Maya is the hingepoint in a MFM V-triad that currently maintains a long-distance-relationship element. Her partners are Zuke, to whom she's legally married and in a relationship with for a total of 13 years and Kai, whom she's known for 18 years and in a relationship with for about 1.5 years. Maya and Zuke have 3 children and Kai has 2 from a previous marriage. With the ups, downs, distance and juggling -- this is Maya's Mayhem.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

The New Poly-LDR

When I was asked to write about polyamory in long distance relationships (LDRs), my initial thought was that it was no different than 'mono-LDRs'. Obviously, if that were the case we could also break most poly relationships down to being no different than any other mono relationship, but in fact, they are. Given that, I had to rethink my own attitude towards what I've come to view as my reality.

I began thinking about how LDRs keep going, how they are nurtured and supported. My mind drifted to an old memory.....

As a child, I was sorting through some old boxes of mementos, letters, pictures and keepsakes with my Grandmother. I came across a small black and white photo of a sailor smiling back through the years with an inscription, "To Maxine, All my love...J.D." I was shocked because in my very innocent world I'd never heard of her having dated anyone else but my Grandfather. She told me that yes, indeed, she'd thought she would some day marry J.D when he returned from the war -- in the duration they had exchanged letters for a few years. She told me that letters were few and far between back then, but that she wrote frequently ....until one day receiving a letter from him with some offhand quip that led her to decide he wasn't the man for her. She wrote back only one more time and ended their relationship.

I always thought her reason for ending the relationship was silly, but now I look back on it and think of it in terms of my own LDR. I live my poly-LDR very differently. It is woven into the fabric of my daily life and perhaps it was with my grandmother, too, in a quiet, wistful but silent way -- but mine carries all the stamps of constant communication and contact, a formidable chatter -- for I live in the Information Age. She did not. For my grandmother, she went weeks and months between letters and -- well -- it's rather hard to carry on a conversation like that. I can't imagine deciding on some offhand comment to dismiss my relationships without thorough investigation and communication, but she didn't have that option.

For myself, I've engaged in what is probably at first glance an insane amount of tech-tapping in order to connect with my long distance love. Here, then, is a survey of the LDR between myself, Kai and Zuke. (Zuke and I reside together, Kai lives away.)

At first, there were the free, but somewhat time delayed, emails. Yes, those lovely little electron-washed communiques that are the hallmark of the '90s and now. We set up gmail accounts strictly for our exchanges. A quick glance tells me that in the last 18 months, we've exchanged roughly 2200 emails that cover everything from philosophy, religion and our daily activities to poems, songs, whimsical jokes and yes, even sex. In those first months, I was like any other star struck new lover eager for the next communication.

Interspersed throughout this were instant messages -- the bread of life for those who live for instant gratification and need to know right now, right now, right now, nay, _right now_. All three of us used this tool.

Then came international phone calls, for Kai isn't just "long-distance", he is military and was overseas. These were much less frequent and we hoped to find a cheaper solution.

Somewhere in there, the webcam took on a very primary position in our communications. From those first chats to becoming a regular and necessary tool, it brought him into next-room status. We came upon the arrangement that he would leave his cam up though we did not have one here. I would see him coming home for lunch or him leaving for work as I was wrapping up my own busy day. For holidays, Kai and Zuke collaborated on getting our webcam up so he could participate in our celebrations by being able to watch and chat on the phone, simultaneously.

To say the least, communications and the tools used ramped up considerably. Zuke bought me a cell phone with both web access and texting capability and entire conversations were held using a tiny phone keypad. Kai tapped into the voice over IP technology and got a Vonage phone with a US telephone number. This allowed me, with my cell phone plan, to call him overseas "locally" and only ever have to worry about using too many minutes -- not the pain of international calling fees.

And yes, we used the old fashioned US Mail, for even though this was a constant chatter and background to our days, with our relationships nurtured in a technological medium, sometimes you need to have a little love in your mailbox.

Zuke also emails, IM's, chats on the phone and text-messages Kai, though less frequently. He knows as much of what goes on in K's day as I do, if not by me, then by him, directly. He plugged my charger into the wall behind the bed so that I could keep the phone between our pillows. He made sure I had headphones handy to chat and has frequently taken the phone out of my hand at night (I freely admit to falling asleep in a near-nightly ritual of 'just saying good night..."). He suggested that Kai get the same cell phone company for free network-to-network calls. That we are all heavily into technology has greatly helped on all fronts. Technology has afforded us a way to make this work, both poly and LDR, either directly or indirectly through all types of mediums.

This is definitely not my Grandmother's LDR.

Maya is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Maya; May 21, 2006


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