“She don’t want to be your man or woman. She wants to be your love. Multi-love’s got me on my knee. We were one, then become three.”
These are the lyrics to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s song Multi-Love. We can examine these words through the spiritual lens of duality – there is good and evil, suffering and liberation, within all of us, and internally we all have the power to express these characteristics as we wish or as circumstances allow. But a quick Google search tells me these lyrics are written by lead singer Ruban Nielson about his first polyamorous relationship between his wife and his lover, and their relationship with one another. Nielson describes his polyamorous love as the “ultimate state of being,” which in my and most of my polyamorous friends’ experiences was not our reality.
Ayan is My Lover’s Lover, and We Haven’t Yet Met
I’m 23 and on the dance floor in a friend’s backyard, someone tells me Ayan* has arrived. Friends with a lot of my friends, Ayan is my lover Samar’s* lover, and we haven’t yet met. I feel my body tense up and it’s hard to stay present. Instead, I float slightly above my body as it dances to the beat and I try hard to control my gaze as it constantly tries to dash over to Ayan.
I pull a friend aside and tell them of my anxiety between hurried drags of a cigarette. How am I meant to talk to Ayan? I feel so acutely aware of their presence and power in my life. How can we interact if we don’t acknowledge this giant elephant bouncing between us? My very wise friend tells me to think of all the aspects of myself which exist outside of being Samar’s lover. If all that I am is not someone’s lover, why do I have to only see Ayan as my lover’s lover?
For me, polyamory did not start as the “ultimate state of being.” It was awkward, shaky, and forced me to grow in all different directions quicker than I had anticipated. But it was a major limb being pushed into a new world from the matrix, a very real and mouldable world with limitless boundaries. If my friends, lovers, and I can redefine the most tired and worn out trope of monogamy, what else can we redefine? Even now as I type the word lovers this software autocorrects it to lover’s.
Treat Each Relationship as its Own Entity
I don’t believe any of us can ever truly exist on equal power fields within our relationships. One person will always be more conventionally attractive and one person might have more time for dating new people; amongst a plethora of reasons. But practising polyamory trains my heart and my brain to treat each relationship as its own entity, as opposed to a competing force with the other relationships or energy-consuming factors in my life.
Ayan and I are great friends now, we often laugh about the unhealthy polyamorous antics of our mutual ex, Samar, who led us to feel heightened around one another. A great learning curve being the differentiation between an unhealthy relationship and unhealthy polyamory. A tired lover is a tired lover, even if existing in the Multi-Love sphere.