"Married, with several relationships on the side"
New York City's "forgotten borough" has an old and venerable daily newspaper, and this morning it profiles New York poly activist Rose Fox and her husband Josh:
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
By ELISE McINTOSH
It's difficult for Rose Fox to watch romance movies. At the end, she is always disappointed when the protagonist is forced to decide between two love interests. She wonders: Why not choose both?
Ms. Fox, 29, is polyamorous. She lives with her husband in Manhattan, speaks weekly to her long-distance girlfriend in Portland, Ore., and currently is "feeling out" another love prospect. Her spouse, Josh, 36 who requested only his first name be used recently has fallen for a younger woman, who herself has a fiancee.
"They're stupidly in love; they are so cute together," Ms. Fox says about Josh and his semi-new flame.
...As "primaries," Ms. Fox and her husband "come first in each other's eyes," but have an agreement in which they can develop relationships outside the marriage.
Their only rules include, says Ms Fox: "Don't get anyone sick or pregnant and don't damage the relationship." Everything else is pretty much fair game.
What makes the situation work, she notes, is a lot of trust, openness, loyalty and negotiation.
According to Ms. Fox, polyamorous relationships are very fluid, and it is really up to those involved to define the dynamics.
"There are a lot of different configurations," she explains. "Triads work; quads work, but are hard to do."
...She and her husband regularly get tested for STDs, and are careful about protecting themselves during sex.
There is one thing polyamorists cannot protect themselves against: The heartbreak of getting dumped. Because breakups in polyamorous relationships are very personal, they sting even more, says Ms. Fox.
It's not like they're breaking up because there is "someone else" polys are encouraged to date other people so the reason really has to do with you.
Ms. Fox recalls how painful it was when one partner broke up with her.
"I am sorry. I don't know how this happened, but I am not in love with you anymore," she recalls him as saying.
For a while, it was weird, she says. But, at least she had her husband's shoulder to cry on.
Read the whole article. Here's the print-friendly text in one piece without the clutter. And send a letter to the editor.
Fox has run Polyamory 101 workshops, and she wrote up some of what she says in them under the name A Garden in Riotous Bloom:
...Getting into a poly relationship is easy... someone says "How about it?" and someone else says "Sure" and there you are. Being in a poly relationship, and keeping it running, is hard.
...Here's the top-five list that I've developed over many years of difficult experience:
Know yourself. Look at yourself from the outside. Observe your own behavior. Listen to the warning voice in your head and learn when to pay attention to it and when to tell it to quit fearmongering. This is key in any relationship, but in a poly setup it is absolutely essential. If you're jealous, why are you jealous, and what makes it better or worse?.... Make sure you update your self-knowledge regularly; people change, and we can get so attached to our images of ourselves that it's hard to admit or even notice when they get outdated.... Know yourself.
Speak up for yourself. This is why knowing what you really want and what your real priorities are is so important: you must be your own advocate and you must know which fights are worth fighting. It's not about not trusting your partner; of course you should trust your partner to keep your best interests in mind whenever possible. However, people's memories are short and poor and often out of date.... Habits are strong. Exceptions are hard to remember. Be thorough and explicit and state your needs early and often. Speak up for yourself.
Be patient and kind. ...Understand that more energy in the system means more chaos. Understand that your partner cannot keep six people's schedules and preferences in his head. Work to find coping mechanisms for perennial problems.... Learn the value of compromise. Scratch their backs and they'll scratch yours. Enjoy the buzz of being nice to other people.... Be patient and kind.
Don't let emotions make you stupid. Love making you stupid might mean, for example, that you end up having unprotected sex.... Similarly, it might mean getting involved with someone who's in a bad situation and feeling that you have to ride in on your white horse... or it might mean falling for someone who's just plain psycho.... When you have other partners, and you go off and play in the mud, when you come home you get them all muddy too and it turns into a great big mess.... Love isn't the only distracting emotion, either: getting caught up in pain or grief or righteous wrath will necessarily distract you from your partners.... Don't let emotions make you stupid.
Reach out to your extended network. ...Stay connected with your existing friends; if you have lots of romantic involvements, it's easy to get so overscheduled that you don't make room for platonic friendships.... Take a moment to think about what would happen in an emergency. If your partner is at her boyfriend's house and she falls down the stairs and hits her head, you want her boyfriend to call you on the way to the hospital, right? So at the very least, make up an emergency contact list with everyone's number on it and distribute it.... Beyond that basic level, it's nice to form connections with others who have something very important in common with you... and if you become close friends, they can be there for mutually supportive bitchfests ("Does he leave his socks in your living room too?" "Oh my God, does he ever!").... Reach out to your extended network.
Read the whole thing. This is one to bookmark and pass along.