Sorry this is late everyone, but better late than never right? I was very fortunate to connect with Jasmine Peterson, who has been very open about her journey to polyamory. Here’s the interview.
ME: I read your article and it’s great! I felt the same way 🙂 You didn’t mention your family/friends and I know you said that you hadn’t gotten around to really having the poly conversation with them. I was wondering if that’s still the case. I’ve been lucky to find a poly community here in Chicago so I have friends who are poly or at least poly friendly, lol. But they are all new additions to my life. Everyone who knew me before has trouble accepting that I’m poly. So, I was wondering how long time friends/family have reacted to you.
JASMINE: I have since divulged to my family and friends that I am polyamorous. I actually told my closest friends as I was making the discovery about myself. I have wonderful friends, and they’ve been incredibly supportive and positive. It wasn’t much of a shock to them, as they’ve sort of seen this inclination in me for years. Telling my family was a different story, however. My father doesn’t understand it; he thinks it was a situational thing and was only because my ex and I were pretty incompatible. He thinks polyamory to be immoral or wrong (‘disgusting’ is a word he’s tossed around), and doesn’t at all understand why I would identify thus, or how someone could want to carry on multiple relationships. He’s got some pretty antiquated ideas about love, relationships, and marriage. But, in spite of that, he accepts that this is just who I am. I’m not sure how that would work in the future were I ever to have multiple partners, though. I can’t really imagine bringing more than one partner home to meet my father. I’m sure that’d be an uncomfortable situation. Bringing one man home to him is uncomfortable enough. 🙂
ME: I’m 9 mos pregnant and I have this vision of a family/community that I’d like to make happen for my daughter. I was wondering if you had a specific idea of what kind of family life or structure you’re looking for or if you have already found it.
JASMINE: Congratulations on your pregnancy and impending birth! I think that community is a wonderful thing, and I think raising a child communally is simply a beautiful way to raise a child. My daughter is eight, and when I realized that I was polyamorous, I told her almost immediately. She’s used to being the daughter of an activist, so she took the news in stride. I asked her how she would feel if I ever dated more than one person at a time, and she was rather nonchalant about the prospects. I would absolutely love to raise my daughter within the context of a healthy, loving poly relationship.
ME: And what would you say to the nay-sayers that think being poly would be detrimental to your daughter?
JASMINE: I think it’s difficult to really combat these embedded ideas of what constitutes a ‘healthy’, ‘happy’ family. So many people have difficulty seeing the beauty in a child being so loved by several adults, the community surrounding that child, and the wonderful way in which that can function for each of the parents in the situation. But I would tell them that there are innumerable ways to raise healthy children and that a cisgender, heterosexual context isn’t the only, or even necessarily the best, way to do so.
ME: Which brings me to the issue of legitimacy … legal rights (marriage, custody). This is a huge source of indignation for me. I’d love to see a mass movement toward poly equal rights. What do you think?
JASMINE: I am extremely concerned with legitimacy. I think that we really need to push for the same rights as monogamous couples (or any couples, really). I think this is directly related to cultural ideals about monogamy being ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ and everything else being marginal. It is a huge source of contention for me that those who seem to be afforded legal rights are cisgender, heterosexual, monogamous couples, and everyone else has to fight to have their own relationships legitimized and recognized. As if it’s not difficult enough to be part of a marginal group as it is, but to lack legal recognition and rights just maintains that sense of ‘otherness’.
ME: Have you seen the new series on Showtime? Polyamory: Married and Dating? If so, what did you think of it?
JASMINE: I don’t watch television, so I’ve not seen that show. It sounds interesting, though. I may Google it later on. 🙂
ME: Do you think it mirrors your experiences or other people who you know? And I’ve noticed that there are some great benefits to poly relationships as well as some challenges. What would you say they are?
JASMINE: The polyamory thing is still fresh for me, so I’ve not had the opportunity to really experience a truly poly relationship. But, knowing what I want out of life and my relationships, I know that the benefits that I admire about such a manner of relating. For me, it’s like my friendships – I have different friends who meet different needs in my life. I love them all, but we converse and interact differently, and they all do so in unique ways that fulfill my life. To me, that’s the benefit of a poly relationship. In terms of challenges, I see poly relationships the same way I see monogamous ones – the challenges are congruent. It’s really about maintaining honesty, balance, love, and respect. As long as those things are present, I think that when any bump in the road arises (as it is bound to do in any relationship) those involved are equipped to deal with them. Of course, people often mention the jealousy thing, but I am someone who experiences very little jealousy, and I don’t think that jealousy is inherently a part of polyamorous relationships (or at least not any more than it would be in a monogamous relationship). The thing about jealousy is that it’s about insecurity, and fear of loss. If one doesn’t feel threatened in their relationship and its structure, then jealousy doesn’t need to rear its ugly head. A big challenge that I’m actually facing right now as a polyamorous individual is dating – I am new to this whole dating thing as well as the poly thing so it’s interesting trying to date while being honest about my proclivity for polyamory. It’s difficult because I haven’t yet met another individual who identifies as poly… so it’s interesting. Dating is complex enough; the addition of being polyamorous definitely makes it more so.
ME: Have you ever experienced compersion?
JASMINE: I’ve not had the opportunity to experience compersion, but I have had the opportunity to experience forgiveness because of my orientation. When my ex finally divulged to me that he’d been cheating on me, I was able to forgive him because of the irony of monogamy – that many monogamous people are monogamous mainly because they feel it to be compulsory, and in doing so it is difficult to maintain. We were going to reconcile, but in the end I had to extricate myself and he is now with his ‘mistress’. But that’s as close as I’ve ever come to compersion. 🙂
For anyone who doesn’t know – compersion is the phenomena that occurs when partners feel the opposite of jealousy. I’ve experienced it each time I was in a poly situation. I’ve gone on dates with triads, couples, and poly individuals and always felt … contentment at the sight or mention of their affection toward their other partner(s). Actually, if I don’t see this then I’m generally uncomfortable being with them.