Everyone says that being in a relationship is so easy, but that is honestly bullshit. Relationships are among the most concerning and confusing aspects of my life. Ever since I started seriously dating at 17 years old, I have struggled with a sort of cognitive dissonance—that dissonance between wanting to be single when I am in a relationship and wanting to be in a relationship when I am single still baffles me to this day.
Before my first serious relationship, I would be known as a player. I liked to have my cake and eat it too. For me, I was the most comfortable marketing myself to a variety of individuals, rather than finding the right one. I liked to talk and flirt with multiple people at once because I was extremely lonely and for me, multiple people filled that void in different ways. Some people I liked to only talk to day and night, others I would use for other means of attention. For me, that was the ideal aspect of seeing many people at the same time, but in the eyes of others, I was seen as a "manwhore" or a "user." Therefore, I could not continue the ideal I wanted because of the societal pressure of monogamy. Thus, in 2014, I asked one of my lovers to be my boyfriend.
Honestly, I was terrified to be calling someone my official boyfriend but also delighted at the same time because It would bring many firsts and much happiness. However, it quickly faded when I began to see the cracks in our relationship. Once I noticed the cracks, I turned to other things and people. I ended up virtually cheating on him, and that was the end of our relationship. To this day, we have made peace with it, and I have not done it again. However, this is what got me thinking about that dissonance I have so deep in my heart and that is when I learned of what polyamory was.
What is polyamory you may ask? Well, polyamory is a special type of open relationship in which there is a "main partner" who you use as your anchor, and there are your "side partners." What makes polyamory different than straight-up cheating is the fact that it is a mutual and consensual agreement that each partner is aware of. It knocked down the secrecy of cheating and opened up a whole new way for me to have my cake and eat it too –– with my partner's consent. Thus, I began a journey that would bring me much happiness, but not all of it was good.
Personally, it was fun to have someone to always talk to and go to for love and support, as well as someone who can understand that no matter how many partners I was seeking out, that they were the one I loved. In a way, polyamory is a game of power and control, where one person may have more partners than the other or the other one might start feeling jealous. However, what polyamory is good for is building trust and breaking those jealous tendencies that are within our human lives. Being polyamorous was a great decision on my part because I no longer felt lonely. At least for me, it was quite the time in my life and it built my confidence up.
When I got to college, the game had changed dramatically for me because I was surrounded by new (and hotter) people as well as many new opportunities. Thus, I ended it with my boyfriend and began a new life. It may sound like I just dropped him but honestly, polyamory had quelled my relationship cognitive dissonance in more ways than one because the exploration allowed me to see what I liked and what I did not, without having to keep going through the cycle of finding someone, being with them for a time, then saying goodbye over and over again. However, great I felt whilst in that period of my life, it was also painful to come to the realization that I was manipulating many people. Although they were all aware of my boyfriend at the time, some of them were not in the loop that I wasn't trying to date them seriously, despite my explanations. Thus, I recommend that if you are going to dabble in polyamory, be mindful of other people's feelings and be open and communicative when it comes to those jealous times.
From that experience, I have experienced healthy monogamous relationships as well as becoming comfortable with being open and communicative in all of my relationships whether it is an open relationship or an exclusive one. It really helped me to figure out my feelings and my confidence in myself and the dating world.