Loved by many

Education is important, and consent is key: Honey Morris discusses how they became accepting and supportive of polyamory

Love comes in many different forms and I would argue that today’s society is more aware and accepting of that than ever. However, polyamory is still, socially, on the back burner of acceptance. Before I was directly confronted with it, I did not contribute much to educating people on the concept. However, this changed and now I would like to share the insight I’ve gained and hopefully challenge the stigma around polyamory. 

After talking to several College students about their personal opinions on and experience with polyamory, I observed that, while students here lean towards acceptance, education on the matter is still lacking. 

How would you work to accept/ welcome a family member that is in a polyamorous relationship?

“It’s their life, they should be able to live it however they want.”

“Initially I wouldn’t quite understand the need to be in a romantic relationship with numerous people at a time. However, if that is what makes the family member happy, it is completely out of my control, and therefore if I truly cared for them, as I would, I would undoubtedly accept their situation. It’s their life, they should be able to live it however they want.” revealed one Senior Fresher engineering student 

Why do you think many polyamorous people choose to hide their relationship?

“I think there is a lot of stigma associated with polyamorous relationships. Many people will assume you’re trying to cheat on a partner and polyamory is your way of disguising it. This is likely due to unfamiliarity with the concept of polygamy.

In Trinity, it feels like homosexuality and even polyamory are accepted, but outside of this bubble, people will exclude you for so much as wearing the wrong shoes. If you come out as polyamorous, your relationship with your family and friends are likely to change in a negative way. Your friends and family may judge you,” explained one Senior Fresher maths student. “You may lose respect in the workplace and lose out on future promotions. Rumours may spread, forcing you to feel isolated.” 

Why do you think polyamory is not as widely accepted as monogamy?

“I think most people consider monogamy to be the default, so if someone is polyamorous a lot of people assume that it’s just kind of cheating with extra steps,” one Junior Fresh Medicine student claimed. “As well, there’s often a very heteronormative child-centric view of relationships and a lot of emphasis placed on having a nuclear family, so the concept of more than two people being in a relationship/being parents is alien to most people.” 

Do you think you would ever be in a polyamorous relationship? 

A Senior Fresh Classics and Latin student responded: “I would be open to it if all of us involved were able to have feelings for each other. I’m afraid that one of the people wouldn’t be into everyone and would consequently feel left out.”

“At the beginning, I did not understand the dynamic and I was scared of how it would affect our family.”

As a family member of a person that is currently in a polyamorous couple, I don’t like to admit, especially being part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, that I too used to be uneducated on the matter. At the beginning, I did not understand the dynamic and I was scared of how it would affect our family. 

The respective family member was married to a partner that had been accepted and loved for years. Then, they introduced the partner they were unofficially dating as a friend and the family liked this person. Conversation flowed easily with them and I personally enjoyed them being around and coming to family game nights. For some reason, when my family member introduced them as a partner, it felt different. I had questions: Did the married partner know? Were they dating them as well? How was I supposed to act around them knowing they were having sex with a married person?!

A few weeks went by, and nothing more was being said about it. I was given the information and asked to move on, but I couldn’t because I was really bothered by the fact that there was this extra person in our family. They had been around for a while, and the term ‘dating’ didn’t change the inside jokes or how nice they were, so what was it that made me feel so uncomfortable?

I tried comparing this relationship to some of my own, and it didn’t work. I have only been in monogamous relationships where only two people share romance, sex, and exclusivity with each other. I could not imagine having another partner to do that with. That’s not me, but it is them. After much thought, I finally realised that I did not understand the consent of the situation, and I was scared the married partner was being pushed out of the picture. I wanted to be a supportive relative, so I educated myself. 

To start, let’s debunk some myths.

  1. Polyamory does not equal cheating.
  2. Polyamory is just another form of love.
  3. Polyamory is, like all other relationships should be, consensual.

Polyamory comes in many different forms and dynamics: polyfidelity, where all members are equal and exclusive to each other, relationship anarchy, where multiple people are in a nonexclusive relationship, and polycule, where all members are linked to one member. Many more dynamics exist outside of what is mentioned above, but the term for the dynamic I’ve been exposed to and educated on is Hierarchical Poly: where there is a primary couple and one or both partners date another partner. Specifically for me, it was a person with a husband and a girlfriend/boyfriend. It took me longer than I would like to admit to understand that this was not an affair, this was a triangle of consensual relationships. 

“This person truly deserves as much love and adoration as they put into this world, and I understand how that could take two people.”

The person I support in their polyamorous relationship is simply receiving love from multiple people, and I do not want anything else for them. This person truly deserves as much love and adoration as they put into this world, and I understand how that could take two people. This was not their first poly relationship, it was just the first one I was told about. I had been great friends with their other lovers before and nothing bad came of it. 

While I personally would not want to be in a polyamorous relationship, the last thing I ever want to do is stop someone from being loved. To those who have a close friend or family member who is in a poly relationship, if your first instinct is to distance yourself from them, ask yourself, what does polyamory really change? There are so many great people in this world and we as friends, family members and allies are lucky enough to see our great person (or people) getting to experience several others. 

There is prejudice left in this society around multiple partners, but it is slowly being fought against and, if you are in a polyamorous relationship and struggle sometimes, hopefully an article like this can help you feel a little more accepted, loved and understood.