N > 2

Hmmm. If you “come out of the broom closet” when you pub­licly iden­tify your­self as a pagan, what do you come out of when you pub­licly iden­tify your­self as being polyamorous? At one point I ran across some­one advo­cat­ing say­ing that we’ve come out of the par­rot cage, but that image is highly unap­peal­ing to me. In fact, it gives me a men­tal image of some­one with guano on his feet.1

In any case, here I am. I think of rela­tion­ship ori­en­ta­tion as being sim­i­lar to sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Some peo­ple are wired for monoamory,2 some for polyamory, and some of us are birelational—we can go either way. I’ve been hap­pily monoamorous at times. I’ve also been hap­pily and respon­si­bly non-monoamorous. I’m birelational.

When I refer to polyamory, I’m not talk­ing about swing­ing, promis­cu­ity, or pur­su­ing recre­ational sex. I don’t con­demn peo­ple who are into those things, but I’m not and I never have been. I am talk­ing about hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant lov­ing rela­tion­ships with more than one per­son at a time in an hon­est and open fash­ion. I am talk­ing about mak­ing con­scious, express com­mit­ments that do or do not include exclu­siv­ity, and liv­ing up to those commitments.

Polyamory is not, for me, pri­mar­ily about sex. It is about con­nec­tions, about com­mu­nity, about achiev­ing inti­macy on much more than a phys­i­cal level. Sex is good, nice, lovely, and can be one kind of inti­macy. It isn’t the most impor­tant part of rela­tion­ship for me. To be blunt, it’s easy to just get laid, but build­ing rela­tion­ships takes more work and is more reward­ing in the long run as far as I’m concerned.

Sam and I were both polyamorous and involved with other peo­ple when we met each other, but were monoamorous in prac­tice for about four years as we built our rela­tion­ship. We sim­ply didn’t have the time or energy to have rela­tion­ships of any real depth with other peo­ple while we were ini­tially blend­ing our fam­i­lies. Then we opened our rela­tion­ship up to other peo­ple, with a very spe­cific writ­ten agree­ment in place to pro­tect our pri­mary rela­tion­ship and our family.

I believe that hav­ing more than two adults in a fam­ily can be a very healthy way of liv­ing for both adults and chil­dren. There are fam­i­lies in which three or more adults are rais­ing chil­dren together, and those chil­dren are very well-adjusted and secure in hav­ing more than two parents.

I’m hap­pi­est when all of my Sig­nif­i­cant Oth­ers (SOs) are at least friends with each other, and I’m friends with their SOs. There have been times when some of my SOs were also in rela­tion­ship with each other, so that we were actu­ally in what Dr. Deb­o­rah Anapol calls an inti­mate net­work. Of course, find­ing part­ners who are not only com­pat­i­ble with your­self but also get along well with any other part­ner you already have adds a sig­nif­i­cant amount of com­plex­ity to start­ing new rela­tion­ships in this kind of par­a­digm. Some peo­ple don’t have any con­tact with their partner’s OSOs, so I sup­pose that isn’t much of an issue for them.

I am very cau­tious about bring­ing a new per­son into my life, although things are sim­pler now that I am sin­gle and (espe­cially) now that I no longer have a minor child. When Sam and I were together with our three chil­dren, though, there were many fac­tors to be con­sid­ered: where each of us was emo­tion­ally at any given moment, how our fam­ily as a whole was doing, how we were doing as a cou­ple, how each of our chil­dren were doing, who the poten­tial new SO was, etc. Yes, we did occa­sion­ally bring new peo­ple into our lives, very care­fully, but there was no revolv­ing door into our fam­ily life. There isn’t one into my per­sonal life now, either, nor will there ever be.

I am involved in a local poly group, because while I am not actively look­ing for addi­tional part­ners I do enjoy the com­pany of like-minded folks. While there’s a lot of diver­sity within the poly com­mu­nity, in gen­eral I’ve found that it’s full of peo­ple who respect, accept, and even cel­e­brate that diver­sity. Poly folks tend to be fairly intel­li­gent and cre­ative, and obvi­ously wouldn’t be poly if they weren’t will­ing and able to ques­tion society’s default assump­tions on some sub­jects. They’re often extra­or­di­nary in many ways.

This lit­tle piece of my web site actu­ally exists in hopes of lead­ing more peo­ple to ques­tion assump­tions. The fact that Sam and I were a cou­ple, that we were a man and a woman in a com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship, did not nec­es­sar­ily mean that we were het­ero­sex­ual and monoamorous. That isn’t the only way to be in rela­tion­ship. There are other options. Also, the fact that we were polyamorous didn’t mean that we were promis­cu­ous (in fact, we were far more con­ser­v­a­tive about such things than many of our monoamorous acquaintances).

One of the dis­turb­ing assump­tions I’ve observed among poly­folk is that if you are poly, you have to have more than one SO or you some­how lose your poly card. Nope. If a bisex­ual man cur­rently has one lover, that doesn’t mean he’s sud­denly het­ero­sex­ual or homo­sex­ual. He is still bisex­ual. The fact that some­one is cur­rently involved with one or even no SOs doesn’t mean that he is she isn’t polyamorous any­more, just as the fact that some­one is poly doesn’t mean that he or she has to have other lovers, either.

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1 Par­rots are tra­di­tion­ally called Polly, though, so par­rots are often used to iden­tify poly people.

2 I delib­er­ately use monoamory rather than monogamy, because I am not talk­ing about mar­riages as much as loves.

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