Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com
This month’s topic is Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO as basically everyone says. I struggled to think what to write about for a while, as it was a thing I wasn’t sure if I’d actually experienced or not. I’ve always been kind of “yay, my partners are happy and I didn’t even need to do anything to make that happen”. So I suppose I wondered if I should sit this one out, as apparently I don’t experience this big thing which poly people are supposed to experience.
Then I remembered that fuck it, Poly Means Many. And I do get this feeling–it manifests differently, perhaps, but it is definitely a fear of missing out.
When I first started doing poly, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. Not one of the well-behaved ones, but one of the ones who eats everything and ends up on a sugar high and then eats more sweeties and then is sick everywhere. In short, I didn’t want to miss a thing. I wanted to be everywhere, do everything (and everyone). I’d tear around like a tornado of sexual energy, not go home for days at a time because I was too busy with… actually probably making some terrible decisions.
See, during that time, I don’t think I ever said no to anything. I ended up doing a lot of stuff which was actually pretty terrible for me. I had sex I didn’t want, I ended up in relationships I wasn’t particularly sure about, and to say I burnt the candle at both ends is a bit of an understatement. I let a lot of people down, because it turns out it’s physically impossible to be in about eight places at once.
The reason I did all of this was because I was afraid that if I didn’t seize every opportunity as it appeared, it would be gone. I feared that there might be some sort of expiry date on human contact and so I had best enjoy it while it was fresh. I was scared of missing out by not doing everything immediately.
I was lucky, I suppose, that my FOMO didn’t lead to any life-alteringly drastically bad consequences. I pursued a lot of thoroughly awful ideas at that time.
I finally got over it. I realised that I didn’t have to do everything all at once. That this lovely sweet shop I found would stay open, and if I didn’t cram everything into my ravenous face-hole all at once, I’d enjoy it far more. I would miss out on precisely nothing by putting my own needs and self-care first.
Sometimes the feeling rears its head again, and I’m not going to pretend that I magically started making excellent decisions after all of this. Hell, I still make highly questionable choices from time to time. The difference is I’m aware now of precisely why I’m doing it, and I’m much, much better at not making a hot mess of my silly, silly life. I feel more secure in myself, and in my relationships with others, which helps me negotiate and meet my own needs.
I know I’m not going to miss out. I feel it most of the time. And now, at least, I’m starting to learn what to do with the feelings when they skew the other way.