Being polyamorous in Hobart, Australia

Ash, Aidan and I live in a small but slowly developing town called Hobart. It’s at the bottom of the world, quite literally. If you look at a map of Australia, you’ll notice Tasmania, the little triangle-shaped island south of the mainland. Almost at the very bottom of this island is Hobart. It’s a beautiful place and there are lots of great things about living here.

But one of the best things is that Tasmania is full of hippies progressive people. While not legalised yet, gay marriage is widely supported. It’s culturally diverse and everywhere you go there’s art, community projects and good food and wine. Being the place that it is, Hobart is a pretty damn convenient place to find yourself as a polyamorous person.

Don3‘t get me wrong, we do get some weird looks when we walk down the street hand-in-hand-in-hand. Polyamory is only just starting to come into the public eye, and a lot of people still don’t even know what it is. But for the most part, the residents here are pretty relaxed and easy going, and I like to think that’s not just because they’re all high on weed.

‘Coming out’ to our friends and family was actually pretty easy. Aside from a couple of people who were worried I was taking advantage of Ash, the news was quite well received. But I’m leaving the details of that story for another post :)

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

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Thoughts on compersion

As you might have seen in my recent article with definitions of common polyamorous terms, compersion is the beautiful feeling one experiences when someone they care about is happy. It is often described as the opposite emotion to jealousy. There are two examples which are often used to describe the feeling to those who have not experienced it in a polyamorous sense. Those two examples are: being happy for your partner when they get a promotion at work, and the feeling you get when your child gets a good grade, or gets picked for a position in a sports 1team/band/play etc.

While they give the general idea of compersion, they are not perfect examples. In both of these situations, one might find themselves feeling happy, not for their loved one, but for themselves. “My kid got a good grade, I can brag about this to my friends!” or “this promotion will mean extra money for us/me!” Most people, myself included, will have been guilty of receiving someone else’s good news and been happy for themselves. It doesn’t make us awful people, it just makes us people. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

Here is another analogy I came up with. You might switch on the news one day and hear about a mother whose child was cured of a life-threatening illness. That mother’s experience doesn’t have any positive consequences on you or anyone you know, yet you still feel relief and happiness.

Maybe this example is a little serious for the lighthearted, fluffy emotion that is compersion. But I feel like I needed to make a more concrete example that separates feelings of being happy for yourself from feelings of being happy for other people.

All that said, I think it’s just one of those things you need to experience for yourself to understand the true gravity of it. In short, it’s a wonderful feeling!

Talking to acquaintances about polyamory

Ahhh, did I say I was going to update every single day? That was a bad typo on my part. What I actually meant to write was, “I’m unbelievably lazy and I’ll update whenever I feel like it, probably no more than a few times a month”. It’s funny how a few incorrect letters can change the whole meaning of a sentence, isn’t it?

So, to business. This topic has been on my mind for a while, since as I’ve started university recently and I find myself interacting with the human race a lot more than I used to. The last time I talked to strangers about my relationship(s) was in high school, and that was easy because I would just talk about my one partner and nobody would bat an eyelid.

Now I want you to think back to before you knew anything about polyamory. You’re chatting with someone you’ve just met, and the topic of relationships comes up. “Do you have a partner at the moment?” you ask casually. “Oh, I actually have two.”

Say what?

This seems to be an increasingly common scenario in my current life. And for me, the concept is so normal and mundane I often forget that most people haven’t even heard of polyamory. The next two or three hours of the conversation are usually spent explaining how I can be having sex with two guys without either of them wanting to rip the other’s jugular out.8

It can be exhausting explaining it over and over. You might be wondering why I even bother to tell people at all when I could just answer with “I’m in a relationship” and not be lying. For the first year or so of being polyamorous, that’s exactly what I did. But I hated pretending to be someone I wasn’t. And more importantly, I learned a lesson. That is, the longer you know someone, the harder it becomes to tell them that you’re actually a freak. I have a few friends who, to this day, don’t know I have two partners. Whenever I talk about Aidan or Ash I just say “my partner”, leaving them with a weird hybrid impression of both of them as the same person. Which leads to another problem: “Wait, you said your partner is a librarian? I thought you said he was a baker?”

So as time went on, I started telling people at the earliest possible convenience. Even though I am putting myself out there as a poly person and will thereafter be judged as such, it saves a lot of stress later on, especially if that acquaintance becomes a friend. And it also filters out those superficial people who only want to be your friend if they think you’ll be a good-looking accessory at their dinner parties.

Stay tuned!

-Emma