Ed­ward*, 32, was in a monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship for nine years be­fore it ended in di­vorce. He now prac­tices polyamory and dates sev­eral peo­ple at the same time. He has a “com­mit­ted life part­ner” who also prac­tices polyamory, and they’ve been to­gether for t

CLEO (Singapore) - - BEAUTY -

Why did you start ex­plor­ing polyamory? Some time af­ter my mar­riage ended, I started dat­ing an eth­i­cal non-monogamist. She ex­plained that ev­ery new ro­man­tic part­ner al­lowed her more pos­si­bil­i­ties of self­dis­cov­ery. Plus, she felt that one per­son was not re­quired to meet all her needs.

Af­ter some dis­cus­sion, I agreed for our re­la­tion­ship to be non-monog­a­mous. We lived to­gether and shared inances for a year, and in that time, I had ive other con­cur­rent re­la­tion­ships.

It was dur­ing this pe­riod that I dis­cov­ered that I was also a re­la­tion­ship an­ar­chist. A re­la­tion­ship an­ar­chist un­der­stands con­ven­tional so­cial con­structs of all re­la­tion­ships (pla­tonic, sex­ual and ro­man­tic), but in­ter­acts with oth­ers ac­cord­ing to their own mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of re­la­tion­ships. It’s a di­rect re­sponse to how so­ci­ety says that love and sex are what make a re­la­tion­ship “im­por­tant”. For many re­la­tion­ship an­ar­chists, all kinds of re­la­tion­ships can be­come im­por­tant when a mu­tual com­mit­ment is formed. How do you tell new po­ten­tial part­ners that you’re polyamorous? I usu­ally meet new peo­ple via dat­ing apps or at a bar. I also meet them through work. If it seems like there’s a chance a new per­son and I may date, I will most likely have al­ready re­vealed that I’m eth­i­cally non-monog­a­mous. For ex­am­ple, my OkCupid proile states that I’m see­ing some­one and that I’m a re­la­tion­ship an­ar­chist. This helps to il­ter out my matches.

In any sit­u­a­tion, if I ex­change num­bers with some­one and it seems like we’re head­ing for a date, I’ll irst dis­cuss how I’m eth­i­cally non-monog­a­mous. What’s more, if we’re al­ready con­nected on so­cial plat­forms such as In­sta­gram, they’d have al­ready seen pho­tos of my life part­ner. I don’t try to hide in­for­ma­tion about her. How do you man­age jeal­ousy in your re­la­tion­ships? I’d say the jeal­ousy my part­ners have had was due to pre­con­ceived no­tions of love, sex and com­mit­ment. Many peo­ple feel that jeal­ousy is “proof ” of how im­por­tant some­one is to you. But if we delve deeper into it, jeal­ousy hap­pens when you think you “own” your part­ner, just as how some chil­dren want to “own” their par­ents’ in­ter­ac­tions.

I per­son­ally don’t get jeal­ous. I don’t feel like I “own” my part­ners, and their phys­i­cal and emo­tional in­ter­ac­tions with oth­ers aren’t for me to re­strict. They are the ones shar­ing their life with me. I also don’t feel in­se­cure in my re­la­tion­ships, but when I do feel some sort of con­cern, I try to process where it’s com­ing from.

Also, all of my part­ners are eth­i­cally non-monog­a­mous, so there’s a bit more un­der­stand­ing all around. It doesn’t mean that all of them have mul­ti­ple re­la­tion­ships, but by ex­ten­sion of con­sen­su­ally dat­ing me, they’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in eth­i­cal non-monogamy. I don’t start a re­la­tion­ship with ex­pec­ta­tions of what it must be, and I’d say that when I have a con­nec­tion with some­one, the per­son is usu­ally open to hav­ing some kind of re­la­tion­ship with me.

I ex­pe­ri­ence “com­per­sion” a lot. It’s the feel­ing of joy when another is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing joy, par­tic­u­larly when see­ing a part­ner take plea­sure in another re­la­tion­ship. When my part­ners are hav­ing a good time, I feel happy for them.

How open are you with your life part­ner about your other re­la­tion­ships?

I dis­cuss all re­la­tion­ships that are form­ing with her. I share with her about new friends I’ve made and if I’m at­tracted to some­one new. I also dis­cuss any stim­u­lat­ing con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had, and let her know when there is some­one I want to spend more time to get to know.

The same goes for my part­ners. They share a lot with me and we some­times talk about the dificul­ties of the other re­la­tion­ships or in­ter­ac­tions we have.

I’ve never seen re­la­tion­ships as bar­ri­ers. Re­la­tion­ships should be free­ing. Be­cause when we’re in a re­la­tion­ship, it’s about shar­ing our own lives, not “own­ing” the other.

My life part­ner has also met some of my other part­ners. For ex­am­ple, she met some­one I’ve been see­ing for the past six months. The three of us had din­ner to­gether so they could meet and get to know each other. We’ve also hung out to­gether a few other times. How­ever, I wouldn’t say they’re [close to each other] be­cause their lives oth­er­wise don’t cross.

In your opin­ion, can love be “shared”?

I’m against the idea that an in­di­vid­ual has a lim­ited quan­tity of love to “share”; that hav­ing had more than one sex­ual part­ner some­how di­min­ishes the love you have for some­body, or that it re­duces the qual­ity of the sex. I’m also against the idea that jeal­ousy should rule our lives and in­ter­ac­tions, and that a “good” re­la­tion­ship is deined as a “long” re­la­tion­ship.

I don’t agree that a ro­man­tic com­mit­ment is only “real” when there’s ex­clu­siv­ity. For this rea­son, I’m against some re­la­tion­ship ideals that I con­sider toxic. I re­fer to this some­times as “toxic monogamy”.

To me, a toxic monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship looks some­thing like this: one per­son meets ev­ery pos­si­ble need we have, and both of us do what­ever is needed to pro­tect the longevity of the re­la­tion­ship. If it in­volves iso­lat­ing other parts of our lives, so be it. If we hap­pen to be at­tracted to some­one else, it means our love isn’t true and we’re hor­ri­ble peo­ple.

Per­son­ally, I don’t com­pare monogamy and polyamory. I’ve never seen them as con­flict­ing, be­cause to me, re­la­tion­ships ex­ist on a spec­trum.

I do be­lieve healthy monogamy can ex­ist. But some­times, when peo­ple dis­agree with polyamory, it’s be­cause they have dif­fer­ent be­liefs as to what makes a re­la­tion­ship. For ex­am­ple, lots of peo­ple don’t like their part­ner to have a pla­tonic re­la­tion­ship with an ex. This is based on the be­lief that in­di­vid­u­als in a ro­man­tic/sex­ual re­la­tion­ship own their part­ner and have the right to put re­stric­tions on their other kinds of re­la­tion­ships.

How do you spread out your re­sources across sev­eral re­la­tion­ships?

I don’t feel I have to jug­gle my time or face any dificulty in how I spend it. Any part­ner and I can recog­nise that there are mo­ments where we will spend time with other peo­ple, and that doesn’t mean it’s eat­ing into “our” time be­cause that time was never meant to be for us. The peo­ple I see usu­ally un­der­stand this.

When we do miss each other, we take the chance to cel­e­brate that sort of feel­ing. If we feel like we want to spend more time with each other, we talk about how to make it work. I don’t have a favourite part­ner as I don’t see peo­ple as things.

Is there a lo­cal polyamorous com­mu­nity?

There is a lo­cal eth­i­cal non­monogamist group and I’m a part of it. The com­mu­nity func­tions just like any other meet-up group of friends. We make time to come to­gether and dis­cuss re­la­tion­ship top­ics as we recog­nise how rare sup­port and knowl­edge is.

There have been some monogamists that have at­tended our gather­ings as they’re cu­ri­ous about eth­i­cal non-monogamy or about a topic we were dis­cussing. Th­ese top­ics in­clude jeal­ousy, long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ships and on­line dat­ing.

Do you think you’ll stop be­ing a polyamor­ist one day?

I highly doubt it. And I highly doubt I’ll ever stop be­ing a re­la­tion­ship an­ar­chist. If I do get back into a monog­a­mous re­la­tion­ship, it’d be be­cause that’s what I and a par­tic­u­lar part­ner want in a re­la­tion­ship to­gether.

I’m not sure if I’ll get mar­ried again. If I do, I’ll dis­cuss with my part­ner how we want it to be.

If ei­ther of us want it to be changed, we’ll dis­cuss why. A de­sire for change should not be viewed as a bad thing. It gives us the pos­si­bllity of some­thing new to be shared.

All opin­ions stated be­long to the in­ter­vie­wee.

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