Konstantine Roccas: What I learned from dating a polyamorous Tinder match for two weeks in Europe

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      By Konstantine Roccas

      This past summer, I had the (mis)fortune of doing a journalism internship in Greece right as the country went straight down the tubes. It was chaotic and mesmerizing all at once.

      Internship experience aside, during the twilight days of my journey I was ‘Tindering ’ (no shame), and got matched with a girl who had bought a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles to explore the world after the suffocating walls of LA had become too much for her to bear.

      Now at this point, this sounds like many other women who are travelling the world and the beginning of a story of a shitty one-night stand but this story is actually one of education, adventure, and more.

      You see apart from being a model, actress, writer, podcast host, relationship coach, and more, this girl was polyamorous. You know, those people who most people incorrectly label as sexual deviants who use their sexual identity as an excuse for sleeping with as many people as possible.

      The odd part is that I had no recollection of swiping right on her. It must have been a result of the shitty WiFi I was working on at the time, but when I was matched with her I had no recollection of having swiped, so when checking her profile I was quite surprised to see her openly disclose her choice to identify as poly. 

      Even more surprising, was that she actually messaged me first. As lazy as the concept of Tinder inherently is, 80 percent of the time I would say that it is on the onus of the male party to initiate a conversation. And no, ‘dick pics’ don’t count gentlemen.

      Even more surprising was that there was actual substance behind our discussion. She asked me about my internship and the ins and outs of journalism in a country that barely functions while I asked her about polyamory and the various pitfalls that I imagined a lot of poly relationships face.

      As our Tinder conversations turned into full-blown dates and adventures around Greece for two weeks, I learned a lot about the poly community as well as what it means to be poly.

      I, like many, considered it more of a sexual practice as opposed to organic, healthy relationships so I was pleasantly surprised to hear her talk about the nonsexual aspects of polyamory. After all, as great as sex is, it only occupies a very small portion of your day even if you’re a porn star.

      Most importantly was the issue of jealousy. As I tried to wrap my head around the vastness of the poly term, I kept coming back to jealousy. After all, if you’re dating and fucking multiple partners, how do you possibly prevent those creeping feelings of insecurity and doubt rise to the surface while trying to build a healthy relationship outside of the bedroom?

      The solution was oddly simple. Jealousy is a human emotion and can rear its head at any moment, so to her, it was an opportunity to examine what was triggering this deep-seated fear and essentially providing an access point to start healing and undoing negative thought patterns. By tapping this, you can be vulnerable with your partners and build healthier relationships all around.

      Another topic I breached was the issue of time. Any of us who has been in any sort of relationship, monogamous or not, realizes what a time sink a significant other is. The notion of maintaining your work-life balance with multiple partners sounded like more trouble than it was worth, even if you got the added bonus of sleeping with multiple partners.

      Miss. Winston, as I called her, told me that this was probably the biggest challenge in poly relationships and that Google calendar was your best friend. Essentially, you need to be a scheduling wizard and be willing to work around changing schedules of multiple people and recognize that things won’t always work out.

      Now this was a terrifying concept for someone who sometimes leans toward the lazy side of the productivity spectrum, but the reasoning and structure was likewise impressive for someone who prefers to float around like a cloud.

      Aside from these mechanical questions on the practice of polyamory, I was most impressed with Miss. Winston’s high level of intelligence and emotional maturity.

      As I got to know her better, I soon realized that her many relationships had contributed to her growth as a person. From my interactions with her, I got a sketch of her other partners as well and in a way, she took the best part of her experiences with each and absorbed it into her own identity.

      She often told me that, "Love is infinite," and argued that it isn’t a resource in limited supply. Now this made sense in a strictly logical matter and also helped illuminate the quagmire that is polyamorous relationships. I couldn’t really argue that love was limited in supply and I couldn’t honestly argue that she was doing herself a disservice by giving that love to multiple partners.

      Mechanical discussions aside, I also learned one final truth about polyamory. The concept itself, at least in a modern context, is still in its infancy. There aren’t rules or regulations that are followed by everyone in the poly community and many have different interpretations on the subject. In short, there is little agreement within the community itself with what constitutes poly.

      Some poly relationships are strictly polyfidelitous which means that aside from your partners, you don’t sleep with people outside your defined relationships. Others are open, though some people in the poly community don’t consider a monogamous couple who engage in swinging technically poly.

      Having written all that, polyamory isn’t perfect. As Miss. Winston pointed out, polyamory isn’t for everybody. It requires a level of maturity, organizational skills, and openness both with yourself and your partners that many people simply do not have in adequate supply. A problem with one partner can easily snowball to impact another partner if not dealt with quickly.

      At the end of my journey in Greece, I was left to ponder my interactions with Miss. Winston and by extension the concept of polyamory. For all the pitfalls involved, there is a lot to like about it. The sex is great due to being involved with a variety of partners for whom you care deeply; you experience a level of personal growth that you wouldn’t necessarily receive in a monogamous relationship; and finally you get to act on emotions for other people in a healthy manner that you may suppress in a classical monogamous relationship.

      All in all, I learned a lot about the poly community through Miss. Winston and I came out of it with a deeper understanding of the concept of polyamory beyond the sex.

      Being poly should not be something you hide and it should not have a negative stigma attached to it. It’s simply a different way of navigating relationships and human emotion and that is perfectly OK.

      Konstantine Roccas is a student at UBC's graduate school of journalism in Vancouver, Canada. He writes about European affairs, political economy, and now, apparently, alternative lifestyles. Follow him on Twitter @KosteeRoccas.



      Grammar Please

      Sep 8, 2015 at 3:16pm

      "Bare" and "breeched"? They obviously don't teach grammar at UBC.

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      Joseph Bell

      Sep 8, 2015 at 6:02pm

      this used to be called "dating"

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      Sep 8, 2015 at 11:49pm

      Many thanks for a mature, thoughtful perspective on this topic. Considering the sanctimonious vituperation that almost always spews forth from the public at any hint of sexual ambiguity, your offering was refreshingly balanced and level-headed.

      Speaking of which, my classmates in school (as in "before college", starting in junior high) were able to handle ambiguous relationships more gracefully than the shrill, judgy adults of today's "moral" majority. Beyond sad.

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      STDs and HIV

      Sep 9, 2015 at 4:24am

      Dear writer,
      With all your newly found infatuation and appreciation of the poly new/well forgotten orgy relations you forgot to mention a very important issue, that of Health.
      Well two really, that it's been done, it's old, rather ancient past time of the handful of parasite aristocrats when nothing else would strike their fancy to entertain. Hence, why European nobility and the Royal Courts were all blessed by a great many variety of veneral deceases, the term at the time. Veneral as in Venus the goddess of love.
      The term was to glamourize the disgusting consequences of gonorrea, syphilis, trichomonose and a dozen of other STDs they passed on to each other.
      You also forgot to add the sexual concept behind poly amorphous relations. It's not a sexual minority, they are not like people who are born gay. It's a perfectly learned behaviour that people take on as they are unable to have enough depth and spiritual development through their lifetime to sustain a beautiful love and happiness that lasts a said lifetime with one beloved person.
      That's called power of mind, body and soul that brings us closer to our purpose as humans, the Higher Conscience and
      Evolution from animals we are closely related to, like chimpanzees and bonobos, by the way famous for their poly lifestyle, to the alleged Homo sapiens.
      Hope you will do a better job next time investigating a subject and don't leave out the most important information.

      Cuold Not Do it"

      Sep 9, 2015 at 6:18am

      The devls Game"666" 3 ; '/ You just got a one way tickit To Hell" with that Way of Lieving.

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      Sep 9, 2015 at 8:08am

      Don't try this if you have kids. Or at least work out the kinks before kids. After kids it will make you go mad.

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      Re: STDs and HIV

      Sep 9, 2015 at 2:42pm

      Dear responder,

      To engage in a polyamorous lifestyle requires maturity and responsibility entwined with open communication. One, if smart, would not engage haphazardly with random strangers without protection. If infected, one should disclose that information. However, I think your response missed the biggest insight this article had into polyamory - it is not only about sex, it is also about the relationships you develop with and love you share with other individuals.

      Your response comes off as very narrow-minded. There is no "right" way to engage in relationships, you just have to find the "right" people that share a compatible viewpoint on relationships. You don't need to embrace the lifestyle, agree with it, or engage in it.

      The social construct of "sustain(ing) a beautiful love and happiness that lasts a said lifetime with one beloved person" is just that - a social construct. Polyamory does not constitute a lack of "enough depth and spiritual development". Your logic is flawed and you incorrectly tried to use an analogy about evolution and chimpanzees to bolster your case which resulted in a fail.

      I hope you will do a better job next time of opening your mind to other ways of living and thinking, as well as forming logically based arguments that criticize an article with factual evidence.

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      Sep 10, 2015 at 8:36am

      Nice article. Good to see a level-headed commentary on polyamory that tries to explore what it is beyond "open" relationships.

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      Re: Re: STDs and HIV

      Sep 11, 2015 at 1:22am

      Dear writer,
      Ad hominem attacks don't make your argument stronger, they show your weaknesses. To have a kind heart and platonically love people is not the same as engaging in multiple sexual relations with multiple partners at the same time.
      If infected, exactly how many people who want to have sex will disclose to their potential sex victim they are infected? Even if they are a decent person, they may still not know they have STDs until after they develop the full blown infection. Rather than riding your mature and responsible polyamorus high horse, why not come down and look at the factual evidence.
      Condoms do not protect against many STDs, like herpes,which is not curable. Syphylis as well as HIV can be contagious through saliva and skin, and believe it or not bed linen, cups, cutlery and other common household items.
      This is a medical fact. People might carry HIV for years and show no symptoms, but infect other people who will develop AIDS very fast as their immune system is weaker. This is how epidemy got spread so quickly.
      Another fact, thanks to the overuse of antibiotics in farming industry and elsewhere strains are becoming more resistant and many of the STDs that were cured thanks to antibiotics, such as gonorrea and syphylis are now becoming harder to treat. If you also add that there are deadly allergies to antibiotics, doctors have a hard time finding the right antibiotic without killing the patient.
      Do you need more cold hard facts? The bigger the number of sexual partners, the higher the risk. Hence, most self respecting escorts see their doctors at least once a month for STD tests.
      As for the non factual aspect of my Darwinstic theory of Evolution, forgive me for my scientific frivolities. You are correct, most people as it seems, not only haven't gone through evolution, but are willfully embracing the de-evolution, retrograding humans to insects.
      Deep, meaningful, devoted life time companionship is not a social construct, it's a gift. A special and exclusive treasure to cherish and enrich everyday.
      You are attempting to devalue and cheapen it with advocating for polyamory. I don't need to engage in it, embrace it or agree with it to see the insidious ills of the path. All I need to see is how it eroded and declined the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome and make an appropriate conclusion.
      Enough with the new brainwashing.

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      Richard Birney-Smith

      Sep 15, 2015 at 5:07am

      Thank you for writing this. It is refreshing to read someone from outside the polyamorous community write about us in such an open, unbiased, and respectful way.

      Dundas, Ontario

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