Compartir l'amor: A triad in Spain
First, a personal digression:
If things on this site have seemed slow lately, it's because a couple months ago Sparkler and I adopted the city of Nashua, New Hampshire, as a home away from home where we could campaign for Barack Obama on nights and weekends.
From August through last night, I knocked on 835 strangers' doors in and around the city. Sparkler specialized in phonebanking and the feeding of volunteers. Yesterday I was up at 4:45 a.m. I arrived before dawn at an elementary school (where 150 voters were already waiting in line before sunrise) to start a nine-hour shift as a poll checker: marking off names on a voter list as people showed up and voted. Then in mid-afternoon off I ran, literally, to join Sparkler in the knock-and-drag until closing time.
Knock-and-drag: if a voter who's known to be on your side hasn't voted by the final hours, you knock on their door and drag them to the polls.
To give you an idea of how organized the Obama campaign was, those of us who would be dashing around after nightfall were issued glowsticks to wear around our necks to help keep cars from hitting us, and little flashlights to help spot house numbers quickly in the dark. So much for Rudy Giuliani mocking Obama at the Republican convention by saying, "I don't know what a community organizer does." Now they know.
New Hampshire became a safe Obama state a few weeks ago, thanks in part to such work. But we kept at it anyway to help make sure. And so that someday, when we have grandchildren learning American history, we can tell them how we helped to turn a new and better page.
Now back to Polyamory in the News.
Several items have piled up, and I'll get to them in the next few days. First up:
I learned of two Spanish-language TV reports on polyamory earlier this year; you can watch them starting from here and here. Now there's a third, thanks to Juliette Siegfried and her triad in Spain. Juliette writes,
"A few weeks ago we did a TV report on Canal Tres in Barcelona with another man, Santi, who is also polyamorous. [The show is also available on YouTube at lower quality.] Here is a rough translation. Some of it is in Catalan, which I don't know, but the rest is in Spanish."
Juliette: It doesn't matter to me if she cooks better than I do, or I sing better than she does. He loves us for who we are individually, so there's no competition.
Narrator: They have simultaneous, long-term, sexual relationships, with the full consent and knowledge of everyone involved. This is called polyamory.
Roland: We are a couple that's very much in love, we've been in love for 13 years, and we believe we'll be together all our lives and that we have a long, happy future together.
Narrator: Juliette and Roland are married, but their relationship is far from conventional. They consider themselves polyamorous, with the ability to have additional loving relationships with the consent of everyone involved. In their case, Roland also has a relationship with Laurel.
Laurel: How are you?
Juliette: Good! Hungry. Where are we going to dinner?
Narrator: Santi also considers himself to be polyamorous. However he doesn't believe in marriage. He does believe in having multiple relationships at the same time, with honesty. He does not believe in living together nor in exclusivity.
Santi: I respect you if you say you want to be exclusive all your life. But I don't respect you telling me that I have to, or anyone else. If you choose to be monogamous, that's your life but you can't tell another person to be. I think the best thing in life is falling in love, for everyone. So once you're in a couple, you'll never be able to do that again in your life. I believe in falling in love all your life. So, if I'm with someone, and I really love her, I will even encourage her to fall in love with other people, to live a very full life.
Juliette: But, I got something in my teeth and she said, maybe you need a metro card...
Roland: ...anyone else telling them, well, it's kind of like polyamory, we don't want people telling us what to do or how we should love.
Narrator: Roland is a computer programmer and Juliette is a translator, both Americans who live in Barcelona. Laurel, a homeopath, visits often.
Laurel (dubbed): Soon after I met Roland, we began a loving relationship. It was interesting coming into the relationship of Roland and Juliette who are married. I didn't feel the least bit awkward, I was actually surprised, because Juliette has made me feel like part of the family from the very beginning.
Narrator: They believe that it is nearly impossible to be faithful for a whole lifetime, and to avoid cheating, they decided to become polyamorous. They have overcome jealousy issues, and (can't translate the rest of the sentence). At the moment neither Roland or Laurel has other partners, but Juliette has one.
Juliette: We started little by little, without having sexual relationships. They were more than friendships but less than lovers. During those 6 years, it was a process of communicating about what was happening, any jealousy, how you feel about what's happening with someone, and doing a little more or a little less so that everyone involved is comfortable. Now it's the culmination of years of work together.
Narrator: Juliette and Laurel are good friends. [Can't translate next sentence.]
Juliette: If we want to make a schedule or a plan, if she wants to go away for the weekend with him, we talk about our plans to coordinate them, between what I want to do and what she wants to do, as well as the things we want to do together too. It's a good opportunity to look at the calendar and organize everything.
Narrator: The fact that they do a lot together can create confusion for those around them.
Juliette: They believe that we are in a three-way relationship, which isn't the case. They usually focus on sexual "threesomes", and in our case that's not what we do. There are triads that do.
Narrator: Their sexual relationship can seem even more confusing.
Juliette: They ask me, "How can you stand the fact that he sleeps with another woman? What happens if she's better in bed than you are?" This is a very strong and common idea people have, but what happens is that all of us, polyamorous and monogamous, have had better and worse lovers in our lives. We're not with someone just for that. It doesn't matter if she cooks better than I do or I sing better than she does. He loves us for who we are individually, so there's no competition.
Roland: I am affectionate with each of them, sometimes one after the other, and people notice that it's a little different. But I'm not in a bar giving one kiss to her, and then one kiss to her. It's not like we feel like everything has to be exactly equal. I can be holding her hand without holding Juliette's, and later maybe put my arm around Juliette, but it's not like I have to have both of them on my arms together.
Santi: The women thought I didn't love them, they've made me think I'm a bad person. Now I know that I'm not. I've realized that I'm not selfish, you know? I like to give and receive freedom, and I realize it's not incompatible. Just because my girlfriend has someone else in her life that she loves, I'm not going to love her any less. I love her when she's with me and for how we are together.
Narrator: Santi is 37, and is [can't translate].
Santi: The last relationship I had was years ago, many years ago now. I had other relationships, met people, and I had affairs. I was caught, and I lost them. So my last girlfriend was years ago, and now I don't want to do that again. Polyamory is about love. I don't defend sleeping around, no way. It's about love, I want to love. And when I found polyamory I thought "Wow, its me!"
Narrator: [can't translate].
Santi: One thing that happens to me a lot is I start going out with someone, and it's great, they seem to understand it perfectly, but as soon as you find another partner, they leave me, and I'm really hurt. In the end, who ends up suffering?
Narrator: Four years ago, he had a son.
Santi: The first thing I will tell him is that the first person to tell him that she is his partner for life and that he can't have anyone else ever, isn't worth it.
Narrator: [can't translate].
Santi's friend: It's not a bad thing, in fact it's very good, but I know that people are jealous and if one day I have another partner I dont know if he will understand. If it's someone like Santi, that knows, then great. But I don't know if I can find another person who understands.
Narrator: Santi didn't hesitate to explain polyamory to his family.
Santi's mom: You're thinking, what are you saying, is this crazy? How does this work? Later, after explaining it more, I began to understand. I mean, it has its good points, at least it seem that way. It has its good points because we have too much control over each other in a couple. I have been married for 43 years, I've gotten used to it so there's no problem. But if you think about it, it's a bit like slavery.
Narrator: Roland, Laurel and Juliette have made an important decision. They are looking for a place to live together.
Juliette: We've looked together with her to find out about her tastes, and if they are like ours, I'm sure they won't be exactly but more or less, and also because we're all pretty easy-going and I can give up something, all of us can give up a little if needed.
Girls: Oh look! A Jacuzzi!
Juliette: Yeah, we understand each other.
Laurel: [can't translate dubbing.]
Narrator: Their search has gotten more urgent.... [Had to cut the YouTube video off; it ends shortly after saying that Laurel is pregnant with Roland's child.]
Thank you Juliette, Laurel, and Roland! Watch the full show, 10 minutes long. (Dated September 22, 2008.)