I love my friends, I really do. But try as they might, they really struggled at first to understand my penchant for polyamory. More specifically they didn’t understand my relationships.
I remember one time, I was sitting outside at a café, sipping a frothy cappuccino in the sunlight with one of my girlfriends, and gushing about a recent trip to see my boyfriend Benjamin. (When I say gushing, I mean gushing! You know how the early stages of a romance are! And man, oh man, did I like this guy! Anyway, sorry I digress!) I was telling her all the things we had done together those few days; long walk in the park with his young daughter, picking her up from Kita, making dinner with his wife, going out for drinks. All the normal things people do in a dating relationship, (Ok fine… maybe not ALL normal things but still… “normalish!”)
She smiled, sipped her coffee, and said, “Wow! That sounds like a real relationship!” (Insert face palm here!)
I’d been dating Benjamin for two months at this point, and other than the fact that our relationship was long-distance, it had all the “trappings” of a normal dating relationship, so why shouldn’t it be “real?” Because we’re poly, that’s why. He has a wife, so therefore it can’t be a real relationship, right? He couldn’t really be my boyfriend, could he?
Flash to a phone conversation with my best friend. We have bi-weekly gabfests, where I lay around on the couch, or putter around the flat, and talk to her for hours. She lives in the US and I lived in Berlin, so the different time zones made it difficult for us to connect as regularly as I did with my local friends. Unfortunately, it also means she gets the full experience of my stories in one big download at a time.
Of course, I was also gushing to her about Benjamin and our relationship and how much fun I was having getting to know him. She’s my best friend so she asks me, “Are you falling in love with him?” Oh boy! I thought, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but maybe someday I could. So, that’s what I told her.
Bless her heart, her response? “Well, don’t you have to fall in love with them both?”
Uhm, no. I did not have a sexual or romantic relationship with his wife. We were, however, becoming good friends. So, No. I did not need to fall in love with them both! (Thank you very much Netflix and You, Me, Her- now everyone thinks polyamorous relationships are closed triads.)
You know, I don’t have a true purpose for writing this. I’m not in the mood today to explain “how poly works” or write a “Polyamory 101” primer. I am just sharing some of the experiences I’ve had talking with my beautiful, smart, talented friends, who were also just not there yet when it came to my poly. That’s ok! I loved them anyway, and they did learn! They are open, loving, and really did want to understand, so I am blessed in that regard. Today they are fully immersed in my love life and understand, more or less, how it works. I still get the occasional question, but it’s all in love!
What things do your friends say about your relationships that make you cringe?
(Originally published on Medium July 13, 2018- updated October 20, 2020)
**Image licensed from Adobe Stock.
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