Monday, May 4, 2015

loving more than one (at the same time)

A five-sentence story: I spent 5 summers as a camp counselor. One summer I arrived a few weeks late and met two awesome female counselors who already had a great friendship. I clicked with them both almost instantly, and soon all three of us seemed to be hanging out every chance we got. I was drawn and romantically attracted to both of them, but I "knew", as far as romance was concerned, I had to “pick” just one of them, even though it felt in some ways arbitrary, especially since we all got along together so well. Why did I have to “pick"?

After more than 7 years of reading, thinking, and experiences after that, I came to recognize myself as polyamorous.

Polyamory (poly for short) is the belief/feeling/act of having multiple loving relationships, loving multiple people at the same time. Polyamory is usually contrasted with monogamy. Polyamory is distinct from other non-monogamous forms because of its focus on relationships, not just sex with other people. Additionally, consent of all partners involved is necessary for ethical polyamory to exist.

I've considered myself polyamorous for about two years now, and for the past 20 months I've been dating a wonderful woman who happens to be engaged to someone that isn't me. It was the first “real” poly relationship any of us had entered into, so we’ve learned a lot, but it's also been and continues to be an amazing and rewarding relationship.

Being poly is often challenging, but any relationship worth having takes some work. The specific challenges may be different, but I don't think it's necessarily harder to be poly than not. In fact, poly people are often more skilled in things like communication and self-knowledge because without these skills you'll quickly find yourself in many undesired situations.

Some dismiss poly people as averse to commitment or choosing polyamory to avoid true intimacy and being fully vulnerable. I disagree. Oftentimes, poly people commit to multiple partners, an act that is more intense, with greater vulnerability, than someone who is monogamous.

Some people believe being polyamorous is a choice, though for me it is a part of my identity, just like being gay/straight/queer/bisexual/pansexual/asexual is innate to a person. One CAN chose it as a relationship structure, but for myself and many others, it's an innate quality, a feeling that exists whether we act on it or not.

I sometimes think about trying to live a conventional, monogamous life; while it would certainly be “easy” is some ways (i.e. socially acceptable, and thus less oppressive), I know I would be hiding a part of my identity, which I never want to do.

I'm not saying everyone should be poly. Polyamory isn't for everyone. I've seen innately non-poly people try to live polyamorously, usually to be/stay with a partner who identifies as poly, but if it's not your innate way of doing relationships, it can be challenging or even impossible.

(Life lesson alert:) It's important that you figure out your wants and needs in relationships and then be open and honest in communicating them with those you love and are interested in.

If you'd like to learn more about this topic, I'd love to have an e-conversation with you/answer any questions you have. I also highly recommend the wonderful “More Than Two” (dotcom) website. It's extremely comprehensive and deals with many things I had no room for here.

Shout out to my Boopy, who's taught me so much and who I love very much.

Be yourself, y’all. It’s how you’ll be happy.

Chicago, IL, USA

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