‘Till next year, Thanks for a great Pride Month

This month I’ve talked about what I mean when I say I have three unique relationships and shared some of my thoughts and excitement around Pride.  I hope everyone enjoyed the photos. =)

Does anyone else feel like we just sort of blinked and the month is over? Summer needs to slow down right now!

Anyway, if there was a theme to this month or a final reflection I could offer, it would be this:

Practice Pride Every Day. And not just when it comes to your sexuality or relationships. Take pride in yourself.

Get ready because next month I have a lot to say about body positivity, stemming from the idea that we should take pride in our bodies, our accomplishments, who we are as people and our relationships.

Live your life! Live with pride, and love, and don’t let anyone steal your sparkle. 

Carmen

Maggie: My Best Friend

This month I have enjoyed telling our love stories. From explaining what it means to me to call Ben my high school sweetheart to the personal growth I’ve found with Tom as my partner in adventure – it’s truly been a joy to reflect on and share our stories. Finally, I’m excited to share the story of falling in love with my best friend: Maggie.

Maggie literally found me when I was lost in the rain in Arlington cemetery. God only knows why my friends wandered away and didn’t inform the tour guide that I was still in the washroom. Or why the staff thought it was a good idea to send a 15-year-old into this massive cemetery alone to search for a group of other 15-year-olds. As strange and crazy as this chain of events was, it lead Maggie and I to each other and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

I mean, who else could have met me crying my eyes out, lost and frustrated in the pouring rain and decided to keep me around?

Ten years later we have escaped the cemetery, survived University, student organizations and volunteering together.  She did a lot of driving around to help me put my wedding together and even helped me pick my wedding flowers – a meeting Ben had zero interest in. I’m pretty sure my florist thought we were marrying each other – kind of funny, now. Maggie and Tom even picked those flowers up and delivered them the morning of my wedding.

Ben and I drove to Nashville to stand by her and Tom when they married each other. From drinking moonshine that should have killed us (I mean, too drunk to effectively eat french fries or form sentences – just embarrassing) to putting ourselves back together and getting down the aisle. We’ve seen each other through a lot.

I’ve confided in Maggie, always. When I faced turbulence in my friendships and when I needed advice on developing myself as a person and reaching my goals.

Looking back I should have known there was something between Maggie and I. I’ve always admired her. Since high school, she’s been a powerhouse for whatever cause she chooses to champion. When I met her she was rebuilding homes in disaster-struck areas on her holiday. Seriously – I was trying to make it to Canada’s Wonderland when I had a break from school and she was counting down the days till she could literally improve the world.

She then came home and developed events like 24 Hours for Hunger and connecting students with veterans. To me, it was like she never stopped. Now, being even closer to her, it’s still that way.

Maggie’s ambition to improve the world around her, from her hometown to the global community, has always inspired me. It has shown me that my own dreams are possible. It has given me something to aspire to.

How could I not fall in love with her?

Then, getting the chance to know her more it seemed in so many ways we fit together. We found comfort in each other when we discovered we had the same values. When the world didn’t make sense we could console each other. When we needed sound advice on almost anything, we always seemed to find just what we needed in each other.

Falling in love has changed our relationship in subtle ways. It no longer feels entirely appropriate to vent about everything our husbands or boyfriends do to bother us – I mean, those relationships are shared after all. It’s a little awkward to tattle on your boyfriend to his wife or to tattle on your husband to his girlfriend.

Still… she gets it.  She knows when I vent it isn’t because I want to tattle on anybody or even tell her something about her husband or boyfriend. Our relationships with the boys are separate. We actually use the phrases “girlfriend treatment” and “wife treatment”.  It just means that there are traits in Ben’s personality which have more influence on her relationship with him, and less influence or prominence when he’s interacting with me. At the same time, there are traits that Tom has which define his and I’s interactions but don’t play a big role in how he interacts with Maggie. It’s not always a bad thing – in fact, it’s what allows us to develop unique relationships.

What this means is that if I do need to get something off my chest about a bit of friction between myself and one of the boys, Maggie can listen and be my best friend. As much as she’s also in a relationship with these people, the relationships are different. The moments of friction, and the moments of joy – moments that give the relationships character – are different. That makes it easier to avoid the feeling that I’m simply tattling on her husband or boyfriend to their wife or girlfriend.

It’s taken a while and it’s still a work in progress to figure out what it means to fall in love with your best friend. She doesn’t stop being my best friend – she never has, and I can’t imagine that she ever will. I mean, we literally share everything.

The relationship changed: it became more than it was, I fell in love with my best friend.

Carmen

Celebrating Love at Pride Toronto

 

This is the first pride month that I’ve been out as a bisexual woman, and of course, the first pride month that I’ve been out as polyamorous.  We started our pride festivities with a wonderful Women in Power event at TD. A little while later we attended Pride Night at the Aqueerium at Ripley’s Aquarium and then danced and partied on Church Street.  A day later we were back to march together with TD in the Pride Parade and enjoy Church Street by day.

All this is well and good but pictures tell our Pride story better than words ever could so check out all our photos below =) Especially the last ones.

Carmen

 

Women in Power event at TD – #ForeverProud 

Night at the Aqueerium & Dancing in the Rain on Church Street.

All ready with Rainbow make up, a renewed attempt at body confidence re: crop top style, and the best of friends. Even the rain couldn’t stop our smiles. Also, how adorable is it that google maps showed the parade route in rainbow when I opened the map!?

Just being cute together and celebrating our love after the parade 

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We’re so cute we even made Brett Kissel’s instagram story – how awesome is that? 

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And of course, we answered hate with love.

 

Tom: My Partner in Adventure

 

Last week I talked about Ben as my high school sweetheart and everything that means to me.  Now I want to share a little bit more about my relationship with Tom in this ongoing Pride month series.

Maggie and I spent years joking that we could trade husbands on date night since Tom and I had a shared taste in movies (Ahem, we’re both big Harry Potter fans), while the same can be said about Maggie and Ben’s shared interests.

So it wasn’t entirely surprising when Tom and I took time to discover our shared interests for ourselves.  I think what was most surprising was that Tom and I have very similar relationship styles.  We had the same ideas about the goals of the relationship. We both knew that if this was going to be a thing, we wanted it to be serious. We weren’t looking for a fling and we were both cautious and guarded at first.

Since then we’ve found it easy and natural to support each other in various adventures and exploring different interests.  My  favourite example is my increasing interest in Tom’s demolition derby hobby.  I had been watching his runs for a couple years – Ben and I liked coming out to support him and Maggie.  I knew from watching that it looked like a lot of fun and I’d love to be more involved. I didn’t really know how to make the jump from the stands in to the ring, though. With Tom, I’ve been able to explore this interest.

We’ve also found a shared interest in hiking and exploring the area around us.  While our partners love a high paced weekend Tom and I like our weekends interesting, but not stressful. We’ve found this balance in each other.

Where I talk about my relationship with Ben being one where we grew together, Tom has shown me a different side of my potential and encouraged me to pursue things that interest me with less consideration for what fits with who I thought I was. It’s been easy to support new interests for each other and give each other space to change our minds about how we think of ourselves.

This has allowed us to explore a shared interest in hiking. If you don’t know me personally you might not realize but I sunburn basically as soon as my skin becomes aware that it’s sunny and I’ve left the house. I also attract mosquitos at an alarming rate and am somewhat allergic to their bites. I was perfectly fine being “indoorsy” and relating to the outdoors mostly through the “Planet Earth” series from the comfort of my couch.

With a little help from sunscreen, bug spray and google maps Tom and I have slowly begun exploring our local hiking trails. I am finding I really enjoy it. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised since I was a girl guide but I guess I left the “loves hiking” part of myself as a childhood memory, until now.

I think when we were monogamous we had both settled on the idea that we knew ourselves and the lives that we had created. I was indoorsy, kinda nerdy, really liked creative activities even if I never showed a special talent for the visual arts, and at heart, a crazy cat lady.

All of those things are still true but when I reconsidered my ideas about love and relationships I found a bit of a cascade effect that helped me constructively reconsider my ideas about my identity and interests.  I discovered that I still really want to learn and the adrenaline junkie in me (a long standing relationship with thrill rides), is a little crazier than any of us thought.

Tom also has new or different ways of addressing how I need to be supported. When I talk about Polyamory I talk about having the opportunity to let partners who excel at meeting certain needs help you with them, and not forcing them to be something they aren’t for other needs. I should say that what Tom has shown me is that he can address the same needs as Maggie and Ben, for example, but he has his own way of understanding and addressing the need. It’s helpful to have this kind of support – really helpful.

I’ve talked before on this blog about struggling with self consciousness and weight loss efforts.  If I’ve said something negative about myself Ben has always been quick to tell me I’m beautiful and deny the negative charge. This has always been helpful and I’ve always appreciated his support. Tom surprised me with a slightly different phrase – he never denied the size of my body but he reminded me that he finds me attractive. I never really thought about what positive comments I need to hear from people supporting me because really, I hated needing help from others to build up my confidence. I always wished I never needed their reassurance instead of thinking about what kind of reassurance I needed. Both are needed and valuable and having different perspectives or ideas of what to say when I’m struggling has been a blessing.

Falling in love with Tom has taught me to embrace and explore so much more than a new way of thinking about love and relationships. He’s supported and encouraged a new way of thinking about myself and my identity. He’s been my partner in adventures big and small, so I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks for reading the 2nd of 3 relationship reflections. =)

Carmen

 

 

Learning to Practice Pride Every Day

The hardest part of coming out, for me, was realizing that it’s not quite the grand leap out of the closet that you expect. Even with social media, the message doesn’t reach everyone. Even if it did, there’s meeting new friends or colleagues and the assumptions they make (about me at least) are that I’m straight and monogamous.

The fact that I wear wedding rings and have a husband definitely gives people reason to make that assumption. None the less, it can be a bit jolting when casual conversation turns to family life and it turns out, mine isn’t quite what they expected.

In the few weeks or months after officially coming out on social media I wasn’t quite prepared for the situations where I would fine myself inadvertently in the middle of another “coming out” conversation. Especially since the people I had to “come out” to in these odd after-thought conversations were usually co-workers at my old retail job or someone else on the outer rings of my social existence. I don’t usually talk about my personal life at work – I make it a general practice not to – but from time to time it would slip. Now it isn’t strictly the conversations with coworkers specifically that were awkward, it’s the fact that in the grand scheme of my life and coming out these people weren’t important to me.  Once it was a nail lady who asked about my weekend plans and was super confused when I told her I had plans with my boyfriend while she was holding my ring finger and admiring the bling.

When we decided to come out we all created lists of who needed to know. Our parents and family of course.  Then there were the close friends who we wanted to tell personally, rather than letting them find out on social media. After we had these conversations to the best of our ability we figured out how to post and went ahead with the big leap of coming out publicly.  Truthfully we could of gone on forever with the private conversations and there were probably a few people we missed or didn’t contact in time but we were so excited to make our announcement. I took a lot of back and forth for us all to decide exactly how we wanted the announcement to go – we had to figure out what coming out meant to  us and what that looked like. When we finally felt ready, we weren’t patient.

After making it public on social media there were a few follow up conversations and messages from friends and family members we didn’t speak to previously.  Beyond that, it was relatively smooth. At least, none of the turbulence we experienced was completely unexpected, even if some of it was a little more intense than we anticipated.

Then sometimes the moment comes up where you’re about to say something and you hesitate because you don’t want to come out and explain everything. For example, when someone asks my weekend plans and I want to say “I’ll be at a derby with my boyfriend.” but I don’t want to get in to the whole thing.

True story: When I had that retail job I once bunch of underwear at the end of my shift. The coworker ringing me out said something about how happy my boyfriend would be when I got home and another coworker yelled over “Husband – she’s married!”. I laughed all the way home.

Seriously though, moments where being honest about something unrelated could lead to coming out are silently awkward.  There’s a lot of guilt about avoiding a conversation or avoiding having to acknowledge your relationships fully. It felt unfair to Tom or Maggie that I would acknowledge my relationship with Ben but potentially not talk about them the same way because it was easier.

I’ve gotten over that now, clearly.

For this month I promised to reflect on Pride month and come up with some musings.  As I was thinking about how to do this I’ve been thinking about how excited I am that this is my first Pride month being completely out. In that string of thoughts it occurred to me that coming out was a plural experience. And a plural experience that I was not always prepared for, at that.

Having that unexpected series of conversations and experiences has helped me come to practice pride every day. It’s made me realize that when we decided we wanted to come out on social media we really wanted more. We wanted the openness and honesty that had always been part of how we lived our lives and related to others to continue being part of our lives. With this we committed to pride as a daily action.

Almost a year in to it though, it does get easier. When I decided to blog about this life I think I had to commit to practicing pride every day. I love my life so much, how can I avoid celebrating that?

Carmen

Ben: My High School Sweetheart

I said at the beginning of this month that I wanted to do a bit of a series for Pride. I also said that in that series I’d talk a bit about the different relationships in my life. Since I always refer to “my three unique relationships”, let’s talk a little about them.

Ben is my husband and the person I’ve been with the longest.  We met and began dating in high school – I know it’s a cliche but we are high school sweethearts. I even changed my university plan to stay with him. I know that changing your big life decisions to make a relationship work isn’t normally recommended when you’re 18 but it worked out for me.

Because of this, Ben and I have grown up together.  I was only 16 when we started dating.  In a practical sense he’s seen me through a lot.  Right away there were big decisions about university and the logistics of applying, registering, etc.  Then there was dorm life, figuring out how to feed ourselves, managing classes, getting jobs… until we mastered living together and planned a wedding … well, I planned the wedding and he showed up at the agreed upon time 😉

From graduating to jobs and everything in between we really have transitioned from teens in love to partners in life together.  People always get really excited and happy to hear that we are high school sweet hearts. We get a chorus of “awww – that’s adorable!” And I do like to think that we are.

When reflecting to write this post though I realize that we tend to think high school sweet hearts are special because they found their partner at such a young age and when many people spend their 20s on an emotional dating rollercoaster we’re already living together and committing to each other. (I walked down the aisle and married Ben when I was 22)

I think what’s really special is that we manage to grow together.  The truth is that it meant choosing our relationship at really critical moments in our lives.  It meant choosing Ben instead of pursuing an interest in moving to Newfoundland for university. That changed my major from journalism and creative writing to English and History.  It also meant moving to Oshawa because that’s where Ben’s career opportunities are and he was in the workforce ahead of me.  It means that the first thing I decided about my identity, values and lifestyle as an adult was that everything about me is connected to him.

I don’t mean to make myself hard done by – let’s be clear.  It has also meant that through really big and intimidating decisions like pursuing grad school and then dropping out of it, making a career of  being a freelancer and transitioning to a polyamorous lifestyle I have had an amazing support system. In these moments where I have designed my adult life and worked to define myself I have always had him, like a lighthouse in moments of uncertainty, he has given insight and lit my way.

I absolutely loved the university I attended and couldn’t have dreamed a better university experience for myself.  I loved living close to Toronto and exploring the GTA.

I love him.

My relationship with Ben, I think, is unique for the history and the safe space we have created for ourselves – hey look, a buzz word! Seriously though, there is no space safer for me then beside Ben. He has seen every side of me. He allows me to talk his ear off, or to be silent. He encourages me to write while he practices bass and takes me on adventures when I need to get out of the house.  He is familiar with the complicated balance required to look after someone who may be extroverted or introverted depending on the day… and he can always, always make me laugh.

He knows me to my bones because he watched me build myself.  He never asked me to choose him – he never did anything to limit my growth or push me in a direction I was unwilling to go. He has always loved me with such certainty and kindness that I knew wherever life took us I would be happy, so long as I had him.

Yes, I am a super cheesy girl, through and through. It’s Pride month and I won’t hide that side of myself anymore than I hide anything else. =)

Hope you enjoyed this little reflection on my relationship with Ben. It’s only the first of three relationship reflections. Watch out for some other pride-related thoughts I’m musing on.

Carmen

Happy Pride Month!

close up photo of a hedgehog beside rainbow curved frame

Photo by Amber Faust on Pexels.com

Before we even start – yes I did pick this feature image because look at that little hedgey…he’s so cute I couldn’t resist him and his rainbow ❤

I love pride month – I love watching my social media feeds fill up with rainbows, conversations about acceptance and love stories.  It’s a generally happy time with lots of celebration and people embracing who they are without apology.

Don’t mistake that opener for ignorance – there’s lots of serious conversations and realities to be recognized when it comes to Pride. One of the best things about Pride Month, in my humble opinion, is that its an excuse for us all to make room for both the celebration and the reflection required.

I knew that I wanted to find a way to bring that to my own little corner of the internet.  over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what that might look like.  Since Pride Month is happening throughout June, I’ll be doing a bit of a pride series – my first series!

I don’t want to admit how many times I get an idea that I realize is worth more than one blog post, mentally plan out an awesome series of posts, and then never write them…

Not this time!

I always say that I’m in three unique relationships but I usually only say it in passing reference to something else. This month I want to spend a little time sharing and celebrating what makes each of my relationships unique.

I also want to talk about some of my thoughts and things learned over the past 9 months or so since deciding to trust my heart and fall in love all over again.

Really this is just a little intro to the idea of a pride series and a teaser of what’s to come.

What are your burning questions about one or all of my relationships and the general experience of being out in my poly relationship? =) Now’s the time to ask!

Happy June 1st everyone =)

Unsolicited Relationship Advice

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I know I grew up lucky, in some (ahem, many) ways. Many of my friend’s parents were divorced, and they moved between two separate homes.  My parents were together.  Perhaps even luckier for me, my parents were happy to be together. Parental yelling matches, dad on the couch or threats to leave are all unfamiliar stereotypes to me.

Perhaps it is because my childhood home was so happy that I find relationships and relationship advice to be such an interesting subject.

I also got married young. In fact, I fell in love young. I’ve been with Ben since I was 16 and got married when I was 23.  Young for my generation in both experiences.

Now, as many of my readers will know I am in three unique relationships and navigating life with five romantic relationships under one roof. Each of us values strength, stability and functionality in our relationships and we work hard to build our relationships around these values and our personal needs.

It must be a combination of all these factors that makes me feel entitled to provide some form of unsolicited relationship advice.

But you know that feeling when you see people struggling with something that comes naturally to you, and you just want to help and provide your knowledge and see if you can make their struggle less, their day easier? Yeah that happens to me a lot.

What the Advice Columns Miss About Fighting

I’ve seen all kinds of advice columns reassure their readers that fighting is normal. There’s a couple thoughts I want to  unpack here, so bear with me.

Let’s remember for a second that normal doesn’t mean necessary. It might not be all doom and gloom for your relationship if you argue from time to time but if you don’t fight at all, that’s okay too. (I’m assuming you don’t fight because you aren’t disagreeing; please don’t bottle it all up just to say you don’t fight. Remember, it can be normal!)

But then don’t the relationship columns also tend to tell us that if we’re fighting about “the big things”, like money, children or lifestyle, we should run for it because there’s no way to build a relationship when you can’t agree on the foundational aspects of a life together?

So, do we fight and stay because it’s normal or fight and run for it because we want different foundations for our life together?

Go ahead and argue, but not about the big stuff.

If you were a fly on our wall and you could catch us in a rare moment when we’re feeling off-kilter, you know what it would be about?

Food.

Yeah, you read that right. Like is it okay to have fries with dinner? Should my husband have brought home the bag of chips I requested or should he have said no because he knows I’m trying to lose weight?

Or can the meal plan be changed, and can anybody spontaneously stop at a store and pick up something that wasn’t on the grocery list?

What’s healthy enough for our healthy lifestyle goals and what’s healthy but not healthy enough?

How do we handle cravings?

Food.

We decided to have talks about what getting serious together meant fairly early on. We didn’t want to come out and fight off all the negativity just to find out we couldn’t really build a life together if we wanted to.

Let me be clear: When we talk about money, children (how many to have, how to raise them, etc), our lifestyle (financially, where we will live, what is important and what we don’t need, etc.) we all agree. In fact, we agree easily.  There are certainly some compromises but they were all easy to make.

So if you’re asking me (which you didn’t, but you read this far so I’ve got something going for me.), let yourself argue when you’ve got a bone to pick but if you’re not laughing at how silly a bone it was to get worked up over once all is said and done, that’s when you should worry about the fighting.

They say never stop dating, but more realistically, never stop infusing your relationship with the little, every day things that bring you joy.

Okay so “never stop dating” has a ring to it and saying it my way is a mouthful. But hear me out.

I’ve been with Ben for seven years. I don’t want to go to dinner and pretend that he doesn’t know anything about me so we can “date”. But you know what does happen at the beginning of a relationship and should be carried forward?

Finding little ways to brighten each others day. It’s bringing home tea from Tim’s when he knows I haven’t left the house today and could use a pick me up. It’s surprising me with something he saw and bought just because it made him think of me.

It’s different than dating – I think it’s more like showing how successful he was at dating me by showing how well he knows me now.

It’s spoiling each other from time to time.  About a week ago Ben offered to pay for my manicure knowing that dinner out would mess with my diet but still wanting to make me feel spoiled.

It’s knowing when he needs time to be an introvert and not burdening him with extensive conversation and crowded situations.

So by all means, keep dating. Recognize that as humans we grow and change so there’s aways new ways we can “get to know each other”…. but as the years go by go beyond “still dating” and make it about knowing and appreciating each other.

Okay just One More Thing…

Hey you’ve read pretty far in to this bit of unsolicited advice – I appreciate that!

This one’s important: Know the difference between joking and teasing. It’s trickier than you think but here’s the key:

It isn’t up to you.

It’s up to whoever is at the other end. For example if you’re making a joke about something your partner doesn’t laugh about (take me and my weight, for example) you’re just teasing and it probably isn’t fun for your partner.

Stick to things your partner can laugh about too. For me – I laugh at my own sense of style because I have enough confidence in it to take a joke from time to time. You kind of have to when you decide to dye your hair blue. So it’s fun for everyone.

Don’t be the person who leaves your partner feeling sad, self conscious or bad about themselves/something about them. Even if you don’t get why they’re so sensitive about something, respect it. As your partner you should be relied on for that.

 

Well thanks for reading – what are the things you wish you could shout from the roof tops when it comes to relationships?

 

 

 

Coming Out: Our Experience

Thankfully I haven’t had to “come out” about a heck of a lot in my life.  I’ve been pretty lucky that way.  All of us had, in fact, been pretty lucky that way.  So when we talked about sharing our lives with the world as polyamorous it was easy to decide that yes, we would come out.

We had some lose requirements.  We kept our changing relationships private until we felt confident in them and knew that come what may, we consider this a serious relationship and we all have every intention of continuing it.  We waited to have conversations with anyone outside of ourselves until we were all on the same page and realistically, having trouble keeping it secret any longer.

See when you take 4 people who have never really had to hide something that makes them happy and ask them to do so, it turns out they aren’t that good at it. Well, we weren’t at least.

People were used to seeing the 4 of us together – we’ve been close friends for a long time so us being seen together wasn’t a surprise.  However I had always been “Maggie’s friend” and Ben had always come along as my husband so when I started showing up places with just Tom, and Ben kept arriving with just Maggie… people started to pick up on the shift and wonder what we were doing.

Some who noticed Ben and Maggie without seeing anything different about Tom and I, or vice versa, thought that two of us were having an affair.  I forgot to turn off my location services so my mom wondered if we were swinging after watching my location dot drift over to Blackstock for a night.

Only one person said anything and when we confirmed his suspicions he stopped talking to us.  I guess that’s when we came out in person, and shortly thereafter we shared a photo of the 4 of us on Facebook with a note explaining that we identified as polyamorous and we were all happily a part of this.

My mom and I had a conversation about how this isn’t a new idea by any stretch of the imagination.  People have called it polyamory, or an open relationship, or whatever term worked for them but they’ve done it for a long time.  What’s changed, and made polyamory and non-monogamy visible is that this generation doesn’t do secrets.

Going back to our parents, our grandparents and their parents, there were strict codes about information that could or should be shared and information that stayed within the walls of the house.  People kept insane family members in the attic and didn’t talk about them, marriages suffered and nobody saw, if you were breaking the bounds of social normalcy and appearances that was your business and you lived your life, but you did it discreetly.

In the age of social media, we value openness and a sense that we don’t have secrets.  Of course, we still do but we’ve given each other permission to share and be honest about things that were previously hushed up.  We can say that we have a family member struggling with mental illness and we’re doing our best to help them – they aren’t locked in the attic and we aren’t seen as less trustworthy because of this illness in our family.  If our marriage isn’t working we can seek help – from friends, from professionals – and we can leave if we need to.  A split home isn’t the greatest possible shame in modern day society.  In fact, we tend to value and praise the decision to split a home over the decision to live unhappily.

While everyone still has the right to keep some things private there’s greater choice about what you can share.  As a society, we’re not all on the same page about what is a secret territory and what is palatable to the public. It’s now a personal decision instead of a communal one.

In our personal case keeping our polyamorous lives a secret would create severe imbalances in the relationships.  I’d be able to share all my happy and funny moments with Ben – obviously everyone already knew I was married to him, so on the surface, nothing would change.  The same would go for Maggie and Tom – they could have continued to share their married lives.  However Tom and I, Maggie and I, and Ben and Maggie would never have those same freedoms.

Before we came out Tom and I went to Canada’s Wonderland together.  We had an awesome day and took adorable selfies that we couldn’t share.  Maggie checked in at a beer festival on Facebook and felt sad and strange leaving the check in just saying she was there – not revealing who she was with.  Particularly odd for any of her friends and family who know that Tom doesn’t drink.

We absolutely value the time that we spent building our relationship in private.  It gave us a chance to orient ourselves and ensure that the bond between the 4 of us was strong and stable before it was exposed to the opinions of others.  It gave us a chance to reflect in peace.  However moving foreword with the lifestyle we needed the ability to be open and comfortable sharing what our lives are really like.

So that’s a bit more about us and our decision to be open with our relationship. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! =)

Polyamory and Staying True to Myself

I realized the other day that delving into this polyamorous lifestyle has expanded my world and made me feel more complete in a few ways.  I think it’s true for a lot of people that even when they have different interests than their partner, they still rely on that partner when going on new adventures and we might hesitate to stray into interests that are really far from theirs.

Take Ben and I for example.  He is a computer scientist and a musician.  His hobby time is taken up with Dungeons and Dragons, programming and band practice.  I on the other hand, don’t have the patience for D&D or the skills for music. I like reading, blogging, and yoga.

It seems like we’re very different, and we are.  However, these hobbies have been with us since before we started dating.  Ben was in a band when we met, and has always tinkered with whatever tech he can get his hands on.  Likewise, I’ve always been a reader and enjoyed yoga.  Since being together we haven’t strayed away from these core hobbies in a big way.

We’ve explored some hobbies together.  There’s a mutual love of food, a desire to travel, tv shows and events we’ve fallen in love with together.  However, there are always things I might enjoy that I know Ben would hate and things he’d like to explore that I have no interest in.  That doesn’t mean we want to explore those things alone. In some cases that’s meant just sticking with what we know and sticking with each other.

More relationships, more experiences

Until now… with Maggie and Tom in our lives, we all have more opportunities to pursue new hobbies without having to do so alone.  In my life right now that’s demolition derbies for example: In the last two years, we started going to more and more derbies to watch both Maggie and Tom have fun destroying some cars.  While Ben really enjoys watching the events, I’m fascinated by the cars and with every heat I watch I’ve wanted to be a part of it.  I wouldn’t have dared though – without Tom, I have no way to build a car, for one.  I have no knowledge and would be totally lost without a partner in crime.  It’s my relationship with Tom that has allowed me to start learning more about all things derby in a way I never would have before.

Meanwhile, Ben and Maggie have found all kinds of craft beer festivals to enjoy.  Neither Tom or I drink beer (we barely drink at all) so these events hold no interest for us.  Maggie and Ben’s relationship has given them a partnership where they can explore those interests without dragging uninterested spouses.

I never felt incomplete or unhappy in my relationship with Ben.  There are still things that we love to do together and everything we built in the last seven years still holds significant value.  We both could have lived happy lives continuing to find and explore things we enjoyed together.

As it happens, polyamory has given us the opportunity to broaden those horizons and live more true to ourselves, not just ourselves as partners to each other.

The Importance of Unique Hobbies

Not to mention, having activities and hobbies we enjoy with each partner helps differentiate each relationship so that it develops to be unique and independent of the others.  While the four of us enjoy our “pod dates” for activities we’re all excited about (usually food or go-carting related), we also enjoy having our own time with each other.

It’s important to us that each of our relationships is allowed to develop naturally and that in each of our relationships we are focused on each other, not just each other as someone else’s.

Having hobbies and activities that are unique to each couple helps with this natural development of the relationships and with the sense of each relationship being independent.

A more independent Identity

Honestly I believe when we settle in with someone for the long term – whether that’s getting married or just moving in together and planning a forever kind of life – we start attaching our identity to each other.

We become “his wife” or “her husband” or “their partner”.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this but it does affect how we make decisions about hobbies and interests.  Will our other half be interested? Will they want to go to that event? Will they enjoy this?

We do it to ourselves even without a partner – we get an idea of ourselves and who we are in our head and then start ignoring things that don’t fit that box without really thinking about it – but that’s another post.

With three partners I can’t totally attach half my identity or decision making to what I imagine they’ll think of an event or activity so instead I start recognizing my own interest first and then figuring out if I might have company – who would be most interested? Who could support me best for this interest?

Focusing on my own interest and following my own inclinations rather than filtering them through a partner’s interests has changed how I think about my time and what I enjoy – for the better! It’s made my identity more independent without making my life more lonely.

How about you? What hobbies do you enjoy with your partner?