How our family came to be (part 1/2)

It’s been a little over a year and I still haven’t written an entry about how Ash, Aidan and I came to be a polyamorous triad. Time to fix that!

Ash and I have been together since 2008. We were pretty young when we started going out, so we had that idealistic view of a future together – the white picket fence, the dog, the 2.5 kids, you get the idea. Back then, I would have said you were crazy if you told me I’d have another boyfriend 5 years later.

But, being young and having practically no other romantic/sexual encounters other than Ash made me think about what it would be like to date other people. Not that I was bored with Ash- far from it in fact. I was just curious about how different people had different things to offer in a relationship. I remember one day, Ash and I took a long walk on the beach and I opened up to him about this curiosity. To my surprise, Ash was very understanding about everything and didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that I wanted to break up, as I’d thought he might do. In fact, he told me that he was open to the idea of me experimenting with other people, and didn’t see himself getting jealous.

So, I went ahead and experimented. There were a couple of short-term flings, mostly sexual in nature, but they were a little messy. I didn’t really know what I wanted from them, and neither of the two guys I was with knew how to deal with jealousy. Mistakes were made. We moved on.

All through this I was very aware of Ash’s feelings. I continuously asked him if he was okay with it, and was surprised every time he said yes. I’d lived in a society that told me no man could ever watch his girl get with someone else and not be overcome by jealousy. And here Ash was, genuinely okay with what I was doing. It blew my mind, to be honest.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I really started to discover what non-monogamy meant to me. The first lightbulb moment was when I first heard the word ‘polyamory’. I was listening to Triple J on the radio. The Hack program that night was talking about ‘strange love’, and polyamory was one of the topics. I listened intently as I learned what polyamory was, and heard some of the stories people were sharing. Everything just… clicked. I’d never understood something on such a very deep level. I downloaded the podcast and listened to it about four or five times over the next few days. I started to do some heavy research, scouring the web for anything polyamory related. A whole other world started to open up before me.

I had another lightbulb moment when I found this article on jealousy (I plan to make a more in depth blog entry about this article at a later date). When I read this, everything – again – just made so much sense to me and I felt like I was really starting to understand how polyamory could work in a practical sense. I shared my findings with Ash, and he enthusiastically agreed to give it a try.

Now, I didn’t go out looking for another partner, even though we’d both decided we were polyamorous. We were happy with our relationship as it was, and we both had work and study to keep us busy. We just sort of mutually agreed that it could work if some else were to join our family.

Enter Aidan.

Stay tuned for part 2!

14

-Emma

Poly glossary

As promised, here is a (hopefully) comprehensive guide to some common polyamory terms. These are all my own personal definitions, so bear in mind that others may use these words in different contexts :) If I missed anything, please add it in the comments!

Note: not in alphabetical order because that’s too logical for me.

Polyamory/poly- see this post.

Monogamy- a more socially accepted relationship model involving two people who are exclusive to each other. Works for some people, doesn’t work for others.

Non-monogamy- an umbrella term which, as the name implies, encompasses everything that is not monogamy. Things that come under this category include polyamory, swinging and cheating.

Open relationship- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved seek, or are open to the idea of, more people becoming part of the group.

Closed relationship/polyfidelity- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved are in exclusive relationships and are not seeking, or open to the idea of, any more people joining their relationship.

Group marriage- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved make life commitments to one another (like ‘normal’ marriage, but with more than two people).

Primary/secondary- two different types of relationships within polyamory. A primary group/couple may be more committed, and share responsibilities and benefits such as child raising, pooling finances and living together. A secondary relationship is usually more casual.

Triad- a polyamorus group of three people.

Quad- a polyamorus group of four people.

Network- a polyamorus group involving more than four people.

Triangle/delta- a triad relationship model where all three members are involved with each other. As such, the connections between the members of the group form a triangle/delta shape.

Vee/V- A triad relationship model where one person is involved with two others. Think of the letter V as a triangle with one less connection.

N- A quad relationship model. Think of a V model but with an extra connection.

Hinge- a person who is dating two or more others, and thus becomes a ‘hinge’ between those people. A  V relationship has one hinge in the middle, an N has two and so on. A network may have many hinges connecting the group together.

Metamour/spouse-in-law- two or more people who share the same partner, but are not involved with one another. The two people at either end of a V relationship are an example of this.

Compersion- an emotion that is the opposite to jealousy. It is the feeling of positive empathy when you see someone else happy. In the context of polyamory, compersion is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you see your partner enjoying other relationships.

New Relationship Energy (NRE)- The excitement and happiness you feel when a new relationship begins. In polyamory, this energy often reignites the excitement in old/existing relationships.

Spice- the plural term for spouse. Eg. “My spice and I are going out tonight”.

Polygamy/polygny/polyandry- these terms have little to do with the polyamory movement and are more commonly used when referring to people who are non-monogamous for religious or cultural reasons.

My next post (or at least a post in the near future) will focus on my two partners and I, and use these definitions to explain our relationship and dynamics.

Stay tuned!

-Emma

What is polyamory?

1For those visiting my blog to learn more about polyamory, I thought I’d start at square one and give an explanation as to what it actually is. Sure, you could just read the Wikipedia page (and honestly, it gives a pretty good rundown). But I’m hoping that coming from the mouth (keyboard?) of someone in an established poly relationship, you’ll find a bit more substance in my description.

So let’s start with my personal definition, which actually doesn’t sound that different to the Wikipedia introduction.

Polyamory is the practice or ability to be romantically involved with more than one person at a time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

You may notice the main difference between my definition and the Wikipedia definition is that I substituted the word “intimately” with “romantically”. There is a reason I did that, and not just so it would look less like I copy-pasted it. To me, intimacy is something you can experience with a person you are not in love with, like for example, with a sex buddy. When I say romantically, what I really mean is love, like anyone would feel for their partner.

The reason this change is so important is because polyamory is based on love. Not that there’s anything wrong swinging (sexual encounters outside your relationship with your partner’s consent). It’s just that I wouldn’t call it polyamory. I see it as a ‘cousin’ to polyamory in the big non-monogamy family tree.

Going with this metaphor, cheating would be the bratty little nephew who breaks other kids’ toys and spits on grandma. Which brings me to the second part of my definition, “with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved”. Take note of the word and here. It wouldn’t be polyamory without both of these elements. Polyamorists pride themselves on having good communication in their relationships. That begins with absolute transparency about who/when/where you’re dating/sleeping with/making life plans with.

So to recap, love and knowledge/consent are the two key aspects of most, if not all poly relationships. Because polyamorous relationships (and indeed human beings) are so varied, the boundaries, rules, expectancies, levels of compromise etc. etc. will be different in every group. For this reason I don’t expand my definition past those two elements, so as to encompass all the different styles of poly love out there.

There might be other terms like ‘vee’ or ‘compersion’ that you’ve seen floating around but have no idea what they are. Never fear! My next post will be a glossary of all the polyamory related terms (that I can think of).

‘Till next time!
-Emma