Several months ago a family member who knows that I am polyamorous asked how being poly “worked” for me. The question caught me off guard because I’d never had anyone ask me in-depth questions as to why I chose to be polyamorous, and the last person I ever expected to be curious was a family member, though in hindsight maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me much at all. So, in case anyone else is interested, here is a little bit of a roadmap for how I got here, some of the differences I have noticed as compared to monogamous relationships and things I wish someone had told me when I first got interested in the possibility of a nontraditional relationship. I would also like to add the caveat that this is how I choose to live my life. Polyamory is not for everyone and that’s okay. I will never bash traditional monogamous relationships just because I’m not in one.
I am lucky enough to have grown up in a household where I always knew what polyamory was even if it wasn’t the relationship model I saw at home. I have never feared the idea of my immediate family knowing that the people I choose to have an intimate relationship with are more than just good friends. Extended family is somewhat different but the older I get the less apologetic I find myself being, so if someone asks a question, I will answer truthfully and if they think less of me for living authentically that is their problem, not mine. when Oz and I first started, dating we discussed the idea of a polyamorous relationship partially because of my disability. There are things that he is interested in that I couldn’t experience with him, longer/ non-accessible hiking trails for instance that I would feel bad if he gave up just because I was in his life. I also dislike the idea that a lot of people have that once you are in a committed relationship you must only do things the other person enjoys. Personally, I think that is ridiculous. Just because we don’t have all of the same hobbies or pastimes doesn’t mean we can’t still love each other. In a lot of traditional relationships, I have seen there can be a lot of resentment build up between partners if one spends a lot of time doing a hobby the other does not or cannot share with them.That is one of the nice things about polyamory, Oz can find someone who (among other things, I’m sure)enjoys hiking the harder trails I can’t follow and therefore is less likely to resent me because he felt he had to give up something he likes doing just because I can’t. On the other side of that coin, I have always enjoyed the Society for Creative Anachronism and Oz is currently on the fence about it. I would like him to go to at least one event but even if he does go and decides it’s not his thing, Dylan enjoys it as well so I wouldn’t have to feel like I was twisting someone’s arm just to get to go to an event.
Poly is a lot of talking. If you’re not good at verbalizing things be prepared to write a lot. Communication is key to any relationship and that is magnified exponentially in polyamory. Some little thing bugging you? Talk about it, even if only results in a two-minute conversation because staying quiet does nothing except continue to rub a sore spot raw. One of the things I was asked was how I made sure my emotional needs are met, the answer is more talking. Most people do not claim to be a mind reader and therefore one of the things that one or the other of us has said repeatedly is “I can’t fix a problem I don’t know exists.” A good rule of thumb I have found is that if it’s bothering you talk about it. If it’s something that’s bothering you that you don’t want to talk about then you should definitely be talking about it, it probably won’t get fixed overnight but at least it can be worked on.
A lot of people may ask how individual time gets worked out between everybody. The answer is that it is different for every relationship. Right now Oz and I live in Tennessee and Dylan and Sera live in New York State.Gods bless Google video chat.Oz and I have DVD delivery from Netflix plus the streaming service so at least once a week so at least once a week we make it a point to watch a movie or a couple episodes of television. It’s a good thing we’re all a bunch of third shift working people at my house because I don’t get funny looks for going to bed at four or five or later in the morning because I refuse to sleep until Dylan is home from work. Also, I going to visit them in about a month yay!
A specific word or two about terminology. Many poly people use terms like primary, secondary etc. to differentiate between their relationships. For example in a lot of cases, I have seen people use the term primary relationship to refer to the relationship they have with their legal spouse. A lot of people would consider Oz my primary relationship because he is the one I currently share living space with on a regular basis and finances etc. I do not personally care for labeling things that way. If it was necessary and within my capabilities to do so I would give whatever was needed to those I love, whether it was blood, money, food, organs, a roof over their heads, bone marrow etc. and they all know this. I don’t do things by halves if I’m in your life I will stay there as long as you will let me and while I’m there I will support you in any way that I can.
Authors note: This is what polyamory looks like for me there are as many different forms of it as there are people who are in polyamorous relationships.