I do not know about you, but my news feeds are regularly flooded with content that highlights the benefits of polyamory (the algorithm may have something to do with it). I see couples involved in multiple relationships suggesting their ways of communicating, speeches explaining to me that exclusivity is outdated, or even humorous videos depicting the comic situations in which multiple partners find themselves.
Also read >> 5 Misconceptions About Polyamory: Love In 3D
Upon seeing this content, I felt a little useless because I did not feel the desire to follow this type of relationship, and twice as useless because I did not feel capable of it. I often felt like not wanting to mean I wasn’t open-minded enough. In some conversations I’ve had about this with polyamorous people, I felt like I was a bad feminist, as if polyamory was the next level of “deconstruction,” and I was stuck on the relapse level of love.
So when the opportunity to try it came, without really expecting it, I jumped at the chance. Not that polyamory is an experience to be tested at any cost for fun, but above all because the guilt of not feeling ready for it questioned me.
How I found myself in relation to more people
My friends in free couples or in polyamorous relationships explained to me the ins and outs of their way of relating to more people. I admit it without shame, my mind was permeated with false ideas: I especially thought that being polyamorous did not mean feeling or showing jealousy. I also thought that sharing your life with multiple partners meant that you distilled your love. However, there are people for whom it is very possible to experience love more or less equally for several individuals. Moreover, I have been told several times that polyamori is not a matter of bursting with love and attention, but of sharing. A friend who identifies as polyamorous told me she sees romantic relationships as friendships. As in friendship, she has one or more best friends and other acquaintances with whom she also shares her time. “It’s the same thing in love. I have my primary partner, and my other relationships. However, I have no less love to give to everyone,” she said. In theory, it makes sense, and it’s one of dozens of ways to experience polyamory on.But in practice I had neither energy nor desire.Which is legal.But I repeatedly got the feeling that not being polyamorous meant having a closed and almost retrograde vision of intimate relationships.
The opportunity came within the framework of a somewhat vague relationship, a “situationship” so to speak. The boundaries of our relationship were blurred, we were in love, behaved like a couple, but were not officially one, especially because this person did not want exclusivity. So I dived headlong into a relationship that already involved several people, not really asking myself if it was the right thing for me, but telling myself that this was an opportunity to find out.
Along with this relationship, which already occupied most of my thoughts and mobilized a good deal of my energy, I started dating other people, two others in total. First with a certain enthusiasm, perhaps under the influence of the news, but then with a lot of melancholy. I had a good time with these partners, met on Tinder and for parties, but the shadow of my first relationship still hung over me and I just wanted to explore it more without being distracted by others.
My anxiety has risen in the air
I am not the most organized person when it comes to spending time with my loved ones, nor the slightest anxiety when it comes to meeting the needs of others. So much to tell you that it was a disaster to have to “juggle” between multiple romantic and sexual relationships. It’s simple, I’ve always had the impression of not being present enough for each other and having to duplicate myself, I was afraid of getting involved by confusing certain conversations or anecdotes with the other “partners”, and rather all I did ‘I do not have the energy to keep so many flames up.
Eventually, I realize that even though we had discussed the contours of our relationship, talked about the importance of communicating our needs and discussing our insecurities, the framework for my first connection remained unclear. I tried to convince myself that everything was fine and that our relationship was right for me, just for fear of losing him. Result: my anxiety was at its highest, especially on the evenings when I imagined he was spending time with his other partners.
The commandment of polyamory
Love relationships, whether heterosexual or not, are permeated by sexist and heteronormative norms and dynamics. But making new injunctions for those who do not want to invest in this way of behaving seems to me anything but liberating. Finally, sexuality as love can and must be discussed, “deconstructed”, rethought, but not to the detriment of the individual’s desires and possibilities. Not if it turns into a new clover. And especially not if this decompartmentalization happens without a framework. To look beyond the fixed limits of exclusive and heteronormative relationships, yes, but not in the absence of communication, forbearance, and honesty. And clearly not if you do not want to.
My friend Douce Dibondo, journalist and Afro-feminist writer, recently wrote a text about polyamory that impressed me. She talks about the illusion of making relational plurality the front door of liberation. “On paper, the idea was good. To relate sexually and / or romantically to several people on different or equal terms, she writes. […] With an emphasis on trust, communication and honesty. Then it gets spoiled when one thinks of polyamory as a revolutionary goal by minimizing the dominance that is at stake. “Not only is polyamory not exempt from patriarchal dynamics, but sometimes I have had the impression that this relational plurality became to a new injunction.A injunction that does not really take into account each individual’s boundaries, desires, traumas, privileges, and insecurities.
If Douce Dibondo in relational plurality sees a way of “getting out of frame”, she also warns that this way of behaving is limited by our own pitfalls and “(ir) personal responsibilities”. She adds: “Many people see polyamory or relationship anarchy as a way to escape their relationship with themselves and their attachment style. […] I always wonder about the motivation of people who quickly swear to it. “.
Polyamory, a priori, it’s not my thing and it’s ok
No, polyamory is not liberating for everyone. Me, for example, felt divided between the desire to face my insecurities related to non-exclusive relationships and the fact that finding out that it might not be the right solution to do so in a love context. Moreover, my partner at the time said to me: “you do not have to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation to try to overcome your fears”. And I’m not going to go through all of them either. I felt trapped between the load of my emotions and my deep desires. I had no desire to date other people, especially not in this little “honeymoon” as I learned to discover our couple who were not officially one. I tried to date other people regularly but the heart was not there. I ended up being entangled in a whole lot of unofficial, blurry, boundless relationships, partly because I seemed to communicate about such intimate ties with multiple individuals was very energy consuming and a source of anxiety, but also because what I wanted above all , was to maintain the initial connection that I had formed. I wanted to pamper the relationship I had with the person I was wildly in love with, develop it, build trust, and enjoy the carefree beginning, instead of spreading my energy and attention elsewhere.
Eventually, this experience taught me to take it a little more calmly. I am exhausted from trying to be the most liberated and detached from all possible labels. I do not think I have a particular problem with jealousy or trust in exclusive relationships, and I am not against the idea of opening a relationship once the bonds of trust are established, but I think I need more communication for that. I need to listen to my own limitations and maybe try again in a more formal and established relationship. Sticking to polyamory out of love for the person you fear losing is not the right way to approach the matter. Polyamori is not liberating for everyone because it is not an end in itself, just as the exclusive couple can not cure us of our insecurities and the norms that overwhelm us. Relating to multiple people is one of the ways we can try to rethink love, but it’s neither the only way nor a must.