I’ve written about it many times, but I’m very different from a lot of people who write prominently about consensual non-monogamy. Probably the most striking difference is that I’m more ambiamorous than polyamorous. What do I mean by that? I essentially mean that I’m about equally as happy being in a monogamous relationship as I am being in a polyamorous relationship system. I don’t have a strong relationship structure preference either way. To me, it’s much more important who is involved in my love life and whether we’re treating each other well (no matter how many or few of us there are).
I grew up with pretty standard notions of how relationships operated. I didn’t suspect there was anything really all that different about me, nothing that looking back predicted I’d be polyamorous later in life.
And unlike a lot of other writers on polyamory, I actually considered myself staunchly monogamous until I tried it.
And there’s a reason for this: I am someone who goes all in on projects. I have a tendency to go all in on my relationships as well.
Or to put it another way: I’m obsessive. Intense. I don’t do things halfway. Especially not back then.
And once upon a time, I thought this quality of mine meant I had to be monogamous. It wasn’t until I actually tried being non-monogamous that I began to understand the difference.
Discovering That I Was Obsessive
I went into consensual non-monogamy because my partner at the time was very interested, after I discovered friends of ours had been secretly polyamorous for some time. I started out expecting the whole thing to be a poor fit. Expecting to encounter disaster. And a funny thing happened: I discovered that a lot of it was actually a good fit for me.
And I also realized as I tried structuring my relationships differently that I wasn’t just a “hopeless romantic,” as I’d formerly considered myself. But I was also frankly pretty obsessive. And emotionally intense in general.
Now, this wasn’t all good nor all bad. But the knowledge of this side of myself that I had mistakenly thought had to do with other people — with romance — and not with me… well, knowing that it came from me actually helped me to make better decisions. It helped me to take more ownership over my feelings, to realize that love as an abstract entity wasn’t “making me do things” but that I had a personality that made me feel intensely, and I was acting upon those strong emotions.
Not helplessly forced into one way of being or another.
This shift in perspective was huge. I began the difficult work of sorting out which aspects of being intense that I liked and wanted to encourage within myself. And figuring out the parts that were not serving me and I’d like to work on.
I Still Love and Live Very Intensely, Just Now on My Terms
Don’t get me wrong. I still love very intensely. And I will often throw myself into both relationships and creative projects with incredible force.
But these days, I do so on my terms. It’s done with eyes wide open. And I’m able to take responsibility for my actions, rather than attributing them to an omnipotent, faceless entity like love.
And that’s true whether I’m single, have one lover, or am seeing many people at a time.