When Gillian Myhill met a heterosexual duo looking to add another woman to their relationship, it began a new chapter of her life...
Gillian Myhill: 'What I liked about our polyamorous relationship was the different balance of energy it had from normal coupledom'
I always knew I was bisexual. But growing up in Australia, toxic masculinity was rife. I felt sexually repressed in that environment and was always being called things like “slut” even when I was a virgin.
It wasn’t until I moved to London in my 20s, about 16 years ago, that I first had sex with a woman. There’s something special about London: a level of acceptance around sexuality that I don’t think you get in many other world cities. I decided I wanted to find female partners as well as male ones, so I went online and met a heterosexual couple, married for four years, who wanted to bring another woman into the mix.
They were both professionals in their thirties: she worked in the City and he had a job in the media. We met for a drink and immediately clicked. I started dating both of them and we enjoyed a fantastic relationship. We would turn up to dinners, parties, and events as a trio, and barely an eyebrow was raised.
Once we’d been together for about three months, we realized the relationship had become fairly serious. So we sat down and worked out our boundaries; how we would communicate and what we were each comfortable with. We decided honesty and openness were key.
Gillian Myhill: 'I don’t believe that loving one person detracts from the love you may have for another
Most of the time, the three of us shared the marital bed in their West London home, though I kept my own flat for security.
Telling our family and friends about what was then a highly unusual arrangement was easier than you’d expect. They all pretty much accepted it straight away, even though this was a time when polyamory was far less mainstream than today and certainly not a familiar concept to many.
There were, of course, several questions I’d often be asked. People wanted to know if I was drawn to one partner more than the other. The answer was yes, but it could change five times a day, depending on my mood or theirs.
Another common question is related to jealousy. Surely in a polyamorous relationship, the scope for envy was great? But, for us, there honestly wasn’t much at all. As long as we communicated with each other, it worked. As humans, we have room for multiple loves, simultaneously as well as consecutively. I know there are many people who will disagree, but I don’t believe that loving one person detracts from the love you may have for another. What I liked about our polyamorous relationship was the different balance of energy it had from normal coupledom. I’m quite an extrovert and being with two other people appealed to this side of me.
The three of us stayed together for three-and-a-half years. Then their marriage came to an end, and the woman and I decided to stay together for several more years. Sometimes we’d invite other men to join us. Sometimes it was just us two. But we were volatile as a pair, and about four years ago we parted company. Since then, I have enjoyed a variety of polyamorous encounters and relationships. My feelings about polyamory haven’t changed, but I’m happy to see that others are far more open to it now, too. Back when I got together with a married couple, I didn’t know anyone else in this situation.
Now, on the dating app I founded two years ago called Bare, there are plenty of users who openly state their preference for what is sometimes known as ethical non-monogamy. I’ve also noticed this as a single person on the dating scene again after the end of my last relationship a few months ago – with a man.
Society has always acknowledged, if not accepted, that men could desire more than one woman at a time. Now we’re beginning to accept it – in some quarters at least – when women say that the classic monogamous relationship doesn’t work for them. There’s generally more discussion, openness, and fluidity when it comes to sexuality and gender these days, and this, in turn, has led to more people having the courage to say the traditional model of romance doesn’t appeal.
Of course, polyamory will never be right for everyone. But today I know a number of people in happy open relationships or open marriages – young and old alike. At 41, I don’t know how I see my future panning out. I’m open to settling down eventually with either one or two people. I have no preconceived notions. I’d prefer to see what happens and work out what makes me happy.
As told to Rosa Silverman