Polyamory! The glorious word that your parents probably scoff at when it comes up in tv shows now. It literally means many loves. And it encompasses a huge group of relationship styles that are outside of traditional monogamy. In monogamy, two people are in one relationship and anything beyond that, whether it's feelings, touching, sex, or relationships is strictly forbidden with other people. Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy (ENM) where you have relationships, love, sex, and touch outside of a single partnership. I've been happily poly for about 6 years, but this is the first time I've been poly and single.
I was first introduced to poly when I saw a show on MTV (omg I know!) when I was about 14 that talked about people who chose to be in multiple relationships at once and were happy doing it! It struck me and stayed with me for a long time. No one I had ever known had been in anything like this. I came from a small town in Delaware, and for sure no one was openly poly around me. I'm probably one of the only out poly people from my small town and I don't live anywhere near there anymore (but I'm sure the rumors have spread!).
I started dating one of the great loves of my life in college and we always had a deal that I wanted to know what it was like to be with women, but never had. So, we talked of threesomes, but just never met the right person. Years later we moved to Washington state and I befriended a girl who I eventually fell in love with. I told my boyfriend before I told anyone and he laughed, because she identified as straight and was married and monogamous. But the heart wants what it wants. When she revealed she had feelings for me the only thing that came to my mind was this show on MTV about the people who were in multiple relationships. I didn't see why I couldn't make my own rules in my relationships, too. I pitched the idea to both of them. Which was met with about as much enthusiasm as you can imagine. No one had heard of this, and no one knew how to make it work! Least of all me. But I knew this was what felt right. I knew that this had felt more right than anything.
So, I began researching, reading, listening, and watching everything I could on multiple relationships. I didn't even know the word polyamory in the beginning. I remember reading it for the first time, not understanding how much it would truly change my life. Well, things didn't work out with either of those two relationships, but not for lack of trying. To go from monogamy to polyamory is a huge shift in an 8-year relationship. It takes time, and communication, and more communication, and forgiveness, and understanding. We gave it our best damn shot, but in the end we wanted different things. And that's ok, too.
I was in several relationships after him, all overlapping with other relationships, so for 14 years I was never actually fully single. Then in January of this year, on my birthday, I broke up with my only boyfriend at the time. This meant I was completely single for the first time in 14 years. It was so scary. Who even was I without relationships?! I honestly remember a lot of fear around this. How would I relate to the world? Who would I go out to eat with? Who would I call if I felt sad? I'm actually embarrassed for how afraid I was to be single, but it was honestly a HUGE change for me.
I had to learn who I was again. Who was I when I didn't have to check in with other people's schedules constantly to make plans? Who was I on a lonely Tuesday night? Who was I sleeping alone in a KING size bed? Luckily, I had the sweet baby Oly puppy (she's 9) to comfort me. But my biggest worry by far, was how would I date as a single poly person? Could I even be poly and be single? Did I need the validation of multiple relationships to consider myself poly? FUCK NO.
It's wild to me how much I clung to these thoughts. How would I be perceived as poly if I was single? I felt security in my identity as poly when I was in multiple relationships. Now, I had to find that security while being single. It didn't take me long to accept this challenge. I went deeper into Tantra, deeper into myself and found the truth buried there. I didn't need relationships to define who I was. I only needed inner validation. I knew deep down that I was poly, and that being with multiple people was what I truly desired.
Now, I am intentionally single. Who knows for how long, but I am NOT seeking a relationship because I'm learning so much about myself. I have sex partners, but have made it clear that we can have feelings for each other, but not be together. There's honestly no pressure on those partners to be anything more because I don't derive my worth or my identity on whether I'm in a relationship or not. It's freeing! It's freeing to create my own rules for my own relationships the way that I desire! I hope for everyone out there that they can feel that they are also free to make their own rules. Whether its monogamy, or poly, or any type of ENM. You are living on a rock floating in space, hurtling through the universe. You can make whatever rules you want as long as they're consensual!
INSPIRED ACTION: Read up on some of the thousands of ways you can create your own relationships. Follow accounts that talk about polyamory (my favorite on Insta is @polyamfam and it's where I got the monogamy?... in this economy? slogan). Open yourself up to new perspectives. They won't all click, but you never know which ones will! If one sounds interesting, then have open, honest conversations about your interest in them. Imagine if I had never seen that show on MTV, would I have even known that this was possible back then? Probably not. Knowledge is your power. And if you discover all you can about polyamory and monogamy is still your cup of tea then that's amazing! I love people actively choosing monogamy from many options. That's intentional living. But you'll never know what there is if you don't look. It's ok to evolve and change over time, too. I have! Enjoy the search.