Desiring or being in multiple romantic relationships at the same time is called polyamory. Orion Toivonen from Scotland was willing to talk openly about polyamory by answering a few questions surrounding themes such as closeness, love or jealousy.
Von Valeria Tomassini und Paynavi Punithakumar, G19A
An unusual situation: Orion is sitting across from us – but via a screen and in Scotland. His partner Jose is listening in the background as we begin the interview.
Orion, currently, you are only in one relationship – with your anchor partner Jose, who is also dating Jaana who has three additional partners. What do the terms closeness, intimacy and love mean to you? How would you distinguish them?
Orion: Love is something that you can feel with everyone: You can feel it with friends, maybe even with a stranger that you pass on the street. It is a feeling of appreciation. Closeness, however, I consider something more reserved to the people nearest to me. Although, I am not only close to people that I am involved with romantically, but also to friends and family. It is something precious and unique that you could not share with a stranger on the street. It is built through trust and sometimes just by being there for each other. Intimacy is a complicated one for a couple of reasons: There are various types of intimacy, such as sexual intimacy and nonsexual intimacy, to name an example. I also feel like I share intimacy, in a nonsexual way, with people that I am not necessarily in a relationship with, but also with family and friends. It is something valuable and unique. Something you do not feel it with every person you are close to, but only with those with whom you have a particularly meaningful relationship or friendship.
The beauty of polyamory is loving limitlessly: you can enjoy love, closeness and intimity to the fullest. For me it is impossible to get everything I want out of one relationship, on the other hand, I cannot be everything that another person wishes for. With multiple partners, this problem is solved, because you’re going to be connected in different ways. With that the intimacy I share with my partners is not necessarily the same. That is what makes defining intimacy so difficult for me.
What are the challenges in a polyamorous relationship? Is jealously one of them?
Communication is definitely one of the challenges of polyamory. If you cannot openly communicate with your partner(s), then you will have a lot of ups and downs in your relationship. Also accepting that you both have emotions. Jealousy is and will forever be a thing you feel. And that is totally normal. You shouldn’t put yourself down because of that. In the first months of our relationship, it was hard for me because whenever Jose would go to his other partner, I felt kind of icky. We solved this by sitting down and talking about our feelings. Another thing we have introduced into our relationship is that whenever either of us goes on a date, we try to meet up as soon as possible afterwards to sort of debrief.
Can closeness be shared in a relationship? And if yes, do you feel closer to one of your partners than to the other(s)?
Jose, who was halfway listening to the interview, suddenly appears on the screen. As Orion only has one partner at the moment, Jose might think: this question is one for me. So, as Orion disappears from the screen, Jose starts to recount closeness in more than one relationship.
Jose: My other partner, Jaana, who is dating four people, including me, which is a lot, is very different from Orion. Our relationship is like a friendship, but we care a lot about each other – we are almost platonic – but in a loving way. I feel the same amount of love for both my partners, but it is very different. It is a different kind of closeness. As to Orion, I practically live with him, so we share a lot of different things, also a lot of intimate things. However, I feel like Jaana is there for me just as much. We are just as close; we just do not spend as much time together. But with either partner I know that we would drop anything to help the other person out. This, too, is a crucial aspect of our polyamorous life.