"Love Multiplied": a veteran polyfamily gets a fine profile (it was easy).
Remember Juliette Siegfried and her family? Ten years ago in Barcelona, they started volunteering to be public polys in the media at a time when visible role models were few. Then they got pregnant and bore a daughter, to good notice in Spain's media. Later they moved to the Netherlands. The kid is now 8, centered in the picture below.
An online friend of Juliette's got an idea. She simply did an email interview with her – and has placed it in A News Cafe, "Northern California's Premier Online News Magazine."
Says Juliette, "It was nice to be interviewed by someone who wasn't a journalist and definitely wasn't looking for sensationalism — just a real, down to earth explanation of this way of life."
Love Multiplied: Polyamory Explained
Front, from left: Juliette, Maya, Laurel.
Back: Roland and their housemate friend Barry.
By Barbara Rice
...I happened to meet Juliette Siegfried online because we had mutual friends and because we both love cats. Juliette was the first person I ever heard the term polyamory from, about which I knew zilch.
...Chicago-born Juliette now lives in the Netherlands and runs a translation business with her British husband Roland. Both are 50 and have been together since 1995. They live with 51-year-old writer/editor Laurel Avery and eight-year-old Maya, who is the daughter of Roland and Laurel, as well as live-in family friend 72-year old Florida native Barry Wright (who is not involved on a romantic basis). Roland, Juliette, and Laurel are all heterosexual so Juliette and Laurel are not involved with each other except as a family unit.
Polyamorous /extended family may sound unusual, but it works well for them. ... Juliette recommended the More Than Two Polyamory FAQ for spelling out the basics of polyamory.
Juliette: ...However, our form of polyamory, living together, seems fairly rare. Many poly people live alone and have open, honest relationships with multiple people. This is known as “solo poly”, when you don’t have a particular primary partner or nesting partner with whom you live.
Some people, particularly couples, do “hierarchical poly”, in which they are primary and everyone else they date is considered secondary. To us, this is a fear-based approach designed to protect the primary couple – however, trying to legislate love is impossible. We have always been open to the idea that perhaps our “primary” status would change, especially as Laurel and Maya came into our lives. But for us, it worked out that we all became primary with each other – and we are still open to other people coming into our lives and becoming more or less important over time than the others. We let each relationship find its “natural resting point.”
...Even when I don’t have any other partners (which has been most of the time), I am so much happier just being able to be myself and not have to hide it when someone interesting comes along that I might want to get to know better.
How did you out yourselves to your families and friends? What were their reactions?
It was tough at first, and we lost a few friends along the way. I think it was tough because a) at first we were unsure, which made everyone else unsure, and b) polyamory is extremely threatening to the status quo. Women used to fear I would steal their boyfriends somehow, because what I was doing must be what their boyfriends really wanted, right? Now I just don’t have any friends who aren’t okay with polyamory. ... Once we were sure of what we were doing, all the naysayers fell away, and a whole new set of friends, both poly and poly-friendly, emerged. We’ve never looked back.
How long have you, Roland, and Laurel been in a poly family? Do you see your family evolving and growing?
We met Laurel in Barcelona in 2007. Our house is pretty full, and we are not actively looking to add anyone else to the house. However I have a boyfriend, and he is seen as family. His daughters play with my daughter and we all get along great. That is our goal with relationships, to have them as extended family rather than separate things on the side. ...
How has having Maya changed your family?
I’m not sure it’s any different from any couple that has a child. We’re just three (and a friend) who have a child. I guess she’s changed us just as anyone would be changed by becoming a parent. It’s a huge challenge and a huge blast at the same time. In terms of parenting, we are all equal, although in some ways I have turned out to be the “primary mom,” which is interesting. Laurel never wanted kids so is slightly less maternal than I am, but we all enjoy the process. I am “Mama” and she is “Mummy” and Roland is “Daddy”. Barry is just Barry.
And having 3 or 4 parents instead of 2 is simply luxurious, for us and for Maya. More love for her, more time for ourselves, more resources, more income.
...Do you have any advice for people who are interested in exploring polyamory?
Yes – Don’t treat it like trying on a hat in a store or a dish in a restaurant. It is extremely difficult to go against the social pressures and conditioning to default to monogamy. You have to really believe another way of living and loving is possible, and really want it for yourself, with or without actually having multiple partners. It’s a way of life and a way of thinking about love as an unlimited resource, unlike the dollars in your wallet. It is not just about having multiple sex partners.
I suggest Googling polyamory and your town and seeing if there is a discussion group near you – there are tons of them. Meet other poly people, ask questions online or in person, and see how you feel. Check out the book and website www.morethantwo.com. ...
Read the whole interview (March 28, 2017).