Morgaine

The new rules of polyamory

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 15, 2008 at 11:17 am

Source: The new rules of polyamory, METRO.co.uk

Peter lives with his girlfriend, Joanne. He also has a boyfriend, Tom, who lives with Lucy, who also goes out with Peter. And Joanne goes out with all three. Keeping up?

They are all enthusiastic fans of polyamory, where you have relationships with more than one person. It's wrongly compared to swinging – polyamory is more about romance and domesticity than suburban sex parties.

Peter, 36, met Tom, 40, and Lucy, 47, (already a couple) at a bisexual convention 11 years ago. 'All three of us were in a relationship until 2002, when we met Joanne. She then joined us.'

Peter and Joanne, 26, live together in a flat opposite Tom and Lucy's house in south London. How did they decide who lives with who? 'It just worked out that way,' says Peter. 'Tom and Lucy have always lived together and I live well with Jo. I often wonder what the neighbours make of us when we go back and forth all the time with food and the tumble dryer.' Erm, the tumble dryer?

'There's only one between us – actually it's Tom and Lucy's,' Peter laughs. 'And we're all quite affectionate in public so that probably confuses them, too.'

Why choose?

Aside from the odd twitching curtain, Peter says life is bliss and wonders why more people aren't doing the same. 'In the TV show, Lost, everyone's always asking if Kate will choose Jack or Sawyer. Why does she have to make a choice? Why can't they come to some sort of an arrangement?' Guesses have been made as to the number of people in such arrangements but it is impossible to estimate.

At last year's Poly Day, an event held in a London pub for members of the poly community to celebrate their way of life, 200 people turned up. Other sources claim there are as many as 2,000 Britons living with multiple lovers.

And now, thanks to Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton, unconventional relationships have been put under the spotlight again. Last month, she appeared at the Baftas with artist Sandro Kopp, 29. The pair live with her long-term partner, 68-year-old director and artist John Byrne.

'It was nice for the poly community to see someone such as Tilda not conforming either,' says Peter. 'We do feel like we're invisible sometimes.' Although Peter has often been in a poly relationship of some form, others just can't help who they fall in love with. Minx (her nickname) had a turbulent start to her new lifestyle.

'I fell in love with a guy who is poly, so I had the choice of either adopting his lifestyle, which I always thought was a great idea – I just didn't have a word for it – or not dating him at all. I took the plunge. I made a lot of mistakes. We all did; him, his wife and me.'

The right to veto

The 39-year-old public speaker has recently reunited with another former boyfriend who now has two other partners. She says the green-eyed monster does tend to rear its head now and again. 'Some polys will choose to give a partner “veto power”, which means that partner has the right to reject a new partner,' Minx explains.

'But normally, if an incoming person causes ripples, the existing partners will talk. It's easier to deal with issues such as “I'm worried because she's prettier than me” or “I'm threatened because he has more money than me” than the ultimatum of “him or me”.'

Never enough time

The biggest downside is time; sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day to give all your love to lots of other people. 'Love is infinite – time isn't,' says Minx. 'Most of us quickly find our “polysaturation point” – when we no longer have the time, attention or focus for new partners.'

Peter says schedules are vital in the poly community. 'It's important to set some time aside for everyone. Not even for sex but just to chat. We use an online calendar so we can all look at it and see who's free. And when Joanne is on a date with one of the others, I can play my computer or watch TV.' How very civilised. Considering a large proportion of people struggle to stay faithful to one lover, maybe we'll end up indulging in poly trysts.

Minx thinks so: 'Humans are good at forming pair-bonds and then philander discreetly. But naturally monogamous? No.' Peter disagrees: 'Lots of people are in perfectly happy relationships with just one other person. Good luck to them.'

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  1. Very interesting and informative.

  2. I suspect that my bringing up polyamory is part of the reason my most recent situation ended. Although the guy is in relationships with multiple women, he wasn't willing to discuss them – preferring to keep it as his own little secret world, despite my clear indications that I knew about it and wasn't bothered. Anyhoo, I think the discussion made him think I'm seeing other men (I'm not, but only because I hadn't met any that interested me) and get jealous. He wanted a double standard as far as "dating" was concerned, and was not remotely open to discussion of anything else.However, I've always thought it would take 2 men to keep my interests satisfied and spent a lot of time wishing to end up in a happy threesome. Since all the info of polyamory has come along, I no longer feel like a freak for thinking that way and still entertain delusions of eventually finding myself in a happy, multi-partner, relationship.

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