This is probably going to be one of the scariest posts I ever write.
Something I have only shared with a handful of people in my every day life.
Of course, there is a community of you who already know, many who may actually see this post.
Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure what’s compelling me to share this now. I’ve done an exceptionally decent job at keeping this fact about myself to myself, mostly. Some of you may even find this shocking, perhaps scandalous. I dig it. I didn’t truly understand it until it happened to me, until I found others like me. I knew about it, of course … my studies at university meant I learned quite a bit about it. But studying it and living it are two very different things.
So what’s this big secret?
Jenn … what does that even mean?
From the Greek “poly” meaning many or several, and the Latin “amor” meaning love, polyamourous is the practice and/or desire of intimate and/or romantic relationships with more than one person, at the same time, with everyone’s consent.
How do you know you’re polyamourous?
Because for four years, through my late 20s, I was in a relationship with two men at the same time. I married one of them. I felt romantic love for both of them. And while I’m currently in a romantic relationship with one person, it is in the realm of possibility that I could, at some point, enter into another relationship without ending this current one.
Shocked? Maybe yes, maybe no.
For awhile I was worried about telling anybody outside of the local poly community. My nearest and dearest friends knew, because I needed support as life ebbed and flowed. Perhaps the most nerve-wracking conversation was the phone call I made to my Mom, just after Wasband and I separated, and I was telling her the whole story … but to make sense of why my marriage ended, I had to backtrack my story by 10 months, to tell her about my previous boyfriend and why that relationship ended, so I could explain that Wasband’s betrayal was not the cheating but the lying. To explain that it wasn’t the actual act of infidelity, but the deceit behind it that was the true breakdown of my marriage. That I knew I would be okay navigating the emotional toil of ending a long-term relationship because I had literally just done it less than one year earlier.
And if we’re telling stories and secrets, going through a break-up that almost no one in your life knows about is devastating. In the months afterwards I leaned very heavily on a small group of people, and I don’t think I can ever repay any of you for what that meant to me. I withdrew from a lot of things I loved through most of that year (2016, for the curious) because it was difficult to face anything, or anyone. I basically became a ghost in a community I loved and cared deeply for because I felt isolated and alone in my grief and pain, and I didn’t want to continually bring that into events. And just as I was pulling myself out of that hole, just as I was truly coming back around … my marriage ended, and I started the roller coaster again, though this time much wiser and sure of myself and my abilities. What few things were left to break in my heart broke, but I had done enough healing to stand up for myself. I was quicker to cut him out of my life, quicker to advocate for my wants and needs, to know that my survival was my only priority. It took another year to truly heal, to feel like I was my own person again … wiser and ready to focus on my dreams. When I met current BF I was quicker to speak up about my goals and life plans, to say where I wanted to go and when I wanted to be there. Thankfully I met someone on a very similar page to me and I’ve been delighted with our journey together so far.
But back to the poly confessionals, because that’s more interesting than break-ups.
How did I find myself here? Pure accident. Well, not entirely. But the details of how I met him are for another day. But meet him I did and intrigued I was. Which meant an awkward discussion with Wasband, trying to find the words to explain my thoughts and feelings that were new and unexplainable to me. It wasn’t love at first sight, and I’m not sure it was even lust … but it was that nagging suspicion that this was someone I wanted in my life, someone I wanted to know, I just didn’t know in what capacity. So Wasband and I talked, and researched, and talked and talked some more. I kept seeing this person (who was also navigating this in his relationship with his partner), and we still didn’t know entirely what it was. When did I realize there were feelings? About 5 months in, when an unfortunate incident occurred, and he was on a plane for a work trip and we were unable to communicate in that moment. It would still be about 8 more months before either of us actually used the word Love as it felt almost taboo, something we were both feeling but neither of us was sure it was okay to say.
I don’t necessarily have a ton of stories I can or want to share from my time with him. It was like any other dating relationship, except we each had another partner and the added dynamic of navigating our relationship around 4 very different and separate lives. There some notable events and adventures – road trips, events we attended locally, that time he crashed my wedding. Overall, I have mostly positive memories and associations from my time with him.
How did it all end? That’s not important. It ended. Just as with Wasband and my marriage – I am a better person having met this man and dated him, and I am better because we are no longer together. I grew so much navigating two relationships at once, and I hope they both can say the same. True to my word they are out of my life, so I don’t know how things have gone for them in the years since our relationships ended. I can’t say for certain that navigating two relationship simultaneously made me better at being in relationships, but as I said above, they left me feeling more assured of what I wanted from life and what I was willing to do to get there. Because of these relationships I feel I learned to better advocate for myself, to be the me I want to be to not accept anything less in my life.
So where does that leave me right now? Obviously BF and I are preparing for a massive change in our lives and my entire focus is on that. If anything it will likely be a couple of years before I truly entertain the idea of stepping into another relationship, and even then, the decision will be ours and no one else’s. Right now I am happy and content with everything I have, and I’m good with that. No matter how I choose to move forward my focus is the health and happiness of myself and my family. After that? I’m trying to unlearn years of fears of judgement – just because someone doesn’t understand doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
I understand that this is not an easy thing to wrap one’s head around. I’ve known people perfectly suited for a life of poly … I know people who say they’re poly and have used that to control or police their partners and relationships … I know people who have tried to be poly and just can’t get behind it. There is no right or wrong answer (except controlling partners – that’s super wrong). Just because we live in a world that feeds us ideals of a “one and only” soulmate does not mean monogamy is the default setting. Exploring yourself, your sexuality, your relationship dynamics in a safe, sane, consensual way is very healthy and I highly encourage it! If your partners are on board, then why not? If it feels good, do it.