In the mass and confusion of dating triangles, circles, squares and other various arrangements out there, a new term has sprung up: solo poly. Fuck.com has asked our infamous Abi Brown to clarify exactly WTF that is.
On The Fence:
Reinterpreting the Line Between ‘Single’ and ‘Taken’
or The Good, the Bad and the Not-so-Ugly to Being Solo Poly
People who run their romantic lives the way that I currently do - the jargon term du jour would be ‘solo poly’ - exist in a liminal state. We’re right on the line between ‘single’ and ‘taken’. We can chatter happily about our relationships and swap stories about what we’re up to with our partners, but we’re also effectively single in many of the ways that count. We have both the best and the worst of both worlds.
I’ve chosen this life, obviously: it suits me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But there are things that come up from time to time that make me wish there was some kind of textbook; a guide for negotiating the tricksier parts of my own lifestyle choices.
Oh man, being single is great. At this point in my life, I’m very attached to my solo identity. If I want to go to a party and keep drinking till dawn, I just can. There’s nobody around who might want to leave earlier but won’t do so without me. I live alone, and everything in my flat is arranged exactly to suit me and nobody else - and nobody gets to be annoyed by how enormously particular and anally-retentive I am about it. There isn’t anyone who has any jurisdiction over the choices I make about my life or my body. My single friends and I can bond over how exciting all this stuff is and how much easier life can be when you’re staying solo.
You know what else is great? Being in a relationship. Being in a relationship is great. I can pretty much always get a date to an event. When some life crisis comes up and I want a cuddle I can generally arrange for that to happen. There are two excellent people in my life with whom I can share the joys, stresses, hobbies and confusions we all have. When people have mushy talks about how good their relationships are, I can join in with those as well.
Some days I fucking hate being single. I occasionally panic about that whole thing where it’s plausible that I will die alone and get eaten by Alsatians. When friends plan group holidays I always end up with the crappy sleeping space, which many years ago I christened “the Bridget Jones bed” because all the fancy doubles in the nice rooms need to go to the Smug Marrieds. I’m secretly a big mushy romantic, and all that gooey stuff that doesn’t fit right in the relationships I have sometimes feels like a thing I wish I could get in on.
Other days, being in relationships feels like a stumbling block in ways that have nothing to do with the people I’m actually in those relationships with. Remember that ‘solo identity’ I’m so attached to? It’s absolutely not a constant. Sometimes I do need to leave that party with the person I arrived with, whether I’m ready to go or not. Sometimes I get an idea that I want to do a thing but the person I’ll be spending that day with isn’t into it. That’s not a bad thing - it’s how relationships work - but I’m kind of like the cat who walks alone. It doesn’t always come naturally to me and I have to work at it.
Figuring all this out is hard, at least in a #firstworldproblems sort of way. One of the reasons it’s so hard is that there’s no culturally mandated road map for it. That textbook doesn’t exist, though if you’re still looking for it the excellent archive is a great place to start.
Those of us who are in this liminal place - whether by choice or by accident (or, like me, “sort of both and it’s complicated and stop asking such difficult questions okay”) - can see both sides of the line in a way that many can’t. We’re ridiculously lucky in that we can both have our cake and eat it, but like any poor-little-rich-girl situation we have our own challenges to think about.
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