I’ve dated a lot of people. Some of those, I mean dating in the dinner-and-a-movie sense, others I mean in the “nice to meet you, here’s my bra” sense. I’ve cared for each person in my own ways, some very deeply, and each way is completely different than another. The people I have dated are like insightful quotes on the title page of each chapter of my life; they defined and shaped the edges of who I was when I came to them, but never the core.
One night, with about 20 years of life to my name, I was at the local Rocky Horror Picture Show in a very lonely state of mind. The person I was meeting for the evening (not a date, just a friendly get-together) turned out to be something other than I expected and I felt slightly unsettled when he invited me back to his house. Somehow, a guy and his girlfriend ended up sort of taking me under their wing after I began to look uncomfortable. After sitting near each other and talking, I grew fond of them. The conversation turned from playful and joking to gradually flirtatious, and I was vastly confused but decided to let it be. Poly was not a word in my vocabulary yet, but I was not so naive and unskilled that I didn’t know what a threesome was.
I ended up going home with this pair, this couple I felt safe with. They fawned on me, both increasingly flattering and physically closer as we reached the wee hours of the morning. That watery, wavery pre-sex banter barrier gave way like walking through a waterfall, and the tension flowed away as they pulled me into them. The next morning I woke up beside the sleeping woman, and hesitantly ventured to get up and wander into the kitchen, where the man was waiting with sliced fruit for me. We sat and talked, he murmuring highlights of the evening that made me blush. I was enamored of this strange new dynamic – here in the kitchen, it was he-and-I, but a scant thirty feet behind us, the dynamic was she-and-I when I woke. I felt like I was pleasantly drifting between spheres of connection, each one different but still connected. I mentally opened and examined these gleefully over and over, like a child with a toy at Christmas. The one thing I never felt, that morning or any morning after, was shame or regret. It literally never even occured to me. If you could care for one person, why not two?
Naturally, it did have its own challenges, and the one that finally dissolved the union was the fact I wanted children and they did not. However, we still talk and are still friends – we all had a good time, even if it wasn’t a forever-thing. It lasted six months of my essentially living with them, sharing clothes and the man that would become her fiance, of breakfasts together and shared triumphs and heartbreaks. The dinners out, the work parties that we’d show off our unusual arrangement with pride, the meeting and explanation to family, the excursions and discoveries. Strangely enough, more than the man who took my virginity and gave me a nervous breakdown in return, more than the man that coaxed me away from home for the first time, more than any other relationship, this one shaped a lot of the personality I hold today. It taught me that jealousy poisons faster than arsenic, that keeping things bottled up or misdirected does nothing but undermine a foundation. It gave me strength – when I have trouble in my current relationship with my fiance, I sometimes think to myself…I made this work with two people at once, I can do this. It’s only half of what I used to do!
I strongly – very strongly – support the rights of people to have plural arrangements, of any sort. Why? Because I feel that, while they are definitely not for everyone, they are a visible representation of the power of the human heart. They prove that we do, in fact, have enough love for many – be it romantic love for several partners, platonic love for a big family, or the love we all ought to have for the world around us. If you support interracial partnerships, gay or lesbian partnerships, or even May-December romances, you support Poly, at least on some level. In the end, it’s our differences, not our similarities, that will help make stronger connections.