Here’s How I Discovered I Was Polyamorous

Shahnaaz Khan
sad lady thinking about relationship

(As told to Shahnaaz Khan)

I always wanted to fall in love

I love love – from the time I was a rosy-eyed teen, love seemed the best thing that could happen to me. Study, career, friends and family were all side dishes to the main course of love. After a string of is-he, is-he-not boyfriends, I finally fell in love at 22.

The first heart broken

He was handsome, caring and a simple no-hassle kinda guy. We went strong for over a year, till I don’t know what happened to me. I wanted more, but did not know what it was that I wanted. He wanted more too, more commitment and even marriage. I was far from ready. Conversations turned to arguments to ugly fights. One day I just walked out. He spent the next two years trying to get us back together, I was steadfast. Till one day I heard news of his impending nuptials. A part of me wanted to run back to him. The other part of me took up my parents’ offer to look for a suitable groom.

woman crying

Representative Image source

Marriage and moving

From the options my parents brought to the table, I chose the one boy who would take me farthest from life in Bangalore. He worked in San Francisco and was looking to settle there permanently. Great, I thought. He was handsome, caring, simple no-hassle – clearly my type of guy. We married after a brief courtship. It wasn’t crazy love, but it was comfortable. I moved to the US soon after the wedding.

One too many

About 2 years into my marriage, I bumped into my ex and his wife. And it struck me that I was miserable in my marriage. There was nothing outwardly wrong – we were the quintessential young NRI couple, happy in our world. Yet, seeing them, my stomach churned in the emptiness that my soul seemed to be. What was wrong with me? I managed to get a meeting with my ex alone. We talked, and I tried to kiss him. He pushed me away and chided, “You are married to someone else, as am I. We had our chance.” I spent that night in tears and fantasising about us in bed. My intention wasn’t to destroy anyone’s marriage. I just really wanted to have sex with him. To be honest, I just wanted to sleep with someone else.

Related reading: I love my husband, I also want to continue the affair….

Am I a wife or a slut?

That realisation struck a chord. Once back home, I spent hours agonising with guilt and shame. Not so much for kissing my ex, as for wanting to be with other men. “What is wrong with you? You have a husband who loves you and keeps you happy, yet you are not satisfied.” I thought maybe it’s just a lack in our sex life, so I tried to spice it up. Initially my husband also went along, but he got tired of the games and was happy to go back to the old routine. I was also happy, as I realised this wasn’t working for me. With my husband the old routine worked best. The adventures were always with other men in my head, which did not seem even remotely the same with my husband. Days would go either dreaming of being with other men, or being guilt ridden with those dreams.

The choice of monogamy

One evening, at a work event I hit it off with this one guy. He was living his life travelling the world; no fixed home, girlfriend, or job. I found the initial attraction turning into a deep emotional connection. I was so confused, it wasn’t that I didn’t love my husband. How was I then falling in love with someone else? Maybe if I spent more time with the man I was married to, these feelings would disappear. But they didn’t. However, something else happened. At a café with my husband, I found him checking out this woman. I knew that gaze; as I got it a lot of times. Seeing my do-no-wrong husband with that look should have angered me. Instead, I found myself fantasising about him with that woman! My guilt had turned to utter confusion! So I turned to the Internet and found ‘polyamorous’ to be the answer to my perplexities.

affair - cheating

Knowledge, understanding, and the road ahead

I started reading about polyamory; what it is, stories of others like me, what to do about it. After a long time, a sense of peace had dawned on me. Yes, I was different, but I wasn’t wrong and I wasn’t alone. Years of heteronormative and monogamous conditioning on morality, sexuality and being a ‘good’ woman, slowly unravelled. It was possible to be committed but sleep with more than one; find different things in different partners; be different people with different partners.

It was possible to be committed but sleep with more than one; find different things in different partners; be different people with different partners.

Suddenly, my romantic journey from the flings to my ex to a happy yet unhappy marriage – all made sense.

Related reading: I love you…but I love him too! What happens when a girl loves 2 men or more…

Takes at least two to tango

So where do I go from here? Well, nowhere really, because my husband does not know any of this. I just don’t know how to bring my quite conservative husband on board. I would love for this to be a two-way street. For us to stay married yet not limited to one another. I know this is the only way for me to be happy. But will it make him happy? He probably is a monogamous guy and wants me to only be with him, just as he will only be with me.

I see four options – stay unhappily married till one day I suddenly walk out leaving my husband clueless about what happened; not tell him, have affairs on the side, till one day he finds out and we end in divorce; tell him and still probably end up getting divorced; tell him and maybe things actually work out. The first two seem more probable, to be honest, the third one is not who I want to be, and the last one really the most inconceivable. I stand on the precipice of what may be. Till I fall to either side, a girl can dream.

Should I tell my husband that I cheated on him?

He plays around but I’m not supposed to

When this couple wanted to transition from an open marriage to a traditional one

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Anney Unnikrishnan December 7, 2019 - 7:23 pm

Freedom has no limits Deb Chaterjee, but I agree that since marriage is a social contract, she must get out of it and fulfil her adventurous dreams. She is trying to hold onto her cake and eat it too. Not happening!

Play Time
Play Time November 5, 2018 - 5:41 am

The fact that she is waiting to get caught instead of getting divorce in the first place shows the characterless behaviour of the above woman. By the way, you can’t cheat and claim to be in love with your partner at the same time. Marriage is a bond of exclusivity and upon discovering her polymorous nature, her only honest option is a divorce. No need to juggle with other selfish options. It seems she is keeping her husband around for financial support.

Anney Unnikrishnan December 7, 2019 - 7:24 pm

Freedom has no limits Deb Chaterjee, but I agree that since marriage is a social contract, she must get out of it and fulfil her adventurous dreams. She is trying to hold onto her cake and eat it too. Not happening!

Poori Kanna
Poori Kanna August 16, 2018 - 7:32 am

We Indians take the moral high ground when it comes to societal rules or telling others what to do. We play the high and mighty. And then we watch crappy porn and fantasise ourselves. I would suggest OP to be honest with your hubby. He deserves as much. But also get ready to deal with the consequences. You never know, maybe he will be ok with it as well. I personally know of some western couples who have an open relationship. They’re happy with their spouse, but they also explore with other people. Nobody has any right to judge anybody.

Deb Chatterjee April 13, 2018 - 6:00 pm

I fully agree with you. The moral of the whole process is that freedom has its limits. You enter a contract, you keep up your part of the contractual responsibility. You don’t change the contract in the middle. If you want to break a contract, fine! But such a breaking of the contract at one partner’s whims and fancies should not cause no harm to the other person in the contract.

And marriage is a social contract.

Tanmoy April 13, 2018 - 12:48 am

These **** are the reasons why we fear to marry. No morality nothing. Ungrateful unscrupulous *****. Feeling really bad for that hapless husband being unaware of his characterless wife with loose morale.

Anney Unnikrishnan December 7, 2019 - 7:26 pm

The word is morals not morale. And if you are so afraid of sluts then don’t marry.

gourav April 12, 2018 - 1:19 am

inform u r husband u want commitment but you’re body want multiple partners to get satisfied.

if he gives u divorce so be it.

don’t keep u r husband in shadow and do it at his back.

Deb Chatterjee April 13, 2018 - 5:54 pm

Good, but confused suggestion. Why there should be any commitment like you have suggested?

How can the husband be committed fully knowing that his wife will be sleeping around with lots of men?

Deb Chatterjee April 11, 2018 - 9:19 am

Cheating and then getting divorced is the worst thing. If you surely know that you are polyamorous, then tell your monogamous husband to give you a divorce.

I am quite perplexed. How do you know that polyamory will work for you? They way I see it, you will be treated as a sex object by multiple men. Isn’t that demeaning for a modern and educated woman? What if you get pregnant from your lovers and you do not who the father was? How will you explain his/her identity to the society? Who is the father? What will be the impact on him/her? In ancient times and even today, sex workers give birth to children out of formal wedlock. So similar fate may await your children if you have any from multiple partners.

I think that greed has taken over you and you have lost all senses. Marriage has been defined as a monogamous relationship based on trust and commitment. It has worked fairly well with its attendant shortcomings. But if you challenge the system, then what alternative are you proposing for its replacement?

The problem is that your lust for multiple partners is going to break your husband and he may not be able to recover from the shame. And he is not conservative in his sexual leanings.

I suggest that you directly ask your husband and take a divorce. The earlier you leave monogamy and take the high road to being a whore, the better.

Shayra May 17, 2018 - 11:22 pm

Youre no one to judge and have no right to call her a whore…respect another woman as you respect your mother…as for desire men are way more advanced i their lustrour adventures

Deb Chatterjee May 18, 2018 - 9:52 pm


Judging another’s action/views is a part of societal activity. If judging was a taboo, then we would not have courts in a democratic society.

Cheating is a crime (though unlike stealing, killing, raping etc., which cause financial and physical harm). Cheating causes irreversible emotional harm. So, if the society comes to know that someone has cheated, then the rules are broken. In that case members of that society have a right to publically shame that person, because she/he broke rules. There is nothing like absolute freedom. You cannot expect to do anything you want and not be held accountable. I think you are too naive to understand these deeper aspects of how a society functions. With more maturity you will. As an aide, just think of a club where members are obligated to act according to rules. If one breaks/defies the rules, the club authority can rescind the membership. Same thing here. You function within a society, and hence are obligated by specific rules.

Finally, if my mother (who is no longer on this planet where we live) had an extra marital affair, then I would not have any qualms of conscience of calling her a whore, even though I acknowledge that she is my biological mother. A crime is a crime and the person engaging in it must be labelled that way.

Anney Unnikrishnan December 7, 2019 - 7:28 pm

Don’t get so senti, Shayra, being polyamourous is a new idea for our patriarchal menfolk. So they will react badly – like asking a small boy to share his candy!

Anney Unnikrishnan December 7, 2019 - 7:32 pm

Deb Chaterjee
Your small and narrow mind can only see rules. I agree that this woman should get out of her marriage before she ventures into other dalliances. But you don’t have to be so constipated about it. Watch out. Your sister or daughter may turn out to be polyamorous. lol!

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