B.C.'s Polyamory Page: My Introduction to Poly

Apartment Zero

One summer in my University days, I lived with a free spirit. JK was the sort of person who would quit her job in Toronto one day and go work in France for a change of scenery. I was something of a repressed soul then, and over the course of one summer, she helped me to discover things about myself that I'd denied.

One of the things that fascinated me about JK was her attitude toward sex. JK was always getting into sexual adventures, and it was because of her that I first started to question the border between friends and lovers. Eventually, I came to adopt her attitude that having sex with a friend you like can be good fun, and doesn't have to evolve into a relationship.

I knew that when the summer ended, JK was going to be leaving the country, but she remained vague about the dates. I came home one night and found all of her stuff gone. It was like a moment in a movie.

From Soul to Thought

Shortly after graduating, I started getting involved with my sweetie, Ldot I loved her dearly, and we were certain fairly early on that we were going to have a long-term relationship. At one point, she and I were talking about sex, and it became clear that Ldot didn't feel the same way that I did about sex. She felt strongly that sex was a symbol of commitment, and she asked me to be monogamous. I agreed, as I felt that I didn't need to have sex with friends -- it was merely something I was open to. I didn't think this would be a problem.

The Netwits

I used to participate on the NA-Net writer's conference. A number of writer friends of mine in the Toronto-area and I liked to converse there -- in fact a small number of us actually seemed to be the only participants on the conference, and we seldom talked about writing. Most postings there tended to be self-referential in-jokes and repartée. Occasionally, a newcomer would jump in and on rare occasion, the newcomer would stick around for a while. One of the people who came online was Siobhán, a woman whom one of my friends knew from a class at University.

The gang from NA-Writers (we called ourselves the "Netwits") tended to be a cliquish sort; although occasionally we tried to organize conference get-togethers (GTs) in Toronto. These tended to be dinners or coffee sessions. If we liked the people who came out, we let them join our clique. One summer, a number of such get-togethers were planned, but I usually couldn't make it -- I was in the middle of a tough work schedule and I couldn't manage to make it to any of the events. The other Netwits told me that a couple of the new people had been coming out and were really cool. I heard all about each of them. Including Siobhán, the one with the purple hair and multiple piercings.

One weekend in September, I went into work to catch up on some of my deadlines, and the system was down. I decided to head off to Future Bakery to join a previously-scheduled Netwit get-together. I arrived late, and sat down beside the woman with the purple hair. There was a spark there... something deep and intangible.

Confessions From a Cottage Cheese

One of the Netwits invited us all up to her cottage, outside Peterborough. I got a ride up and back with Siobhán, because we both had to be back a day early. On the way back it was just the two of us, and I took that opportunity to get to know Siobhán; in one-on-one conversation, I tend to feel people out, and ask a lot of questions. One of the things that I learned was that Siobhán believed in open relationships. I didn't ask much about that, then.

Once back in Toronto, I wondered when I'd see her again.

Over the next few months, I was called upon to travel a lot. I bitched online a lot about a team in Atlanta (the Atlanteans, I called them). One night, after flying back from Georgia, my Netwit buddy, D. and I went to Siobhán's apartment, and talked about life. Siobhán and I later described this night as shooting pheromones at each other, with D. caught in the crossfire. I spent that whole weekend sending Siobhán e-mail, and blathering on the phone with D. about Siobhán. I was giddy.

The next week I told Siobhán that we had to be just friends.

I felt like I was breaking my promise to Ldot, even though we weren't having sex. In a sense, I felt that it was even worse because I'd fallen in love.

D. had some experience with falling in love while still being in a relationship. She once told me that whenever she refused to allow herself to feel attraction to someone outside of the relationship, she found that she subconsciously resented her partner. To some extent, I found the same thing happening with me, although I tried to fix things by telling my partner about the attraction I was feeling.

In a sense, my brain started to play games with me. The more I tried to distance myself from my feelings for Siobhán, the more I ended up fighting with L. Perhaps my brain was trying to convince me that I no longer loved L., seeing that as the only way I could pursue a relationship with Siobhán -- a reasonable belief given L.'s previous statements about relationships and sex. It was an awkward time, and I feel very unhappy about the way I handled a lot of things.

Things probably would have spiralled downward from there but luckily, that December, my work sent me to Australia.

The Land Down Under

I love Australia; Sydney Harbour is perhaps the most beautiful place in the world, to me. I would never have turned down the opportunity to go there, but there was a part of me that felt the inconvenience of being apart from Siobhán. But it gave me time to think things through, and try to figure out what to do about the situation. At first, I contemplating ending my relationship with Ldot. But being away from her made me realize how much I missed her -- how much I loved her as well.

When I returned from Oz, I began to have some serious conversations with both Ldot and Siobhán. I told Ldot that I loved Siobhán, but that I still loved her as well. Surprisingly, this fit in with her philosophy -- she had no problems grasping that a person could love more than one person.

The principal problem was the committment that I'd previously made to Ldot. I'd never thought about that committment in terms of being in love with more than one person at the same time; for me it was just an agreement about sex. It was fine with Ldot if I loved Siobhán, but having sex with her was a problem for Ldot. For me, having sex with someone I love is important -- it's about sharing intimacy, and stuff like that. Loving Siobhán without sex would seem to me like I was omitting a major part of the relationship.

I felt bound by my original committment to Ldot, even though I believed that I was wrong to have made the committment in the first place; it was a committment that I doubted that I could keep in the long run. I was looking for Ldot's acceptance before I reneged on the committment, but it was something that Ldot couldn't do at that time. So I agreed to wait until Ldot was ready.

Waiting for Godot

I wanted Ldot to understand that some people can love more than one person. Siobhán knew of people in this relationship structure -- they called it polyamory. I told Ldot about a Usenet newsgroup I was readings, and I tried to talk about some of the topics that I was reading there. To Ldot, this started to seem like I was pressuring her, and she asked me to stop. She wanted to deal with things at her own speed.

Copyright © 1997, 1999 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated: May 29th, 1999.

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