I identify as a Bisexual polyamorous woman in a monogamous relationship. Sadly, I didn’t reach “polyamory” as a label I could find comfort in, without much pain - caused and inflicted by me onto my partners and also vice-versa.
Let’s just say that I’ve been called names by partners before but being a “Heart-whore” has always stuck out amongst it all.
That was clearly said in a derogatory manner - suggesting that I was incapable of being satisfied in love with just one person by having an intrinsic need to flirt, be sentimentally attached, attracted or otherwise have non-platonic feelings towards more than one person deemed me fit for being called a Heart-whore.
Strangely enough, I knew it wasn’t untrue. I identified with it, not with the toxic mentality it came with or the trauma attached to it, but it spoke to me then.
No, I didn't pimp out my heart quickly and to many people, but I did fall in love - just with more than one person. And deeply.
After years and years of being wretched + having no prior access to the ethical world of non-monogamous relationships + polyamory being such a massive taboo + A few details I wish to skip over…+ A never-ending depressive episode led to therapy - AND OH WHAT A RELIEF!
After 4 years in therapy - many journals filled with my achy love sagas, I arrived at me. A therapist's suggestion, a life saved from an unbreakable loop of constant misery was - A book called ‘The Ethical Slut’. I wasn’t brave enough to open it at first, afraid of what I might find, what uncomfortable truths I may discover about myself.
It sat for a year on my shelf and I picked it up only when I was ready.
A handbook for how to be in love with multiple people (if at all) - ETHICALLY?! BRING IT ON!
It helped me realise what works for me and what doesn't. What is negotiable and what just isn't.
It’s not just for people who wish to pursue non-monogamy, it’s for everyone to better understand themselves or learn to accept people who may lead different lives from their own.
It’s not going to magically solve your worries or problems. It won’t recruit people to be in love with you. It’ll help you understand what makes you uncomfortable - it’s for you to find out why.
Because honestly, Polyamory is not a secret underground world that is separate from our current reality. Learn, understand, respect, CO-EXIST. Make this a safe space for everyone’s love styles/types to exist.
Back in the day, people married multiple partners for various reasons and it was an accepted part of society, some reasons were rightly frowned upon (Case in point: for Dowry reasons) while the others, not so much (marriages made for love and no other gains).
Traditionally, having multiple partners wasn’t seen as a partner being disloyal but more like a mutual arrangement between partners - as it should be. A relationship requires boundaries to be set, to understand each other's love languages, to know what works for both and not just for one.
Polyamory is often misunderstood and deemed to be the same as cheating. Having no pop-culture references to state otherwise - a spouse living a double life with multiple partners behind each of their backs became a misrepresented poster child that gave non-monogamy a bad name. Ethical non-monogamy, Polyamory or any other practice involving two or more partners - IS NOT CHEATING, when practiced with consent of all parties involved, there’s no promiscuity, no lying and definitely no cheating involved. It’s where you choose to love, and choose a person to love freely, every day of your life.
So if you’re looking for a push/approval/sign/permission to get to know yourself better - here’s your little sign: Buy The Ethical Slut.
Here are a few things that I wish I knew before all the pain and heartaches:
1) It’s okay to be in love with more than one person or with multiple people at the same time. 2) Meet yourself with kindness. Be curious about how you feel - accept yourself.
3) Consent of all parties is key, at all times and cannot be taken for granted.
4) Monogamy is not the only way to go, it’s the most widely accepted way to go, but that’s not all. So find what works for you - label or no label.
5) How you identify with yourself is your own personal business and nobody else's. You are free to change your mind and identify differently a week, month or even a year from now. We change, we adapt, it’s okay.
6) Be fluid (or not), there’s no set pattern and no right or wrong way to love. You’re learning, you will make mistakes but don’t make other people your lessons.
7) You’re not alone, there are many (MANY) of us. Read the book. Find fellow polyamorous people to talk to, share experiences, be safe. You’re going to be just fine. Key to finding the person who fits your needs is - open and honest communication right from the beginning. I’ll mention a few accounts you can follow on instagram to help you through this and find solidarity in!
8) If you’re new to polyamory / opening up your relationship / considering if this is for you - Be brave, open, honest and communicate your needs as they are. No sugar-coating anything!
9) It can be supremely frustrating to navigate polyamory in a partnered relationship, navigate it on your own and understand your personal needs as much as possible before diving headfirst into any relationship agreement that you may not be comfortable with.
10) Polyamory is not without jealousy. It’s communicating and navigating through it that makes it easier to be dealt with.
11) Communication is key. To establish boundaries, to understand relationship terms. To love freely and openly without restrictions takes a lot of effort when it isn’t just romanticising being in love with two people. To be in two separate relationships - simultaneously - takes a lot of
effort. If you do not have the bandwidth for more, then please don’t take on more.
12) You can hold yourself accountable while also forgiving yourself. There’s space to hold more than one emotion at the same time, I promise.
Here’s me, just trying to navigate my own world with a little more kindness and hoping that you are able to find comfort in my words. Happy loving! X
Books to buy:
1) The Ethical Slut
Instagram accounts to follow:
For this month's FAE Society piece, we worked with Shreya Shetty (she/her), a Bombay-based Photographer, Educator & Dreamer. Her photographic style is unrestrained and her body of work ranges from Fine Art Nudes, Weddings to Pet Portraits. You can follow her on Instagram @preciselypicturesque or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
FAEV FAE Products:
1) Brash + Buildable Matte Lipstick Bundle:
Brash - Jet Black + Too Nude (Brownish Nude) https://www.faebeauty.in/collections/shop-bundles/products/brash-buildable-matte-lipstick-bundle
2) FAE Fanny Pack https://www.faebeauty.in/products/fae-fanny-pack