Posts Tagged ‘poly families’


I was re-watching Toy Story with my little one recently and I couldn’t help but notice, there are a few lessons in there that are applicable to conversations about polyamory.

Woody says at the beginning “It doesn’t matter who Andy plays with the most, so long as we’re all here for him when he needs us.” Which is easy for him to say when he’s Andy’s “primary” toy. With the inevitable arrival of Buzz, Woody loses his status as Andy’s favourite. He loses his sense of ‘specialness’ when Andy is playing more with his new toy.

For all his speeches about being “there for Andy,” he acts selfishly because of our favourite foe: Jealousy.Woody’s jealousy gets the best of him when he tries to get Buzz out of the picture.

The rest of the movie, he tries to redeem himself by rescuing Buzz and restoring him to Andy’s toy collection. Eventually, Woody’s love for Andy allows him to see Buzz’s value: Buzz makes Andy happy. We the audience also see Andy’s side. Sure he takes Woody for granted, but when he can’t find his oldest and dearest toy, he’s distraught. Andy is able to love more than one toy. By the time we get to the end of Toy Story 3, we see that Andy too is able, finally to share his treasured toys with someone he feels he can trust.

Next time you are having trouble explaining how jealousy works in a polyamorous relationship, just turn to our good friends at Pixar.

Read Full Post »

Lego Family

In the past, when I’ve dated someone who is new to polyamory, there has been a period of helping them come to terms with the experience. Polyamory is still an exciting new thing, and often it is misunderstood, or even scary to new people. However, it is not entirely alien. When you think about it, dating a poly person is a lot like dating a single parent. Not everybody is up for the responsibility of dating a single parent, and similarly there are challenges when dating a poly person. If you were dating a single parent, you wouldn’t expect the same things as when dating a child-free person; a single parent’s responsibilities don’t disappear as soon as you enter the picture. The same is true of a poly person.

So, as a service to the next person interested in dating this Poly Momma (hint: I’m available!), I’ve assembled a list of advice, adapted from these lists of advice for dating single parents.  (Warning: Although I’ve tried to make this advice general, I have a primary relationship and a young child, and my list may be biased toward that experience.)

1. Ask yourself: Am I willing to be in a relationship with someone who has other relationships? (Duh.)  Am I willing to enter into a relationship with these other people (metamours)? This is important because you cannot separate the poly person from their other partners. If you are dating a poly person, their other partners will be part of the picture at some point. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, nor do you have to date them (unless that’s specifically what has been arranged), but it’s best if you can, at the very least, sit down to dinner with them (or better yet, play Scrabble with them!). If they insist you stay completely separate from their other partner, that is a huge red flag, as it really limits the relationship you can have with your partner. Make sure you know what their boundaries are, and really ask yourself whether those boundaries are fair for you.

2. Check your neediness quotient. Often, the attention, time and resources that a poly person devotes to their other partners can make one feel jealous or resentful. Are you self-assured and independent enough to accept that their other partners will need time and attention too?  In other relationships, you may have been able to gauge a person’s feelings for you by how much time and energy they put into your relationship. When you’re dating a poly person, this isn’t necessarily the case. Poly people may not have the time to see you as often as they’d like, and it’s not always as simple as synchronising Google calendars (ha! simple). Instead of taking the limits on time as a slight, learn to look for other expressions of their feelings for you. That said, if your sense of specialness is dependent on being the centre of somebody’s world, then maybe you should look elsewhere for affection.

3. Stay clear of any drama with their other partners. If there’s tension with their other partners, let your partner handle it. If it makes you uncomfortable, let your partner know that you’re not going to take sides. Polyamory can be really difficult because so often, there is little support from outsiders, and it can be very easy to lean on the support of other partners. Of course you can support them and encourage them, but don’t contact their partner on their behalf or gang up on the other partner.  Setting yourself up as an adversary only leads to future problems. If things get really bad, try to encourage your partner to seek help from a neutral party.

4. Be supportive and trustworthy. What can you do to be supportive when called upon? Be the kind of partner who can listen to the things they’re going through without trying to “solve” things. If something can be done, think about what you might want if the situation were reversed. Has your new relationship taken any resources away from their existing one(s)? Is there anything you could do to help things along? Showing your partner that you care about their other relationships is a great way to build trust. 

Sometimes, you may need to give them the space to sort things out on their own. If things are not going well in one relationship, it’s best to let the parties involved deal with it, even if it means slowing things down or even stepping away for a bit. That said, if you’re having trouble in your relationship with your partner, sometimes it’s ok to ask your metamours for advice, often, they may be able to offer perspective on the situation that you might not have considered.

Also, if a partner completely shuts down your relationship in order to ‘focus on their primary’, that’s officially a really shitty thing to do and you have every right to be upset about it. And at any time, if you feel your good nature is being taken for granted or taken advantage of, it’s ok to express your feelings about this, and if your feelings are dismissed or ignored, it is reasonable to walk away. You deserve to be treated with respect. More Than Two has a great article going into greater depth on the topic of the ‘Primary/Secondary’ dynamic, including the Secondary’s Bill of Rights. 

5. Appreciate feelings of reservation. Speaking from my own experience, it’s possible the poly person you are interested in may have been hurt before. Their current partner(s) may eve be leery of letting someone new into their lives. They may worry that there won’t be enough resources to go around or have other insecurities. Don’t take it personally. Simply understand these feelings may exist and that it is not about you.

6. Listen to your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right for you, say something. If talking about it doesn’t make it go away, it could be that you are just not suited to an open relationship. This is nothing to be ashamed of! If you can’t find a way for your needs to be met, then there is no shame in saying it is not for you. Sure, it may be that you miss out on your new poly sweetie, but think of how many other monogamous fish there are in that sea! On the other hand, don’t let anyone tell you your relationship is wrong if it feels right to you. You may enjoy the feeling of being in an open/poly style relationship and the last thing you need are people raining on your parade.

7. Have fun! Once you have managed to thread your way through some of these obstacles that are inherent when dating a poly person, relax and enjoy the experience. Multiple loves can be as rewarding and fulfilling as monogamous relationships, and for some of us, even more so!

Read Full Post »

Deborah Anapol’s article in Psychology Today, “Group Marriage and the Future of the Family,” was published back in March, but it only crossed my path today. It is a very positive article (I’d expect nothing less from Anapol, author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits) and paints a very rosy picture of the benefits of polyamory on children:

“One of the most common concerns about polyamory is that it’s harmful to children, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Multiple-adult families and committed intimate networks have the potential of providing dependent children with additional nurturing adults who can meet their material, intellectual, and emotional needs. While parents may end up focusing less attention on their children, children may gain new aunts, uncles, and adopted parents.”

I find this article timely, as my poly-family has recently had its limits tested and right now looks dangerously close to breaking. I won’t go into details because it’s still a fresh wound and nothing is certain. But it does raise the question for me, what if these adults, with whom a child forms a close bond, decide they no longer want to or are unable to be a part of that family? It could potentially be as stressful as a divorce, especially if there is animosity amongst the adults. What about when the departing adult wishes to maintain a relationship with a child they helped raise, but the biological parents want nothing to do with that person, the pain of loss being still too strong? In cases where the relationship is clearly defined, i.e. the leaving partner is the biological parent or a spouse of one of the parents, there are legal rights and clear custody arrangements, but what about the ‘other’ people? The pseudo-aunties and sort-of-uncles? Is the idealistic dream of ‘one big happy family’ just that? An unattainable ideal?

I worry sometimes that we who practice polyamory and advocate for its acceptance perhaps paint too rosy a picture of polyamory. Sometimes, it’s very, very difficult. Lately, I’ve been facing a lot of challenges in my relationships and they have all come fast and hard, one after another. A friend of mine once asked me, baffled by my emotional pain about a recent breakup, “Isn’t the point of getting married so that you don’t have to go through this again?” and I’ve asked myself the question several times over the last month or so whther it is worth all this pain to keep pursuing polyamorous relationships. For me, the answer is just as easy to answer as if I were single and pursuing monogamous relationships: yes. My relationships are worth it.

Whatever the shape of a relationship, there is always potential for pain, heartbreak, jealousy, anger, loss and more. When it goes wrong, it hurts. Furthermore, you can be doing everything right and still wind up hurting someone else or getting hurt. When you open yourself up to intimacy, you make yourself vulnerable. That’s what makes it intimate. The more people you open up to, the more chances there are for things to go horribly wrong. Is it fair to put children in the middle of that? I don’t know. It’s a good question, and I’m starting to see the benefit in people being closeted to their kids. It breaks my heart to think of taking away a member of my son’s stable network of adults, but at the same time, I don’t know if I can open up myself or my husband to being hurt by this person again.

I still believe that polyamory opens up the potential to a larger network of adults to give children a larger family of which the typical nuclear family deprives them. I agree with everything in Anapol’s article, and I’ve seen examples personally of people forming a large poly household of interconnected and inter-committed adults. Maybe that is the key, that a greater commitment is required to make things work, whether between two people or more. I don’t have all the answers, but I do hope I find them, and I hope Deborah Anapol is right when she says,

“…polyamory may be at least as good as the other options for raising healthy children.”

It’s the least I can hope for.

Read Full Post »

Well, I survived.

I survived my paramour’s – that is, my BOYFRIEND’s – month long absence and it was ok!

He actually ended up meeting my parents, which was a bit strange. My mom knows the whole story, but my dad was just happy to meet one of my friends (as he was led to believe). Dear old Pater did the dad-ly, dudely thing and gave my ‘friend’ a tour of the town and took him out for a pint. Things he would still have done for a mono-boyfriend, but was happy to do for ‘just a friend.’ Because of that, I feel no need to break my dad’s innocent ignorance. He’s happy enough to treat my man like a member of the family as is. No need to fill in the details.

Upon his return, my sweetie declared that he was ready to use the official title ‘boyfriend’ since he had met my folks. A move which I found incredibly sweet. It was all NRE all over again, and only a few weeks later, we broke the seal on the “L” word. No, not “long-term” but “love” as in “I love you” and even, “I wuvs you” when we’re feeling particularly disgusting.

There was another interesting development which I meant to write about but didn’t (oh, how life tends to get in the way of blogging…). And that is that my Godparents’ sons and their wife have come out as a poly-triad (open ended, I assume, since she also has a girlfriend). It’s nice to have a bit of my extended family, of sorts, that can validate my lifestyle choice, but it was still very telling to see my family’s reaction. There was no outright shock, but there was a bit of ‘I don’t need to see that’ reaction. We all kind of knew, but there was a sense that they should keep that stuff to themselves. I sent a message voicing my support to them, explaining that I was in the same boat, or at least the same fleet. I was surprised that my brother, in particular, was very judgmental. I think he still sees his friend (one of the brothers) as being exploited by the situation. I don’t know, but I know that they’ve been together for years and they are raising beautiful children together in a house full of love. And that’s all ok by me (even if they are a bit on the hippie side of things).

As far as my son goes, he’s doing very well. His speech is coming along, slowly but surely. He’s seen a speech therapist who thinks he’s probably just delayed, not showing signs of ASD or anything. I’ve been given some strategies which I’m trying to implement, and like I said, he’s making progress. He’s able to sort of say “lemon” “watermelon” and “apple” as well as “house” and as of today, he recognises the letter “D” and says “deeh” when he sees it. So proud.

Husband has started seeing a new lady, with whom I really get along. She’s also great with my son and he has taken to her easily. She crashes over at our house quite a bit since she lives far away, which doesn’t bother me at all. I like her. In fact, I think I’ve got some kind of meta-NRE. I just think she’s fabulous and really good for Husband. He feels happy and relaxed with her and I like to see that. Between the stress of talking about home and Baby when he hangs out with me, and the stress of talking about work when he hangs out with Girlfriend, he deserves to have someone he can just talk about video games and other stuff with. After all, that’s what Boyfriend is for me.

This weekend, Husband’s Girlfriend, Boyfriend and I are going to be running in a 10K fun run. Inspired by HG’s participation in a fun run (during the training for which, I was her gym buddy), I thought it would be great to challenge myself. Between those two and their active lifestyle, I’ve picked up some great healthy habits. I’ve been running, working out and generally just being an active person for several months and I’ve noticed huge changes in my body. I’m fit. Like, really, noticeably fit. And I’m the weight I was when I was in college. Lighter, actually. I wasn’t doing it to lose weight, I was doing it to be healthier and fitter, and I can feel that I really am. It’s great. I’m thirty and I’m in better shape than I was when I was 20. Hot damn.

And I have my poly family to thank.

Who would have thought polyamory could be so good for your health?

Read Full Post »