Though she’s new to poly lifestyles and still adjusting to the terminology, one might call Heidel’s living arrangement a poly-fidelitous closed triad, though she prefers to just call it her pride. Prior to discovering poly lingo, that’s what she called her family: a pride of lions. Heidel’s pride consists of one other beautiful woman, one gorgeous man, three sons, two stepsons, a step-baby on the way, one very, very old pitbull named Jones, two snakes, a bunch of lizards and toads, and one ham-eating Eastern box turtle named Gary. Heidel writes from Central California.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
Same Old Questions
Since we “came out” to the public at large regarding our relationship, the Lion, Lioness and I are often grilled with questions about how it all works. More often than not, the questions follow a set form and order. Recently, Lion and I went for our weekly motorcycle ride and stopped for lunch and a beer at a local lounge. Two women sitting next to us at the bar overheard our conversation about the absent Lioness. I noticed their curious stares and nudged Lion. One of the women pretended like she wasn’t listening. The other was openly curious. But after a couple of drinks, they both bombarded us with questions. The conversation, which resembled countless others I’ve had over the last year, went something like this:
Q. Who are you talking about?
A. Our wife. We’re polyamorous. We have a husband, a wife and another wife.
Q. How can it work? I would be so jealous.
A. Well, we have our moments. But we’ve noticed that jealousy stems from someone feeling left out, so we’ve attuned ourselves to be better at paying attention to one another than we would be otherwise. We make sure to schedule time that we all spend together, as well as individual time one-on-one with each other. And if someone needs more attention, or less, we try to be sensitive to that as well. The best way to fend off jealousy is to communicate openly about any and every issue that bothers us. It means that we have many family meetings and many long conversations about our feelings that would make Freud proud. With two women in the mix, that’s a lot of talking. But think about it: In order to make any relationship work – polyamorous or not – communication and sensitivity are imperative. So, in the end, we’re really not that special. We just more than most people.
Q. What about sex? You must get a lot of sex.
A. Yes and no. In the interest of fairness, we pay close attention to who needs what, both physically and emotionally. As individuals, we aren’t necessarily getting laid more often than we would be in a two-person relationship, but we are also still in our “honeymoon” phase, so we may be getting more simply because we’re all still enamored with each other. Again, this really doesn’t make us that special. And by the way, that’s an awfully personal question to ask someone you just met. If you met a married couple on the street, would you ask them how much sex they’re getting? I didn’t think so.
Q. Isn’t polygamy against the law?
A. Yes, it is. But we’re not polygamists. Still, technically, in our state, two people who live together and combine finances for more than a year are considered domestic partners, and you’re only allowed to have one domestic partner or legally married spouse at a time. So, since we all live together and share finances, I suppose that technically we could be considered domestic partners. And since there are three of us, as opposed to just two, I suppose that yes, we are breaking the law. But then again, do you remember the T.V. show, Three’s Company? Following this legal standard, Jack, Janet and Chrissie were breaking the law as well. And I don’t remember there being an episode where they were charged with polygamy. Do you?
Q. Do you all sleep in the same bed?
A. Sometimes. But before visions of nightly orgies pop into your head, consider that we all have our own rooms and we use them. Like any big family, we sometimes need our own space. Sometimes we feel like snuggling. Sometimes we don’t. We’ve tried rotating schedules, and we’ve played musical beds. What works for us may or may not work for others. The nice thing about polyamory, though, I must say, is that when the Lion is snoring so loud he rivals the rednecks racing their truck engines next door, I can slip into the Lioness’ bedroom to get a good night’s sleep (or vice versa). The best you can do to avoid such inconveniences in a traditional marriage is to sleep on the couch, but too many nights like that and you’re likely to sleep on the couch indefinitely.
Q. What about the kids? Aren’t they embarrassed?
A. Our kids are so used to the three of us being inseparable, it really wasn’t a big deal to take our relationship to “the next level.” We explained the situation to each child at his level of understanding and answered any questions they asked of us. Those questions mostly consisted of who would take what name, whether we’d have a “real” wedding, and why anyone would be offended by what we were doing since we all seemed so happy. Our situation differs from some other polyamorous groups in that our relationships were already well-established between each step-parent and child prior to us living together. Names such as “aunt” and “uncle” were already in place. So our children were already familiar and comfortable with accepting all the adults as parental figures. As for embarrassment, when our 17-year-old brought his friends to our house and proudly introduced his dad and his dad’s two wives, we knew the kids were going to be okay.
Q. Well, I don’t like it. I’m a Christian and it’s against the Bible.
A. First of all, I question your commitment to your religion, considering you’re saying this to me as you drink shots of whisky at a bar at noon on Sunday. Secondly, you don’t have to like it. I’m not asking you to join us. Thirdly, it’s awfully presumptuous of you to assume that we share the same religion, considering this is America where freedom to choose our religion is established in the first amendment to the constitution. And finally, please point out where in the Bible it says that I’m not allowed to love my two best friends. As I recall, there was quite a bit of polyamory going on in the Old Testament. Is that against your religion too?
As an aside, our recent restaurant conversation was symbolic of the mixed reactions we receive in public. One of the women – yes, the Bible-quoting one – was deeply offended by our openness and left in a huff. (I always wonder why people like her ask us questions if they don’t want to hear the answers.) But her companion displayed my favorite reaction.
“Hush up, honey,” she said, dismissing her friend’s disparagement as she made herself comfortable on the stool next to us and leaned in close. “This is interesting. I want to hear what they’ve got to say. I might want to try this sometime.”
Heidel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.
Heidel ; June 23, 2007
folks have read this article.