Polyamory, My Story
Polyamory, the possibility of being in romantically loving (Eros) relationships with more than one person at any given time.
This is a lifestyle choice where all the individuals know about and accept the other relationships. Ethics, understanding, honesty and above all, communication are essential in Polyamory.
My Husband (D) and I are very much in love and have been married for 6 and a half years, and been together for over 8 years, being friends for years before that. I have never been a natural monogamist, but the very idea of cheating is anathema to me. I tried opening up my relationship with a previous boyfriend, but he wasn't comfortable with it, so we stopped that. And I had a threesome with my girlfriend and another person in high school, but that was not at all to my liking.
When D and I started dating, we were already best friends and had discussed the way, even when totally in love with my partner, I was still attracted (physically, emotionally and mentally) to other people and saw nothing wrong with what was natural for me. He and I spoke about it and decided to take things slowly, first with me (and him, if he chose to) flirting with others, then kissing. When we got married we promised to be honest and ethical with each other, but never 'forsaking all others'.
We were still searching for something that would make us both comfortable with non-monogamy, but all the options seemed to focus heavily on sex without attachment, and what both of us craved was more love and intimacy. This is not to say that we didn't love each other enough; we just see love for partners in the same way as love for children. The more children a parent has, the more love they can give. Same thing for romantic partners. The more love you give, the more you have. There is no such thing as too much love.
Shortly after our wedding, a new friend mentioned a past relationship of his with a man and a woman at the same time. He described how they were all in love, and happy together. He called it Polyamory. It was a light-bulb moment. That night we spent hours on Google looking at all the information. The more we read, the more it resonated with us.
A few months later, with much nervousness and concern for D, I started a relationship with another man. If anyone was uncomfortable or jealous, we would all stop and talk about it. The answer to most problems seems to be talking and compromise. If D was jealous, we would talk about it and find the cause. One thing that made him jealous was whether he would be getting less sex if I was having sex with another. We made rules around time set aside for intimacy and sex, and this relieved the pressure considerably. In fact we tended to have more sex, thanks to New Relationship Energy (NRE: also called Disney Chemicals). I was so happy and sexually aware that my libido increased, as it does at the start of a relationship, and I took that energy into my marriage too.
While that 1st relationship failed, and that is a whole different story, we learned so much about ourselves and each other that we decided to try it again. With his 1st relationship, it was much easier since he was dating a polyamorous woman with lots of experience in the lifestyle, so she was very open to discussing and compromising with lots of useful advice from her past relationships.
Since then, I have had a few dates and short term romances, but nothing long term. D on the other hand is in a fantastic relationship with an amazing woman. They have been together for almost 2 years and are very happy and in love.
It takes a fortune of thought and time to practice polyamory without hurting people. And since it is all about people we love, we would rather not hurt anybody. Some might say that it isn't worth the effort, in which case they shouldn't do it. I learn so much and gain so much from each relationship that the hard work is a fair price to pay.
Most important in polyamory, for me, is being ethical. Ethical, to me, means not doing something that hurts others, even if I want to. It is all about not being selfish and being aware of others. Ignorance is not an excuse and breaking trust is not an option.
One of the most obvious ways to hurt someone is physically. Since I might be having sex with multiple partners, I have to be more cautious that those who have only one partner throughout their lives. That means the obvious; CONDOMS!, but also the less obvious. Before I start any sexual relationship I get tested for the following: HIV, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Herpes, Gonorrhoea and I have a pap smear to check for abnormalities. I require the same of my female sexual partners and the same but with a GP's visit for my male sexual partners. Even if all this comes out clean, we still use condoms, femidoms, latex gloves, dental dams (depending on the activity) and don't swap any sexual fluids (like on fingers and toys). I am also saving up to have the HPV vaccination. I feel everyone should have these tests before starting a new sexual relationship, whether you have one at a time or not.
Lying is the main way I can see to hurt someone and I refuse to lie, ever. If there is something bothering me, no matter how small, I talk about it. I don't let it fester. And I expect the same from my loved ones, be they lovers, family or friends. No problem is too small or insignificant to mention. And I make the time to listen to them, from a judgement free space. I have to work very hard not to tell my loved ones what to do, since I am a 'problem solver' and I have to try to wait for them to ask for advice. If they have a problem with me, I try very hard not to take offence and rather listen and process their words.
What I found helps with any communication is using 'I'. "I feel..." instead of "You make me.." and we must own our own feelings. Also, letting the person speak, and when they are done, repeat what they have said in your own words, to make sure you have understood. Only when everyone is in agreement as to what has been said, have your say. The reason I read so many books and articles on communication is because so much depends on it in my life.
Boundaries and agreements are also very important. It depends on each person what their boundaries are. Mine are very few with regards to D's Girlfriend these days, but when they started I was much less secure and needed to know everything straight after it happened. There were also a few things he couldn't do with her, only with me.
We use Jealousy as a tool. Instead of just saying "I'm jealous", we ask "why am I jealous? What is making me feel insecure?" and often it is something easy to resolve, like time or intimacy. If one partner feels that not enough time was spent with them, the people involved would need to work out a schedule that suited everyone and gave more time to the person. With other issues we may have to change our behaviour to make the jealousy go away, but as long as everyone is doing the work, we find that it eventually goes away.
D's Girlfriend also has many agreements and boundaries with us, as she is in the more vulnerable place: 'Secondary', with D and I being the 'Primary Relationship'. So her feelings and security are focused on. It is important for the Primary relationship to remember that the Secondaries aren't second class citizens and to treat them with respect and care.
Our agreements, these days mostly focus on when to discuss things. For example, I can hug and kiss someone before talking to my partners, but anything further has to be discussed. I can't go on a 2nd date unless my partners have met the new person (unless they are out of town, etc. then other plans are made). These are just a few of our agreements, but everything is open to negotiation and we constantly think about how to improve things.
I often get asked what's in it for me. There is a great joy in seeing someone you love happy and in love. In Polyamorous literature this is called Compersion and is defined as the opposite of jealousy. I get to connect with many people on all different levels and should that level become romantic, I don't have to choose only one relationship. I feel free to follow my desires, not tied down by the society I live in. I think that with all questioning of social norms comes a greater understanding of self. This is not to say that Polyamory is better than Monogamy (although it is for me), but that questioning one's actions and desires will always make one a better person, no matter what the final outcome.
As for my child, new partners are treated as our friends around her. She is so used to us having a wide assortment of our friends in and out of her life, that a few more aren't noticed. Old partners, like long term friends, should they want to, can become Aunt or Uncle to her. There is a great deal of adult care and support given to our child. Some Polyamorous families do have 3 or more parents, and for some people it works extremely well. I have spoken to a psychologist who has said that as long as she knows Mom and Dad love each other and her, there is nothing to worry about. And we certainly do.
Take a look at these links for more information: www.polyamory.co.za
Tags . polyamory