Ahhh the Inner West of Sydney, home to gentrification, debauchery and expensive rental properties. As someone who grew up in the Outer West, the real west, I was blind to all of these gaudy mainstays of suburbs by the water. All I had were horses, better kebabs and weekly trips to Parramatta.
It wasn’t until I moved into the Inner West that I learnt of its ways, especially after moving in with a polyamorous couple. Specifically, a polyamorous couple who occasionally did medieval roleplay, sung sea shanties and were, for the most part, actors out of work.
Sometimes I would come home to different people living about my house. Sometimes I would come home to nobody. You see, although my housemates were in a committed duo, they were also incredibly open, and interacted with other committed polyamorous duos.
Now you can kinda understand how two becomes four and so on and so forth.
Let me introduce the pair that taught me all about love. My first housemate, who has decided to operate under the pseudonym Wally Weegee, is a bi badass who loves the colour purple, has two cats named Usidore and Dorkus, and identifies as she/her and polyamorous.
My second housemate, who would like to be known as Bo Jangles, used to work on pirate ships, has an affinity for medieval weaponry, and is really damn tall. He identifies as he/him, and polyamorous.
Together the two operated as a dedicated four-person polycule at the time, with each individual sometimes branching off with others here and there.
Around the same time I moved into the house, I also began dating a man who is now my boyfriend. Picture pre-COVID, January 2020, when we could do such a thing with ease.
Now, we all know that dating someone seriously after taking a year to be single comes with a myriad of challenges. Opening up is a hard business, yo. So obviously I confided in the people who open up to more than just one partner on a regular basis.
As a non-polyamorist myself, I had so much to learn about love, lust, lechery and other ‘l’ words. I decided to interview both of my housemates, to talk over the lessons of love they gave me.
Here is my first housemate, Wally Weegee.
“When I opened up to polyamory, it was kind of like a light had turned on,” she said.
“I hadn’t changed, but the world around me became so much more open. I was suddenly allowed to be myself, as cliche as it sounds.”
For most of my worries about moving from single life to a committed life, Wally was a great confidant. She was the same age as me (22), so it helped me feel like there was someone else who understood my thoughts and feelings at the time.
“I remember telling you that things can’t happen unless you say them,” Wally told me.
“You can’t skirt around the edge of things. You need to find what you want and talk about it. It might be safer to think something, but you have to actually say it if you want it to happen.”
Like most people, I thought that my now-boyfriend would just magically know I was falling for him without me saying anything. Putting things into words is always hard, and Wally helped me realise this.
There was also the worry that most single people have that by going into a relationship I would lose the cool, calm and collective persona I had created for myself. Goodbye days of being a bad bitch. That’s when Wally told me something just like this:
“You do not have to give up your bad bitch card to be with someone. You can be a bad bitch in love. You don’t have a bad bitch card just to be a bad bitch by yourself, you can be a bad bitch with others so that they too can become bad bitches as well.”
So that was me set on the right path. And now I guess I am a bad bitch in love. It truly is possible, despite feeling like two completely separate worlds that can never interact.
Next, I spoke to my second housemate, Bo Jangles.
“For me going into polyamory, it started a process of facing what was happening in my life and implementing change for the people around me,” said Bo.
“My partner has always been my reassurance, my best friend, even my psychologist, and through polyamory, I’ve had to re-learn some of that. When you open up to more than one person, you learn to identify what you need from each individual, and what you, in turn, can give to them as well.”
Bo taught me about having little conversations with your partner, which may seem trivial, but can actually benefit things in the long run.
“There are little conversations that can feel impossible, but you need to have them.”
“I remember you were struggling at the beginning around talking about things, especially when you were worried about how things would be taken, but I always told you about taking your time and valuing your personal space.”
Bo also helped me realise that leaning on someone you love isn’t being a burden upon them. We lean on friends all the time because we know they’ll be there for us, but sometimes we fear doing it with our partners when we really shouldn’t.
“It’s not bad to lean on each other,” Bo said, “Many songs require more than one string and more than one note. It’s a team effort. sometimes bad things happen, but it’s not bad to lean on your partner in times of need.”
And that’s basically how my two polyamorous housemates taught me about love. Of course, both of them are still learning as well, and there have been many times that I have given them advice, but that’s what life is, isn’t it? We’re all just learning as we go, nobody really has all the answers.Image: Getty Images / igor_kell