This is eleventh 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 eleventh interview is with a female friend, blogger and active commenter here on this blog in her late 30s. She is married, non-monogamous, and lives in the United States in a non-traditional marriage with an older man (16 years older). I hope that you enjoy her interview.
Q: If you care to share, can you describe some of your relationship structures?
(eg. do you consider yourself polyamorous? Polysexual? Open relationships or closed?)
A: Generally speaking, I find that people are obsessed with labels. It is Very Important for people to have a nice sturdy square box in which to easily categorize and compartmentalize things. And while labels can be helpful, they also do not do justice.
Language is a tricky thing. Definitions are often less important than connotations, and if the latter is negative… See where I’m going with that? So language is tricky. It’s interpretive. And the language of labels is maddening. When it comes to labeling my relationships, I generally just avoid it altogether. Broad generalizations do not quite fit the bill and leave too much room for interpretive error. Condiments, for example, is a broad enough category to encompass everything from olives to pizza sauce. But if I say condiments, the majority of people think along the lines of mustard and ketchup and sort of forget that things like hot fudge and horseradish fall into that category too, even if they are less popular or – to some – completely unknown. Specificity doesn’t help much either. After all, one man’s cat food is another man’s tuna surprise.
So whether I label myself polyamorous or polysexual or pollyanna really makes no difference unless we (‘we’ being ‘me’ and ‘whoever I’m talking to’) have a mutually-agreed-upon interpretation of terms.
That said: I have a page on my blog that paints, in broad strokes, a picture for my readers who are seeking definitions. In terms of outside-my-marriage…stuff…it reads:
Polyamory/Swinging: This is incredibly complicated. I’m not part of either community (nor, quite frankly, do I want to be), but I have first-hand experience with both, and have carved a niche for myself along the borders in-between. I’ve embarked on amorous adventures over the years ~ both with and without my husband ~ and am currently…um…involved…outside my marital relationship. But I’m not interested in sex for the sake of sex; I choose to build relationships. It’s… Complicated.
Q: Have you “come out” to your family and friends and if so, how did that go? Do you recommend it?
For all that I am open – on my blog as well as in the real world – about sex and sexuality, I am also an intensely private person. The openness often compels people to share with me or ask me questions or Come Out to me in various ways. The privacy means that I am extremely selective about what I share, when, and with whom. There are people who know that I have romantic and sexual relationships and experiences outside my marriage, and there are people who don’t. And no *one* person knows everything. The people who Need To Know, because of the level of our emotional or physical involvement, know. And really, that’s what’s most important to me. I occasionally go through bouts of angst where I’ll feel like I *should* come out to my family somehow. But then logic and reality rise to the fore and I say, “Yeah, that’s a NOPE.”
I can count on one hand the number of people I consider friends. Not acquaintances or associates or colleagues or teammates but friends. People who *want* to know me. People with whom I can share secrets. People who embrace me for who I am. But even those people create Images Of Me that they can understand for themselves, and sometimes the image and the reality clash. So when I come out to my friends about anything – my kinks and curiosities, my relationship construct(s), my sexual adventures, my feelings and desires – it is in a personalized manner without making it into A Big Talk. Little bits, a little at a time, one-on-one, in the course of regular conversation, is what I have found has worked best for me.
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: None of the above.
Love is hard. The feelings may develop naturally, but *acting* on those feelings is a choice. And *owning* the emotions and *accepting the consequences* for the behavior (positive and negative) are something else altogether.
There are those who argue that everybody is polyamorous. Because, interpreted as Many Loves, polyamory applies universally. We all love more than one person. Friends, parents, children, etc.
There are folks who truly love multiple people – people to whom they are NOT related, people they are attracted to – but who do not engage in sexual activity with anyone outside of their marriage (or monogamously committed relationship). By contrast, there are people who see polyamory as “many fucks” instead of “many loves” and they’ll gladly do a genital jig with everyone in sight but have feelings for no one. But they *must* be polyamorous because if “love” is a euphemism for “sex” and they aren’t committed to any one person…
So which is which? There’s love. And there’s sex. And let’s face it: The only reason polyamory is a Big Deal is because our culture is freaked the fuck out by sex.
It’s a lot to consider.
So is polyamory a choice? Or is it a statement about The Real You? An election or a predilection?
It’s not a question easily answered.
For me, the best I can say is: Having feelings is natural. Acting on my feelings is a choice.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone considering an alternative relationship?
A: Be honest about who you are and what you want, both with yourself and with your partner(s). Even when it hurts. Be considerate of others’ feelings but do not subjugate your own. Take your time. Remember Newton’s Laws. Respect Murphy’s Law. Know your own mind. Explore your limits. Keep in mind that if this was easy, everyone would do it. It’s not easy. It will be the hardest – and potentially the most rewarding – thing you’ve ever done. Do it anyway. It will also hurt deeper than any cut you’ve ever sustained. Don’t be afraid to bleed. Be strong. Be real. And when your heart hurts, keep in mind that they are called “growing pains” for a reason, and remember these words from Tyler Knott Gregson:
We are born often
Every time our hearts don’t fit
The love we carry
Thank you so much, my friend! I really appreciate you taking the time to write this interview for me. Conducting the interviews is so rewarding, and I think the poly community really enjoys hearing from different perspectives how this poly thing can work. 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.”
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
P.S. Here is an additional posting related to this interview from the author:
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