This is the fourth in a series of interviews of everyday people who are living a poly lifestyle (either polyamorous or polysexual), from their individual perspectives. They were each given a series of questions, and asked to pick several questions that they would like to answer from their personal experience.
This fourth interview is of a 32-year old female from Los Angeles, CA. Below are her questions and answers. I hope you enjoy it!
Question: What lead you to ethical non-monogamy?
Answer: I was a serial monogamist for the first 12 years of my adult life. After cheating on a few partners (and feeling very bad about it), I decided to take a year off to be single and figure out what I wanted. It was during that time that I discovered I wanted the freedom to be involved with more than one person. At the time, I had only briefly heard about “plural relationships”, as a friend had put it a few years back, but I had forgotten about our cursory conversation. I didn’t know people actually did this, and had been wondering if I would ever be in a meaningful relationship again without being monogamous. I was relieved when I met my current partner, who told me upfront that he was non-monogamous, and overjoyed when our relationship became serious and meaningful. He introduced me to a whole community of people who are poly-minded.
Question: What has been the biggest surprise to you about it?
Answer: Although I was done with monogamy and actively looking for a poly relationship, it surprised me to realize I still had feelings of possessiveness to work through. Although situations do occur to test those feelings greatly, it also surprises me to see how much I have overcome them. For some people, these feelings may never be completely overcome, but they CAN be managed.
Question: What’s the most challenging thing in your relationship(s)?
Answer: Having that difference of opinion about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. It’s hard to just “agree to disagree”. You usually have to come to some kind of compromise to healthily move on. A quote from fetlife, that I hold very true in my mind:
“Once you start down the poly road, you are no longer free to do whatever you wish, whenever you wish. Your life IS tied to others.” ~ FreakNGeek77
Question: What’s the one thing that you wish you’d known before you got into it?
Answer: I wish I’d known that you should really speak up about things you’re unsure about (and soon), because you never know when it will be too late. The poly relationship is usually fast-paced, and situations will present themselves to you OR your partner, whether you’re ready for them or not.
Question: If you care to share, can you describe some of your relationship structures? (eg. do you consider yourself polyamorous? Polysexual? Open relationships or closed?)
Answer: I consider myself polyamorous and slightly open, meaning my goal is to have multiple meaningful relationships with a casual fling here and there.
Question: Have you “come out” to your family and friends and if so, how did that go? Do you recommend it?
Answer: Most of my friends know about my being poly, and although none of them could see themselves doing it, they are happy if I’m happy. I have not “come out” to my family yet, as most of them are very religious and very monogamy minded. I’m sure there will be lengthy conversations and explanations, but my family is very supportive of me, whether they like what I’m doing or not. I can’t recommend (or discourage) any individuals “coming out”, as every social and family dynamic is different and delicate. It’s a personal choice.
Question: If polyamorous, do you find it is more like a relationship choice, or more a statement about who you are inside? (like being gay, for example)
Answer: Think about those high school boys who are trying so hard not to be gay; they have girlfriends (or at least talk about liking girls), but secretly hook up with boys, because they just have that innate desire to do so. I never wanted to be a “cheater” while in the monogamous relationships I thought I had to be in, but secretly, I was fulfilling my innate polyamorous desires. I definitely find that polyamory is a statement of who I am, rather than a relationship choice.
Question: What one thing (or things) did you learn along your ethical non-monogamy journey that really helped you?
Answer: Communication is key. It’s easy to overstep boundaries and upset partners if you don’t know how they feel about the things you are doing. Talking about how we feel about situations (past, present or future) can help us avoid or adjust behaviors that could be inflammatory.
Question: How do you handle when jealousy or insecurity issues come up (either with yourself or your partners)?
Answer: People can say they don’t feel jealousy in their relationships. They can say they only feel happy for their partners when they have loving or sexual experiences outside of their own. I think it’s possible, but I also think that people really just want to feel important. My insecurities are mostly centered around not being important enough in my partner’s life. I know that a new partner in his life would never be a reason to end our relationship, since being poly eliminates the “one at a time” rule. However, my time with him dwindling (in quantity and quality) because of this new partner IS an actual possibility. We can work together to get through my insecurities. I can voice my concerns about our time together, and he can try his best to make sure we spend enough quality time together. The same can be done to help him through his own insecurities.
Question: What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of living an ethical non-monogamous lifestyle?
Answer: Keeping secrets from your partner is not fun. Being attracted to someone outside your relationship is not something most people can tell their partners. Getting involved with said person outside your relationship is usually the ultimate relationship deal-breaker. I find that being able to have a real discussion about these things with my partner is the most rewarding aspect of this lifestyle.
Question: What advice do you have for anyone considering an alternative relationship?
Answer: It’s not for everyone. Go into your new relationship knowing that it’s not an easy way out of what you don’t like about your current (or recently past) relationship. All relationships involve caring for your partner(s), communication, and honesty.
Question: Have you ever tried to have a relationship with a monogamous person? If so, how did that go?
Answer: See question 1.
Question: When you have issues or problems with your lifestyle, where do you normally turn for answers, or what has helped you get past it?
Answer: Although I used to feel that the only person I needed to talk to about issues or problems was my partner, I now find myself searching for someone in the community to talk to. I have yet to find her/him, but I know that eventually I will have this confidant off of whom I can bounce my feelings and solutions. This doesn’t mean that I would EVER stop talking to my partner about the issues. But sometimes you need a fresh, outside perspective on things.
Question: Do you find much discrimination in your community or among your friend set regarding your lifestyle?
Answer: As someone who works with children, I see childcare workers across the country being fired nearly every week because of various aspects of their personal lives, and it frightens me. I haven’t experienced discrimination in my work community possibly because I have not revealed my lifestyle there.
Question: How has being in a poly relationship improved your communication skills?
Answer: My ability to communicate has improved greatly since beginning my poly relationship. I feel much more comfortable talking about my feelings and asking for what I want, even if I know I may not get it. I really enjoy opening up and talking about our relationship for hours, and actually look for possible scenarios to dissect and discuss.
If you are currently in a poly / ethical non-monogamous relationship situation, and would like to contribute to this blog via an (anonymous if you wish) interview, please shoot me an email and let me know! People in the polyamorous community would love to hear your story and your thoughts. Sharing is caring. 🙂
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)