Okay, that’s it, I have decided. Screw the whole “not being too personal on the internet” thing. You know my name, you’ve seen my face. Some of my most personal musings are out here already, and it’s helping me grow. I’m still cautious not to share too much about other people, but I’ve got stories to tell. One of my goals this year is to write more. Since I’m better with personal stuff – and don’t really write fiction anymore, anyway – here I am. I’m ready to talk.
I’m learning things lately. I’m learning that it’s actually really healthy to talk to the ex-partner of the person that you were involved with. It’s not what I have been taught by social standards, mainstream media, or the whispers of how to live life by everybody living it. The things you don’t learn in school, but that you learn from real life examples. People around you, your family, friends. This is what you do, this is how you do it. And talking to an ex? That’s exactly one of those things you don’t do. The horror. You are supposed to shun exes, ban them, keep them away from your life forever.
Well, no to that, I say.
And no to other things that society would rather keep complicated forever. Like relationships.
I also learned that not only is it healthy to talk to an ex-partner, I think it is also healthy to talk to a current partner of the person you are involved with. Current partner? Yes. I don’t really talk about it much, but I want to change that.
So, in case you didn’t know yet: I’m not monogamous.
And I wanna talk about that.
I ‘came out’ semi-publicly around two years ago. I have never made a secret of things regarding my sexual and romantic life. I’m not one to shout to people who don’t want to hear, of course, but if asked, I would never lie. I try not to be too public about my current dating habits out of respect for people’s privacy, but I’d like to be able to talk about dynamics between people, in general, without feeling shame about it. So now I want to talk about things truly publicly. I’m finally ready for it, and I hope that talking about it helps me grow as a person, as well.
Being open about my sexuality was never difficult. I was pretty sure about not being straight from around age ten. I never felt like I was in any type of position to ‘come out’. My sexuality was never a thing, it just was who I was, and it was accepted by my friends, by my family. [Well, most of them.] And I didn’t have any troubles regarding my sexuality. I simply knew: I just fall in love with people, and it doesn’t matter to me who they are, or what genitals they have, or what gender they identify with. As long as they’re decent human beings. That was that.
I identified as bisexual for a good decade. Even though I did not always actively date girls, I always felt the attraction and put myself very strongly as a 3 on the Kinsey scale. Since learning the word, pansexuality seemed like a better fitting description of what I felt. And I’m still not sure what the right terminology is, but one label or the other doesn’t change my feelings. Call it this, call it that, finding my confidence in what I felt and how I wanted things regarding my sexuality wasn’t really hard. I didn’t need to come out, I was comfortable and confident enough to be open to anybody who wanted or needed to know. I am not straight. My long term relationships may have been heterosexual looking, that doesn’t make them heterosexual relationships, or me a heterosexual person. So, voilà, I was never straight and still am not.
The story is different regarding my relationship preference. That wasn’t so easy. Also, it took a lot longer to figure out. I was conditioned to believe in a romantic movie ideal. You know the drill: person meets person. Love at first sight. Saving ‘special’ intimate things for ‘special’ people. Soulmates. I set myself ridiculous rules, and got upset when I eventually broke them. Every time something happened in another way than was ‘supposed’ to happen, I felt like I failed as a human being. Punished myself for it. How could I ever find true happiness and true love if I didn’t play by the rules that seemingly worked for everyone else? “If they work for everyone else, they must also work for me,” I thought.
But the truth is, I think they never worked for me. A few years into my first steady relationship, something happened. The romantic movie filter fell off my eyes. I felt, very strongly, and to my own surprise, that I could feel love for multiple people at the same time. Different kinds of love, but love nonetheless. Connection.
Things got very complicated for a second there. But I knew: my love for one person will not be less if there’s also love for another person. I didn’t know what it was, what it was called or how it worked, but I knew there was a way around the one-partner-for-everything mantra I had heard and believed in for all my life prior.
Stepping outside the monogamy box
My revelation came as quite a shock because I’d been in a long-term relationship for six years at that point. I thought it would ‘end’ in marriage. I thought that this was gonna be it, forever.
Because isn’t that what we are taught? You find the ‘love of your life’ at seventeen years old and you grow up together, moving in and living together and you dream up your life. It’s what everyone around you is doing, so it’s what you will do… and what else could there be?
A whole lot of other things, it turns out.
I learned as I went. I fell flat on my face and crawled back up. And as I crawled, I learned the names of the things I was feeling. I learned that there were explanations around getting away from the one-size-does-not-fit-all mold that society tries to fit us in. Examples of how to do things differently.
And now I want to talk about it.
Finding the strength to be confident in my non-monogamy has not been half as easy as accepting that I’m not straight. It’s been almost seven years since my discovery of this beautiful capacity of the human mind to love without constraint. Seven years is a pretty long time.
In that time, I’ve tried to suppress my feelings. I’ve tried to push myself into monogamous relationships. It didn’t work. In fact, it made me miserable. It also made my partner miserable.
It took me some time, but [luckily!] my dating adventures were not over after my failed forced monogamy. I made sure that the next serious relationship I entered would be consensually non-monogamous from the start. This helped not feeling miserable, but it was still hard to talk about with others. When I dipped my toe into talking more publicly, I was met with a bit of resistance. Apparently it’s still hard to talk about being non-monogamous. My partner at the time was not entirely okay with the idea of being ‘out’.
And why not? I thought. Not being monogamous is part of who I am. It’s part of what I do. It’s part of what we do, as we are a non-monogamous couple.
Why can’t we have healthy and constructive conversations about it?
That’s what I want, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not sure yet how, I’m not sure yet how often, in what detail. But I think the world can do with a lot more openness about what non-monogamy can look like. I’ve kept things on surface level for long enough, it’s time to dig deeper. I do the whole falling on my face and crawling back up every once in a while, but maybe it doesn’t have to be for nothing. Maybe someone somewhere can learn something from the things that I have experienced.
Maybe it took a bit longer than I anticipated, but I’m ready to be ‘out’ now. [Funny, because I never had a problem with identifying as not straight, with living a vegan lifestyle, with being straight edge, with going low on waste… so it’s curious that this was something I felt hesitant about.] I’m currently figuring out what it is that I want, and need, and expect, in being a solo person who is not necessarily single but also not necessarily in a ‘relationship’. Being a solo person is giving me the advantage to see things from a different perspective, as I’d previously tried to sail the non-mono seas as part of a team. I’ve been a free agent for the past year and it has taught me a lot.
I had my reservations about sharing publicly because I’m not an expert and there are many great expert resources out there. Why would I add my silly little voice to the conversation? But then I realised that those voices were exactly what I needed in my journey. They are what I like reading and hearing the most. Real life examples from real life people. Not the things you learn in school. The things you learn by falling flat on your face.
So here I am. Hopefully it will be interesting enough to read along. I hope we’ll get somewhere. In any case, here’s to not feeling shame. It’s healthier for everyone.
Pictures are of Thundersnow bath bomb, which is amazing, one of my favourites from the last Lush Christmas range, just saying ♡