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Poly Debriefing #2: More

·1209 words·6 mins
Poly Debriefing Poly Issues Polyamory/Monogamy

These days I’m polyamorous in spirit, monogamous in practice. It feels disingenuous to claim that I am one or the other completely. Even though my current relationship is monogamous, meaning that we are sexually exclusive, I have learned so much from experiencing polyamorous relationships that I will never be the same person I was before. As they say, you can’t go home again. No one steps in the same river twice. All those cliches. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to. Even though those relationships are in the past, I learned something from each and every one and many lessons from polyamory in general – thus these essays.

Part #1 of the Poly Debriefing series is available here.


Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved

I tend to think of polyamory as translating into “more love.”


More is not better or worse; it is just different.

On good days, this led to my announcing, “I’m a walking emotional erection.” On bad days, this translated to my soberly explaining, “Mo’ lovers, mo’ problems.”

More love means more first dates.

This has to be one of my biggest gripes with polyamory. More love inevitably equals more first dates.

When I date, I date a lot. I give most people a chance but let very few into my heart. Think of it like trying on clothes before you buy them. It takes out the guesswork. Why commit before you’re ready? And ideally you end up having to make fewer returns. Of course there are those awkward moments when you’re standing in unfamiliar light in front of a questionably shaped mirror squinting at your torso and thinking to yourself “Do I have a bra somewhere that’ll make this thing work? Could I get one?”

That brings me back to first dates.

Because of the relatively small pool of poly/nonmonogamy friendly people in my area when I first began dating (in Eastern Maine), in addition to forming friendships that happened naturally, coming out to those who were already friends as poly, and politely and frankly expressing romantic interest in those I thought had potential, I relied on online dating (OkCupid) to meet up with new friends who may or may not blossom into something more. It should have been a little less awkward than a typical blind date because we’d corresponded virtually and had read each others’ profiles so at least have some kind of starting point for conversation. It should have been less awkward, and maybe it was (having not been on too many blind dates), but it was still darn awkward. As of this writing, I’ve only had 2 meetings that I felt in my gut went well, and only 1 of them resulted in another meeting. It’s just really hard to tell.

Nevertheless, OkCupid was an excellent resource and is actually how I got hooked up with the Cleveland kink scene in the first place, through befriending someone who had recently moved from the Cleveland area to Maine for work reasons. And yes, that’s the meeting that I knew in my gut went well and resulted in more meetings (and a few relationships, but that is another story).

More love does not necessarily mean more sex.

It can.

I’ve wanted to have sex but been completely unable to – due to my own sex bureaucracy. It was out of necessity of protecting my partners from disease risks bound by a number of rules upon which we had mutually agreed. Being bound by those rules and being unable to satisfy every carnal urge was the price of being protected by them. Basically a microcosm of the social contract, petri-dish style.

More sex does not necessarily mean better sex or a better sex life.

Quantity does not mean quality. I’ve had the worst sex and the best sex of my life when in open relationships.

When I was monogamous, I pined after a friend for years, only to find when my marriage opened and I had the opportunity to make out with her, that kissing her was extremely unpleasant. Our styles weren’t compatible, and she was unwilling to communicate about it or come to some kind of consensus. I ended up licking her teeth.

I’ve had sex “to make a good impression.” It was an exciting but tense night in bed. I had sex with his wife because I found myself in the position that to do otherwise would offend them both. I knew technically I could say no, but I also knew all too well about the weird unspoken inter-couple dynamics, and I feared things would get weird if I said no. I’d been with another couple without a spoken package deal, hit it off with the woman, fizzled with the man. And though it seemed like there was no problem, over the ensuing months, a rift developed. I think she felt guilty, though she never admitted to me, maybe never even admitted it to herself.

And I’ve had sex that was a real blast, presided over small orgies, steeped myself in another couple’s energy. I’ve had earth-shattering orgasms. I discovered the rough landscape of my kink, was shocked to find masochism and submission so present and powerful.

More love can mean more break-ups.

It did for me. This was something I never considered when I opened my marriage. And despite what the uninitiated might think, it doesn’t matter how many partners you have, when a relationship ends, it hurts just as much. When I moved cross country, I left a girlfriend in Maine. We fluctuated to more of a friendship relationship because she had gotten pregnant with her husband and was (understandably) more focused on that, but it was still difficult. After my move, within 2 months, I experienced the loss of  3 additional partners, one of the break-ups entailing legal separation and divorce preparations. I went from having 5 partners to 1 in a few months, and though I love Skyspook dearly, and he was wonderful support through it all, it was truly harrowing – rife with layers of negative feelings, loss, self-blame, guilt, you name it. It took months to even convince myself that I was even worthy of feeling happy.

So that’s the flipside. While you can be swimming in New Relationship Energy, and all the good things in your life are happening all at once, the converse is also true: All the bad shit can come down at the same moment.

This is especially true if you undergo radical personal change and find that you’ve formed relationships that don’t suit the person you’ve become, and the parties involved (your partner{s} and you) cannot or will not come to a compromise. If your entire emotional landscape shifts drastically, then you can find yourself with a major cast change.

With so much data available from concurrent relationships, things can seemingly change overnight, and I feel like I experienced rapid personal growth.

For me, to embrace polyamory was to embrace change, and though it wasn’t all smooth sailing, I am happy to say I am better for it.


Poly Debriefing #1: Compersion
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See You Later, Space Cowboy
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Losing Control
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