Starting off poly in a committed relationship is not easy. Polyamory works differently for every couple and every individual. I’ve met many couples who share partners, couples who date others individually, and couples that play with others strictly at parties and events. All of these various dynamics are negotiated inside a committed relationship. And from personal experience, negotiating can be a challenge. It can feel like a whirlwind of emotions, conflicts, negotiating and self realization. As my partner and I begin to approach our third year together, I can finally look back at our disaster of a beginning and see what didn’t work. What sucks the most about looking back is confronting my own careless actions and taking responsibility for the past.
When my partner V and I started being poly, we had just gotten back together after a bad break up. I was excited to make the relationship work again but was still nervous about dealing with our issues from the past. We had both talked about being poly often and I thought that dating other people would give us the space to slowly get back into a groove that worked for us. But V was hesitant. She thought maybe we should wait until we’d been back together longer. The more she persisted, the more I started looking for women to date. I didn’t want to lose V but I wasn’t willing to put the work into making our relationship work before I started seeing other people.
My actions resulted in a yet another break-up. I met another woman and decided to devote my time to her. My dreams of being poly were shattered and I was convinced that I was too much of a lesbian to be poly. I fall in love easily, I get quickly enveloped in drama, I don’t like compromise and it’s hard for me to talk about my feelings. Without a willingness to compromise, successful negotiating is impossible. As I continued to date other women, V stayed by my side. She became my best friend, listened to all my lesbian drama and tried to move on.
I didn’t make it easy for her. I never stopped loving her so I sabotaged the relationships she formed so she wouldn’t leave me. I was shocked at the length I went to keep her around and date other people. I finally sat down and asked myself these questions: ‘What kind of relationship do I want?’ ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’ I realized that I was committed to having a poly relationship with a primary partner that I trusted fully and I wanted to be a woman who doesn’t have to manipulate her relationships to get what she wanted.
So I had to come clean to V, confessed to her all the drama I was solely responsible for and ask her forgiveness. It was clear to me that I needed to act differently if I really wanted to be in a good relationship. It took time for her to get comfortable again and I went to work at learning to communicate and listen with love and generosity. V noticed my efforts and began to trust me again. I turned into the woman I hoped to be: vulnerable and willing to love my partner and myself. And I am still doing that work daily.
My partner and I have since gotten back together and I moved in with her. We share partners and play with others together at events. We hope to soon have our own partners but for now, we are focusing on making our relationship stronger. I have learned that making compromises doesn’t necessarily mean making sacrifices. My partner and I are learning how we can both have what we want and respect each other in the process. Being poly strengthens our relationship, pushing us to communicate and listen to each other. We may have started out rocky but our love grows with our commitment to make it work.