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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today in Meet a Poly Person: All Relationships are "Real" Relationships

Often in online conversations about poly people's relationships, real lived experiences of poly people, (or people in open relationships, or swingers, or anyone else who isn't monogamous) are ignored. There will be a strawperson (or strawrelationship) set up for the blogger or commenter to knock down in their quest to show how very bad and no good we non-monogamous people are. This series was set up in order to combat that. People in non-monogamous relationships aren't all the same, so our experiences aren't.

Hi, I'm Melusin, blogger at And What Was Ze ... I'm a pansexal trans man, a newbie activist, poet, playwright and director for a small theatre company. I live with my fiance, Roland, in the English Midlands, and we're polyamorous.

There is an old friend of mine for whom I had feelings for a long time. She is the first person I ever fell in love with, causing all sorts of angst and drama in my late teens. She's still a very good friend and every now and then I realise I'm still attracted to her, still sometimes have romantic feelings towards her. (She's made it very clear she isn't interested, and as such I wouldn't act on them).

When Roland and I were monogamous this caused me no end of grief. In fact, my entire sexual identity caused me no end of grief- I was lesbian identified at the time, and my partner is a man. I would be attracted to someone (quite often the aforementioned friend) and constantly feel like I had betrayed Roland, if in thought only. I'd be furious at myself for dreaming about women, or noticing someone I found attractive. It was exhausting.

Roland was bewildered by this. He was accepting of me being attracted to women, and sometimes we'd semi-seriously talk about having sex with another person together, sometimes discussing it more seriously than others. We were concerned with liking the person in question, and there being interest on all sides, and other things that might suggest we'd be amenable to polyamory. But when we discussed polyamory outright we were sure that it "just wouldn't work for us."

We were trying to stick to the structure, to the identification of monogamy, even though it didn't really fit us.

One day I realised that I had a very strong attraction to another person, and commenced the standard "feeling awful about this and that I was a terrible person." I blurted this out in confused fashion to Roland, with much focus on how guilty I felt and how terrible it was. A couple of days later I was in the pub with him when he said that he was okay with me telling the person this, and making advances towards and sleeping with zim. A while later that did happen, and we had a very nice, loving, one night stand. This was followed by a second occasion, and then Roland and I had the "are we poly now?" conversation and decided we were.

My relationship with my secondary partner was the first obviously queer relationship either of us had had, and then ze left the country and we're now not sure whether it will resume when ze returns, but we have enjoyed flirting and similar for most of the year. And if it doesn't resume, that doesn't mean that it doesn't count. Like Jadelyn said in a previous post in this series "Our culture would have us believe that jealousy is the natural state of a relationship, that affection is a zero-sum game and our partner enjoying the company of another somehow diminishes their love for us. But I learned otherwise."

Poly has given my partner and I a chance to appreciate the many different forms of sexual attraction and love, and realise that they are all valuable. My feelings for the old friend I mentioned at the beginning are not a threat to my feelings for Roland, and certainly don't invalidate them. Mine and Roland's other relationships, which sometimes intersect, are valuable in their own right. Poly has meant that we've both come to appreciate many things a great deal more: our past relationships, temporary relationships, single incidents of kissing with an old friend after several years of sexual tension, and our own relationship with all the details and pleasures unique to it.

And the acknowledgement of that, the discussion of current crushes and loves and anxieties and whatever else, has meant that my constant fear of slipping up, of breaking some "unseen rule," has faded. It has meant that when I'm worried about something I tell Roland about it, and that then we are able to work out "seen" rules together. There has been drama over the past year, and tensions, but it is such a bloody relief to be able to talk about it.

Poly means that we're able to create our own mould for relationships, rather than forcing ourselves into tropes and moulds that don't fit us.

If you think you or someone you know would be interested in submitting something for the Today in Meet a Poly Person series, please check out this here post with guidelines for submission. Thanks!

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