The Best Things About Polyamory

“So, what’s the big deal with polyamory, anyway?” 

The freedom to be myself 

I have the freedom to surround myself with the relationships I want to, the ones that work for me. I have the freedom to explore whatever I need to. I have the freedom to form bonds with those who enhance me. I have the freedom to become more independent and not rely wholly on a single other person. I have the freedom to learn more about myself every day. I have the freedom to find the pieces that are missing from my jigsaw. I have the freedom to speak and be heard. I have the freedom to fuck around and find out; to make mistakes and not regret them. I have the freedom to face all my fears. I have the freedom to feel jealousy and it not jeopardise my happiness. I have the freedom to learn what makes me feel most secure. I have the freedom to have an awful lot of sex with an awful lot of people. I have the freedom to dismantle expectations and stereotypes and norms. I have the freedom to love as much and as hard as I want to. I have the freedom to be completely myself; more myself than I’ve ever been. 

Having someone to comfort you when it all goes wrong 

I’d been in the house about an hour before my nesting partner came home, my eyes sore and bloodshot from sobbing, mascara crusting under my lower lids. It hadn’t worked out with that guy, I explained in between choking tears, that guy I was so hopeful for. Silently, they wrapped their arms around me and just let me be for a while, dampening their shoulder. As my breathing calmed, they told me how much they love me and that I’m safe and adored and that I’ll be OK; it’ll all be OK. We debriefed: me turning this guy’s final text over and over in my head until it made a kind of sense; them stroking my arm, gently kissing my face, and simply listening, reassuring. They were there, with me and for me, listening to me bitch about men for hours. I didn’t have that guy anymore, but I had this person still. 

Being able to see your partner from a different perspective 

I’ve always known what kind of partner they’ve been to me; now, I’m able to see what kind of partner they are to others, and them me. Seeing how they are around their girlfriend, how they treat her, honestly made me love them even more. I’ve been able to witness the true depth of their care and thoughtfulness, without the mask of my own self-interest or bias. They’ve witnessed more of my resilience and self-determination. We’ve been able to see different facets of each other’s sexuality, fantasies, and kinks, some of which we’ve used as inspiration for our own. We know each other on a deeper level than we did before because we see each other 360 degrees. Having learnt this view, this way of really seeing people, I’m able to see my other partners as more than simply partners; as friends, as parents, as carers, as lovers, as fans, as academics, as bad people and good. 

Having other plus-one options for parties 

Sometimes, I’m an introverted goblin and all I want to do is lie on the sofa and eat Wotsits. Sometimes, this occurs at the exact same time I’m due to be present at a social engagement. Sometimes, actually most times, I don’t care. One of my greatest failings (achievements) is not doing anything I don’t want to do. Life is too precious to spend feeling uncomfortable or unsafe or unwanted or in the presence of people you despise. I will always support my closest loved ones; I will always celebrate them and I will always find what they love important, but acquaintances or work colleagues or Tories or gender reveal parties? No. Before becoming poly, my nesting partner, a true extrovert, became accustomed to attending parties alone, providing excuses for why I wasn’t with them. Now, they have other partners who will happily accompany them. It’s been a win for everyone concerned: my NP has excellent company, the event organiser doesn’t feel snubbed, and I’m left alone to be a goblin in peace. 

Not feeling the pressure to find everything in one person 

One day, you can look at your partner, the person you’re deeply in love with, happiest with, and realise there’s something you can’t quite reach. It’s a missing jigsaw piece, a void in the picture, and you really want to find it and snap it into place. You want to complete the puzzle. 

You search for that one piece everywhere. You look for it inside you, inside them, in what they say and do, behind the sofa, and in the attic. The searching drives you to the absolute edge, because you want that last piece, you need it, you can’t live without it, and the most important thing right now is to complete your puzzle; the one you both share. And they try and mould themselves into the missing piece, try and cram themselves uncomfortably into the void, even though they don’t fit, and it’s not the same. 

And after a while, you accept that you’ll never find it. There will always be that little gap, and looking at that gap makes the anger boil over within you. Because why shouldn’t your puzzle be complete? Everyone else’s seems to be. Why do they get all their pieces, slotting together perfectly, and you don’t? What’s wrong with you? Do you and your partner not love as hard, as absolutely as everyone else? To you, it feels like you do, but surely it’s obvious from the void that you don’t. 

You can’t look at that little gap any longer; it taunts you, teases you, it shouts “You failed”. The feeling of defeat and shame eats at the lining of your stomach. You idiot. You fraud. You thought you could have this one, great love and it would be for forever and a day and nothing would ever hurt it, hurt you. But, there’s a piece missing and maybe it’s always been missing and you’ve just not noticed before. You’re so frustrated you scream out loud; a long, guttural scream at that void. 

So you flip the table and all the pieces of the jigsaw up into the air and stand back to watch them crash to the floor, all muddled up and lost and broken. 

Now, you’ve destroyed it all. Everything, over that one missing piece. You expect to feel relief, power, and hope, but all there is is sadness. You look at the pieces scattered across the carpet and they’re all so beautiful, you cry. They’re pieces of you both; your desires, your dreams, your laughter, your fears, your frustrations, your lust, your truth and your lies. You realise they were even more beautiful when they were connected together, even with that void. But, it’s gone now. 

But, you didn’t have to destroy anything. That one piece, the part that was missing, might not have been theirs to give you, however hard they tried. That one piece, the part that was missing, might not have existed naturally at all, between you. That one piece, the part that was missing, might be something you need, but not from them. 

Because that one piece, the one that completes your jigsaw, could be provided by someone else. 

And so, you don’t flip that table and destroy what you’ve built together. The someone else hands you the missing piece, along with handfuls of other pieces that you never even knew you needed, and you snap it perfectly into the void. Your jigsaw is complete. 

Expanding friendships 

I adore my nesting partner’s girlfriend. I’ve written before about how much I adore her. She’s just the cutest, funniest, warmest, and brightest person. And I feel very lucky to have her as my friend and be able to experience her in my life. And she wouldn’t be in my life, if we weren’t poly. We’re different ages, have different experiences, different circles; we would never have crossed paths under monogamous circumstances. My nesting partner’s circle has grown because of her and they now have even more people in their life to support and love them, and I love that so fucking much. I’ve created friendships out of dates and dates out of friendships and relationships out of nowhere, and I’ve become a better friend to my existing friends, because now I’m better able to reach out to people and build. Being able to surround yourself with love and friendship is a beautiful thing; polyamory provides circumstances and structure to do just that, whether it’s building that polycule or sitting around a kitchen table or having more people to buy Christmas presents for. 

Being able to explore sexualities 

While I was monogamous, I identified as straight. I’d never considered that I could be attracted to anyone but men; despite wanking to the lesbian and bi porn actors I watched pretty much daily, despite having fantasies of someone with a vulva touching mine, despite really, really appreciating Cate Blanchett. Actually, the idea of having sex with someone with a vulva scared me a little. I was introduced to my sexuality via a threesome. They were a couple I met through Feeld and, admittedly, I was initially attracted only to the guy. And to start with, he was the one I communicated with, until they both invited me to join them on a city break, on a 24 hour date. At first, I was hesitant because this wasn’t really what I was into, right? But I was feeling bold and the idea of sex with more than one person had always intrigued me and I saw it as an opportunity to try it and see. So we met in a cacophonous cocktail bar and he seemed to shrink into the background; her and I, we flirted with each other for hours. I can’t remember how we got to that point, it wasn’t an initial chemical reaction, but the knowledge that this was a person who was attracted to me, someone whom I was allowed to be attracted to as well, that clicked it into place. By the time they suggested we go back to the hotel, I was almost begging to kiss her. That night, I saw someone else’s vulva in real life for the first time and it did still scare me a little, to the point where I was too afraid to stretch out my tongue and taste it when it was pushing up against my face. But I adored touching her, kissing her, sucking on her nipples, pushing my fingers inside her. She was beautiful. The sense of elation I felt at making her cum over my fingers was overwhelming. And I knew from then on that I wanted to do more, to see more, to explore more, as many different bodies and people as I could, and learn about what I really liked. 

Having my own bedroom 

IT’S THE BEST. I encourage everyone I meet to sleep in different bedrooms to their partner. This isn’t an arrangement unique to polyamory, or a requirement by any means, or even achievable for many, but after becoming poly, my nesting partner and I made the decision to have separate rooms and it’s been complete bliss. It means we can talk to our other partners late at night without disturbing the other, we can wank alone whenever we like, we can have others over for sleepovers without issue, and we have our own very personal and sexual spaces. And having that space, to us, emphasises our autonomy. We even have a very cute little going-to-bed routine involving songs and cuddles and goodnights, before going our separate ways. I’ve since discovered that I sleep much better alone. Alone, I don’t worry about fidgeting too much, or snoring too loudly, or taking up too much space; I lay right in the middle of the bed and sleep for 8 delicious hours a night. 

Improving communication

And empathy, and understanding, and time management, and consideration, and patience. These days, my nesting partner and I don’t just talk, we have conversations. We don’t talk about anything new or different, it’s all in the way we talk. There is mutual respect, candour, lightness, and space. We give each other room to listen and think and respond; we have to, because talking has become so much more important. In any relationship, it’s important to talk about your fears, your successes, your emotions, your reactions, your plans, your jealousies, your dreams, and your challenges; polyamory pulls them all up from your depths. You talk about them all because you need to, because that which is unspoken can eat away at what you’re building, because everyone needs clarity and truth. It’s a difficult thing, putting everything about yourself out there in the open; like the wildebeest that stutters to the watering hole. But you talk about that too, and how you can support each other to feel less vulnerable. And we’re not just better partners to each other; we’re better partners to everyone, as well as better friends and lovers and children. We’re better people. Because being able to communicate, be empathetic, be understanding, be considerate, and be patient are all traits and skills that are essential to all relationships, not just romantic; we have the opportunity to improve all of them, all the time. 

The opportunity to fall in love, over and over

I love dopamine. If I could, I’d have an IV directly into a vein. I like feeling giddy about people, feeling light-headed in their presence, feeling rewarded by being around them, the euphoria; I love falling for people. Yes, it often ends messily, with my heart kicked about and then torn into 20 pieces, but I still believe the risk is worth the reward, or lack thereof. That uncontrolled descent, not knowing if your parachute will open or not, that’s the absolute shit. I know what I love about falling in love is dopamine, rather than love, but I sometimes like pretending. Even if the parachute didn’t open, I wouldn’t swap the falling for anything else; I fully expect to fall a thousand more times before I die. I have an endless capacity for feeling love and I will never apologise for having so much of it on offer. 

I am happy. 

The happiest I’ve ever been.

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