Profile of Sasha Petroni

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The college dating scene is unique and sometimes difficult to navigate. Those who are single often seek out parties to prowl for prospective suitors. Those in relationships are often categorized by the desire to stay in and enjoy each other’s company. There is a strict binary between single and taken. But imagine going out one night flirting and making connections, and the next night spending time with a significant other?

Though there is an accepted idea that one must choose either or, those who engage in consensual non-monogamy choose not to choose. University of Michigan Law School student Sasha Petroni, 24, have taken more unconventional approaches to the issue of jealousy by engaging in a polyamorous relationship. Petroni, currently working to be a public interest lawyer, is just one of a growing demographic of people who diverge from the traditional binary system of monogamy. With marriage rates declining and divorce rates over 50% people are beginning to question whether monogamy is the right choice for everyone. Perhaps polyamory is an outcrop of the backlash against traditional ideals of the “one and only”. Does having a one and only make us the happiest, or is there a middle ground?

What would lead someone to choose this lifestyle, why not just stick to the traditional idea of monogamous relationships? Sasha explained that she had been involved in a relationship that had ended badly due to infidelity. And upon attending University of Michigan for her undergraduate degree, she decided that she wanted to explore different relationships with different people without limitations. She said, “I saw dating multiple people at once as a way to really broaden my horizons.” With the diverse undergraduate population of almost 28,000, it seems understandable why one would not want to be constrained to the traditional one partner arrangement.  

Polyamory is a loose term to describe a relationship in which more than two people are emotionally or physically involved. Because polyamory is still considered a taboo subject, there is confusion as to exactly how these relationships work. The taboo nature can cause some controversial or challenging responses to this sort of lifestyle choice. Petroni says, “No, I certainly did not tell my parents, but those who I did tell would often be uncomfortable or confused.” Petroni did find an accepting environment on campus, “I lived in the cooperative housing system which was very accepting of poly behavior, and I was able to meet others who engaged in it as well. That is how I learned more about the lifestyle. At one point I even had people in the Co-Op asking about engaged in poly behavior, as if I were an expert”.

Petroni engaged in a poly relationship for about two years from the time she was 19 until 21. They considered each other to be the secondary partner for both of them. “Open, constant communication is key, really, in any relationship” said Petroni. “We made sure to define our boundaries within the relationship and had actions that would trigger conversations” Petroni did not rely on traditional values of what relationships should look like, but, rather, created a relationship that was tailored her, and for her, it included more than one person. “That is where many relationships go wrong, when you go in with the mind set that a particular person will be your everything.”

            Petroni admits jealousy can be a difficult aspect to overcome within poly relationships; participants must accept that others can fulfill the needs of their romantic partner. “This is why communication is necessary so people can feel comfortable within their relationship”. Petroni says about her experience, “The nature of our relationship was always a bit casual, which made communication about being poly easier.” Poly relationships’ aim to accept the fact that a person’s needs can be fulfilled with more than one person, without heartbreak or betrayal.

             Despite the difficulties associated with poly relationships Petroni defends her lifestyle choices, “I just have so much more self confidence, and I learned that I could never completely be fulfilled by one person, which I think is important.”  “Being in a poly relationship also emphasized the importance of having intimate friends which you can share aspects of your life with.” Petroni is no longer in a poly relationship and is now monogamously dating. However, she remains an advocate for consensually non-monogamous relationships. She says, “I think you should experiment with what works for you”.

 

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