Bengaluru is home to a wide variety of communities, and the polyamourous community is one of them.
Poly folk, as they are called, tend to have more than one romantic and sexual partner. They are not to be confused with those in open relationships, whose relationships are purely sexual.
Treesa, a 22-year-old poly lesbian, explains it best: “It’s like having a network of friends versus just one friend. You have different people who you can relate to and share different facets of your personality with and it’s the same for your partner.”
Helen (name changed) says polyamory is the ability to love more than one individual at a time without the guilt associated with adultery in monogamous relationships.
“It’s difficult to convince people that it’s not adultery. The basis of a polyamourous relationship is consent, ethics and responsibility. All partners have the option to explore,” she explains.
No walk in the park
“Telling the people close to you isn’t very easy. I guess the hardest part is having the courage to accept that not everyone is going to understand or respect it, and not letting it affect your choices,” says Armana (name changed).
Helen says women in such relationships are seen as nymphomaniacs or attention seekers even by those who call themselves open-minded.
But the challenges are not just from outside the community. Nora (name changed) says she has had partners who pretended to be poly just to keep her happy, while they suffered from mistrust and jealousy.
As a person who has recently discovered this part of her identity, Treesa says it is not easy to be nonchalant about what your partner does without you.
“Growing up monogamous, you’re conditioned to be possessive of your partner, and it took me a while to unlearn that,” she explains.
Armana says that her partners know about each other and their relationships are built on trust.
For others, they alternate between poly and monogamous relationships.
Treesa says she made a conscious decision to commit to a monogamous relationship with her current girlfriend as she is not comfortable with polyamory.
Nora says the city is more open than one might think. “I’ve met loads of poly people here,” she says.
Treesa sees a thriving poly space among the city’s queer community. “In fact just last week, we had a meet-up of poly folk and those interested in it. It’s an open and accepting space,” she says.
Armana agrees but says that not everyone understands.
“My landlord once called the cops on me because she thought I was a prostitute for having different men over,” she says. Helen says the
Bengaluru dating scene associates polyamory with orgies.
“It’s a direct ticket to ask for strange sexual favours once you’re established as someone who doesn’t stand by accepted rules of monogamy,” she
Armana, a medical professional, has had to juggle multiple long-distance relationships because of the pandemic. “It took some getting used to,” she says.
Treesa adds that the pandemic has made poly folk better communicators. “The distance forces you to communicate and hopefully that will remain beyond the pandemic,” she says.
For Nora, meeting people has taken a backseat. “At the moment, I’m fully content with my primary partner,” she says.