“Love comes in many shapes and forms”
“If it makes you happy, do it”
“You get one life, live it”
At least that’s what we read on those inspirational quotes you see on Instagram and Facebook, and for a moment many of us believe in them.
But what’s the reality?
When the average person is faced with a situation that challenges their fairly straight-laced view on love, happiness and living your own life… how do they react?
In late 2017, my life changed. I met someone who I connected with, someone I instantly had feelings for, someone I knew I needed in my life.
Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. My only concern was how my husband would feel about it.
Yes, I’m married, and very happily so.
Let’s have a quick bit of background. My husband, Hugh, and I met in 2004. We both knew instantly that we’d connected and wanted to pursue a relationship. As we got to know each other it was clear that we both had urges, we both liked anonymous sex with random strangers. We agreed on an open relationship, not uncommon in gay life, and both had the ability to see sex as literally just sex, nothing more nothing less. Almost like masturbating but with someone lending a hand (no pun intended).
One of our few rules was that feelings or connections should be avoided, this situation was purely for sex. Lots, and I mean lots of fun was had over the next 13 years. It worked for us and, in all honesty, no one stirred any kind of feelings in me, other than the ones you get in your undies.
Fast forward to July 2017 when, through a project Hugh was working on, I met a guy whom I instantly found attractive. But this wasn’t a purely sexual attraction, in fact the sexual part didn’t really enter my head. I saw someone I wanted to learn about, spend time with, offer support to. We chatted online and eventually had an innocent cinema date, however the cinema date ended with a hug goodnight. That was the moment I knew this was different, I knew that this person was different to every other man I’d met in the last 13 years. I drove home from that hug with butterflies dancing around inside me and a huge smile across my face. What had just happened? This was crazy. This “shouldn’t” happen.
There were a few more meet ups, these involved hugs, a kiss here and there. It all felt so right and so very very real. I knew I didn’t want to have an illicit affair – who even has time for that? – but I also knew I couldn’t walk away from this amazing person.
If I said I thought things through in my head, I’d be lying. I didn’t come up with a plan or a story as such in order to approach Hugh with the situation.
We were driving home from shopping one morning, and in a split second decision I said: “I need to talk to you about Jack”. Hugh turned to me and said “yes, I think you probably do”. There was a pause, he then said “so, is that it, are we in a polyamorous relationship”. The door had been opened.
I’m lucky, I know that I’m very, very lucky. Hugh has a unique outlook on life, he believes in love and partnership but also believes we do not get everything we need from one person. That includes friendship, understanding, support and even sexual experiences. Maybe this was in the back of my mind when I told him about Jack, I felt I was on a kind of 50/50 chance of at least being listened to openly and being given a fair hearing. Hugh knew that I wasn’t unhappy with our marriage, wasn’t a malicious person, and that I would never actively seek to change things. Hugh simply understood the basic human desire to explore and experience what comes your way.
Over the next few weeks, various chats were had, I won’t say discussions because they weren’t deep, clinical discussions, they truly were nice casual chats as we sat and enjoyed a cup of tea together.
We agreed that our commitment to each other, our marriage, was the priority. Neither of us wanted the upheaval of splitting up and starting again so we at least knew there was no goal, no endgame to this. Jack was simply an addition to my life but with more intimacy and love than anyone else before. Jack was fully aware of this and comfortable with it, he also had his own life to lead, he was in a relationship but that was very different and needed to be handled carefully by him.
As the weeks went on, a routine established itself, with developments happening as we all felt more comfortable. At first it didn’t seem right that I should spend the night with Jack but after a while Hugh felt more relaxed with it and allowed it. For a while I never used the word ‘love’ when discussing Jack but that slowly became easier too. It’s almost like this situation was a huge jigsaw with each piece showing us the larger picture, making us all feel more comfortable. But through all this it did seem like what I had was a very close friend with benefits, I’m not sure any of us were truly seeing this as polyamorous. We were all learning, all experiencing different emotions and ways of dealing with those emotions. I knew that I was in love with Jack, I knew I needed him in my life, he’d made an impact on me, he changed my outlook on life and on me as an individual. I really started to fully realise that I could love two people at once, that it helped me to feel open, honest and mature about how much love affects us. The world around us is so varied and it’s the differences between people that keep life interesting. There’s a place for everyone and everything.
Why should we be expected to give all our love to just one person?
Where is the rule book?
Why do so many people stick to what’s considered normal?
So many questions with so many answers surely proves that not everything is black and white. I knew I was changing, my outlook on relationships and many other aspects of life was being challenged and I was loving it. I didn’t want to be like everyone else, I was proud of myself, Hugh and Jack. Proud that we had achieved this.
But it wasn’t all easy. Things creep in. Jealousy for a start, me jealous of other guys being with Jack, Jack being jealous of me doing husbandy things with Hugh, Hugh even being jealous of Jack having a beard. It’s this stuff that almost kills a polyamorous relationship because you question how it can possibly work with three hearts involved. But jealousy between three hearts isn’t really any different to jealousy between two hearts. It just takes honesty and talking about it. It’s a natural feeling, it just needs managing.
We’re all now seven months into this new chapter and things have developed at a safe, sensitive and honest pace. Jack and I are now more than comfortable with seeing ourselves as a couple, as boyfriends. Crossing that line from friends with benefits to accepting you’re in a fully functioning relationship is a milestone. That’s what polyamory is, it’s the practice of more than one intimate relationship with the consent of all involved. It’s a life choice, a belief, it’s not a novelty, it’s not based around sex. People often see it as greed, having your cake and eating it. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The bond that Jack and I have continues to strengthen, I’ve met his family several times and whilst they may not totally get it, they can see how happy Jack is and that’s enough for them. Hugh is very accepting of the situation, he even referred to Jack as being like my little boyfriend. Hugh totally see’s how life enhancing it is to allow the person you love to grow and in return, he grows as a person too. Hugh doesn’t have his own little boyfriend but he’s free to explore and enjoy whatever comes his way, we just know that are married, we are committed to giving each other happiness. Jack has freedom too, he spends his time apart from me how he pleases. He has no desire for another lover, right now he gets everything he wants from me, and he certainly has no desire to split Hugh and I up.
And as for me, I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been. Being completely honest about love and emotions is possibly the most liberating feeling ever. I feel strong, I feel safe, I feel alive.
But most of all, I feel loved… by two truly amazing men x
Bio: Jonathan Carr is a married man in the UK, who, with his husband’s assent, is pursuing a polyamorous relationship. It has been 7 months since he, Hugh and Jack changed their relationship and Jonathan is keen to share his experiences and explore how the trio develops.