I am polyamorous.
This is different than other types of non-monogamy (swinging, “open relationships”, infidelity). Being polyamorous is lifestyle in which I am open with, and accept, that I have the capability of loving (romantically) and sustaining deeply emotional relationships with more than one person. It’s the practice of having multiple relationships where there is honesty, communication, and consent between all of those involved.
This is different than an open relationship, or “swinging” or being unfaithful in that, the partnering goes beyond the sexual. “Some examples of polyamorous relationships: a couple who live together or are married and have other emotionally connected sexual relationships, three, four or more people can all live together as a family, raise children and have emotional and sexual connections between all or different combinations within the group.” (http://www.lovemore.com/poly/what-is-polyamory/).
Though I have subconsciously poly my entire life, I didn’t consciously make it a lifestyle choice until about my senior year in high school. It was after a series of relationships involving my off and on lover (now my “primary” partner), emotionally devastated the relationships I was having with other romantic partners. For the record, I have never been unfaithful, either physically or emotionally. But I did know that while I was deeply involved with certain partners, my emotions for my longtime lover where there, and wanted to be expressed.
He had the same feelings, and our emotional attachment also caused stress in his various monogamous relationships. It didn’t help that romantics aside, we had a long history (he was my first boyfriend and we met in 7th grade), and are really just best friends. Anyways, through many conversations (and awkward moments) we came to realize that our love for each other in no way diminished the love we could have or others. So we informally began our poly journey. When meeting new partners (in which there is potential for an intimate relationship) we are always upfront about the relationship that we have with one another. When approached and asked if I am single, I never say “yes”, but do respond that I am available to date.
Currently, my relationships include my boyfriend (the one from 7th grade…and lover of many years), and new lover. These are two consistent relationships in my life, which I try my best to give fair emotional attention to. I am also dating a few others, though more casually.
Poly isn’t easy. Relationship expectations have to be constantly discussed and negotiated. Like any relationship, jealousy is still a factor; it is simply how we manage it, which is different. If I am feeling jealous that means a discussion needs to be had. Why do I feel this way? Does it mean my needs are not being met? Why am I feeling insecure? It takes a lot of responsibility and honesty to own my feelings.
Polyamory isn’t for everyone. In some ways, it’s easier, because the miscommunications and lies that plague many monogamous relationships aren’t there. People are honest and receptive. But there are still emotions to deal with, differences in expectations, etc. However, I can’t help who I fall in love with or feel affection towards, and it would be unhealthy for me to pretend otherwise. I know Polyamory is the healthiest, sane choice for me. I know that one person can be, but may not always be my “everything”. It’s beautiful to have the option to have all of the many parts of myself fulfilled.
A few Polyamory resources: