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Polyamory 101

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Andrew Russell shares his unconventional view on relationships…

So the other night my partner went out to have drinks with a guy she’s sleeping with. She came home just after midnight and I was still writing an essay. When I think about it like this it seems the most normal thing in the world; the person I love has close friends who she loves to spend time with and I want the person I love to be happy. More than that, I want the person I love to do whatever he/she/they wants, rather than acting on some mystical idea of what they think I want, which in my experience has been a dark decent into the circular cutesy-voiced demand ‘what do you want to do?’ to which the only reply is ‘whatever you want to do!’ I’m sure we’ve all had that problem, I’m envisaging it tonight over the dinner conversation, five seconds before I rant like I probably will here.

So I’m what some like to call ‘polyamorous’, meaning that I have many lovers. To burst your bubble straight away though I’m only sleeping with one person at the moment and that’s the woman I love. But already I think this is a too restricted view of what love is. I could say I love my mother with completely different connotations, that I love my best friend for another set of reasons. I think we need this kind of expanded idea of relationships. We’re constantly in a network of relationships that define and help us change into new people; my relationship with my classmates can get stronger or weaker just the same as with my current lover. When we fight I feel like she doesn’t know me at all but when words flow between us without a second thought I couldn’t doubt that I love her and she loves me. It’s from these kinds of experiences of varying relationships (some without sex, some with) that I’ve come to think of love not just as a way of feeling toward someone but more like a fragile connection; a moment where you doubt nothing and the world seems overflowing with possibilities.

Polyamory, to me, stems from this desire to make as many connections as possible

Polyamory, to me, stems from this desire to make as many connections as possible, and not limit any other person’s desire because of some desire for me to have them all to myself. I often think this comes from the desire to be needed by another, because, in all seriousness, the world at the moment is an unforgiving shithole where it looks like no one gives a shit about anything you give a shit about. What I’m searching for, and have been for a while now, are relationships that aren’t shelter from the storm with whoever comes along first, but are real moments of delirium. Being needed seems to some like a natural human desire for companionship, to which I partially agree, but what I think is most depressing is the things we suffer through in relationships in the name of love – we think we know what our partner needs and try our hardest to become that, all so we can say that we’re loved. Then we hide things because of that little bit of fear that says, “What if they think that’s stupid?” which breaks in and threatens us with the uncertainty of a breakup.

I’m sure many of you have seen bad breakups, either of families or friends. Things quickly turn from love to spite and hate because all of the things that were kept back finally come to the surface. I’ve avoided this practice because can I see that, while yes, I don’t share everything with the person I love, so what? She doesn’t care about every single thought I have and if she did I’d assume she was listening because she thought she should listen, and that’s when images of depressed 1950’s housewives pop into my mind. And I have other people in my life, whose company I enjoy for different reasons. Because of this, the issue of jealousy is less and less something I deal with. I remember when I was 16 my girlfriend was the quirky beautiful one who attracted all kinds of male attention and I couldn’t stand it, now I feel happy for my lover when she’s off flirting and exploring the world.

So you’re probably asking how this even differs from anyone else’s ‘regular’ life? Well it does and it doesn’t. Maybe the only difference at the end of the day is the sex. But in my everyday life it feels different; I’m much more open (on a good day) to new experiences with new people but (on a bad day) I’m just the same old blubbering lost fool we’ve all been.

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