Aida dancing at a conference in DC

Aida Manduley
Hometown Guaynabo PR

Place of Residence Boston, MA

Occupation Activist, Therapist, Sex Educator 

Aida has several important people in their life including a partner they live with whom they've been with for over seven years.  They are out as polyamorous in every aspect of their life except for certain members of their family who are Jehovah Witnesses.  

Aida:  I identify as polyamorous. To me, that doesn’t mean that every

relationship or every interaction with a person will have to end in a dating relationship. For me, what polyamorous means is that there is that there’s that capacity, ability, and interest to have multiple, deep, meaningful, romantic, and/or sexual relationships, but that doesn't have to be all the time that I am living that daily. That’s the word that I probably most use.

Aida in Brooklyn

Aida: I definitely knew about non-monogamy let’s say in high school, I thought 

that was super not for me. Didn’t really understand it, thought I was too jealous to ever make that work, and was like no. In part because I was raised as a Jehovah Witness [laughing]. A lot of things  are not O.K. with Jehovah Witnesses in terms of sexuality and gender, and the ways that I personally identify with now. So there was a lot of, “Nope, nope, nope,” and just not really considering it, and not having it be a part of my life because I wasn’t really dating in high school.

Aida and Andy hug after a weekend together
A page from Aida's journal

Aida:  We were friends and eventually we started playing together. We had a nice friendship that also involved some kink components, some sexy components (because kink and sex and not necessarily the same thing. They overlap or can overlap).  We eventually ended up talking every day and having a big investment with each other’s lives, with each other’s friends, and chosen family and all of that.... 

For me, one of the things that came up was, "I’m having an urge to more intentionally try to spend time with you. I’m wondering what do we do with that? Let’s talk about it. What does that mean for labels, also? And how do you organize your relationships? We haven’t talked about this. I know the bigger picture of how this works for you but I’m curious as to the nitty gritty."

Aida giving a talk at Poly Dallas

Aida: Talking about some of the terms that came up, so ‘sweeties’, they were comfortable with how I defined dating and what that would mean to them even though they don’t seem to use that word very often. The topic of partners came up, too. Co-conspirators also came up, in part because a lot of our relationship historically has been based around doing and making things. Especially now that we’re co-presenting a lot an d we’re running events or things like that, that label feels really important. Honestly, what people need to know is sometimes not that we’re doing sexy things, it’s that we’re co-conspirators in changing the world or we’re like co-conference tops or things like that. The multiplicity of labels is really nice. That’s also something I talk to a lot of clients about, building labels that make sense for you and your partner and figuring out how to be legible to the outside world that might not get it if you get a label like, “This is my puppy. This is my co-conspirator.” Having a few different labels for different situations is helpful. 

Aida devouring some books

Aida:  I do struggle with jealousy at times, but the way that I frame it is something to dig deeper into. For me, jealousy is a symptom for something underlying, so looking at what I’m not getting in my relationship, what I’m afraid of, what I’m angry about, and then addressing that, which can be very scary and vulnerable. I have grown into appreciating vulnerability, but that was not inherent in me. Having to learn to be vulnerable, learning to be O.K. with being vulnerable [laughing], it’s a lesson that sometimes I have to relearn every so often, because it also relates to feeling safe with people. In the world, in the current state of affairs that we are in, feeling safe is not always easy.

Aida giving a workshop on Calling-in vs Calling-out

Aida:  One of the reasons I really appreciate being non-monogamous is that it has 

removed my need to pick a side. Right now my live-in partner that I’ve been with for seven years is a white, cis, mostly hetero[sexual] man. As I look to the future and I look to what I want my future to look like, if I ever had kids what would those look like, what would that be like? Because of my politics, and because of my interest in building community with fellow queer and trans and people of color, I was thinking if I was monogamous, would I still want to be in a relationship with a white man and build a family with a white man? Even if I love them very much, is that the kind of family I want to build? Being non-monogamous has allowed me to not have to make that choice because I can be in this relationship and I can have a multitude of other relationships. I can centre my politics and I can centre queer people, trans people, and people of color without having to give up on this relationship that’s is really meaningful and important and healing for me. That’s a big part of it for me and how it intersects with my identity as a person of color. 

Aida in Brooklyn