Q: I’ve always been in monogamous relationships. However, after my last break-up, I started considering polyamory. I’m interested in exploring it more. However, I’m having trouble explaining this to people I’m dating. I don’t want a series of threesomes. I want a real polyamorous relationship with some roots and depth.
A: There are many different models for polyamory, or “loving many” people. I’ve participated in a couple separate models of polyamory, or as I actually prefer to call it, non-monogamy. I don’t need to “love” or be in close relationship with the people that I socialize with sexually as a non-monogamous person.“Polyamory” makes me think that you do indeed want to build a life with more than one partner, and people do this quite successfully, but it’s not for everyone.
You absolutely should state your desires as you go forward in search of new relationships, and there are some great books that will give you the language to do that: “The Ethical Slut” by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton, “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino, and “More Than Two” by Eve Rickert. And of course, when you add more partners into the equation, you should have a good idea of how to talk about your sexual health status.
In order to be in two loving relationships, you’ll need to first probably be in one loving relationship, so it behooves you to figure out early if potential mates have any interest in seeing a nonmonogamous or poly person.
Polydating.com and Polymatchmaker.com are two suggestions from Portland poly-event organizer Teresa Reed. If you’re near Portland, check out her sex-positive event space Catalyst for similar events. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble can be helpful in finding new people who have similar interests but be specific about what you are looking for in your bio details.
And long-term? Sarah* and David* and Teri* are married and share a household with each other AND their five children; three were birthed by Sarah and the other two were born by Teri. Teri is currently in a triad relationship with a different trio of folks entirely. And with communication and weekly family meetings about finances, activities, and income, this household functions a little differently than most American families, and it can be a mixed bag.
“Our marriage isn’t recognized as equal in the eyes of the law, and we do get some strange looks sometimes”, says Teri. “Many of his coworkers and my peers know about our family structure, and it’s never been considered offensive to anyone, but we live in a fairly progressive part of the country.” The benefits? “We rarely have to pay for childcare, and I know that each of our children feels that they have plenty of loving adults that they can talk to and learn from.”
Americans are raised to be traditionally monogamous, and you’ll really be reminded of that once you go against that norm. Good luck in your dating!
More by Elle:
My husband doesn’t want to have sex nearly as often as he used to. I initiate most of the time and often times he’s too tired or seems uninterested.
Elle Stanger is a queer femme sex worker and parent. Listen to her award-nominated UnzippedPDX podcast on iTunes and find her at stripperwriter.com.
Elle is available for email coaching by appointment at email@example.com.
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