As a person who has been polyamorous for quite a while now, I’m sometimes asked by others how it’s different. And I suppose if you break it down, there are a lot of little differences that stem from within me. Things that tend to bother other people really don’t bother me. I’ve lost all sense of outrage regarding what are popularly regarded as “emotional affairs.” I expect my partner to develop close bonds with other people and to develop attractions to others. And I can’t for the life of me wrap my mind around this whole “micro-cheating” phenomenon.
Contrary to popular belief, living polyamorously has resulted over time in my feeling less jealousy, not more (this finding also has been confirmed by research that’s found folks in monogamous relationships experience more jealousy than those in consensually nonmonogamous ones).
But those are internal differences. What fascinates me more have been the external ones, what is apparent to other people standing outside my life and looking in.
I’m very out with regards to being consensually non-monogamous. I have a general policy of not lying about it when asked directly, but I don’t exactly wear a name tag that says “Hello, I’m Polyamorous.” My friends all know. My family. And basically if you know me well enough on a personal level for long enough, you either figure it out or hear me talk about it directly.
I don’t lie when directly asked about it, but I don’t typically advertise it when it has nothing to do with what’s currently going on. And the fact that I’m polyamorous doesn’t come up in every interaction I have, especially with people I don’t know terribly well.
“You Have So Many Friends”
Over the years, I’ve paid close attention to the random observations that people who don’t know I’m polyamorous have made about me. What they find unusual and have remarked on.
And overwhelmingly, they’re amazed at how many friends I have. I know a person who does this, one who does that. And not only do I have a lot of friends, but I’m much closer with them than most adults are with their friends. I see my friends regularly. We do favors for one another. Trade clothes. I know a lot about what goes on in their lives. And I’m very invested in them and their well-being.
Now, I do have some friends that are monogamous or vanilla — and some both. But a large percentage of my friends are poly, kinky, or both. And as I look around at all of them, I see similar themes in their lives. I’m not the only one who is really close with my friends. They are, too. Looking around at my close social circles, we all seem to exercise a level of care and compassion towards our friendships that seems almost alien when taken outside into the wider world.
Unorthodox Friendships and Support
An actual example: A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend of a few years. About a week later, the same friend that had recently initiated that breakup had her other romantic partner (with whom she lived) break up with her.
And what happened when my friend, alone and heartbroken, told her newly ex-boyfriend about what had befallen her?
He offered that she could come and stay with him and his wife. Even though she had just broken up with him about a week prior. An offer that his wife also supported, out of care and compassion for her newly ex-metamour‘s circumstances.
And she accepted the offer.
I’m friends with all of them and was deeply moved when I heard about this.
And sure, there’s nothing sexy about it, nothing risque. It’s not even classically romantic (the arrangement was strictly platonic). But viewed through another lens, it was an incredibly loving thing to do. In some ways, it was one of the most polyamorous things I’ve ever seen.
Now other people are going to have different experiences. Your poly circles are likely different than mine — and many of you may have not found yours yet. But I’ve personally seen this kind of thing over and over again. Astonishing acts of kindness.
And it’s one of the reasons why even though polyamory was difficult for me to adjust to when I started out over a decade that I hung in there and made it work for me.
My new book is out!
Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).