"For polyamorous families, three hearts are better than two"
Facing out from newsboxes all over the Denver area today, Colorado's largest and oldest alternative newsweekly presents, for Valentine's week, the above cover design with the teasers "Big, Big Love. For polyamorous families, three hearts are better than two." Inside is a multi-page, 2,700-word profile of a successful longterm triad. Excerpts:
For polyamorous families, three hearts are better than two
By Jenn Wohletz
Reggie Alexander is a good-natured guy. It's a trait that serves him well.
Sitting on the couch in his Denver home, he's holding hands on his right with his wife, Eeza Alexander, who is dark-eyed, playful and eager to let Reggie know when he's made a bad joke. His left hand, meanwhile, is intertwined with that of Cassidy Browning, who is thoughtful and confident.
Reggie and Eeza and Cassidy, all in their mid- to late forties, are a couple. Well, not a couple. They are a polyamorous triad — a group of three committed partners living together in a relationship under one roof. In their case, Reggie explains, he acts as the "hinge partner. It's a relationship where the person at the center of the V is fully involved with both of the people at the ends of the V, but they are not as fully involved with each other as they are with the person at the center."
Cassidy Browning (left), and Reggie and Eeza Alexander play together and work together. (Photo by Anthony Camera.)
And after six years of living in this group, Reggie is used to being in the middle of everything — including their California king-sized bed. "It's hard to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom," he laughs. "It's an athletic accomplishment."
The literal definition of polyamory is "many loves." But in practice, the term usually applies to non-monogamous but ethical relationships where the people involved believe in honesty, consent, open communication and trust. In fact, the general principles of polyamory are similar to those of monogamy; you just have to do the same things more often, and with more partners.
For the most part, mainstream culture has associated polyamory with swinging, hippie love-festing, cheating and, of course, certain religious groups, either current or historic. The Mormons, the most well-known of these, no longer officially embrace polygamy, but some splinter groups still practice it.
But the image of polyamory is changing, especially with reality-TV shows like Sister Wives and Polyamory: Married and Dating. And, anecdotally, many monogamous couples are changing their relationships to be what sex-advice columnist Dan Savage calls "monogamish."
In fact, Reggie, Eeza and Cassidy believe that having a long-term relationship with more than one person is a significant accomplishment at a time when divorce rates in the U.S. continue to increase, nasty breakups seem to be the norm, and everyone knows someone who isn't getting their needs met in a monogamous relationship.
"Our society...is looking for alternative dynamics that work," says Reggie. "The days of the traditional nuclear family being the only model are giving way to other options."
That tradition is how Reggie and Eeza got their start. The two fell in love in high school in Edmond, Oklahoma, and got married in 1984, before Reggie graduated....
...After spending three years discussing what they wanted out of a new relationship dynamic, they tried Polymatchmaker.com, an online dating site with a specific theme — and found Cassidy.
...But making the relationship work, physically and emotionally, wasn't easy — and it took time.
"I got jealous big-time in the beginning," Eeza says. "It's just something you have to work through. I still get jealous every once in a while, but I've learned to deal with it. Reggie does his best to make us feel special."
...Reggie adds, "In the beginning of the relationship, we did briefly explore a threesome sexual relationship, but the ladies decided it just wasn't what they wanted. We do all sleep in the same bed every night, although we also have a schedule in place where each of the ladies has one-on-one time with me several times a week. I am fortunate enough that being affectionate or even sexual with one of them in the presence of the other is not usually an issue."
Their living situation did prove to be helpful in many other ways, though, especially when it comes to their family income, responsibilities and goals.
Shortly after getting together, the trio started a small business, Poly's Pleasures Chainmail. Using updated fourteenth-century technology, they hand-create jewelry, halter tops, bikinis, skirts, panties and even kilts out of chain mail. They've sold their pieces to stores and travel to trade shows nationwide.
At the same time they started Poly's Pleasures, Reggie and Cassidy began writing erotic fiction together....
...In addition to writing, the group also does a lot of talking. In particular, they spend time explaining their lifestyle to family and friends, associates and acquaintances — mostly trying to educate them about what poly isn't (a no-holds-barred, free-for all naked orgy) along with what it is (a committed relationship, like any other).
"Swingers have sex, poly people have conversations — lots and lots of conversations," Reggie says. "To me, they are related but different subsets of the alternative-lifestyle arena."
...A pretty common question for the ladies is what in the world they could possibly get out of two women sharing one man — without hair-pulling and Jerry Springer-like drama.
Cassidy has a ready answer for this. "Once you get past the notion that your man should never be interested in anyone else, you begin to understand the benefits of having more adults in your household. We share cooking, cleaning and errand duties, we each get a little more 'me' time than we would if we were running individual households, and on those nights when one of us is just not 'in the mood,' there's someone there to take care of Reggie."
Eeza agrees. "It's nice having Cassidy around," she says. "We share the chores and spend many companionable nights doing chain mail together on the couch. We do a lot of girly-type stuff together and enjoy each other's company."
"I love being able to be emotionally connected to more than one other person — to be able to combine my energies, talents and desires with those of my partners and accomplish so much more than I would ever be able to do on my own," explains Reggie. "Both of our businesses are a prime example of this. I tried for twenty years to start a side business and to write a novel, with no success. Once Cassidy joined us, the extra push her energy gave when added to ours allowed us to start and grow a chain-mail jewelry business.
"To me, that in and of itself is the proof that poly can be a great thing for those willing to put the effort into it," he adds.
Thanks to television, polyamorous relationships aren't as foreign of a concept as they used to be, which has helped Reggie, Eeza and Cassidy in some situations....
There's a BDSM D/s relationship in the mix, and an error in judgment about coming out at work, and two adult daughters with differing opinions. Read the whole article (Feb. 14, 2013).
They're happy with the article. Posts Cassidy, "Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jennifer Wohletz for doing such an awesome job! You rock!!!"
Update, same day: The author has put up a second, companion article on Westword's website: Five myths about polyamory — and why they persist (Feb. 14, 2013).