“Yeah. But don’t you get jealous?” is a question Anne Hunter, a polyamory educator, has been asked countless times. She’s been in concurrent loving relationships for over 20 years and is the co-founder of PolyVic, an organisation that runs monthly discussion groups and social events for poly-folk.
Her long-term partner, Pete, has been with his girlfriend for 13 years. Anne’s lover of seven years lives in Sydney with his partner. And then those Sydney-siders have sweethearts that they date as well. And on it goes.
It was actually Pete that struggled with jealousy at the start. Anne, 50, recalls, “It really took him taking responsibility for those emotions and doing things to desensitise himself for us to move forward. At the same time, I had to learn to be more compassionate and to negotiate around what he wanted to hear and what he didn’t want to hear. I wasn’t good at that at the start.”
Anne’s identified as non-monogamous since the '90s. But back then they didn’t have a name for it. That was until the day Pete came home after having coffee with Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, a senior lecturer in Social Diversity and Health at Deakin University, who suggested that they could be polyamorous.
They’d contacted Maria online after feeling isolated because of their relationship orientation, knowing that she conducted research into sexual diversity and that she could help them. Pete declared to Anne upon getting home, "There’s a word for us!" They looked it up on the internet and discovered there were people all over the world practicing polyamory.
A couple of years later, Anne and Pete, who live in Brunswick West together, ran a workshop on polyamory at an alternative lifestyle festival. That was when they met other poly-folk, “I felt like I’d come home,” Anne says. After that, they started PolyVic.
Anne asserts that polyamory isn’t for everyone. “You’ve got to really enjoy relating to people and spending time with them. You’re going to get confronted with a lot of your insecurities whether you like it or not. So if you’re not looking for personal growth, don’t bother.”
Having multiple relationships challenges what Hollyweird movie endings have instilled in us, rejecting the idea that one person can make you complete. “That’s what I love,” Anne exclaims. “You’re free to enjoy what is organically real about the relationship. You don’t have to make it anything else.”
Brunswick local, Sarah, 23, agrees. She’s been in a polyamorous relationship with fiancé Peter, 26, for just under two years. More recently she’s started dating Paddy, 24, as well.
“Peter’s not a massive foodie, but I adore cooking. So I’ll go to Paddy’s house and we’ll cook together and that’s really enjoyable. Whereas with Peter, he’d hate that. And that’s okay. I don’t expect one person to fulfil all my wants and needs.”
Paddy says he doesn’t identify as polyamorous, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t be interested in it. “At the moment I’m not seeing anyone other than Sarah, so I don’t consider myself poly. The idea of having multiple relationships kind of terrifies me,” he laughs, “that’d be all my free time gone.”
PolyVic discussion groups are held on the second Tuesday of every month from 7.30-9.30pm. Socials are generally run on the last Sunday of the month, 5.30-8.30pm. Both events are at Palookville, 416 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. So, if you wanna be free, be free. Because there’s a million things to be. And polyamorous may just be one of them.