People Have a Way of Acting as Mirrors
“Sometimes I wonder if I put the people in my life through too much by writing about them,” I say.
She shakes her head. “I think we learn a lot about ourselves from how we deal with other people,” she says. “And your posts are a reflection of that. It’s not a post about them so much as it’s about the interaction.”
And I know she’s on to something. People have a way of acting as mirrors, showing us facets of ourselves we’re unaware of. Sometimes those reflections are flattering. Other times, not so much. But it’s one of the great parts of polyamory, that this process of self-discovery continues well past the point of Happily Ever After. It can also be one of the more unsettling aspects when we’re watching our partner become a different version of themselves around someone new.
But it’s definitely dynamic.
And while those disparate selves may look very different from one another at a glance — the party animal, Miss Manners, the artist, the statistician — they’re all me.
When Exes Were a Taboo Topic
The hardest part of monogamy for me was never being sexually exclusive to one person. It was denying those other sides of me. In keeping with a lot of (though not all) monogamous relationships, I not only wasn’t allowed to explore new emotional connections with others, but I was also expected to never acknowledge ones I’d had with other people in the past. Exes were a taboo topic.
My partner Seth, who was otherwise not a very jealous person, would become visibly uncomfortable at the mere mention of an ex-partner, let alone whatever story was connected to them.
“I really don’t want to hear about your exes,” he’d say, waving his hand.
And so many memories and funny stories were lost. I’d dated quite a bit as a traveling musician and playwright. Great swaths of my past were something I couldn’t discuss.
I Used to Date This Girl Who…
When we opened our relationship later, it was a great relief to finally be able to acknowledge that other people in my past existed and, yes, I’d been attracted to them.
Seth and I would go on to date my friend Megan in a triad. One night, we were goofing off at a party all doing impressions of one another, and Megan’s of me was basically, “So I used to date this girl who…I used to date this guy that.”
All my friends laughed. But rather than being offended, I just felt myself smiling. It dawned on me that I’d finally been afforded the freedom to be honest about the impact others had made on me. It was a helluva gift.
For the rest of that story, see my detailed account of the first few years I was polyamorous (it includes all the ups and downs, challenges and joys).