Poly leaders tell Self mag, "What It's Like to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship"
Page Turner (get it?) is an alternative-relationship coach and serious author who recently published Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory and A Geek's Guide to Unicorn Ranching, a little book of advice for clueless but well-meaning couples. Her third book, Dealing with Difficult Metamours, is due out this spring. She shows a professional writer's discipline in publishing, for two years now, an essay a day on her website Poly.Land, "your daily polyamory blog for navigating life, relationships, and more." At the Beyond The Love poly con last fall, I watched her and her husband Justin Case run a first-rate audience-participation workshop: "Boundary-Setting in Polyamory: First Degree, Second Degree, and Beyond." Expect to see a lot more from them at such events.
Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack run the popular Multiamory podcast. They started it following Dedeker's well-meaning debut as a public poly activist on Fox's Utopia reality show in 2014. The series turned out to be a cynical setup quite unsuited to her, and it died a quick death. Unbowed, the three set out to speak to the world on their own terms. Multiamory, now in its 153rd weekly episode, has become an important face of the poly movement. In 2017 Dedeker published The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory.
Kitty Stryker (NSFW site) says she's "a freelance writer, antifascist activist, and queer sex educator who has been working specifically in the realm of consent for 6+ years. I've got bylines at Buzzfeed, Vice, Wear Your Voice, Ravishly, the Frisky, the Guardian, and much more, as well as being published in a variety of books ranging in themes from fat activism to the inauguration protests to my experiences as a sex worker. I’m also helping some activist Juggalos by serving as a street medic.... I lead an interesting life." Including being a presenter at poly and BDSM conventions. Two months ago Thorntree Press published Ask: Building Consent Culture, an anthology of essays she assembled.
The Self article (which you probably missed when it was at the grocery checkout counter) captured only a bit of these characters, but it's a nice little 101:
By Anna Davies
What It's Like to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship
Meet my wife…and her boyfriend.
By Anna Davies
...[Poly] relationships, too, can vary. Some polyamorous individuals see all their partners as equal; others may have a “primary” partner who they may live with, split bills with, or consider their emotional anchor, and then have secondary people they date and commit to, according to terms laid out between the individual and his or her primary.
But one thing is consistent: Polyamory is all about respect, open communication, and the ability to live love on terms that work for the people involved in the relationship. Here, three polyamorous individuals explain how it works for them, and clear up some common misconceptions people may have about the lifestyle.
Married with a boyfriend
Since she was a teenager, Stryker identified as polyamorous — and has practiced it throughout various relationships. ... Now Stryker is married to a trans woman, whom she has been with for four years, and has had a boyfriend for one year. While her wife and her boyfriend are not partners, Stryker says that they are all friends. “It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s essential that everyone get along. It avoids a lot of clashing when everyone can directly communicate.”
Stryker jokes that polyamory is “a romantic relationship that works for people who like spreadsheets,” adding that there’s a lot of planning to make sure everyone is on the same page. “I’ll think of the week, and be like, OK, when do I want a sleepover with my boyfriend? It’s not necessarily spontaneous.” And Stryker admits it’s not for everyone. Stryker, the coeditor of Ask: Building Consent Culture, says that couples who may be intrigued try starting slow. “Even seeing your partner platonically cuddling someone else, what does that mean or bring up for you?” asks Stryker. “I think taking small steps to open up a relationship, and frequently checking in with each other, is key.”
Married while dating other men and women
When Page Turner and her first husband decided to open their marriage over a decade ago, they had a frank heart-to-heart, realizing that the decision might cost them their marriage. Turns out, it did — but she doesn’t have any regrets. “When we opened up the marriage and began meeting other people, we realized the best thing for both of us was to let each other go,” says Turner, who remarried five years ago. Now, Turner ... actively dates other men and women but considers the relationship between herself and her second husband to be her “primary.” For her, that means the two live together, split household expenses and chores, and create the terms of what polyamory means to them.
“For us, there’s a huge difference between fidelity (being sexually exclusive to just one person) and loyalty (supporting and being honest to another person). And I think people outside the polyamorous community may not understand that the two aren’t necessarily the same thing.”
To maintain their emotional bond, Turner and her husband developed a system: The pair subscribed to a monthly wine club where they got four bottles of wine delivered to their door; they promised that, no matter what, they would drink the wine together by the end of every month. “Those are our emotional check-in times, when we talk about what’s working, what isn’t, and what we need from each other,” explains Turner....
Together four years, dating other partners
Winston and Lindgren don’t use the term “primary” and feel that each of the relationships they maintain is unique, different, and just as committed as the one they have to each other. “To me, polyamory isn’t something practiced by a couple, but practiced by individuals,” says Lindgren. “Swinging and certain types of open relationships center around a couple. But in polyamory, it’s an individual committing to other individuals, allowing each relationship to naturally find it’s own depth and intimacy.”
Lindgren and Winston also want to dispel the myth that polyamory is in some way “selfish.” “Having multiple partners requires a lot of commitment — commitment to being the best possible partner, commitment to being honest and proactive in my communication, commitment to putting care and investment into each relationship,” says Winston. ...
As Lindgren explains it, a successful polyamorous relationship depends on all partners being on the same page. ... “In my experience, the most successful polyamorous relationships are the ones that have the fewest rules and limitations. That way the focus is on each person doing things to make their partner happy rather than focusing on 'not breaking rules.’ But that said, some ground rules, especially regarding sexual safety, are a smart strategy and relatively commonplace in polyamorous relationships.”
And at the end of the day, a polyamorous relationship has more similarities than differences to a monogamous relationship. “Any functioning relationship requires dedicated effort, time, and energy — no matter how many people are involved,” reminds Winston. ...
The whole article (online June 7, 2017).
● Many more profiles of poly movers-and-shakers!
If you've read this far you really want to browse Poly Role Models, Kevin Patterson's ongoing interviews with significant people in our movement. He's been building this collection for almost three years now. Also in the series are Poly Origin Stories and Cautionary Poly: Teachable Moments in Polyamorous Relationships. The site is definitely worth your time.