Continuing Education

I came out as Polyamorous in the early days of 2020, just before COVID-19 swept the face of the planet.

My then-boyfriend-now-husband, Ray, and I were enjoying a beautiful weekend in Palm Springs, California, attending an annual bear event. I’d snagged a copy of ”Ethical Slut,” a book that had been both recommended to me, and I’d seen referenced many times in a variety of posts online, and had gotten through most of it by the time we arrived at our resort. Over the weekend, in quiet moments of the morning, or in the afternoon during a ”disco nap” siesta, I found myself buried deep in the pages under the warm southern California sun.

Everythign I was reading really, deeply resonated with me.

It wasn’t until after I’d spent a fantastic afternoon with René, and felt a deep flush of connection to him, that I drew Ray close, and decided to get his thoughts on this new identity that seemed to align with my biology in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Was he okay with being with me, if I were polyamorous? What kinds threats or challenges did he anticipate? How do I make sure that he never felt sidelined or left out?

To which he replied, without pause, ”Thom, yes, it’s fine. It’s who you are, and something I’ve suspected about you for a while now.”

Much like coming out of the actual gay closet, it turns out perhaps that I was the last one to become aware of who I was, while the entire world around me had spotted that part of me years ago. Coming out is like that a lot.

René and I began a lovely, beautiful, long-distance relationship. Ray, for his part, was thrilled to see me grow and explore this newly-identified side of me. I had so many questions, so many things I didn’t know. I spent a great deal of time reaching out to guys I already knew who were polyamorous with question after question after question.

In the time since accepting my polyamorous identity, I’ve gotten to know and love a number of men. Some have come into my life, and remained there, part of the little circle of guys I can lean on and be vulnerable with at a moment’s notice, who give little digital hand-squeezes when requested/desired, who remind me that I am worthy, and all the rest.

René is amazing. Just…amazing
David constantly teaches me to be present in moments and to feel the feels as they come.

Some guys have come, and gone, into and out of my life, as though I was a bit of a waypost, a stop over, an experience to be present for, and then let go. Those, in particular, have been some of the most challenging of relationships, especially the letting go part, for me and my old-school, New England-raised heart. The impermanence of relationships, to me, was a huge trigger for old trauma, as the adult child of divorced parents, and relaxing my embrace on the men who needed to move on really did take the stuffing right out of me. Twice now, I’ve had my heart decimated, through no fault of the other parties involved, but simply because of the way my mind and body react when they think they’re feeling old trauma again. It’s all weird. I’m in therapy, I promise. There’s a bit to unpack, and maybe I’ll save that for another post, at another time.

Jae, Jake, and Dylan all have had lessons to teach me as I learned the shape of my heart. Our connections have shifted, but they all remain near and dear to me.

In the therapy sessions I have had, I’ve come to a better place with regards to spotting when I’m reacting to an old trauma, or a new and present-day one. I’ve been able to discern when I’m acting co-dependent, and when I’m feeling genuine. I’m learning how to let go of my grip, and stop constantly seeking connection/validation. I’m an old dog, and these are new tricks, but I’m getting there.

And, as of today, I have a developing situation with a new connection that is shooting off some flares and sparks of potential.

Ray once said he really enjoyed watching me fall in love. It was, according to him, the best part of my polyamorous identity. I get giddy, I get silly, I tend to smile more and have a brighter outlook on my life in general. I’m a generally better person to be around when I’m also dealign with a swelling heart. While some of that is true, most of that sparkle came from the old feeling of euphoria I’d get as a boy, when the actions I took somehow soothed a moment over in the tumultuous relationship of my parents. Again, more on all of that in a different post, but suffice to say, I needed to parse that feeling of falling in love a bit, and learn some of the stages of emotional development that occur while a bonding his happening. The ”whoosh” of falling in love is intoxicating for sure, but it can lead a person to make rash choices in moments where some reflection and consideration are needed.

Which is where I am today.

Making rational and sane choices, and being much less of a fire hydrant with the Giddy Squish (an endearing term for all that treacle-sweetness that happens at the start of a shared mutual interest), and a little more sanguine about my feelings. For now, this mild reserve with my emotions still feels genuine and authentic, and has really allowed me to simmer over the ways I communicate the ways I’m feeling, and has helped me spot when I start devolving into that strange little co-dependent person that I was as a boy, who is hardwired to believe that so long as I’m needed, I’m loved.

Spotting the difference between ”need” and ”want” is a massive, massive leap forward for me.