One of the most
powerful things you can do
for yourself is tell your story publicly. This is not so you will be exploited as if
you were on a daytime talk show. This is so you can proudly show the world that you
love who you are and are going to fight to be yourself in a world that is largely
threatened by stories which vary from the norm. This also helps others understand
appreciate who they are.
Mark White's Story
Even though I've
been married very happily for 25 years, all during that time I felt strong
attractions to other women, especially to some at my work place. Being in
love with more than one woman at a time always felt like second nature to me,
even though the girls involved often did not feel the same way about me. Some
did, but were afraid to admit it because I was married. At the time I didn't
think of my feelings as cheating, but after all those years I know that unless
all parties involved are in complete agreement re a poly relationship, it is
still cheating, & that is not my desire. There has to be complete honesty in
a relationship if it is to work, so that no-one gets hurt. It took me a long
time to learn that very important lesson.
About 4 years ago, at
age 40, having been in a very close (and still very close) monogamous
relationship for 20 years, I met a man for whom I felt a deep connection such as
I'd never felt with anyone before. I'd fallen in love with someone along
with still deeply loving my husband. I'd never heard of such a thing.
Was I secretly angry at or dissatisfied with my husband? No. I was
so confused. How could this be? But it felt so natural to me.
My husband felt my connection to this other man and felt very threatened by it
so I cooled things down (it never got physical but was very spiritual and
emotional) and sat with my feelings for a couple of years.
Then, at the time of
the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, I was teaching a health class to high school
students and the topic that they wanted to discuss for days was this affair and
commitment and marriage, etc. I went on the internet to look up
"adultery" and discovered "polyamory." When I went to
the website I felt as
though I'd discovered my lost tribe. There were people like me! I'd
always known that my feelings were natural and right but there was no one with
whom I could talk about those feelings. Now I saw that I was not alone.
I spent hours on the internet reading and reading and feeling such relief.
Now came the hard
part. How to discuss this with my husband. I'd printed out several
peoples' stories and some info on jealousy and poly questions and answers, all
for him to read but when I tried to show him he was so angry (afraid) that I
dropped it. Meanwhile, my other love had left the area and I had never
told him of my feelings for him.
Sometime later, my
husband and I met a man who we both enjoyed right away. The three of us
quickly became friends. This man was involved in a long-distance
relationship and I considered him a good friend. Over time, though, my
feelings for him grew and I realized that I'd fallen in love with him. It
was the same type of love that I felt for my husband, different from the love
that I feel for my other friends. Finally, around the spring equinox of
'99, I could hold it in no longer. I felt as though my heart was being
choked and my chest actually ached. So, I told this friend how I felt
about him and I told my husband. That was the beginning of what I call the
"storms" between my husband and me.
Let me backtrack to
describe the relationship between my husband and me. We are best friends
and make each other laugh and are our biggest fans. We are lovers and our
love making is passionate and spiritual and fun. We are parents together
and work so well in that capacity. We play music together.
There is no one that I trust more in the world and I know that my husband would
say the same. We'd had conflicts during our years together yet we'd always
resolved them. We'd never thought of breaking up; always knew that we'd be together for our whole lives; have always felt blessed to have found
each other; never take each other for granted. Many people have told us
that we are role models for them as a couple. But, now we had storms over
These storms (very
intense arguments) always ended in a peaceful, loving way, yet we were
confronting something which was shaking the very foundation of our relationship.
We've been on the brink of splitting apart yet couldn't; it didn't make sense
because we are best friends and love and adore
each other so much. The conflict is that my husband feels deeply
threatened by my polyamorous feelings (I've promised to behave monogamously as
we work on what we refer to as our "obstacle") and he also believes
that our love is sacred and that type of intimacy should just remain
between us. Yet, at times he tries on the idea of polyamory.
One interesting thing
is that we recently bought a two-family house with the other man I love, all
with my husband's full knowledge of my feelings for our friend. We are now
at a point where we all three have talked together about my love for the two of
them and about my husband's jealousy and feelings of threat. My husband is
now trying to face his fears while I am working on being completely honest with
him and not try to protect him from his pain. Yet, we are going slowly.
We have agreed to
specific guidelines of behavior between our partner (that's how I refer to him
to others -- it's a word that can mean many things and to me it does) and me,
none of which involve a sexual relationship, and which will change as my husband
becomes more comfortable with the situation. My husband and our partner
know that I would like us to be a three. We already are in many ways yet
not in the intimacy that I want. I don't just mean sexually, but also to
be openly affectionate with our partner as I am with my husband. I've told
my husband to think how difficult and strange it would be if he was told that he
couldn't be openly affectionate with me or make love with me and that I feel
that same way about the restrictions (that I've allowed to be put) on my
behavior with our partner. My husband understands yet doesn't feel able to
have me behave that way. I am respecting that for now.
I've been talking to
my husband more about polyamory and about three's who I've read about.
Yesterday, we were having lunch in a restaurant and three adults with a baby sat
at the table next to us. My husband turned to me and said, "I wonder
if they're a three." We both laughed.
He's definitely more
open now about polyamory than before. We both feel as though we've turned
a corner and have come to a new stage in our relationship. In fact, my
husband suggested that we have different wedding rings made. We've not
really discussed this more, I'm not feeling sure enough, but I thought that that
was a good sign from him. It's amazing, really. We always said that
our love grew and grew and it still does, after all these years.
I feel hopeful that I
will be able to live polyamorously with my husband. I just need to be
patient; something which is sometimes difficult for me because I love our
partner so deeply and want to express my love for him as fully as I express my
love for my husband. Patience is my major challenge right now. But
as I said, I feel optimistic.
Growing Into Polyamory
My parents made me polyamorous. My parents
and one gorgeous, strong stubborn woman. I have always thought that when someone
asks me why I live my life as a person with multiple committed relationships, a
polyamorist, instead of going into the lengthy theoretical
feminist/queer/pagan/anarchist/tribal economist explanation that I normally give I should
just tell them that I owe it all to good old Ma and Pa. And to them I have the deepest
gratitude. At 9, after just having seen PAINT YOUR WAGON, I asked my mother if it was
alright to marry more than one person. I remember we were in a car on the way to Las Vegas
to visit my grandparents, and she thought about it for a moment. Then she told me yes, it
was alright, but everyone involved would have to be very special and very strong.
Later, around the time I was going through puberty, I discovered my father's collection of
Robert A Heinlein novels, which Papa, seeing I had inherited his love of Sci Fi encouraged
me to read. The most enthralling of these books was STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, in which
the main characters lived, without jealousy, in a multi-adult intimate family called a
nest. I was in love with the concept, it made so much sense to me, but it was "only
I had dreams of one day living in an open, joyful network of lovers, but through my teen
years, I mostly keep these ideas to myself, deeply discussing it with only one lover, who
was a little more open minded than even the average Goth boy. During that time though, I
never managed to have an exclusively monogamous relationship, and even tried
boyfriend-sharing a couple of times, to durationally limited success. In college, I came
out to my friends and family as bisexual, but not as.....as....as something that I did not
at that time even have a word for. Then, when I was twenty, that changed.
Right before my twentieth birthday, I realized that I was deeply in love with a brilliant
fiery witch woman. A woman who, at the age of fifteen or so, had written with a friend a
manifesto decrying jealousy. We started our relationship admitting to each other and to
the world that we were not suited for or interested in long term monogamy. Nevertheless,
we undertook to cement our bonds with a temporary foray into exclusivity. After a year it
was both crucial and hellishly painful to give up that exclusivity. Re-opening our
relationship was a wonderful, horrible thing, filled with tears of joy and of rage, and
much confusion on all sides. Ultimately, she and I had to leave off our intimate
relationship. It happened for many reasons, not all related to polyamory, but I cannot
help but think that many of the issues surrounding opening our relationship were
For all of the pain we went through, though, the relationship was a time of great learning
and growth for both of us, and we retain many beautiful things. We learned the words
polyamory and polyfidelity, we learned the difference between those things and
promiscuity. We learned loyalty to each other and to ourselves. We learned loyalty to our
convictions in times when even our closest friends called our lifestyle into doubt. We
learned to love each other's lovers and to be joyful for one another. We started learning
to respect each other's and our own boundaries. and are still in that learning process.
We learned that there is such a thing as a poly break-up, which does not have to involve
cutting someone important out of your life. My former lover and I are still close and see
each other on a daily basis.
Today, she and I live in a nest of our own, made up of six close-knit adults, all of who
are, have been and/or have shared lovers with one another. We are bonded by our love for
Mother Gaia, for our greater tribe and for each other. It is nothing like PAINT YOUR WAGON
or STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, and I'm sure nothing like in her manifesto. It is nothing
like anything any of us ever dreamed and more than we ever knew to hope for.
From the time I was young, I knew I was
When little girls were talking about little boys, I was thinking about little girls.
This (looking back) was due to the fact that I didn't like little boys, because I had
suffered from sexual abuse as a child in the hands of both boys and men.
So I grew, and pretended to like the boys. I even fabricated crushes and wrote love
notes to boys in my classes.
When I grew older, and had a better understanding of the world (around 14) I realized I
was gay. I just had a closer relationship with women and found them sexually
attractive. I didn't accept this at first, and continued to experiment with boys, in
hopes that I could outgrow this or cure myself.
So I came to accept myself as gay. I became comfortable with that. I began
cultivating close relationships with women, both sexual and nonsexual. I was happy
in the lifestyle I had chosen.
But then it all went awry. I fell in love with a man. And I wasn't scared of
him. And I knew it was love, because it was what I had felt previously for other
women. So I accepted that. I truly loved *him*. So my definition
evolved. I am bisexual.
As our relationship grew, I found myself still attracted to other women; as well as other
men. An avenue had opened for me, and yet I couldn't explore it because I was in a
monogamous relationship with him. So I began "cheating"; seeing other
people on the side without his knowledge. This created the same feelings of guilt
and misunderstanding that hiding my sexuality had way back when. I was completely
committed to *him*, but I felt that this exploration, which was both sexual and emotional,
was necessary for my development as a woman, as a human. Eventually, *he* found out
and left me. He claimed there was no way I could love him and be with these people.
(Now, mind you, I wasn't promiscuous, I had taken on two other lovers, a male and a
female, and had stayed with them for 4 months before *he* left.)
That was about two years ago. Since then, it has been difficult to find others who
held similar views. I committed myself to another monogamous relationship, and was
miserable again. I realized then that polyamory was as much a part of me as my
Then, I met "S". We met through a mutual friend, and soon found out not only
were we both attracted to each other, but we were also both polyamorous. We founded
a relationship, and now I am proud to call "S" my primary. I love
"S" with all my heart, and my soul, but that doesn't keep me from exploring
other avenues of sexual and emotional gratification. I have the freedom to always be
"ME", and he respects that freedom as I respect his.
And so, this is my story. So far...
"Love has no gender, Love has no race. Love is a person,
Show me the Face." CAL 1992
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~ An Unconditional Love