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Poly Problems

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Excerpt from S02E15: A Problem of Memory

IZZY: We’re transferring Valentine to Idris tonight. I assume you want to be part of the mission.

CLARY: Uh, actually, I don’t. I-I have to go sort all this out with Simon in person.

IZZY: I know it’s none of my business, but after what you guys just went through, maybe you should give Simon some time.

CLARY: No. No, I can’t let him think that what happened in the Seelie Court is how I really feel.

IZZY: Clary, Seelie magic might trick you, but it’s always true. I know it’s confusing, but you can have feelings for two people at the same time. It doesn’t make you a bad person.


Chapter 1: Isabelle is Amazing

Isabelle Lightwood is pretty much the most amazing woman that Clary has ever met, but even talking to her bestie can’t make her feel completely okay right now. It does help to hear Izzy say that she’s still a good person and perfectly normal, but it doesn’t erase Simon’s pain or her own confusion after what happened in the Seelie Court. It does, however, pique Clary’s curiosity. After a few deep breaths, she steels her will and starts googling. The search term “can you love two people at the same time” brings up over 60,000 results of varying opinions and quality levels. Clary enters full research mode.

Four hours later, after a really deep dive down the cyberspace rabbit hole, Clary is armed with a wide variety of romantic advice and some helpful definitions.

Monogamy: (1) the practice or state of being married to one person at a time; (2) the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner.

Polygamy: the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.

Polyamory: (1) the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved; (2) the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner with the consent of all partners involved; (3) consensual, ethical and responsible non-monogamy.

Emotional infidelity: emotional affairs occur when one partner is channelling physical or emotional energy, time and attention into someone other than the person they are in a committed relationship with to the point that their partner feels neglected.

Open relationships: (1) an open relationship, also known as a non-exclusive relationship, is an intimate relationship which is consensually non-monogamous; (2) an open relationship is one where an established couple has mutually agreed to share a non-monogamous lifestyle; this includes either or both parties having other sexual and/or romantic partners; this type of relationship is carried out with the consent and knowledge of all parties involved; otherwise, it is considered infidelity.

It’s clear after her extensive research that Isabelle is right. A lot of people have emotional, romantic and sexual feelings for more than one person at a time. For polyamorous people, this isn’t considered a problem, but for monogamous people, it can be. Until today, Clary has never considered being anything but monogamous, and although she’s heard of polygamy (illegal in all fifty states) and open relationships (often considered casual), she’s somehow managed to go 18 years without ever encountering the word polyamory. She’s pretty sure that Simon and Jace haven’t heard of it either.

Clary may not have it all figured out yet, but she knows three things for certain: (1) she loves Simon with all her heart, (2) she’s clearly still attracted to Jace, and (3) it’s really fricking wrong to force people kiss each other against their will. She can’t deny the excitement she’d felt kissing Jace again, but what happened in the Seelie Court was both non-consensual and cruel to all parties involved.

Izzy was right about another thing, too. They’ve all been through a lot, and Simon deserves some space if he needs it. She knows that, she does, but it’s a hard fact to reconcile. She herself is overwhelmed with love, empathy, guilt, shame and the terror of impending heartbreak. Clary fears that, if left to his own devices, Simon will feel abandoned and alone and basically assume the worst. In her limited experience, boys aren’t much for talking about their feelings, even on a good day, but something this shattering needs to be discussed. At the very least, she wants to apologize to Simon and tell him how much she loves him. She probably also needs to talk to Jace, but that’s a battle for a different day.

Going by the boathouse at the Jade Wolf proves fruitless, hammering home Izzy’s point: you can’t talk to someone if they can’t or won’t talk back. And right now, Simon can’t even look at her. Fine, then, she won’t go running back to pound on his door again. But she needs to make contact. She can’t just sit by while Simon is suffering.

Clary starts with a text message: “I love you so much. I’m sorry.” And then, she flops onto her bed and spends some time crying into her pillow.

She texts Simon again in the morning, despite his complete lack of response: “I love you. Please talk to me.”

Logically, she knows she should be using the time apart to think, but it’s difficult to sort out her own feelings without someone to talk to. She could talk to Izzy again or maybe even Alec, who gives surprisingly good romantic advice, but she really needs to talk to Simon. No one knows Clary better than he does, and it’s impossible to fix things with no idea what he’s thinking. Simon is both her lover and her best and oldest friend, and she craves nothing more than his comforting embrace. Clary wants Simon to hug her and tell her that everything’s going to be okay like he has done for over a decade of crises and calamities.

She decides it’s time to go back to Simon’s place.