As modern society continues to expand the boundaries of what constitutes a “normal” relationship, more and more people are deciding that a polyamorous relationship is right for them. And yet, very few people still know what polyamory really is or means. To the uninitiated, it seems like an attempt to have your cake and eat it too, indulging in the comfort and security of a relationship while being able to experience all the thrills of being single. Others see it as a sort of mutual kinky agreement, one that enables a couple to invite friends for a casual dinner party and end up feasting in an orgiastic free-for-all.
But 29-year-old Nico Tortorella, and the hit TV Land comedy-drama series Younger, is here to tell you none of that is true. Tortorella, who considers himself pansexual, has been in a relationship with fitness and wellness entrepeneur Bethany Meyers, who considers herself a lesbian, for 11 years now. This week, Tortorella told People that the two of them have been cut off from their families since publicly revealing details about their sexuality to the Advocate earlier in the year.
“Because of all the attention that the relationship has gotten recently, we are coming up to the holiday season and because of certain things that were said, Bethany and I are not necessarily, completely welcome in her family celebrations this year,” he said at the Worldwide Orphans Gala in New York City. Because being better means being more aware of how gender dynamics are changing in today’s world, here are a few things that he would like everyone to understand about polyamory. And for more great relationship advice, here are 30 Things Straight Couples Can Learn from Gay Couples.
It’s Not Just a Sexual Free for All
A lot of people think that if you’re polyamorous it means you go out and try to get laid all the time, but that’s not necessarily the case. For Tortorella, for example, it’s very important for the emotional connection to be there to make the sex worthwhile.
“For me, sex is such an explosive exchange of energy between two people that if you’re not connected, energetically, before you have sex, it can be damaging,” Tortorella said. ““If you open yourself up to somebody on that level it can be damaging to yourself and damaging for the other person if there isn’t trust there. … That being said, I totally understand people who want to have casual sex. I think what you have to do in this scenario is stay in your lane. Find people who want similar things — physically, energetically, and emotionally. If some dude wants to fuck this girl but she wants to do something else, that can be an issue.”
For the couple, a lot of the impetus for being polyamorous, in fact, comes not from a desire to have lots of sex, but from the belief that you can’t get everything you want from one person. Each person you fall for enriches your life in some way, so to cut yourself off from them is to cut yourself off from the potentially incredible ways they can add to your life.
“So many people have this idea that if you can love this, you cannot love this,” Meyers said. “And I don’t understand, because I do. I can have feelings for two people. There are different kinds of feelings, they fulfill different needs. I don’t find it very realistic to think that I’m going to get everything I need out of Nico.”
Being Open With One Another Is Key
One of the obvious upsides of polyamory is that it creates a space wherein true trust can be established with your partner. No sneaking around, no cheating, no lying, no tears. For that to happen, it’s critical that couples have open and honest conversations about what they want and what they are comfortable with. Many polyamorous couples, for example, consider it important to tell your partner that you’re going to sleep with someone else before it happens, rather than after the fact, to make sure they are OK with it beforehand. And for more great relationship tips, here are 12 lessons from J-Rod.
Don’t Fixate on The Sex
One of the thing that Tortorella complains about is that, when you tell people you’re dating a man, all of a sudden, all they can think about and all they want to ask you is about the sex. “No one thinks about [straight couples having sex],” he said. “But the second I tell them I’m dating a dude, the first thing he thinks about is [sex]. It’s disgusting. Like what is wrong with you that that’s what you’re thinking?”
Everything Is Fluid
“I think the way I use the word fluidity is like fluid in everything, fluid in train of thought; not this, not that; beyond definition. It doesn’t always have to be one thing,” Tortorella said. “The one thing anybody can talk about, no matter race, religion, sexuality or gender, is love.”
Tortorella views himself as pansexual, or sexually fluid, which means that he falls in love with a person rather than a gender, and his preferred gender can change over time. But the word “fluidity” is one you hear a lot in conversations about polyamory in general. Tortorella and Myers are open about the fact they don’t have it all figured out yet; they don’t have a set of rules or a system of how to most efficiently invite another person into their relationship. But that’s OK because a lot of polyamory is about being open and adaptable and willing to making things up with your partner as you go along.
They Don’t Like Labels
Like many polyamorous couples, Tortorella and Meyers don’t like the constraints of labels. Even when they first started dating, they never called each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” Rather, they prefer the term “witnesses” or “family.”
“Labels can be very frustrating,” Meyers said. “They’re evolving because people always make new words. Part of me wants to say we’re going to move to a label-less society, but I don’t know. Maybe [in the future] we’ll just have more words.”
“I think that if we all just saw each other for people and individuals and didn’t try to give each other these [labels], the world would be such a more beautiful place,” Tortorella said.
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