This is sixteenth 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 sixteenth interview is with man in his 40s who lives in the Jacksonville, FL area. Jace Summit (not his real name) is a 43 year old man who’s been married for almost 20 years and has lived an evolution from monogamy to polyamory together with his wife. He works full time as a network systems manager, but is attempting to switch careers into voice acting, writing, painting and philosophizing. He has just started up a blog and discussion forums at jaxpoly.com in an attempt to have the ethically non-monogamous community around Jacksonville, Florida come together and grow together.
Q: What lead you to ethical non-monogamy?
A: My wife and I had a mutual friend (who I’ll call Sally) who lived upstairs from us after we had been married for a few years already. We had no clue what we were doing at the time, but gradually Sally became more and more a member of the family, eventually becoming a lover of ours. I suspect she might still be with us if we DID have a clue what we were doing, but as it was there wasn’t enough communication. There were other big things going on for my wife and I that Sally felt she shouldn’t intrude on since she didn’t want to get between us and… well… it became a mess. After she moved out (and to another state), my wife and I began something of a “post-mortem” exam of the relationship to figure out what happened… and over a sometimes rocky process of several years we evolved into poly. I forget when we learned more about poly per se, and “ethical non-monogamy” is still a newer concept to me as it contrasts with polyamory, but it still fits.
Q: What’s the most challenging thing in your relationship(s)?
A: For me, distance. I am deeply in love with some people who lives across the country and rarely have the time/money available to visit. It makes time management a little easier in some ways, but I’d go insane if it weren’t for the Internet to keep up with them. Well, then again, I met some of them online in the first place, so perhaps I wouldn’t be quite as insane with the Internet… at least not because of that. heh.
Q: What’s the one thing that you wish you’d known before you got into it?
A: What the hell polyamory was and what we could have done to bring Sally into our family more, vs. just a close friend we got physical with and loved but didn’t know how to maintain that with.
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: My wife and I have been married just over eighteen and a half years now and have had three children (one since passed), so she is my primary in many ways. We consider ourselves polyamorous… we are after connections more than sex partners. We have a few situations that are more friends with benefits than loves, but in those cases the friendships run deep and who knows where the line is anyway? The best way to express what we’re looking for, however came up during one of our rougher patches where we had separated for a few months. In counseling I said that I was willing to be physically faithful to her if that was important, but I wasn’t willing to be “emotionally faithful”, or rather while I expected I’d always love her, I will also be in love with others and don’t want to stop feeling the depths of those connections.
Q: How do you handle when jealousy or insecurity issues come up (either with yourself or your partners)?
A: Directly, but not confrontationally. Sometimes it’s a matter of introspection, figuring out why you are feeling what you are feeling.Talking it through is helpful… and in the case of my partner, being sure to listen to what she is insecure about and reassuring her is helpful. In the specific case of my wife, we’ve been married almost twenty years, but she still feels insecurity sometimes.
Q: What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of living an ethical non-monogamous lifestyle?
A: Being able to authentically engage people at whatever level is appropriate between us. If I meet someone who I feel a strong click with, I can explore that without second guessing myself; there is no, “Gosh, I don’t want to get too close and fall for her,” going on in my head. If I am clicking with someone who isn’t comfortable with polyamory I of course respect that, but then I can still be myself and just accept I can’t have a relationship “on that level” with her. In fact, I am very much in love with a single but monogamous woman who lives a few hours away…. She knows exactly how I feel, I know how she feels, but we still very much enjoy each other’s intellect and company, snuggling up and chatting. I’ve not so much as seen a nipple of hers and I don’t expect I ever will, but I wouldn’t walk away from that relationship even at gunpoint.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone considering an alternative relationship?
A: The “open and honest communication” advice has become almost cliche, but it is still the best thing out there. The insight I would share on that however, is you need to be open and honest with yourself too. Ask yourself WHY for everything you’re feeling, make sense of where you stand on things. If you are asking your partner for something based on something you think you’re feeling but, really, you’re masking something else then it will lead to issues or, at best will never improve.
My other advice is that while it might sound good to have multiple relationships, sex with other people, party all the time, etc, I ask people to not think of that but to think of what they will do when they are home alone and their partner is out getting laid. We are brought up in this culture to think that someone you love being with someone else (and not even just physically) is tantamount to treason to the relationship. So if people go in just looking at “The good stuff” without realizing that the rest comes with it and they will need to deal with it all, well that’s an issue.
Q: Have you ever tried to have a relationship with a monogamous person? If so, how did that go?
A: It went (and continues) wonderfully, but without sex. 🙂 Not every relationship needs to end up in the bedroom to be worth pursuing. She is one of my best friends. I proposed more I admit, but I am happy with what I have.
Q: Do you find much discrimination in your community or among your friend set regarding your lifestyle?
A: My friends have been very accepting, almost surprisingly so. There are some at work who know and mostly they are accepting, although some are pretty skeptical. When I told one person that my wife and I were polyamorous, she asked, “Does your wife know that you’re polyamorous?” My wife is often asked why “she lets me get away with it.” I suspect a decent number of them think I’m just trying to make cheating “sound good,” or at least really don’t get why we do what we do and how we do it. But considering what society teaches us I can’t entirely blame them.
Thank you so much, my new friend! 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.
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 via the contact link here on Loving Without Boundaries.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)