'My Partner and I Became Polyamorous After 8 Years Together'

Growing up I didn't know anyone who was non-monogamous. I didn't know what polyamory was, or even the term "non-monogamy." But at the age of 14, I started dating an 18-year-old. I was very young so we weren't in a physical relationship, but I eventually discovered that he was cheating on me and sleeping with someone else who was also older. My initial reaction was that while it was wrong of him to lie, I had no real problem with what he had done, because it was separate from our relationship. It made sense to me that we still loved each other but that he was able to meet that need somewhere else. Even though we eventually broke up and everybody was saying that it was wrong and he didn't deserve me, how I felt made sense.

A few years later, I moved into college dorms and met Daniel. We were both 18, and he had never had a girlfriend so I was trying to set him up with my roommate. I didn't think I would ever date him because he didn't seem my type; he had a Beatles' bowl haircut at the time and wore all his brother's oversized clothes. But we were always hanging out; we had a "friendship spark." I was really attracted to who he was, and I became more attracted to him the more I got to know him.

We started dating, but I didn't want to be exclusive. Daniel's attitude, however, was that we should settle down and that our path should be marriage and kids. He envisioned that he would become successful and I would take care of our family. We did become exclusive quickly, but I told him that wasn't going to be me. I knew very early on that I'm not really interested in having kids or getting married.

After three years, we separated for around six months because I wanted to explore dating other people, but I kept gravitating back towards Daniel. So we ended up going back to being exclusive for roughly four more years. Then, around eight years into our relationship, Daniel started asking more questions about why I believed we should be able to love other people as well as each other. He ended up really liking what I was picturing for our future, which is that we both want to be successful, we both want to live for ourselves and each other, we don't necessarily need to have children to be happy—although we have discussed adoption in the future—and we don't need to be married to be committed. I hadn't read about polyamory, it was just what made sense to me, and it started to make sense to him.

Daniel and I started exploring non-monogamy together in 2015, but it happened very slowly. For example, we agreed that if I met someone on a girl's trip to Vegas, I was allowed to do what I wanted. And I did kiss someone. That was as far as I wanted to go. It was fun telling Daniel about it and it didn't hurt our relationship. After that, little things would occur. We've had some level of relationship with at least three close friends and that's because I feel that friendships can go in that direction. Even in a single evening, you can get to a deeper level where you feel more vulnerable, intimate and attracted to a friend. But because our communication is so good and we're aware of their feelings and our feelings, those people remain in our lives without the situation becoming weird.

There are various different versions of non-monogamy and the ones I feel people are most aware of are swingers or open relationships where the agreement is centered around allowing sex with people outside the relationship. For us, polyamory is focused on falling in love with other people. It might end in sex or sex might become a big part, but it's more about caring, loving and being in a committed second or third relationship.

Something I have never liked about monogamous relationships is that when people find their "person" they don't seem to explore as much anymore. There are couples out there who are monogamous and still go out and socialise, but when I talk to them, it feels a little like a wall is up.

When you go out, you might meet someone and connect with them on an intellectual level, or discover you have something in common, which can be wonderful. But the problem is that there is a chance you will develop feelings for them. To avoid that I feel that people can keep a wall up. It feels like a fear; that people are afraid of connecting with a new person because there may be a spark. That's sad to me, I feel like sparks are the best part of life.

Most people think Daniel and I are having lots of sex with other people, which is funny because we are both very slow moving when it comes to that. You could call it being demisexual; above all we're both attracted to people's personality, intelligence and the way they care about others. I also feel like if I was really attracted to a person, loved their personality and all their great qualities, I don't think it would matter what sex they were. I guess I would identify as pansexual.

Daniel and I started out with a hierarchy; we were the primary relationship and any other person was secondary. Then I met a guy I wanted to be with and when we started a relationship, it was uncomfortable to call him my "secondary" partner. It took Daniel and I a while to figure out that a hierarchy didn't feel right. We didn't like making anyone feel that they weren't equal to us.

I was in a relationship with that particular man for two years in total and there were various reasons for why it ended, but when it did, Daniel and I started reading books about polyamory. That's when we started to understand why we felt the hierarchical scenario was wrong for us. It took us educating ourselves that way to realize, rather than doing something and seeing if it worked.

We have decided to be relatively autonomous but ultimately, we are looking for "kitchen table polyamory" which is where you're friends with your metamours—your partner's partners. We've been in a wide range of situations, but for the most part we've all been friends.

But neither of us has ever been in another relationship where the other person didn't know that we are polyamorous, that we live together, have a dog and share expenses. But it's not always going to work out that we both have other partners and can both share half our time with each other and half with them. When I was in the two-year relationship, Daniel wasn't with anyone else for most of that time. Then, more recently Daniel started seeing someone while I wasn't seeing anyone.

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When we're talking to new people and dating, we're pretty communicative about what's happened on dates. We'll talk and laugh about it. But if I get into a relationship with someone, I'll communicate with that person and ask what they are OK for me to share with Daniel about our relationship, and if anything is off limits. Daniel does the same. It's about open communication and consent.

Safety is also really important to us. If I'm out on a date that goes on for hours, Daniel will check in on me to make sure I'm safe. Or I will tell him if I am going over to someone's house for the first time. But we don't intrude on a date; we won't be texting each other the whole time!

I do call Daniel my partner, which is short for life partner. That's how I see him, I just can't imagine ever not being close to him on some level. But we try to be autonomous. We have a calendar that we share and if I want to go on a date, I'll put it in the calendar. If Daniel then wants to spend time with me and it coincides with that, we'll work out another time for us. We've learned that we can't just expect the other person to be available at all times. I think that has given us more respect for each other.

Of course, autonomy can't work with everything. An example would be if I wanted to go away for the weekend with another partner. Normally Daniel wouldn't be involved in my decisions with my other partner, but because our finances are shared, I would ask if he minds if I go on this trip and spend a ballpark amount of money.

I will say that we do both get jealous. It happens. Sometimes it's insecurity; you may be worried that you don't measure up to this other person. But the point of polyamory isn't for your partner to find someone better than you and then leave you for them. Daniel and I have connections that only we have and that are very important to both of us, but he can also have connections with someone else that fulfills different needs. It's all about your partner giving you the love that you need in those moments when you're feeling lower. That's how we deal with it.

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We're also in a band together, Dana and The Wolf, where I am the singer and Daniel mainly writes the music. He understands me so well that the lyrics feel like they're mine, which is really special. He wrote an entire album about my relationship with my ex; about my polyamorous experience with another guy. It was beautiful. When he showed me each song, one by one, I couldn't believe that he was able to capture what I felt inside and hadn't been able to put into words. We have also posted songs on TikTok that share our journey of learning about polyamory and moving from monogamy to non-monogamy. We wrote them to help those who are interested in polyamory and want to understand it. I do think people have to be careful, especially when they are just getting into polyamory, because you may meet people who don't have entirely genuine motivations.

I understand how people may see polyamory as an orientation, but I don't necessarily think that's it. It is a belief to me. I see that there is a level of control in monogamy that I don't like, and I don't think I will ever go back to liking it. To me, monogamy feels like someone else owns a part of my body when all the rest is, for some reason, free to share.

I understand monogamy is a commitment, but for me it seems like not wanting to share someone because you don't want to get jealous or feel insecure, so you'd rather own the person and save yourself those feelings. In reality people feel jealous all the time, even in monogamous relationships where there is no infidelity. Monogamy doesn't automatically cut out feelings of insecurity or jealousy.

Daniel and I have been together for 14 years now and are currently dating other people, but we're also open to finding a third. People can get angry at that, because they think we're looking for someone who would be "secondary", but in a throuple situation, we would want to all be equal. I believe that the best part of life is developing love and caring really deeply for people, and that can happen in more ways than one.

Dana Hobson is a musician living in LA with her partner, Daniel Wolf. Together they are Dana and The Wolf. You can follow them on TikTok @danaandthewolf on Instagram @danaandthewolf or find out more at danaandthewolf.com.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Jenny Haward.