For several years, I was involved with two men simultaneously. Both relationships ultimately ended, amicably and for reasons unrelated to non-monogamy, but I have a hard time imagining an encore of that situation any time in the near future.
When I read Vivienne Chen’s post, “Polyamory is for White, Pretty People,” I found myself nodding in agreement and relating to my own experiences. When I was living with Rose and Azal, I could sustain both relationships because I was in college: I had the time and a flexible schedule to nourish both relationships, especially at the start when they needed it most. Maintaining a relationship presents unique challenges, but requires less of a time investment than building one.
Our location helped the situation, too. Boston still has some of its puritanical roots firmly intact, but it’s become something of a sexual liberation mecca. My relationships were rarely questioned, and I was free to come out about our non-monogamy socially and professionally. My career was never jeopardized, and I didn’t have children or custody cases to worry about. My social circles are largely secular, and I was not at risk of losing a community I depended on.
In other words, if I were half of a young couple with kids in the Bible Belt, things would be different.
Now I’m getting a small taste of that firsthand. I’m theoretically open to another serious relationship, but working full-time makes serious dating a lot less feasible. I’ve got the Opera Singer on the side, but it works well precisely because he’s busy and we keep things casual. I have a hard enough time making sure I see Allyn enough when we live together, let alone trying to balance our relationship with another that requires a similar time commitment. I could do it, but the rest of my social life would go out the window—not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
So is polyamory just for white, pretty people? In a word, yes, although I might swap out the adjective “pretty” for “wealthy.” Though it’s not a lifestyle in and of itself, a certain lifestyle (namely, one with considerable free time) facilitates success.