October 26, 2012 by aggiesez
My entry into the world of polyamory was rough, to put it mildly. I first began to experience what I would term “poly feelings” about three to four years ago, in my early 20’s. At the time I was in a long-term monogamous relationship and I was talking with an ex — when I realized I still had feelings of affection and even love for my ex…
NOTE: This is a guest post. Learn how to share your solo poly story on this blog.
This caused a massive cognitive dissonance. After all, I was in a monogamous relationship — and in love — with my current partner. She gave me no cause for complaint and made me very happy, so why would I have these feelings for someone else?
I didn’t yet have a name to put on this experience. But I discussed it with my partner. She was extremely uncomfortable with my continuing affection and love for my ex, so we buried the topic for almost two years. Eventually, it resurfaced.
Once I found out that these feelings actually were called polyamory, I raised the topic again with my partner, with more clarity. By that time we’d been together over three years and were engaged to be married but that didn’t make the discussion any easier. It didn’t help that I had handled the reintroduction of the idea of opening our relationship very poorly. In fact, this caused a fight that nearly broke us up.
So we buried the topic again — but the topic reared its head after two years. By this time we finally felt comfortable exploring the concept. My fiancée unofficially entered a relationship with a married couple we lived with at the time, and I started seeing one of her close friends, with my ex’s encouragement, on a regular basis. For a short time this situation was amazing and I was incredibly happy. Everything felt right about the situation and I felt like I was finally living in a way that truly made me feel fulfilled and was something my ex would be comfortable with.
My fiancée was not as comfortable with the idea as I had hoped or she had let on. While she was mostly accepting of the arrangement, her idea of polyamory focused on the sexual aspect almost exclusively and she didn’t seem to understand the emotional aspect. She still couldn’t accept that I would have feelings of love and affection for someone else. She tolerated my connection with her friend because it began as a purely physical relationship.
Eventually I decided that I could not continue in a relationship with my fiancée. It looked as though there were only two options if we stayed together; a monogamous relationship or a polyamorous one. One of us would be happy and the other unhappy regardless of which type of relationship we chose. This transition was painful — but I felt it was better to deal with some short-term pain rather than a long, drawn-out collapse. I didn’t want it to get to the point where one of us could no longer endure a perpetually uncomfortable arrangement.
Coming to terms with being poly
That was about a year ago. Happily, I’ve continued my relationship with my ex-fiancée’s friend to this day and we’ve grown beyond a purely physical interest in each other. While we’ve decided to remain simply lovers and not enter into a more formal relationship, we also have grown to love each other very much. At 25, I feel like I’ve settled into a way of living that is much more in tune with who I actually am.
Prior to my relationship with my ex-fiancée, the idea of polyamory had never entered my mind. Until then I’d defined myself as “militantly monogamous.” Interestingly, though, since then several friends have pointed out to me that they knew I was poly long before I did.
Today, being poly seems the most natural thing in the world to me. I find it strange that I ever felt differently. It did take a lot of consideration before I was completely comfortable with the concept — for a while I believed something might be wrong with me. After all, the people around me didn’t seem to be struggling with these feelings, why should I?
Several months of reading and stressing went by. I even dipped into the basics of “reparative therapy” for guidance, but nothing worked. I still felt the same way. After the months of trying to make myself more “normal,” I came to the conclusion that this is who I am. No amount of self-inflicted stress would change that.
After achieving this clarity and resolution, I felt more like myself than I had in years.
Currently I don’t have a primary-style partner — and I don’t desire one.
For me, the concept of polyamory is very much intertwined with the concept of equality. I feel uncomfortable treating people differently, even if the difference is just in language. I generally subscribe to a sort of “relationship anarchy” concept: no hierarchies, no labels, and no one is “first” or “second.” If I love someone, I love them and I don’t want to classify them by when they came into my life. I prefer to have relationships where we are all equal partners in the endeavor.
I don’t mean to imply that I believe that having a primary partner is somehow insulting or devaluing toward other partners. I intend no negativity toward people who do consider themselves to be in a primary partnership. I’m simply saying that, in my own life, primary partnership isn’t a relationship structure I feel comfortable with.
Poly dating challenges
Dating as a solo poly person has actually been my first real experience dating at all. I’ve had girlfriends since I was in my early teens, but these romantic relationships always evolved from prior friendships or mutual acquaintances. So I’ve never had to “date” in the traditional sense until recently.
Dating in general is not an easy process; I’m fairly shy and I’ve never been terribly good at just throwing myself out there. On top of that, being poly makes dating even more challenging.
Polyamory is a wonderful way of life for me, but it’s admittedly a very hard sell to most people. It doesn’t help that I’m rather ham-handed and inexperienced with both polyamory and dating — which probably explains a lot of why I currently find poly dating to be incredibly difficult.
I’m unaware of local “hangout” places for the poly community, where I could go and be relatively sure to find like-minded individuals.
Also, the internet is an unreliable resource at best. Poly websites are more popular now than ever, but the poly population still seems to be widely dispersed across these sites, favoring no one in particular.
On top of that, poly communities generally seem to be strongly linked with the BDSM/kink communities. Personally, I don’t identify as very kinky, so those settings don’t offer much for me.
I had assumed, living in Los Angeles, that I would have a multitude of poly community options. Perhaps I don’t know the right places to go or the right people to talk to, but I’ve had great difficulty in finding poly people who I fit in with or who are close to my age.
There is a Meetup.com group for Los Angeles poly people. While the people there are incredibly nice and welcoming, I have a bit of a hard time getting over my natural shyness about group gatherings. Also, most of the regular attendees are somewhat above me in age and experience — which makes mingling a little difficult.
Despite the tumult that defined my introduction into the world of polyamory, I feel more at home with myself and happy about who I am now than I can remember. This is who I am. The poly community seems to be growing in size and recognition, seeing new shows like Polyamory: Married and Dating reinforces this new wave of awareness.
I’m happy to see more people see this way of life as an option and there is more of an awareness of polyamory. One thing is for certain; the days ahead for the poly community are going to be very interesting indeed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have suggestions for how KB might connect with younger poly folk in Los Angeles, or other thoughts or questions to share with him, please comment below.
WANT TO SHARE YOUR SOLO POLY STORY? If you consider yourself poly/open and you currently don’t have (and maybe don’t want or aren’t seeking) a primary-style partner of your own, you’re welcome to tell your solo poly story in a guest post.