Making Poly Less of a Pain in the Ass
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because no matter where you are, there you go.
By Eugene S. Robinson
A Lapse … in Judgment
EUGENE, SIR: Back before the shutdowns my company hosted an event for our clients. While standing in line for food I struck up a conversation with the man in front of me. Our tables ended up being next to each other’s, so we kept talking. I told him we had a swag room and asked whether he’d like some swag. We ended up going to the swag room, where we started to have sex. I didn’t want to get caught, so I suggested we go back to his hotel. He said we couldn’t because his girlfriend was in their room (she’d been too tired to attend the event). So we stayed in the swag room. It turns out there were cameras in the room, and I got fired. I don’t feel comfortable with the video existing, though; I didn’t choose to make it. What’s my legal recourse in getting it from my former employer? — Not Ready 4 Any Kind of Close-Up
Dear Ruh-Roh!: Well, I’m no Clarence Darrow — in fact, I’m no kind of legal authority AT ALL — but I can play this out pretty close to how it’s going to be played. You ask your former employer to give you the video. They agree and hand it over, but they give you a copy and, in a CYA move, maintain a copy for their records, maybe in case of a wrongful termination suit down the road. Or maybe just for kicks.
The second scenario? They don’t agree to hand the video over. Because this is America and anyone can sue anybody for anything, you can then go legal on them. In fine-print land, you might have noted that a company is allowed to film or record just about anything that happens on company premises. There’s no assumption of personal privacy in someone else’s crib. You’d be right to be angry if you found a friend had set up secret cameras in their bathrooms, but they could do so even if it was sort of hard to explain why in court.
The company, though, could easily make the claim that it’s protecting inventory by having a camera in the swag room. In which case, you’d have to go down the rocky road of explaining why you want the video and … well, my suggestion? Take the L on this one, and remember, with technology being as it is these days, everybody is always watching.
EUGENE, SIR: My man and I are a poly couple. I’m sure you know there are lots of different types of poly, but here’s the thing: When we have other couples over to play, we don’t play with them. We play in the same room, but there’s no crossing. By mutual agreement. But there’s a problem. Specifically, I must always look at my boyfriend. I can close my eyes, but if I open them and look over at the other couple, then later there are lots of questions about whether or not I found the other man attractive and so on. At first I thought this was part of his kink, but the conversations aren’t very enjoyable for either of us. If we’re alone, everything is fine, but why call ourselves poly if we’re not really? — Name withheld by request
Dear Eyes Wide Open: Humans are curious creatures. We want to have the fancy, nice things but often discover that having the fancy, nice things usually means someone has to pay. Witness: Your boyfriend’s attempt at poly. Somewhere along the way, the idea that this was cool seemed cool to him. Fantasies always seem cool. The reality, though, can flower into all kinds of weirdness.
You can look in his eyes but nowhere else? This would be weird if we were just talking about dinnertime, never mind sex. And not just sex but sought-after sex with another couple. It’s like inviting people over to watch the Super Bowl and not looking at them for the duration of the game. Preposterous.
So, yeah. While it seems everyone wants to keep pace with the cool kids, everyone can’t keep pace with the cool kids. If the rest of the relationship is working — though that kind of control issue is a red flag — maybe just ease on away from polyamory. It will be there when and if he’s really ready for it. And if it’s a must-have for you, ease on out of the relationship since you’ll be getting no real version of it as things are. Good luck.
Pretty Poly Part 2
EUGENE, SIR: We started playing poly when we came to the conclusion that it made more sense than telling each other lies. At least, that was the rationale. In practice, though, and though we regularly enjoy the lifestyle in every manifestation, it hasn’t stopped the half-truths. So it’s literally like we have decided to allow anything so that we don’t have to lie about anything and even when there is no need to lie, she’s still telling lies. Easily provable lies. It’s ridiculous. Advice! Please! — Warren
Dear Mr. Beatty: I had a friend who was in AA, and after seven years in AA, he told me that he had figured something out about people who went to AA or NA or SAA, whatever. I was game, so I asked him what he had figured out.
“The only thing they’re really addicted to,” he said, digging a toothpick between his teeth, “is guilt.” The drug or drink was the delivery vehicle to get them the guilt they were not-so-secretly addicted to. I laughed and filed it away and so here we are, again. My guess is that the lure here is not the sexy stuff but the transgression connected to the telling of the lie. Which doesn’t seem sexy to me, but I’m not big on telling lies. And you’re in a weird, Monty Python–esque bind since if you level the accusation that the liar is really lusting after the lie, you’ve just given them the opportunity to do exactly that. So you’re kind of trapped. Unless you decide that the value here is never in what they say, they do, but in whatever else is valuable about the relationship.
I guess. Insert the shoulder-shrugging emoji of your choice here.