Polyamorist: Paul’s Story
Was I born a polyamorist? That I don’t know. What I do know is that it came relatively naturally to me. I was born a decade after the sexual revolution of the 1960s which meant that I was born into a world at a time where sexual freedom had made its way into the mainstream.
When I was growing up in the 1980s polyamory was neither a word nor a concept that I was familiar with. At the time, most thought of polyamory in the context of swinging: individuals trading partners solely for sex. The popular show Three’s Company featured a man living with two women (in a non-sexual context). Looking back, I viewed them as a triad that happened to date outside of the family in the same sort of swinger storyline.
I did not grow up in a world wherein the traditional nuclear family was toted as the best option. The 1980s promoted single parents, gay couples and even The Golden Girls as familial constructs. By the time I reached dating age in the early 1990s, I thought that the best familial construct would be two bisexual couples who lived together. This family would allow all members to have heterosexual, homosexual and/or group sex without needing to look outside of the family. I began dating girls, but did not share what I considered to be a conventionally counter-culture arrangement.
I began to explore the beginnings of what I would consider my polyamorist side when I turned 18. I was finishing high school and started dating a girl that was best friends with a guy I had known since grade 9. He and I were not close friends; however, we did share a group of friends. After she and I had been dating awhile, it became evident that we were all interested in exploring the idea of a three person relationship. There were no role models for us, and we didn’t really know what might come up nor how to handle it. Jealousy on her part broke up the relationship, but he and I continued to see each other, and have relationships/experiences with other girls for years. We had a small group of friends that we would date and play with. We searched for people to love, rather than people to have sex with.
When that relationship ran its course, I moved to another city to make my way into the world. At 22, I thought that I would be able to conquer the world. I moved in with an ex-girlfriend in Toronto and started over. I did not continue to date, but she did. I had hoped that she would bring someone else into our lives, but unfortunately she ended up being wooed away by a woman that she felt completed her.
When she moved out I started dating a man that I eventually married. Open relationships and polyamory had not gone well for me, so my abandonment issues pushed the idea to the back of my mind. My husband was interested in having an open relationship, but exclusively in a sexual way. I reluctantly agreed, though it did not go well in the end. I ended our relationship for a variety of reasons, though his sexual exploits (or rather the lie that they weren’t happening) were the crux of it. This may sound somewhat hypocritical of me, but we did have agreed upon rules that he did not follow.
I began living with Edward in 2006 and had no real thoughts about turning back to polyamory. The concept of a multi-person relationship stayed with me, but since polyamory had not gained traction in the mainstream media, I didn’t consider it an option. I still felt on the fringes, someone with strange ideas about how the world could work. We married and moved to a few different cities which left our life fairly devoid of friendships. I introduced Edward to the HBO show Big Love. While this show is about Mormon polygamy, it was the first show I had ever seen that brought a multi-person lifestyle to the forefront.
In 2012 my world changed with the show Polyamory: Married and Dating. This was my first time hearing the word polyamory and seeing individuals living the life I had always dreamed of. They were unapologetic. Edward and I watched the show and I confessed to him that this was what I had been looking for for many years. While he was not initially of the same mind, he did a lot of soul searching and decided that we could give it a shot.
Edward and I first dated a guy that lived a few hours away. He was a lot of fun; however distance was the first issue. The second came when he informed us that he was interested in polyamory, but wanted a primary partner of his own and to have us as an extended network. This did not jive with what we were looking for at the time, and was a bit devastating for me. I thought I had finally found the situation I was looking for, but it unraveled like so many before it.
Not long after this relationship ended we met Charles at the beginning of 2013. Charles was younger than the age range I was looking for, but he was persistent. He had always dreamed of having a polyamorous relationship with two somewhat older men. At the time Charles was 21, Edward 30, and I 35. I was reluctant to start a relationship with someone who was just beginning to know who they were as an adult. It has been a relationship that has had growing pains (like any other), but we are coming up on our sixth anniversary.
Polyamory has been a struggle over the years because I started down the path before it was widely accepted in society. It has been a struggle because relationships are hard, and the more people that are involved in them, the more complicated they become. In these complications, is the magic. While monogamists can become resentful of their one partner, I have others that can help me sort out issues in all of my relationships because they are involved in them. For the first time we know other gay polyamorists, and we no longer have to feel like we are the odd fellows on the fringes.