Ownership of time
There is this thing that happens when you start a monogamous relationship, where both partners lay claim to the other person’s time. This is part of the function of Bachelor’s and Bachelorette parties, where it’s you’re last real hurrah with your friends because you’re giving up all your time to the person that you are marrying, and you’ll never taste real freedom ever again.
It’s not just marriage. You’ve seen this happen with people in nonmarried monogamous relationships do this. People meet the right partner, and then they each lay claims to all the other persons time. They don’t act as if they want to do that, but they do it anyway. I’m not sure what the motivations are exactly for this, but fear, social order, expectations, words like those come to mind.
Many a friendship have perished because of this reality. Sometimes even family relationships suffer, and become relationships in name only, with very little time invested in them anymore, when there is clear desire to do so.
Over the course of time, the partners in the monogamous relationship start to feel the need to claim some of their own time back. Since it’s a huge burden on one partner to “go out” or do anything with former friends, former family, and any relations outside of the primary monogamous relationship, the partners react, and try to seek relief from the crushing burden inside their own marriage.
In my marriage before we opened it, the way it worked was that we built walled off areas that we protected from our spouse. The best way to do this without open defiance is to do things you know the other partner wouldn’t want to do. In my case, I played an MMO all the time. I knew it was safe, safer than locking myself in the bathroom just to reclaim some of my time. My partner watched constant trashy television. I don’t think either of us realized that we were lobbying for freedom, simply because we didn’t realize the possibility of being free.
In fact, we didn’t even realize this was going to be one of the awesome things we’d get from opening our relationship until well afterwards, but knocking down these separate kingdoms has been pretty spectacularly awesome.
How poly changes this
I have to give her time for her other relationships. It started out as time that I was giving her to date a guy she got interested in, but it quickly unfolded into something entirely different. We realized at some point that our time is actually ours. It’s kinda like this, our time, well that is our love. The time that we have is what we’re giving. There’s almost no difference whatsoever in love and time when your time is free.
Well, I never stopped wanting her love. I just didn’t or couldn’t realize that her love is her time. I thought I had to own her time, and that she was supposed to own mine. Well it’s clear that I don’t own her love, especially now. In the same exact way, I have no ownership whatsoever over her time. Any attempt to do so is false in any relationship. Even your employer doesn’t own your time. You are trading it at best, but they can’t own your ability to give it to someone else. It’s truly yours, and any relationship that attempts to build from the concept that your time can be owned by someone else is a terrible relationship you should avoid.
But that’s all a little beside the point. As soon as I realized that her time was hers, I wanted some of it. I wanted to earn some of her love. Not all of her time, but some. My separate kingdoms that I’d painstaking built over years vanished so suddenly, that it was like they’d never been there. The event made so much sudden sense to me that I saw this sort of necessary folly of what I’d been doing with extreme clarity. Polyamory has been more about excising unreasonable parts of my world-view, rather than adopting an alien one.
She lets me do whatever I want with my time. I want to give lots of it to her. She wants to ensure that I give her some of my time, and I want to ensure that she gives me some of hers. I let her do whatever she really wants. What we really want to do serves us both as an excellent compass for which way we want to go. It works out so simply and beautifully.