I am married. I am non-monogamous. My husband is monogamous. Only one other person knows about our hybrid-open relationship. We are “in the closet” about my polyamory.
While the word polyamory is starting to be heard (but not necessarily accepted) more commonly in mainstream media, the American Jewish and Afro-Caribbean Roman-Catholic/black American communities that my husband and I call home are decidedly not accepting of this relationship configuration. In these communities, the idea of non-monogamy is abhorrent if it is ever discussed at all. At best non-monogamy is shunned as selfish and perverted, at worst it is a sinful destruction of the family unit as designed by God.
Gimme a break.
To the world, we’re your typical interracial, interfaith, heterosexual, monogamous couple skipping through the grassy hills. In reality, I date and maintain intimate relationships with 1-2 men besides my husband. It is an open secret in some ways. With my second partner, we don’t sit in the dark corner of the restaurant. We openly show affection in public, as much as I’m comfortable with as I am not a fan of PDA. But the point is, anyone who would look at us could see that we are definitely having (good) sex behind closed doors.
When my then-fiancé and I decided to open our strictly monogamous relationship, it was an extremely hard journey filled with talking, negotiating, arguing, and more talking. My fiancé was upfront that he did not want anyone to know about our decision but keeping it a secret became more stressful at times than I had imagined.
Throw in a lifelong struggle with depression, a stressful job where I am often exposed to death, elitism, racism, and sexism, and suddenly the isolation we created for our open relationship seemed potentially toxic.
As my second partner and I experienced relationship bullshit surrounding time management and sexual dysfunction, I realized I had a limited support system. My husband was sympathetic but had no interest in the details of my second relationship while trying to manage his own insecurities about our change to non-monogamy.
I couldn’t rant and rave to anyone that knew me intimately and in the real world. Sure, there were polyamory forums, but the few I found had questionable threads regarding race and ethnicity and feminism so I found it to be less than a comfortable space for me. I needed another change.
So my husband and I talked, talked, yelled, and talked some more. Finally, after reviewing concerns and fears, my husband agreed that he was okay with me letting a few choice individuals know that I was non-monogamous.
On the surface, it seemed like such a small change. I chose one friend who would now know that I was, in my friend’s words, having my cake and eating it too. The friend that I chose resides in another country and has a completely monogamist framework for what romantic relationships should look like. Despite his confusion, he has always been a huge supporter of me and what makes me happy.
Having my one friend know has been a game-changer. He is an open ear, a great shoulder, and a good friend. He calls me on my bullshit, and doesn’t hesitate to tell me when I’m being a hypocrite.
Considering the professions that my husband and I practice, and our ethnic backgrounds, I doubt there will be a time when both of us are completely free and honest about our open relationship. Until we make that choice, I will continue to blog about my inner thoughts and turn to that one friend about the annoying shit my second partner does that gets on my nerves.