- Polyamory includes all relationships outside of traditional monogamy.
- Ethical non-monogamy might not be the norm, but many people are happy with it.
- Derrica*, 35, had never been in a polyamorous relationship before she met 27-year-old Kevin*. This is her story.
“This was completely new to me. All my past relationships have been heteronormative.” But she began talking to him in late July 2019 and sparks flew.
It was his consistency that got her. “He always does what he says he's going to do. Inconsistent behaviour is a negative trigger for me in relationships and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know? Waiting to be disappointed. But it doesn't happen. He's very deliberate about checking in with me and seeing where I'm at, in all aspects,” says Derrica.
She knew from the very beginning that he was married to 28-year-old Shaun*; it was in his Tinder bio.
She decided to give Kevin a chance after he showed how much he cared while she was having a depressive episode, even though she had never had a polyamorous relationship before. “I don’t close myself off to new experiences. And while I knew this was risky (coming from a traditional background, and from a previous bad relationship), my boyfriend's transparency and openness about everything was very encouraging. It made me feel like this was a safe space to explore a new dynamic,” she says.
“I'm still learning how to navigate this every day, and how to not only respect boundaries but also set my own boundaries and maintain them. Honestly, seeing how my boyfriend and his husband love each other really made me fall in love with him even more. It's a really precious thing to witness,” says Derrica.
What was it like when it came time to meet her boyfriend’s husband for the first time?
“We met very early on in the relationship, at [Shaun’s] request,” says Derrica. “I was VERY nervous because I wanted him to like me, because I already liked Kevin so much.”
“It was such a wonderful time, and getting to know them both has been a delight. They are such warm, interesting people and have always made me feel comfortable and safe.” They’re all very open and honest with each other about their dynamic and even during lockdown, not being able to see each other, they check in, have video calls and hang out on Netflix party.
Derrica, who is pansexual, says that while she is very happy with her current relationship, she’s not opposed to any other romantic partners who come into her life and Kevin is encouraging of this. “I'm not on Tinder, and not actively looking but I'm not closed to having additional partner(s). I will probably only date women though, outside of my current relationship.”
Derrica was on the lookout for a summer fling or casual encounter, a little romance, but then Kevin happened. “I was tired of being single and I wanted some romance even if it meant trying something new. I really went in with no expectations. Look at me now,” she jokes.
So how would they navigate additional partners from here on out?
"If either of us are contemplating it or there is an opportunity, we have to check with our current partner(s) as well. We have an open communication policy, and we're always checking in with each other, and being deliberate about discussing where we're at.”
Derrica says she’s still working on telling her very religious, traditional parents, who have not met Kevin yet, about her true relationship dynamic. “I am open about it with my friends, and some of them have met my boyfriend, and my brother knows, but I am working towards telling my parents.”
Derrica acknowledges that this might seem weird to many people, but it’s brought her so much joy. “There are different ways to be in love and be loved. It's definitely not for everyone, but we're so socialised to monogamy that often we miss out on really good opportunities to experience love.
“I never feel like I'm getting less of my partner, like I have to make enormous sacrifices just to get some attention. If you practice ethical non-monogamy, and are deliberate about always checking in with each other, it's not such a weird thing to be in.”
*Names have been changed to protect their identities.
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