Today’s daily prompt asks:
“Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?”
Possibly the most dramatic example of this is my belief in Polyamory. Today, I believe that emotional and sexual non-monogamy is not only ethical and moral, but actually more moral, more beneficial, and more natural than monogamy. However, this couldn’t be further from what I grew up believing. I was one of those kids who believed in “The One.” Not only did I think nonmonogamy was ethically wrong, I didn’t even think it was really possible. I believed that every person is only capable of falling in love once in their entire life, a view I have come to refer to half affectionately and half mockingly as “supermonogamy.” Each of us has precisely one potential match out there, one “love of your life” for each of us. Even as I hit my teenage years and went off to high school, I continued to believe this. Sure, I thought, there can be false positives, where you mistakenly believe someone to be “The One” even though they’re not, but you still do have a unique soul mate out there for you. In my case, I believed I had already found mine, and she felt the same about me. We were both aspiring writers. We inspired each other, and pushed each other to do better than we thought we could. We had known each other essentially all our lives; we were one another’s first boyfriend and girlfriend; we were young, and passionate, and very much in love. Given the evidence in front of me at the time, I can see why I believed what I did. If ever there was a storybook love, it was this one.
But, according to my strident belief in supermonogamy, what happened next shouldn’t have been possible: I fell in love again. I came to develop very strong feelings for another girl. I tried to deny it to myself for a long time, but it became increasingly futile. It wasn’t that my girlfriend and I had a falling-out, or that I stopped feeling as deeply for her, or any of that. If anything, while this was going on, my feelings for my girlfriend intensified. Nevertheless, I also began to have similarly intense feelings for someone else. Every moment I spent with her felt like an adventure, like I was being swept up in a whirlwind and carried off into the great unknown. We had spent our entire lives never meeting once, but we seemed to have everything in common: we saw the world the same way; we loved all the same books and films and shows; we knew all the words to all the same songs that were written long before we were born. We had even played all the same computer games! (Knights of the Old Republic all the way, baby!) Meeting her was like closing your eyes and falling backwards, only to have someone catch you unexpectedly.
I was convinced this couldn’t be possible. And so I came to the conclusion that I was wrong about my own feelings. I thought what I was feeling was wrong, not just morally wrong, but logically wrong. It wasn’t possible, so it must be illusory. In other words, I got myself believing that at least one of the loves “wasn’t real.” But try as I might, I couldn’t figure out which one. I would argue one side and the other, back and forth, always doubting my own feelings, hating myself for not being able to tell. I mean, if one of these girls was the love of my life, my one and only soul mate, and the other was just a false alarm, shouldn’t I have been able to tell which was which? There were days when I was convinced I had realized which love was real, but these “realizations” were mutually contradictory. Sometimes it was one, sometimes the other. All the while, in the back of my mind, there was one answer that I’d known was there from the start, but could never bring myself to face. It was eating away at me: the only logical solution. If either of them really was “The One,” I would be able to tell which one it was. They couldn’t both be The One. But for the life of me, I couldn’t tell which one I “loved more.” I couldn’t tell which love was real, and which one was just a lie.
Which meant that neither one was real. And everything I felt, for either of them, was all a lie.
Of course, I see now that this depressing conclusion, which gnawed at my mind and made me so doubtful and mistrusting that it ended up destroying both those relationships, was just the result of starting from the wrong premise: I was assuming, without justification, that it was impossible for me to love both of them, even though that’s exactly what it felt like. I had blinded myself to what I was actually experiencing by internalizing the dogma of “The One.” It took a long time for me to see past that dogma and actually look honestly at what was happening. A long time. Because even after that fiasco, this didn’t stop happening. Years later, after a long and tumultuous interlude, my first girlfriend and I were back together, and something similar happened again. And again. Each time, I didn’t want to believe it, but after breaking up once and reuniting with my first girlfriend, I was convinced, all the way down, that our feelings for each other were real. But when I would fall in love with someone else again, it didn’t feel any less real than my love for her. Different, surely—every connection is unique, because every person is different—but no less real.
Each time, I would actively recoil from these newfound loves, trying to avoid repeating my earlier catastrophe. But as time went on, I was forced to accept, based on the crushing weight of the evidence, that it possible to fall in love with multiple people at once. In fact, given that most of my close friends were girls and that they wouldn’t have been my close friends if we weren’t deeply in agreement about some pretty fundamental things, it was actually rather likely. I wish I had realized it sooner, because there were girls who loved me as much as I loved them, but I never told them, because I was convinced that what I was feeling was impossible. There were people I hurt—badly—because I simply tried to pretend, to myself and to them, that I didn’t love them the way they loved me, even when deep down I knew I did. I wish I had figured it out in time not to hurt them, in time to show them that they were loved, to give them that same feeling of warmth and relief that comes from knowing that your love is not unrequited.
I used to believe that Polyamory wasn’t even possible. I kept believing that even after I myself had been mutually in love with more than one person, but at that situation of multiple simultaneous love stories interwoven in my life continued to recur, time after time, I found that I couldn’t deny it any longer. I didn’t want to hurt people I loved, to lie to them, any more. Most importantly, I wanted to be honest with myself, to finally be able to admit what I was feeling, to say it openly and honestly, come what may.
I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to be right, no doubt about that. But when it came to the possibility of Polyamory, admitting that I’d been wrong all along, and that it was time to change my mind, to accept the position I’d spent essentially my entire life denouncing—it was the greatest relief of my life. That’s why I changed my mind, and that’s why I’m Polyamorous.