This is tenth in a series of interviews with 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 tenth interview is with a female blogger friend of mine that lives in Sweden whom I met through this blog. She is the mother of two small children, and lives with them and the father of her children. We have been friends for many months now, and support each other’s efforts as writers. She is currently working on writing several books, and has a thriving blog with oodles of awesome and handy information. Links will be at the end of this post. I hope that you enjoy her interview.
Q: What lead you to ethical non-monogamy?
A: I cheated. Back then, it seemed I was more proud of coming to polyamory through cheating than I was if I had come to it through swinging like many of the people I got to know. Dishonesty over honesty. Repression over adventure. Yeah, I was pretty screwed up back then. Am I now? Probably! But just in a different way…
Q: What’s the one thing that you wish you’d known before you got into it?
A: The problem is I did know it. We all know it. We all say it. You have to love yourself first. But with so many conflicting messages in society and our upbringing, loving yourself has a bad rap. Selfish? Or Selfless? You cannot know how bad your self-esteem is unless you encounter situations which expose it. But it wasn’t exactly polyamory which showed it up… after all, polyamory is simply a relationship structure. But the interaction with so many people, juggling with jealousy, envy, resentment and all the other things we know exist, plus the backlash from society grated my protective barriers down and sent me reeling. It turned out that I had very low self-esteem. Too much to be able to cope with the complexities of polyamory at first. I can’t ever say that I would have known it without polyamory, so in a sense it was polyamory which galvanized me into working on myself. Had I known it would have been so painful, I doubt I would have got into it. But they say you attract the lessons you need, and I’m thankful for it now.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing in your relationship(s)?
A: Now that we’ve dealt with the initial demons, polyamory continues to surprise me on a daily basis. As an author, the privacy of my partners can be an issue – especially those things that we might be judged for! If you’re an activist, then you like to present a positive face on polyamory. But like any other relationships, we get into difficulties – and those difficulties have to be framed in the right narrative and I want to be as honest as I can… In practical terms, I would say right now one of the biggest difficulties is the unevenness of the dating pool. I don’t have any trouble finding and attracting partners. I find online dating particularly easy, as chairwoman of the polyamory society here in Sweden, my disclosures are up front. But one of my boyfriends goes through the difficulty time and time again of breaking the news of his relationship status to girls who haven’t heard of polyamory and only think he’s cheating. Obviously that’s fairly harrowing.
Q: Have you “come out” to your family and friends and if so, how did that go? Do you recommend it?
A: Everything from truly glorious with my partner’s parents where we are all accepted and celebrated for our relationship choices, to shamed, vilified and ostracised. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s truly allowed me to see who accepts me for who I am, and who empowers me. Those people who haven’t come round, well, they aren’t part of my life anymore. And whilst I had to grieve that for a while, I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life.
Q: 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)
A: Before I discovered polyamory, I was in a monogamous paradigm. My life consisted of the same old relationship patterns with the same old anxiety I had experienced as a child. I desired freedom from the tight leash I had grown up with, but didn’t know whether I just wanted to escape monogamy or whether I could cope with the complexities that polyamory brought. I didn’t know if I ‘was’ really polyamorous, or if it was something I was even capable of ‘choosing’.
But being single or entering into many casual relationships didn’t bring me the love I wanted and needed. Cheating involved deception – the very thing that had poisoned my life in the beginning. I wanted to have the love and freedom which was so important to me without drama, coercion or deception. Then I found polyamory. The particular brand I aspired to was non-hierarchical polyamory and now even borders on relationship anarchy – the ability to love freely with plenty of trust and without restriction. But I realized that this freedom necessary meant that the relationships I had today, might be gone tomorrow. Freedom to love also means the freedom to stop loving. That generated even more anxiety. So the truth is that in the beginning, I believed in polyamory as a concept more than whether it actually worked for me – the person I had become. To best survive and get my fundamental needs met, I had to adapt to it. I think for me then, it might be both a choice and an inclination…but I had to work damn hard on several areas of my self-esteem in order to live polyamorously.
B: What advice do you have for anyone considering an alternative relationship?
A: Consider it. In whatever configuration makes you happiest. But be honest about what you really want. It might be monogamy. Or you might not want polyamory, you might just want sexual freedom. You might not want any primary relationship at all. None of it makes you wrong, but you have to be prepared for the consequences.
Expand your poly library with four eBooks for just $25. Support the crowdfunding campaign by Thorntree Press which includes Louisa’s memoir, “The Husband Swap” due out April 2015.
Also, please feel free to check out Louisa’s blog, PostModern Woman by clicking the link below:
Thank you so much, my dear friend! You are an absolute inspiration to me, and I highly value our growing friendship. Thank you also for contributing so strongly to our growing community of the poly-friendly and those curious about ethical non-monogamy, all while helping empower woman all around the globe, including me. If anyone in the community who is currently in a poly relationship of some sort would like to be interviewed by me for this blog, please hit me up the via the contact link here on “Loving Without Boundaries.”
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Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too)