more I water and care for my garden, the more it produces, the

I find a certain peace in watering my plants. Early in the morning, when the hummingbirds spin round, before the heat of the day sucks the moisture from my body.

I prefer sturdy plants that don’t require a great deal of water, so I don’t stress about killing them. I may not have the greenest of green thumbs. But I do my best. I think I do it fairly compentently. I’ve kept a basil plant alive for weeks! It isn’t only the act of watering the plants that brings me satisfaction, however.

It’s the bounty it produces.

The colorful blooms and bright red tomatoes. I love popping a cherry tomato off the vine and its flavor bursting in my mouth. You see…

…the tomato plant can’t produce anything if it doesn’t have water.

Yes, I have many partners. More than that, I have many friends. Many family members, both blood and chosen. Some people say the poly life is overwhelming because of this— but let me tell you a little secret…ssshhh, come closer!

The more I give to my partners, the more they give back to me.

How do I manage not to allow myself to get drained? Truth is that my own cup is overflowing all the time. It’s all I can do to make sure I return the favor to all the special people in my life! I’d hate for someone to give me so much, and me give too little in return.

There’s this silly idea out there that each relationship must be a drain on me— and maybe all your experiences with relationships have been that they take and take and never give. But I refuse to be with someone who takes everything without contributing. As much as I might love you or think you are a good person, I won’t allow myself to be sucked dry.

“But what about when you’re not around? How do you keep them fulfilled when you aren’t there?”

Hmmm. Thanks for the stroke to my ego, but my partners are quite fulfilled. With or without me sitting next to them, staring into their eyes like a demonic presence.

I don’t think my partners are only happy when they’re with me, but, yes, sometimes they miss me. Sometimes I miss them. But that’s life. You miss people in real life.

It’s okay, though, because they have their own lives. I am not always a part of that. It’s okay to keep one’s independence AND simultaneously be near codependent in your relationship with another. It’s not always easy, but the more people you have in your life, the more support you have, too. It’s an upward spiral. Perhaps Stephanie isn’t available to help you deal with losing your job– but Amanda is, and her words are just as comforting, if in a different way. Poly is, in many ways, about appreciating what you have in the moment.

“Well, what about self care? How do you tend for yourself?”

That’s one of the beauties of having so much love and support. While I am never going to not need self care, at the moment, I don’t really need that much. I’m pretty happy. I find a few moments here and there, and that’s plenty. I can always find SOMETHING, even if it’s not much. A hot bath at the end of the day. Indulging in chats with one of my online groups.

Sure, I can fall behind. With myself. With someone in my family. With a friend or a partner. But life isn’t about keeping score. You forgive yourself, and you work to do something nice the next day.

Besides, what about yourself?

It’s not always about the romance. I bet that you have at least as many “relationships” going on in your own life. You just don’t call them relationships. But—

— think of all the relationships YOU maintain. Your four children, your elderly parents, your best friend who lives two states away, your social group, your volleyball team? You probably are doing just as much as I am doing, without even realizing (and if you don’t, that’s okay, too). Life, after all, isn’t just about boyfriends and girlfriends.

…be honest. How do YOU do it?

How many relationships are YOU nurturing in your life? Romantic, platonic, familial, professional?

Like other analogies? This one might help!

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