More than anything, this quarantine has been a validation of our conversion to a polyamorous lifestyle (which was almost exactly a year ago, as of this writing). It’s not so much that one day we decided to be poly as it was a realization that we were poly.
Neither of us had a close-knit friend group in our late teens and early twenties. The types of intimate relationships that we’ve cultivated in the last year are the ones that we craved back then but didn’t know how to pursue, or perhaps even more complicatedly, didn’t have the language to be able to express desire for.
In a couples therapy session about six months ago, Brendan turned to me and said, “I’ve never felt more myself than I have since we’ve opened up.” That fact was already evident to me—in our entire thirteen-year relationship, I’d never seen him as happy as he was when we were out with our other partners. There was this relaxing in his general energy—his (endearingly) obsessive tendencies like working on his car or upgrading his computer were now being funneled into outside relationships, which I could see were providing a bigger sense of fulfillment.
It took me a little longer to feel as comfortable living within this new identity, to be able to say confidently I am poly, having to undo nearly twenty-nine years of socialization where monogamy was the only successful relationship model accessible to me (and I use the word successful lightly given that many, if not most, of the relationships I saw growing up ended in divorce).
But now, being separated from our other partners has thrown into sharp relief just how important they’ve been to not just our relationship but our own personal growth. My personal growth.
It’s been a challenge integrating our new selves into this old set of circumstances, this let’s-stay-home-and-watch-TV-every-night circumstances (even if it’s because we have to). In some ways, it feels like we’ve regressed to the people we used to be before opening up, having lost some of the playfulness and curiosity that’s been inspired by other people. We’re now learning how to be poly while being isolated, which comes with its own set of complexities. Technology has allowed us all to stay connected, but there’s no replacement for the real thing.
So until we can all be in the same room again, I will continue to say, “I miss our people.” And while that statement is infused with sadness, it also affirms yes, I’m poly. This is me.