#NoBarForPyaar: Have More Than 1 Lover? Polyamorists Say That’s OK
“You can be involved with more than one person at once, which may or may not be sexual.”
"My wife and I have multiple partners. Both of us look for guys and girls outside the bonds of wedlock. We are a bisexual polyamorist couple."
Deepak (name changed to protect privacy), a thirty-year-old businessman from Kolkata describes his relationship.
"I have been poly for 2 years now. My girlfriend and I meet once a month, and apart from that we have casual relationships."
Living in Goa, Vikram (name changed) says that he prefers polyamory over monogamy.
"My partner (as she prefers to call her husband) and I have been in a relationship for 9 years. Although I've felt deep love and gravitated towards more than one person at a time in the past, this is my first official polyamorous relationship."
Aparna Dauria, a Mumbai based independent musician identifies as non-monogamous.
You love someone with all your heart, but at the same time you also love other people. Does this sound impossible to you? How can you love more than one person romantically at the same time? Love means spending your entire life with "the one" you finally manage to find, right?
Polyamory (‘many lovers’) is the desire for intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the knowledge of all partners. It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy".
Falling in love with polyamory is a journey in itself, and just like any other relationship, these are the stages of ‘many loves’ polyamorists can go through.
Stage 1: The Meet-Cute
With the kind of society that we live in, people are conditioned to believe that monogamy is the only way to express their love. However, that is not always true.
You are in a relationship with someone, but you get attracted to someone else at the same time. You struggle with your emotions, you don’t understand what’s happening with you... and then you meet polyamory.
I’ve always been polyamorous – felt deep love which may or may not translate sexually with someone – just didn’t know there was a word for it. I often have to ‘tone things down’ with friends because you aren’t allowed be ‘too bonded’ with people you aren’t sexual with, if you know what I mean.Aparna
"Having to conform to patriarchal concepts of love and loyalty created a lot of unnecessary pressure in my past relationships. It bred dishonesty and disharmony, leading my partners and I to a war-like state of mutual insecurity,” Aparna said.
But with persistent introspection and open-hearted dialogue, I realised that I’d watched too many rom-coms and love is much more profound than just being someone’s ‘one and only’ and perpetuating a sense of entitlement.Aparna
Aparna later created the 'Egalitarian Non-Monogamy' support group on facebook.
After being in a polyamorous relationship for sometime, Vikram started experimenting with other forms of non-monogamy. He is presently in a non-hierarchal relationship – meaning that all partners are equal, there’s no ‘main’ partner or ‘side’ partner – and says that he likes unconventional things better.
Author of the book 'Loving Soulfully' and relationship coach, Rohit Juneja, started experimenting with polyamory after his second marriage failed.
I was looking for answers. As I started to express myself with writing I realised that nothing belongs to anyone, and no one belongs to you. I had a few polyamorous relationships after that.Rohit Juneja
He further says that when you start saying that “he or she is ‘mine’”, love starts walking out.
"Love just cannot be boxed, it is an energy that needs to be felt in abundance," he says.
However, after being in polyamorous relationships for a few years, Rohit went back to monogamy. "I wanted to be more focussed," he says.
Stage 2: Getting to ‘Know’ Polyamory
The meet-cute ends when the idea of ‘many loves’ strikes a chord. That’s when stuff starts to get real and you really start understanding the subtle nuances of polyamory.
Unlike open relationships, polyamory is about engaging in romantic relationships with more than one person at a time which may or may not translate sexually.Aparna
Rohit defines it as something that needs a deep connection between two people to sustain and blossom.
Some people believe that being poly will break the monotony of their monogamous relationships and bring them closer to their partners. But, that’s not true. First, make your monogamy perfect, then enter polyamory.Rohit Juneja
Polyamory falls under the umbrella of consensual non-monogamy and goes way beyond sex. "But it's unfortunate that that’s what gets the most steam and is a potent way of saying that these relationships don’t deserve to be taken seriously,” Aparna tells us.
"Polyamory thrives on open communication and honesty. Unlike monogamous relationships, that somehow end up neglecting the basic need of communicating with their partners, polyamorous couples (ideally) are open and accepting of their and their partners' desires," Rohit says.
Stage 3: The Real Deal - Loyalty and insecurities
Feeling a bit insecure about your partner is a part of almost all relationships. But when you and your partner accept polyamory, does jealousy automatically walk out of the door?
In an ideal scenario, yes. But what is the real deal?
Yes, jealousy creeps in. But then I take a deep breath, introspect and talk to my partner about it. Sounds boring but it’s quite effective.Aparna
"Just like any other couple, we also have problems. I can't stand that he throws his wet towel on the bed and he can't stand that I tell him how to drive," she further says.
Deepak says that he never felt jealousy the way most people do, and that's what made him open to polyamory.
He feels that abandoning someone who you have been intimate with at some point is ‘cheating of humanity.’
Cheating is also when you hide things from your partner, be it your past, present or future.Deepak
"Getting attracted to someone else is very natural. Instead of hiding their emotions, poly couples accept it and decide what needs to be done after that. They set their own boundaries and map a journey together," Rohit Juneja says.
He further explains that jealousy and anger are nothing but a distorted psyche coming out. One needs to go beyond it and accept the love that is abundant and unlimited.
When asked what Vikram feels about jealousy, he says that he ended up breaking up with one of his poly partners because she got jealous. "It was disastrous the way it ended. Thought I was clear that I am poly, she was not one and a lot of problems crept in between us."
Being ethical and open is what makes Vikram ‘loyal’ in his non-hierarchal relationship.
Stage 4: The Road Towards a Lasting Love
Now that he has got to know polyamory, and is past the disillusionment stage, could polyamory be his long-term partner?
I would be ‘settling’ down at some point with one of the partners. Or maybe co-habitat with two partners in a house with a garden and dogs.Vikram
Although social acceptability is a big challenge in India, Vikram is willing to work for his dream.
“I'm personally the kind of person that really likes her solitude, but yes, with the right person I can go the distance and am open to cohabitating," Aparna Dauria says about her plans for the future.
Happiness for oneself and the people I love is all that matters.Aparna
Apart from time management, which she feels can be a challenge if one is not fairly organised, the biggest challenge she faces is how society treats her.
“The hyper-sexualised stereotyping of all forms of non-monogamy and the harmful imagery that goes with it needs to end. It only devalues the profound nature of what’s truly going on making it easy for people to assume that since I’m poly, Im having sex with lots of people and liking it. Being poly doesn’t necessarily involve being sexual at all.”
Stage 5: Love That Can Change the World
When asked if polyamory is the future of relationships, most polyamorists said that monogamy and polyamory can never replace each other. So what is the love that can change the world?
If two people make a conscious decision to stay together forever and don’t feel love or attraction for anyone else in that time, more power to them. However, to consider monogamy as the only ideal is oppressing, even trivialising, the deeply compassionate and profound nature of love itself.Aparna
"Love is not constrained to being monogamous or polyamorous. We need to go beyond it to create a bond that can change the world," Rohit said.
(This story was first published on 14 October 2017 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives.)
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