Sometimes I kick the proverbial hornet’s nest intentionally, and sometimes I do it accidentally. I honestly didn’t expect the outraged response after I wrote that poly wasn’t a sexual identity in the “sexual orientation” sense of the term. Some people identify as poly, just as some people identify as, say, dominant or submissive. While I recognize that poly can be central to someone’s sexual identity, I’ve never viewed it as a sexual orientation. Many poly people disagree. I’ve received a ton of impassioned emails from polyamorous readers, most of whom see themselves as poly-oriented, not just poly-identified. And so I’m turning the rest of this week’s column over to the polyoutraged.
I’ve been poly all my life, since well before I knew there was such a possibility. As far back as grade school, I’ve generally had a crush on more than one boy/guy/man, and as an adult, I can’t imagine a life where I’m limited to one man, even though I love my husband. When I was with someone before I knew about polyamory, I’d cheat. I wouldn’t want to, but sooner or later, I’d meet someone else and fall in love so hard that I had to be with the other person, too. I hated dishonesty. I hated myself. Reading Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy’s book “The Ethical Slut” changed my life. I finally understood the person I had been my whole life. I’m poly. I’m not monogamous. I will always have the capacity to love more than one person and the incapacity to keep myself from falling in love with others — the way you will always have the capacity to love men romantically and no capacity to love women. It’s a choice whether I act on that capacity, just like it’s a choice whether you act on your attraction to men, but it’s not a choice whether I fall in love with more than one person at a time.
Poly Of Long Years
To enshrine the homosexuality/heterosexuality spectrum as the one sexual motivator around which individuals can choose an identity seems strange to me. I’m a hetero-identified man, but I could be in a homosexual relationship if a situation forced me to choose a partner from outside my preferred sexual-gender-orientation. (Jail, for example.) It wouldn’t change how I identify, but it would change the relationship I’m in. However, the fact that closeted homosexual men operate in hetero relationships and fuck their wives, or hetero guys fuck other hetero guys in jail or submarines doesn’t make the identities of gay and straight any less valid.
I believe sexuality exists on spectrums. Not just one spectrum from gay to straight with bi in the middle. One spectrum is how sexual you are, from those with little sex drive to people who have active sex drives. There is also, perhaps, a spectrum from monogamous to polyamorous. You say monogamy and polyamory are things people do, not things people are. However, I feel some people can be innately one or the other. My husband and I decided to have a three-way. My husband could barely keep his dick hard. He couldn’t get into it until I got involved directly, and even then it didn’t really do much for him. When he’s in love with someone, all he wants is that person. In contrast, although he satisfies me and I love him, I want other partners. I feel that I’m polyamorous innately. I didn’t choose it. Likewise, my husband couldn’t choose to be polyamorous. He can practice polyamory, and he has for my sake, but naturally he’s a monogamous person. I appreciate that you advocate nonmonogamy. I credit you with helping to save my marriage. We married as virgins and were clueless about sex. But my husband and I have a great sex life — and I’m free to pursue people on the side — because we read your column.
I Am How I Am
I’m a bisexual, polyamorous 24-year-old woman. From the first time I was faced with a cute boy who wanted to date me, I knew I couldn’t be in a closed/exclusive relationship. I knew it as instinctively as I knew that I found women attractive as well as men. I had never heard of open relationships or polyamory. I was a virgin, so it wasn’t about sex. I didn’t have anyone else on the horizon and I really liked the boy, so it wasn’t about keeping my options open. And yet I knew I couldn’t agree to be his girlfriend without the freedom to date, flirt, sleep with, and love other people. Six years later, I started dating someone I think might be the love of my life. We make each other so happy. Even so, even in the best relationship I can imagine, I know monogamy is not for me. Incredibly, he feels the same way. Maybe there are very few people like me, but poly people like me exist.
Poly Like Me
Find the “Savage Lovecast” every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.