"Why can't bisexuals choose a side? You're so greedy!"
"If you're polyamorous, does that mean you sleep with everybody?"
"Is every sexual experience like an Eyes Wide Shut orgy?"
There isn't a bisexual and/or polyamorous person on the planet who hasn't heard these questions verbatim or a variation of them. I take it in stride these days, but I also recognize that the exalting of heterosexuality and monogamy is problematic for those of us who don't fit neatly into these boxes. As it is Bisexual Visibility Week, I hope that sharing my experiences as a polyamorous bisexual can dispel some of the misinformation and crank open closed minds.
To start, I've been lucky. I was raised in a progressive, secular household, and when I came out as bisexual at 17, my parents were supportive. I had the advantage of living in New York City, which provided ample opportunities to meet others in the LGBT community. I recall those early days of going to Pride events and clubs, doing some semblance of flirting, and sipping alcohol to counter my anxiety. In college, I had intimate experiences only with women because I trusted them more, which still holds true today. When my relationship with my second girlfriend dissolved, I started to seriously question if monogamy was the right model for me.
It wasn't. It isn't. And it's safe to say it never will be.
The flak I've received for being bisexual doubles when people discover I'm involved with more than one person. And when I say I go to swinger parties, hands clutch pearls, eyes pop out of sockets, and there's this overwhelming concern about the state of my health. It's assumed that I have legions of lovers, but the reality couldn't be more different. If there's no intellectual and emotional connection, sex won't be enough to sustain me. My two principal partners, who I love and trust with all my heart, understand this all too well. The lines of communication are always open, and if the sex were to end for whatever reason, friendship would be the default.
My male partner is content with just me, but the woman is a free spirit. We're unusual, to be sure -- an interracial, cross-generational, same-sex couple with an open arrangement. We met through mutual friends at a party, and my gaydar must have been malfunctioning that night, because I had no inkling that she was interested in me until the signs were too overt to miss. Since then, we've established a beautiful relationship, and we're curious about each other's sexual conquests, past and present. I like to know in detail what others have done to please her, and I'm only too willing to share what does "it" for me.
Jealousy flares up on occasion, but it's hardly an insurmountable problem. The root cause is insecurity, which is quite a human thing. Everybody is insecure about something. As an athlete, I'm hard on myself when it comes to my body, but my lady loves it just the way it is. She can be self-conscious when we go out dancing because she has quite a few years on me. But my friends love her, and I've been with mature people in the past, so I have no reservations about the 21-year age difference. As the younger woman, I can introduce her to what's hip, but there's also much to learn from somebody who has been around longer.
Are there boundaries and limitations in our relationship? Yes, and we make sure to voice them. We keep our number of partners low and always have protected sex. Is there a chance that the dynamics could change as time goes on? Could the distance due to frequent travel prove to be too much of a strain? All possible. But for now, I'm grateful to have a woman who loves and supports me as she does. I want her in my life in some capacity, always.
I have more than one lover for the same reason I have more than one friend. It's simply unrealistic and ridiculous to expect any one person to provide everything I want and need. My success in the world of polyamory stems from loving myself first and having enough love left over to offer those who deserve it. Monogamy may be more prevalent, but polyamory allows more breathing room to explore. It's not a crime to be attracted to other people, and there's nothing wrong with acting on that attraction so long as it's consensual, legal, and safe.
Polyamory affords me full agency in all my relationships, platonic and carnal. And for somebody with so much love to give, that's invaluable.
SPENCER JONES is a Renaissance woman who loves to write, read, draw, study languages, and interact with freethinking people. Follow her adventures on Instagram @dismantledthenovel.