I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist dating a polyamorous man. My polyamorous boyfriend has another girlfriend. They live together and have done so for the better part of a decade.
He doesn’t demand that I’m monogamous, but in his dream world, I would only date other women. That’s because he’s way into that, the kinky beast that he is.
He has admitted that he would have a hard time with me dating another man, but he understands that this is a pretty hypocritical stance given the fact that he goes home to another woman every night.
I can’t speak about every single person in a polyamorous relationship, I can only speak about my relationship, and even then mostly only from my perspective.
When people find out that I’m not dating other men, they have a hard time reconciling that with the fact that I’m a feminist. To them, the fact that my polyamorous boyfriend is having sex with another woman is inherently sexist and disrespectful to me.
On paper, I agree, but in practice, it’s very different.
I told myself at the start of this relationship that I didn’t want to be a doormat again. After surviving a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship, I became a serial monogamist, latching on to two men who both weren’t ready for something serious.
The relationship I’m in now may be with a polyamorous man, but it’s the first relationship I’ve been in where I feel safe. In large part, that’s because of the logistics of dating a polyamorous person.
There’s a lot of scheduling, and we don’t see each other as often as we would if we were monogamous. This means I have the time I didn’t even know I needed to get back to myself.
It sounds silly, but having time alone to go the gym, on a long walk, binge on video games and bad TV, these are the things nurture me and inner life. Those were also the things I’d given up in my emotionally abusive relationship.
I lost a sense of who I was and what made me happy. I’m getting that back now. In a polyamorous relationship, there is less time and space to be coy or to play games.
You have to say what you mean. You have to be aware of your feelings. You have to be able to ask for what you want without being afraid that the other person is going to abandon you.
I say no to my boyfriend more often than I say no to anyone else, because I feel the freedom to knowing how much he loves me. Not wanting to go to the movies isn’t going make him not love me anymore.
My feminist sensibilities understand that he loves getting his cake and eating too, but he’s not a (total) Neanderthal. He knows that his sexual fantasies don’t mesh with reality.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean that I get to judge the behavior of other women. Being a feminist means that I get to be vocal in my belief that men and women are equal and should be treated so in all areas.
If I’m well and truly happy, and my partner is happy, and his partner is happy, that is the end of that. Ideology is important. You’ve got to have a system of belief to exist on this planet.
But life is more than ideas, it’s action. My partner is polyamorous and he treats women as his equals. My partner is polyamorous and he sees me as a human being with ideas and beliefs worthy of time and attention.
Things change. That’s the nature of the universe. I don’t doubt that I will change with them. But right now, that’s the truth as I see it and believe it.
That’s the way I’m living it, and there’s nothing, in my opinion, more feminist than that.
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She’s an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.