I still remember telling a high school crush that I wanted her to be my girlfriend, but that it was ok with me if she still wanted to have sex with and/or fall in love with other people, too.
Spoiler alert: she did not end up being my girlfriend, and warned me about telling others about my ‘dangerous’ way of thinking.
Fast forward several years later, when my partner told me about her innocent little crush she had on her boss. “Well, maybe you should fuck him,” I found myself saying, entirely without any intended sarcasm or sass. I was very much open to her sleeping with her boss, and to be honest, pretty turned on by the idea. Again, this was not exactly met with an open minded reply, and ultimately this friction contributed to our relationship going sour.
These events, and others like them sprinkled throughout the first third of my life, left me confused and feeling like an oddity. I never could quite relate to the idea that being in love with one person automatically meant that you had to be sexually or romantically exclusive, yet all around me, there were messages – in newspapers, movies, magazines, etc – telling me I was wrong and idealistic. I didn’t know it yet, but I would soon come to learn that I was one of the millions of people in the world who identify as being polyamorous.
Without the context or language to express how I felt , however, I recoiled and followed the path most taken…Monogamous relationships, as unnatural as they seemed to me, became my norm, too. This serial monogamy continued until about 6 years ago or so, when I had my first experience with an open relationship. While talking candidly one night about past exploits, my partner mentioned her last relationship had been with a guy named Don*…. and a woman named Stacy*.
*Names have been changed
“I slept with them a couple of times, and then actually dated them for a while,” she said. “They’re poly.”
It’s chiche to say it, but i still remember this moment like it was yesterday. My mind blown by the idea that relationships could, indeed, involve more than two people, my partner and I started to flirt with the idea. Unfortunately for the both of us, our communication skills surrounding this element of our relationship were terrible, and the only outside ‘play’ that happened was done without discussion of how we actually felt about anything. As a result, that relationship ended (poorly), but I was encouraged to have met others who at least shared my outlook surrounding monogamy…. namely, that it didn’t HAVE to be the only way.
As a result, I started digging further into literature about polyamory, non-monogamy, open relationships, swinging, etc. Aside from learning all sorts of fun new words and terminology, I ALSO learned that the dating pool for others with a similar outlook was drastically smaller. At times, I would question whether or not I was being unrealistic, but thankfully, with the help of some solid friends and mentors, I accepted my outlook as part of who I am.
Since then, I’ve had many healthy, non-monogamous relationships, all of which have helped me grow exponentially as a person. I’ve learned a LOT about love, authenticity, and communication, all of which have made me a better partner and a better man.
If you’re like most people, you probably have tonnes of questions about how being non-monogamous works, and likely some misconceptions as well. I’ll address all of these in part 3, coming soon.