Someone asked me when I became a polyamorist. What does that word even mean?
A polyamorist is a person who lives, or believes in living, a polyamorous lifestyle.
To answer the question: I always was. I did a YouTube video explaining my answer as well as sharing some of what I’ve written below.
During my teenage dating years, I either was with John, single, or had two boyfriends. During my undergraduate studies, I had two romantic love interests. Looking back, I call that unethical nonmonogamy because neither of my boyfriends knew I had another one. The only exception was if one asked me if there was another man in my life, I’d always answer “yes.”
Today, I don’t use the phrase ethical nonmonogamy because what may seem ethical to one person may not necessarily be ethical to another. So, I’ve been using the phrase consensual nonmonogamy. Each person I’m dating, or may potentially date, knows of my being non-monogamous. He consents, if he chooses to date me, to my being polyamorous.
I was periodically monogamous during my dating life and also in when married due to the societal, familial, and religious expectation that you were supposed to be exclusive. It was never discussed. It was, and is, an overall general assumption that when you date someone … you date only that person.
What I like about polyamory is the emphasis on communication. Each person knows what the other person thinks and how they live their life. Well, that’s the concept. Some polyamorous people still cheat and keep secrets from their partner or partners. Each time I hear about or read a story that someone was unfaithful, even in a marriage, I think it’s because they didn’t discuss whether or not they were going to be exclusive.
Sometimes people simply want something different from time to time. Sometimes people meet someone they build an emotional connection with or are sexually attracted to. Instead of being open and honest about it, whether it was known upfront they wanted the option to pursue additional partners while in the relationship or if feelings seemingly come out of nowhere, they keep secrets and someone inevitably gets hurt.
Ironically, though I was exclusive in both of my marriages and they were unfaithful. A few people asked me why I didn’t open my marriage, meaning why not have an open marriage. The answer was simple: both denied cheating. Polyamory, to me, means being open and honest. Neither one was willing nor capable of doing that. Being on the receiving end of unfaithful partners led me to end those marriages. I also refuse to date someone who’s in a relationship when their partner doesn’t know he’s attempting to see me (or other people). I refuse to be, or kept, a secret.
I’ve realized, thanks to an article I read on Poly.Land that I’m ambiamorous. That word identifies a person who’s content being exclusive as well as having multiple partners. My current partner and I are both polyamorous, though we haven’t actively been pursuing additional partners. To the outside world, we look like an exclusive couple. We’re not. We had long discussions prior to entering our relationship about what our expectations and boundaries were regarding one or both of us potentially having additional partners. That’s what I like, the openness, the honesty, the transparency. We were very fortunate that our personal relationship boundaries lined up with each other’s, regarding what we’d want to know about a potential romantic interest, when we’d want to be informed about it, safer sex practices using barriers, regular STI/STD testing, and also fluid bonding. We’ve both read the books More Than Two and The Ethical Slut. I admit to liking More Than Two better because there seemed to be more emphasis on actual relationship building and maintenance. Also, the end of each chapter had some really thought-provoking questions, some of which we answered together.
The last thing I’d like to say in this article is to not assume you know what being polyamorous means to someone. There’s a polyamorous umbrella under which houses swingers, solo poly, hierarchical poly, table poly, triads, polycules, anarchists, et al. If you meet someone and they say they’re “poly,” ask them what that means to them. Ask them what their poly lifestyle looks like.
For more on my thoughts about polyamory, view my YouTube video. There are a few things I said in the video that I didn’t write here in this article. If you have any specific questions, please ask. Questions may end up being its own article or vlog. Comments are always welcome.