Polyamory Without The Poly

Several people have expressed interest in me writing more about polyamory. I’d like to write more about it. But it’s complicated. I want to say, “You’re late! Seven years too late!”

Seven years ago, I would have been happy to tell you anything and everything about polyamory. I could explain how my polyamory was so awesome and how yours was probably fucked up. But, never fear, I could help fix it for you! Except you probably wouldn’t listen, and I would just shake my head because I’d seen it a gazillion times before.

Things are a little different these days.

For one thing, I’m not as sure about everything as I used to be. Sometimes that feels like a difference between being in my 20s and being in my 30s. Realistically, I’m probably completely sure about different things, and it just feels strange to look back on old topics.

For another thing, I don’t hang out with as many poly people as I used to. My friend group gradually shifted, and then I moved states and I haven’t met any new poly friends. I don’t get as much practice seeing, pondering, and talking about poly situations these days.

But most relevant to my ability to generate polyamorous writing is that I’m not in a relationship with anyone but Joshua and I haven’t been for years. I had one brief, brilliant love affair a couple of years ago, but by brief I mean brief. Mostly, I’ve been uninterested in other romantic or sexual relationships since about 2006.

2006 is when Joshua and I first started trying to conceive, and it seemed natural that I might not be interested in other people for awhile. I was pretty intensely focused on Joshua. That doesn’t really ring true anymore. I’m just… not thinking that way.

Polyamory has been central to my identity for over two decades. For the vast majority of that time I had more than one partner, once as many as four. Now, as my sex drive and my relationship drive shift into a new pattern, the question arises whether I’m still polyamorous.

I’ve heard mythical tales of successful mono-poly relationships, where one partner is polyamorous and the other is happily monogamous but doesn’t mind the poly-ness of the other partner. I don’t know if I’ve ever met people I knew to be in a relationship like this, but I suppose they could exist.

For me, though, I conclude that I am still polyamorous.

Polyamory is about more than my current relationships; it’s a political identity and a core value that supersedes daily practice.

In the introduction to my Twenty Years of Polyamory series, I said:

Through it all, polyamory has never been far from the center of my identity. The last time I tried to have a monogamous relationship, I was 16. Polyamory is part of me – a non-negotiable part – and I wouldn’t dream of going without it… My ideals about poly seep into my decisions about seemingly unrelated topics. Poly permeates my life.

This is true, and it remains true regardless of how many people I’m fucking. My views on polyamory even inform my parenting.

In that introduction post, I also laid out my definition of polyamory:

Polyamory for me is an openness to letting each individual one-on-one relationship develop however the two participants want it to. This means that if you’re open to the possibility yet never actually do fall in love with or fall into bed with another person, it may still be poly. It also means that people in closed relationships that contain more than two people are not what I think of as poly.

The most important words to me in that definition are openness and possibility. Whether or not I’m currently involved with multiple people and whether or not I ever am again, I remain open to the possibility of love, romance, and sex with more than one person. That makes me polyamorous.