I’ve “come out” many times in my life. My coming outs are not usually big announcements, they just entail me living how I want to and not hiding it. But sometimes it’s really valuable to come out, to stand, be counted and seen.
We’ve made a ton of progress on helping lesbian, gay and bisexual people be more visible. We’re getting better with transgender people and communities. With the latest cultural phenomena around kink (hello 50 Shades), kinky people are also becoming more visible. But polyamory? We’ve still got a ways to go.
I’ve been in polyamorous relationships that have taken various forms and with varying degrees of success over the last 15 years. I was in graduate school when I decided that it wasn’t really possible for one relationship to hold all of what I wanted, nor did I want to set myself up for that expectation.
My Poly Cuddle Fest!
When I educate people about relationships, I caution against thinking that one person can or should meet all of your needs. No one person can meet all of your emotional, sexual, social, financial and spiritual needs. It’s crazy that we’ve set people up to believe this is possible. What a huge responsibility! I wouldn’t want to BE that for anyone else and I don’t want to ask someone else to do it for me. That’s just crazy talk.
My parents divorced when I was 6 so I saw from a young age that “forever” doesn’t exist. I never believed the fairy tale. Many people can relate to that.
Let me be clear: I am not against monogamy. Many of my clients are monogamous and we work to improve their sexual connection, communication and intimacy within the relationship. But I think there’s a difference between consciously choosing monogamy because it’s your preferred relationship style, and falling into it because you are not aware there are other options. And, I AM FIRMLY AGAINST people who agree to be monogamous, who then engage in infidelity repeatedly because they really don’t want to live that way, and they can’t bring themselves to be honest about it.
Sexuality is wildly dynamic. You are into things now that you were not into 10 years ago. Ten years from now you’ll be a growing sexual being too. I think it’s a tall order to think that the person who meets your intimacy needs now will necessarily meet them for the rest of your life. Some people do manage to do it, but it’s got plenty of challenges.
That’s not what I want. I choose to be poly for some fundamentally important reasons.
Number one is that no one owns me, or my sexuality. I am not interested in owning someone else’s sexuality. I’m into agency, finding my yes, having new experiences and supporting others to do the same. I think that traditional monogamous relationships often translate to “I own you”.
There are so many people on earth to connect with and to experience intimacy with. I want to have that. I want my lovers to have that. Does that mean there are not challenges there too? Of course there are! But I’d rather navigate those challenges.
Another important reason for my poly orientation is that I am also someone who identifies as queer—ask 10 queers what that means and you’ll get 10 different answers. For me, being queer is not only having relationships with women, it is about living and expressing myself outside of the box, it is political—I am committed to raising awareness and creating change around sexual minorities. I am also attracted to people of many different genders so calling myself lesbian doesn’t fit and calling myself bisexual is also a box since I don’t think gender or sex are binaries (male/female).
So for me, to be in one relationship with one other person limits my natural sexual expression. I want to connect with different people and different lovers bring different things to my life. That’s fun, it’s exciting and it keeps things fresh and allows my sexuality to be quite dynamic.
It also requires a high level of communication, clear knowing of my own desires, clear expression of those desires, navigating jealousy, being on top of sexual health care and deep honesty. Not everyone has the skills to do poly well. Educate yourself!
This poly meme says it all
I attended Polypalooza last weekend, which was an opportunity to explore all of this within a community in an immersive weekend experience. I met some incredible people who are actively living their lives and expressing their sexuality with a firm commitment to authenticity, agency and radical responsibility. Men had breakthroughs in their ability to be affectionate or sexual with other men because we broke down homophobic barriers that are so strong in our culture. It was beautiful. Many people had many sexual firsts that opened them up to knowing new parts of their desire and having ecstatic experiences. And of course, most of us were triggered by something that was challenging or pushed our edges. In living fully, you embrace those moments as opportunities.
I think the world is changing. People are questioning the default rules they’ve been living by and are making their own way. People do poly in so many ways. It’s fun to learn about the creative ways people arrange their sex and relationship lives and how much MORE they often get to have.
So here’s to standing and being counted. I love the diversity of experience my polyhood allows me. I have gotten into serious relationships with people who were not really on board with poly, but agreed in order to be with me. No more. I’m not convincing anyone. I need people who are already there, and who have a high level of emotional skill. There are more of them than you might think.
Here’s to coming out poly.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about polyamory! What triggers you about it? Comment below!
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