I think the first time I considered any kind of poly, it was in a remarkably unhealthy situation. This was more than fifteen years ago. I was living out west with my girlfriend at the time. We were in bad places mentally, emotionally, every way. Our relationship would later end with her spectacular cheating on me and an equally dramatic breakup.
But this was maybe three years into our five year relationship. She was finishing her Masters and she was an assistant professor. We had a monogamous and relatively vanilla relationship. She was interesting and well read and had a lot of tattoos and bangs and a punk upbringing.
She seemed to enjoy sex, but she didn’t like to talk about sex. She didn’t like to ask for things. When kinky things happened organically she seemed enthusiastic about them, but then got ashamed and guilty after, which was very complicated for me. Then again, I didn’t know how to talk about sex back then either, so I’m sure I was as unhelpful as she was when it came to healthy communication.
One day, she told me about her crush on one of her professors. I was fascinated. She assured me she would never do anything about her crush, but she talked about it a lot. She talked about it more than she usually felt comfortable talking about sexual things. Sometimes we even talked about “what would happen if she asked him out.”
She knew another woman, another student, who had slept with this professor, so it wasn’t out of the question. She sort of stalked this other student. Kept tabs on her. Tried to figure out what exactly happened.
At one point she decided to ask him out to coffee to talk about her thesis. He agreed. She came back with a red face talking about how he flirted with her. She reiterated that she would never actually do anything about it, even if she wasn’t living with me. She never went out with him again.
I don’t think jealousy really crossed my mind. Nor was it a cuckold type thing. I was just charmed by their whole flirtation. The forbiddenness, the long game of it, the age difference. I was also comforted by our communication. I wanted her to have an adventure. I wanted to be with someone who wanted to have adventures, both with me and on her own.
She cheated on me later, rather dramatically with a poet who lived in another state. I wonder if she was honest with me about it from the start things would have been different. I remember being shocked, not that she would fuck someone else, but that she could be in love and not tell me. That she could be in love and that I didn’t know.
In writing this, I just considered that maybe she did see that professor again. It’s pretty arrogant to think I would know, if I didn’t know the other time she cheated. That’s fascinating to me. Sad, but also fascinating. In a way, I hope she did. Unlike a over dramatic and doomed relationship with a shitty poet (they got married eventually) I imagine her having a dalliance with a dashing professor.