So, Last week, K. Rukia shared a post about polyamory that got a lot of people asking questions. It’s an absolutely fantastically great piece, and I think everyone should read it if they haven’t already. I also found it to be an oddly timely piece, precisely because it came out right as I was ending a polyamorous relationship. There’s a lot about her post that she says is effectively hypothetical, so I figured it would be everyone’s benefit to hear a perspective on what it was like for me.
I wasn’t exactly new to the idea of being poly when I first got started. I have a lot of close friends who turned out to be polyamorous people, and they are some of the nicest, most caring, and most intelligent people I have ever met. I had heard bits and pieces from friends about their relationships but I had never actually dated anyone who was poly until I met Niku.
I met her during trip out of town and we got to talking and became fast friends. She had told me that she had two boyfriends and wasn’t looking for a new romantic partner at the time. I was fine with that, but as time wore on, we couldn’t deny that there was something between us. For one, those who have read my comments on this blog for long enough know that I am unabashedly attracted to intelligent women and she was by far the most intelligent that I have ever met. She was also gorgeous and really funny. She had this way of making you see light where darkness should have been. I could go on, but you get the point. This woman was amazing. We generally had a good thing going but all that changed suddenly a few weeks ago when I realized I might actually be in love for the first time in my adult life.
That’s when the questions start running through your head. How do you bring up this girl to your family if you’ve never done such a thing before? How do you handle the massive levels of racial and cultural difference that will be immediately apparent? Are you going to continue with the stresses of a long distance relationship, or will you make more concrete steps to move closer so that the logistics of being together are less of a problem? And then the mega monster questions: What will happen when your family finds out about the unorthodox nature of your relationship? Will you be able to protect her from the fallout that could happen? Will you be okay in the end?
With all that in the back of my head and some other conflicting emotional stuff in the background, I caved and broke up with her. In the days since then, I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching about what I actually want out of life and how to address the things that are problems I didn’t know I had. I started by admitting to my mother that I’d actually had a girlfriend and that was something that I never would have done in the past.
Looking back on the experience, I think polyamory would be a great thing for a lot of Nigerians. I watch so many people in my parents’ generation go through lives of absolute misery in their marriages and relationships. Many are currently weaving webs of lies and deceit and heartbreak all because they refuse to be honest with each other about what their wants and needs might be.
If you’re going to consider polyamory, you have to be honest with yourself and your partner. I mean REALLY honest. Doing it successfully requires a level of self awareness, introspection, and constant communication with the other people in your life. You’re constantly discussing what your needs are, what your problems are and how both of those can best be addressed. Poly people communicate on a level that makes monogamous people look downright amateurish. They have a remarkably low threshold for addressing issues before they blow out of proportion. Most of the monogamous couples I have watched through the years either don’t address their problems at all or they wait until it becomes an issue that can’t easily be resolved without massive collateral damage.
If you’re having problems in your relationship with your spouse, significant other, or yourself, and you haven’t started to identify or address them, then adding polyamory into the mix may make things worse. I had always thought of myself as very self aware, but I never realized how deep some of my fears and insecurities were, not to mention all the problems I didn’t know I had. For example, I have a habit of implying things without outrightly saying them, and in the moments when I fully said what I meant, the experience became quite jarring. That’s something I have never noticed before until Niku pointed it out to me. Beyond the level of communication that polyamory requires, Niku is also a psychologist and a linguist by trade, so she was particularly hyperfocused on that.
There’s a lot more I could add, but I guess the big question now is whether or not I would ever do it again. I don’t know that I have an answer right now. What I do know is that it was one of the best experiences of my life. It taught me so much more about myself and other people than I ever thought possible. If you do this, you must know that it will stretch your mind, your soul, and test everything you ever knew to be true, but you have to be willing to put in the work.
If you have any questions about my relationship specifically or polyamorous relationships in general, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments section.
P.S. For anyone who cares to know, Niku and I are still friends and plan to remain so. We just won’t have a romantic relationship anymore.
Image via The American Interest