Hey all! My wonderful fiancé Shaun has invited me to become an author on this blog. Anything I have to say about skepticism and polyamory I’ll post over here; for broader discussions of human sexuality and other areas of interest to me, check out my own blog.
As an introduction, I thought I’d write about how I became polyamorous. A lot of people find it perfectly natural that a man would want a relationship where he could have multiple partners, but balk at the idea of a woman’s embracing the same thing. So here’s my story.
I have the disadvantage of still being in my first poly relationship. Before I met Shaun, I just assumed I wanted a monogamous lifelong partner; the fact that it was meeting him that got me reconsidering that assumption casts suspicion on my decision to be polyamorous for a lot of people. “Ah,” they think, and some have outright said, “she knew she had to put up with this to keep him, so she went along and is making the best of it.” If I’d broken up with my first non-monogamous partner and continued to pursue non-monogamous relationships on my own, I’d have more credibility. Unfortunately, I found a terrific, loving, compatible partner the first time around. Sucks to be me.
I’d heard of polyamory before I met Shaun: my best friend dated a poly woman for a while, and we had several discussions about it, during which I concluded that, while I didn’t think there was anything wrong with honest, ethical non-monogamy, I wouldn’t want to do it myself. A truly original statement, that one.
What I meant when I said I wanted monogamy for myself was that I wanted a relationship of deep intimacy and commitment. I wanted to pour my energy, care, and devotion into my hypothetical partner, and I wanted him to do the same for me. And like many monogamous people, I just couldn’t imagine the same depth of love, intimacy, and connection happening in a non-monogamous relationship.
Being confronted with real life has a way of shattering faulty assumptions and expanding our imaginations. When I met Shaun, I knew he was attractive and interesting, and someone I wanted in my life. I also knew that I was pining, fairly hopelessly, for a boy who had been sending me mixed-but-mostly-negative signals. If that boy ever came around, I would want to jump at the chance, which I knew would be unfair to anybody new I’d started dating. In that light, meeting a cute polyamorous man was like a revelation: maybe I could have it all! As it does for many people, just the fact of being interested in two people at once made me realize several things: first, that I was very capable of wanting relationships with more than one person at a time; second, that my interest in one of them had really no impact on my interest in the other; third, that the inconveniences and challenges of polyamory might well be balanced out by the solutions it offered to other inconveniences and challenges that I had always taken for granted.
I didn’t embrace it all at once. I did a lot of reading and thinking. I remembered a lot of daydreams that I’d had as a child and suppressed as I “matured” into the realization that these didn’t fit with the pattern of adult life I’d been taught to aspire to… daydreams about having different lovers that met different needs of mine, shared different interests. I thought of how I’d always said “I could forgive being cheated on, but not being lied to”: I’ve never felt that a partner’s being intimate with someone else was in any way a betrayal of me, but it is vitally important to me that I can trust my partners to be fully, radically honest with me. I thought of how important family is to me, how I’ve always loved being part of a small, close-knit group of peers that shared life and supported each other, how I’ve wondered how to make those communities stable and permanent rather than only for a time.
At the same time, I told Shaun I was interested in polyamory but not making any promises. I might turn out to hate it; I’ve had too many exciting ideas turn out to be unhappy realities to talk confidently about how I’d feel a few months down the road. I took it slow, but what I found as time went by was that non-monogamy felt easy, natural, comfortable and happy. There was never a moment that I said, “Okay, I’m officially polyamorous now, not just trying it out,” but as our relationship progressed and we each dated other people, it became harder and harder for me to imagine going back to monogamy.
For me, it’s not primarily about being able to have multiple partners. I like having multiple partners, and giving that up would be a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice I could imagine making if I had a very good reason. The things I couldn’t give up are the view of love without possessiveness, the ethic of honesty and communication, and the opportunities to develop close-knit communities where sexual or romantic interest doesn’t have to jeopardize everybody’s existing relationships. I’m a happy woman.