Towards Polyamory? A Personal And Unfinished Journey
Polyamory is a new term and concept for me.
It has arisen in my consciousness as the result of an ongoing search for meaning in my life, and as a term that represents a new way of looking at relationships, commitment, fidelity, sexual freedom and personal values.
For me it encompasses feelings of fear and insecurity, but also feelings of belonging, connectedness and liberation from old patterns and stifling conventionalities.
I am thinking about polyamory, among a number of relationship options, as a viable and possibly joyful form of intimate engagement with others.
First, a bit of background.
I am a 64 year old gay man.
I came out in my late 40s – a late bloomer by any definition.
I had a good (sometimes very good) 27 year marriage with a loving woman, and together we raised two daughters.
However (and I suppose this is “a tale as old as time”, as the song goes) there were increasingly protracted periods of depression and frustration as it became clearer to me that this identity was untenable, and I left my marriage.
I set out on a new path.
In the meantime, I retired and moved from Saskatchewan to my place of birth, Nova Scotia.
Of course, leaving my identity in Saskatchewan as a heterosexual family man, as a worker and more recently as a member of a GLBTQ community, had its challenges and adaptations, but today I am in an almost 4 year relationship with a loving man.
However, there are still stirrings of discontent and frustration.
I am still on a journey of discovery, unpeeling layers of personal history - genetics, upbringing, the aging process - and within that context attempting to carve out a life that represents who I am.
Who, in fact, am I, and what do I want?
My partner and I introduced the idea of non-monogamy into our conversation about two years ago.
In those two years we have experimented, including others in our sexual lives, both separately and as a couple.
My partner wanted the experience of variety, and I wanted to find a less rigid and conventional means of expressing my sexuality.
We have stopped and started this process a couple of times, due primarily to my discomfort. We have very different views about sex.
For my partner, sex is sex, a recreational activity whose goal is mutual pleasure.
It does not involve emotion or any level of commitment (other than the potential for FWB: Friends-with-benefits).
For me, sex is about connection and belonging, intimacy and meaning. Sex is about love and friendship and commitment.
So we come to polyamory, the concept of experiencing more than one intimate partner, of sharing lives in a deep and meaningful way with multiple participants, and of enlarging and engaging with one’s notion of relationship.
For me this is a fraught process.
The very idea of engaging intimately with someone other than one’s partner, and other than in fantasy, has been utterly foreign to me.
The process of expanding my sexual contacts has pushed so many buttons – insecurity, confidence, value judgements, fear, anxiety, aging and sexual performance, abandonment, aloneness, jealousy, social censure.
On the other hand, I firmly believe that we should never expect one person to satisfy all our needs – a huge responsibility to place on another’s shoulders, and an abrogation of our own responsibility for our own lives.
This part of my personal journey, undertaken at a time when many people are questioning the meaning of their lives as they settle into old age, remains unfinished.
In my worst moments, I feel a sense of extreme anxiety, and sadness and loss at the discarding of values and beliefs by which I was raised and to which I subscribed throughout my life.
In my best moments I look forward with optimism and excitement to the expansion of possibilities in relationship and connection.
Ken was born and raised in Nova Scotia, and after working in Western Canada for almost 30 years, retired and returned home to the Halifax area. He is a painter, gardener, reader and cat herder.
Below are two youtube videos
of interviews Frank Kermit was involved with regarding Polyamory
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