Can you learn to be polyamorous? the reader asks.
Yes, you can.
Well, sort of.
Because so much of the work I did in my early days as a polyamorous person wasn’t about learning polyamory but about unlearning what I’d been taught about relationships.
That love doesn’t have to be about riding the relationship escalator.
That it’s not about big movie magic. All or nothing spectacles. A tug of war of wills.
Not about being the one and only person my partner loves or has ever loved. Not about hating each other’s exes or considering them villainous, unfortunate skeletons in the closet. (Seriously, a friend of mine often referred to her partner’s exes as “skeletons in his closet.”)
And not about isolating them from everyone else socially, making them utterly dependent on me to fulfill each and every one of their interpersonal needs.
And then once I’d realized what love was not all about, only then did I have a place to put my ideas about what love was. What it had been. What it could be.
Because even for a long time after I agreed to open up my relationship, to have a consensually non-monogamous relationship, my mind wasn’t really, truly open to what relationships could be. I was still too stuck in what I’d been taught my entire life. What I had assumed as true without hard evidence.
And for a while, it was terrifying putting those trusty old beliefs to the test. By the old rules, by allowing my partner to see others and by seeing others myself, I was doing everything “wrong.” By the old rules, I was dooming my relationship.
It was terrifying ignoring them and just trudging ahead. Letting time and experience teach me new lessons. And show me that the potential space for learning was much vaster than I had ever expected.
Learning to be polyamorous wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected it to be. What was hard was unlearning everything I’d been taught about relationships. But it needed to be done.