First things first, friends. I cannot hope to represent every polyamorous couple out there in 500 words, but my humble aim is to explore an often misunderstood lifestyle. I do not believe that polyamory is for everyone, but I do think it is based on a mentality that anyone in any relationship can learn from.
A polyamorous person is someone who is free to have multiple romantic partners. This is not to be confused with an “open relationship” where couples allow for purely sexual activity outside of their primary partnership. There is nothing wrong with that or any honest/respectful choice it just isn’t what we are discussing today.
In The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy discuss the idea that love is not a finite object. A good example is that of a parent who may love each of their children in different ways, but equally.
Too often we believe that if a loved one grows fond of someone else, there is less of that person’s “love pie” to go around. But maybe love isn’t a pie - maybe it is bottomless cherry coke at Denny’s, and who isn’t down for that?
It has become apparent to me that there exists a very rigid idea of what being “good” to a partner looks like, regardless of what our individual personality types and desires are.
When I talked to a close friend of mine about her choice to be polyamorous, she expressed the friction she felt when attempting to fit into that ideal. Rather than punishing herself or ignoring the problems she had with monogamy, she chose to express her feelings openly to her boyfriend, which made things a lot easier when she decided to open a dialogue about the idea of multiple partners.
“This, I cannot even express to the fullest, was the most empowering moment of my life,” me friend told me. “I had asked for something, something potentially devastating to my relationship and my future feelings about polyamory, and I had gotten what I asked for. This created a new learned behavior for me, recognizing wants in my life, and presuming they are respectful, I could ask for them and actually see desires of mine materialize.”
I have met many people living happily in what some may call “unconventional” partnerships. The common thread and what I will suggest we all strive toward, is honesty. The best relationships, regardless of the form they take, are based on it.
When you love somebody sooner or later they are going to see you naked in direct sunlight - flaws and all. The freedom to expose your “ugly-ness” is the very definition of intimacy.
Maybe you aren’t fit for polyamory, but you will be attracted to other people, and so will your partner. You do need a life outside of each other. You do need to have discussions beyond your partner’s perfect laugh and your cute nose.
Whatever shape that life and those discussions take is up to you, but don’t look down that cute nose on someone else’s decisions. You just might learn something.
Melanie Dahling is a local actress, comedian and blogger who studies at the University of Winnipeg.
Published in Volume 67, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 17, 2012)