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Family LGBTQ+ Polyamory

What A Children’s Book Got Right About Representation

Representation matters. We all know it.

I’ve mentioned it in other posts. It’s a part of my why. It’s important for others to see and be seen. In all areas. It’s why we have a push to feature more girls/women in STEM careers. Why having LGBTQ+ and BIPOC members elected to our government is so powerful. It’s why I shared my excitement over 2 small cities miles away from me that are now recognizing domestic partnerships between more than 2 individuals.

There are so many blogs, websites, and social media accounts devoted to polyamory and other ENM relationships. But in fictional media that representation is lacking. A lot.

Representation in TV & Film

Movies and tv shows try. But they usually fall into harmful or downright wrong stereotypes. Books tend to mostly skip us over, unless you’re into science fiction or high fantasy. And it’s not because the demand isn’t there. Search through any polyam group, or even ask google, and you will see so many requests for recommendations on good polyam storylines. A read through those lists or comments nets you the same ones over and over. A good polyam movie? Profession Marston and the Wonder Women. A good polyam book? Stranger in a Strange Land. A good polyam show? Crickets. Some episodes might be shared from a few popular shows. Or you’ll hear about series featuring polygamous families, like Big Love or Sister Wives. But it’s mostly crickets.

The problem with some of these suggestions is that they are not the healthiest examples. In the cases of Big Love and Sister Wives (and others like those two), they feature polygamy. Or more specifically, polygyny. This is not the same as Polyamory. It does and can fall under the non-monogamy umbrella. But it is more associated with those who hold more fundamental religious beliefs. Other suggestions feature their polyamory in less flattering ways that include cheating or affairs, as well as other red flag practices that those in the community hate. (I’m looking at you, The Good Doctor.)

Representation for Kids

And when it comes to children’s media? Forget it! We are starting to see more stories featuring or about same sex parents. Which is great! Kids need to see their families represented in the media they consume. It’s just as, if not more, important for them than it is for us grown ups. But what about those kids who have multi parent families?

Enter A Color Named Love, by M. Ellery & illustrated by Clara Reschke.

my copy of A Color Named Love, fresh out of the package.

You guys, this book is so cute! I first heard about it months ago when I came across the kickstarter campaign for it. And have been anxiously awaiting the day it would be ready for purchase. That day came this month, and I quickly snatched up my own copy.

A Short Review

It is the story of a little girl named Anna, who wants to know about Love. Through her eyes, we meet the grown ups that form her family. There are 4 of them, and each one shows her a different side of Love. You see the world in a myriad of colors through Anna’s joy and wonder.

The representation in this book is amazing. It is not obvious or obtrusive. But it is woven into every page. There are families of every size, shape, and color. There are little doodles nodding to polyamory or proclaiming Love is Love. And the entire book is illustrated in this beautiful soft rainbow motif.

Seriously you guys, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this little children’s book. The author and illustrator have created a beautiful story. And given representation to so many kids growing up in a polyamorous family. I encourage you to go buy a copy for yourself, and to talk to your local library about obtaining their own copies. You can shop for A Color Named Love here.

If you’re craving a little more adult polyam representation, you can check out my resources page.

You’re Turn!

Let me know what you think below. Is there a kind of polyam representation you would like to see more of? If you’ve read A Color Named Love, what did you think of it? Do you have other books/movies/podcasts you’d like added to our list?

Categories
Polyamory

How To Deal With Metamour Growing Pains

A few months ago, Lovey went out on a date. This was nothing new. He had been on a few dates over the past year, but nothing ever stuck. This one, however… this one stuck. And while seeing his happiness and getting to know this new metamour have been amazing, it also caused some growing pains.

Red, as we will call her here, has her own life and living space on the other side of town. She prefers the solo-poly life. She has a career, kids of her own, and is working towards adding some fancy letters to the end of her name. All in all, she is pretty amazing.

Adding a metamour to my life was not a new step for me. So I may have underestimated the impact adding a second one could have. No, not may have. I did.

I underestimated the time commitment of adding a new person into our lives, even if they weren’t physically moving into our home. My feelings about a new metamour were underestimated because I had been through the process before. I also underestimated the impact it would all have on our own relationship.

A break down

First, the time commitment. I had adjusted to scheduling things around Lovey, our kids, and Bats. We all had access to the same calendar and had a group chat between the grown ups. So appointments, work schedules, school activities, dates… We all knew what was happening when. We had a system, a routine, and most importantly for me, advance notice. Now the system was not perfect. There were still plenty of times someone said something to one person and not the other until it was almost too late. But those were few and far between. We were typically pretty good about all being on the same page.

Then Red entered the arena. And NRE, short for New Relationship Energy, kind of took over for a little bit. There were more spontaneous plans I needed to adjust to. (One reason I love my planners and calendars so much is that I know in advance when things are happening.) There was more time away while Lovey juggled dates and sleepovers with a third person. There was a whole nother schedule to plan around when we all wanted to go out and do something together. So, of course, there were more slips in communication when it came to all these plans. “Who did I tell?” became a common mantra among us all.

Let me tell you, 7 days in a week is just not enough when you want to split that time equitably between romantic relationships, familial relationships, and metamour relationships, both in and out of the polycule. Especially when there are new ones that require maybe a little extra time to build and nurture.

Oh feelings…

Next, those emotions. We had already added a new person to our lives. I had been through the NRE phase, and the awkward getting to know this person who was also dating my partner phase. I was pretty confident in knowing that all of the emotions I felt during that time had been dealt with. So I thought I knew what to expect. And I did… ish. I thought it would be easier this time because it was familiar territory. In my mind, adding another metamour would be no different than adding the first.

Turns out, not so much. The same old ones popped up.

Jealousy that he was spending time with someone new and that was taking time away from me. Jealousy over the giddiness I could see in him over this new shiny thing in his life. We’ve been together 16 years and the shiny has rubbed off a little for us. There was also resentment that he got to go out and do things while I stayed home with the kids. Not that I particularly wanted to go out and do things. I quite enjoy (and would much prefer) to stay home. But he had the option, and that meant I didn’t. And lastly, loneliness. This one mostly popped up later in the evening, when the kids had gone to bed and it was just me. It was not a feeling I had experienced in a while. But it was there. And it sucked.

Getting by with a little help…

Thankfully, I had my first metamour Bats, and my experience from their entry into our lives to help navigate these feelings. And Lovey too. He was great at checking in with us, making sure we got time with him as well. Whenever I needed him to, he was available and willing to listen to whatever I needed to say. He would push me to go out, to make plans with friends, to see Boyfriend. And it has helped. Also, learning to love the quiet and alone time has been an amazing blessing. Though now I find myself finding the balance between wanting to be with my people and wanting to be with the quiet.

Lastly, our dynamic changed when Red came on the scene. It wasn’t a big change. Nor was it an obvious one. But it was there. We had to step up our communication game. We had to learn to take advantage of the small windows of time we found that were just us. As parents, time for just us is hard to find. And when it is found, we end up talking about the kids. Both Bats’ & Red’s entrance have forced us to double down on our efforts to just focus on us during those times.

A good argument?

It’s still not an easy adjustment. And it seems like it would make a good case against polyamory. Red has only been in our lives a short time and there are all these “problems” already. So let’s clear that up real quick. These “problems” existed before Red came into play. They were already there, already being worked on. I was already navigating my way through weird instances of jealousy. Lovey and I were already finding ways to add that sparkle back to the dull bits of our relationship. We had blips in communication that caused some minor spats. All things any monogamous couple would experience over the course of their relationship.

Red’s appearance simply brought the focus back to those things. Reminded us not to get too comfortable because life is about changes and adapting to those changes. My relationship with Bats is improved now because we have more time together while Lovey is out with Red. My relationship with Lovey is better because we have a renewed focus on us when we are together. And my life is richer because Red is in it. I have a new friend I may otherwise have not met if not for this life.

Sound off!

If you have multiple metamours, how did you adjust when they came into your life? If you have multiple partners, how do you share your time equitably between them?

Categories
Polyamory

The Dark Parts of Polyamory No One Talks About

Social Media can make polyamory seem almost magical. Because it’s easy to put on the happy mask and only show the good parts, the fun parts. This is true no matter who you are. But I have a secret to share: it’s not all sunshine & rainbows.

In our effort to make the largely monogamous world understand and accept us, we can tout polyamory as a this beautiful alternative that is free of the struggles monogamous folx face. Which can be true. But in doing so, we deny, hide, or just gloss over the hard and messy parts of polyamory.

More Than Words

One of the big tenets is communication. Polyam folx are forever talking about talking. Whenever someone asks the community about a situation in their relationship, the first answer is always: Did you talk to them about it? Communication is the key to living this life. But that’s true regardless of what relationship your in. It’s true for familial relationships (parents/kids, siblings, etc.). It’s true for platonic or professional relationships (friend circles, bosses, coworkers).  And it’s true for romantic relationships, regardless of the form they take. Communication is important. And can make or break any type of relationship.

The part that we fail to talk about in the context of polyamory is the amount of work this takes. Communication goes beyond talking about your feelings, or sharing plans. It is learning to say those things without being asked. It requires you to do the hard work of analyzing your own reactions and feelings before sharing those with others. It is remembering to share plans with multiple people; and learning to take responsibility, and then apologizing, when one person inadvertently gets left out of the loop.

Open Your Ears

Let’s not forget the other side of communicating. You have to listen. A lot of us have grown up not really knowing how to listen properly. We listen to react, to argue, to reply. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and while they were talking, you were already forming your response to them? We have to re-learn how to listen in way that allows to actually hear the other person. To hear what they are saying between the words, in their tone and inflections and body language.

It is more than just the words. It is the thought and work you’ve put in to them, before you say them. And it is the act of listening, not to respond but to hear what is being said and not said.

Green With…

Another big piece we gloss over: jealousy. That green-eyed monster does pop up in polyamory. We are not immune. We are human. Polyam folx are quick to turn the topic of jealousy into compersion. Which is an amazing feeling that is not exclusive to polyamory. You’ve felt it when your significant other got that promotion, or your best friend got married/had a baby, or your kid graduated from school. That is compersion.

Jealousy is the other side. In my polyam life, it usually pops up when a need is not being met. And those needs tend to have to do with my love languages. So if someone is getting more time (which is my main love language), I can feel that jealousy pop up. And I do not always recognize it for what it is. So there are definitely times where I can be… bitchy and withdrawn. Which of course, doesn’t fix or help anything. Did I mention we are human? This is the hard part, the part the community tries not to talk about. Because in order to deal with it, you have to get to know yourself. You have to learn your reactions and triggers. You have to learn to recognize when jealousy is speaking to you, feeding you lies.

It doesn’t always lead you to compersion either. Sometimes that jealousy leads to hard conversations instead. And that’s okay. Jealousy can be used for good, if you do the work to figure out the root of it.

Polyamory Isn’t Perfect

No, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are growing pains along the way. Problems you thought you had figured out in the beginning have a way of popping up again later on down the road. Sometimes they look a little different, sometimes they look the same. So you have to learn, adapt, and keep going. Polyamory can be an amazing way to form relationships and family. But it is not perfect or easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. 

Categories
Polyamory

How To Not Be A Unicorn Hunter

Every few months or so I come across a post that makes it abundantly clear who is new to polyamory and who has been in it for a while. Those posts usually start out with a cute and innocent (seeming) intro post.

“Hi, thanks so much for letting us join your group. We’re a fun friendly couple just looking for that special someone to complete us. We are into [various hobbies inserted here]. We are not looking for a one night stand, but a genuine connection with another woman, one we can both love. Feel free to PM us if your interested!”

Sometimes they include words like hierarchy and equal (“We don’t believe in hierarchy. Our third will be an equal in the relationship.”). They almost always include pictures of the fun couple, with the woman front and center.

The comments start out nice enough, a lot of welcomes and compliments. Then there is that one veteran who will offer a friendly piece of advice: to do a little more research before jumping into the polyam dating pool. An innocent “Why?” or “Oh, we’ve read a lot about polyamory already.” will set the spark that lights the dumpster fire to come.

If you’re a part of the community, you’ve seen it happen. Over and over. If you’re new to the community, you may not understand how an innocent post could turn so quickly. Allow me to explain.

How to spot a Unicorn Hunter

Almost every new couple opening their relationship thinks the easiest, safest course to take is by inviting another woman into their existing relationship. This is polyamory on EXPERT mode. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a triad relationship. But starting out with that goal is the hardest way to do so. Why, you may ask. A triad is not just a single relationship between three people, like many assume. A triad is 4 separate relationships. And each of those four requires a lot of care, communication, and work.

a visual of the four relationships in a triad

Now, back to that couple. They’ve talked it all to death and decided that adding another man to their relationship just isn’t possible. He’s straight, you see. And there will be no sword fighting in the bedroom. Not to mention it would be hard for him to know his girlfriend/wife is having sex with another man. So no men allowed. Which leaves… Women. Specifically, bisexual women who are into both partners equally. Easy peasy, right? Not so much.

Those women, the bisexual sex kittens who love the couple the exact same amount, are called Unicorns. Because they are near mythical creatures. They do exist in the polyam community. But they are rare. And they tend to guard their unicorn status closely. Because as soon as they pop up, they are bombarded with messages and invitations from couples looking “to add a third.”

But Lucie, you just said triads are great.

What’s the problem?

The problem is in the language and execution. First, these are people. Reducing what you are looking for to “a third” takes away from their autonomy and personhood. They become a thing to possess, to collect, instead of a partner in a loving relationship. It also puts them into a position of inferiority to the couple. The couple is the central relationship, and this new person is something to enhance that. Not to be taken seriously or allowed any say in what happens within that relationship.

So already, the woman is coming into a relationship at a distinct disadvantage. One she is unlikely to overcome.

Consider what happens when one part of the couple has a stronger connection to the woman than the other part. Will she be cast aside, to preserve the central relationship between the couple? You may scoff and say never! But it happens all.the.time. And what if the woman meets someone outside of the couple that she wants to pursue a relationship with. Will she be allowed to? Or must she only be with them? This is another thing that happens often.

So, how do you avoid it?

If you are new to polyamory, I suggest you start with these three things.

  1. Research. Ask the community for their favorite recommendations for newcomers to ENM. Do a quick google search. You will find many websites and blogs to point you in the right direction.
  2. Date separately. Seriously. You will have much better luck, and be happier for it. And maybe, if you are super lucky, that triad you wanted will happen all on its own.
  3. Listen to the advice you receive. And don’t get defensive when that advice is more blunt than you expected.

For more information, you can check out a great site dedicated to explaining Unicorns and Unicorn Hunters here. And don’t forget to check our own list of resources for all things polyam here.

Categories
Family Polyamory

How A Surprise Pregnancy Brought Us All Closer

In June of 2017 I met Boyfriend. In August I found out I was pregnant. The next nine months would prove the most important in our polyamorous journey.

Boyfriend and I connected online, through a dating app of all places. And it was a click that happened almost instantaneously for both of us. We spent the next month texting back and forth, marveling at the ease with which it was to talk and joke and laugh and tease. And then we had our first date. And the physical sparks flew, adding to that instant connection. We marveled at it all. At how crazy it was that we hadn’t known each other for longer, because it certainly felt like it. At the fact that we were so connected, on so many levels, so quickly. And at how those lovey-dovey feelings were starting to develop even then, so very very soon after meeting.

And then a huge curveball. A regular doctor’s appointment at my local Planned Parenthood to re-up my birth control. And instead of the super fun exam I got a piece of paper that said very plainly: PREGNANT.

Son of a Bucket! That was certainly unexpected.

So, how was this going to work? How much do I tell my new person? A person I had not called my boyfriend yet. Our relationship was 3 months in, barely. And yes, the connection was there and amazing and there were feelings starting to stir, but… a baby? That can change a lot, everything.

Not to mention the effect it would have on my relationship with Lovey. A new baby was not something we were planning on anytime soon. We had just started this polyamory journey after some very Dark Years. We were still honeymooning, it felt like. And boom. A new little life was starting, threatening to upend everything we were working toward rebuilding.

But let me tell you… Munchkin has been the biggest blessing on this journey with Lovey & Boyfriend.

Familiar & unfamiliar territory

Lovey and I had been down this road before. So we quickly fell into the roles we knew: pregnant mom & expectant dad, happily anticipating the new arrival and counting down the weeks and milestones. This time we even had Sass and Crumbs to get excited with us. And boy did they!

Boyfriend and I… Well, as I said, we hadn’t even labeled anything yet. But I needed to be honest and let him know. Those crazy pregnancy hormones would show up eventually. So I pulled up my big girl panties, and broke the news that I was pregnant. And he took it in stride. He was on board to fill whatever roll I needed or wanted him to fill. And those changed often throughout the next 8 months. I’m pretty sure I fell completely in love with him at that point.

In a matter of months, we went from a family of 4 to a family of 6. Because by the time Munchkin made his debut, Boyfriend was a part of my family. He was fully in. There was no backing out. And Lovey was on board with it all too.

There were certainly some hiccups. Being Boyfriend’s schedule made it hard enough for us to see each other on the regular. So finding extra time to spend with all of us was tricky. But it didn’t stop anything. We had the uncomfortable discussions over text when we couldn’t all be together in person. And we shared pictures and updates everyday. It was exhausting, but it was so worth it. He got to be a part of it all. And I got to share that amazing 9 month journey with 2 men I truly loved.

One lucky little duck

Munchkin is lucky. He came into this world with so many adults loving him. So many adults waiting for him. He wasn’t the last piece in our puzzle, but he was an important one.

Then several short months later, Bats found us. And there was this whole new person who fell in love with Munchkin. They quickly became another staple in his life.

He will grow up, surrounded by a large family full of love. Two big sisters ready to move heaven and earth for him, and take on anyone who dares be mean. Four adults who fill the roles of parents and caretakers, that will watch over him for the rest of our days. And all of the extended family from this core group. That is one lucky little duck.