I spent several years listening to Dan Savage give the sage advice to callers that sometimes, they just have to pay a price of admission – AKA, not getting everything they want in a relationship – in order to maintain it. Every time I heard him say this, I always thought, “Phew! Glad it’s not me calling in – what a conundrum!” I was never much for compromise. If a partner wanted me to make a serious compromise to my needs and desires, I’d just let them go in search of more compatible partners.
Partners. After resisting the label of polyamory for a couple of years – I always insisted that I was barely amorous, so I couldn’t be polyamorous – I fell recklessly in love and realized that not only do I have the capability to love deeply, but that allowing myself the authenticity to explore the possibilities of multiple relationships at once makes me really happy. I moved from calling myself non-monogamous to calling myself polyamorous, and it felt right. It still feels right.
My people are perverts and hippies; I surround myself with sex nerds and intentionally choose to date other poly people – or at least, I used to.
The Engineer was supposed to be a one-night stand. I didn’t expect him to ask me to spend a second night with him – let alone the whole day. I didn’t expect him to uproot his travel plans to follow me into another country. I didn’t expect him to uproot them yet again to meet me for two weeks at the end of my trip last year – and I certainly didn’t think on that night we met in Rwanda a year and a half ago that someday down the road, I’d want to move to another country and start my life over again to be with him. But I do. His emotional intelligence, his honesty, his generosity, his loving nature, and his willingness to adventure with me blow me away. Just when I think he can’t be a more amazing partner, he shows up at my door wearing a tux a week before he’s supposed to get here. Just when I think I can’t possibly feel any more deeply cared for, he learns how to play our song on the piano and makes a video of it for my birthday. True story!
He prioritizes me and makes me feel valued in a way I’ve always done for other partners. He means what he says, keeps his word, and intentionally makes time for me. My relationship with him is one which is worth compromising for.
I knew The Engineer was monogamous when we first met – but because I didn’t think it was going to be more than a travel fling, I didn’t think of that as a deal-breaker. Even during our first full week together when we were telling people at our guesthouse that we were on our honeymoon, I just brushed it off. Now, on our way to two years in, it feels like a big deal. As we’re long distance, we’ve come to an uneasy negotiation about being monogamish. And when I say “we,” I mean me. I’m okay with him sleeping with other women. He’s pretty uncomfortable with the idea of me hooking up.
So I haven’t. Still – I need to know that it’s not an instant deal-breaker if I meet someone at a bar and want to bang them or develop a crush on someone. I need to be able to tell my partner when I experience those things without worrying that it’s going to destroy our relationship. In my early twenties, I cheated on / broke up with a few partners because I developed feelings for other people while in the relationship, and I didn’t think I had any choice other than cheating or breaking up.
I know better now. Here’s the weird part, though: I’d started thinking that because of my past experiences, a monogamous relationship would never work for me. I thought that this would be harder, but the fact that both of us have been honest about what we want from the get-go and that we check in about it frequently makes it feel good. The fact that I’m choosing to be with a monogamous partner who knows I’d prefer not to be feels better than trying to be monogamous because it’s what I think is expected of me. And maybe I’m actually ambiamorous, much like I’m bisexual: Floating somewhere in the middle, enjoying all the things.
Since I’ve met The Engineer, I’ve had a couple of sexy hankerings and even a genuine crush, but no feelings that I’ve really wanted to pursue. I haven’t experienced any of the FOMO that I thought I might. Then again – perhaps I’m being naïve and all of this will change when / if I do meet someone else I develop a romantic attachment to. Or when / if he does. Only time will tell, I guess – but the same can be said for default mono relationships. The important thing is that we keep talking and acknowledging that while we may not be the most perfectly compatible partners, there are things that both of us are willing to compromise on to make this work – because holy shit, is it worth it.
We’re planning on visiting a sex club together in January and talking about exploring threesomes (yea!!!) – but for right now, in this moment, I’m quite happy snuggling up at night and whispering “I love you, my nest” into the phone, looking forward to the next time that I get to feel his arms wrapped tight around me. And then fantasizing about riding him while another woman sits on his face.