I’m on a quest to do more for myself than I’ve ever done before. More healing, more growth, more knowledge and power. I’m tackling each day with as much mindfulness as I can muster, now that the crushing sadness of last year’s heartbreak has shifted.
Today, I’m struck by how deeply ingrained certain patterns are when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve committed to trying out this polyamory business. This idea of finding meaningful physical and emotional connection outside the parameters of monogamy.
Polyamory (n.) — The practice of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners
But there are certain parts of me that seem deeply conditioned for monogamy, and I wonder if there can be space for both. If any of you poly types are reading this, I’d love your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here are a few things that I’m noticing:
I fall for the idea/fantasy I’ve created of someone before really knowing them. I’ve got such an active imagination, and I live for characters. So many times in my life, I’ve fallen into that ‘head over heels’ narrative, only to be devastated when the person I’ve placed on a pedestal reveals their less desirable human frailties. How about I take some time to see if all that surface attraction can be supported by some excellent values and qualities?
I’ve believed that I need a partner in order to be fulfilled romantically. I’ve moved on from thinking that I need a partner to complete me in any way, or to have a richer life. I don’t think that there is one great soulmate that I am destined to be with in this lifetime. However, I seem to be holding on to this notion that if I’m going to share heart and bed space, there needs to be one lover who rises above the rest. I’ve created this idea that I’d like a primary partner.
What if my life could be just as rich without a primary? For those of you who don’t know, a primary partner is the romantic relationship that takes top billing in a polyamorous lifestyle. Not all poly people have a primary, but those who do tend to treat that relationship more like a traditional partnership. Primaries set their own ground rules and boundaries that are mutually adhered to. I’m not anti-primary, but I think I need to shift from feeling that this is an end goal.
I want to fill up all of my brain space and physical space with a new lover who I happen to be excited about. I realize this is largely a chemical response that is driving me to procreate, but still, I’d like to think I’ve evolved past this. Sure, I can feel like I need a cold shower anytime a certain someone blips on my radar (every hour, by my last count), but I don’t have to act on that. Instead of texting incessantly, I can pour that frenzy into my art. Or into self-pleasure. Or a good work out. I love that feeling of delicious passion and attraction, but I’m growing to love my solitude and self-reflection just as much. Sometimes more because I can ugly cry to Netflix shows and fart in bed.
I confuse incredible chemistry with anything other than the chemical reaction that it is. I believe sex is sacred and holy. When I’m in that space with someone, I feel like I’m deep in prayer. I feel the essence of life, and my connection to the universe in that space. This is one of my superpowers. So, I suppose it’s easy to see why, in the very rare moments when I match with someone in a balanced, sober level of attraction, I can get confused.
There’s always the possibility that this delicious chemistry can produce something lasting and precious, but that only happens with time, and careful tending. And seeing people clearly when the fuck fog has dissipated. Amazing sex goggles can be real bastards. What’s more, it is my right to appreciate and enjoy this kind of sizzling sexuality without having to define it or label it to make it more palatable to anyone. Sometimes, people are going to enter my life only to rattle my headboard. That’s totally okay.
I start to set aside my desire to explore other people when I find someone I really click with. I’ve dated people who have basically said ‘if you give your partner permission to be with other people, sometimes that’s all they need in order to be able to walk away from that temptation.’ Testing the boundaries of monogamy to continue to exist in monogamy isn’t really the point. I see how polyamory might be a form of self-protection for me. I haven’t had this much therapy to be blind to that, but I’ve earned the right to protect myself and see how this particular shield serves me.
I believed that I was polyamorous before, and therefore know what I’m doing. Though my last relationship started as a valiant attempt at polyamory, it ended up a lot more like polygamy. The reality is that I did not feel like I had the freedom to explore my own desires in an authentic way, and the lines of communication were not the clear and open channels people need to succeed in the polyamory experience.
I am more interested in a scenario where I get to articulate my own needs and wants, and then realize them. If I end up with a primary, we would both ideally be self-aware and articulate about our needs and desires, and hopefully those would line up well. Meanwhile, I have so much to learn about how to be careful with other people’s pride, their hearts, their fragile egos, their valued needs, while still making sure mama gets the love she wants.
Lovers who feel they can’t be enough for me. If I have chosen to share space with you, it is because I want to share my own space with you. I don’t need you to fulfill me, or to fill in any of my cracks. Oh wow, I walked into so many crude jokes there, didn’t I?
I want to walk with you, but I don’t need you to hold me up. I’m not comparing you. I’m enjoying your unique skills, insights, dreams, desires. I like the way your energy swirls with mine. The space we share is ours and ours alone. I enjoy what is unique about you.
Polyamory allows people to show up exactly as they are, and offer only what they have. This is only possible when you let go of the notion of one person being everything you need in one partner for the rest of your life. Maybe we’ll keep choosing to walk with each other until we’re done with walking, but I’m not out to find that. I’m out to find me and that’s the lifelong union I’m committed to.
Is this a selfish quest I’m on? Possibly. Could I get a few months into this and decide it isn’t for me? Sure. I’m giving myself that space for authenticity. I will say though, the more I resist my old monogamous patterns – the old ideas that there is another ‘half’ to me in someone else, the more of my own power I see.
I’m not out to break hearts. I think any of my lovers, or potential lovers, will vouch for how clear I’ve been about my journey through polyamory. Our needs and desires aren’t always lining up, but that’s life. I value each of them and the space they have shared with me. I feel a thrill when I think of the new companions I will meet and experience. This feels like an adventure instead of a minefield, and I absolutely love that dating is fascinating, and strange, and fun.
It’s a whole new ballgame when you become your own special someone.