I wondered what to do with this writing. It provides a snapshot into one particular time of my polyamorous relationship. I figure that there might be other people going through this same situation and maybe they can glean something from it. I can’t say whether that will be a positive thing or a negative, but then maybe that is precisely the value of this story; it’s interpretation can be left to you the reader.
I used to find a lot of stories from the polyamorous trenches, but they always touted the value of being poly. Rarely did I encounter one that laid bare the doubts someone was experiencing as they experienced them. There was always an undercurrent in the culture that made it feel like if someone was expressing doubts then they hadn’t conquered enough of their demons yet. Those people were doing poly wrong. I call bullshit on that.
What I do know is that if this helps you in your poly relationship then run with it my non-conventional brothers and sisters. If it makes you decide that polyamory isn’t for you then so be it. I really don’t care which way it moves you, just that you do whatever is right for you.
I wrote this seven months into our polyamorous arrangement and two months before my wife and I decided to get a divorce. While my marriage didn’t work, keep in mind this is not a necessary blueprint for every couple deciding to venture down the same path. Your results will vary.
In retrospect, I was right to have my doubts, but I had placed too much faith in my wife’s proclamation of polyamorous happiness. In reality, she was happy because she had found someone else she liked better. As it turns out, she’s now in a monogamous relationship with the guy she was seeing while we were married. Her thoughts on this are that she thinks she wanted a polyamorous relationship because something was missing. It’s hard to argue otherwise given the results.
I don’t hold any ill will for those involved. In fact, I wish her and her partner the best of luck. I hope she’s found the one this time. My entire relationship with her was a grand experiment and we knew that from the start. I would do it all again (maybe sans marriage) because it was one of the most beautiful times in my life. I was able to spend three glorious years with someone I loved dearly and I learned so much about myself in the process. That’s a definite win in my book.
So given all of that, here is what I wrote one night on my phone when I couldn’t sleep:
Polyamory makes so much sense and gives a viable alternative to the dominant culture out there. I love polyamory on an intellectual level, practically speaking I’m not so sure.
Truth be told I’m in a polyamorous relationship even though I’m only seeing one person. The thing is my wife has another partner which I have been intellectually supportive of and yet I’m having some emotional trouble with simultaneously.
My conundrum lies with the fact that I’m not sure if this is what I want. It’s possible that I could meet somebody and fall in love with them at the same time that I love my wife. It sounds great except that it hasn’t happened for me yet. Plus, I don’t know if I really want this to happen with my partner and yet it has.
My finding someone isn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve been on dates with men and women but either I haven’t wanted to continue or they haven’t. In the situations where they ended it I was hurt and yes I cried. I didn’t shed tears over the person, I wasn’t super into any of them anyway, but rather the idea that I won’t be able to find someone at all. Moreover that I will always be caught out in a situation where my wife is happily partnered with another, but I won’t be. Right now my present and seeming future with polyamory has been to be the one sacrificing while receiving none of the positive things that I was hopeful would come with it.
Is there something that makes me undateable aside from the fact that I’m a middle age man who is married?
What if I can’t connect to someone because I’m not wired that way? What if I only want to love one person and for that person to be devoted to me? I don’t know if these are really statements of how things are. I can say that they are legitimate fears of mine because if these concerns are true then I have no reason to doubt that I would be happiest in a monogamous relationship.
Meanwhile, my wife says she’s never been happier and while I know that means it’s because she’s getting to express an aspect of her personality through polyamory that had long been silent, it’s still hurtful. It signifies that for everything great and wonderful we had, that it wasn’t as good as having her other partner as well. It makes me wonder if I’m not enough and if I ever was.
We always used to say that if we had to stop dating tomorrow that we could go back to having just each other and be perfectly happy. We didn’t know it then but that was a lie. Certain things have become clearer as we’ve moved along.
The first is that you can’t just stop loving another person. I can’t ask my wife to stop seeing her other partner, it wouldn’t be fair to him or to her. Her relationship with him happened under all of our watches and I knew going into this that there was no going back. My wife loves without abandon and she falls hard and fast for someone. It’s one of the reasons that polyamory suits her so well. On top of that she’s wonderfully intelligent, emotionally aware and a truly beautiful person inside and out. It was only a short matter of time before she found someone who would want to be with her and share in that. I also knew that they would both be in love in very short order. That’s how it happened to me after all.
We don’t practice hierarchical polyamory. So we try and keep everyone’s relationship on the same level as much as possible. Just as her partner couldn’t rightfully ask her to stop loving me, I can’t ask her to stop loving or seeing him. The genie is already out of the bottle, consequences be damned.
The second thing is that she couldn’t be happy with just me. Not really, not anymore. I can tell something has changed. It would be like a gay person trying to go back in the closet after feeling the liberation of being out. She is polyamorous and that’s that. Even if I could stop her, presuming I wanted to, she would always harbor a resentment for me and a longing for that aspect of her life back. I would be the reason for her misery and I love her too much for that.
No, polyamory is here to stay. That much I have to accept.
This brings me around again to my central thesis which is what am I? Polyamorous? Monogamous?
Sometimes I catch myself wanting to pull away. I have thoughts about how it might occur that I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes those thoughts culminate in me leaving. Other times, I just imagine how I will break down and wonder if I can ever recover again. Is this purely an emotional response or a way of my mind telling me that it can’t operate this way? Culture certainly hasn’t groomed me to accept polyamory. Does knowing that my partner has another person keep me from loving her as much as I could?
I don’t have any clue. For now all I have are haunting questions that I’m not sure I really want answered just yet.