On ABC's Nightline, Carrie Jenkins and partners: "People need to see that this is a real way people live."
ABC's Nightline ran a 7-minute report last night featuring poly professor Carrie Jenkins, author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be, together with her husband and her boyfriend. Then they switched to footage from two other households who've been on ABC before. The segment does not assume that the audience already knows what polyamory is all about; it takes them from the ground up:
The transcript (machine-generated by ABC):
Introducing your boyfriend to your family can be stressful. Will mom embarrass you? Will dad approve? And will he get along with your husband? Yes, you heard that right, your husband. ABC's Abbie Boudreau introduces us to poly-amory.
"There's a squash." Reporter: Carrie Jenkins is very married. "Potatoes. More potatoes." Reporter: But she's getting ready to spend Saturday night with her boyfriend. Does her husband suspect?
"Hi I'm Carrie, and this is my husband Jonathan, and this is my boyfriend Ray." Reporter: We'd say he's got a pretty, good, idea. "I'm in a relationship with Jonathan, and I'm in a relationship with Ray."
They call it polyamory. Defined as a consensual romantic relationship with multiple partners. You might have thought it was just fringey people on the coast who do this, but these buttoned down Canadians beg to differ.
"We were amazed at the number of people who came to us and said, 'Thank you for saying this. We're also in an open relationship, but we haven't felt secure saying so.'" Reporter: Carrie is a tenured professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She met Jonathan, also a professor there. They fell in love and got married in 2011 in a Scottish castle. "I wore a white dress."
Reporter: But along with the I dos, came the I don'ts. "I don't assume that romantic love and sex are the same." Reporter: And a new set of rules that you won't find in most marriage manuals. "If I were to go and have a secret romantic relationship and not tell Carrie about it, that would be cheating in this relationship too."
Reporter: So tonight, Jonathan gets to stay home while Carrie flirts with Ray in a bar. And holds hands with him at a restaurant. And yes, that's her wedding ring, still on her finger.
"For me, the idea of being able to be with two people at once always seemed like an impossible dream. Now that I get to be with two amazing people at the same time, it feels like a dream come true. I feel like the luckiest person in the world."
Reporter: So what's in it for the men? They get to see other people too, although they admit neither is doing so at the moment.
"I consider myself open to dating people. I'm active on dating websites. I go through the world considering myself romantically or sexually available."
Reporter: Ray says there are plenty of advantages. "It's a loving relationship. I don't know if I were in a non- non-monogamous relationship, how I would answer it any differently."
Reporter: But Carrie says they're not a true triad. "Ray and Jonathan are not in a relationship with each other." Though they're not opposed to the occasional hangout. Any relationship in which all partners agree that each may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other partners, which could range from friends with benefits, to open marriage.
"Nightline" has delved into polyamory before. There was Danny and John. Oh, yes, and Melinda, who unlike Carrie and Jonathan and Ray, actually all live together with their two kids.
So if you're not a couple, what do you call yourself? "We're a triad. Yeah, some people say triple." Reporter: They say the sex is really good. "In the very beginning, there was a lot more three people having sex together often." Reporter: But so is the extra set of hands for childcare. "It's not only about sex, it's about family, it's about working together as a team. It's about accomplishing your dreams."
Reporter: One of their dreams, having children, and they managed to do that all together too. Ella and Oliver are just five weeks apart. It's one thing to have your relationship and have it exactly how you want it. But then to bring kids into your relationship, do you feel like it's a healthy way to raise a family? "A resounding yes for me. More breast feeding, more opportunities, more team work. I can double breast feed while Melinda's making food, and Jon is, whatever it is. There's just more parental support for the children."
Reporter: And then there's John and Ian who also live together with their one child. What do you say to people who believe that your relationship and the way that you're living your life is wrong? " 'Thank you for sharing your opinion.' I mean, what else -- we're not here to convert people and tell people that monogamy and wrong. Totally V totally valid choice."
Reporter: And with the divorce rate hovering around 50%, who's to say these people might not have a point? Carrie Jenkins has written a book, challenging the notion that love requires monogamy. But what about jealousy? "I think every relationship can come with insecurity. We're humans and we're never sure about our standing."
Reporter: We saw this play out again and again in our triads. Jaya has her two lovers, but how do the men feel about each other? Would you two be friends if it wasn't for her? "I don't think we'd be hanguot buddies." "They're very different. What do you think, John?" "Way too chatty."
Reporter: But in this three-headed household, who takes charge? Do you consider yourself more the alpha dog in this family? "Uh, yes. Well, Jaya is kind of the alpha dog too." So what does that make John? "John is somebody who gets fulfillment out of being in service, doing things for people." Reporter: Is it hard to share someone that you love that much? "Ah, it can be. It can be tough."
Reporter: Five years later, Jaya, John and Ian are still together.
And then there's what they say is the social stigma. Carrie's received loads of negative feedback. "There is some sometimes vitriolic and mostly anonymous comments that I get."
Reporter: Despite criticism, Carrie and her partners say they're committed to sharing their story, for other polyamorous people who aren't able to. "People do need to understand and to see that this is a real way that people live."
Reporter: Challenging stereotypes about love. "I would like to be in my relationships forever. That would be my ideal situation." Reporter: One date night at a time. For Nightline, I'm Abbie Boudreau.
The segment's webpage (aired March 16, 2017, online March 17).
The video is also showing on Yahoo News.