This is not the title of the article that I hoped to write when I took a dip into the world of polyamory.
No, that article was supposed to be titled, “Poly…Amazing,” or “Poly…Delicious,” or “Poly…Powerful.”
I so wanted to believe in love without attachment. I wanted to believe that I could find room in my heart to love more than one person, just as I love both my children equally. I wanted to prove that I could slay that green dragon of jealousy. That I could revel in my partner meeting someone new and bringing more juice into our relationship. I even dreamed of the perfect “triad.” I imagined us all snuggled up together after a hot and steamy night of sex.
For a moment in time, I thought that I was going to be in Poly Paradise.
A man to whom I was instantly connected to and fell deeply in love with, a new “family” where I took the position of “secondary,” but in fact there was equanimity among all. A place of knowing that I was important and that my needs were going to be recognized and met. Open and honest communication that would allow all three of us to go on a journey of discovery together, finding our edges, pushing our Boundaries, creating new connections, and relationship paradigms.
How quickly my poly paradise fantasy turned into an ugly reality. Deeply connected to my partner, having the hottest sex in my life, feeling loved unconditionally for the first time ever, I could not see the warning signs. These were not yellow hazard signs. These were big, bright flashing, red stop signs.
But love is blind and obviously blinds those in love.
In truth, I knew from the beginning that all was not right. The green dragon reared its ugly head after our first weekend date. I felt her pain, her fear of losing him, of losing the life they had created. But I was told, and believed, that this was part of the process. Facing our own fears and jealousy would help us grow as individuals and result in healthier and more loving relationships with ourselves and others.
As she fought to pull him back, I gently led him towards me. I wanted more of him—more time, deeper connection, a bigger role in his life.
When he announced after six weeks that he had met another woman and wanted to explore that relationship, I fought that green dragon tooth and nail. I put up a great front, was the poly perfect girlfriend—supportive of his desires, went out of my way to interact with her, and didn’t ask too many hard questions. But a part of me was dying inside as I imagined what his nights were like with her.
I was scared that I also would soon be replaced by the newer shinier, model.
Not only could the green dragon not be slayed, its fire and venom were so potent that it began to melt the glue that held my partner’s marriage together.
The only thing I could do was to walk away—to release him back to his wife to try to repair the damage. At least they had each other. I had to try to repair a very broken heart all on my own.
This was not what I read about in The Ethical Slut. It is not the perfect poly lifestyle depicted in Showtime TV’s Married and Dating. This was real life. For me, polyamory left in its path three broken hearts and three people in deep despair and pain.
I don’t want to paint too negative a picture of the poly lifestyle. Indeed, there are people in the poly community who really understand how to navigate around these challenging waters. Some have been living this lifestyle for a decade or more, have had numerous lovers, boyfriends/girlfriends, triads, and even poly families with kids. It’s also much less complicated to date a poly single man, though in fact it’s not that much different than dating any type of single man.
One thing I cherish about the poly community is the clear communication skills and total transparency around dating, relationships, sexual history, and status. It is completely freeing to be able to have those conversations without any judgment. Even in the darkest days of our relationship, transparent communication with my partner allowed a glimmer of light to shine through.
I learned a lot about myself from dipping my toes in the poly waters. I explored my boundaries and pushed my edges. Just like they said would happen, I did grow as a person, a lover, and a friend.
As is always the case in my life, I learn more from my failures than from my successes. I have a much better understanding of the compromises that must be made, the vital importance of three way communication, the need to ascertain the strength of an underlying primary relationship, and that hazard signs exist for a reason.
While I have no regrets, I wish I had listened to my best friend back East who told me unequivocally that there was no way I was going to come out of this without having my heart broken. She knew what I couldn’t admit—I could never be happy in the back seat of the car.
I had to be in the front.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kristin Monk/Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons
Photos: elephant archives