I’m wondering how to approach a relationship with someone who’s polyamorous. I have no experience of that and at the moment no other lovers… Apart from being chill with it and making an effort to look for other people like it’s not really an issue, I could probably do with some hints and tips as a newbie, maybe with stuff like not feeling intimidated being the newest person to it? Also explaining it to other people without them misunderstanding or thinking it’s weird.
Okay, so firstly, being polyamorous is a difficult one to just give ‘tips’ on, mostly because it is what you make of it. Unlike monogamy, there is no set mould or rulebook or ideal of how it should work that’s already shoved down people’s throats when they enter into this relationship realm. It’s the responsibility of the people involved to talk about what they want, and navigate that between themselves. Do not feel that, because you’re new to the community, you should be intimidated by or talked into any particular way of doing things. You’re just as entitled to express your views, opinions and feelings about how you feel things should work. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t plenty to learn from others in the community. People will always have things to teach you, things you could learn from them. But the truth is, nobody is an expert.
Secondly, the whole definition of poly is the openness to the possibility of multiple relationships. You’re still poly even if you’re only currently with one person. Don’t worry about it, just do what you feel is comfortable for you right now.
Explaining to people is a tough one. There’s a great book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy – The Ethical Slut – that gives great guidelines for the more promiscuity-embracing polyamorist. One fine example in the book explains the idea of being in a relationship with more than one person rather well. If a mother has several children, does she love each of them any less? Of course, you’ll eventually find your own ways to explain to people the misunderstandings – people thinking you’re now some crazy sexual predator that’ll fuck anyone and everyone, people reckoning that you’re running away from commitment and spreading yourself too thin, people reckoning that polyamory is really just justified cheating. I could write a whole book on all of the refutes to these basic malassumptions, but Dossie and Janet did a much better job. The basic point is – not everyone has to adhere to some basic sexual paradigm – how we should have sex, with who and how often – that really fits no one. As long as you keep open, keep the conversations going, and keep the questions flowing, all with be fine in the end. And when things get complicated, don’t forget to talk, and listen, in equal measure.
“I’m in a relationship with this guy. He’s very gay though and that annoys me. I feel like I’m gay because I like men as in masculine men; not camp men.”
Firstly, although I understand that you’re referring to a degree of campness when you say ‘gay’ that’s not to say that all people that are ‘very gay’ are very camp. If his personality is something that irritates you, my first question is – why are you with him? If you like someone, you like them, hopefully, not just the space they fill as a “man” in your life. I would suggest that you should think about whether or not you can appreciate someone for who they are before you get into a relationship with them, and he does not deserve to be scorned in an advice column submission just because of who he is. If he’s not your type, that’s cool, but that’s not his fault. Every person is entitled to have different tastes and preferences of who they get into a relationship or have sex with, and you are not obliged to like camp men because you’re gay anymore than straight girls are obliged to fancy ‘lads’.
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