Of course you can.
Or at least that’s my opinion. Probably there will be bunches of people no agreeing with me there. And there are many nuances probably. To be able to answer this question for yourself in more than four words, you would have to figure out what polyamory is for you.
Is polyamory a sexual orientation?
If polyamory is a sexual orientation, just as being gay is considered a sexual orientation, than yes, you can say you are polyamorous, no matter what your relationship status is. Whether you are single, have one lover or a whole harem, you will always be polyamorous.
Is polyamory a relationship form?
To me, this approach is completely valid, especially if you feel equally attracted to any relationship form. Polyamory is more a thing that happens to you, than a thing that you are. It’s not an approach I use myself, but I can understand it well.
Many people in polyamorous communities seem to be quite attached to the definition of polyamory. You are only polyamorous when you have multiple partners at the same time. As soon as you are back to one partner, you are monogamous. I don’t like this part very much. It’s a feeling that I get more often with a minority group: if you don’t meet the criteria, you’re not being accepted. Similar things happen in the gay community where being bisexual is often criticized (‘You just don’t know what you want yet’) or in the BDSM community when you call yourself a switch (being interested/active both as Dom and sub, also often judged as ‘You just don’t know what you want yet’). I understand that being part of a minority group in society can be quite challenging. There’s often a lot of judgment and misunderstanding to deal with. But judging the people who would love to feel accepted and supported doesn’t make any sense to me.
Are we defined by labels?
I gave up on labels some years ago. Moving into an open relationship after being in a monogamous relationship for five years and three kids, I started experiencing different types of connections. People that stuck around, who I would see at least once a week and who would come to my kids’ birthdays. There were also people who were in my life for a longer or shorter period of time and which connections were more defined by sexual contact and who never met my then-partner. There were also friends that I’d known for years and with whom I somehow ended up in bed, just because it happened and it felt right – and it never happened again. My non-sexual friendships also deepened and became more intimate in a friendly way. I also had experiences where I would gather with some people to experience a certain sexual fantasy one of us wanted to fulfill. And people with whom I would cuddle for hours. Or people I’d only kiss with.
Some men I would have super deep connections with, but we could also not communicate with each other for weeks.
With others I would go on a holiday.
Or I ended up together with a lover and his other lover, who became a dear friend.
Or I had a date with a friend and her husband.
And then some weeks later we would bring our kids and have a walk on the beach and hot chocolate.
Which all is to say: I had no idea anymore of how to identify all these connections with people. Were they friends with benefits or just friends? Lovers? Relationships? Secondary and tertiary partners? Frankly I didn’t care at all. The only thing that mattered to me was to be able to meet a person in the moment. To be together in the here and now without being preoccupied by externally imposed boundaries or expectations. I just wanted to feel deep inside me what my desires and boundaries were, where curiosity and excitement would bring me. To think about in which box to place this connection didn’t turn me on at all.
That was all when I had a relationship.
Now I don’t.
There’s no long-term or primary relationship. There’s not even someone I really see regularly.
So I wondered: what or who do I consider myself?
Am I still polyamorous? Or do I call myself single?
If I really wanted I could call myself a single, non-monogamous, bi-sexual switch right now. But I don’t feel excited at all by that definition.
So the answer is: I don’t know and I don’t care. It doesn’t interest me a single bit.
I only know what I want right now (which means this can be different next year. Or tomorrow. Or ten seconds from now): I want to live with a wide open heart, meeting people in the moment. I know darn well what I like and don’t like in a connection, and I’ve become super picky. But not exclusively. I might be, if I meet someone with who I feel I want to be.
And even then, I love a whole lot of people, and I will have intimate connections with multiple people.
Which is to say…
Who you are and what you are, can never be defined by words or the opinion of anyone. If you feel that you can only be polyamorous when you are in multiple relationships: good for you.
If you feel you are wired polyamorously: good for you.
If you feel like you don’t give a single bit: good for you.
As long as you are happy with how you see yourself.
Enjoy your life. <3
Do you (and your partner/s) want personal guidance on your path in non-monogamy or other aspects of your life? I am worldwide available for coaching sessions, talking e.g. about challenges, what to do when your needs and desires differ, or how to deal with jealousy and fear. Contact me for more information and booking your session.