Be a Slut

By

Do whatever you want.

By MEGAN SIMS

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated polyamory until I went into the psych ward. Someone I was dating had told me about the midnight showing of Mad Max in black and white at the Coolidge Corner Theater weeks before. I’d initially hoped to go and actually watch the movie (which we’d tried and failed to do several times). But things got in the way and I checked into McLean the day before the showing. When I found out that he was going with another person he was interested in, I was excited, glad he was able to have this date he’d wanted with someone while I took care of my mental health.

He once asked me if it was weird that he was excited for me to hook up with hot people. I told him no, and that there was a word for it. Compersion is the feeling of joy you have when witnessing another’s joy. For people who engage in polyamorous relationships, this often takes the form of being happy when your partner is happy, even if that happiness comes from someone else.

Poly can mean lots of different things depending on the people in the relationship. Broadly speaking, it’s an umbrella term to describe relationships that are nonmonogamous, meaning they involve more than two people in some capacity. This can involve having an open relationship with a primary partner, having a closed relationship with more than two people involved, having multiple partners without a hierarchical structure, or relationship anarchy, which outright refuses differences.

These are only a few different models among infinite variations that can constitute a poly relationship. It’s all about negotiating with other people involved what will work best for you. I’ve been in relationships that were sexually open, romantically open, and now one that is non-hierarchical in that there is no set rule that I prioritize any one relationship over another.

Poly for me was at first a way to explore my bisexuality. Perhaps this contributes to some of the negative stereotypes about bisexuality, but I know many multisexual people who are much happier being monogamous. Once I started having relationships with partners of many genders, I quickly grew to realize that there was more to my desire to be open. I can continue to have feelings for one person while developing them for another, and for me this only enhances all of the relationships involved.

Once I started feeling a little bit better, my boyfriend and I would talk on the phone every day while I was on the unit. We would talk about our days and I would hear about his boyfriend and other people he was dating. It made me happy to know that we were both getting what we needed in the moment even though what we needed was very different. In most of our lives, we’re not expected to rely on one person for everything. We have friends that are better to go out with and friends that are great listeners, and we don’t expect these to be the same. Yet with romantic partners, our default is to assume that one person should be able to fulfill all of our needs. Realizing that this isn’t how people work and that I don’t have to live in this model has given me the opportunity to get to know myself, and others, on a level I never expected.

Learning to have poly relationships has taught me a lot about communication and about what I expect from the relationships I have. I realized that I would rather have a relationship where we can wingman each other than one where the idea of attraction to other people is strictly off limits. I know this is particular to me. For many people, commitment means committing to rejecting other options. For me, it’s about the continuous renewal of the desire to be in a person’s life.

I would never say that everyone should be poly. They shouldn’t. All I hope is that more people will begin to take a step back from the prescriptions of relationships to figure out what they really want and what will really work for them in the long run. My motto is, and always will be, be a slut, do whatever you want.

Megan Sims ([email protected]) supports any and all relationship models as long as they involve respect, consent, and communication.