I am poly. And I am young. At 21, I’m still the youngest poly I personally know. The gap is narrowing, but it’s still there and was even more noticeable when I first started moving in poly circles at the age of 19.
So what does this mean?
A lot of the time, absolutely nothing. To use a very tired but true cliché, age is just a number. I have many wonderful friends of all ages, and the ages of the people I’m currently involved with on any level span a range of about 20 years. It doesn’t matter. If I click with someone, who cares if there’s two days or twenty years difference in our ages? So in terms of restricting who I feel it’s appropriate for me to get involved with, it makes absolutely no difference. The same is not true for how other people feel, unfortunately – I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been informed that my beloved Nomad is ‘taking advantage of me’ purely because of the 15-year gap in our ages, or that I have been ‘brainwashed’ in my youthful innocence to believe that something as out-there as polyamory is actually okay. As though I need rescuing from my own choices.
The assumption that young equals naïve and inexperienced is something I deal with pretty regularly. This can get seriously tedious. Yes, I am young. I also have several years experience of poly, longer of relationships generally. This doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out or learned all there is to learn – far from it. But who has, really? We’re all learning and figuring things out all the time.
The problem is that being young means essentially that everything I do tends to be written off as a phase. I started liking to dress ‘goth’ when I was fourteen. Just a phase. I came out as bi at eighteen after years of struggling with it. Just a phase. I’ll either realise I’m actually gay and stop denying it, or revert back to heterosexuality and stop this silly experimenting. And now I’m poly. Obviously just going a bit wild while I’m young and can get away with it. I’ll get over this when I find a nice, monogamous man to settle down, marry and have babies with.
I can virtually see people wondering when I’m going to grow out of it. Well, I wonder instead how old one has to be before one’s life-choices are not written off as ‘a silly phase?’
Because I’m sure many things about me will change as I get older. But being bi and poly are facets of who I am, and I am increasingly sure they will not change.
Whatever people might think, though, I am truly happy that I discovered this lifestyle, the kind of life that suits me, when I was young. And if this is a phase, I hope it’s one I never grow out of!