Post- Magazine

it's okay to love multiple people [narrative]

on coming out to myself a second time

In nearly all the fairy tales of my childhood, the beautiful princess was always forced to choose between the princes, and the story could only end when she had chosen. When I grew up and graduated to young adult novels, the plucky heroine now had to choose between two boys with jawlines so sharp you could slice bread with them. Peeta or Gale, Edward or Jacob, these series could not reach their baby-filled epilogues until Katniss or Bella made the right decision. 

As I grew up, I began to realize that maybe I didn’t just want a prince or a bad-boy-werewolf. I found the princess just as beautiful as the prince, Katniss’s bravery just as lovely as Peeta's kindness. On a foggy November afternoon in the Starbucks near my middle school, my hand shaking like a San Francisco earthquake, I typed into the Google search bar: “am i bisexual.” 


I had learned about the term in my seventh grade health class, where it was briefly mentioned as something some people are. Our teacher quickly changed the subject, moving on to menstruation. While everyone was laughing at Mr. Yo explaining the basics of getting a period—the term “Diva Cup” is pretty funny, I’ll concede—I sat in the corner, holding my knees to my chest, wondering if I was one of those bisexuals he just brought up. 

From a young age, I had found everyone beautiful and assumed that was the default until I learned that girls weren’t supposed to like girls. At the ballroom dancing classes my mom made me take in the fifth grade, I liked the way a tie sits on a guy’s throat just as much as the way a white glove delicately clings to a girl’s hand. I enjoyed waltzing with the guys, but I also found myself secretly excited when there were too many girls and we’d have to dance with each other instead. 

After taking several “Are You Bisexual” quizzes on the World Wide Web, and concluding that maybe, just maybe, I was, I told a friend who decided to tell her friend who then told every member of our all-girl school who would listen that Indigo was a gay homosexual lesbian dyke that liked to stare up girls’ skirts. Though I was upset at being outed, I was also annoyed at the misrepresentation of my sexuality—even the implications of the word bisexual annoyed me. I just thought everyone was beautiful, okay? 

Years later, thousands of miles across the country, at a tiny college on top of a big hill, I found myself and a now-ex-boyfriend talking about past lovers on a leather couch in his dorm basement. At this point, I used pansexual or queer to describe myself rather than bisexual because I didn’t like the gender binary contained within “bi.” I told him about my first girlfriend, whom I’d been with in high school for five months. 

“We were open,” I explained. 


His eyebrows furrowed. “What does that mean?”

“Sometimes she’d make out with her friends, sometimes I’d make out with mine, but we told each other about it and were very in love with each other for a while,” I clarified. 

The now-ex-boyfriend laughed and rolled his dark-brown eyes. “Yeah, well, that’s not a real relationship,” he said. 

I remember feeling confused because it had been real, almost painfully so. When she had told me she loved me, it had felt like every star, every atom, every dust mite had aligned right then and there for us to be in that moment, saying we loved each other on her creaky twin bed. How was that not, as the ex-boyfriend so eloquently put it, “a real relationship”? 

After that conversation, I began to think about monogamy and commitment. The relationship fell apart for other reasons (he needed a therapist and I didn’t want to be one), which gave me time to consider for the first time in my 19 years on this earth that I could be non-monogamous. This is how I found myself, hands shaking like a windblown tree on the Main Green losing its leaves, typing into the Google search bar: “am i poly?” 

That year, as the snow melted and winter bled into spring, I gradually began to realize that the answer to that question was yes, tentatively. It would explain a lot—why I felt like a fraud in every relationship I’d been in, why I gravitated toward hookups and one-night stands, why I had cringed at the utterance of “I love you” every time a monogamous partner had said it to me, and why I had banned forehead kisses from everyone. Over the course of many showers (is there anywhere better to think?), I began to realize that maybe it wasn’t love or intimacy I hated but the performance of pretending to only feel it for one person. 

The first time I said I was polyamorous was on a first date with a guy from my floor in Jameson-Mead this summer. In a dimly lit restaurant in Boston where candles flickered in skull-shaped containers, I mentioned it casually, like it was something I had figured out for a while. When I said it, the word fit like an old sweater or a favorite T-shirt. 

As I come out to myself and the people in my life for a second time, I find myself feeling more like me. The more I say it, the more I confirm that it feels right, the two syllables rolling off my tongue, smoother than the marble bodies of the statues in the RISD Museum. 

As I’ve been talking about this with the people in my life, many have misconstrued polyamory and non-monogamy as a choice, which I don’t think it is. Some people are born to love one person forever—I just wasn’t wired that way. That doesn’t make me any more of a free spirit or forward thinker than somebody who wants to only be with one person. It’s just that when whoever lives above us humans was making me, they made someone loyal, loving, and, as I said that night in Boston, poly. I realized that if Gale and Peeta agreed, I’d love them both and burn down the Capitol with the two of them. Why can’t I kiss both princes as long as we communicate and consent? 

In the midst of this season of self-discovery, love arrived, quietly, letting itself in through the back door. I currently cherish someone very deeply and am cherished by them in my entirety. Just when I was least expecting it, love snuck up on me, like a tiger in the night, terrifying but beautiful. As the leaves fall, so do I.

Indigo Mudbhary

Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.

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