"Rules of Engagement for Polyamory Relationships"
On Florida's west coast, a very sex-positive college student devotes her latest online column for an alternative weekly newspaper to poly rules that she and her boyfriend live by.
Some people think it’s impossible to cheat in a polyamory relationship, but it doesn’t work that way. The following are four rules that my boyfriend, The Puppy, and I have:
1) No starting a new relationship without telling your partner.
...You may be thinking that you’re fine with a V (Sally and Susan are dating Timmy, but not each other) or a triad (Susan, Sally, and Timmy date each other) relationship. Your partner may want a closed triad... or maybe you were expecting to have a hierarchical relationship where your starting partner would be your primary.... Things like this should be talked over before either party brings home someone new.
2) No dating someone your partner doesn’t approve of.
...There was once this guy that I was interested in for curiosity’s sake. Mr. Chaotic (my former long-distance boyfriend) didn’t care if I went for it because he had been dealing with the fact that other men were tapping what he couldn’t for a while. But, the Puppy had a problem with it. At first he would only say that he found the idea of me sleeping with the new guy stomach turning.... On top of that, he didn’t think that the other guy could handle being third fiddle....
On the reverse end of that, one of my conditions with The Puppy is that anyone he dates has to understand that I’m part of the deal. They don’t have to date me. Hell, they don’t even have to like me, but they do have to be civil....
3) No bare backing or fluid bonding with someone without talking it over with your partner(s).
STI/STDs are a major concern for any relationship that involves sex. A cold sore, a yeasty, sex that involves going from one orifice to another without cleaning in between all could lead to horrible results.... Then there’s pregnancy....
4) None of the usual stuff that would count as cheating in a monogamous relationship.
...Non-monogamy rises and falls on the back of communication, honesty, and trust. Without those, the network crumbles. For the Puppy and I, this can be tricky because our boundaries go a bit further than others....
For example: Last summer, I attended a friend’s party without The Puppy. At one point during the night, an acquaintance that has seen me topless before asked if another friend (also female) and I would take off our tops and let him take a picture of us hugging. There were about five other people in the room. One of them was the host (who has also seen me topless). I text messaged the Puppy.
Puppy to Camile: If you know them and are comfortable with it, then go ahead. Did you really have to ask?
Read the whole article (April 30, 2009). Here are all her columns for Creative Loafing.
Here's more about Camile. She has written to us:
I first began to think that it was okay to be more open about being poly both because of sites like this [Polyamory in the News] and the LiveJournal Polyamory group. I became even more comfortable when I saw authors like Laurell K. Hamilton and Emma Holly present (mostly positive) examples of non-monogamous relationships in their work. Most of the open relationships I had seen before then were always either two siblings deciding to share a third person, or a couple having a brief fling before deciding that monogamy was the way to be.
I'm hoping that with my own contributions to Creative Loafing's Sex&Love site and my fiction writing (I will get over this writer's block), I can do my little part as well.