Yep, that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
I’m extremely passionate about this topic at the moment because I’m fresh out of a relationship with a polyamorous man. Yea, yea I bet you’re already thinking WTF? Is she stupid? Insecure perhaps? To answer your questions, NOPE. I am a perfectly normal, independent young woman trying to figure myself out. Lets dive right into it…
Love, to me, is simple. Love is a man who wants to spend time with me whenever he can. (without being asked). A man that will stay over after sex because he wants to. A man that puts in effort. (I can’t stress enough how sexy effort is). A man that knows how to respectfully put me in my place when need be. A man that will kiss me when I’m mad. A man who will drive, but let me navigate. A man who knows what it is to be consistent. etc etc…But it took spending time as someone’s “maybe number one”….dating a man who made no secret of having the need to sleep with as many women as his heart desired but “love only me”…for me to better understand and accept the kind of relationship I really need. I figured that if I used my ideal end state to determine the men I dated, I wouldn’t be dating much. My whole life I’ve dated some not-so-right-for-me dudes, but it was how I learned. It was good practice.
I had always avoided men who openly admitted they are into open relationships, but this Intelligent, ambitious very intriguing man really appealed to me.
I met this man… I’ll call him Tom. From the beginning Tom was forthcoming about his “poly” lifestyle, and encouraged questions. I grilled him as much as I needed to before committing to anything. Given that we lived in two different countries and I KNOW men cheat and distance wasn’t going to make it any better. I was willing to try new things… Although it was a bit of an accident lol he charmed me from the very beginning. Despite my reservations, I grew more and more curious about how such relationships work. I do wish I had known It was a recipe for disaster. When we were getting to know each other, the more we spoke philosophically about everything, the more I felt drawn to him. He knew how to motivate me and bring out potential I never even knew I had. After slogging through interactions with lackluster guys for so long, I felt like I had emerged to find a freshwater lake glistening in the sun at the end of a long, sweaty hike. Suddenly, I was really not curious about his sexual interactions with other women. And that’s how I realized I was starting to actually like this man. When I first told my friends what I had signed up for they were understandably shocked since, all of them being raised monogamously, I wasn’t doing things according to what society deems acceptable. That didn’t stop me from wanting to see where things would go. I told myself to experiment and just live in the moment.
As time went on, what I facetiously called my “social experiment” with Tom was starting to matter. My cousin, who could tell I was wading in deeper than I was openly admitting, urged me to have the talk with him. “He should expect you to ask where this is all going, since he’s “talking” to a monogamous girl.” A monogamous girl. That was my label. And suddenly that concept, and in essence, part of my identity, was in question. What if I could be persuaded to bend the rules? Allowing a break from sexual monogamy could ease pressure on a relationship. Perhaps it could negate some of the potential thrill of “cheating.” But on the other hand, naturally when I love someone, I don’t find I’m able to allocate love to additional lovers. For me, love doesn’t multiply. Yet here I was, considering getting into a relationship with a man that believes that the reason why we have cake is to obviously eat it…hence wanting to have his cake and eat it too. What did that make me though?
I can’t speak about every person that’s had a relationship with a polyamorous person, I can only speak about my personal experience, and even then mostly only from my perspective. When people found out that I was not dating other people too, they had a hard time reconciling that with the fact that I would allow him to be with other women and not want the same in return. To them, the fact that someone that’s supposedly my boyfriend was having sex with other women and would tell me about it is inherently sexist and disrespectful to me. On paper, I agree, but in practice it’s actually very different. Most people are probably asking why the fuck anyone would even put themselves through that but trust me, it’s not all bad. How many people are supposedly in monogamous relationships but are cheating on each other left, right and centre.? I learned a lot about honesty. In such a relationship, there is less time and space to be coy or to play games. You have to say what you mean. You have to be aware of your feelings. You have to be able to ask for what you want without being afraid that the other person is going to abandon you. My sensibilities therefore understood that he loves getting his cake and eating too, but he’s not a (total) Neanderthal. He knows that his sexual fantasies don’t mesh with reality.
In general it’s really difficult for me to talk about feelings in a relationship. Dating him was easier than I had expected it to be initially (but also, not easy). However, as time went on I felt like there was an end point where I’d have to bow out only because things began to change and I felt like he was now very inconsistent and I basically felt neglected. Many times I would now feel like he doesn’t even care whether I stay with him or go etc etc. I would drive myself crazy wondering if he had perhaps started dating someone else and just never told me hence why the attention I used to get had decreased a whole lot. He started to do things he never did in the beginning like, communicate less and LIE about the stupidest things. I fell in love with how honest he was at the start, his lies made him an unfamiliar character in the relationship. I wanted to just leave and get my sanity back BUT Most times I just wasn’t ready to bow out yet. By this time in a typical relationship, I’d be chucking up the deuces.My tolerance for accepting shitty treatments was never this high. I communicated my concerns but it felt like we lacked that typical progression, and I wish I had a next step to reach for. He understood what I meant, but there was no real answer for my concern. I felt like I was traveling in large circles. I was covering a lot of terrain, but eventually, as I honed in on my goals and desires, the circle got smaller, until I was simply revolving with no direction. And I knew that this experiment had run its course.
I don’t regret a minute of it. This experience made me redefine concepts that I imagined to be black and white, and I think more openly now about love and desire, marriage, and monogamy. Something that some people insisted (firmly, even heatedly, at times) was not a relationship clearly was one….perhaps the most significant relationship I’ve had, in terms of personal development and the after effects. It was harder to end than I expected. Despite lacking consistency, we had built a strong emotional bond, and moments i’ll hold onto forever. A few weeks ago we had a rational but emotional conversation (for me) about what we wanted from our love lives…and admitted how opposite our desires were. That’s the moment I realised that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe he was never really in love to begin with. I’m a crier, my heart, my head, and my limbs felt heavy as I ended things with him the other day. I don’t know if I was ready to live my life without him completely but its probably for the best. A part of me wanted him to fight for me and for us but I’ve accepted that I couldn’t have saved a whole relationship by myself, even if I wanted to.
I am not a maybe number one, after all. But I’ve realized how much I grew through his admiration for me. Through him, I grew to better appreciate myself and to understand the qualities that will make me a great girlfriend — to someone else I guess.