This column will be a documentation of our journey--as a couple--into the realm of polyamory. Since we are in the process of navigating this path right now, this column will detail issues, problems, and roadblocks that we encounter--as we hit them.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.


This first one is going to detail a bit of our relationship as it existed "B.P.R.--Before (our) Polyamory Revelation". I think it is important to lay the groundwork for where we are coming from in order to see where we will be going.

What happens in a long-term relationship when the "rules" change? This is the journey that RM and I find ourselves on after 20 years of marriage. RM has a metaphor for it (we both tend to think in metaphors)--that we have built this "house" (our relationship), but recently we have discovered that some of the foundations (who we really are) are not where we thought they were. The walls of our house need to be moved, rebuilt, and reconfigured to fit the foundations that are there instead of the ones we thought were there. We are in the process of that "remodeling project" now.

RM and I met in college. We were "theater people" and fell in love during tech week (a fairly common occurrence). He was a shy boy, but very smart, very sexy and very snarky. I was a "wild child" girl--with a history of dramatic sexual relationships, multiple partners and a poor self-image. We were young and emotionally immature when we became a couple, and like many people we didn't really face some of the underlying issues we brought to the relationship.

For the sake of RM's security, and because I had this idea that it was the "right" and "healthy" thing to do, I tried to give up the part of me that wanted other relationships with people. Over the next years of our marriage, it became obvious to me that I could not--no matter how hard I tried--stop myself from "falling for" others, which produced guilty feelings, conflict with RM and one physical and several "emotional" affairs. These incidents left RM feeling insecure about our relationship, and left me afraid to bring up certain topics, for fear of conflict. Communication suffered, as you can imagine.

The other "elephant in the room" in our relationship was RM's bisexual feelings, which we had discussed, but did not know what to do with. Our discussions tended to revolve around the concept that the only reason RM was hetero at this point was because I (female) "got there" first. Whether this is true or not, RM has never acted on his bisexuality. Being a shy person with a strong sense of ethics and a commitment to what we had constructed as our relationship came first.

After many long years struggling, as many people do, with infertility issues, we had two children. The stresses of that process were a contributing factor to many problems, including my affair and subsequent depression, as well as RM's insecurity and desire to protect me. Another side effect of this is that to a degree we have both subsumed our own lives into our kids'--a common mistake, and one we are digging out from under right now. I also realize that particularly after my daughter was born I suffered from fairly serious post-partum depression, which I am only just beginning to recover from. We have busy lives, minimal social contact with other "grownups" especially since our daughter was born...we used to be active members of our local historical reenactment group, but gave it up when it became difficult to manage with kids. I have just finished a graduate degree which took 2 1/2 years and has been stressful, though which may help in the long term ease some of the financial stresses we also have.

This was the situation until about 2 months ago--when I started blogging in an online community, where several of our other friends also have blogs. In the course of getting acquainted with the community, I began to come across the term "polyamory" in several of our friend's postings (what's that!?) and was confronted with the idea that the "open relationships" of these friends of ours (which I had always been peripherally aware and vaguely contemptuous of) were a facet of a bigger thing...and a little bit of research into what exactly this "polyamory" thing was blew my mind--I looked at the definition and I saw myself. Suddenly I had a word--a term--for feelings I have had my whole life and a validation that these feelings were not sick, or wrong, or something I necessarily had to (or could) struggle against--which I had been trying to do for 20 years and which was adding to my depression. I felt (and still feel) as though a huge burden has been lifted off my chest.

Sharing this information with RM was one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life. I knew that his immediate reaction to my revelation about my poly nature would be to hear that I wanted to have sex with other people, which is not true, or that I wanted to leave him, which is also not true. What is true is that I want us to be on this journey together. Our relationship is a fundamental aspect of both of our lives, personalities, realities, etc. Neither of us can imagine going down this road without the other. The process of working this out has entailed a lot more talking than we had been doing for years, which is a good thing.

We have had many late-night conversations since those first ones, to the point that we are both even more sleep-deprived than usual, but we have come to a fuller understanding about this journey we are on. We have come to see that we both have something to gain from becoming open to relationships with other people--I get to have the emotional and physical connections with people that I need, and RM is going to get to explore his sexual feelings for men. This has necessitated a huge paradigm shift on both our parts, for me the idea of taking responsibility for and ownership of my part of our relationship, and for RM the idea of being open to the world, not afraid to be vulnerable to people and to be open to what the universe will send our way.

We are still negotiating what this all means for us on emotional and pragmatic levels--RM still needs our relationship to be safe and secure, and I am beginning to see how much of that is my responsibility. We have privacy and comfort-level issues with "coming out", both as a poly couple and for RM as a bisexual man, even with our poly friends. We are trying to figure out what our next "real-world" step is--unlike many of the other people here, we are not coming from the position of already being part of a poly relationship.Poly has not found us; we are looking for poly. We are figuring out what "kind" of poly relationship we want--we like the model of the polyfidelitous triad, but we are trying to not be overwhelmed by the thought of trying to find the needle in the haystack of an appropriate partner (Wanted: attractive, intelligent, non-smoking bisexual guy, between 35-50, gamer, sci-fi fan, preferably with 6-8 year old daughter---right).

I plan to write about how these issues play out for we "get out more", discover what poly means for us and how it all works. I don't know if this exploration will be interesting to anyone else; our situation seems kind of unique to me, but maybe some of our issues and solutions will be useful to others.

Pegasus & Renaissance Man; December 08, 2005

Pegasus & Renaissance Man are contributing writers as well as members of this online Community. They can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.


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