I had heard about polyamorous relationships, but never really understood what they entailed. For me, the idea of polyamory conjured up images of sister wives, and men who had many a lady with whom they were married or had on the side, which seemed taboo and a little too niche for my liking. At the same time, polyamory seems to be having a cultural moment, and you can’t really go anywhere these days (especially on dating apps) without hearing about it.
It wasn’t until I met a guy a couple years ago (who just so happened to be poly), that I really understood what this type of arrangement consisted of, and found out (for a brief time) that I was into it.
I met him at a bar, we connected immediately and realized we had a ton of mutual friends and mutual interests. We started texting, and made a set plan every Sunday night to go to the same bar, to see the same band play, and spend the evening together. We kept this up for about six weeks, and all with the blessing of his loving girlfriend of 5 years.
The two of them are in a polyamorous relationship, which means that although they both love, respect and care for each other, they have agreed to allow the other to explore other people both emotionally and sexually, outside of their relationship. They’re each other’s primary partners, and any one (or more) people who come into their lives are considered their secondary partners.
A big myth about polyamory is that it’s about having sex with multiple people outside of the relationship. Like, sure, that can happen, but it’s deeper than that. But in reality, it’s about having emotionally-driven connections and bonds and exploring them in a way that’s different from the bond you have with your primary partner. It’s less about having your cake and eating it too (though, yum) and more about getting all of your emotional, intellectual and other needs met in various ways. Those in polyamorous relationships know that it’s truly possible to be in love with more than one person at once.
So you might be wondering why little me, who is still young and has her head on her shoulders would go for this sort of arrangement? Simply put: I met someone I connected with, who was interested in me and challenged me and who I was attracted to on many levels. I was about 6 months out of a serious, long-term relationship with my live-in boyfriend, and wasn’t at a place where I was ready to jump into a full-fledged relationship. I was still getting back to being me, doing me, and my independence and time was the greatest value to me. Having an arrangement where I knew that once a week, I’d be seeing someone whose company I enjoyed, was just what the doctor ordered. My needing space and freedom and me time wouldn’t be taken personally by this person, because he had another full-fledged relationship and life of his own.
And unlike cheating, or doing something behind someone’s back, this was open. He and his girlfriend had a mutual agreement and she actually savoured the time when he was with me, as it allowed her to connect with the guy she had been seeing for the past year or so as her secondary partner. This differs from cheating because you know what you’re getting yourself into and everyone is on the same playing field.
As long as you’re safe and practice safe sex, don’t expect the person to leave their partner, and understand the nature of your relationship, then perhaps this type of relationship could work for you.
As for us, down the road, I ended up meeting someone else; someone that I wanted to give my all to. My polyamorous flame understood and today, we’re still friends who chat here and there. He’s still with his primary partner and I’ve offered up dating advice when he’s met someone new and needed to navigate the emotional realities of having new secondary partners.
So, all told, I gave polyamory a try and I didn’t mind it, but it was definitely something different than the dating I was used to. Another day, another experience, another lesson. All in the name of love.