'I want love, intimacy, joy and understanding'- Polyamorous woman explores love with an open mind

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Illustration photo by Getty Images.
Illustration photo by Getty Images.
Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov
  • Ethical non-monogamy is still seen as strange, but this Cape Town woman knows it is what she wants.
  • She is polyamorous and realised it a few months before she turned 30.
  • She is now exploring love with an open mind and not closing herself off to any possibility.
  • This is her story.

I thought that it wasn't something for me. That my dalliance with ethical non-monogamy was just that, but I was wrong. When I was 24, I started dating a man I met at a party. I thought it was only a one-night stand - it turned into a terrible 14-month relationship. 

READ MORE: 'My boyfriend lost his job because of lockdown and refuses to do odd jobs. Should I leave him?'

At the time, he was married to someone else and told me upfront he was polyamorous. I loved the little family we formed; myself, my boyfriend, his wife and her fiancée. I was willing to try out this new relationship dynamic if it meant I could keep my boyfriend and our family. But I didn't realise how toxic the relationship was until after we broke up.

He was extremely emotionally abusive; gaslighting, dismissiveness, name-calling, etc. He also cheated on me (yes, this is possible). It took a long time before I could process the hurt and trauma from that relationship - and also realise this person was not who I thought he was. 

READ MORE: A dating pool full of wokefish: How to spot one and release it from your net before it bites you

I then began periods of casual dating for the next two years. Sometimes, I was seeing three people at once, sometimes I wasn't seeing anyone.

And then I met the man I thought I was going to marry. He was amazing. He was everything I thought I wanted. But he was also monogamous. I thought I was too. I lost myself in him. I realise now I made him the centre of my life instead of making myself the centre of my life.

I did things for him that I shouldn't have because I thought it would make him stay. I gave him all the love I was capable of, but he left anyway. I shouldn't have done that and he had every right to leave if he wasn't happy. 

READ MORE: Bad manners, smoking, religion and more relationship deal-breakers for single women

Before him, I never wanted to marry anyone. I never wanted a conventional relationship. I didn't see myself being anyone's wife or doing the typical relationship trajectory, but with him, I thought I did.

I know now that it isn't what I want. What I want is love, intimacy, joy and understanding. That might come from one partner or many. I don't know yet, but I'm not going to limit myself.

I do know that I am capable of a lot of love. I know that there are people I only want to be friends with and there are people with whom I have deeper connections. I know that my feelings for one person does not affect how I feel about anyone else. I know that love is not finite and that I am capable of giving love to so many people. 

READ MORE: ‘I get dirty looks when I'm with my boyfriend who's 21 years older’ - how age-gap love is undermined

I think polyamory is beautiful and a way of finding connections with various people and not closing yourself off to any of those connections even if they change. I also believe that loving more than one person doesn't make your feelings for any of your partners any less valid.

What is your love story? Tell us about it here.

* Name changed to protect her identity

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