I packed the contents of my house into boxes. Our possessions divided equitably. One half our domestic assets in the front room labeled for my husband and the collection in the back would go with me. Months of couples counseling led me to an inevitable conclusion: I wanted out of my marriage. I craved joy not felt for too long and shamed my tribe as the first divorcee. I knew their perspectives, “Nobody is happily married. That is not how marriage works.” Something within me fractured, and despite a valiant effort, I no longer believed my future included union absent happiness for fear of failure. I diverged and followed my own lead. I feared decisions based on my preferences instead of pedigree. This was the first time I broke formation with my conservative Christian family. It was the beginning of my courageous escape from an untenable obligation to established standards which ushered in an era unambiguously led by my inner voice.
Four years and six months ago, my singledom began. Since then, a series of brave choices led me to the first chapters in my life of happiness and freedom. The options I chose were not easy. They required boldness, courage, and forced me to advocate for myself. I became a commanding risk-taker who sought out what she desired. The sweet amenable Sunday School student made the rules now, and her rules were controversial. To be honest, it still hurts when I think about the rejection and excommunication from the family that no longer labels me a“good” person. I am openly bisexual and polyamorous (a vile libertine). Within this body is an awakened sexual being emancipated and at peace. Heterosexual monogamy is not a healthy option for me as it is not for so many others. I know now that does not make me a bad or unworthy person.
Three years six months ago, I began dating a woman. Subconsciously I am sure worry was present. Should that relationship be a failure my experiment as my own guide was too. However, I fell in a beautiful kind of love made even more so when I fell in love with a man at the same time. My heart was happy because finally love coursed through in harmony with its design. Confirmation! This provided much-needed confidence that led to trust in natural instincts. I gave myself permission to try and experience more.
One formerly unfulfilled fantasy was plural play (threesomes and beyond). When I first discovered internet porn threesomes, orgies, and girl-on-girl were my exclusive interests. Just as I found open dating congruent with my hearts design, so was open intimacy with my body and mind. My adventures in the lifestyle (swinging) and in plural dating (polyamory) where simultaneous. And though there seem to be occasional and counterintuitive divisions between the two communities, I identified with both and still do. This duality brought about a self-label in one of my podcast episodes. I spontaneously word-smithed PolySwing. Often people ask, “so are you poly or LS…more one than the other?” I am 100% both just as I am 100% attracted to women and 100% attracted to men (duality not division). It was a pleasant surprise that many others are overlappers like me.
Some start in polyamory and are drawn to a more casual form of open relating with or without established friendship. Conversely, some begin their sexploration within the lifestyle and find they crave deeper connections of plural romance. Perhaps they met a couple or individual so enigmatic a paradigm shift arose. In truth, most polyamorous people do not share my origin story. I was a solo polyamorist drawn to it on my own. Most meet the right person or people and are drawn to plural dating from there. They may not know what polyamory is until after they are already poly. Even more begin with the foundation of a loving established relationship and crave making that experience more dynamic.
The draw for dynamic and intimate experiences under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy is where we can all find common ground. As a failure in monogamy, I cannot help but see opportunities for monogamists to learn from ENM relationships. We face the same romantic challenges simply in more complex ways. We cannot afford to “sweep it under the rug” because competition is ever-present. Communication is excellent because it has to be. We share tools and knowledge for best practices, building upon each other’s efforts as a community of collective healthy relationships.
This week I am packing boxes again preparing for another move. It strikes me how long ago four years and six months feels. Like a lifetime away from the self-acceptance and endearment that fill the days of real me. So many people before me paved the path I now follow. They faced similar struggles and different ones. They set the stage for my rewarding experiences so I could uncover my authentic self. My voice is strong and sure. So strong that it carries over two podcasts a week and in everything I author and post as a sex subculture ally. My life was changed for the better and to truly follow the footsteps of the pioneers, who made this all possible, I have to prepare the path for those that follow me too.
By: Poly Anna
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