You know, like polyamory + anniversary, a portmanteau
I had wonderful experience about a month ago. I celebrated an anniversary. No, not one of those “two week anniversaries” or a “6 month half anniversary”. I celebrated an actual one-year, anniversary. A full 365 days prior, I began a relationship with a wonderful woman whom I love very, very much.
We are both poly, met as poly people looking to get into some sort of polyamorous relationship. We were up front, voiced our intentions and both agreed that any sort of relationship between us would remain open and ethically non-monogamous. We were both in relationships at the time. I was in a “monopoly” or mono-poly relationship — meaning my partner was monogamous with me, but was fully aware that I am polyamorous and supported me in my other relationships. Then I met an awesome girl. She was married (still is), and told me she was poly “in theory,” but that I was her first partner outside of her marriage.
So there we were, two people trying this new relationship out, together. Taking a risk together. Trying on a different lifestyle orientation together. We were both very interested, but also very nervous. Seriously, who isn’t a little concerned when you first meet someone whom you only know from their online profile and a few flirtatious messages back and forth? So we began the journey together. We finally met in person under adorable circumstances. The attraction was confirmed instantly. The chemical reaction took place and BAM, connection leads to ecstasy.
Twelve months later, we are still going strong. We have had ebbs and flows. We have seen my monopoly game end, and her marriage celebrate another anniversary. Her kids have grown. We’ve lived, laughed, loved and disagreed but never argued or fought. We have made friends, lost friends, confused friends, educated friends, got rid of dead weight, narrowly avoided some drama and taken other drama squarely on the jaw.
We have been screened, tested, blackmailed, threatened, paused, restarted, unfriended, blocked, stalked, stood up, dumped, lied to and manipulated. We have laughed and cried, survived sickness, health, waiting rooms doctor’s visits and test results. There were even a couple of calls to 911. And yet, here we are, us, together. Still going strong. Still loving, still pretty darn happy. The NRE may have worn off. Don’t worry, we’ve both started other relationships that have supplied us with those particular feels. But we are still enjoying the ride and looking forward to another year in each other’s polycule.
So, what did we do? Basically, the only thing we really could do. We spent our polyversary being poly people surrounded by other poly people. Neither of us is completely “Out” as poly. I mean, we’re both participants in our local poly community. Our poly peeps, and those friends who would probably understand, are aware. But neither of us is Out, Loud and Poly Proud. So, when we reach a milestone (seriously, a full year of managing multiple relationships without a single argument or fight is no easy feat. After all, I have some supreme asshole tendencies. She, of course, is perfect in every way), there is a very limited audience with whom we can share and by whom to be congratulated.
That is probably the truly sinister and insidious part of being in the closet. You not only hide what you are, and the way in which you are different, but you have to hide your joy as well. And I’ll be frank here, it sucks. Truly, deeply, powerfully, it SUCKS. I want to be Out. I want to be vocally proud. I want to tell anyone who will listen, and fuck those who don’t want to listen, that I have successfully duped an amazing woman to put up with my shit for 52 solid weeks and lived to tell the tale.
Moreover, she is so awesome that she has successfully navigated a career, motherhood, a marriage, and other relationships in addition to me, AND WISHES VERY MUCH TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. I want to let folks know that I am happy, and loved, and worried about and cared for. I want to share our first date story with people. (It really is a little too adorable to keep secret) So we celebrated 365 days of us with folks who know us and would completely understand the value of a poly year. (Almost like a dog year) We went to the local poly discussion group.
Topic du jour: advocacy. Of course, on a day when I’m struggling with the closet door, we go to a discussion about being poly, out, and advocating for the way in which we choose to live and love. It was there that we told our Poly Peers why were smiling so much. I feel the strong pull, the obligation nay, the honor of putting poly on the map in my beloved hometown and in our society as a whole. I need Poly awareness to become an open discussion, not a dirty secret. I want to be able to display a picture of the women in my life on my desk at work and not have to worry about keeping the job long enough to enjoy the view. I love the poly community. I love the fact that there exist people with whom I can talk about my poly life. I love that my girlfriend introduced me to a friend of hers, who subsequently became a girlfriend of mine.
It’s good to be understood when you’re in the minority. We are the only ones who can have these conversations. I want to be an advocate. I want the next year to see me moving closer and closer to the threshold of that closet door in lieu of kicking the damn thing down at the jam. I don’t want to have the loves in my life, the friends that I have, the parties I attend, the events that I go to, and the community I believe in to be a secret I can’t tell anyone. “Rule 1, don’t talk about Fight Club.” Fuck that. I want to talk about it. I want those outside of the club to know that we are here. The mainstream public at large should be aware that we are dynamic, diverse, well-adjusted, healthy, happy adults. I want those who struggle with monogamy to know that there are other options. I want the default construct to be questioned more often. I want people to not think they have to protect my girlfriend’s children from her lifestyle choices. I want to be Out Dammit. I don’t want to have to celebrate behind closed doors.
Ultimately, we had a lovely evening. We enjoyed the discussion. We all shared our views on the proposed H.E.R.O. ordinance which was up for an election. (Fodder for an entirely different rant). We were congratulated by friends and acquaintances in our community. My sweetie and I wished each other a happy anniversary. We had a lovely dinner. We spent quality romantic time together. We looked back on the year with no regrets and mused on the future. We admired our growth individually and together. We celebrated what we had started together last year, and laughed at how nervous we both were. We embraced, we smiled. We shared our mutual desire to both advocate and to be more out. We recommitted to be supportive of each other’s decisions and needs and respectful of each other’s boundaries. We made all of those whom we could safely inform aware of our accomplishment.
For me, the best part was the feeling of gratitude. I got a charge from knowing that she could have any, or as many, as she wants, and chooses me to be a part of her life. I experienced the slight twinge of regret at my position inside the poly closet. But I feel encouraged that I will not have a permanent residence there. And I feel grateful that the poly community allows me to be who I am and to celebrate what is important to me.
Lastly, I feel truly humbled and blessed by whatever benevolent forces may exist. Because the most vocal, sincere, and enthusiastic congratulations, were given by the other amazing women in my life. My other girlfriends, all of whom I hope to celebrate anniversaries with, were the greatest cheerleaders of my happiness. I came near an overdose of compersion. I am loved, so very deeply, by more than one.
They are all amazing. But she, my love, my year long angel, was the first. Happy Anniversary my sweet. Thank you for so very much, indeed for all of it. Inside the closet or out, I am overjoyed and proud to be with you, and to have you with me. See you around the polyverse.
Originally published at consentking.com on December 17, 2015.