As most of you probably know by now, I have been non-monogamous for about 10 years now and have actively identified as polyamorous for more than 7 years. But what does that actually mean?
For the first two and a half years I didn’t have a label for what I was doing. I had come across the idea of poly in my freshman year of college, but wasn’t really in a place to make that commitment yet. When my FWB who became my short term BF (oh dear, why did I ever think that was a good idea?) graduated, we had an open relationship because of the distance. I tried to put rules on it in the beginning, then realized that just wouldn’t work well. We broke up after about 5 months (see the parenthetical above), but the idea stuck. So I spent time researching, digging deeper into the idea, and it really started to grow on me.
So I used it once. Then again, and again. It eventually became a part of my identity.
Now, I’ve settled into the style of that works best for me.
I like kitchen table poly – I prefer to at least be friendly with my metas and to be able to spend time together, at least in the company of a shared partner, if not without.
I consider myself a free agent – I choose my own relationships and let them take whatever form they take by myself. I do not have to seek the consent of my partner(s) when I choose to date, but I will always talk to them about the people I date and at least give them a basic idea of where each relationship is at. Because I live with a group of people, which happens to include one of my partners, I prefer to seek their consent to have someone come over, especially if they’re going to stay the night (at least until my household is used to having that partner around). I am, to a certain degree, accountable to my household for my choices – I need to be sure that if I bring someone over I can trust them and know them well enough to be able to reasonably say that they probably won’t murder the household in our sleep.
I believe in letting relationships seek their level – and that level won’t necessarily even be the same for either side of the relationship. And that’s ok, as long as communication is going on. That being said, I do like having labels to give for my relationships, but those are subject to change and the consent of both parties.
If I am in at least one relationship I do not consider myself single, even though I am a free agent. I do identify as a girlfriend and partner (don’t get me started on the scarcity of easily recognized and understood non-binary terms on the level of bf/gf). They will always be a consideration for me. I endeavor to involve them as deeply in my life as is fitting for our level of commitment. We do exist as couples together, even though we are all separate people.
I do not identify as solo poly or a relationship anarchist, though I do use some of their ideas. I also do not subscribe to prescriptive hierarchical poly (as in, the level of the relationship gives someone status or importance over someone else) or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (what a communication nightmare). I do not identify as a swinger, even though I do occasionally enjoy group sex and orgies, and like the idea of progressive swinging.
I believe in letting people know that I love them, no matter what kind of love it is – or whether I just love them or am in love with them