Polyamory Week 2020 – The Future

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory
Day 5: Book Review: ‘More Than Two’
Day 6: I Don’t Do Valentine’s Day

It’s the last day of Polyamory Week 2020. So where are things headed for me going forward?

One of the things that has become ingraining in my philosophies in the last few years is things change, and you can’t possibly foretell where your journey will take you. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have considered my life to be what it is. Who knows where I’ll be in another decade.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about where the person I am now will take me.

I suspect that some people would consider this lifestyle a phase. Something that you grow out of once you eventually find “The One” and settle down. When you’re younger it would get dismissed as sowing your wild oats, or just a fear of commitment. Luckily, as someone who’s come into this lifestyle after setting down, there’s less traction for those arguments.

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There’s still the old mid-life crisis, I suppose. But we started down this path years ago, and I don’t consider myself quite at “mid” life just yet.

My being polyamorous is here to stay. As I mentioned earlier this week, if for whatever reason I ended up with only one partner, or even no partners at all, I would still consider myself polyamorous. It’s a belief and a lifestyle, not a situation.

How will this affect my future?

A Growing Family

Well, children will be the big thing. Frankie and I have always planned on having children. We’d actually meant to have them by now, but life has taken us done roads and this plan has had to be postposed more than once due to health issues.

And when we do, it’s going to involve conversations with everyone we’re involved with. We may have decided we’re going to have children, but we can’t decide that other people have to be involved. It’s possible this may be a reason for someone to step away, and that would be hard. But it would something we’d have to face and deal with.

Personally, I love the idea of an extended poly family. I’ve nothing against the traditional two parent dynamic, but from a purely practical sense having more adults involved can only make things easier. And having a child grow up with multiple different adults in their life, each acting as a different type of role-model, be really speaks to me.

As with everything Poly, it will involve a lot of talking and making sure everyone is comfortable. Things might not end up the way I would like, but I know for certain there are ways to make it work. Nothing satisfying is easy.

In My Writing

I want to play a part in correcting how polyamory is portrayed in media. I have plans for a polyamorous romance novel. (I’d say ‘chick-lit’, but I hate that term.)

IMG_2440I was reading an article about books with positive depictions of non-monogamy, and every one on the list was science-fiction. Polyamory isn’t some futuristic idea only suited for high fantasy. I want to see it in a traditional romance story, just not as a gimmick or a fetish. And above all I want to avoid the trope of it being used to save a failing relationship. I want it to just be part of the protagonist’s life. Non-monogamy won’t be the cause of conflict or the pivot of the story. I want it to simply be there, as part of people’s lives.

I have rough ideas, but I’ve not put time into bringing it into shape. I have a couple other books higher up on the to-do list. But I’m not planning on leaving this one too long.

Learning and Spreading the Word

Above all, I want to keep learning. Engaging with this life has opened up whole new areas of culture and society I’ve not engaged with before. Sexuality, gender, politics, all of these are intertwined and fascinating.

There is so much in our perception of the world that’s been ingrained by society. Even if we think we’re more aware of these things, actually discovering something that you didn’t know that you didn’t know is enthralling.

nonmonogamy3-largeEthical non-monogamy has so many facets and styles and ways to live. I love meeting new people and discovering their journeys and lives, even if I discover things I have no wish to try myself. I want to keep meeting new people with interesting stories to tell. I want to learn more about what people feel and do. I want to be someone who immerses themselves in all those areas our culture has traditional avoiding talking about. Sex. Sexual health. Gender politics. Equality. Love and relationships. Different cultures and how they feed into each other.

And, hopefully, doing this will help me be a change for good in the world. Maybe I’ll be better able to advise people who need it. Maybe I’ll be able to open a door to a life someone didn’t know they wanted. Maybe I’ll be able to spread awareness so that people’s decisions may be a little more informed. To be someone who calls out these subconscious biases as well as I can, doing my bit to stop all these little inequalities that survived only because most of us don’t even see they exist.

Here’s to the Future…

My name is Tom, and I’m polyamorous.

I love Frankie. We’ve been together for fourteen years, and married for ten.

I love Aine. We’ve been together for almost a year.

I love my friends, both old and new, or everything they have brought into my life.

The future is uncertain, but above all I am determined to continue to learn and expand my mind.

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We’ll see you there.

Polyamory Week 2020 – I Don’t Do Valentine’s Day

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory
Day 5: Book Review: ‘More Than Two’

Okay, I’ve been told by those who read this before it was posted that it’s more of a rant that I meant it to be. So prepare yourself for a rant, and for me to pour scorn on a day dedicated to love and romance.

Ready?

I don’t do Valentine’s Day.

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Never have. Once, in a time long gone, I would have liked to. But that time passed, leaving me jaded and full of bile for the 14th of February. By the time I finally did have a girlfriend on this day I had already made the conscious decision to boycott it forever. And luckily, Frankie wasn’t bothered about it. We shared the ideal that if we wanted to do something to show our love it wasn’t because we were obliged to by the date. So for the next decade we happily ignored its existence.

But now my life involves other relationships, some of whom may well consider Valentine’s Day important. So I thought I should sit down and think about what it is I feel about this “holiday”.

Let’s start with the simple answer…

Personal Hurt

I was single all through school. I spent every Valentine’s Day throughout my teenage years single. I had to watch as people around me experienced and explored the joy of first love and requited teenage infatuation, while all my infatuations were very much unrequited. While my hormones raged, I remained alone, forced to watch from the outside as everyone around me – it seemed to me at the time – revelled in something I desperately wanted but couldn’t have.

And as petty as this sounds, it was a big deal to teenage me. I was a romantic, and wanted all those things that Valentine’s Day celebrated. And it had a lasting affect. To me, Valentine’s Day became a day where I was made to feel bad for being single. A day for couples, when those of us still single were pushed aside to be happy for others. Fit only to watch, unwanted, from the sidelines.

Teenage me wasn’t dramatic at all.

You could try to avoid it, but that always seemed impossible. Society seemed desperate for this day to be celebrated. To rub it in my face. Alone again this year? You must have not spent enough on single roses and pink greetings cards. Oh well, at least you can stand there in the corner and enjoy how happy other people are today.

I never felt lonelier that I did on Valentine’s Day.

So, once I was finally in a relationship, the idea of engaging with Valentine’s Day disgusted me. It had made me feel so bad for so many years that being on the other side made no difference. The idea of being one of those people who’d made me so unhappy – however much that was my problem and not theirs – was something I could never accept. I had no desire to add to the suffering of anyone else feeling as lonely as I had.

Dramatic? Me? Not at all.

But why don’t I just get over it? Because there is more that make Valentine’s Day terrible than my adolescent angst.

Such as…

Commercial Obligation

I hate the way it commercialises love.

There’s this inherent idea that how much you love someone depends on how much you spend on them. Didn’t you buy your partner something nice? Why not? Don’t you love them enough?

I object to any part of love becoming an obligation.

And I also hated how this always seemed – at least for the most part – to be a pressure focused on men. I’ve heard so many conversations about how much a woman’s boyfriend or husband has done for them, or complaints about how little. Where woman talked about their partner failing at his obligations, while not having done anything themselves. As if his romance was the payment with her agreeing to stay with him the prize.

(Let’s not discuss the concept of “Steak and a Blowjob Day”. I’ll get angry.)

Love should never be an obligation. There should never be a time when you are required to show someone how much you lover them. And love should never be quantified by money or expectation. Even if you don’t spend money and just do something nice, I still feel uncomfortable with the obligation. I like to think I do that kind of thing anyway, not because I have to but because I want to.

If you want to do something nice for your partner, go ahead. But if you to need an allocated day to show your partner you love them, then that’s an issue with your relationship there, my friend.

But you can argue any holiday is tainted by commercialism. I won’t argue Christmas isn’t commercial, and I love Christmas with a passion.

But the my ultimate problem with Valentine’s Day is…

What it Represents

Valentine’s Day, to me, has come to represent everything wrong with the modern view of what love is. The monogamous, patriarchal, capitalist view of love.

Love is great. Relationships are great, in all their forms. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with the traditional two person relationship. But there is so much toxicity in modern media about love and about what love is.

No, not what love is. But what love should be.

There is no such thing as “The One”. There is no “Happy Ever After”. Love never falls into place and becomes easy just because you find the right person. Finding “True Love’s First Kiss” (TM) won’t solve all your problems. Falling in love never means you need to stop trying. There is no situation where you are able to do whatever you want with love as an excuse.

Love also isn’t two straight, cis people settling down together to the exclusion of all others and having children.

Yet all these things are so prevalent in modern culture. How many films have you watched where someone was unhappy because they hadn’t found “The One”? Or where the goal was finding and keeping love, no matter how creepy or abusive you’re being.

Disney have a lot to answer for for this. They’re not the only ones, but they most prevalent culprits. Frankie and I have had long discussions about which classic Disney movies our children will be allowed to watch, for various reasons. One of these is the way they have conditioned multiple generations of children into the fairytale view of love. But at least these movies have the excuse that they are from another time, and Disney do at least seem to be trying change, at least in some areas.

But Rom-Coms?

This genre has done. So. Much. Damage.

There are good Romantic Comedies. I don’t have a blanket anger at an entire genre. And I’m also not going to criticise a movie for having people finding love as its plot because it didn’t go out of its way to show all the possible permutations of modern relationships.

But so many of them just perpetuate terrible, toxic ideas of love and relationships. Single woman are incomplete. Men don’t look for love until “The One” walks into their life. Married couples are tired and fed up with each other. Ignoring someone’s clearly stated wishes because it’s “meant to be”. Wearing someone down until they accept you.

These are traditionally spoken of as “women’s movies”, but they drip with toxic masculinity. It’s no wonder so many people excuse men for being terrible people when the media has been normalising it for so long.

Let’s just state this for the record: Pursuing someone who has made it clear they are not interested is stalking. Manipulating or tricking someone into loving you is abusive. Settling down with one person and having kids isn’t the single true goal on mankind.

And don’t get me started on Richard Curtis. That man has done more damage to people’s views of love than any single person I know. His films are literally filled with toxic men stalking, manipulating, and damaging woman in the name of “love”. This man has gaslit a generating into conflating abusive behaviour and romance.

This could turn into a much longer rant. (So long. Don’t get me started on Love Actually…).

But if you’re someone who enjoys Valentine’s Day, who can see through everything I’ve said above then wonderful. In the end, the important thing is…

You do you

I may not celebrate Valentine’s day, but I don’t begrudge those who do. If you and your partner(s) take it as an opportunity to do something together then more power to you. If you see it as a celebration of love as a whole, then dive right in. Revel in it.

But if you’re doing things today because you’re obliged to, because you’ll be called a failure if you don’t, or because you feel some big gesture on this specific date will somehow make up for something you did or convince someone who has no interest you’re worth giving a second chance, then please, please!, take a step back and reevaluate your relationship with this day.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Make of it what you will.

Bah Humbug.

Polyamory Week 2020 – My Polyamory

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me

Part of the reason for engaging with Polyamory Week was to fill people in about our situation. Frankie and I decided we weren’t going to make a big deal about what we’re doing. But it’s also something we want to celebrate.

We’ve told those closest to us, and some friends have noticed and asked us questions. And there have been plenty of posts online that have made it obvious what we’re doing. I know it’s everyone’s right to want to ask questions or not. Some of you might honestly not care. But I’m certain some of you have questions that – as I enjoy putting it – you’re far too English to ask us to our faces.

So I decided a good way to celebrate our lifestyle would be to fill people in on how Frankie and I got here, and what the deal with our relationships is.

But I’ll be refraining from going into too much detail. I’ll keep it general. If you’re interested in knowing more, let me know. The rest of you, hopefully there’s nothing below to make anyone uncomfortable.

So, how did Frankie and I reach this place in our lives?

IMG_0374We first discussed opening up our relationship not long after we were married. I think there were a few things that led to this, but one of the big points was our age. We got together at 21 and married at 25. Both of us had only had two partners before we met. There was a part of us that recognised that we didn’t want to look back on our lives and think that we had missed out on experiences with new people.

The outcome of the conversations we had was we were happy to open things up as long as each of us benefitted from the situation and we were honest with each other.

It wasn’t easy. Accepting that your spouse is leaving for the weekend knowing they’ll be sleeping with someone else is a hard thing to do the first time. But we were strong and supported each other. We talked through our feelings, and started learning how to break through the wall of monogamy.

We didn’t throw ourselves into this new world. In fact, we did very little. We were more into a “when the opportunity arises” mindset. And then when Frankie became ill the whole thing took a back seat while we focused on that. Once she recovered, we decided we wanted to reignite this side of our relationship. And I think the perspective we had gained from her illness made us keener to make the most out of our opportunities in life.

Just over a year ago, Frankie starting seeing someone who she ended up dating a few times. Until now, our encounters had mostly been one offs. But she liked him, and so we discussed exploring dating other people. Could we move on from this being purely sex, to sharing emotional connections?

We decided yes.

As it happened, the relationship that started the conversation then abruptly ended, but we decided the decision was still valid. We both then started looking for people in the poly scene to start dating. This, again, was hard. I went to a few social events and got on some dating apps. But I wasn’t having much luck.

67cc088b-22aa-4dcd-8561-00bfbd49e063Then one night we went to see a burlesque show in London. We were sat chatting with friends, but I couldn’t stop looking over at a woman stood at the bar. She had curly hair and an amazing smile, and our eyes kept catching. It turned out she was a friend of a friend, so we ended up chatting after the show. Before we left we exchanged numbers.

A month later we went on our first date. Five months after that we told each other we loved each other.

She’d never been polyamorous before. I’m so incredibly lucky she was interested in the idea and willing to take a risk on something so new and different. I’m also incredibly lucky that she and Frankie got on like a house on fire. They consider themselves Sister-Wives, a phrase I adore due to its use in the Wheel of Time novels.

That’s about it. Frankie’s had her own adventures during this time, but those are hers to share. There have been ups and downs, but all in all this has been one of the most satisfying and exciting years of my life.

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Now, let’s answer a few questions

So, what’s the situation with you guys now?

Frankie and I are still a couple. Our marriage is as strong as it ever was, and we’re still romantically and sexually connected. We just both also see other people as well.

For me, this has meant meeting, dating and falling in love with an amazing woman called Aine.

So you’re cheating?

Nope. Cheating means someone is breaking the rules. This is why what we are doing is so often referred to as ethical non-monogamy. Everyone involved is fully aware of the situation, comfortable of the situation, and engaged with the situation. 

Is this all about you then?

Not at all. Frankie is also seeing someone great as well. I’ll not be putting too much about him in these posts as I simply don’t have the right to talk about his life without permission.

So, are you guys, what, a thruple or something now?

No. We don’t have a relationship with the same person. What we have is known as a “Vee”, with me as the “pivot”. I am in a relationship with Frankie, and another one with Aine. They are aware of each other – and in our case very good friends – but their relationship has no romantic or sexual connection.

Both of them date other people, and I’m free to do so as well. This is called a “polycule”; a group of polyamorous people connected through each other’s relationships. Kind of a more intimate version of six-degrees of separation. 

It kind of sounds like you’re getting the best deal out of this, having two woman.

I won’t lie, my life is pretty awesome. But this isn’t all about me. A lot of media focuses on the idea of a man getting two women, but it’s so much more than a fetish. Both Frankie and Aine date other people. We’re all making the most out of this lifestyle.

Is this a sex thing?

No. A lot of ethical non-monogamy is about sex. What I’m celebrating in these posts is polyamory, which can potentially have nothing to do with sex.

There are many reasons a relationship can decide to do away with sexual monogamy. But polyamory is the romantic side of things. I love both these woman, and if sex wasn’t involved I would still love them.

So you guys sleep with anyone?

No. We have the freedom to sleep with other people, but it doesn’t mean we’re looking to do so.

Ethical non-monogamy isn’t a free for all. None of us want to sleep with anyone and everyone. We’re just as picky as we would be were we single and uncommitted.

Also you need to take into account being “poly-saturated”. That’s when you are seeing the maximum number of people you are mentally able to be involved with. Relationships take time and energy. I don’t mind committing that time and energy, as a good relationship will generate benefits equal to the effort you put into it. If this isn’t happening, you need to evaluate your current situation.

This sounds complicated.

It is. Very complicated. It involves a lot of communication, and a lot of reading, and processing feelings and information. Neither Frankie, Aine or I had considered polyamory until just over a year ago. It’s needed a lot of adjustment as we’ve worked around the social norms we’re used to.

Monogamy, and the idea that one person should automatically provide everything you need, is deeply ingrained in us from childhood. We’ve all had to work through this, alone and together.

If you have more questions please feel free to ask me, either in person or online. I’m more than happy to answer them. Or, if I’ll let you know if I don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Polyamory Week 2020 – What Polyamory means to me

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory

Polyamory means different things to different people.

For me, polyamory is the freedom of possibility.

I found a description that I thought best fit my personal views. Unfortunately, I can’t recall exactly where I read it. But the general ideas was as follows:

Polyamory – and ethical non-monogamy in general – offers the freedom to know when you meet someone and make a connection, it has the space and freedom to develop to its natural conclusion.

I know if I make a connection with someone it could go anywhere from a one-night stand to a long-term romantic relationship. There’s no weirdness, I’m not hurting anyone. As long as I keep those I’m close to up to date, and take into account their feelings, I’m not constricted by having already reached a point where society dictates I can not longer explore that connection.

In short, it opens up new experiences to explore the world without traditional views becoming barriers.

I’m not saying people in monogamous relationships can’t make connections with new people. But they know, deep down, that those connections are restricted. Any sexual connection can’t be acted upon, for a start. And worse, we’re programmed with the idea that even feeling the desire for that connection is somehow wrong.

And even if you don’t take that into account, there’s that unfortunate notion that doing anything without your partner is somehow wrong. I remember one time I visited my parents on my own as Frankie had plans, and my Grandmother was convinced my marriage was failing. She couldn’t imagine any reason we wouldn’t go everywhere together without there being a serious problem.

Yes, these are old fashioned views. But they’re views that are still out there, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s called “toxic-monogamy”; the idea out there that once you find “The One” they will be all you will ever need, and wanting more is somehow a sign of a failing relationship.

How many people are there in the world who’ve fallen in love and thought that that was it? That this person was all they ever needed? I know I did. My first relationship was tainted by this idea that this was it. But what if your partner doesn’t share an interest with you? If “The One” is supposed to be everything you need, doesn’t the fact they don’t like something about you mean you’re not truly compatible?

This can be a little thing, easily addressed. Each person in a couple can have separate friends and do different things with them. But for so many people the doubt it there. I can recall having it myself, when I was younger. That nagging feeling that something it isn’t right that this disconnect is there.

And what if it’s something you can’t share with friends? A kink or sexual preference you and your partner don’t share? Should you have to give it up for the rest of your life? Or should they be forced to do it to keep you happy, despite not enjoying it?

I’ve always held the belief that sex and emotions are not necessarily directly connected. It’s fine to have casual sex, but once feelings developed, then you settled down. Then, as I’ve grown older, I’ve seen that it works the other way as well; if you’re in a committed relationship, having casual sex with someone else has no effect on that commitment if you don’t want it to.

And now I’ve realised that it goes even further. Developing feelings for someone doesn’t lessen the feelings you already have for someone else.

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The symbol of polyamory is the Infinity Heart. It symbolises that love is infinite. Developing love for someone new doesn’t require taking it from somewhere else. In the same way a parent who has a second child doesn’t suddenly love their first any less, committing yourself emotionally to a second person doesn’t mean you love the first any less.

This is why I chose an Infinity Heart as my first tattoo. Even if, in the future, I was only in a relationship with one person, or even none, I’d still be polyamorous. It’s who I am, and the tattoo represents that. Love is infinite. We’re free to hold and give as much or as little as we need. If you want to love one person, two people, or more, you’re free to do so.

We make the amount of love we need for the people we need it for.

Polyamory Week 2020 – What is Polyamory?

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020

Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy. It literally means “many loves”. It’s a lifestyle in which I and my partners agree we are all free to fall in love with multiple people.

I’m going to start with the assumption everyone reading this understands monogamy, being the standard default relationship in western culture. So default, in fact, that a lot of people never even consider there being alternatives.

Non-Monogamy

Let’s start with non-monogamy as a whole.

The world of non-monogamy encompasses a large swath of different permutations. The most common ones in modern media are, usually, cheating, swinging, and unicorn hunting (a straight couple looking for a woman to join them).

Non-monogamy is not ideologically better than monogamy. It is not a world in which it’s impossible to hurt someone. In fact, it can be easier to do so. This is why you will often find people talking about ethical non-monogamy. This means that everyone involved is aware of and agrees to the rules or agreements that govern the situation.

This is why ethical non-monogamy isn’t cheating. Cheating implies someone is breaking a rule. If you change those rules so that you are fine with your partner having sex with other people, then sleeping with other people can’t be considered cheating.

But there are so many more different ways to live non-monogamy. From non-exclusive dating, to sexual commerce, to relationship anarchy; it’s far more varied and interesting than people sometimes realise.

Franklin Veaux* created a Venn diagram of non-monogamy, which is a very useful way to visualise all the differences.

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Polyamory

Polyamorous people are open to loving more than one person. 

This can involve a sexual element, or not. A lot of people come into non-monogamy from a sexual point of view, but decide they have no wish to have more than one romantic partner. But some of us are open to this happening.

As you might guess, once the traditional two-person pairing model goes out the window there are all sorts on configurations for polyamory. You can have “thruples”, where three people date each other. You can have “Vees”, where one person dates two people who have no romantic or sexual connection. And then, depending on everyone’s situation, people in those groups might date other people as well. So one part of a Vee might be part of a completely different thruple, while another member of that thruple dates other people outside the group.

For example, I am part of a Vee; I am married to Frankie and in a second relationship with Aine, and while the two of them are friends, they are not in a relationship themselves.

These groupings are called “Polycules”; a group of people who may not have a personal connection but are connected through this interlinking net of relationships. It’s 6-Degrees of Separation, but much more intimate. This is one of the reasons the Polyamory community is very open and friendly; it’s very possible you’ll be connected in some way.

The important thing about Polyamory is everyone involved is aware and everyone is comfortable. If I, for example, met someone new and was looking to potentially date them I would check in with my two partners first. While they don’t have a veto on my relationships, I would always take their feelings into consideration before doing anything new.

Misconceptions about Non-Monogamy

There are a lot of misconceptions about non-monogamy. This is because it’s almost always portrayed in the media as a sex thing or a way to fix a broken relationship.

There are a lot more films and TV shows about non-monogamy now. However, most them will follow – to at least some degree – the following plot: A couple will be in a loving relationship that’s gone stale. They want some excitement, so they decide to invite a girl to join them to “spice things up”. Then they will follow the ups and downs of learning to deal with the many problems of having a gorgeous, sexually adventurous, younger woman (in most cases) willing to sleep with both parts of the couple. There will be jealousy, confusion, excitement, and sexual titillation for the audience.

This then usually ends in one of two ways: The relationship will survive, imbued with life by the sexual excitement, or it will fall apart as the desire for non-monogamy was a sign the relationship was broken.

I’ve never seen a portrayal of non-monogamy as something someone – either single or a couple – sits down and makes a conscious effort to live. Not because they need excitement. Not because they need to jumpstart a failing marriage. But because the lifestyle makes sense to them.

There are many ways into non-monogamy. Don’t believe the only one is through desperation.

And more…

There is far more to non-monogamy and polyamory than what little I’ve put down here. I’m not an expert, and even I could take each of the sentences above and expand it to a full chapter. If you’re interested, I’ll try to link to a few good online resources on my website.

 

*There are issues with Franklin Veaux and his work, which I will address on Thursday’s post.

Polyamory Week 2020

I was browsing Instagram last month and came across the following post from the account of @polyamoro.us:

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Polyamory week is February 9th-15th! Mark your calendars! In spirit of the new year, we thought to bring together the polyam community in a new way. Be sure to like, share, repost, and tag to spread the word (We didn’t add our watermark because this info is meant to be shared)! The hashtag will be #polyamoryweek 

Now, so far in my journey I’ve not made a big thing about my polyamory. When Frankie and I decided to go down this path, we decided we were going to keep this personal. It was new to us. We were seeing where things went. And then, as things grew, we decided it wasn’t something we wanted to make a big thing out of.

We weren’t ashamed. We just weren’t the sort to make a big statement about it. This was always about us. Not about what other people thought about us. If people asked, we would happily explain it. But other than family and very close friends we weren’t going to go out of our way to announce this was something we were doing.

But when I saw this post I thought, “Why not?” It seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about our new lifestyle and how it’s impacted us. I’m proud of my life, the choices I’ve made, and the people that those choices have led me to. I will never be a polyamory-evangelist, but I love the idea of spreading awareness of the lifestyle.

I also hope it might answer a few questions some of you might have about our personal journey that for whatever reasons you didn’t feel comfortable asking us directly.

So, through Polyamory Week – today to next Saturday – I will be posting about my experience with polyamory; the community, the lifestyle, my own personal experiences, and some wider thoughts on relationships and love in general.

Hopefully you’ll find it interesting. If you have any questions feel free to send them my way. I’m always happy to talk about all these things. I’m planning on summarising these posts, and any questions I get, and putting up a section on my website for the future.

A little disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert. I can only talk about my own experiences. I’m sure there are people to whom polyamory and non-monogamy mean something else. And those who’ve been doing this for far longer who have a much deeper understanding of all of this. Their lives are their own, and I will happily engage with those who see things differently.

Recommendation: “A World in Us” by Louisa Leontiades

The most relevant note from my read of this book is that it’s the first one I can remember since school where I’ve actually highlighted sections to refer back to later.

A World in Us is a memoir of two parts. The first is the actual story, depicting how the author and her husband came into polyamory and the soaring highs and crashing lows of their first relationship with another couple. The second is a commentary of sorts written several years later as a letter to the Leontiades’ younger self, going through each chapter in turn and commenting on what she has learned.

On the first level, this is simply a wonderfully written story about someone’s personal journey. What they went through to find who they were. These are four people discovering a new side to themselves, being willing to do something that doesn’t “fit” with societal norms because it’s what feels right for them, and learning things that a traditional, monogamous relationship would have never revealed. It’s honest, emotional, and at times brutal, but also beautiful and affirming.

The second level is as a guide for people newly exploring polyamory. Leontiades never shies away from the light or the dark of her experiences. There a moments both exciting and thrilling, and moments where she’s is emotionally crushed beneath the weight of everything. We are show the pure joy of discovering something that you didn’t know was missing in your life, but also the pain of trying to find your way in a lifestyle your upbringing never prepared you for.

The beauty of this story is its honesty. At no point does the Leontiades try to hide her own faults or issues and how they fed into the dynamic the four of them created. There are times that the others come off as the “bad guys” in situations, this is only because Louisa is our protagonist and so naturally the depictions of the other three are seen through her point of view. And this is effectively address by the author herself in the second half, where she reflects on the events of each chapter with the benefit of time, growth and reflection.

And this isn’t a piece of polyamory propaganda. We are simply presented with Louisa’s story, and are free to take away from it what we want. At no point does she argue polyamory is better or worse than monogamy. Only that both are valid options with their own benefits and pitfalls.

But through her honest depiction of her own experience, with all it’s failings and unaddressed issues, we are presented with the fact that this isn’t a gateway to a perfect life. It will be hard, and it my not be what we were expecting. But, if it fits your personality and you work on it, it can be a rewarding why to life your life.

Overall, if you are newly coming into polyamory I couldn’t recommend this book enough. Even if, like me, Leontiades’ situation doesn’t mirror your own there are so many universal learnings to take away from it.