For some people, monogamy and traditional relationships just aren’t practical. My life-partner and I have never been fixed on specific gender roles, and for the past year have been experimenting with the idea of flexibility in our relationship. We’ve redefined it to mean honesty, communication, trust and a willingness to re-evaluate the terms of our agreement. So far, this sounds like a mostly standard view on how relationships work. Ours tends to be seen as more complicated, however, as I reveal to people that I am bisexual, and my life-partner and I are polyamorous.
We both understand the need for variety, although my life-partner doesn’t ‘swing both ways’ like I do. We also understand that there are different ways to be in a relationship. The agreement is open-ended, and as long as there is open communication, there are no problems. For many, this system is bizarre, not for them, maybe even repulsive, but for people like me, the subscriptions of what relationships ‘should’ be just don’t work. There is no hard, straight line. Life is not black and white, and I hope this post can help de-stigmatize alternative relationships and sexualities. To help draw attention to some problematic phrasing, here’s a list of questions I frequently hear, a list I can also call 8 Things I Hate Hearing as a Bisexual & Polyamorous Person:
1. You have to pick one.
For some people, bisexuality has been a path to slowly accept the reality that they are a gay or lesbian or other type of person. For others still, bisexuality is where they’ve landed and are not headed towards being “fully gay/lesbian”. It simply is who they are.
2. That’s great, just don’t hit on me.
Just because the possibility to like both or multiple genders and people at the same time is there, doesn’t mean I’m not selective in my partners.
3. Yeah, but which do you like more?
This goes back to the “pick one” issue. Men do not fully cover all of my needs physical or otherwise. Neither do women. Sometimes there is a need for both. Sometimes not. Not being honest to myself about that has caused more problems than coming to terms with my needs.
4. So, you’ll just sleep with anyone?
Whether selective or not, it’s really not your business to ask. Before I recognized my bisexuality, I didn’t just sleep with any random guy, and the same applies now to both men and women.
5. So, do you like, find me attractive?
This is totally a case-by-case basis. As I’m sure it is with you straight people.
6. Polyamory never works.
Lack of communication never works, no matter your preference or relationship situation.
7. You’re not really bi, this is just a phase.
If we’ve moved past saying this to gay and lesbian people, how much more of a stretch is it to realize that a) my personal path to self-discovery, awareness and acceptance is not up to you nor your business and b) this statement can be really damaging. I respect and value variety of opinion, it’s only fair that the curtesy be returned.
8. Polyamory is cheating.
Polyamory is not a way to excuse cheating. It requires nothing less than total openness and communication of all involved parties.
There are, I’m certain many other points to make under here, but to sum everything up, I’d like to petition you to see that while you may not subscribe to an alternative relationship or sexuality, the validity of these identities must be adopted. By saying these aren’t valid ways to live, you are helping to erase and belittle someone who is just trying to be themselves. I decided to write this post after a minor incident in the workplace where I felt judged and attacked as a polyamorous person, and I admit that this poem is somewhat snarky, but this poem makes my point and can be applied to bisexuality as well.
Why is it
so hard to accept
there is more than
one straight line to be?
Life is nothing if not a series
crossroads where ideas
Meet, shake hands,
there is more.
There are more
colors than your average
black, white and grey
life that your belief demands
I can be bi, pansexual,
live with a man,
sleep with a woman,
What’s the difference?
If you can accept
gay and lesbian, then you
should be able to
See, queer is more
than binary codes, one plus one,
and if you can’t do the math,
if you can’t see outside
your hard, straight line,
Because I’m not interested.
I’m not going to hit on you,
You’re not my type.