As told to Femi.
Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved. I met Chris* in a Zikoko Clubhouse room while he was describing his experience with relationships as a polyamorous man. He had quite the story to tell.
I met Bisola entirely by chance. There was this girl I used to flirt with now and then, and she accidentally sent me a photo of Bisola. When I asked about it, she said it was a mistake, and she’d meant to send the picture of the dress she was wearing to another friend. I told her that I was interested in the girl in the picture and asked for her Instagram handle. When I got it, I sent Bisola a DM and we started talking.
Bisola and I got along swimmingly. She studied philosophy, and I like to consider myself a thinker, so we used to have endless conversations about life’s deepest questions. We became quite interdependent. One day, I didn’t reach out because my battery was dead the entire day. When I came back online, she was furious and had already deleted my number. Being with her was so natural. We never had to force anything and expectedly, we fell in love. It felt like we were in a relationship from the start, but officially, we started dating three months after I sent that DM.
I truly believe that Bisola was the love of my life. Cupid’s arrow had hit me, and it hit me hard. The relationship was great. We kept no secrets from each other. If there was anything on our minds, we told each other immediately.
Prior to our relationship, I found out that I tended to connect romantically with multiple people at the same time and be genuine about it. It wasn’t a “bad guy” act where I considered women as game; I just knew I could love multiple women sincerely. And if I’m in love with someone, I tell them as soon as I realise it. They don’t have to do anything about it or love me back, I just have to let them know.
Shortly before the lockdown, a year after I started dating Bisola, I met Annie*. We had great conversations and we connected. I realised I loved her. It wasn’t because I wanted to have sex with her. All I felt was a need to have her around me.
You know how people say if you love two people, it’s the second one you love the most? That’s nonsense. I still loved Bisola, deeply. But I also found myself developing a connection with Annie, and I didn’t feel like stopping it.
That was the beginning of the problem. I knew that at some point I would have to tell Bisola about Annie and our budding friendship because we kept no secrets, and it was impossible to derail from that track. But how do you tell the love of your life that you’re in love with someone else?
In April, during the lockdown, Bisola spent the entire month with me, and it was terrible. Normally, we were a sexually intense couple. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Sometimes, she’d be in a virtual meeting and we’d fuck through even the most important parts of her presentation. Or she’d be giving me head while I’m on a work call. But in that month, I couldn’t have sex with Bisola because of the dark secret I was keeping from her. The guilt from not telling her another woman was sharing her space in my heart without her permission was weighing me down I knew I had to tell her.
One day, I asked what she thought about polyamory. She explained that it was okay for people to express themselves like that if they so wished, but she was happy being monogamous. With that answer, I realised that I had two choices: continue being monogamous with her and continue with a lifetime of fighting my true self or accepting that I was polyamorous and letting the love of my life go. Cheating was not an option because I absolutely despise dishonesty.
Bisola was like an addiction to me. I couldn’t see myself living without her. At the same time, I was exhausted from fighting my desire for other people. So I told her about Annie. I could tell that she was hurt, but she tried to empathise with my plight. She understood how I could be polyamorous, but she just wasn’t fine with being in a polyamorous relationship. I hated the fact that I was making her hurt, but I also knew that I had to be honest with her.
We held on in the relationship, but it was never the same again. It seemed like we were both waiting on the other person to make a compromise: she thought I would let go of the whole polyamory idea and I thought maybe she’d come around and see it my way. While we waited, she started to doubt my fidelity — I would never do anything I couldn’t tell her and I thought she knew that. The existence of Annie became a source of anxiety for her and it took a toll on the relationship. If I wasn’t available to talk, she’d assume it was because I was with Annie. Our fights were getting bigger and toxic. One day, after a fight over the phone, I asked that we take a break.
With the break, all I wanted was for us to draw a line between our relationship and our friendship, but she thought I meant we should break up. We were apart for one month. Bisola’s sister told me she was not taking the break well so I called it off.
Before then, I’d always tell Bisola about Annie so she didn’t have to deal with anxiety or imagine things, but the honesty wasn’t helping, so I stopped telling her.
Things went fine for a while until she decided to read my chats and found out I was still talking to Annie. I knew that was the end of our relationship. I begged and pleaded on my knees, but I also knew it was unavoidable.
I hated myself for causing her pain, but I also couldn’t fight who I am. I was crushed that my best friend was leaving me. We cried and held each other before she got up to leave. That was the last time I saw her. She chose her peace of mind and I chose mine. She blocked me everywhere.
My relationship with Annie deteriorated, and we hardly talk.
People often wonder how I could be polyamorous, They ask me if I’m fine with my partner sleeping with other people. All I care about is honesty. If my partner is honest with me, I don’t care who they are sleeping with. I’ve fallen in love a couple of times after Bisola, but I don’t think I ever want to be in a relationship again. I don’t know if my polyamory is just a phase, but there’s too much uncertainty for me to commit myself to anybody. I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again. I’m very upfront about telling women I meet that I’m not cut out for relationships. It’s their decision whether or not to get involved with me.
I miss Bisola a lot. We are cordial now, but we know that being close friends might not be a great idea. I know that if I drop the idea of polyamory, we might get back together, but that’s not possible. I’ve decided not to enter into any more monogamous relationships. This means no relationships, marriage or kids for me unless I can find partners who are fine with me being polyamorous. I don’t think one single person can be everything for you. In fact, it is unfair to expect them to be.
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