The first time I heard of polyamory, I was seventeen.
I still remember it vividly, though of course at the time I couldn’t imagine the significance these few moments, this small exchange, would later have in my life.
Snuggled up on my bed in my parents’ house with my boyfriend of about two-and-a-half years, A, when he suddenly asked, ‘do you think it’s possible to love two people at the same time?’
I froze. Where is this going?
‘No,’ I blurted out, after my mind had had a moment to process this question. ‘Why?’ I dared to ask. Out it came. He’d been crushing on my best friend, which had made him think about the possibility of having two partners but everyone agreeing to it…. and some digging on the internet had led him to this radical concept called polyamory.
Probably unsurprisingly, my seventeen year old, brought up in a society where monogamy is the only acceptable option, chronically insecure self was horrified. I told him I found the idea horrendous, couldn’t imagine what sort of person would do that, and never wanted to talk about it again.
The subject was dropped.
It was shortly after I turned eighteen that I came out as bi – first to myself, then to A. and a select few trusted friends.
‘If you want to have a girlfriend,’ A told me, ‘that’s fine with me.’
I turned the idea over in my mind for a while…. and then I met her. Who was she? I’ll call her C, and she fell proverbially into my lap one night in the chat-room of a bi women’s support forum. She was polyamorous, and when it became apparent that there were strong feelings between us, both A and her primary partner T urged us to go for it. We met. We kissed. She asked me to be her girlfriend, and I accepted. I fell deeply, madly in love with her.
Mine and C’s relationship was volatile at best, massively screwed up at worst. We shared a few glorious weeks, broke up, got back together, fought viciously, declared our love for each other, fought some more, and eventually had a heart-wrenching break up. This whole process took less than four months. To say I was devastated is an understatement. Many tears and a rather misguided one-night-stand later, I felt I’d recovered but never wanted to go anywhere near polyamory again.
And then we went to BiCon. And met polyamorous people, many of them, who were loving and honest and so happy. Something clicked for us. It wasn’t polyamory that was bad. I’d just had one really bad experience. We met a wonderful couple, S and A, who I still see occasionally now. This was also where I met Nomad.
Tentatively, A and I started talking about opening things up again. A big step for us was when S and I had a date alone – the first time anything had happened between me and another man without A being around. On November 20th, Nomad and I got together.
That was 2009. Over the last two years, I’ve had several short relationships which have not lasted, though some were nice while they did, and some lovely ongoing casual connections. A and I decided to go our separate ways earlier this year after almost six years together.
So now? I have an absolutely wonderful partner in Nomad, and our Tribe feels as much like family to me as the people I share blood with. I’m tentatively opening up to the idea of exploring new relationships again, after taking some time out to clear my head and process post-break-up stuff.
Looking back, the journey has been a long and at times really difficult one, but it was worth every moment. There have been some hard and painful times, but I regret very little. I feel like I’m on the right path now, and I’m looking forward to the journey in all the years to come…..