-written by adam-
I should have known I was polyamorous many years before I finally put the pieces together.
Looking back, the only reason I think I didn’t figure it out sooner is I just wasn’t exposed to the idea. I didn’t know that polyamorous was a thing that I could be. Most of us grow up conditioned to think that committed, long-term relationships between two people (usually between a man and a woman, specifically) are the ultimate goal and the truest relationship model. We are taught that anything else is somehow inherently less true and less valid.
I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t really contribute to that “normal” vs. “other” conditioning, at least not in any intentional way. We talked a lot as I was growing up of being open-minded, questioning everything, and actively seeking new experiences and perspectives in life. A phrase I remember well from my parents during childhood is “weird is wonderful.” It was said loudly and often, teaching me to embrace any “otherness” type feelings I came across instead of being ashamed of them. I am intensely grateful for that phrase, even to this day. That being said, I was still vastly unaware of many life experiences. As open and accepting as my childhood was, I still didn’t get exposure to anything other than monogamy.
So I spent years in the dark.
For as long as I can remember having feelings of romantic love, I can also remember there being a lot of it.
As in, I have long had feelings of a love more vast and open than I understood. It was always beyond what I could fit into the only relationship structure I thought there was: Monogamy. Unfortunately for everyone I loved during that time, I didn’t understand those feelings. I kept trying to build meaningful relationships with the only blueprints I had, but that meant trying to trim away at myself so that the pieces would fit. Of course, all the relationships I tried to build that way were destined to crumble. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I was trying to love them in a way I wasn’t capable of.
Throughout my teenage years I struggled through relationship after relationship, always following a (now) recognizable pattern. They would start off promising – full of energy and commitment – but they burned too hot and too fast and quickly turned to ash. I didn’t understand it. I had so much love to give, but I somehow kept making people feel like they weren’t enough. When I tried to love them in the way that made sense to them, it didn’t make sense to me. I would inevitably feel like I wasn’t being true to myself, and once that happened, the relationship was in its last days. I never tolerated not living my whole truth for very long, and I was always gone soon after.
Fast forward a few years (and a disappointingly high number of failed relationships) later.
When I finally learned what polyamory was, things very suddenly started to make sense. I realized there were other people out there who had feelings like mine and who still had loving, successful relationships. This knowledge launched me into a trip of self-discovery.
Those times were filled with many late nights spent logging hours at a time on the internet. I clicked my way through Google searches, polyamory articles, and support forums. I read story after story about all different kinds of relationships. Everyone navigated them slightly differently so as to make sure the structure worked for them. While most of the stories and relationship structures I read about still didn’t quite feel right to me personally, just knowing there was something more was instrumental in my growth. The blueprints for different relationship structures were within my reach.
It didn’t take me long to accept this new knowledge of myself.
It did, however, take some time for me to figure out how to put it into practice. I was in a 7-year, monogamous relationship at the time, and coming out to my partner was a disaster. Neither of us knew what we were doing, mistakes were made, and feelings were inevitably seriously hurt. The relationship ended shortly thereafter. Sadly, that relationship was already failing and had been for some time by then. So before you ask: No, polyamory isn’t what killed it. The mess that resulted from my coming-out surely played a role in its last breaths, but polyamory itself isn’t to blame.
Now that I’ve found Rife and Ali, things are brighter, but ultimately I’m still on this journey. The way I see it, the journey never really ends, but I am comfortable and happy identifying as polyamorous now. I am especially comfortable and happy in this beautiful poly triad we have. I’ve never felt a love quite like this – so safe and supportive and unconditional.
My only words of advice?
Don’t wait as long as I did. I’ve learned that lesson multiple times now. Waiting – trying to bury the truth you feel in your chest – never turns out to be the right choice. Whether it’s polyamory, sexual orientation, gender identity, or anything else – just go for it! Research, embrace, and try the things that feel right. You’ll thank yourself for it.