Everyone close to me has known that I’m polyamorous for at least a few years, and plenty of people who aren’t close to me know as well. But I’ve been increasingly feeling that it’s important to make this clear to the entire world and to explain more about what polyamory means.
Polyamory can mean lots of different things to different people. But the main idea is that you aren’t restricted to one romantic relationship at one time. That idea never seemed groundbreaking to me. Like many social norms, monogamy is simply self-reinforcing: it’s common and normalized, so often people do it without deliberately choosing it.
The main reason I feel it’s important to be public about polyamory is that there are an enormous number of polyamorous people who keep their identity secret, to avoid the judgement of conservative and closed minded friends and family. While it’s normal for monogamous heterosexual couples to post their couple photos on social media, it’s a lot more fraught with danger for polyamorous people to do the same thing. I have met many other poly people over the last few years, and a common theme is that they are rejected by people close to them after coming out as poly. Seeing so many people close to me faced with this type of judgement made me feel it is my moral obligation to be publicly poly and to do my part to normalize it.
I knew that I was poly for nearly fifteen years, yet I never had the courage to live a polyamorous lifestyle or even really tell many people about it. Part of this lack of courage was because of how controversial it is and how I thought it’d be harder to date or meet people who were on a similar wavelength. Part of it was that without being very deliberate and mindful, it is scarily easy to find yourself in implicit monogamous commitments because everyone assumes you are monogamous unless you explicitly specify otherwise.
Five years ago I was terrified to tell even my closest friends. I was absolutely certain I was poly but felt like I couldn’t tell anyone, and I am sure there are countless other people reading this blog who are in a similar boat. Eventually the fear of looking back at my life with regret, knowing that I didn’t live according to my true identity, was enough to make me finally be who I’m supposed to be.
Today I proudly tell anyone who asks about my love life what I’m all about.
I recognize that I’m lucky because I’m not going to get fired from my job for this, or discriminated against, or lose all my friends or family. But the fear of things like that can be a real obstacle to many people. It’s extremely common for people to be polyamorous and feel like they need to keep it a secret from at least one person in their life, if not from nearly everyone.
The type of poly that I identify with the most is frequently referred to as relationship anarchy. To me it means that there is no predefined structure to what my relationships should look like, and it also means that romantic relationships are not automatically the pinnacle of human connection. I don’t want to control anyone, I don’t want anyone to control me. I want everyone close to me to be free to love and connect with anyone they want in any way they want and to spend their time in any way they want, and I require the same freedom.
It’s a fantastic liberating feeling to know that at any moment I can meet any person I’d like, and my connection with that person can follow any path that naturally develops. There are no rules, there are no people I have to check with. Everyone important to me will support any relationship I foster with anyone else. Not only will they support it, but they’ll be glad to hear about it, just as I’m glad to hear about the people who are important to them.
I currently have a life filled with love and amazing romantic partners, platonic friends, and others who fall somewhere in between. It feels really good to be who I’m supposed to be. I hope that everyone else who knows that their identity is not what they currently put forth to the world has the opportunity to be who they truly are.