Another country heard from: Poly in Singapore
In buttoned-down, socially controlled Singapore, we've seen a few stirrings of a movement. This appeared in Cleo Singapore, a glossy women's mag ("Everything a twenty-something woman in Singapore wants or needs to know. ... celebrating everyone and everything that represents our motto, 'Our Life, Your Rules'.")
A Polyamorous Man In Singapore Tells Us About How He Sees Love
By Adora Wong
Ever wondered how some people can handle several intimate relationships at the same time? We got a polyamorous man in Singapore to tell us about how he sees love.
Most of us only date one person at any one time. Sure, we might have eyes for other people while in a relationship, but we refrain from acting on those feelings because, well, that’d be cheating.
Then there are those who have more than one partner. But here’s the thing: they’re not always cheaters. Sometimes, they’re polyamorous, and date more than one person at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
Polyamory is a kind of open relationship, and is the practice of being emotionally involved with more than one person at a time. This distinguishes it from another kind of open relationship, swinging, which allows sex outside the primary relationship, but not love.
Those in “poly relationships”, as they’re commonly known, tend to view their relationships in equal terms rather than assign labels like “primary” and “secondary”. Also, sex may be involved in a poly relationship, but that’s not always the case.
Even if you don’t know any polyamorists – or “ethical non-monogamists”, as they usually prefer to be known – you probably know a friend of a friend who is. Heck, if you use dating apps, you’ve probably come across quite a number of them.
...Edward was in a monogamous relationship for nine years before it ended in divorce, and 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 three years.
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 self-discovery. 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 finances for a year, and in that time, I had five 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 profile states that I’m seeing someone and that I’m a relationship anarchist. This helps to filter out my matches.
In any situation, if I exchange numbers with someone and it seems like we’re heading for a date, I’ll first 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.
...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 difficulties 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. ...
Is there a local polyamorous community?
There is a local ethical non-monogamist 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. ...
The whole article (March 2018 print issue; online April 19). The magazine claims, "CLEO continues to be one of the strongest media brands in Singapore, reaching out to an audience of more than 300,000 through various 360-degree initiatives."