I run a non-monogamous blog. I’m an open relationship activist on the Huffington Post. And my boyfriend dates other women.
Me? Well for the past three years I flirted sometimes with the young man who works at the only bar on the island where we live.
“If only people knew” said my boyfriend laughingly….”that you’re open in name only.”
I don’t care if people know. I don’t lie about my inclination. Or my state of relationships. You can be ‘polyamorous’ and not practising. I want to be open, in practice I mean. But being in an open relationship, when you live in a small monogamous community of 800 isn’t terribly – well – practical. And even more impractical when you’ve been birthing, feeding and raising two children for the last 3 years.
I have my excuses…
- The choice of prospective partners where I live is non-existent and I don’t get out much.
- I am mindful of society norms and know that if I can’t be discreet (difficult in a community like ours where everyone knows your business), then my friends’ acceptance of the theory may be shaken by the practice.
- Then there’s the stretch marks. With who else would I feel confident enough to bare all than with the man who helped me make them in the first place?
My boyfriend’s work takes him to London; it’s an opportunity for him to date ‘outside the pool’. And he manages it very successfully through dating sites.
The question was then, why didn’t I go on the dating sites? None of my excuses held water. I could certainly have a date every few weeks. Those dates would be in the city. And judging from the various profiles of the ladies on there, I could probably hold my own despite my stretch marks. No, the reason I didn’t go on them was because I was scared.
For three years I’ve taken the easy option. I’ve had a vicariously open relationship without doing any of the work. But despite a few drunken kisses at parties, I haven’t gone out on a date since our last polyamorous relationship ended (not entirely coincidentally, three years ago). It resulted in two divorces and has taken a while to get over. During that time, I’ve sunk back into monogamous thinking and the issues I started pruning back by pushing my boundaries have grown back all the more fearsome.
I’m scared. Scared of the flaws that I’ll expose in our relationship by dating someone new. Scared of the drama that might occur if we all can’t get along. Scared of everything going wrong like it did before. And this time we have kids. When the shit hits the fan, they’ll be caught in the rather whiffy crossfire (not that it seems to bother them – if their nappies are anything to go by). Then my boyfriend said
‘I’m not scared. You’re so amazing and what we have is unique. If I start to fall for another girl it’s like I fall in love with you as well all over again. You’ll see that if you fall in love, it’ll rub off like fairy dust. You’ll be in love and gloriously happy with me, with the kids and with your new guy. And if there are flaws in our relationship, isn’t it better not to remain in denial?’
Of course I know he’s right. My last relationship failed not because of polyamory, but because we weren’t even aware that there WERE any flaws (and there were plenty).
But there’s more than that; because sooner or later my desire for more relationships and connection is going to break out. It’s in my nature and through my nurture. A bit like poor old Dexter.
The urge itself is strong and needs to be satisfied nearly monthly if frequent kills are not made in between. Somewhat like an immense hunger Dexter craves a hunt searching for worthy prey to place on his table and everything is needed to truly satisfy the “passenger”.
I don’t – despite the quote – liken my polyamorous inclination/nature/choice to the urge to kill… The Dexter comparison is only useful in that as we are all the sum total of our nature and nurture, the irresistible urge in me to form relationships exists in all of us I believe and was only enhanced in my formative years due to the separation trauma from my birth mother. But however it came about, I have the urge to love …more. It’s like a craving.
So I said –
‘I know the whole growth aspect of polyamory. I know there’s growing to do, isn’t there always? But it takes so much energy. And it hurts. But I suppose if I weren’t ready for it I wouldn’t have started the whole online dating thing.’
And then there was that.
‘Are you interested in him?’
‘Yes.’ I said. There was no doubt about the tingle of excitement burning in my belly. ‘But part of me wants to call the whole thing off.’
‘Why?’ said my boyfriend, honestly bemused.
‘Because maybe I won’t like him. And I’ll feel like a failure. You get lots of girls. What if I can’t even like one? Maybe I’m not polyamorous at all.’
‘Maybe it’s time to find out then. You’re always advocating radical honesty. Will you still go on your date tomorrow?’
‘I guess. I mean he seems really great. And if nothing else he’s promised me oyster shots. I definitely like them.’
‘So go then. Enjoy your evening. If there’s a vibe, great. If there isn’t, you still get to enjoy an evening with a great guy. Don’t forget the condoms.’