There is something we don’t talk about much in polyamory. Those of us who are educators and activists tend to focus only on the positive aspects of polyamory. We’re so busy playing cheerleader (see, polyamory is healthy! It’s fun! You can have your Kate and Edith too! There’s no need to be afraid your partner will leave you from someone else, when they can have both of you!) that we don’t talk about the bits that are scary and disruptive. We don’t talk about the fact that, yes, even in polyamory, sometimes you do choose one person over another.
A game changer is a relationship that’s so amazing, so spectacular, so absolutely mindblowing (or sometimes, so terrible and destructive) that it changes your life. It changes your sense of what’s possible. It changes you, in a thousand different ways. Game-changers change things. It’s in the name. They’re disruptive.
A lot of the rules and structures and hierarchies we see in polyamorous relationships are tacit admissions that game-changers can happen. They’re scary. A game-changing relationship can make you aware that things you thought were not possible, actually are possible after all. It can change your priorities. It can change what you want your life to look like. It can change your entire life.
I was married when I met Shelly, my first game-changer. Shelly, whose guest posts about consent and family you will find right here on this blog, is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met in my life.
I really believed I had a pretty good handle on things when I met her. I truly believed I had it all figured out…what I wanted my life to look like, who I was as a person, what my priorities were. Shelly changed all that. She showed me a world I did not, in a very literal sense, believe was possible.
My marriage did not survive that relationship. There were a lot of reasons for that, but ultimately, what it came down to was Shelly showed me that the compromises I had made weren’t always necessary–and worse, were actively harmful to people who got close to me. My wife and I had not built a relationship resilient enough to accommodate change, and our relationship ended.
When it did, I was subjected to a lot of blowback from the other poly people I knew. The end of my marriage was interpreted by many people (not all, to be fair, but many) as a betrayal of the proper poly ideals. I had, people said, chosen one person over another, the one unforgivable cardinal sin of polyamory. I had renounced all that polyamory stood for.
It wasn’t true, of course. What I had actually done was far worse: I’d chosen one way of life over another: a way that favored trust over rules, communication over restriction, and love over structure. And it changed me. It changed the way I thought, and wrote, about polyamory.
Over the years, I’ve heard from many other people in the midst of game-changing relationships, and many of them are struggling with the same things. They’re perceived to be abandoning the ideals of both polyamory and monogamy, and they’re feeling shame over that. They feel like they’re doing it wrong. Like loving another person too much, or changing as a human being themselves, makes them bad poly people. And I’ve realized that’s not okay.
The person I am now was shaped more by Shelly than by any other person in my life, possibly including my parents. And I like who I am now. I don’t think we should be shamed for relationships that make our lives better.
That’s what The Game Changer is about. It’s a memoir, and it’s my next book.
It’s also the book the big publishers wanted me to write back when I first set off down this to writing More Than Two.
I first started thinking about writing a poly book back in around 2005 or so. I had been working on my poly website, which was hosted at xeromag.com back then, for about five years, and I kept getting email from people saying “Hey, Franklin, when are you going to write a book?”
I didn’t, back then, think of myself as a writer. My college roommate back in the day kept telling me I was a writer, but I still had an idea that when I grew up I was going to be a computer programmer. Or a linguist. Or a biologist. Or…anything but a writer.
The “Hey, Franklin, when are you going to write a book?” emails kept coming in, though, and eventually I decided, hey, I know! I’ll write a book!
I knew less than nothing about writing a book, so I bought a book on writing books. It was called How to Sell, Then Write Your Nonfiction Book. According to this book on writing books, there’s a process you’re supposed to follow. You put together a query letter and a proposal. You create an outline and a sample chapter or two. You make a list of publishers and agents who handle books in that field, and you send your proposal to all those people.
I did this, sending out almost 70 copies of the proposal. And then I waited.
Eventually, I started getting responses. A few of them were obviously form letters that just said “no.” One or two of them said, “Your project looks interesting, but we’re not signing new authors just now.” And a bunch of them… Well, a bunch of them–more than half of the replies I received, in fact–said, “We aren’t interested in a how-to book on relationships, but if you rewrite your proposal as a memoir, we’d love to have it!”
I didn’t want to write a memoir. What I wanted to write was the book I wish I could have read, back when I was screwing things up and hurting people. I didn’t want to titillate people. I wanted to help people be excellent to each other.
So I shelved the book. And then I met Eve, and she told me she wanted to write a book with me, and More Than Two was born. Thanks to her, it is a damn sight better than the book I would have written, so I’m glad the publishing companies turned me down. I am very proud of More Than Two, and it would not be the book it is if I had never met Eve.
It was over the course of writing More Than Two that we realized how powerful, and how scary, the archetype of the game changer really is. And that’s when we realized… I need to write that memoir.
Since I hadn’t been able find a publisher for More Than Two, Eve and I started a publishing company, Thorntree Press. It was a rocky road with a huge learning curve, and we learned quite a lot about the dark, seedy underbelly of the publishing industry. The industry is a sucker’s game, with authors and illustrators generally getting screwed at every turn. We resolved not to be like that.
We’re publishing The Game Changer next year. But a publishing company needs more than just one book a year, and we’re absolutely thrilled to be collaborating with two exceptional writers for next year’s lineup. We have three books next year, including The Game Changer. The second is an anthology of stories by poly people about their experiences, curated by sociologist and researcher Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door. And the third is the second edition of The Husband Swap, Louisa Leontiades’ own memoir about her life in a quad.
Like More Than Two, we’re financing these three new books a by a crowdfunding campaign. This new campaign is short, and offers a lot of awesome perks, including stuff we intend to ship out to our backers before Christmas, including More Than Two! I hope you’ll help support these new projects. I invite you to check it out and help us make these books happen.
I am absolutely gobsmacked by the support Eve and I have gotten for More Than Two. I hope you’ll be willing to stay with us on the next step of this journey.
Like what you’re reading on the More Than Two blog? Buy the book now.