Alex and I have some things we agree either explicitly or implicitly to not do in our outside polyamory relationships. We have discussed things and in some cases we’ve expressed strong preferences about how things happen and we’ve discussed how hurt we would be about other things. Most of these implicit or explicit agreements are around big things. For example, Alex knows I would be very hurt if he involved someone he was dating in any of the heavy-duty parenting stuff. We had a conflict where Julian told me he had taken Hanne to a parent-teacher conference for my daughter,…
Author: Violet Michelle Smith
The topic of slut shaming has been on my mind recently, and I’ve been thinking about how it relates to polyamory, open relationships, and swinging. There’s been a lot of discussion in the media recently around how we as a society should approach contraceptive usage, and that discussion inevitably evokes discussions which highlight how broad swaths of society feel about sexuality. The word slut or implications of sluttiness have been appearing in the news with alarming frequency: 2/16 Santorum supporter John Friess said, “People seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need…
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. – Pablo Picasso I love being married. I love living with Alex and planning our future together. I love parenting children with him. I love planning to spend the rest of my life with him. I love having a partner I can rely on and know will always be part of my life. I love having someone who knew me when I was 20 and will know me when I’m an old lady. I love sharing the ride with someone. But other things that traditionally are part of marriage not only don’t add…
I am fascinated by stories about polygamy, both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve watched every episode of the HBO television series “Big Love.” I’ve read the Brady Udall novel “The Lonely Polygamist.” I’ve read Irene Spencer’s harrowing account of her life as a polygamist’s wife in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, “Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife.” I have several other fiction and non-fiction pieces to read or watch in my queue that I haven’t gotten to yet.
Our boyfriend and girlfriend Julian and Hanne are going through a bit of a relationship crisis this evening. They may make a major change in their relationship to add some space between them to allow healing to happen. The intent is not for them to break up, but any major change can be like a seismic shift in the foundation of a relationship and the outcome is unpredictable. It’s a strange to be in a place where I’m worrying about my boyfriend’s reaction to making pivotal and significant changes to his relationship with his other girlfriend. We just don’t have cultural scripts for how to deal with that. What do you do with the compassion you feel for your husband’s girlfriend as she deals with personal issues and momentous changes in her relationship with her other boyfriend, who also happens to be your boyfriend? We get to make it up as we go along.
I’ve met a few poly couples and read about many more who have a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy in their relationship. They both date other people, but have a rule that they should share as little as possible about their outside relationships with each other. I can’t decide if this is a brilliant idea or a really terrible idea for a relationship.
Dating is complicated when you already have multiple partners. People have this vision of poly people as having a free-wheeling lifestyle where they date anybody they choose and pick up new partners at the drop of a hat. I’m sure some poly people do that, but it seems to be rare. My experience is that dating people in stable poly relationships is more like dating someone in a traditional Greek or Italian family — all the extended family has to meet you and gets a say in whether the relationship is a good idea.
We need a patriarch. That would solve a lot of problems.
The polygamists have the right idea in some ways. Let’s select one person who will serve as the guide for how the relationship will be arranged and everyone will try to align to that goal. Sure, there’s less individual freedom. But in sacrificing that, I bet you gain some harmony. When you have four people all with their own vision for where the relationships should go, it can be chaotic. A benevolent patriarch could serve as a leader with a vision for this unruly vehicle. He (because at least in traditional polygamy, it’s always a he) could be the arbiter of disputes, the person who makes the final decision when we just can’t come to consensus.
When you add more people to a relationship, things get complicated. One relationship can be a challenge. Adding more relationships to your life is not only going to increase the joy and love, but also the drama. With each added person, the issues don’t increase linearly – they seem to increase exponentially because there are what I think of as “ricochet effects.” The bullet may have been intended for one person, but the rebound can hit others as well. One person’s or one couple’s drama can infect all. It wasn’t clear to me that it worked that way when we got into a relationship with Julian and Hanne two years ago.
The question is: Do I sit her down and have a little chat about the situation? Something like, “You know that Julian is my boyfriend and Hanne is daddy’s girlfriend. I want to tell you that this is unusual – most people who are married don’t also have a boyfriend or girlfriend. They only have their husband or wife. Most of your friends and their families would think it was strange. You might want to be cautious when mentioning it to them.”