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Polyamory: Responsible Non-Monogamy

Many years ago, long before I even knew what polyamory was all about, I was sitting in the Princess of Wales Theatre watching Miss Saigon.

If you've never seen this musical, and you don't want me to spoil the "surprise ending", stop reading now. Basically, here's the story: Vietnam soldier falls in love with Vietnamese woman and marries her. The Americans pull out of Vietnam, and due to massive crowds at the US army base, the bride doesn't manage to meet her husband in time for the evacuation. The husband spends years trying to track her down, but eventually assumes that she's dead. He gets married to an American woman.

A few years after that, of course, the Vietnamese wife shows up, with the soldier's child in tow.

Now, I remember actually sitting in the theatre thinking to myself, "Gee, there's a potential for a really interesting story, here. Does the fact that his first love came back mean that his second love wasn't really love at all? How do they become a family." And, for a moment, I was really looking forward to seeing where the story went.

Unfortunately, I forgot that this was a show for mass consumption, and the masses don't like complication. One of the women had to die.

A few years after that, I met Siobhán. By the second time we were together, I knew that I was in love. Big time. But I was also quite happily involved with Ldot.

Fortunately, Siobhan introduced me to polyamory. Polyamory (or 'poly') is about openly loving more than one person. Now many people who read this story are going to think this is about threesomes, or wife-swapping, or something banal like that. It's not. I'm talking about loving, caring relationships.

Today, I maintain romantic relationships with both Siobhan and Ldot. And it's hard. It requires a lot of communication, and negotiation, and management of people's feelings. But it's also very rewarding, and at this time of my life, I can't imagine not loving both of them.

Thoughts about Poly

The Mantra of the Poly Family

"Communicate, communicate, communicate!"

Communication is exceptionally important in a relationship; it is doubly so (or triply so) in a poly relationship. One of the concepts that was important for me to learn in a relationship is that people have different communication styles. My world-view has always been coloured by the fact that I'm a rational individual who dislikes emotions getting in the way of logic. It therefore took a long time to appreciate that my partner L was also communicating, even though L is very emotional and often not rational. An aquaintance of mine, Prof. Michael Gilbert actually deals with these issues in his work, which he describes as "fairly radical insofar as [he] believe[s] that emotional, intuitive (kisceral), and physical (visceral) arguments ought be considered legitimate and studied just as much as logical arguments."

On a Personal Note

Our new house...

The Move from Hell

Just over a year and a half ago, all three of us moved into the same residence in downtown Toronto. It was an interesting ordeal. Because of the major renovations that we were doing to the house, we couldn't get away from each other for weeks: we are intimately familiar with each other's annoying habits :-)

Now, we've got most of the major renovations done, and we each have our own space. Our house is a 3-story plus basement 1920s house with lots of rooms. Heck, there's even 2 kitchens in the event that we don't want to eat with the others one night.


Heart with infinity symbol

Have questions about poly? Check out these resources:

  • The alt.polyamory newsgroup. I owe a lot of the insights I've learned about relationships to alt.poly.
  • Stef's Poly Page. Stef is one of the most respected participants on alt.polyamory, and her poly page contains great links to poly stuff around the web.
  • Also, try the alt.polyamory home page. This site just keeps getting better and better, with gobs of information, and links to just about everything poly. If you're only going to visit one poly site, this is it.
  • The kewl "heart with inifinity" symbol was created by Brian Crabtree. Check out Brian's poly page.
  • Wanna see one of my partner's take on all this? Check out Siobhan's poly page.

Copyright © 1996, 1998 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated: November 23rd, 1998.
"Heart with inifinity" poly symbol created by Brian Crabtree.

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