Rebecca "the Frisky Fairy" Hiles

Hometown Pittsburgh, PA

Place of Residence Philadelphia, PA

Occupation Sex Educator, dating and relationships coach and writer.

Rebecca:  I’ve been non-monogamous since I was sixteen, but non-monogamous in my life meant I was dating someone and sleeping with somebody else. Around the time that I was 20 or so, I met a guy who was really sweet. We were hanging out and we met on okCupid and things were going really well, and he mentioned, “Oh yeah, I’m polyamorous so monogamy is not really a thing for me.” I almost wrote him off for that with the most cliché, “Oh, I could never do that, I get too jealous.”

Rebecca and Wes

Rebecca: As for partners, I have people I would consider partners but not in the same way. I have partners who are more casual or people who I love very, very much, and the love is very serious but the relationship is not. I’ve got one or two of those, and then I’ve got Wes who’s, for all intents and purposes my primary partner, which is not to say he’s a primary partner, but is to say he’s the partner I spend primarily the most amount of time with.

Rebecca and Wes with Romulus

Rebecca: I think it’s really important across the board to see the ugly things, especially in polyamory and to be able to own them as part of our unique identity because the unique complexities of a divorce when you are polyamorous are just so specific to the non-monogamous communities that that’s something people need to see. They need to be able to hear and they need to be able to work through it because they need to be able to know that there’s support out there. Whenever you hear people dis divorced folks, dis divorce and polyamory, dis people and make people feel bad because of a divorce after they’ve been polyamorous, you lose that. You lose a lot of that and I don’t think that’s – it’s not that I don’t think it’s fair for the community. I don’t think it’s fair for people who are starting out in polyamory.

Rebecca:  I recently got divorced. That’s actually very hard to come to in polyamory, I think. When you deal with divorce and polyamory because the immediate thing that everybody goes to when you get a divorce is, “Maybe if you weren’t polyamorous that wouldn’t have happened.” Actually no, the polyamory had nothing to do with the divorce.

A lot of places people tend to – even some poly people tend to look at the divorce as a failure somehow. I have a workshop that I put on once about what makes a successful relationship and then I realised that pretty much anybody can come to terms with a successful relationship being a relationship that you’ve grown from. So I was like, well I guess I don’t need that workshop anymore! [Laughing]

Rebecca and Wes

Rebecca:  I am a bisexual individual and a fat individual and I’m a cancer survivor. Part of the cancer survivor is I have a lot of chronic fatigue. That’s what happens when you’ve got one lung. You get tired very easily. [Laughing]

I also have lots of migraines and I have three very serious mental illnesses: bipolar 2, borderline personality disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. I talk a lot about my mental illness and I try to reduce the stigma.  One of the things I work with is in polyamory we hear a lot of the, “Don’t fuck the crazy,” or “I just don’t want drama,” or “We don’t want that crazy sort of behaviour in here.” I find that very frustrating and alarming because one in five people have mental illness and mental illness is stigmatized in our country as it is.  To just be told they’re not welcome into a community because they have mental illness is so super damaging. It’s blatantly offensively damaging. It’s ablest, it’s just garbage. That’s one space that I work in, which is the fact that you can be polyamorous and also have mental illness. That’s O.K. Even if it’s not 100% well managed, there are ways to be part of this community without causing damage to everyone around you. To just go ahead and blatantly say, “This person is a toxic person. They probably have this mental illness,” is just so painfully damaging.
 

Rebecca and Wes play fighting

Rebecca:  I alternate between a couple of things. I almost always say that I am 'polyamorous' or 'poly-am'. I also like to joke that I practice ally cat polyamory in that I effectively go gaps of time where I’m really busy and I don’t have time or energy or space to devote to other partners. Some people will call this a ‘comet’ in some spaces, but for me I’m an ally cat where I’m going to roam the neighbourhood for a while and then I’ll come back, scratch at the door, you can put some milk down and scratch me on the head, give me some attention, that’s great, I’ll be gone for another two weeks, too. [Laughing]

‘Poly’ as a shortened version has shown to be really problematic as far as being isolating to Polynesian folks who use ‘poly’ to search for other Polynesian folks, so I just use ‘poly-am’ because it’s important to be inclusive.

Wes and Rebecca at a conference in DC

Wes and Rebecca at a conference

Rebecca: In terms of relationships, I think it is best to allow them to grow authentically. The minute you put something in a box is the minute it’s going to grow outside of that box. You can sit there and go, “O.K., I want my relationship to look like X.” The second you say “X”, it’s going to grow and change. I found this out the hard way in a DS dynamic. I had a partner who put a stop on, like, “You can’t say this with any other partner,” so naturally I found anther partner who fit that role better than my original partner, and I had a really hard time not saying that. On the other side of that, it was less of a “you can’t do this” and more of a “I want to gift you this particular sex act as a thing that only you and I do,” because I’m really big on things only I do with another person. That’s how I keep my brain in check. It’s different with everyone that I have. There’s a thing that I do with that person I don’t do with anyone else. Or if I do with other people, it’s different, right? One of my very best friends, we would go to Chipotle. We still consistently go to Chipotle and we sit and we have food and we hangout and we talk for a while. That’s our thing: we go to Chipotle and we walk around Target.  Another friend of mine, we walk around Target for hours. Nobody else walks around Target like she did. It’s this moment where things, while I may do them with other people, they’re going to be vastly different somehow, but I still have that one thing that is for them.

Kevin and Rebecca

Rebecca: The 'polynator' is the person who’s like, “polyamory” and they introduce you to polyamory and it’s like, “I see the light now,” or whatever reaction you have to it.  And they do it to multiple people because they’re poly and their open and they talk to other humans and they’re like, “Let’s do this thing!” It’s like, “That’s great!” Sometimes it doesn’t stick.

Keira and Chrissy who also date Kevin, meet each other for the first at Rebecca's home

Rebecca and Romulus

© Erika Kapin Photography

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