Most of us are no stranger to the term polygamy. This could or could not be thanks to our rich African background and its long standing history of men taking more than one wife.
And although it’s a lot less common, women too can have more than one husband, sometimes.
While polygamy has always been looked at through a stained glass and not everyone shares the same opinion of it, there has been an increase in couples who’ve opted or agreed to being a part of one.
And sometimes, even though we tell ourselves “that could never be me”, we find ourselves going through with something we had previously sworn we would take no part in.
The best example I can think of, is myself.
A few months ago, I met someone who I became instantly enamored with and the first two weeks of being just him and I were absolute bliss.
Unfortunately, that bliss was short lived as I soon found out that he was also seeing someone else.
Their relationship is a whole 7 years long. But still, I chose to stay in this polyamorous relationship.
This is why I came to the decision:
At first, understandably, I was extremely upset to find out he had been seeing someone else and told him that I wanted nothing to do with him, and of course this hurt, because we had an electrical attraction, plus I thought I had finally found someone I could settle down with.
Being what I’d like to think of myself as, a reasonable person, I accepted his request to “explain” things to me.
This was when my new found and then lost love told me that he and his girlfriend were open to what he called a polyamorous relationship.
Having only ever been in monogamous relationships, I had no idea what he meant, but of course he was quick to explain.
Basically, polyamory is being in an emotional and physical relationship with more than one person with the consent of your other partners.
And yes, I was taken aback, way back.
But I said I was open minded remember? And so I did my own research.
According to Cape Town based relationship expert, Shelley Lewin, open relationships are an ethical form of non-monogamy.
And according to her, in order for polyamory to be successful, it relies on all parties to be transparent and honest in their communication about their needs and desires from each other, their expectations and possible concerns/fears.
Shelley also maintains that these types of relationships are better suited for emotionally intelligent individuals who are able to articulate themselves and who can verbalise and process feelings.
“Insecure and possessive/jealous people are not aligned or suited for this lifestyle choice. An open and curious mind-set is required to figure out the best way forward for all concerned.” She says.
Once I had taken all of this into consideration, I made up my mind and decided to give polyamory a chance. Plus the flexibility of the relationship allows me to see other people too, only I have chosen not to.
While it’s already been three months, I will only be meeting the other woman – or my partner’s partner as I’ve now grown to call her, at the end of this month.
And boy am I nervous.
We’ve already settled into a bit of a routine and basically try and split the time he spends with each other evenly.
We also don’t expect calls or texts from him when it isn’t our turn. And yes, this took some getting used to.
Admittedly, when I saw pictures of them together or when he spoke about her, a few hard feelings surfaced, but I’ve learnt as time passed, to control those emotions.
Overall, I’m happy with our little arrangement even though I worry about the future. He has hinted that he would like to marry us both if our arrangement proves successful.
I have other lingering questions. Will he get tired of me and look for someone else? What if they decide they’ve had enough excitement in their relationship and it’s time for me to go?
Yes, all these thoughts run through my mind but as Joburg-based relationship expert and coach Paula Quinsee explained to me, trust, openly communicating my needs and expectations and being open to exploring different things, are essential in polyamorous relationships.
Finding myself in this relationship definitely sparked an interest and I wanted to know whether or not other young South African women were brave enough to venture into the unknown like I was and most of the ones I spoke to said no.
Do you think it’s something you’d be open to? Will South African couples be moving towards a space where they are open to exploring different forms of relationships? – W24