bookmark_borderI am a feminist

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

I am a feminist. Perhaps not a very good one, but I’m still learning.

Hang on, how can you be a bad feminist? I’m either a feminist or not. Let me start over.

I am a feminist.

I thank my Mum for even though, I wasn’t consciously registering it, her constant, quiet, protestations about the patriarchy (not a word she has ever used) stuck in my brain.

I know the very last thing anyone needs is another white cis male voice in this conversation, but as that would bring a fairly premature end to this piece then please forgive me as I batter on.

Feminism is not a topic I write about very often for the reason stated above, but I do listen and try and amplify others when and where I can, I also try not be mindful of my communications and my actions. I don’t always get it right, but when I get it wrong I own my mistake and try and make things right as best I can.

So, what does that have to do with polyamory?

Honesty, trust, communication, being open and listening to my partners and understanding that they have an equal place in the relationship is a reasonable summary of my approach to polyamory and matches my attitude and approach to feminism.

There is also a parallel, no doubt better explored and written about by others, between feminism and polyamory. Both are a deliberate choice, a break away from the more ‘traditional’ (i.e. culturally accepted) norms of monogamy where the man is the ‘primary’ and the women is ‘secondary’.

I am a feminist. A non-monogamist feminist.

I should probably get a t-shirt made or something…

bookmark_borderOn Cheating

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

There are many ways in which polyamorous and monogamous relationships are not only similar, but identical and, at a basic level, cheating is one of them.

If you are seeing someone without telling your partner(s), you are cheating.

Within a poly relationship this is no different and relies on honesty and trust, and no small amount of talking.

Which is no different to any other aspect of polyamory, communication and honesty are key.

So how could someone end up cheating? Well it depends on what the expectations are within a given relationship, what is agreed and allowable by all, and that everyone is being clear on what they want, and what they don’t want.

First things first; safety. If you and your partners have been tested for STIs, and are happy to not use condoms (technical term: fluid bonded), then obviously the risks rise when another sexual partner is added to the mix.

Beyond that, how you and your partners define cheating is up to you. You can require notice and a level of approval of any new partner, or allow for casual relationships as long as they are carried out safely and everyone is kept in the know. The latter allows for one-night stands, the former protects your current relationships.

And if you have cheated, owning up is the hardest part. Admitting you have done something wrong and accepting whatever the consequences may be.

It may surprise some people that being poly doesn’t remove the chance of being cheated on, or the circumstances that can lead to cheating. After all the act of cheating is a personal, singular one, it is a decision that you take knowingly, even if you don’t want to admit that to yourself.


Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

Every month the Poly Means Many bloggers choose a topic to write about. Some months I find it easy, some months I find it more difficult. Whilst I’ve now identified as non-monogamous/poly for a couple of years now, I’m lucky that my relationships haven’t massively changed in that time.

When we started out exploring this lifestyle we eschewed the idea of hierarchies largely because they just felt wrong to us, it didn’t feel right to start out with a set of rules that could limit how things progressed in the future. From day one we’ve understood that this lifestyle allows our relationships to grow and morph into new things, and that means accepting they may also shrink or come to a natural end.

So, other than the element of time, we don’t have any agreed hierarchies in place in our set of relationships.

In practice, however, it’s not that easy. I think it’s human nature to look for structures and a way to understand something new and there is still one element which will, whether we realise it or not, give some guidance that forms the early parts of a multi-relationship dynamic; time.

It’s not something we can control; the facts are that Kirsty and I have been seeing each other for several years, whereas Clare and I, and Kirsty and Mark, have only recently passed the two year stage. For Clare and Mark, both entering new relationships that is something they’ve had to contend with and it’s natural to presume that the longer standing relationship holds more sway, weight and power.

Counteracting that requires a lot of clear communication that there isn’t a hierarchy at play and reassurance that each relationship holds the same weight as the other.

I know that some polyamorous and open relationships work within an agreed hierarchy, from what I’ve read it helps the people involved understand where they fit and allows for some relationship decisions to be made without involving each person (with clear communication around the decision of course).

For some people, the need for structures and clear rules around their relationships helps set and manage expectations, it can be helpful if there is a differing need within each set of relationships, and equally I have read that the primary/secondary style hierarchy offers the primary relationship some protection.

Equally I’ve read that the lifestyle I’ve chosen to be a part of being described as relationship anarchy but at that point we are veering into the deeper waters of the poly community to a place where each style, construct and format of relationship must have a label.

I’ve never been a big fan of labels, I’ve also never been a big fan of rules, even though I fully bought into the most accepted rule based relationship we know; monogamy and marriage.

Maybe I was lucky that during early chats about how we might approach being non-monogamous both my partner and I quickly dismissed the idea of a hierarchy. For me that allowed us the space for our other relationships to grow into whatever they needed to be, after all, how can you rule out falling in love with someone else?

Hierarchies may be right for you, and I know a lot of poly literature suggests it is something to look at but hopefully if you are open-minded enough to be looking at moving to a non-monogamous set of relationships, you’ll be open-minded enough to treat hierarchies as what they are, only one suggestion of how you could live your life.

bookmark_borderIs Saturation Good or Bad?

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

I’m going to try and write this month’s Poly Means Many piece without using the word that I think best sums up my approach to the topic of poly saturation because I’ve already dedicated an article to my thoughts on that topic. It begins with a b and ends in alance, but I’m not going to use that word here.

So, this month we are writing about saturation – is it just me or does at hint at lascivious activities? The dictionary definition includes: soaked, impregnated, or imbued thoroughly; charged thoroughly or completely; brought to a state of saturation.

Oh my.

That said, saturation also has a slightly negative connotation, as it’s frequently coupled with over, and as we all know, to be over saturated is not a good thing.

Of course when we apply the word saturation to polyamory, which itself is the notion of being able to love more than one person and suddenly the word saturation seems out of place, after all there is no such thing as ‘too much love’, right?

Love = relationships, regardless of how they are defined (and we should probably write about that word in the future, “relationships” will be a rich vein of thinking) so you could say, on the purest level, that it can’t be right that one person could have too many relationships, too much love.

But of course there are other constraints to a relationship, other reasons why someone who is poly may feel saturated, so I guess the real question I need to be asking myself is, how do I know?

Do I have too many relationships? Do I want to have more relationships than I can handle? How many is too many? How many is not enough?

As with most of these things, there is no one size fits all response. At present I have two relationships and have pondered, on and off, whether I could manage another, or for that matter if I even want another.

Being open about my poly lifestyle may help my own mindset, it may allow for a third wholly casual relationship (which may allow me to explore some other things my current partners can’t offer me) which itself would bring additional pressures on my current relationships both in terms of availability (time) and dealing with any New Relationship Energy (NRE) that would inevitably occur

And that’s all before finding someone who is happy with a casual relationship… and weirdly presumes that you can permanently keep a relationship in a single state. It’s no wonder my mind continues to churn.

Looking forward there are a myriad of thoughts to be considered and discussed both with myself and my partners and, as ever, that communication will help me see whether adding ‘one more’ to my current lifestyle is even feasible, let alone desirable.

Add in the other parts of my life, work, Yelp events, ISTC website development, holidays, getting to the gym more often, even down to the basics of keeping my flat tidy and other boring household chores… and yeah it might even come down to a matter of time, perhaps I am already happily saturated as it is.

Or perhaps the fact I even have to consider whether I am, or not, suggests that, at least emotionally, I feel that I still have some room in there for someone else?

Ultimately I’m not stressing about my current relationships, nor about whether I want/need another. These days the main advantage of being poly is one that I’ve not yet utilised, far from being in a place where saturation is an issue, I’m just enjoying the fact that being poly allows for that situation to arise naturally. The opportunity is there whether I force it (and seek out someone new) or it happens naturally and, for me, that’s a welcome balance to try and strike.

Dammit, I was trying to avoid that “b” word!

bookmark_borderThe Truth About Polyamory

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

I tend to research new things. I like to have a sense of what I’m getting, whether it’s buying a new car, starting a new hobby, or changing my lifestyle. So when I first heard about polyamory I found some articles, read some blog posts, bought some books and generally tried to absorb what I could.

At this point I should mention that my approach to such research isn’t really all that deep, I’m more a skim reader than an in-depth researcher. So I’ll be the first to admit that even after doing some reading, a lot of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned through trial and error.

It’s safe to say I’ve read, and continue to read, a lot of articles about polyamory, and whilst it might just be Baader-Meinhof (frequency illusion) kicking in, there does seem to be a change in the frequency of hearing about poly more mainstream places – magazines and newspapers, rather than on personal or collaborative blogs (like this one) – or maybe I’m just more attuned to seeing those articles and find out about them because I have a few poly people on my Twitter timeline. Regardless, I’m glad that the general awareness of polyamory is being raised.

Now that I’m a couple of years into this lifestyle I find myself casting a different eye over the articles that I do read. I tend to shy away from the types of articles that only cover a very specific relationship structure, or come at things with a fixed view of the world. But, I know that’s me applying my own filters, so I read them anyway as there is always something to learn, right?

When the Guardian published an article called A tale of two lovers (or three, or four): the truth about polyamory I was intrigued; Would this be another article that I agreed with, or another article that stated things with authority about this lifestyle?

The author of the piece, Emer O’Toole, writes honestly and openly about her experiences and the journey she’s been through and, whilst it is different from mine, it was refreshing to read a piece that steered away from the ‘rules of poly’ style writings I so loathe.

The article is a good read, and there are a couple of thoughts I wanted to pick out:

“Like monogamy, poly needs work. But, perhaps unlike monogamy, it also helps to have some theory. You can’t just imitate the patterns you see around you.”

This, for me, was the most daunting thing when we first started ‘being poly’. How do you know if you are doing it right? I guess Kirsty and I were lucky in that we had some poly friends and knew a little bit about their background. But without any societal patterns to follow, it’s hard to know if things are going well, or not.

“And it certainly isn’t positioning monogamous people as more blindly traditional or less emotionally evolved than you.”

My pet peeve, in general, is this sort of thinking. I experience it in many places, the presumption that my statement of X automatically means I am opposed to Y. I don’t identify with, or understand, this way of thinking but I know it exists.

For the record, I want to live in a world where your relationships are yours to define, live and let live and all that.

“Instead of feeling as though I’m living within a restrictive set of rules, guiltily desiring secret things, I feel as though we’re writing the rules together.”

This, for me, is the takeaway thought from this article. For many people who are pondering a change to their relationship definition (be that an open relationship, polyamory or anything else that breaks away from the unwritten rules of monogamy) this is probably the driving factor. Somewhere, deep inside, you aren’t happy with your relationship but how do you change that?

The hardest part of becoming poly, for me, was being completely honest with myself about what I wanted from life and it continues to be something I find myself evaluating.

Like Emer, I find that being poly isn’t a fixed thing, there isn’t an ‘end state’ that is predetermined. I know that within my relationships we chat of being in a ‘big happy poly family’ and maybe one day all sharing a big poly house, but equally we are all aware that our relationships tomorrow might not be in the same form, or the same structure, as they are today.

That, for me is why poly works for me, it’s not a fixed state, there is no single definition of how it should work. You talk to your partners openly and honestly, set your own guidelines and rules, and as you all evolve, as the relationships morph in different ways you talk some more and adapt. Ultimately, life is happier because everyone is getting what they truly want from it.

If you’ve read this far, then please go and read the second half of Emer’s article where some of her friends describe their relationships. For me this is a better example of ‘being poly’ than anything I’ve written (or will write).

bookmark_borderLooking after yourself

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at

Despite having written many posts for Poly Means Many, and many more that are introspective, the topic for this month has lead me to revisit some uncomfortable conversations and realisations that I’ve had over the past few years. Truth be told it’s been good and is probably something I should do a little more often.

When you first start out on the poly journey all the articles and books suggest that you take some time to check in with yourself, to assess what you want and above all to be honest with yourself.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds but it is the bedrock on which a lot of the other structures that a poly relationship needs is built.

Honesty, like understanding, begins at home, with yourself. In order to be honest with another person, you must first be honest with yourself, and part of that means recognizing and acknowledging the reality of who you are and the reality of your situation.
From More Than Two

For me I had to revisit the root causes of my depression and my tendency to presume unspoken expectations; it meant I had to be honest with myself that I like to be the person that helps, the person who ‘fixes’ things; it meant I had to realise that I need to keep time for me, rather than overcommitting to ‘make other people happy’.

There is a wealth of conversations, realisations, dark moments and tears behind a lot of that, and some of it still bubbles up from time to time and catches me off guard. The difference now is that both my partners are aware of this and I know that I can (and should) talk to them about how I’m feeling.

It wasn’t always the way but, as I’ve been told many times, I need to look after myself so I can look after the ones I love. So whether I’m just alright, doing ok, or feeling good, I am honest about my mood and what I think might be causing it. It’s only fair to my partners, and it’s important for me to acknowledge as well.

Being poly isn’t easy, you need to account for the emotions, energy levels, schedule and desires of others, it’s a constant balancing act which is made all the easier by being honest. Only then are you being true to yourself and only then can you avoid the negatives that can creep in, the build up of small pockets of stress that can lead to blowouts and confrontations.

For me the key to looking after myself is to be honest and to realise that I am allowed to call out for help, or to reschedule a night, or change plans, as long as it’s being done for the right reasons.