I’m polyamorous and in three happy relationships – but the stigma is real

Carmen Yeo

A polyamorous dater who has come out three times – as bisexual, trans and polyamorous – says that coming out as polyamorous was the most difficult of all three.

Carmen Yeo, who uses she/her pronouns, tells PinkNews about the stigma, misconceptions and reality of being in polyamorous relationships, which means, simply, having open sexual or romantic relationships with more than one person at a time.

Yeo began to “investigate ethical non-monogamy” around five years ago, in a bid to explore her sexuality. She is now in three relationships, all of which she describes as “very happy”. 

But she admits coming out as polyamorous was tough because of the “stigma” and “misconceptions” attached to it.

“So many people think of it as just a sex thing, which it not the case,” she says.

A conceptual idea of a polygamous lesbian relationship.  Three women holding hands, with arms lowered.  Represented by stereotypical pink colours for girls, it also represents happiness, alternative lifestyles and simplicity.  Studio shot on a white background.
Polyamory means having romantic relationships with two or more people, with the knowledge and consent of all concerned. (Getty)

“I would say I’ve come out three times. First as bisexual, second as trans and third as polyamorous. I would say out of the three of them, I probably found it harder with polyamory.

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“It can be tricky to navigate polyamory sometimes because people have ideas that aren’t necessarily what I experience. For a long time I wasn’t open about it and one of my partners is still quite closeted.

“I am now fully out as polyamorous, even at work and to my family.” Two of her partners have met her mother.

‘The freedom to love who I want’

Yeo’s exploration of polyamory came after being in a long-term monogamous relationship and often feeling that she didn’t “need to be exclusive”.

She describes polyamory as “the freedom to explore multiple relationships at the same time, that are not exclusive to each other,” adding: “It’s sort of the freedom to love who I want and build this network of people for myself who I love very much.” 

“I’m very privileged,” she says of her three loves, which are not solely focused on sexual connection but are “primarily romantic”. 

Polyamory works for Yeo because she describes herself as being someone “who likes learning about people on a deep level and falling in love with everything about them”. 

She goes on to say: “Everyone is very different and interesting and I like being able to have more of that in my life. It feels enriching to me.” 

Carmen Yeo
Carmen Yeo can’t see herself going back to monogamous relationships now that she has found happiness in polyamory. (Supplied)

The three guiding principles she follows to guarantee all her relationships work are communication, boundaries and ensuring everyone is getting the attention and love that they deserve. 

Stigma surrounding polyamory, which makes it difficult for some to come out, is because people often get confused about what it is, and what it isn’t, she says.

It often gets conflated with open relationships, where one person is tied romantically to another individual but can sexually explore with as many people as they desire. 

“Whereas in polyamory, you are not romantically tied to one person. You have multiple romantic relationships.”

Polyamory is ‘well-suited’ to addressing jealousy

Another misconception, she says, is that people think “polyamory is everyone dating everyone”. Although some polyamorous relationships do consist of “a group of people all dating”, Yeo’s three partners date her and also have other partners. 

Jealousy isn’t something she’s experienced so far because, she believes, polyamory is well-suited to addressing the emotion.

“Jealously is a very natural human emotional that everyone feels where you’re polyamorous or not… but there’s usually a root cause,” Yeo says, adding that it’s important to talk about it. 

In response to negativity Yeo, who has no desire to return to a monogamous relationship, says: “Once people see how happy everyone who’s involved is, those [negative] perceptions dissolve quite quickly.” 

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