Poly Pocket: Balancing Comfort and Desire

When there aren’t any models for how you want to move through the world, it’s harder to move through the world. There’s no one right way to do ethical non-monogamy, just as there’s no one right way to do ethical monogamy, and no way is better or worse than any other, just better or worse for those involved. Poly Pocket looks at all the ways queer people do polyamory: what it looks like, how we think about it, how it functions (or doesn’t), how it feels, because when you don’t have models you have to create your own. Or be one.

Jasmine is a 23-year-old bisexual polyamorous nonbinary femme xicanx living in Los Angeles. They are currently in two very loving and growing relationships, and work as a video game designer and producer. You can find her on twitter as @jazzy_femme.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.


Carolyn: When did you start to explore polyamory?

Jasmine: Ever since I started dating when I was a teenager, I leaned towards polyamory but never knew it could be a reality for me. I’ve always been the type of person who gets crushes pretty easily, and as a Sagittarius I never want to feel “stuck” with anything or anyone. I was monogamous with my high-school relationships, but once I was going to move away to another state for college, my then boyfriend and I started talking about opening our relationship and me dating other folx. We broke up before I moved so it never actually happened.

When I started seeing my partner, we had agreed from the beginning that we had no interest in being monogamous and that we were also free to date other people as long as we always communicated. We developed our boundaries and rules along the way and actually continue to do so because people change and grow and so do their needs and wants.

“We developed our boundaries and rules along the way and actually continue to do so because people change and grow and so do their needs and wants.”

Before meeting my girlfriend, I was more interested in casually dating. I would go on dates and meet other people and it usually didn’t work out, either because they were really weirded out by the open relationship or because we just didn’t vibe. Since being with my girlfriend, my needs have changed and I’m not really interested in casually dating. I really want to invest my time into my new and growing relationship, my established and still growing partnership, and my career, along with my own personal well-being and self-care.

Carolyn: That sounds like a really thoughtful relationship approach! You mention developing rules and boundaries with your partner; how did that come about, and what were the results?

Jasmine: It’s always been a “cross that bridge when we get to it” sort of thing. There’s a general rule of if we’re unsure, let’s talk about it to make sure. So it ends up being a really in-depth conversation with a lot of processing together about why we need this boundary or rule and if it works for the way we each individually want to live our lives. We definitely started with baby steps, trying to think about absolute boundaries we want with the idea that they could change later down the line.

Some things that have come up include hooking up and “heat of the moment” sort of things. If I’m going to hook up with someone or my partner is, how do we go about telling each other and communicating that happened/is happening? Do I ask permission beforehand? Is that always a realistic option? From that, we decided that if we were to hook up, just let each other know when we have a moment because we know letting each other know beforehand really isn’t always realistic. Same goes with dating. Letting each other know as early as possible that we’re dating someone new is always preferred as a general rule.

We’ve also talked about boundaries in how we want to fit other partners/loves into our future and what that could look like. Like I said before, my partner and I are very much in it for the long haul. They also have another partner currently living in another state and they’re also in it for long haul as things are right now, so we’ve definitely talked about the idea of living together, who would stay where, and how we would be sharing time/resources with each other.

Carolyn: In those discussions, what do you try to prioritize? And what communication strategies are in play?

Jasmine: We generally prioritize that everyone is comfortable over everyone getting what they want. It’s always a give and take, especially when there are more than two people involved.

When communicating, we definitely have a conversation together as those who would be effected by whatever decision. When we first started talking about a future living situation, it started out as multiple conversations happening at different times with different information, which led to a lot of miscommunication. We all learned from that and not ever wanting anyone to be hurt or left out of important decisions or feelings, we always try to keep everyone in the loop as a group.

“We generally prioritize that everyone is comfortable over everyone getting what they want. It’s always a give and take, especially when there are more than two people involved.”

Carolyn: Above, you mentioned boundaries and discussions with your partner; what kinds of boundaries and discussions have you had with your girlfriend?

Jasmine: While it’s a pretty new relationship, we’ve actually had a lot of discussions, especially because my girlfriend never thought she would be in a poly relationship. With my partner, we’ve been on the same page about a lot of things (hanging out with each other’s partners/people we’re dating, showing affection in front of each other, etc.), but I’ve had to have more in depth conversations with my girlfriend because she’s so new to it all.

Carolyn: What excites you about your current way of doing relationships?

Jasmine: I get so many kisses from so many cuties! When it does work out and there are no conversations to have for the time being, I get support and love and time with two really incredible human beings. I’m working through a lot of intergenerational trauma and healing from things like depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, so it’s always comforting to know that I have a team of support and love that I can rely on. I also get to love them and shower them with kisses, affection, and support, and it’s really fulfilling for me as someone who has a ton of love to give to others.

Carolyn: What about it is a struggle?

Jasmine: Making sure that everyone is comfortable. I’m a little ball of anxiety, so sometimes I have to be reassured that everyone actually wants to be doing this and that everyone is getting their needs met. If I don’t, then I start second guessing myself and my ability to have multiple relationships.

Carolyn: What do you do to make sure your own needs are met?

Jasmine: To be honest, I’ve struggled with that in the past and I’m getting a lot better at it. I definitely take some alone time where I’m not with anyone and I focus on my own hobbies and self care-ish things. My partner and my girlfriend are also really good about reminding me to do self care like taking baths or going for walks alone. They remind me that I can’t be giving to others when I’m not giving to myself. They’re both always my biggest cheerleaders when I tell them I went to yoga in the morning or when I go take my beach walks.

Carolyn: How have your partners (however serious or casual) gotten along?

Jasmine: It’s been interesting! The last person I dated before my girlfriend was a cishet man and he was always a little awkward hanging around my super queer friends or my partner. My girlfriend and my partner have thankfully been getting along and they’re learning more about each other and developing their own friendship outside of me, which is always my ideal. I’ve also been lucky in that I get along with my partner’s partner and she’s one of my best friends.

“I used to be really jealous, but then I learned that it came from my own insecurities.”

I only have the one metamour but our relationship has evolved a lot. It was a rocky start because my partner had some history with her prior to my entry, but it all ended up working out when we started hanging out in group settings, especially finding out we had a lot of things in common. My metamour and I will text, send each other cute animal vidoes, and skype from time to time. I think I said this before, but she’s currently living in a different state so we don’t get to hang out. If she were in the same state, there would be no doubt we would also hang out and see each other pretty regularly as close friends.

Carolyn: Do you experience jealousy? If so, how do you handle it? If no, how do you prevent it?

Jasmine: I used to be really jealous, but then I learned that it came from my own insecurities of someone leaving me for someone else because the other person was “better.” With therapy, I’ve gotten WAY less jealous but there are times that jealously does come up. I’ve been able to do a lot of introspection about where that comes from and why and address it that was rather than expressing it in a way that is unnecessarily harmful.

I try to be honest and have conversation about what the jealously is directed towards once I figure that out. Like, if I feel jealous about my partner’s relationship, I’ll try to be as honest as I can with my partner and let them know I’m feeling jealous/insecure so they can give me a little more reassurance.

I say “try” because sometimes it’s really hard to admit when you’re jealous and insecure of someone else so it’s sometimes harder than other times to be open and honest about what you’re feeling.

Carolyn: That’s accurate. How do your relationships shift when you date/meet/sleep with someone new?

Jasmine: When I start seeing someone new, I’ll usually become a little more focused on the new person because you know, they’re exciting and new. It does mellow out and balance is restored once a little more time passes. My partner is thankfully always very understanding and patient and roots for me in my new romantic endeavors.

Carolyn: How out are you about being poly to friends and family?

Jasmine: I’m out to almost everyone except my family. I’m not ashamed of being poly so I try to be as open as I can, but my family is always a different story. They’re still working through the whole me being bisexual thing, so it might be a while ’till I drop something else for them to process through.

“I get different things, emotionality and physically, from different folx, and being poly has allowed me to explore that.”

Carolyn: Where does poly intersect with other elements of your identity? How does it function within your understanding of yourself?

Jasmine: It tends to intersect with my queerness and how I deal/date different gendered folx. Perfect example, I have dated so many cishet men that I have honestly become so emotionally detached so I could never see myself long-term dating another cishet man in my life. I’ve realized I get different things, emotionality and physically, from different folx, and being poly has allowed me to explore that.

Carolyn: What do you want for your future? Is there anything you’re working towards or hoping for?

Jasmine: My ideal future would be a true chosen family. Like most queer kids, I had/continue to have a less than ideal relationship with my family. Wanting to carry and have kids of my own one day, I want them to grow up being surrounded by different loving people and different relationships that are all rooted in love and support. With all of the co-parents and uncles and aunts!


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Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Editor and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Bitch, Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 742 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. 0

    Thank you for writing this! To be honest, I really haven’t “gotten” polyamory, and this column has made me reconsider my perspective and ask myself why that is. I really appreciate hearing the perspective of other people and how and why they live the way they do! I considered not writing this comment because I didn’t want to make it about me, but I thought that it might be nice for you to know that representation does matter and has really promoted me to reconsider my bias. Still learning!

  2. 0

    I liked this one! I wonder though if the interviewee sees their relationships as in a hierarchy or not? I’m always searching for people talking about non-hierarchical nonmonogamy and here it seemed like it just wasn’t addressed, but I noticed they used the words “partner” and “girlfriend” and thought that could either be because “partner” isn’t a gendered term or because “partner” sounds more serious. If they’re non-hierarchical I’m curious how they balanced their two partners’ personalities/needs/whatever to come to decisions on boundaries, amount of time they have for each other, etc.

    Thanks for this series and for just giving examples of real people, I really like it!

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