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Can you be Polyamorous in a Monogamous Relationship?
Queer Gaze

Can you be Polyamorous in a Monogamous Relationship?

  Gender-Queer, Neurospicy  He/She/They Hari Derwisch Music obsessed, quote collecting, pop-culture vulture

Is it possible to feel polyamorous while valuing a monogamous relationship? That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to work out.

In 2015, I came out as bisexual and shared it with the world. Fast-forward eight years, and once again, I find myself on a journey of self-discovery – I’m now recognising I’m also polyamorous.

Polyamory is the practice of having sexual or romantic relationships with more than one partner at the same time. It’s derived from the Ancient Greek word polloí, meaning many, and the Latin word amor, meaning love love. It’s connected to terms like ‘open relationship’ and ‘non-monogamy’.

People come to polyamory differently, and that’s what is so wonderful about it. Whether they’re a couple who brought a third into their relationship, couples who paired up, and perhaps even those – like me – who are happily in a monogamous relationship. There’s no strict rulebook.

I had thought about polyamory for a few years but didn’t quite know if the label was for me. My partner, Leah, and I have unpicked the traditional idea of relationships throughout our own. We’ve always had honest conversations that were free from judgement and jealousy. It was important to set that precedent from the offset.

Through a mixture of research and reading other people’s stories, I felt polyamorous was the best label for me. It might seem like an oxymoron to be polyamorous and have a monogamous partner, but mixed-orientation relationships are normal. I’ve dealt with similar feelings as a bisexual person, as have many others.

I didn’t ask anyone, including my partner, whether they thought I was polyamorous: I came to the conclusion on my own. It was a lightbulb moment. My monogamous partner accepted that.

Being in a monogamous relationship while identifying as polyamorous presents its own set of challenges and assumptions. Does monogamy come naturally to me? No. Do I feel trapped in my relationship? Definitely not. Am I hoping for an open relationship? Nope.

Ultimately, realising I was polyamorous was less about wanting to change my life because I am unhappy (I’m not) and more about wanting to understand myself better.

I think if I wasn’t bisexual or my partner wasn’t queer, the conversations we had would perhaps have been more difficult.

So much of heterosexual culture is built on jealousy and unhealthy relationship dynamics. You see it on social media all the time, often presented as a meme, meant to be funny when actually, it’s not. It’s controlling and coercive.

Being in the queer community, I have come to realise that love is not confined by labels. LGBTQIA+ people have a long, proud tradition of subverting what is considered a normal relationship.

Love, in all its forms, defies containment – which is why I value my monogamous relationship, as well as being polyamorous.

@hariderwisch I write about queer friendship, accounts of this type of love and outsiderness. Navigating high camp, humour & profound sorrow, surviving bereavement & the importance of chosen family. I dare myself to be a raw & authentic storyteller.  He/She/They Hari Derwisch Music obsessed, quote collecting, pop-culture vulture
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