Several weeks ago, when I started writing for this blog again (yay!), I told you that one of the things that we’re going to be talking about is ethical non-monogamy. I realize that this comes as something of a surprise to many people, and I’d like to take a moment to talk about why we’re going to be talking about it. (nota bene: we call this meta communication) This post and others will be bringing some new language into the blog, and perhaps into your life. Bear with us, we’ll be adding a glossary and explaining terms, but this post needs to be posted.
Carlos and I have never been in a monogamous relationship. For most of our time together (the 2009-present era, anyway), I have not wanted to talk about it, but it has been a reality of our life, one that we entered into with our eyes open and around which we have invested a significant amount of energy.
In the early days, I was very much still figuring out how I was going to relate to that part of our life. I had recently been witness to some really really bad open relationship nonsense that had done a number on my friend group, and I didn’t feel ready to share that part of my life with the wider world. I was then (as I am now and have pretty much always been) highly inclined toward privacy, especially regarding parts of my life where I felt uncertainty.
And, significantly, despite being in an intentionally, thoughtfully, highly communicative and supportive non-monogamous relationship, I didn’t identify myself that way.
But recently at a meet-and-greet for a polyamory group, a young woman who had grown up in a poly family told me, “you have really smart things to say, for someone who doesn’t practice polyamory.” At the time, I responded with something like, “well, most of good poly practice is just good life practice,” (which is true!), but by the time we were getting on the train to head home, I realized that, actually, no. She was totally wrong. I do practice poly, just not the same way that she does.
For most of our relationship so far, I have identified myself as the mono half of our mono-poly pairing. Practically, it has made sense: I haven’t dated, nor even wanted to. I love what our life is, and what Carlos’s other partners bring to it, but I interact with it in a very different way than he does. As a non-dater, I didn’t feel like I was really part of the poly community, and it didn’t occur to me to identify myself that way.
The truth, though, is that how I choose to identify myself is only a part of my identity. The fact that I haven’t pursued one avenue of poly life doesn’t mean that I’m not living it in plenty of other ways. I don’t date, but I live and practice polyamory every single day of my life. One of the defining principles for us has been that this life allows us possibilities. Not every possible path is open every single day, but there is virtually no limit to the things that are possible. And, critically, things change.
Change is scary, but it is inevitable. This actually isn’t a statement about polyamorous relationships, it’s about every relationship you have. Everything changes. Your relationship with your parents, with your friends, with your coworkers, your children, your partner. You’re not the same person you were when you met, and your relationship isn’t the same now as it was then. And that’s good.
Part of changing the way that I identify myself is about recognizing my changing needs, and the way that I am meeting them. But the change is also about recognizing the reality that I am, in fact, living a poly life. We are live our life this way to build a community, and conspicuously identifying myself as ‘other’ to it is counter productive to that purpose. We are poly because we are responsible for our own fulfillment, and changing how I identify myself reinforces that possibility and responsibility to myself. The same goes for actually talking about these things. Carlos and I spend a lot of time talking to one another about our relationship, and we believe that the other relationships in our lives deserve the same respect. It’s important to invest in the things that matter, and so we’ll be talking about the community of amazing people that we have build and that we value.
Please join us in this conversation. We like hearing what you have to say.