Friday Polyamory News Roundup: A spate of "how polyamory shaped me" tales, poly as a spiritual path, 10 recent books, and more
● Something different from Chatelaine magazine ("Canada’s leading women’s integrated media brand," which claims to be "the #1 Canadian website for women 18+"): How Polyamory Helped Me Survive Widowhood (Sept. 11)
My husband and I had an open relationship. When he died unexpectedly, my support system included several partners who had been part of our lives for years.
By AnonymousVictor* and I were making out on my couch when he pulled away and asked, “Should we talk about this? Are you sure you’re ready?”I rushed to respond—yes—but he was not convinced.“Is there anything specific that would feel good to you tonight? Is anything off limits?”Again, I stammered. “No different boundaries than usual. You know how to make me feel good.”I am normally quite confident when navigating sexual scenarios, but nothing felt normal. My husband Alex had died unexpectedly six weeks earlier. Alex and I had always been non-monogamous; he loved Victor and celebrated the relationship Victor and I had, so I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt when I texted Victor to let him know I was craving sexual touch. I knew, unequivocally, that Alex would want me to continue experiencing pleasure, joy, love and connection. Even so, rocked by grief, I had lost my usual bravado.***...What [Alex and I] initially envisioned as mostly sexual adventures with other partners gradually developed into a network of deeply intimate, loving friendships. As a result, when Alex died, my support system included several partners who had been part of our lives for years.In the months following Alex’s death, I connected with dozens of young widows online. I was relieved to hear my own experiences echoed in theirs, to commiserate about the clueless and hurtful platitudes people utter to the grieving—throwaway lines like “Everything happens for a reason” or “He’s in a better place.” Every widow’s experience is unique, but most young widows grapple with some common challenges, including how to navigate relationships with in-laws and when (or whether) to stop wearing our wedding rings. But when it came to sex and dating, I couldn’t relate. We were a diverse group—gay, straight, religious, atheist—but nearly all were monogamous....I read numerous posts from widows who were struggling to navigate sex and relationships. ... It pained me to read over and over that, while most widows were struggling with a lack of physical contact and unmet sexual needs, many wouldn’t seek physical connection because the mere idea felt like a betrayal of their late spouses.While I had lost the person who felt most like home to me, I was still able to experience connection with trusted partners like Victor, Keith and James. Victor and I met a year and a half before Alex died, and we hadn’t been able to keep our hands off each other since (or to stop jabbering about work, travel and language). Keith and I had been lovers for more years than we could remember, so our connection was soothing and familiar. James was quite simply family—my emergency contact, the witness at our wedding.Alex and I met Keith shortly after we started dating, and grew close with him and his wife. One evening, Keith helped me write Alex’s obituary and design the program for his memorial. When I explained that I wasn’t ready to be intimate, relying on a clumsy euphemism for sex to mask my insecurity, Keith responded, “I think this is the most intimate we’ve ever been.” ...At social gatherings, without Alex to anchor me, I felt adrift among a sea of happy people. After years of proximity, James was deeply attuned to my emotional states and how I expressed them through body language, so he provided a safety net at events. ...The support I received extended beyond my romantic partners and came from our broader polyamorous community, as well. One friend organized a rotating group to bring me meals, be on call for emotional support and stay with me when I didn’t want to be alone. For weeks, a different friend slept in my bed every night and cuddled me when I asked. ...Others opened their homes to care for and feed each other when we were all in shock and reeling. his type of community care and platonic touch were instrumental in my healing, but I’ve found these practices exceedingly rare in the more mainstream (read: monogamous, heteronormative) circles I occupy. ...***So, there I was on the couch with Victor, clumsily navigating my first sexual encounter as a widow. He coaxed me patiently until I finally managed to utter, “I’m just worried it will become too emotional for me in the moment.”“What do you want me to do if that happens?” he asked.“Just hold me,” I replied. ......Eventually, I stopped crying and began stroking Victor’s arm. He pinned me beneath him and planted butterfly kisses up and down my torso. I gasped as he entered me, releasing weeks of tension and devastation and evoking a fleeting, visceral escape—without any sense of betrayal or regret.
I’m happily dating four people, who are aware of each other. How can we expect one partner to meet all our desires?
By AnonymousI’m a woman who’s always been interested in ethical non-monogamy (ENM) – all partners agree to seeing other people – but had only been in monogamous relationships. Then, a year ago, mine ended and I was free to explore.I began using an ENM dating app, at first fearing people would be aggressively sexual, or show a lack of respect. In fact, 99% of people I interacted with were emotionally intelligent, open-minded and kind. Now, I’m happily dating four people – two men and a male-female couple. They are aware of each other, and adore me in different ways. ...Since March, I haven’t spent much time with anyone apart from my housemates. But I’ve stayed in contact with everyone, and made plans for picnics soon.How can we expect one person to meet all our needs? Sexually, I enjoy playing with different power dynamics; seeing multiple people allows me to do that. Yes, it’s harder to stay on top of your calendar, and there is more room to disappoint multiple people when you’re not honest with what you can give, sexually and emotionally. But I could not go back to monogamy. I now prioritise myself more, and am able to evaluate what someone can bring to my life and what I can offer in return. ...Each week, a reader tells us about their sex life. Want to share yours? Email email@example.com.
...The spiritual path of polyamoryAt this point in the conversation, we turned to a subject that also reflects the importance Gyða places on dissolving boundaries: polyamory. Her perspective on this subject demonstrates her drive to embrace the dissipation of categorisation. And the journey there began early in her life.“There were obviously so many different levels of love, physicality and connection and it didn’t have anything to do with gender,” Gyða explains. “I didn’t even identify with bisexuality because that wasn’t it; I felt like there was no closet to come out of. However, when I actually started a relationship with a woman, we both had partners. Polyamory or ethical non-monogamy were new concepts for me and I felt like it was still such a taboo. ...”The discovery and realisation of polyamory would prove to be an epiphany for her.
Photo: Viðar Logi
It truly exploded my preconception of a relationship and it finally started to make sense,” she says. “There are no rules, it didn’t make sense to just move the rules a little bit further out—they all had to go to find the ultimate trust and honesty.“For me, polyamory is a spiritual path, it goes so far beyond sex. It is about full dedication to trust and honesty, also towards yourself. You can really start to share every aspect of yourself with your partner(s). And allow the person you love to blossom in their utmost way, even if that blossom is sparked by another person. Those who have entered our relationship have enriched it and left us with precious gifts, but to be honest it was sort of a disaster in the beginning. While you’re peeling the layers off, that is painful but very worth it. And don’t get me wrong, ‘conscious monogamy’ is beautiful; it is like a diamond, but we can learn a lot from polyamory to reach that.”For Gyða, polyamory is not only in keeping with the evolution of society; it may also heal the way we currently do relationships.“If we are to build a new world, the fastest way is breaking down the social construct,” she says. “Let’s admit it, we are failing miserably at love and relationships! We can do so much better. It is sort of approaching everything with an open curiosity; to ask ‘who are you and what is this relationship?’ instead of ‘oh, this is a relationship; this is how that should go.’ Get rid of the recipes. We can have so many nurturing relationships and we really need that, I think connection is what we humans are needing the most.To watch humanity blossom...Gyða’s philosophy informs all of her work and even in the midst of these tumultuous times, her optimism shines through.“I feel like that’s what we’re working on right now, on a global scale,” Gyða says. “We have to open up our minds. You know how you can make a melon grow into a square? It’s like to stop doing that, with everything. If we didn’t have all these forms and criticism, all these beliefs in how things should be; if we just watch humanity blossom, what would it look like? How would it feel to be human?”