So, I’m polyamorous. You could call me poly, open, ethically non-monogamous if you wanted to. They would all be true things. For those of you who don’t know (and for some reason don’t have access to that gem called Google [or Bing, AskJeeves, your chosen search engine is a personal, unique choice for everyone]), this means that I date and have relationships with multiple people at a time. Radical notion, I know.

The thing about polyamory/open relationships/whatever you’d like to call it (I’ll term it poly, for simplicity’s sake) is that there isn’t a set of rules that everyone follows. It’s different and unique for every person that subscribes to the idea that you can have meaningful sexual and/or romantic connections overlapping at any one time. We’re all snowflakes. The way I date people and get intimate could be entirely different from the poly person sitting next to me on the bus. That’s one of the fun things about it! Believe me, there are many. But one of the loveliest is that you can set and structure your relationships exactly the way that you want them to be. Think of it as love, personalized.

So, how do I do poly? First and foremost, I have a primary partner whom I love dearly. We have been together a while and are very happy. We were also monogamous for a spell—a long while. Years. The thing is, the way I love and care and feel for other people isn’t a non-renewable resource. My big ol’ heart isn’t a gas tank that sinks to Empty when I’m feeling all the feelings for somebody. I have different kinds of love and affection and they apply uniquely to each person I interact with (and date, when I choose!).

Speaking of which, I also date a number of people in addition to my primary partner. Some relationships are serious and verge into that familiar long-term territory, others are fun and playful and revolve mostly around sex. Each is its own singular entity and although the paths of my partners occasionally cross, I try to treat each and every relationship with the respect and time it deserves.

When I date someone, they know that I’m poly. It’s not some dirty little secret that I spring on someone once I’ve got their pants off. One thing that is important to me is that my poly-ness isn’t taken out of context. It doesn’t apply to every aspect of my life and it doesn’t define me. It’s important to me and takes up a lot of my emotions, time and life, but I am not the kind of person that wants to walk into a room and be represented to everyone by only one facet of my person.

It’s also worth noting that I am certainly no expert, no authority on the world of alternative relationships. In fact, I’m relatively new to the whole idea, and still figuring out what works and doesn’t work for me. But, here’s what matters: this is the way my life makes sense for me. It feels good and right and I like that.

So, what’s this column all about? I want to dispel some of the myths that are out there about polyamory and open relationships. Toronto is an interesting and, from what I’ve seen, extremely welcoming place to be open (if that’s what you’d like to call it). I’m going to talk about what it’s like to date in a way that isn’t traditional, but really can work for many people. There will definitely be discussions about terrible dates, great dates, places you can take your boo(s), and how I handle the many ridiculous and/or excellent situations that may come with the poly turf. Mainly, I just want people to talk about the way they live their lives, and I figure this is a good way to start that conversation.