Many singles are actively on the hunt for an exclusive, long term relationship (LTR, for those of you who hate actual words). There are also those among the ranks of the unattached who would prefer to remain so. They are comfortable dating multiple people at one time. Fed up with having only two options — attached or alone — they are exploring the possibilities of what lies between.

There are also those who have found a way to enjoy the best of both options — a long term, loving relationship and multiple partners. They often refer to themselves as “polyamorous” or “poly,” and there are currently about

Molly: The things we tell each other have been a touchy topic at times. We used to tell each other who we were dating, what the sex was like, what we did with the other people. But jealousy was an issue. The weirdest things can make you jealous. Hearing him tell me about watching movies that had been “our” movies with another girl hurt. So did hearing him cry because a girl ditched him at a party. Now we’ve set rules: no talk about sex at all, no date details, just broad strokes about who we’re dating and how we feel about them. It’s generally understood that we are ambivalent about each other’s other partners. Whatever makes him happy makes me happy, because I just want the best for him.

Do you face a lot of judgement about your choice?

Sarah: You have the “nuts” who just get really angry and think I, and people like me, will burn in hell. Those people are easy to ignore. I have had men I have dated or are interested in dismiss the idea outright before any consideration it seems, meanwhile they are sleeping with more than one person at the time. They just tell me “An open relationship would never work’. It is okay to say it wouldn’t work for them but I don’t like the total dismissal. The thing that seems to hurt my feelings the most, or is the most annoying of an assumption, is the idea that an open relationship doesn’t count as much as a monogamous one. I have friends that don’t put as much value on my relationship as those of people who are married and monogamous. My relationship/s are somehow less real. They think I don’t know true intimacy or commitment. I find this annoying because I am one of the most committed people I know. But again, I have to just ignore a lot of this and not let it get to me.

Molly: I don’t tell people who I don’t think will understand that I’m in an open relationship so I don’t have to deal with their reaction. Usually people respond by saying “Well, if it works for you.” I know there is judgement there, but most folks try to conceal it. I know married poly couples who have gotten a lot of flack from their families, going so far as being completely disowned. My parents don’t get it at all. They think I ‘”don’t respect myself enough to let anyone love me.” and I’m just like, “Mom, Dad, it’s because my boyfriend loves me that I feel comfortable doing this.” We trust and respect each other. That’s why it works.

Sarah: I certainly do encounter the “But what about the children” question often enough. I grew up with my parents’ dates and partners coming into my life. Some were long term; some weren’t. I feel fine about it. I have no problem with the idea of having people that my partner or I are dating coming into our family if that is what works for everyone. I would like my daughter to be open to all sorts of people and choices and I feel no need to shield her from relationships that are positive. I only think that will be a benefit to her. Also seeing your parents as individuals who have there own interests in life is very important, even if it is a bit surprising at times. I think the more friends in your life the better for everyone.

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