Polyamory is a difficult thing. It makes a sort of sense, in that it makes sense to me that it is possible to fall in love with multiple people. I have fallen in love with multiple people, but I can’t imagine being in multiple relationships.
My partner can, and is. And that can be hard. Because it’s all about balance.
I’m a jealous person. I can handle jealousy, within certain limits. She used to be a jealous person. She isn’t anymore. Which is to say, she has defeated jealousy almost completely. Not me. I can be jealous and then watch my jealousy and laugh at it. And then there’s a level of jealousy where I can be jealous, not see it and act really weird. And finally, there’s the jealousy that I can feel it, I can recognize but I cannot laugh off.
These days I’m oscillating between the funny jealousy and the gut removing jealousy. And the period of oscillation is quite short, making me really queasy through the whole process. What do you do when your tolerance is… no, actually, what do you do when your jealousy is really being held in by a well-used rubber band of tolerance, and sometimes it contracts and sometimes it expands, and you don’t know if you’re being squeezed or exploding?
We learn early that fidelity means monogamy, and it means particularly monogamy between married people, and it’s based on the stars-in-your-eyes love that you fall into when you’re young and that’s supposed to carry you through to old age when you’re toothless and adorable. It means that you’ll never look at another, or look and think, “Ah, well,” and smile fondly at your partner, and that’ll be that.
But that’s not fidelity. That’s monogamy and romance, and it’s a bit of a dream. Which is not to say that monogamous couples don’t live lives of fidelity among themselves. But the whole picture is one of those white lies you get told as a child, like Santa, except no one disabuses you of it when you’re older. No one says, yes, that would be nice, but there’s a lot of cheating going on in the most peaceful-seeming marriages, and there’s a lot of lying, and spouses fart a great deal and sometimes, just sometimes, you get so annoyed with how your spouse pick his teeth or how she hums her songs that, for a split second, you do contemplate blunt-instrument murder.
Fidelity is this: I love you how you are. And I will stay with you for the rest of life, provided you stay honest with me, and I stay honest with you, and you tell me when you hate this, and I tell you when I hate this. And you don’t hurt me on purpose and you’re sorry when you hurt me on accident. And I don’t hurt you on purpose and I’m sorry when I do it on accident. You are first in my heart. And everything else is window-dressing, or negotiation, or outside expectations, or somewhat painful each-other-discovery.
Fidelity is that I chose you because of who you are as whole and who you might be, and no your happiness is first in my heart.