This is fourteenth 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 fourteenth interview is with 30 year old Steven Parrish from Portland, Oregon who is a transplant from Boulder, Colorado. Professionally he’s an assistant manager for Jiffy Lube and “loves getting his hands filthy daily.” Nearly all of his free time is taken up by writing, which is one of his true passions and aspirations. He currently has a live-in partner and they have been developing their own form of non-monogamy, resembling most a partnered non-monogamy form.
A: In perfect honesty, it was realizing that I have been non-monogamous in mindset for many years and instead of having the understanding or the communication to figure that out and pursue that, I cheated. I lied and lost relationships because I wasn’t able to be honest with myself or my partners about what I wanted. When it meant losing a marriage to the person I truly felt was the best person I had ever met, I decided to learn and come clean and pursue a life of honest communication, trust and integrity. I had a few friends from years ago that were polyamorous and very open with me about their relationships, though I didn’t fully grasp or even accept it. I probably had similar reactions to those that I receive now, come to think of it. The seeds planted back then, however, finally took root and became a desire to understand what I wanted and pursue it in a productive and healthy manner.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise to you about it?
A: My ease into the different situations, communications and compersion. I can’t say I’m amazing at any of it, but I’m also not afraid to get involved and share in the love and involvements that my partners wish to have as well. Being raised strictly monogamous and only seeing these relationship types, I thought it would feel a whole lot more daunting to try to open up and be more free in relationships and communication.
Q: Have you “come out” to your family and friends and if so, how did that go? Do you recommend it?
A: I did yes. I feel it went really well compared to some stories I have heard. My dad maintained a level of indifference, stating really that he didn’t fully grasp it, but as long as it made me happy and didn’t hurt anyone, that he supported me. My mother has always been more of a free spirit, go where your heart takes you kind of woman. She also practiced some open and alternative relationship options in her last relationship, so I think it came more naturally to her to hear such a thing from me. I recommend it to anyone as long as they feel it would be beneficial and necessary. It’s your life, live it as you choose and if part of your open communication and transparency is speaking with your parents about it, then more power to you. Just keep in mind that they may have startlingly different views and their reactions and responses are their own.
Q: How do you handle when jealousy or insecurity issues come up (either with yourself or your partners)?
A: A fairly large amount of anxiety at times. Lots of controlled breathing. Perhaps the presence of mind to communicate that I need a minute. I am very good at communicating how I feel once I have been able to fully take something in and mull it over for just a little bit. This has been a learning experience though and at one point and time I was prone to saying hurtful things and getting very angry. Admittedly, I still am at times. It requires constant effort to understand where the jealousy is rooted. Feeling left out. Feeling unappreciated. Unfulfilled desires I didn’t know I had until I hear them going on with someone else. This has helped me be a lot more level headed in communication when these situations involving jealousy arise.
Q: Do you find much discrimination in your community or among your friend set regarding your lifestyle?
A: I find a lot more misunderstanding than discrimination. A whole lot of double takes and questions in regards to why I spend time with different people. My occupation involves me with a lot of very traditionally monogamy based people that find it simply perplexing that such a lifestyle exists. In these cases, I have learned to take it in stride and simply communicate with them as I would anyone else about what it means, what exactly it is and how it works, provided they would like to know. Many times this can be met with a head shake and disbelief, but I truly feel that at least providing knowledge, whether accepted or not, yields progress.
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: I practiced a sort of relationship anarchy during my first year or so of being open. I lived alone, worked pretty constantly and maintained my own autonomy. I had a few partners I’d see on certain planned days of the week, but by and large I’d remain single most of the time. Over the last year, I have developed a very strong live-in relationship with a partner who is also my fianceé. The route we have begun taking is more partnered non-monogamy, maintaining our relationship as our emotional investment, sharing all monetary decisions, interdependence and life decisions between ourselves and having relationships outside of this that are much more free, varying levels of friendships with people of mutual interests. These involvements may be up to and including sexual experiences, but we primarily experience them together, aim to spend nearly every night falling asleep in our bed together and communicate constantly on possible shared interests in individuals or couples. Its allows for certain freedoms while having a solid home base.
Thank you so much, Steven! I really appreciate you taking the time to write this interview for our community. Conducting the interviews is so rewarding, and I think the poly community really enjoys hearing from different perspectives how this ethically non-monogamous lifestyle can work. Steven says feel free to contact him on Facebook if you have any questions or insights for him.
If anyone in the community who is currently in an ethically non-monogamous relationship of some sort would like to be interviewed by me for this blog or the podcast, 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!)