In my experience when you read about poly relationships, people tend to cast it all in one light; it’s always either the greatest or the hardest thing that they’ve ever done. The truth is it’s a bit of both and often at the same time. There is a lot of struggle but there is also a lot of reward if you can be patient even when it isn’t easy to be (and it often isn’t). Anyone that tells you that it’s easier than (or less of) a commitment than monogamy is misleading you; the struggles are different but they aren’t less and they are quite often more complicated.
We are all full of moving parts and the number of them that have to work together to keep everyone feeling fulfilled grows with each new addition to a polycule. It’s easy to think of only your own part of a relationship by default, but in order to maintain healthy boundaries and balance, you have to be aware of your needs, your partners needs and often their partners needs.
My time with Maeve has been filled with so many wonderful moments and some really difficult ones as well. Learning to balance needs and expectations in a new non-monogamous relationship has been a challenge for everyone involved and at times we’ve all alternately shined or failed. I’ve illustrated some of those moments below in hopes of giving a more balanced and realistic view of what struggles and triumphs poly life can bring.
Sitting on the floor of the hotel suite at the sex party the day we met; I wanted to kiss her on the forehead as she laid curled up in the chair falling asleep. Everyone else around us was still circling looking for sex and I just wanted to pull her up on to my lap and hold her as she dozed off. I hadn’t slept with anyone that night and whenever she walked into the room, I couldn’t help but look her way. This is the first moment in a long time I’d felt a real want for someone and it caught me off guard.
On our first date when she invited herself in and we fell asleep having fooled around but not fucked. The next morning we woke early and did sleep together and it was even better for having waited the night. Before she went home to Quinn I told her that I hoped that I could see her again. This is the first moment that I realized that I didn’t just want something casual with her, I wanted to date her non-monogamously.
Driving through the smokey mountains together, I told her things about myself that were deeply intimate and that some other girlfriends/partners had taken issue with in the past, particularly things about my work in adult entertainment. We talked about scenes I’d performed in and the people that I performed with and it was the first time in a long time a partner asked me questions with a sincere interest and not just morbid curiosity. This is the moment that I realized that I didn’t have to compartmentalize who I am with Maeve.
We walked through the isles of the leather shop that I’d frequented in my impressionable youth and we found a red leather posture collar with black piping on it. I told Maeve to lift her hair and turn around and when she did, I buckled the collar, making sure that it was a good fit. She turned around and I grabbed the ring, watching the flicker of excitement crawl across her face as she looked deep into my eyes. This is the first moment that I felt like we were really committing to something long term. We’d been living in the moment up until then and spoke of future plans, but that moment felt like the promise of a tomorrow together.
We sat there in the August warmth on a wooden bench, listening to the Celtic band playing music in the makeshift outdoor tavern. She had one foot up on the bench in front of us and when her leg poked out from beneath her dress, I ran my fingers along her soft skin. “I want to go to Edinburgh with you!” she said excitedly and I realized that I wanted to go everywhere with her. She looked at me with those bright eyes and I thought ‘oh fuck’. This is the moment that I knew beyond a doubt that I was in love with her.
On the plane on the way home from our road trip she curled up on me and slept. I ran my fingers through her hair and breathed her in as I planted little kisses on the top of her head. She’d asked earlier in the day “”How are we going to make this work when we get home? We both have such busy lives!”. I’d reassured her in the moment, but holding her on the plane, I was worried that seeing each other would be hard. She had another partner that she lived with (Quinn) and we both had a lot of travel coming up; I knew I wanted to see her as much as I could but I wasn’t sure how much would be possible or how to reconcile that with what I wanted from this very new relationship with her. This is the first moment that I saw and felt the edges and limits of our relationship.