WHY KNOT – Breaking the Silence on Monogamy

This film, Why Knot-Breaking the Silence of Monogamy, was shared with us recently by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav. The film makers are raising money for the film now and it is definitely worth taking a moment to look at.  Quoting from their website:

“Through art and introspection, we wish to leave a film behind in this world which will help others make informed decisions about the most valuable relationships in their lives.

It is not our objective to advocate for or against monogamy, but to break the silence on this issue. Our vision is to empower relationships and to encourage communication within, with the hope that one day, infidelity and the containment of our desires may only be a remnant of human history.”

Check out Why Knot online and the crowd funding page!

Enjoy the trailer and an excerpt of Dossie Easton’s (author of Ethical Slut) interview.

Unicorn, Unicorn Hunting and The Unicorn Triad

Unicorn Hunting in the Poly Community

Unicorn HunterWhat is the difference between unicorn triad and a poly-fi triad?

A lot.

Before  we go any further, let’s make sure we’re talking the same “poly language”.  In the polyamory community, a unicorn is considered by many as a negative term. Though it is usually used to describe a woman, the HBB (the hot, bi babe), there are male versions of the unicorn who can face the same challenges.  For the sake of this article, we will focus on the female version of the unicorn.  Such a woman would love both the man and woman in a pre-existing dyad equally and would be sexual with both of them.  She would not want any other partners except them and would be willing to change her life in order to be with them.  It’s understood that if things don’t work out that she will willingly leave with no issues.  There are others points to it, but this covers major aspects.

In the poly community, unicorn hunters are considered to be couples (dyads) that are looking for the HBB.  They tend to be new poly couples (not always but usually).  Such dyads may have specific rules that allow them toend the poly relationship, send the unicorn away, and stay together.

A “unicorn triad” is a triad consisting of a dyad and a third partner (the unicorn).   The unicorn will be the girlfriend to the couple.  The couple is usually considered a primary relationship, while the girlfriend will be a secondary partner to both.  If the girlfriend has any other partners, she would be expected to end those relationships in favor of the unicorn triad. She isn’t allowed to do anything with one member of the triad, always with both.  The dyad, on the other hand, are allowed to date each other without the girlfriend.  If the U-Triad doesn’t work, then the dyad will stay together, and the girlfriend will leave.  Though the dyad may choose to incorporate elements of the girlfriend’s life into the triad, it is not uncommon for the girlfriend to incorporate more of the dyad’s life into her own.  A unicorn triad is considered unequal and unfair to the girlfriend in the poly community and looked upon very negatively. 

A poly-fi triad is a closed triad relationship.  They consider each other equal partners in an egalitariantriad relationship and will not have any other partners but each other.  The partners will all be sexual together, as a group or in any pairing, and no pair has more power or control in the relationship than the other partner.  All are equal.  A poly-fi triad may decide to add other partners later.

Why is unicorn hunting frowned upon in the poly community?  One reason is that some people choose to ignore basic poly etiquette.  Different communities have their own vocabularies that are specific to that community.  Some words have a positive connotation, while others have negative ones.  Unicorn and unicorn hunting are considered negative.  When a couple comes in and starts stating they are unicorn hunting, they are stating (in poly vocabulary), that they want to find a woman that is disposable.  Some people insist that they can redefine the word anyway they want, and it doesn’t have to mean what it does.  While this may be true, until the new “definition” is generally accepted by the poly community, people should not be surprised when they upset people by using the word.  No matter how much you insist it means something else, it takes time and majority acceptance to redefine the word.  Unfortunately, the poly community can be harsh in its correction of such word usage, and this would only cause people to continue to be antagonistic on both sides.

Another reason unicorn hunting is frowned upon is because of the inequality of the relationship created.  A unicorn triad creates a dynamic where a couple can come in with a set of expectations and “couple privilege,” and place the new partner in an unequal relationship.  shares a great article about this topic by Natja (the original is located here).  The girlfriend can be discarded if the dyad decides she’s not “the one”.  The dyad has all the power, and their girlfriend has none.  She is at their mercy.  She has to accept their rules and has no say.

“She knew what she was getting into.”

“She agreed to it.”

“They’re our rules.  If she can’t accept them, she can just leave.”

These statements and other similar ones are all ones we’ve heard unicorn hunters use as excuses for the unequal relationship dynamic.  No matter how you look at it, these statements show an unequal balance of power.  This is a key reason why poly people do not like unicornhunting.

When a woman enters into a pre-existing relationship, she creates a new relationship dynamic.  It is not fair to her or the relationship to be forced into the couples pre-defined relationship mold.  The people involved should sit down and communicate.  This communication is important.  It allows the partners in the new “triad” to start together on equal footing.  It is NOT another chance for the couple to say, “These are our rules and you must accept them.”  Instead, it is where the partners come together and create an equal relationship.  The old dynamic that the dyad or the single woman had cannot continue because the relationship status is no longer a dyad or a single woman.

Some people in the “unicorn hunt” treat the search for a woman like shopping.  They meet an available poly woman and immediately she is the “one.”  They may barely know her.  When it doesn’t work out, they meet another woman, and she is now the “one”.  In some cases, marriage is proposed before they ever meet.  The women are treated as replaceable.  They are not. 

Please remember, some people spend their whole lives trying to find one person to love.  If you are part of a dyad, you already found that person.  Now, you want to find another person who not only loves you but your partner as well.  In addition, if you are seeking a unicorn triad, you are asking them to give up a lot of personal autonomy and submit to the will and dictates of you.  I wonder why it takes so long to find a woman willing to do that?  People want to be treated as equals.  A unicorn triad is not the way to go.  An egalitarian poly-fi triad is what you should seek.  

There are women who want to be part of a triad.  Don’t antagonize them by treating them as objects.  Triads are normal in polyamory.  Let it happen naturally.  Meet people, make friends.  Fall in love.  Let it happen naturally.  It may take a year.  It may take 5 years.  Rush it, force it, and it may never happen.

A unicorn triad and a poly-fi triad are not the same thing.  If you are new to poly and want a egalitarian poly-fi triad, “seeking a unicorn” is not what you should be doing.  Seeking an equal partner and friend is what you should be doing. 

There’s Only One Kind of Polyamory…Right?

Different KindsHierarchical.  Egalitarian.  Relationship Anarchists.  Just going with the flow. Old school polyamory.

If your new to polyamory or even if you’ve been around the block, you may have heard these terms or others like them.  They are used to describe kinds of relationships that exist in the polyamorous community.  Unfortunately, people don’t always agree on what is right or wrong.

Debates spring up about how people should practice polyamory.  Some of these debates can get pretty heated.  There are those who will claim “their” polyamory is the only type of polyamory.  If you’re not practicing their version then you’re not really polyamorous, your only “playing” polyamorous or your on the “fringe” of polyamory.  Others claim that polyamory can be practiced in various different ways, and it won’t make you any less poly or more poly.  Some will go as far as to say that you can practice polyamory in any way you want and no one should judge you.  Understandably, people get upset.

Is there a right way to practice polyamory?

Yes…and no.  It depends on you.

 I know, it seems like a cop-out answer, but let me explain.  There is a right way to do polyamory.  It’s the way that fits you and the relationships you’re in.  Polyamory is not a one size fits all.  Everyone doing it the way the other person does it does not ensure that you will be as successful.

People are unique.  We are formed, shaped by the experiences in our lives.  Though we may be similar in many ways, we are also very different.  Does this mean there are no common elements to the relationship styles mentioned previously?  There are common elements that a successful poly relationship should always have.

Don’t have a power imbalance: If one person has has more power or control in the relationship, it creates a power imbalance.  Being equal in a relationship means having an egalitarian agreement or understanding that benefits everyone equally.  That will be different for everyone.  Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean tit for tat.  It may mean that she needs hugs  and you need a day to decompress alone.  You both get what you want and thereby keep it equal.  If you come into poly with a dysfunctional relationship, it will only create a dysfunctional poly relationship no matter what kind of poly relationship dynamic you may have.

Do not cheat.  Polyamory is all about honesty.  Everyone knows and accepts the No Cheating relationships.  If you lie to your partner about who you’re with or force your partner to “accept” polyamory, you are not practicing polyamory.

Communication is important.  This can’t be stressed enough.  In any relationship dynamic, communication helps to ensure everyone is on the same page as well as helping to work through issues that may arise.   

Remain honest.  This is part of communication.  You and your partners need to be honest about what you want, how you feel and how everything is going for you.  Once you start to color the truth or just lie to your partner about how you feel, you begin closing the doors to communication.  You don’t want to do that.  It’s also important to be honest with yourself.  Don’t lie to yourself.  Be honest with yourself.

Respect yourself and your partners.  Don’t be selfish and don’t diminish you or your partners’ feelings.  You and your partners’ feelings, desires and thoughts are important.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about everyone you are involved with.

EducateEducate yourself.  There are numerous websites and books that address many different aspects of polyamory.  Many major cities have poly groups.  Talk to poly people.  Educate yourself.

Meet others.  No man or woman is an island.  We need people, connections, friends.  You may live in a small community, but it’s still important to get connected. 

What about these relationship styles?  Which is better?  Worse?  I can claim that one is better than another.  I could say how I have known hundreds of people over the last 15 years who have been successful doing it one way or another.  I could point out the flaws in the relationship styles.

I could do that with every one of the previously mentioned relationship styles.  I do see some as better than others, but that may not be true for everyone.  That was hard for me to see when I first started polyamory.  I thought that if I did the same thing everyone did I would be guaranteed success.  That’s not true.

You have to look at your life, relationships, beliefs and values.  You have to figure what is best for you.  So do your partners.  This is not always easy, especially when you find yourself on different paths.  When entering into polyamory, we enter into a different world. 

Solo Polyamorist and Secondary Relationships

Solo Polyamorist

Solo polyamoristWhen people come together under a common cause, there is inevitably going to be division in what they believe.  This can be due to a number of reasons.  Polyamory is no different.  If you visit poly groups online, then you will eventually see that there are differences in opinion and  thoughts about what polyamory is and isn’t, what is right and wrong.  A secondary relationship is one of those things that polyamorist argue about.  Another concept is that of the solo polyamorist.

Some say primaries, secondaries and tertiary should not exist in polyamory.  The belief is that all relationships are equal in time and importance.  No partner or partners should be “valued” above others and all are equal.  Others argue that though you may love all your partners, the relationships may not all be equal for a variety of reasons.

In polyamory, a secondary relationship is one that “is secondary in terms of time and energy in a person’s life in comparison to the primary relationship.  Can include emotional support and sex but may or may not include long term commitments or plans.  Less time and energy is spent on the relationship.”  Secondary is an anthropological term that describes a relationship dynamic in the polyamory community.  It is not a title that is to be used for the individual, just as primary is not to be used as a title for people as well.  It simply explains the type of relationship and amount/type of energy you put into it.

One of the arguments used against secondary relationships is this question: “Why would anyone want to be second in any relationship?”  Tristan Taormino  explores this in “Opening Up“.  As she explores the different types of polyamorist relationships, she discusses the solo polyamorist.  The solo polyamorist is one who IS seeking a secondary relationship.  She states that the solo polyamorist would seek this if:

                “• you like to have sex with different people, but prefer not to have a relationship with anyone

                • you like to date, but can’t see yourself dating one person exclusively

                • you want relationships with multiple people-some of which may be serious or committed-but               don’t want a primary relationship or a primary partner

                • you prefer to date and have sex and relationships with couples, but don’t want to partner with             them

                • having a serious, committed, or primary relationship is not a priority in your life

                • you enjoy freedom, independence, and solitude

                • you aren’t dating anyone currently, but if you were, it would be a polyamorous relationship” (Tristan, Opening Up)

Some people may want this because they have other priorities that they don’t want complicated by a serious relationship.  They may want to date but don’t want to make life commitments or enmesh their life with another’s.  This is different than those who seek a primary relationship in that they may be looking for life partners, sharing homes or finances, having children together and may want to spend their life together.

Is there a downside to solo polyamory?  Yes.  The solo polyamorist may be seen as “disposable” by others.  “They don’t want a long term relationship so they don’t care if I end it,” some people think.  Just because a person doesn’t want a primary relationship doesn’t mean they don’t want ANY relationship.  Solo polyamorist can be viewed very superficially in this regard. but they are anything but superficial.  They are people who want a relationship, just not the same kind.  They deserve every respect and courtesy you would give your other partners.  They may not also get the support from their partners that they may need at time.  During emotional times or illnesses, others may not see that they need their support and the solo polyamorist ends up alone when they need support the most.

Another problem is stigma from others.  Some solo polyamorist (especially men) wholounge-lizard-1 seek a secondary relationship can be viewed as in it “only for the sex”.  A person who would state that they are not looking for serious relationships may be seen as purely in it for the sex.    They are not really represented in poly literature and in many groups, leaving the polyamorist alone in polyamorist circles.  Even society pushes this with everything geared toward long term relationships- music, movies and holidays to name a few.  This can cause issues emotionally for the individual.

They can also be used by other polyamory people to buffer or “fix” their problems.  They are seen as something to use to spice up the marriage or even fix it and not the individual with feelings and needs as well.  It’s important for others to remember that solo polyamorists are people and deserve respect and not to be used as a tool.

Many people have issues with the concept of the secondary relationship and solo polyamorist, but they are real and not to be looked down upon.  The solo polyamorist deserves our respect and support and have a right to choose the relationship dynamic they want and that will make them happy.  If everyone is honest about what they want, they can have a happy relationship.

How Do I Find A Poly Partner?

In fourteen years we have talked to a lot of people.  There were all kinds of questions.  Some asked about sex.  Some asked about jealousy.   Others just asked if we were crazy.  But there was one question that we were asked over and over.Find Love

“How do I find a poly partner?”

On the original site forum, people asked this question (or variations of this question) many times.  Even now, we still see this question on our Facebook page and in other groups.  There is one answer we have gravitated toward over and over again.

Meet people. 

Make friends.

Fall in love.

Rinse and repeat.

This is the simplistic answer.  Let’s get into a little more detail. 

Many relationships follow a simple pattern (though the sexes and sexual orientation may vary.)   Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl become friends. Boy likes girl.  He asks girl for a deeper relationship.

She says no.

Boy meets another girl.  Boy and girl become friends. Boy likes girl.  Girl likes boy.  They begin dating.  Girl decides he’s not the one.  Girl dumps boy. 

Boy meets another girl.  Boy and girl become friends. Boy likes girl.  Girl likes boy.  They begin dating.  Things get serious.  They decide to get married.

Are there exceptions to every rule?  Of course.  But the basic concept is fairly simple: people meet, become friends, fall in love.  It’s the same thing in polyamory.  Finding a poly partner follows a similar pattern.  Meet people.  Become friends.  Fall in love.

It’s not easy.  In fact, in can be pretty damn hard.

Let’s make something clear.  I’m not saying that every friend you have or make should be for the sole purpose of finding partners.  On the contrary, the more you can try to force a relationship, the more likely it will fail.  If you view every friendship or chance meeting as another person to “date”, then you are missing the point here.  Poly relationships should happen naturally.  If you make friends and all you have become are friends, then you have positively added to your life another friend.  It doesn’t have to be more than that and you shouldn’t try to force it to be more than that.  Relationships are like clay.  They may all have some basic characteristics, but they shift, change shape from person to person–yet they are still a “clay”, a relationship. The thing is, relationships are molded by the people involved, shifting and changing.  It’s not just one person creating a relationship.  In the poly relationship, there are more people involved, affecting not only the relationship but you.

“So, I’m supposed to meet people?  Where do I meet them?”

That’s a hard one.  Not everyone is poly minded.  The real question is where do you meet poly minded people?  The obvious answer is where poly people come together.  There are many local poly communities.  Find one near you and become involved.  Maybe you can even start one.  Facebook groups like Poly Living can have many people from all over the world.  Check our groups page to find a local or online group that you can become a part of.  Here’s some tips to keep in mind:

Learn about your online group.  A lot of groups are meant to be a place to have fun, make friends and just be yourself.  Many groups don’t like people “trolling” for partners.  If you join a group and start posting dating ads, you may meet some resistance or even be removed.

Local groups can sometimes hold weekly or monthly get together.  Local groups may have similar restrictions.  They may not have an issue with people meeting and dating, but some will have issues if you join a group with the sole purpose of seeking a partner.  Remember, don’t force your relationships.  Make friends.  If those friendships become more, great.  If they don’t, then you have more poly minded friends.

Polyamory conventions are another great place to make friends.  There are many happening throughout the year.  Not only do you get to make friends, but you can also learn from many poly people.

Heart MiceAnother place to meet people is dating sites.  Dating sites have risen in popularity over the years and there have even been studies that show that relationships that started online can be very successful.  There are several poly dating sites.  The plus about dating sites is that everyone involved IS looking for a relationship.  

Multiple Match




Poly Match Maker

No matter what you do, take your time and don’t rush it.  Make friends and don’t force it.  Let your relationships happen naturally.  Some people take years to find one person they click with; don’t expect to find that “other” special person overnight.

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Acceptance in the Polyamory Community

How Non-Monogamy Divides the Non-Monogamous

If you’ve been brought up in Western society your first exposure to polyamory probably polyamory-its-complicatedoccurred through pop culture. Vicky~Christina~Barcelona immortalized the triad relationship in an impossibly beautiful Caucasian Hollywoodesque fantasy, with the implicit warning that such an arrangement is unstable for the long term. Sitcoms like Friends throw in their two pence to denigrate ethical non-monogamy by presenting an episode where Chandler encounters a women in an open and honest relationship.

Chandler: So explain something to me here, uh, what kind of a relationship do you imagine us having if you already have a husband and a boyfriend?

Aurora: I suppose mainly sexual.

Chandler: …Hm.

Monica: Oh. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

Chandler: What ‘not work out’? I’m seeing her again on Thursday. Didn’t you listen to the story?

Monica: Didn’t you listen to the story? I mean, this is twisted! How could you get involved with a woman like this?

Pop culture would have you believe that polyamory is at best a naive delusion, at worst a morally twisted act. Apart from the small body of literature on the subject, the majority of cultural references for open and plural relationships contain harsh judgements (see comments on my last post The Hell of Monogamy for some good ones); stories of instability, betrayal and immorality. It’s clear that in a world where we are taught to seek education from books and lessons, those seeking advice on how to construct and maintain multiple relationships cannot look to mainstream society for any type of guidance. Those who feel the inclination to love many, have to learn by doing, and are often shunned and shamed whilst doing so, making the pursuit of their relationships a thousand times harder. Indeed the fact that the polyamorous community is growing at all in the face of constant opposition, is a true testament to the power of love… and marginalization. The power that the world gives polyamorists by vilification turns it into a cause, spawning Poly-pride, support groups like PolyLiving  and not for profit organizations like Loving More. Rendering it a more vibrant and solid community. Or is it?

Prisoners and AcceptanceUnfortunately despite all the good intentions, a minority’s struggle for acceptance will always create a ‘prisoners’ dilemma’ and this one is no different. In the non-monogamous community certain relationship configurations are more likely to be accepted if they align themselves to already existing precepts and/or paradigms. For example as the idealized Male-Female-Female triad slowly becomes more acceptable to the general public, it’s no coincidence  that it’s also the most popular choice for many newly out-of the closet polyamorists; simply because it is the most familiar, comfortable and least controversial. To the outside world that is. Because poly-activists argue that this configuration still perpetuates male privilege (a bisexual female who gets it on with another girl, is no threat to the male ego – aka. One-Penis-Policy). Such a paradigm which is perceived to perpetuate the very patriarchy and notion of possession that polyamory tries to counteract in the first place, is one of the biggest hot potatoes.

Likewise, some proponents of polyamory like to distance themselves from promiscuity and/or swinging which are heavily frowned upon by mainstreamers – even if many polyamorists discover their inclination by through such sexual liberation in the first place. Promiscuity is harshly condemned (at least when it concerns women) and swinging is premeditated promiscuity. It is – gasp – sex for fun. Moral judgements and definitions divide the non-monogamous community because the harsh rejection by the world of the community as a whole, creates a desperate need in many to achieve acceptance at any cost. I say, the cost isn’t worth it.

When one first identifies as polyamorous there is an exciting whirlwind of possibilities, a sickening thrill of defying inherited values, and a huge learning curve with an arsenal of vocabulary. Triads, quads, polyfidelity, new relationship energy, unicorns, compersion, vee … labels, labels and more labels.  We need them as they help us struggle to understand the enormity of such a radical change in lifestyle.

But whilst there is a place for education and evolution, labels are only important when they enhance our communication. Ethical non-monogamy by definition can include many different preferences, none more valid than the other. Of course it’s worth listening to those who condemn (questioning values is what polyamorists are good at)… But know and trust that everyone’s journey is different, including yours. Because when such a community is already small and despised by the outside world, it is doubly important to stick together. As those practising different relationship configurations learn what works for them and try to rebuild their ethical non-monogamous families in the way that suits, it’s worth remembering what brought us all out of the closet in the first place. The Power of Love.

First published on Multiple Match.com

Reprinted with permission from the author

The Church. The Triad. And The Happy Ever After

We were pleased to be able to share our story on Multiple Match.  The original article is here.

“Everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them.”

 ~ Author Unknown

Research has shown that about 4% to 5% of the American public practice consensual non-monogamy. That’s about 12-13 million people. That leaves about 300 million people who practice monogamy.

300 million.

We were monogamous. We grew up monogamous. Church was a huge part of our identity, and it pushed monogamy. Every lesson, love song, movie, book and even commercial seemed to be geared toward a monogamous audience. That was us. Monogamy, nothing but monogamy and monogamy forever, amen! Then, things changed.

Jadez and I were married. Through a series of events, we ended up becoming roommates with Stead. It was supposed to be short term. We were all in our twenties, trying to make our mark on the world. Living together offered us all the financial and emotional support we needed to go to college, learn trades and raise our kids. It seemed ideal, and it was.

Remember the church and our identity? Good ol’ southern church. Rumors spread that we were having affairs, orgies, practicing polygamy and even old school concubinage. Concubines? They really had to stretch for that one. Funny thing is, we were just roommates. Yet no matter how much we denied the rumors, people swore it was true.

“Prove it,” we said.
“We saw you and Stead shopping together.” Uh…we needed food?
“The three of you went out to eat together.” I don’t know…we were hungry, and we are friends?
My personal favorite: ”The Spirit of the Lord told me.”

Oh, well…if God told you…wait…God told you? How do you argue that one?

Long and short, in order to make us repent of our sins, we became pariahs, outcast from all the churches in our denomination in our area until we could confess and seek forgiveness. If you didn’t grow up in the church, the effect on us may be hard to understand. Every friend, family member or person we even knew by association was through the church, so they placed us in extreme isolation.
I was sub-contracted for a major petrochemical company at the time. My department head? A deacon in my church. My co-workers in my department? All members of the same church. I was reviewed a week prior and had a glowing report. The next week, I was informed my contract would not be renewed by the company. My replacement? The nephew of another deacon in the same church.Every single one turned their backs on us. Family members wouldn’t talk to us except to curse us…yes, curse us. Friends wouldn’t return our calls and stopped coming to visit. We found out later that the church had put out an edict saying that anyone associating with us would be equally punished by the church. They informed every church within the local association or our sin. We were outcast. It even affected employment.

A funny thing happened though. We knew we had done nothing wrong, and we were not going to be bullied into acting like we did. Their actions caused us to depend on each other more which drew us closer together. We know now we were becoming an intentional family. Then, the unthinkable happened. We fell in love.


We struggled with it, denied it and fought it, but we eventually gave in. After a long talk, we decided to be together as life partners. As for the church…they already thought we were doing it and punished us for it, so what did it matter? The only form of consensual non-monogamy we really knew about was polygamy, so that was what we identified with. Understand, we didn’t choose this because of God or we were ordained to be poly. As far as we were concerned because of the church’s reactions, God was against it. We chose this because we fell in love.

Fourteen years ago, there weren’t a lot of websites that talked about consensual adult polygamy, and those that did, didn’t have a lot of information. We would visit online groups to find out more, but ended up sharing our experiences, our success and failures instead. It was trial and error for us. There were so many things we learned. Some we embraced and others not so much. Thus, we grew and started PolyLiving.net

We stayed active in the online polygamy community and tried to do our part. It was scary and exhilarating. The first time we were asked to do a interview for television, we were terrified. We agreed but with stipulations: it had to be in another city, our names couldn’t be used, use silhouettes and if they had to do a body shots of us, it had to be from behind or our faces blurred. We were even asked to do a couple of television shows. Those we declined. We were worried because old family members and ex’s were trying to cause us problems with our professional lives and with our children. We prevailed…barely.

As time went on and we learned more about ourselves, we realized that we were open to more. We had seen this word around the internet… Polyamory.

There are no scripts or models for open relationships, so people in them must invent their partnerships by living them.

 ’Opening Up‘, Tristan Taormino

That is us, inventing our partnership by living it. I remember in the beginning we’d met a family that had been together for 12 years. We thought that they must know so much about poly. Now, 14 years later, we’re that family, and I realize–we’re just getting started.

Children in Polyamory Families Part 2

Children and polyamory- the thought bothers some people while others see no issue.  In the previous article, we started looking at how polyamory could impact children.   Let’s look at the research findings closer.Polyamory Children

The study broke down the data into two parts: those that practice non-monogamy within a family unit and those that practice outside the family unit. 

Outside the family unit was considered swingers and those who dated but did not try to incorporate them into the daily family unit.  Such families tended to keep their activities private.  They didn’t tell the kids what they did in private or outside the home.  As far as the children were concerned, their parents lived a “normal” life.  There was little or no impact on the kids.  Being polyamorous would not impact the children if they did not know their parents were poly.

Polyamorous people who practiced a non-private polyamorous lifestyle, at least in regards to their children knowing, could impact the kids.  These families either incorporated or attempted to incorporate partners into their daily lives.  This could either be through partners becoming life partners and living with the family or through dating other partners and bringing them into contact with the children.  “Some individuals in polyamorous relationships with children involve all or some of their partners in their children’s lives, either through co-parenting or with the partners taking on roles similar to those of aunts or uncles in American culture (i.e., non-obligatory bonds between the partner and the children).”  Basically, they married their partners and added new moms and dads to the family or they brought their boyfriends and girlfriends around.  In positive situations, boyfriends and girlfriends would bond with the children in the same way that an aunt or uncle would.  Pros and cons were listed.

Pros listed for children:

  • Children had more individual time with adults. 
  • Children spent less time in day care because of the flexibility of having multiple parental figures involved in their lives.
  • Diversity of interests available from adult figures that helped children foster a wider variety of hobbies and skills. 
  • Children were being raised in a sex-positive environment
  • The parenting situation allowed children to see their parents as real people, promoting honesty between children and parents
  • Children stated that they felt more “loved, safe, and secure”

Cons listed:

  • Children who bonded with their new parents or partners experience emotional trauma when the adults split and the additional partners leaves.   It is important to note, that they similar trauma occurs in monogamous families where infidelity occurs.
  • Difficulty with departing partners maintaining relationships with children
  •  Being aware of being in an “alternative” lifestyle than other children.  Another note is that children stated that though they knew they were in alternative lifestyle, they were not questioned or bothered by other adults (school officials, ect.)
  •  Possibility of being stigmatized.

BreakupAn interesting thing that came up: some adults may have issues with partners that they separated with (in under less than ideal situations) seeking to maintain relationships/friendships with their children.  The children on the other hand saw this as a plus, seeing their relationship with the departing partners as separate than the parent’s relationship with the departing partner.

Ultimately, the study showed that polyamory was not worse for the kids.  Monogamy could have positive AND negative impact on the children.  In the same way, polyamory could have positive AND negative impact on children as well.  Polyamory was not found to be inherently bad for kids and could have positive impact on them.

Polyamory is not inherently bad for the kids in your family.  It all depends on you and how you handle your relationships and family.  Always consider that when considering polyamory.

Children in Polyamory Families

Polyamory and Children

Recently we wrote about how there has been some research into polyamory.  We touched on how polyamory effects children.  I’d like to explore that aspect of the research more fully and how we’ve seen polyamory effect children and families.  Due to the extensiveness of this topic we will break it into several articles.

Before I go further, I want others to understand that I don’t write this flippantly. I write this as a polyamorous father and husband.  I have children that came into our family with one of my spice and children I fathered  with all of my spice. We have raised children from infancy into adulthood in a polyamorous family.  Whether by blood or by marriage, they are my children through and through.  As we raise the last of our children into adulthood, I can honestly speak from experience concerning the effects of dating, exes, adding new partners and raising children in a multi-partner household.  Our experiences may not be everyone’s, but it does give us a frame of reference in which to evaluate this topic.  Deborah Anapol, Ph.D wrote an excellent article titled “Polyamory and Children“.  It is worth a read.

The topic of children is obviously a sensitive one.  As adults, we make choices for our lives that not only affect us but can impact the lives of our children.  It is not only selfish but irresponsible of parents not to consider this when considering polyamory.  Any parent entering into any relationship, whether monogamous or poly, should always consider the impact on their children.  Some polyamory proponents would argue that there is no reason for anyone to worry about the children.  They will say polyamory is a healthy relationship alternative and no one needs to question how it will affect the children.  In a perfect world this would be true. The problem is not necessarily that polyamory is bad for children in a family but that a relationship/family dynamic is created that conflicts with a pro-monogamous society.  Whether we like it or not, there will be conflict from the world around us.  This monogamy only society will want to tell our children that their family is wrong and if they like or agree with their polyamory family, something is wrong with them.

Our choice to be polyamorous will affect our children, whether positive or negative.  What we choose to do will impact them.  Never take your children lightly in this matter.  Boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-husbands and wives and new husbands and wives will impact your children.  Teachers and parents of your kid’s friends can impact your children’s lives.  It can be positive or negative, but it can happen.

I believe that polyamory is just as acceptable a family dynamic as monogamy.  Like any successful family, it takes time, effort and work from everyone involved.


Polyamory Song – Family

I heard this song years ago and found it again recently.  I thought it would be great to share.  You can hear it HERE.  The lyrics are below and can be found on his SITE.  Support the artist!


Mama’s got a girlfriend, mom loves the ladies
Mama’s really happy when you’re looking at her these days
Papa’s got a boyfriend, yeah, Dad is a man’s man
Everybody’s family, loving everybody he can
Oh the old world is turning around like a top
and there’s nothing you and I should even try to do to stop it
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and get what you need
And lots of us are happy in a different kind of family

Hot time in the old town, the homestead is hopping
Veggies on the grill and there is music in the garden
All the outs are in free, the babies are sleeping
Time enough for love when everybody puts a hand in

Oh the old world is turning around like a top
And there’ s nothing you or I should even try to do to stop it
Ozzy & Harriet are spinning around in their graves
But who needs television these days, anyway?

Love defines it’s boundaries
Limitless shapes, countless forms
I have vowed that when it comes to me I’ll take it
Every manifestation, I’m gonna celebrate it

Papa’s got a boyfriend, the boyfriend loves mom, too
Everywhere they turn they’ve got a heart that they can cling to
Mama’s got a girlfriend, and guess who loves dad’s beau
Try to paint a picture, you can do it with your eyes closed

Oh the old world is turning around like a top
And there’ s nothing you or I should even try to do to stop it
There aren’t any limits when you follow the line that love leads
And lots of us are happy in a different kind of family

In a world that seems to be increasing in conformity
It’s harder and harder to be who you want to be
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and get what you need
Ah, lots of us are happy in a different kind of family

© 1995 Christopher Bingham