A couple of you appear to think I consider myself polyamorous. I don't consider myself much of anything. I only figure I'm straight by default, frankly -- I have a list of people I would happily be banging in the nearest broom closet inside of ten minutes, given the correct opportunity, and so far everyone on it has been male. I don't think I'd think much of it if I suddenly developed an attraction to a woman, but I'm over thirty and it hasn't happened yet, so I rather doubt it's going to.

Technically speaking, by the literal definition of the word, most human beings are polyamorous. The roots are Latin, from poly-, many, and amor, love. Amor does not make the same desire vs. stillness differentiation that the Greek eros and agape do; it goes for all kinds of love possible in life. Most people love their parents, their kids, their siblings, their mate, their friends, and some also love their country, their culture, their god(s), etc. etc. etc. In the modern sociological parlance, polyamorous is generally taken to refer to having many romantic/sexual attachments, and frankly I have no idea whatsofuckingever about that. I'm not interested enough to have ever been torn between two lovers. What usually triggers the rant is that I have no useful family to speak of and have tended to install a lot of friends in those slots instead; because they're not blood relatives, for some reason other people then like to assume that there is sexual potential there, and have kittens if I look like I'm getting way-strongly attached. Nobody would think twice if I spent that kind of time with an actual genetic brother or sister, but since they're not literally family to me, periodically someone decides to flip their shit over it.

I also pop like a flashbulb when my favorite people show up. I gather this is behavior you only get from normal people when they are hoping to someday get your pants off. I usually figure out pretty quickly and decisively who I am going to adore and who I'm not, and so there's also a point where I go from 'kind of an acquaintance' to 'hanging out all the time' all at once. I do in fact do all this when I have a massive sexual crush on someone, but I also do it when I just really, really like another human being. I did the exact same thing with Moggie, and as much as it will disappoint certain sections of the internet -- Moggie has a rack like whoa -- I have no desire to ever make out with my sidekick, in front of a webcam or not.

I'm also quite fussy about who gets to touch me. That actually has nothing to do with sexual attraction one way or another. Obviously I am okay being touched by people I have the hots for, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it otherwise. (I'm particularly good at picking up on people who want to be touched, but for some reason cannot or will not ask for it -- if I'm around one of them while they're deeply upset over something, I will often literally be sitting on my hands, because the pull to do something about it is so visceral and so strong, like seeing a sobbing child or a wounded animal, and I refuse to do anything I don't have explicit permission for.) I've never been entirely sure what I'm keying on there, but it probably has something to do with observing boundaries and whether they seem to interpret an invitation to lean on me as automatically leading to more, or just an invitation to cuddle up and get comfortable. The fact that if you are allowed to touch me, you are allowed to touch me more or less all the time also confuses the hell out of witnesses, especially when they see me single out a few people and not let the rest of the group get within arm's reach. I consider this to be a matter negotiated strictly between me and whoever is squashed into the chair with me, mediated by whether it's a context in which we ought to be behaving professionally or not. You can be an asshat about it if you want, but I'll be ignoring you. There are not many people I am that comfortable with; I'll be keeping the ones I find.

I do not, historically, have a great record of figuring out if people fit into set categories like this, and if so, which one(s). I'm much better at picking out people who are "aspie", "bipolar" or "poly" than people who are actually on the autism spectrum, have bipolar disorder, or are polyamorous. Information about the latter can leak out in all kinds of different directions, in a bunch of different contexts, and doesn't really scream a label at me. It just gets filed as "the way this particular person behaves". The former people are using a label to justify behaving like insensitive twats, which is definitely a Thing to my brain, and I can usually see the train wreck coming about eight signal blocks down the line.

[Note to pedants: Those are scare quotes. They indicate I am talking about what people say, not what they are. There are a lot of twats who say they are the above things, because they know people strive to be tolerant of differences, and they can get away with a lot more blatant shit-shucking if they can point and yell about bigotry. I am reasonably sure the actual people with actual Asperger's feel pretty much the same way I do about the idiots who aim to hide behind them in order to avoid making any effort to learn social skills or consider other people, but I am really not in the mood to be yelled at over misreadings right now.]

There is also the matter of cross-checking, which I am less able to do when people are not loudly crazy in public. The last person I ran into who definitely and reasonably-openly polyamorous, I kinda-sorta knew before they said anything -- I couldn't have guessed it specifically, but I figured them to be poly- or pan- something, because of a collection of behaviors X, Y and Z which all would plausibly stem from some underlying thought process Q. Q isn't equal to polyamorous, but it's the kind of thing you would expect to find a lot more often in people who are, which raised the odds. It absolutely does not gel, though, pretty much ever -- I always feel like a dumbass when someone finally says something and I go, "...huh. That is probably the word for it, yes." I know it fits together and I can extrapolate future behavior from it, but fuck me if I can match it up to how other people describe it. I have the same problem trying to link up psychiatric disorders with the description from the ICD-10 or DSM-IV-R. There is just something about the normal social viewpoint on these things that does not match mine.

In any case, I'm not actually looking for a date. I'm perfectly happy to find one, if it happens, but I'm not sitting here neurosing about being Christmas cake. The main reason I even know any of this about myself is that it's once again tied in to my mother being generally bugnuts. She was very vocally of the opinion that doing things to specifically request attention from another human being was unacceptably puerile, and that if you were worth paying attention to you wouldn't ever have to ask. (n.b. -- if you think about it, this is actually perfectly internally consistent, if you have absolutely no ability to monitor your own behavior and realize that you are the group's obnoxious drama queen.) She also spent a great deal of time implying very heavily that if you weren't paying attention to her needs at all times, you clearly didn't love her. It took a lot of detangling to work out what was generally agreed to be wrong with all that, and I topped it off by figuring out a few other things I personally thought were brain-meltingly insane. No grand social upheaval or coming out or dramatic reveal or anything. I just work how I work.

Comments

  1. If you are still fighting with your mother's programming, and not asking for the things that you need from people, then have you taken a look at this?
    http://www.polyamorousmisanthrope.com/
    I know it says polyamorous, but, it's where I started before I started reading Captain Awkward. The advice on relationships is solid. Most people are not raised to be readers of people like you were, though some of us are raised to think that we should be.

    I am STILL learning awesome things from Captain Awkward about using my words and the details of social situations that I never really picked up. Polyamorous Misanthrope made a good philosophical base to layer the words onto.

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    1. My problem is really not ever the person I'm trying to be friends with. I can read perfectly well whether they like me or not; I'm looking at them. I just get blindsided when all of a sudden they do the OPPOSITE of what they WANT to do (i.e., be friends with me) because a third party somewhere has decreed that THEY don't like me, and therefore this is not allowed. I've tried making friends with the girlfriends, I've tried politely avoiding the girlfriends, I've tried meeting the girlfriends and being civil but not overly enthusiastic. Nothing I do seems to have any effect on people who are possessive and jealous to begin with.

      I get along just fine with girlfriends who don't automatically believe everyone is trying to steal their man. They also end up being my friends, mainly because they are not insane.

      It's just horrible for me when someone I have no quarrel with at all swoops in and goes, "This is now a contest, you lose, fuck off." And then someone I thought was my friend actually goes along with it, even though it makes no sense. I spent a whole lot of my childhood effectively losing popularity contests to my mother's mental illness -- it had nothing to do with what kind of person I was, but with where someone else arbitrarily decided my social 'ranking' was, and people like that generally rank EVERYONE below themselves.

      I know perfectly well how it works, I just don't like it, and there's no way for me to predict it -- it happens, or it doesn't, somewhere in the middle of an argument two other people have, where I am not. It happens from time to time with boyfriends as well, but there's a lot more social support for a woman telling her boyfriend 'dictating who I can and cannot be friends with is an asshole move and I won't stand for it'.

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