Sunday, September 2, 2012

My "Coming Out" Story (sort of)

When I first arrived in the city, I came from a veritable desert of romance in Ottawa.  I like Ottawa for many reasons: poutine, the canal, the incredible people, but not so much the romance.  I was parched and essentially planning on how many cats would be too many to own when entering spinsterhood at 29 (38 cats?  76?).  
Too many cats?  I think not!
Almost one month after I arrived, I clawed forward, looked and realized I’d found an oasis of (geeky but lovely) men.  We are talking a Walmart-sized waterpark with slides of many different sizes and colours, water pouring everywhere (hey, I didn’t mean it that way.  Get your mind out of the gutter!).

The city was exploding with cute, single men and for the rest of 2011, I indulged.  I dated a young british boy, a comely, funny dude I met at a conference, a quirky nerdy hipster boy who lives in the Mission, etc.  But I started to notice a pattern.  Most of the men I was dating identified as polyamorous.  The man working in my hostel was married and interested in me.   I was picked up on the train by a married with kids poly guy.

In fact, this precise topic threw me into a relationship.  In January, I met a tall, handsome thing who noticed me specifically because I was commenting to my friend that all the guys I was dating were polyamorous.  This newest one’s ears visibly picked up and he said “were you talking about polyamory?”  Turns out he had been poly for years.  Eight months later, we were still dating each other, and many others.

Now, polyamory was a newish concept to me.  Seemed like you could date someone and have sex with anyone else you wanted – Alright!  

Well doesn't that look nice?
In reality, being poly demands total honesty (both with your partner and with yourself), challenges nearly every assumption of “conventional” relationships, including the idea that you can only be in love with/involved with one person at a time, and is one helluva headache when it comes to scheduling. 

But it also opened my eyes to incredible possibilities.  I attended a polyamory conference (only in San Francisco, right?), spoke with a leading poly advocate, read an incredible book about it (called Opening Up) and dated several poly men.  I learned about my own jealousy, limits, and honesty, and even had more than one public crying moment (including an epic incident where I cried on a corner on Mission street, dramatically stalking away from my partner).  I also learned that I loved the honesty of being in an open relationship, the joy of sharing my partner’s joy when they relayed that they’d gone on a really good date, and the examining of my own insecurities, feelings, and how to trust myself.  I learned how to state my own boundaries and discuss big ugly STIs before intimacy even happens. 

So yes, I am coming out as poly, at least for now.  Does this mean I’ll never be monogamous again and will end up on some farm in the middle of nowhere with six husbands, 4 lovers and a few casual dalliances, with so many dates that I don’t actually have time to go to my job?  Probably not.  But I do know that open relationships will always be a viable and potentially preferable, option for me. Yes it’s strange and unconventional, but so am I.  My heart is also full of love and I’d like to share it with as many people as possible, both in friendship and in intimacy.

To all those who are curious/totally freaked out by this, feel free to send/ask me questions.

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