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Polyamorous Parents and Families

(32 Posts)
whycantwegoonasthree Thu 17-Mar-16 19:09:10

After the long running thread in AIBU (and the havoc that ensued) MNHQ said they didn't think there was sufficient interest for a board (boo hiss MNHQ) but suggested I start a long-running thread instead, so here it is!

Intended for those involved in, considering or with experience of parenting in the context of poly relationships to share insights, thoughts, seeks advice or share frustrations. Primarily with regard to parenting issues but also relationship ones, (on the basis that posting a thread in 'Relationships' with this title would probably go down like a fart in a spacesuit).

Everyone's welcome, (we're poly, right!?) but please be kind and considerate, and please don't come here simply to moralise or judge. If it's not your thing and you've nothing helpful to add please just exit the way you came...

whycantwegoonasthree Thu 17-Mar-16 19:26:01

I'll start by introducing myself, I'm a mum of two DCs and involved in a committed F-M-F 'V' with my lovely DP and his lovely wife, who I refer to as my OSO. OSO and I aren't romantic or sexual with each other but we're close friends and consider ourselves each other's life partners too. I met them both at almost the same time. We've been together almost three years. We've had some bumps in the road, but we've navigated them and will continue to, and we're all very happy.

They have two great teenage DCs who know about our relationship, are perfectly cool with it and who are happy spend time with me, myself and DP, myself and OSO and the three of us.

I have two younger DCs who don't know anything about it, largely because they're still quite young, and because my EXH will be extremely difficult when he learns of my relationship, and will probably make trouble regarding custody. I have a great, supportive solicitor who is helping me navigate that, but I would appreciate support here as I try to navigate that and also telling my DCs and introducing them to DP and OSO. When, how, etc.

The old thread, which had rather more info about my setup than I ever intended (if you can wade through all the bollocks) is here:

Don't feel you have to give any info about your setup here if you don't want to though, just cause I have...


whycantwegoonasthree Tue 22-Mar-16 15:30:41

Bump for MrsWinkler.

Mrswinkler Wed 23-Mar-16 06:03:44

Hello. Bit draughty in here isn't it.
I'm sure some others will join at some point.

Unlike yourself I don't think I can claim yet to be truly poly. Just finding my feet after a 11 year monogamous relationship that ended a year ago. Mum to one DS7. Ex to a lovely DP who is very much still around but who I can no longer live with. Although he initiated the split due to a lack of intimacy I find I am flourishing being alone.

Some would say I am currently dating but I have no desire to settle down again with one man in the future. Reading about solopolyamory I feel comfortable that there is a way of living where I can be comfortable being me and I am looking forward to exploring that world.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 09:32:01

Is a bit. I've been spending the previous few days rearranging the twiglets and dancing by myself...

I'm reluctant (unlike one or two other posters on the old thread) to talk about what's poly and what's not poly. It's just a catch-all term really, for various kinds of consensual non-manogamy (and I loathe the term non-manogamy because it's just reinforcing the idea that monogamy is the 'ideal' and anything else is less than/anti) so for me, anyone who is in a relationship which falls outside traditional mon-normative setups, and whose intimate relationships include more than one person (at whatever level and whatever the nature of those relationships (ie not necessarily sexual) with the full knowledge and consent of all parties is 'poly'.

So I don't think you should worry if you fit within some set of rules, or whether you've got it all worked out yet. Poly is a broad church and is more an attitude than a proscribed set of circumstances.

I too have no desire to settle down with one man, 24/7/365. Some will say this is just a reaction to an unhappy marriage. I would say that I have always felt this way, enjoyed my own space, liked living alone, never felt the idea of 'one person, for everything, forever' to be something I understood or felt was right for me. But I simply didn't know there was another way to be, or do relationships. Also, I was younger and less brave and certain of myself than I am now. I certainly gave far more of a shit what people thought of me back then than I do today.

With regard to my current relationships, they're evolving things. I've learned that you can't decide at the outset what form a relationship will take in the future. You can't stick it in a box, place limitations on it and expect it to fit that box forever.

My relationship with DP and OSO started out as a kind of FWB relationship. But it quite quickly developed into something much deeper and more profound, and which is actually a lot more rewarding for all of us. But it's taken work to manage that transition, on all sides.

There's a freedom in stepping off the well-worn path of monogamy, but at the same time, there are no road maps, and working out your own path, respectfully and honestly, takes work, lots of communication and a lot of hard thinking.

It's not for everyone, and that's ok. But monogamy is not for everyone, and that's ok too.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 09:35:00

Have you read the 'More than Two' book, Mrswinkler? It's got good section on solo-poly. And the 'Ethical Slut' is really good on the subject too...

WhatdoIdotogetaplumber Wed 23-Mar-16 10:35:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 11:45:42

Hi WhatdoIdotogetaplumber - lurk away! Although you've posted so you're not really lurking.

I can't post properly now, as I have work I need to get through, but I would say that honesty is really important. The nature of relationships can change but giving everyone agency is important otherwise a relationship isn't consensual. And this is more WRT your DP, who's not being honest with his OSO about a relationship that predates theirs. You, as I understand it, are honest with your DH about your relationship, although maybe have shied away from elabortaing about the full extent of your feelings…

There's was a good article recently which touched on this – exerpt here:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

How to Make It Work - Tools for Healthy Polyamorous Relationships by Brian Frederick

1. Tell the Truth. Lasting relationships are built on trust. Trust is built on honesty. Honesty isn't hard and it's a good habit. Bite the bullet, tell the truth. If your relationship can't weather it, you are in the wrong relationship; but it probably can. Telling the truth is easier than lying, all rumour and myth to the contrary. Lies are a lot of work. They weigh you down and isolate you. Small lies get lonely and seek out bigger lies. Don't ask one lover to lie or keep secrets from others. Secrets may not be lies but they breed lies. Secrets build walls and discourage intimacy. Know the difference between privacy and secrecy.

Resist the desire to tell someone what you think they want to hear or try to protect them. "Especially do not feign affection." If you're not sure about love, say so. If your relationships are not a high priority in your life, let people know. Encourage honesty in others. Above all, be honest with yourself. Are you looking to build a family or for a little sexual variety?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I've found this really challenging in regard to the fact my children don't know about my DP & OSO. The idea that it's effectively a wall between us, and whether/if that affects our intimacy/closeness...

So I'm not taking a pot shot or being judgey. Just saying that honesty is really hard to embrace after a period of not being honest – and takes courage, but it is so, so important. Because consent is important. And you can't have consent without honesty.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 11:51:01

But, to reiterate I don't think you're c- - - - ing. I think you are in a polyamorous relationship, are open to your DH having more partners should he choose to and have been honest about it with everyone you're in relationships with.

How complicit you are in your DPs decision not to be honest with his other partner, since your relationship predates theirs is a difficult one to navigate. He's a grown up and it's in his court to manage his own relationships with integrity. Are you obliged to challenge him on it? Dunno. Genuinely...

I'm not in favour of ultimatums: "tell her or it's over". That's emotional blackmail really. So there's not much you can do other than talk about it with him... Which it sounds like you have.

SoConfused15 Wed 23-Mar-16 12:13:58

Hello everyone, found you. Thanks Whycan't for sending directions smile

To introduce myself, I am a poly woman in an MFM V at the moment. It's a long and messy story but I have always been poly by nature although I was not aware of the term until last year.

I had been struggling with my feelings for ages. DH and I were beating our heads against the wall in couples therapy to work out what was wrong with our marriage that made me want to seek out other relationships. During this time I met someone else who I had an immediate and powerful connection with. Finally it dawned on me to ask DH for a trial of an open relationship. I'd never thought he would consider it so was amazed that he agreed. We carried out with couples counselling for a while but have stopped going now as things are so much better between us.

I've been seeing my other guy for about 9 months now. He's single and not been in a poly set up before. If and when he meets someone else I think he may want to make our r'ship non-sexual- but we'll cross that bridge then. He is very unwell at the moment after a serious health crisis, so we are dealing with the physical and emotional fallout from that. I've met his parents and best friend but he's not met anyone from "my world" yet although my close friends and family know of him.

In the meantime DH has had various adventures with me and on his own, but not met anyone else serious.

Good to meet you all and hope this thread develops in a positive way.

WhatdoIdotogetaplumber Wed 23-Mar-16 12:50:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 12:54:32

Hello soconfused - lovely to see you here. I really hope this is a helpful, positive place for anyone following a non-traditional relationship model, whether they call themselves poly or not.

I think it's brilliant how you and your DH have navigated this so far. It has to make you hopeful that you'll all weather this recent health crisis and the fallout from that well too, doesn't it?

It;s funny how health things can be especially charged. I remember when DP had a nasty accident, and it was a really hard one to navigate. OSO had been fine with everything but found it really hard to have me at the hospital… which I found really upsetting. We worked through it and when DP went in for a recent op, he had each of us at his bedside, both listed as Next of Kin, and helping him with his pressure socks and string underwear! I can only imagine what the nurses thought…

Do you think you'll ever open up to your children about your setup? Or do you not believe it will be necessary or even desirable?

Intrigued as to why your DP might want to make your relationship non-sexual if he met someone else? Does he think he would find it odd/difficult to be sexual with more than one person? Or simply that he wouldn't have the energy/appetite? grin

It's probably not top of mind for him right now though, is it…

Hugs for you – I know it's been a tough time. Happy to have you here…

I'm going to have to buy more twiglets at this rate.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 23-Mar-16 18:25:17

WhatdoIdotogetaplumber duck out, duck back. I think/hope we'll be here...

And to reiterate, there's no judgement here, in fact pretty much all of us are wrestling with being more open with those we live about our relationships.

It's really hard and takes a lot of courage - especially from where you find yourselves.

What I would add by way of encouragement is that most people we've told have been far more accepting and understanding than we thought or hoped.

And that we've found that if you have love and acceptance within your relationships, most things can be worked through.

Reasons to be hopeful etc.


Mrswinkler Fri 25-Mar-16 07:47:37

Not keen on twiglets. I've brought some slightly salted kettle chips.

No I haven't read any books on the subject yet, just some blogs. I'm having a reading Renaissance at the moment and a stack of fiction I want to plough through! I will do at some point though do thanks for the recommendations. Heard about The Ethical Slut.

My ex asked me the other day what I'd told DS about the men I'd recently been seeing. I said nothing, there is no need for him to know tbh, it's early days in that respect but it's obviously something he's worried about. I know he's finding it hard to hear me talk about seeing other men even though I'm trying to be discreet about it - I need him to look after DS if I go on a date. What will happen in the future God knows but no relationship is serious enough at the moment for me to consider it; I've only been dating since January....

LauraMipsum Fri 25-Mar-16 07:55:01

Hiya, poly lesbian here (put that on your needles and knit it, "this is abuse by men" AIBU brigade)

Partner and I are monogamish at the moment purely due to lack of time (toddler) but will probably have other relationships in the future.

Mrswinkler Fri 25-Mar-16 09:53:08

"Put that on your needles and knit it"


LauraMipsum Fri 25-Mar-16 18:35:03

The Ethical Slut is very American (and also I don't like the word slut very much even though I love Dossie Easton)

I can recommend "Rewriting the Rules" by Meg-John Barker

and the blog is very good too

whycantwegoonasthree Sat 26-Mar-16 08:28:57

Mrs Winkler, I like kettle chips, and I think there's room at this party for both... We're a broad church after all, right?

I'm not really pro disclosure for disclosure's sake when it comes to children and our sex lives. I think they only need to know (certainly when young) when it affects them...

Mind you, that may include them just needing to know where Mummy has gone for a night (if they're aware she's gone somewhere...) because I don't like the idea of telling my children outright lies... Thankfully mine are smallish and thus self centred enough that it doesn't occur to them to ask what mummy is doing when they're at their Dads... That won't be forever though...

But where I am, is that I am in a committed relationship and I'd like - no, need, really for my sanity and happiness - to stop having to compartmentalise my life in the way I currently do. Also DP, OSO and their teenagers are brilliant people, very different from me and my EXH and I'd love them to be in my children's lives.

But my EXH is going to go batshit when he learns of the relationship I'm in, and I'm basically being a gutless wimp about telling him.

I'm 98% sure he can't actually use it as grounds for full custody but he will try, and I'd like to be 100% - but you never can be...

Glad your EX sounds reasonable, MrsWinkler, even when he's finding it hard...

Starspread Sat 26-Mar-16 08:51:54

Ooh, hello!

So, introductions. At the moment I'm poly-in-theory (my DP and I have a new baby, I haven't had any other relationships on the go for a while, and no interest right now in starting a anything new!). But I guess I'm a comparatively old hand; my two most significant exes (concurrent with DP) are maybe my closest friends and my DP's ex spent Christmas with us. So, I've no doubt that one day I might want to date again, but I've other priorities right now!

Starspread Sat 26-Mar-16 08:54:07

Oh, and on the topic of openness: we're completely out about being poly, which was a decision we made before having children - there's no one we could be outed to, now, and on balance we've had very measured responses.

whycantwegoonasthree Sat 26-Mar-16 09:54:13

Hi LauraMipsum (love the name...!)

I do find it interesting that if the poly setup is FMF then it must be a) exploitative b) all about male sexual gratification and c) the women involved are saps and then man an arse... Shows a pretty dim view of men and women, which is pretty sad.

I quite like the ethical slut, but agree that it's very American and the language can be difficult and also I feel the focus is too much on sex rather than relationships...

I've downloaded the book you recommended and will have a read - looks good ...

whycantwegoonasthree Sat 26-Mar-16 10:01:40

Hello Starspread!

I appreciated your support on AIBU, BTW...

Congrats on the new baby too!

I love that you perfectly highlight that I've doesn't have to be actively engaged in multiple sexual relationships to be poly... And also how your relationships with your ex's have changed but not ended... That just because a relationship isn't romantic/sexual (ever or any more) that it doesn't end, it evolves... And can still be close/intimate.

I think it's great that you're so open. It's what we're aiming for, but our history is complicated and so we're starting on the back foot a bit. But we've also been surprised by how well those that we've told have reacted...

LauraMipsum Sat 26-Mar-16 11:31:34

I have seen some unicorn-hunting online which has made me hmm

Particularly when they are after a "bisexual submissive" and what they mean is someone who'll do sex and housework, rather than someone who will be in an equal relationship with all of them.

But where do people get the idea that a woman exists to perform housework and sexual services from.... could it be heterosexual monogamists? That's a reflection of societal misogyny generally, not a problem exclusive to poly people.

whycantwegoonasthree Sat 26-Mar-16 12:22:40

Poor DP, he has two women in his life, and NEITHER of us do housework...


whycantwegoonasthree Sat 26-Mar-16 12:35:21

But the problem people had in the other thread seemed to be that as it was a man involved with two women, it was defacto misogynistic and exploitative.

I'm not saying there aren't setups like this which are, just that it's not a given.

But it seemed unthinkable that our set up could be 100% consensual and that all three could be perfectly happy with it.

To the point that I would say "I'm happy, I don't want someone here 24/7, I don't have a problem 'sharing' and OSO and I have a close, positive relationship." And the pearl clutches would say "You're not. You can't be. End of."

Deeply frustrating.

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