August 10, 2012 by aggiesez
I won’t say I’m a relationship “expert,” but I’ve had a hell of a lot of experience on this front. And it’s been pretty varied. Here’s my relationship resume…
Like most people, I once identified as monogamous by default — it seemed to be the only available option if I hoped to have “real” or “serious” relationships. After a few promiscuous teen years, I did the standard serial monogamy dance, with a few long-ish monogamous relationships from my teens onward.
My most important relationship started in my early 20s and lasted nearly two decades, with over half of that time spent in a legal marriage — with a house, a mortgage, joint finances, joint health insurance, the works. No kids though, by mutual choice.
I’ve endured the grueling process of cheating on my spouse, embracing my nonmonogamous nature, discovering and connecting with various communities of relationship renegades, negotiating with my spouse to open our relationship, and both of us having other long-term relationships — which entailed lots of joy, love, loss, aggravation, and many embarrassing faceplants.
In 2009 ago I finally got divorced. Like any marriage, ours had several problems — the thorniest of which actually did not concern monogamy or the lack thereof. For many years we chose to stay together and learned how to work through a lot of extremely hard stuff. But we split up mainly because being married finally ran its course; we both wanted to do other things with our lives. This was an extraordinarily difficult but smart decision, and probably the best thing we ever did for our relationship.
Today my former spouse and I remain close friends, keep in touch almost daily, support each other through good times and bad, and try to keep each other honest. And if I ever need to hide a body, he’ll be the first person I call. In fact, recently we agreed that if we hadn’t explored polyamory together, with all the skills it forced us to acquire, we probably wouldn’t be close today. And that would be a terrible loss.
I’ve been both the pivot point and an endpoint in V-style relationships. I spent a few years in a “quad” relationship with another hetero couple who also had two young kids. I briefly dated a genderqueer (androgynous) woman, which was interesting but I can’t say I’m really bisexual. I am friendly with most of my former lovers and partners.
In my time as a poly person I’ve had two short-lived, extremely painful relationships with men who identified as basically monogamous. Getting involved with them was terrible judgment on my part. The problem wasn’t that they weren’t poly. Rather, both of them claimed to be open to having a serious relationship with a poly woman — but both turned out to have gigantic problems with honesty and accountability in general. That’s not monogamy’s fault.
In 2012 my boyfriend of over three years and I broke up. He was a poly man married to a woman who described herself as a poly activist — but the way they abruptly terminated my relationship with him proved to be a classic example of both couple privilege and flunking the grownup test. Ouch. That was a deep and serious relationship which he and I treasured once, but now we’re no longer in contact (his choice, not mine). It’s not my goal to use this blog to slam my former boyfriend or his wife, but the egregious inconsideration they demonstrated became a key motivation for finally starting this blog. I try to discuss my bad experiences in that and other poly relationships in positive, constructive ways.
I also date quite actively, am very active in my local poly community, and attend group sensual/erotic events ranging from cuddle parties to play parties and various experiential workshops. From time to time I’ll discuss these topics as well here.
I’ve learned the hard way how crucial it is to be really honest with myself, and forthright with my lovers and partners. After much practice I now succeed in these efforts more often than not. I have developed very high standards for the level of honesty and forthrightness I require in important relationships of all kinds.
Of course, sometimes I still screw up. Yeah, that sucks. I’ll try to own up to that here when it happens.