Tomorrow will be different but today I don’t feel like it
By Amanda Hodgeson
Monogamy: One partner for one partner.
Polygamy: One husband, all the wives he can count, sometimes afford.
Polyamory: Without googling ‘polyamory’ I am finding it difficult to explain it from memory as easily as I explained monogamy and polygamy. Of course I know what it is but I want to explain it in a way where you won’t sit and think “Oh you mean an open relationship”. Because that isn’t what it is and that isn’t what I mean. But I guess the dynamics of a polyamorous relationship are similar to my difficulty in explaining, properly, what it means.
There has been research and chatter about whether or not human beings are naturally monogamous creatures. And the results of this research and these discussions has always been that no. We are not. And I guess this opinion is largely based on the high rates of infidelity, oh, everywhere in the world. In a recent discussion with a friend about polyamory she said something which I think about 99% of the world’s population might be able to relate to. She said “I don’t know if I could ever be in a polyamorous relationship. I would much rather be with one person and do my other dealings in secret. And I would rather my partner cheated on me and hid it than told me about their love/like/lust for someone else. That would be too painful”.
I have been in monogamous relationships all my life. But the ideas of relationship and our partners that monogamy demands we subscribe to are what put me off. And this is one of the reasons why I have stopped identifying as monogamous.
In my opinion monogamous relationships have their foundation solidly built on ideas of possession. And that is where the problem, for me anyway, starts…
But it’s romantic. God it’s so romantic to be someone’s one and only. To know that they love you and you alone and only you have the privilege of calling them your partner. And let’s face it. The world isn’t designed for polyamorous relationship. Families consist of one mom and one dad. Or in some parts of the world a dad and a dad or a mom and a mom. But many moms and many dads. That’s pretty much unheard of! Even in dating relationships. To try to explain that you and/or your partner have more than one partner and NO! No one is a side-chick. Or even better. You are polyamorous, you identify as polyamorous but neither you nor your partner are seeing anybody else at the moment. It’s maddening.
So for me. Polyamory is:
First and foremost, my partner is STILL a human being, regardless of the fact that I love them. They remain a human being who is prone to mistakes and faults.
Understanding that loving somebody does not automatically switch off yours, or their, ability to be attracted to someone else.
Being able to have a discussion when it happens that you do meet and want to get to know this someone else
Being able to understand that this does not mean that I love my partner any less or that they love me any less.
NOT just going around dating and sleeping with whomever I please when I please
Not keeping secrets when you have fallen for someone else
Acknowledging that you were born in a heteronormative, patriarchal society, and that shit hides itself in places that you don’t automatically think of so sometimes you act in ways that represent this system. And it’s ok. But you need to constantly be aware and check yourself
Acknowledging your own humanness and human desires and good and bad and faults and awesomeness and sharing ALL of these with your person, with your peoples.
Accepting and understanding that I cannot, and should not wish to dictate, the ways in which my partner shows love, therefore…
Accepting that just because she does not necessarily show love in the ways that I would, it does not mean she doesn’t love me·
I recently had a discussion with my wonderful friend Lee-Anne. I was telling her about an incident with my father regarding my sexual orientation and life choices. And I told her something that rings more true to me every single day. I said to her “Lee Lee, reinventing the wheel is exhausting. The world is not only built for a specific kind of person, and a specific kind of relationship, it’s built against anyone and everyone who doesn’t conform”.
I am a very optimistic person, sometimes a bit naïve. I said to Debbie in therapy once that what concerned me most about my relationship, or possibility of a relationship, with Sky was not that she was a woman, but the fact that she was older than me. I had never dated someone that much older than me. Granted I had never dated a woman either, but maybe it seemed more PC to be worried about her age as opposed to her gender. And I was naïve!! So naïve!!! Naïve in believing my life wouldn’t really change. Naïve in believing I wouldn’t really change. Naïve in believing nobody would have a problem with my choice in partner. And again I was naïve in thinking being in a polyamorous relationship was not going to feel like I was literally having everything I thought I knew about love and relationships sliced out of me.
That’s the thing about consciousness, you can’t control which areas of your life it does or does not seep into. It gets into E.V.E.R.Y.thing, like a pair of black socks, mistakenly put in with the white laundry.
There are days when I am the person I aim to be. Where I am killing this polyamory thing (you can tell today is not one of those days because I have referred to it as ‘this polyamory thing’). Where I am confident, secure, where I love the fact that I have been able to shed the veil of heteronormativity and make my own decisions about love and relationships. And there are days where I am not. Days where I am filled with resentment. Where the indoctrination has given itself some sort of energy boost. And it’s hard, it’s extremely hard to fight off. And it feels like a ten ton elephant is sitting on my chest and what else is there to do but give in? Because, like I said to Lee-Anne, reinventing the wheel is exhausting. Unlearning everything you have learned…about pretty much everything is exhausting. Starting from scratch is exhausting. Developing your own strategies and opinions is exhausting. Being aware of when the opinions that you think are your own could very well belong to the heteronorms and patriarchs, is exhausting. Being this person, being in this relationship in a world that is designed, specifically, to extinguish people like you…is exhausting.
But nobody said it would be easy. And fact remains, I would never ever trade any of this life for ignorance and complacency.
This post was first published on Amanda’s blog AutonoMe check out more from Amanda here.
For more on polyamory check out this piece about how polyamory is making this person a better person or this one about the paradoxes of polyamory. Amanda also wrote this dope piece called ‘ I love you but how much of that is about you?’
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