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I’m not normal. Never have been and never will be. But that’s how that’s supposed to be, isn’t it? Who is actually “normal?” How do you define something that is different for every single human being on this planet?
I’ll give you a hint: You can’t!
But that’s okay! As long as you’re happy and healthy (and not harming anyone), why not do what makes you happy?
I have spent most of my 20 years on this planet struggling with that very concept and I’m sure many of you can understand that struggle. It can be hard to find good people to surround yourself with and what careers or pastimes are worth the precious time we have on this planet. And sadly, I’m not sure this struggle ever truly ends, it just starts anew.
BUT THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE A DEPRESSING POST! No no no, this is a post to tell you about my relationship status!
As of this very moment, I have two committed relationships: A guy who is a significant other, but he’s long distance and not what I would consider a boyfriend, and a girlfriend who’s a bit complicated. That’s just right now. The list has changed quite a few times since I began my polyamorous path in life. But I’ll get to that.
Let’s start at the beginning: Over this past summer (Ohio summers aren’t anything to write home about) I was bored. Now the word “bored” makes this emotion I experienced sound very trivial. In reality it was menacing! I felt as if there was never anything to do or anyone to see.
My long time boyfriend—we’ll call him Alex—was staying about half an hour away without a car so I rarely got to see him after spending a lot of time with him at college. I’ve never been the most emotionally available so up until this point, I had only dated two other people. Now that I am in a place of comfort in my life where dating is an option, I very quickly (and luckily) found a guy who made me very happy and cared about me a lot. Now please do not doubt for a moment that I love Alex with all my heart! But I still felt this boredom consuming me. And alongside the boredom came the emptiness of depression.
I began to struggle with these emotions so I, naturally, turned to my best friend for advice: Alex. That man puts up with so much from me, but that is another topic all together. After a lot of conversation, he told me he would be open to a polyamorous relationship of sorts. Let me just tell you all, I argued a lot with him. Not that I didn’t want this! I didn’t want to hurt him. I would do anything to prevent him from any type of harm and that especially includes harm from me. Eventually Alex won out and we began talking about how to go about things with as little pain as we could. We came up with some "rules" to the relationship:
- No one Alex knows: This one was fine with me because the initial idea was to open things up during the summer so I could go on dates with co-workers and the lawyers and policemen I was meeting (I work in a courthouse by the way). This would eventually be resolved to no friends when Alex moved off campus. In reality, this rule was more about the second rule...
- Consent has to be present on ALL sides: This may sound like a no-brainer, but let me explain. This rule constituted consent (think permission) needed to be given from everyone involved in order to make sure everyone was comfortable. Example time: Let's say Alex found a woman he liked. He would ask me if I was okay with him dating her, and depending on my answer, he would move on. He would also need to explain the situation to the woman to make sure she understood what constraints would be put on the relationship and why things are this way, etc. This way everyone was aware of the situation and we could avoid some issues. I would also like to add any time a "no" has been given on a person, it has been 100 percent respected and there was no longer any romantic anything between anyone. This rule has never changed and I don't personally think it should.
- No unprotected sex: This one is about intimacy. Alex and I both view sex as a way to be as close to each other as possible, to us it is a very intimate and romantic act done out of love. (Please note the words "to us" because I am a huge supporter that everyone does things differently, if you hadn't noticed that by the everything in this article.) This lead to the rule that this intimacy should be kept between the two of us, even though we make sure people are tested before we have any type of physical relationship with them and I am personally on birth control.
Those are just about the only "rules" we put on things. You must understand, I have never been a person who is into hook-ups or anything of that nature so we did not define this all as an open relationship. In our heads, these would be actual, committed relationships with other people. To be honest that has been how things have gone thus far. I personally plan to keep it that way.
I touched a bit on the fact that those rules have morphed and changed as time has gone by. These changes have occurred as any changes in a relationship, things change as time goes by and you learn what you are prepared for/comfortable with. One of the largest changes was the rule regarding friends of Alex's. He was very adamant for a while that I was not to date his closest friends. That was not an issue! I have been very careful to always keep romantic thoughts about them out of my head. I couldn't imagine what could hurt Alex more than his girlfriend having feelings for his roommate or the guy he sees as a brother. The interesting thing is one day someone began to spread a rumor that I, in fact, did have feelings for his old roommate, Percy, and that we were sleeping together. It was laughed off at first, we're on a small campus and plenty of crazy rumors spread. The point we stopped laughing was when I was being confronted for this supposed relationship.
Everything was thankfully handled (for the most part) and after the dust settled, Percy and I realized there may be something there. I spoke to Alex about the frustration (not asking permission to date Percy, more about the frustration at my emotions in general) and to my surprise he told me he wouldn't have an issue with Percy and I, as long as all the dust had actually settled.
Next came my way of judging how ready for an actual relationship Percy was. I told Percy he had to talk to Alex about dating me and get the permission for himself. Let me be clear, I did not think Percy would actually ask. Whenever I get scared of my emotions, I like to throw things onto others and hope things end without me having to stop things. Percy called my bluff outright. Him and Alex spoke a few days later and I was told almost immediately. With everything calm and collected, I was presented with my own decision: Do I want a relationship with Percy? After my own soul searching, I entered into a relationship with Percy.
The main thing I'd like to reiterate is how I go about each relationship. I treat each relationship as its own separate relationship with its own separate situation. If things are going on with Alex and I, I try very hard to keep those reactions and emotions out of my relationship with Percy or my girlfriend. I don't see these people as hookups or anything of the sort, they are all committed relationships in my head.
If you're wondering about the polyamorous life for yourself, just think about this: Your relationships are yours. No one else's. Each of us have different definitions of terms and that's okay! If you want to open your relationship, talk to your S.O. and work things out. I am incredibly lucky to have such understanding and loving people in my life that help me to create the life I have today. Just always keep respect and happiness in your head and things will work out!
We all go about life in our own way and I respect everyone's way. To each their own is a phrase I attempt to live by. This is a little glimpse into my own!