Adam (PolyN00b) is a 30 year old, bisexual man living happily in an FMF triad with hetaera and independently happy. His other writings can be seen at

A Poly Parable

Being a parent, there are two constants in my day-one: I spend a large portion of my day doing kid things: changing diapers, playing cars, putting puzzles together-and of course, watching cartoons. Two: I am short on sleep. Combining these two things led down an interesting thought process while watching Disney's Toy Story earlier this week.

Toy Story chronicles the tale of all of the toys that live in "Andy's Room" and amongst them are the standard toys that many of us remember from growing up - Mr. Potato Head, a Dinosaur named Rex, a Barbie doll, a Radio controlled car named RC and many, many others including the favorite toy, a Cowboy doll named Woody. Being the favorite toy, Woody seems to have a position of status amongst the others and is an established leader. The arrangement works well. Both Andy and the toys are happy.

Enter Andy's birthday party. A seemingly innocuous event throws all the toys into a panic fearing they will be replaced. Andy gets a shiny new space toy called Buzz Lightyear for his birthday. It's the hottest toy on the market and the one that all the kids want. This makes Woody's place as favorite toy tenuous at best. What follows is a story that finds Woody jealous of Buzz, Buzz struggling with his personal identity and Andy just wanting to play with both of his toys.

Through my haze of not enough sleep and seeing everything through my "kid filter" I began to look at this story with a new interest. I couldn't possibly be seeing parallels between a beloved children's story and the world of polyamory? Could I? I began to consider.

Andy and Woody have an established relationship, even a loving one albeit not romantic in the least, but what child doesn't love his or her favorite toy? Woody enjoys being Andy's favorite and Andy has made Woody the center of his world-Woody bed sheets, Woody curtains, he even sports a cowboy hat to match Woody's. It works for them, it is very established and it is comfortable for everyone. Enter Buzz, the new favorite, newer, shinier and of course catching Andy's fancy. Andy began to spend less time playing with Woody in favor of his new Buzz Lightyear toy. Gone in fact are the Woody bed sheets and Woody curtains, and instead all things Space take over. It is as if Andy is in a period of NRE with Buzz. The parallels don't stop there.

Woody finds himself so jealous of Buzz that he seeks to regain his position as Andy's favorite toy even if it means knocking Buzz out the window-in effect breaking up Buzz and Andy. This jealousy leads him to irrationality and ultimately Woody and Buzz find themselves completely separated from Andy and forced to work things out on their own. During this time we see that Andy is despondent over losing both Buzz and Woody, not just Buzz. Eventually Woody and Buzz come to an understanding and find themselves back with Andy and all's well that ends well.

The more I thought about this, the more it struck me that monogamy is a learned response, not necessarily a natural one. As children we play with all the children on the playground regardless of race, color or gender. We play with all the toys in the toy box. Even when we have our favorites, the others are not cast aside. In fact, if you told a child they could only ever have one toy and that whenever they wanted a new toy that meant they had to throw out what they have, they would look at you as if you had sprouted another head. It never occurred to Andy that he couldn't have both Buzz and Woody as favorites, and such things don't occur to most of us, until someone tells us that it can't be that way.

So much of our lives we live according to what we are taught should happen. We should be obedient children, do well in school, grow up, get a job, marry and then have children; raising them to do the same. We are taught that one true love is the way of things, that every princess has a prince. The lessons are plentiful, permeating our culture until it is so embedded into everything that we see and do that we forget the carefree play we experienced as children. We become so caught up in the "shoulds" of life that we forget the most important lessons that can be learned. Perhaps this is why we spend so much of our adult life trying to get in touch with our "inner child" because our subconscious knows that in our adult lives, what we have learned has drawn us away from the truth that love is limitless and that life can be full of joy.


Posted on Polyamorous Percolations 13 April 2010 at 16:00 USEDT