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Top 10 Things I’ve Learned Through My Polyamorous Relationships

Apr 10, 2017

Polyamory is so often misunderstood and under-represented in public forums. We rarely learn about anything outside of monogamous, heteronormative relationship structures. So when I started to identify as polyamorous, I had no idea what that really meant for my dating life, what that said about me as a person, what people would think of me, whether I’d actually be able to handle multiple serious, emotionally-involved relationships, etc. Thus, I thought I’d share my current top 10 things I’ve learned through polyamorous relationships:

  • I have to own my own shit. I had a history of jealousy, but I’ve realized that 99% of the time that was about my own insecurities around my body, self- value, and trust issues.
  • Feeling an abundance of love when I previously felt unlovable. I have had to fight to learn to love and value myself. And now I don’t need to limit the amount and kinds of love I give and receive.
  • I feel less pressure and guilt about my body/trans-ness. Navigating gay men’s spaces as a chubby, bearish, trans guy, I’ve struggled with my fair share of body issues. I now have more confidence to demand respect for my body since engaging in polyamorous relationships. Maybe that’s because I get more practice and opportunities to learn, perhaps I also feel less pressure to fulfill my partner’s needs that I’m physically incapable of fulfilling.
  • I enjoy the freedom to explore unique connections with everyone I meet. Since I’m not looking for or already tied to “the one”, I have the freedom to let connections develop organically and uniquely, without expectations or pressure for something to be more than it is. Every way of connecting with someone is beautiful, necessary, and valid.
  • I need my own independence and individuality. I really don’t like feeling like I have to be someone’s everything… or that I have to find one person to be my everything. Placing the responsibility of having all my needs met by one person (or vice versa) has historically been a recipe for resentment.
  • Open communication is necessary. Talking about insecurities is a very vulnerable and sometimes embarrassing experience… but it fosters open dialog that counteracts resent and jealousy. Opening up and being heard to critical to any relationship, let alone when you have multiple ones.
  • Negotiation and asking for the things I want. I was never good at asking for things, or even feeling like I deserved the things I wanted/needed. But when I have multiple partners, there is literally nothing to lose by asking for something I want. If one person isn’t interested in what I’m pitching, I can always try elsewhere. I have found this to be a transferrable skill that applies to many facets of my life.
  • How to communicate openly about sexual health and harm reduction practices. When I have multiple partners and sexual contacts, and each partner is in the same boat, it becomes really important to have frank discussions about sexual health and the measures we take to mitigate risks so everyone involved can make informed decisions about their sexual health.
  • How to connect deeper in all my relationships - sexual, romantic, platonic, or otherwise. The boundaries between partners and friends get increasingly fuzzy the deeper down the rabbit hole you go.
  • Questioning other social constructs. Having done the whole questioning gender and sexuality thing, relationship structures was another opportunity to question societal norms and dream up new ways of living my life that better suit me. This also helps me understand how to better strive to act in solidarity with those in other marginalized populations.

 

Marshall works as a laboratory technician by day. He's also a contractor with the Men’s Wellness Program at AIDS Vancouver Island, focusing in sexual health and harm reduction outreach. As a fat, gay, trans man living in the relatively small city of Victoria, Marshall spends much of his free time trying to carve out inclusive spaces amongst (predominantly cis) gay men's communities. When that doesn't work, he also enjoys watching Netflix with his cats.

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