Life in New York: A beginner’s guide to polyamory

NYC view from ben's placeAfter my first couple of weeks in New York, I found myself in a relationship with someone I had met in San Francisco a couple of weeks prior. However, for one reason or another I had been dissatisfied with the traditional relationship model for some time, and had had the desire to expand my horizons and experiment with polyamory. New York, a truly cosmopolitan city, facilitated my hedonist tendencies.

After nearly two months of living in the US, I found myself with 3 lovers that I was extremely fond of, while also dating several other people whose company I enjoyed. I was very happy with the current set up and didn’t see myself conforming to the traditional relationship model again anytime soon. One particularly glorious day before my bliss shattered, I was sitting on a sun-drenched residential rooftop overlooking Manhattan, at 4pm on a weekday, gorging on berries and reading. I thought to myself what a grand adventure my life in New York was, and that I never wanted to go home again.

With the next day however, came a complete turn of events. It was the last day of spring, and I was walking in Prospect Park, feeling utterly down in the doldrums because one of my lovers, who I was completely enamoured with, had just told me they were not okay with my ‘polyandry’. While I did some rounds of the park and some scheming, I decided, as any sane person would, to rush over to his apartment later that evening and convince him of the necessity for three lovers (himself included), and to please be reasonable.

After I rushed over in the evening though, it just so happened that I ended up saying I would stop seeing all the other suitors, and just see him, including planning to move into his apartment immediately. We discussed how to mitigate my need for variety and attention, and what we both wanted from each other. He requested that I tell all my other suitors of my new relationship the next day. With that, came a series of uncomfortable calls, texts and and an in person meeting, that left me with a sense of consternation for several days thereafter. During the two days over which I contacted my suitors and prospective lovers, I received several accusations, the most of which were particularly disturbing, included, “you exhibit many of the signs of sociopathy”, “you’re a walking red flag”, “I think you should see a psychiatrist.”

And I couldn’t deny all the accusations, but it just so happened that this particular man who I told I would give up everyone else for, had an ineffable quality that took complete hold of me. He was muscular, stocky, and was masculine in both build and demeanor, with a deep voice that commanded and captivated me. His facial features were quite pleasing to me,  with an aquiline nose, and hazel eyes that expressed boredom or disdain at times, but at other times, were mirthful. Physical appearances aside, he had skipped to his PhD at an Ivy League school right after completing undergrad, spoke 5 languages and could order dim sum in Cantonese, and was a discerning oenophile and gourmand. I was completely enthralled by him. If he told me to cancel all my plans to see him, I did it. If he asked me to jump, I would have said, “how high?”

After all the uncomfortable goodbye conversations with my other suitors, we settled quickly into an idyllic living arrangement. I was basically living like a “bird in a gilded cage”, as one of my friends mildly put it, in his luxury Chelsea apartment. While he went out to work, I would busy myself going out to boutique fitness classes, reading, and writing. When he came home from work, we would go out to dinner, which was almost always paired with wine or sake, and accompanied by light-hearted banter. We would stroll around New York briskly, and he would educate me about the history of the city. The first couple of days were blissful, and the most emotive for him, but after the weekend was over, things grew stagnant, with me requiring downtime with the fallout of my sudden lifestyle change, while he fell back into his emotionally distant ways. There were also some skeletons in his closet, which was a rather concerning issue for me. It was a combination of these issues, and my uncertainty as to whether I would be able to re-conform to a monogamous relationship model, that led to my leaving his beautiful apartment after nearly a week of cohabitation, with an explanatory goodbye note.

My fickle heart had had difficulty leaving this person, who was the first person in a long time who I was crazy about. The night before I left, I pressed him on his opinion regarding my cohabitation and whether he was ready for me to take the next step, and actually gather all my things for a real move in. As usual, he had been fairly coy with me about taking the next step, and I was feeling rather insecure about his lack of emotional directness. He said he would deliberate on the decision and let me know in the morning. But when the morning rolled around, I asked him what his position was, and he said he would think about it during the day and then tell me later that night.

As it was, I myself had been deliberating on leaving, and the possibility of waiting another full day for an answer regarding my living situation with this man was almost intolerable to me, in addition to the other concerning factors. I decided to pack my things that day, and leave. That day was also the first day that he didn’t text me all day since I’d been staying with him. I thought the lack of a text was a pre-emptive sign on his part, and that perhaps he had wanted me to leave, but later in the evening, slightly later than he normally got home, I got an Um, where? text from him, questioning the lack of my whereabouts, and then a succinct Oh. that was heartwrenching to me.

It was a difficult decision to make but ultimately, I reasoned with myself that I’d rather have the other sorts of freedoms that my other relationships allowed me, and that it was probably better to not be committed to one person at this early point in my move.

And then, the next day, as I was sitting back in my Brooklyn brownstone, stuffing my face, albeit in a glum manner, I questioned my decision once more, (and not for the last time), my inability to make a decision, and stick to it.

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