Why does it bother you if I have more than one boyfriend at a time?
"So, you don't care that he is cheating on you?" My friend said, her face a mix of shock and horror.
"He isn't cheating on me!" I exclaimed for the third time.
"But he's your boyfriend and he's on a date with another girl..." Her sentence trailed off as if her brain was still attempting to catch up with her mouth.
"It's not cheating if I told him to go. In fact, I made the reservation for him because he was running late from work."
That information was simply too much for my friend to handle. She slumped back in her chair and I wasn't sure if I should start fanning her with my menu or press an ice cube to her forehead.
I sat for a minute and waited, not wanting to say anything else that might push her over the edge.
Eventually, she spoke. "Eden, are you a swinger?" She asked, accusing more than questioning.
"Oh my gosh, no!" I replied a little too loudly. "I'm not sleeping with her, or them together, or anyone else he goes out with."
"There are MORE?"
That was it. She'd gone over the edge.
You see, readers, I'm polyamorous, and my friends just don't get it. Guess what? I don't really care if they get it.
How my friends interpret it: Half of them think I'm a swinger (I'm not), some think I'm a clingy casual dater (false, these are real relationships), and the rest seem to have me confused with a polygamist (no, no and NO).
Several years ago, I came out of a bad marriage—basically the worst marriage you can imagine. As soon as I divorced, I jumped into a new relationship way too quickly, which, in retrospect, was the worst thing that I could've done. I became completely dependent on this person and never really allowed myself the time to regain the parts of me that I had lost during my marriage. When that relationship failed, I took six months off from dating and spent some time finding myself. When it came time to re-enter the dating world, I made the decision that monogamy just wasn't for me.
I can sit back and speculate all day on what drew me to this lifestyle but really, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I enjoy having deep connections with more than one person, and it doesn't bother me that my partners are able to have the same. I enjoy being important to someone and at the same time not having to be their 'everything'. I love that I have someone to care about, yet I'm not solely responsible for fulfilling their every relationship need.
My life feels more fulfilled when I have several people to share it with.
My friends think I need to be committed to one person. "But it's cheating!" they say, completely unable to grasp the concept that I am actually fine with (and actually encourage) my partners seeing other people.
But here's my response everytime: Why is what I'm doing SO shocking?
I have friends that are a revolving door of one night stands, and nobody cares. But when I, a grown woman, actually commit myself to more than one person—and sometimes it's not even a sexual commitment!—I find myself having to assure my girlfriends that I do not need to be medicated while simultaneously pressing ice cubes to their foreheads.
In today's society, it's acceptable to have one night stands, same sex relationships, affairs (debatable), arranged marriages, and 40-year age gaps, but if we want to commit ourselves to more than one person? Then it's an announcement worthy of a Lisa Ling "Our America: Polyamorous" special. (And no, I'm not making that up. I was half asleep the other night when I heard them announce the TV program, and I nearly fell out of bed.)
Allow to me restate my point in case I'm not being clear: I could sleep with ten guys and very few people would give it a second thought, but dating two people at once (who know about each other) is practically incomprehensible. Why do people care how I'm dating as long as I'm safe and happy?
Is it just because polyamory isn't understood well enough? Is it uncomfortable to think about sharing your life with someone who is also sharing their life with someone else? Do women think I'm going to steal their boyfriend/husband because I don’t practice monogamy? (By the way, the answer is no. I view your boyfriend just like I would view a married man: committed and off-limits.)
I can only assume the discomfort sets in because people are uncomfortable with a lifestyle they're not familiar with. Hopefully as more people open up about this subject (like me!), polyamory won't be such a taboo subject anymore.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go order theater tickets for my boyfriend and his girlfriend.