This is written as a bode of encouragement to those who are struggling in moving from a monogamous relationship to a non-monogamous one. This is not my saying non-monogamy is the only way, or should be your way. This is not in any way to be read as implying negativity towards monogamy. This is also written about in terms of "marriage," because, well, I am married and this is reflective of my transitioning my marriage. Feel free to substitute "relationship" or "dynamic" or whatever suits you.
Transitioning from a monogamous marriage to an ethically non-monogamous marriage is a lot like transitioning to a new career field after being raised up to desire, studying towards, and then working for x number of years in some other field.
Let's say from the technology field (monogamy) to culinary field (non-monogamy).
So you were raised up in a family of technological geniuses, IT analysts, software architects, the works. Your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles- every adult you loved woke up and went to sit behind a computer desk for work. From an early age they regaled you with tales of how great it will be when you get to learn new technology for work too. They don't know exactly what you will do, but the only option for it is technology. Technology, technology, technology. You begin planning for that field, picturing where you'll work, the apps you'll design, how you'll speak, the unique vernacular you'll use. You play as a child by building computers and live with your face behind a screen.
You are modeling the behavior and beliefs of those around you.
Once coming of age, you begin to get serious about the technology field. You pick the best schools, the best majors; work your ass off to make everybody around you happy and proud of you doing what you are supposed to be doing.
Once in a while, your mind drifts off to an absurd direction. You think of cupcakes. You love cupcakes, they fill you up and make you smile, and in fact, you like to make cupcakes in secret in your spare time. And part of you is aware that there are indeed people called "bakers" who spend their whole days making glorious cupcakes but alas. Technology. Technology. Technology. Be realistic. Do what we have been told to do, have been training to do, for our entire lifetimes. Back to the grindstone. Back to the technological field.
So finally, you pin down one specific job in the technology field and you commit to it wholeheartedly (monogamous marriage). That is your life, your destiny. You become entwined with it; you are that job and that job is you. You eat, breathe, and sleep that one decision. Many times it feels great, and comfortable, and happy. Sometimes it is a lot of hard work, and compromise, and exhaustion. And sometimes, lying in bed after another hard day in the field.... cupcakes cross your mind.
Cupcakes??? No no no. Make it go away. Technology. That is what I love. That is where I am comfortable. No.
Eventually, after years and years and years of living the same job that you have worked every day in and out, your desire becomes too much.
You start dreaming about switching to being a baker. You wonder if maybe you can still be you, exactly who you were before, only change over to the culinary field.
GASP. What, are you crazy? Because technology is the only successful way you have seen. How can anybody make it as a baker?
Hmmm. Well, maybe you could read a book about baking. Interesting stuff. Maybe you could talk to a baker about their experience in the culinary field. Wait, you're happy and fulfilled in this field too? People can be successful as bakers as well?
Now the transition from tech (monogamy) to culinary (non-monogamy) starts when you enroll in culinary school in the evenings and are actually beginning to learn and apply what you have been reading and learning independently.
And wow. This shit is hard. So hard. So fucking everliving hard. After decades growing happy and comfortable with one way, and not just one way but one way being the only way, you feel lost at culinary school.
There are other students who learned these skills from an early age. There are people in class who make their cupcakes look effortless. And part of you wants to run away from the building and go back to your old field. Go back to where you were an expert, where you knew the lingo, where it was comfortable, and for the most part happy.
The test comes when you are assigned to make that first batch of from-scratch cupcakes all on your own. (A new relationship of yours or your partners.) No recipe, no instructions.
And you fail. The cake never rises; the frosting breaks up into an oily mess. You stare in shock. You were so good at what you used to do. The taste of doubt and regret tastes like not properly integrated powdered sugar.
This is a branching in the path. Do you drop out of night school? Do you say, "No more?" Do you try and go back to your old job, head hung in defeat, and murmur, "Technology. Technology. Technology."
Or do you wash up your hands, dump that shit in the trash, and start those cupcakes again? Can you allow the failure to fuel you, to make you want another go, to convince yourself that you can do it, you will do it, and gosh darn it, being a baker is worth it?
If you can, if you do, the most amazing thing happens.
Over time, cupcakes move from being stressful to a challenge to actual fun. You get excited to go to work every day. You learn the lingo; avoid the pitfalls. Yes, once you will mistake salt for sugar. But only once. Cause you learn and you're dedicated to excelling, and this was your choice, and you are going to make it worth the struggle. You become really good at it. And for the first time in your life you feel fulfilled and right and instead of dreaming about cupcakes, you are....living...cupcakes. One day, you may even be so good at it, others will come to you for advice on baking cupcakes.
You have struggled, and cried, and pushed, and exalted your way into being exactly, perfectly, happily, you.
You have broken the mold.
You are a baker.
chart by flint (https://www.flickr.com/photos/xmasons/) CC BY 2.0
Learning to be happily ethically non-monogamous after a lifetime of being raised up in a monogamous would can be so trying but it is possible. Just like monogamous relationships there will be bumps in the road. You will doubt your choices. You will doubt your partners, or your partners patrners. But in all, the more you do it, the easier it will get. At the end of the day, more love is more love. Good luck on your path to a new way of being.