This is my contribution to ModernPoly’s Faces of Polyamory project. See below for info on how to participate.
I’m a 45-year-old, happy, healthy, sane, stable, solvent, smart, longtime gainfully self-employed, moderately well known journalist, blogger, and media consultant. And I’m polyamorous – and proud of it. Have been for a long time.
For me, polyamory is about: NO AUTOPILOT! It’s about making a conscious choice to be in the relationships I choose, and communicating well and regularly with my partner(s) about what we each need and want to feel good about the lives we’re leading and the love we share. It’s about not taking anything for granted in intimate relationships.
Life is mostly configurable, if you have the courage to step outside the mainstream and let go of what other people expect from you.
In my experience, allowing major life decisions to be driven mainly by social norms may convey some initial sense of security, belonging, and privilege – but if those norms aren’t truly aligned with your nature and goals, you and your partners will probably end up frustrated, resentful, bored, or miserable in the long run.
You’ve got one life – so live it for YOU, don’t just blindly follow a script someone handed you.
(BTW, my “no autopilot” policy is also why I’ve been self-employed for about 15 years, why I chose never to have children, and why I haven’t owned a car for about six years. These are choices that suit me and allow me to lead the life I want.)
I once followed the monogamous route, mainly because I wasn’t aware there were other viable choices. Monogamy never felt right to me, but I felt like if I wanted to have “real” relationships monogamy was the inevitable price of entry. I felt zero sense of kinship or community with nonmonogamous people until I was in my 30s and married – I fell in love with someone new while still being very much in love with, and committed to, my spouse. So we all worked it out. (I make that sound easier than it was. Big change is always hard.)
One of the main reasons I’ve been publicly “out” as poly for several years is because I remember how painful it was for me to believe that the open, nonpossessive way my heart naturally tends to love was inherently incompatible with having deep, committed intimate relationships. I believe, and hope, that when more people see that people they know are poly (or otherwise nonmonogamous), they won’t be so quick to dismiss, deride, or judge us. And they’ll be aware that they have choices, too.
Privilege is an issue for any non-mainstream choice. I’ve deliberately configured a life where it doesn’t really cost me anything to be out as poly. I’m unlikely to lose my livelihood, the love and respect of my family and friends, custody of a child (I have no kids), my home, or my personal or professional reputation because people know I’m poly. I respect that other poly people do face such constraints – and I’m annoyed that our society is so oppressive. So I’m out on their behalf too. Because I can be.
Also, being out as poly means I get to meet more poly people. And some of them are hot, and most of them are pretty cool too. That kinda rocks :-)
A few years ago my former spouse and I parted ways on the best of terms, and we’re still very close and caring, and visit regularly. We didn’t divorce over polyamory – our marriage simply ran its course after 12 years (plus 6 monogamous years together prior to getting married). That happens, and it’s natural and good. I’ve always been amused by the benchmark that a relationship is officially a “success” only when somebody dies.
Now I live alone and am in a committed relationship with an amazing poly man in the Bay Area. He’s brilliant, kind, loving, caring and intriguing in every sense. He also lives with his partner, who he’s very committed to, and I care for and respect her and what they share.
This summer I’m moving back to Colorado, and he and I will continue our relationship long distance with regular visits. I’m glad I live in the age of the internet and easy air travel. And I am open to dating guys (yes, I’m pretty hetero) in Colorado’s Front Range once I get there.
Because life is full of possibilities. And once you turn off the autopilot, all sorts of options arise. You just need to choose them consciously, and carefully.
I am surrounded by the people I love. And they are surrounded by the people they love in turn.
Every day I feel blessed to have them in my life. They are my family. They’ve shown me what a family can be. That it doesn’t have to stick to the ideals I was raised with. I’m thrilled at the prospect of the future, more so now than I’ve ever been before.
It’s just as much about trust and commitment as any relationship regardless of who’s involved.
I don’t think my heart has ever felt quite as full as it does now. I’m deliriously in love with love. That which I’ve experienced personally and that which those I love are experiencing.
It’s an amazing, hopeful, passionate, dizzying ride and I love every minute of it.