I have two boyfriends and a partner. Yes, you read that correctly.
Since this fall, I have been involved in polyamorous relationships—that is the practice of having more than one open romantic and sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.
Words cannot describe the amount of love and support I receive from my relationships. Plus, the freedom to be an individual and a sexual being eliminates a lot of problems usually found in monogamous relationships.
“Wow, I wish I could have something like that,” people will tell me. “You’re so lucky.” And to that, I say “not really.”
Sure, being able to hookup with whomever you want sounds pretty amazing. But there are also many intricacies and downsides involved with dating multiple people simultaneously that—for lack of better words—really f*cking suck.
Here are some things about polyamory that I struggle with.
The Level of Commitment
What sometimes gets forgotten is that my relationships are not my top and only priority. I am not only a girlfriend to three people, but also a full-time student, a reporter for the school newspaper and a person suffering from a chronic autoimmune disease.
My plate is always full with interviews, article writing, office hours, academic reading, essays, projects, doctor’s appointments and dealing with tormenting symptoms of Lyme Disease. On top of that, I am committed to three people—each with their own set of needs, wants and expectations.
If I see one of my boyfriends, there is usually an underlying pressure to spend time with my other boyfriend or partner in order to keep the relationships balanced. It’s a lot, to say the least, and I often find myself spread too thin.
Juggling Everyone’s Feelings
If you think managing and considering your significant other’s emotions is a lot, imagine doing this for three significant others.
Polyamory isn’t about doing whatever you want without facing any consequences. Quite the opposite actually. Most of the time, I have to carefully and strategically map out my words and my actions in coordination with my partners’ feelings.
One partner may have no problem with me staying the night at another person’s house, but another partner may feel insecure that I am spending time with someone else. Remaining considerate towards all parties involved, and still advocating for your own feelings, can be exhausting and overwhelming to say the least.
Considered the flip-side to jealousy, one of the basic concepts of polyamory is compersion—the glee of seeing one’s partner loving or being intimate with someone else. It’s undeniable how happy I feel seeing another person bringing joy to any of my partners.
But at the end of the day, jealousy is a perfectly natural aspect of human nature. It can be an extremely hard and thin line to tow between “being poly” and feeling insecure or jealous. It often takes a lot of self-reflection, introspection and long conversations to address my feelings of jealousy, which of course is tiring.
Sometimes, it just feels easier to suppress feelings of jealousy and keep pushing forward in order to make it through the day.
Despite all of these struggles, I still love all three of my partners dearly. But to say that polyamory is objectively better than monogamy would be negligent to all the challenges of dating multiple people at once.