Kindness comes from considering the other person first in empathy, not in imagining they don’t give a shit.

“It does not Envy”

Envy, because I’m not dating 2 new people a week. I’m not getting hotels. I’m not having great, first time, NRE adrenaline sex. I’ve been envious as fuck!

“It does not boast, it is not proud.“

I’ve been so proud. I put many of the problems completely on my partner’s lack of experience. And while this is partially true, I should have tempered my reactions to this

”It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

We fell right into that pattern. Talking about the past, dishonoring each other, getting angry.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

This works the other way. The truth brings love, and when that has been our focus and comes out, we have found resolution and the love that bound us together to move out together.

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

And this is the work going forward.

So what do you do when you believe in all this. You believe in polyamory, that it’s possible, that it’s ideal, that it’s the best path for most all of us.

What do you do when you have that, but you don’t “know” or you only “know in part”?

That’s where faith comes in, and that’s a rough thing to talk about as an atheist. What is faith in this context?

Faith means that you operate on the expectation that what you “believe”, you will come to “know”, even if how that happens is unclear to you.

Opening up a relationship after reading a book is an act of faith.

Moving across the country with a partner is an act of faith.

Marriage is an act of faith.

“Have faith in me.”

Which says to me the following:

DeWayne. You believe all of this. You have learned everything there is to believe in that encompasses the topic of polyamory. And you know a lot of it too. And you are teaching all of that to me. But, we are going into something new. We both believe in this new thing, but neither of us know it.

Have faith in me, meaning… I’m asking you to operate on the expectation that what we “believe”, we will come to “know”, even if how that happens is unclear to us.

So where are you with your path. Do you believe, do you know in part, or do you know in full? And if you don’t know in full, do you have faith?

DeWayne Lehman