I’m a fresh faced Kitten, with newly opened eyes, emerging into the poly community (my first alternative community). Well, these people know what they’re talking about! First time I’ve heard anyone have any common sense when it comes to romance (and, no, their common sense does not force you to have even one romantic partner, let alone multiple.)
First step (after Communication)? Get a shared calendar! A shared calendar is key to the success of any poly relationship. So, good, diligent little me, I made a “Polyship Calendar.” I figured I didn’t need it, since all my relationships at the time were quite casual- some barely qualifying as “relationship”- but why not get off to the right start? I think I shared it with my now primary partner, because he was into that kind of organizational thing.
But then we never used it, plus I noticed a couple of things:
- On the (heavily newbie populated) poly groups, I see a near constant suggestion that the ONLY way to make a polyamorous life work is “Share your Google calendars!”
- Those people, coincidentally, I’m sure, also mention how their lives are incredibly stressful.
Google calendars ARE absurdly useful, after all. (Does this count as product placement? whatever, you may as well know Google owns a quarter of my soul). I use it every day.
I need it, too, because my calendar usually looks like this:
Because of THIS:
- A live in, primary 24/7 M/s relationship
- A girlfriend I see between once a week and a little more than that (sometimes it’ll be three weeks between dates, sometimes we can squeeze a few in that week)
- A playmate/friend I see once or twice a month (more often on a good month!)
- Local best friends
- Long distance best friends
- A family member with health issues (that required me to travel and spend time with them for about a week a month for a couple months)
- Three minor semi-dependents (they aren’t technically my dependents, but tell me that when I can’t go to the bathroom for five minutes, without little hands banging down the door demanding “what I am doing in there?”)
- Kik friends that I text with on a regular basis
- A lost love of mine, a comet in a foreign country with whom I shared one perfect weekend that I’ve managed to keep in my life for 5+ year (she calls me “cherie,” swoons)
If I didn’t keep track with my Google calendar EVERY DAY, I would be lost.
My chosen family say I’m always doing something. It might not work out. I may have no clue why I’m doing it. But I’m always doing SOMETHING. But you know what I’ve never done? Shared that calendar. Nor have my partners ever shared theirs with me.
You see, dear friend, what makes a shared calendar USEFUL is making sure it is ACCURATE. You know what I never have time for? UPDATING the stupid thing. You know what my friends never have time for between making sure their boss doesn’t fire them and they take care of family obligations and they don’t kill their coworkers or roommates and also maybe having a night or two for actual playtime and date nights? UPDATING A CALENDAR.
Having a shared calendar would actually make us all MORE stressed, and that stress would inevitably trickle down to us all needing extra care and support (which doesn’t help anyone).
Plus, nobody ever looks at it. So just about zero motivation to remember one more thing in my life.
Nobody uses a tool when they don’t have to— having a business has taught me this in spades. And I’m never going to convert all my partners and friends to this whole Shared Google Calendar system. I don’t know who that system actually works for, although it must work for many.
So here’s my modest proposal for those it DOESN’T work for:
Yeah, that communication thing poly folk are talking about? That’s actually useful.
I talk with my partner and girlfriend every day (sometimes a day off here and there, especially when I’m with family or at a multi-day play party). I talk with my play partner nearly every day (and I’m pretty sure my partner talks with her daily). I talk to my friends regularly during the week. Sometimes I’ve let friendships slide, but I pick it back up, with confidence, and it’s just as strong as ever. Because those kinds of friends are okay with losing touch for a while, as long as you put in the effort when you can. And it’s like you never lost touch at all…
Since we talk every day, I generally know what everyone is up to that week. We exchange opportunities (“Hey, I’m thinking about going to XYZ, want to go with me?” or “So, I’m free this Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night. Which works for you?”) I schedule based on 1) How difficult it is to find time to get together and 2) Time the person needs/wants from me. So first I schedule with girlfriend, then playmate, than friends I haven’t seen recently (certain friends and family members I have set nights/times to hang out, my partners know about these and work around it). If it’s been more than a couple months, I make extra effort to do something special together.
Sometimes this might mean we can’t make it together for a few days, or even a few weeks. But I’ll understand. I don’t need to know every detail of your life; although if you move to New Zealand, I might be thrown for a minute or two.
Yes, I suppose it’s not any easier than a calendar.
But I actually enjoy talking to my partners. If I didn’t like that, why am I even with them? Conversely, updating yet another organizational app ranks fairly low (I still love you all, but yeah, in this case it’s a low bar to compare).
I balance, too, between social time, group time, and one on one time. Usually that means alternating. This week, I have one on one time with girlfriend. This week, we go out out favorite munch together, and maybe she and I go off and have a random dance party on the beach together. Yay for impromptu date “nights” together!
I also keep semi regular schedule for my own sanity. My friends know the two weekends each month that are usually reserved for family. They know what munches I’ll be at— and approximately what time I’ll be there. They know I’ll get ice cream at the one munch. They know I’m free in the evenings, and that I’m good for a breakfast or lunch once or twice a month. They know which days are best for me. They know where is best to meet up.
My live in, 24/7 relationship? We find whatever free night we have— and we plan something, sometimes as last minute as right as we walk out the door. We don’t care, we just want to enjoy some work free time together.
Of course it IS a lot. And I can’t always do everything.
This DOES mean if you want my time, you need to put in quite a lot of effort. If it’s me reaching out to you 90% of the time, I’m going to eventually let the relationship drop. Because my close relationships are willing to put in the effort and more– and I have no need to settle for less.
Oh, and it helps that I keep most of my relationships local; I explain to new friends that I really cannot have much of a relationship with them if they live further away; I even live next door to two of my best friends/gaming buddies. Yeah, logistics isn’t sexy, but damn if it doesn’t make it easier to schedule.
It also helps that we’re all accommodating with Life Stuff.
If plans need to be altered or moved (or very rarely canceled), we’re all okay with it. Because sometimes Life Stuff is more important.
If this STILL seems selfish, rigid, or cold, mind you, it also keeps me and my partners sane. I also try to make sure I give as much as I get. I know their “hard limits” when it comes to what time I can ask for them, usually based around their work schedules, and I do my best to not make demands on them during those times. I try to make sure I listen to their needs and treat them by the Platinum Rule.
…although texting has gotten a bit unwieldy lately. I might use a Slack channel for better communication….or should I make a new Discord server…do I still have Ventrilo….maybe I could switch switch my one friend over from our regular Gchat sessions…what does she have?
Yeah, maybe I have too many forms of communication.