I have a mostly traditional view of relationships and consider myself to be very monogamous by nature. If a future together is the goal, I'll rock with you until I have nothing left in me to give, and from my partner, I expect the same. Now, there has been a time or two where the door to our bedroom has been opened to another, but they were only guests, never mainstay attractions in our relationship and never more than us adding depth to the bevy of our sexual experiences together. I take commitment seriously, but like many things in life, and many things pertaining sexuality, I don't believe in a spectrum that is all black and white.
Thus, I'm always curious about different lifestyles and seeing how the other half lives. Monogamy is very important to me in a relationship, but I'm well aware that it is not the only way we have relationships in this day and age. I had questions, especially while catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, The Sexually Liberated Woman.
In one of her more recent podcasts, Ev'Yan Whitney confessed to listeners intimate details about her marriage through an open dialogue with her husband aptly titled "Non-Monogamy and My New Marriage." The most common myth Ev'Yan Whitney has heard is that someone polyamorous must be dissatisfied with their relationship, but it's one she isn't afraid to readily dispel.
“This common misconception that something is inherently wrong with us, that we are in denial about something, that something is missing, is hogwash. For my husband and I, it does not apply. And polyamory does and can work," says Whitney.
Becoming polyamorous was a decision she and her husband of nine years, Jonathan Mead, did not take lightly and occurred only after they were open and honest about one another's views on love and marriage. By definition, polyamory is having "many loves," and can be expressed in relationships in different ways, including having sex with people outside the relationship without emotional connection (i.e. wife-swapping, swinging) and having multiple wives and multiple husbands.
“At the crux of it," Whitney says, “Polyamory means you believe that there is no such thing as one soulmate, one love, that there are many people that you can have sexual, emotional, and romantic connections with and that you honor that by dating other people and being with other people."
How She Met Her Husband
Having not been a believer of love at first sight, soulmates or other romantic clichés, her and Jonathan's love story is something she says went against her every intention at 19 and newly single, “We met on MySpace and within the first of week of talking we were madly in love with each other. I was pretty jaded about relationships because of my parents going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage. Their divorce made me feel like love doesn't matter, but Jonathan came into my life and changed everything. Six months into us dating, we were living together. And by the end of the first year, we were married. It was serious and fun."
How Polyamory First Came Into Play
In the beginning of their 10-year relationship, monogamy was very much a part of how they approached their relationship. They were both raised in monogamous households, so complete faithfulness was their default. Until three years into their marriage, and a day after the couple watched a documentary on concubines together, her husband confessed to her that he had romantic feelings for someone who shared those feelings with him. “The way that he told me wasn't like he was telling me he had feelings for this woman and they had consummated their feelings, and he wasn't asking me for permission. It was him coming to me, being open and asking that we have a conversation about it because he just didn't know what to do with it. That was the first time I heard the word 'polyamory.'"
Understandably, Whitney felt betrayed and describes that turning point in their relationship as a very tough time with the word “divorce" even rearing its ugly head in conversation. Six months later, however, Whitney developed feelings for someone else. In her realizing her feelings for someone else, she also uncovered her bisexuality and queerness.
“I wanted to uncover and live a part of myself that I didn't really have the opportunity to do because I got married so young. My queerness is very important to me, and I didn't want to feel like my sexuality or my individuality was hindered because of being in a relationship with someone. That's when we started to have a real conversation about what it would look like if we had a non-monogamous relationship."
"I thought I owned him. You don't own anyone."
The Transition Into Polyamory
The transition from a monogamous marriage to a marriage that was polyamorous was not a smooth one. There were a lot of road bumps along the road to the seemingly blissful place it is now several years later. “We had to unlearn a lot of our beliefs that we learned about love and relationships and marriage and sex and sexuality. That was rocky for us both. I learned I had some really messed up views of who my partner was. I thought I owned him. You don't own anyone."
Whitney had no idea the benefits that would come from engaging in a polyamorous marriage, but she says she has maintained her individuality, autonomy and sovereignty even while fully committed for life to another.
“The sex is amazing," she says with a smile.
“When I know that partner desires someone else, but he chooses me, he chooses to come home to me, he chooses to share his life with me––that is the biggest compliment and the biggest gesture of love there is. It's also really hot that I can go out and date other people and experiment with queerness and to uphold that and figure that out and my partner supports me. It's so beautiful to me."
Whitney is a champion for polyamory relationships, namely because it works so well with the dynamic she and her husband have established, but she doesn't want people to get it twisted and see her marriage as #goals. “Non-monogamy is not for everyone. Monogamy is also not for everyone. When we take the time to question the way that we are going along with templates, I think it's important for us to choose how we want our relationships to look and the kinds of relationships we want to have."
"Non-monogamy is not for everyone. Monogamy is also not for everyone."
5 Things to Do Before Becoming Polyamorous:
- Ask your partner questions about jealousy, ownership, and independence.
- Have conversations about what healthy love looks like.
- Discuss and discover your true stance on monogamy.
- Read books. Start with Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open by Tristan Taorimino and work your way through The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Read them alone and with your partner.
- Make sure that the foundation of your relationship is strong enough to withstand the dynamics of polyamory and introducing new people inside of your relationship.