By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Carrie, her husband Rick, and her boyfriend Mark are roommates who share a house in south Minneapolis. And like most roommates, they have rules.
For example: When Carrie and Rick are having a date night at home, Mark stays out of sight. When Mark brings home a date, Carrie gives them space.
If Carrie and Mark are on a date, however, and Rick and his girlfriend are in the house, they can all socialize — but only if it's in a common area like the living room. You know, normal roommate stuff.
While at first pass this may seem like a rejected script for a Three's Company remake, the reality is that Carrie, Rick, and Mark — all of whom requested pseudonyms — are polyamorous. This means they practice the idea of carrying on multiple romantic relationships simultaneously, while maintaining an open honesty with all those involved.
To monogamous folks, this idea might sound like something straight out of science fiction (which is actually kind of true, as polyamory has been a recurring theme in sci-fi for years). However, polyamory has been around the Twin Cities for decades and has become increasingly visible over the past few years thanks to media exposure and various organized meet-up groups. It's through one of those groups that Carrie and Rick, both 41, first met and began what has been a long, successful relationship.
"We've been married for two years, but together for more than 11," Carrie explains while sitting at the head of her kitchen table, her two male suitors facing each other on either side. "Rick was actually a part of a triad with my former husband and me for several years before we began to consider ourselves married. Then once my husband and I got divorced, he and I were able to get married legally so we did."
A self-described "heavy committer," Carrie first realized she was a polyamorous person back in college when her then-fiancé introduced her to a book about plural marriage.
"I would find myself in a strong relationship with someone for quite a while, but then at some point I'd start to find myself caring about another person," she says. "So then I'd start to think that maybe I was doing something wrong, or that there was something wrong with me. Once I read this, though, it all made sense."
Carrie's husband Rick has been a practicing poly since he was 19 years old, and floated the idea of an open relationship to his then-girlfriend. Since then, he's always known his relationships to be polyamorous, and a good majority of that time has been spent with Carrie. Just as you'd expect with any longtime couple, they've had their ups and downs, just not quite in the same way traditional couples do.
"After Carrie and I had been together for about a year and a half, she and her new boyfriend co-hosted a party together at his house," Rick begins. "So during the party she was spending a lot of time with her new boyfriend, all cuddled up and kissing and whatnot, and I felt a sense of anxiety, like something was going to change for the worse. But after I got through that anxiety and really thought about what was bothering me, I knew that I needed to remember that she can control her time and attention and affection."
Mark, who is 30, moved in with the couple about 10 months ago. But unlike most stories of wives with boyfriends, this time it was the husband playing matchmaker.
"Apparently before they started dating I asked Carrie if she was attracted to Mark," explains Rick.
"And I said, 'He seems nice but I don't know.' And then Rick says, 'Why wouldn't you want to date him?'" Carrie chimes in, as Mark quietly smiles and nods.
Eventually, Rick's persistence paid off and Mark soon became the third member of the triad.
A triad, for those who aren't up on their poly-lingo, refers to the idea that three people are intertwined with one another romantically, and also live together full-time. Many triads include one couple who are legally married, but it's not required. There are also other poly combinations, such as "quads" that include four partners, but not all members of the triad or quad are necessarily having any type of romantic relations with one another.
Rick and Mark, for example, have many similar interests and share a partner, but the men of the household explain that their bro-bond is completely platonic.
"Everyone always asks about the guys and whether they sleep together," Carrie says. "In some triads you will get two men or two women who also are attracted to one another, but in ours the guys are just friends and roommates."
Whether a poly person is looking for stability or sex, the Twin Cities has a group for pretty much any flavor.
A quick search online will show a number of various polyamory meet-up groups or organizations, catering to various ages, backgrounds, and geographical locations throughout the state. MN Poly — the Minnesota Polyamory Network — is the most well-known, and also happens to be the one that has Carrie as a member of the board.
But really, just think about what polyamory is going to do to Country Music. Songs like "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "It's a shame to belong to someone else when the right one comes along" and "he was her man, but he done her wrong" pretty much go away. I suppose you get some new flavors of drama to write about, but is it worth losing "jealousy" as easy subject matter?
I thought the article did a good job. I would like to say, though, that the having-children-and-being-poly situation may not be as dire as the folks interviewed indicated. As long as the grandparents are tolerant, they aren't going to try and take the kids away in court. And there has been at least one third-parent adoption in this state (and a couple in other states that I'm aware of), so nonbiological poly parents can get legal parental rights in some cases.
Welcome to 1978, swingers have been around for quite a while. Giving them a cute new name "poly"
Way to ride this trend about seven years past its crest...but I guess you people need something to do in your igloos besides hibernate and watch the Vikings lose for the next eight months.
@jt_olsen Oh please. Polyamory IS a "lifestyle" choice. No one is born polyamorous. This is another red herring. @mnformarriage #VoteNO
Thanks Patrick Strait for treating this subject respectfully, for demonstrating that such families aren't as uncommon as some might imagine, and for giving your readers a much more accurate view of them than those who oppose them ever do. Great job!
@LeathrHeartClan I'm proud of what we've done with the community here it's a great place to be poly.
@szvan There was a case in Pennsylvania where that happened - it was overturned #polyamory http://t.co/7jefkxCU
@CinBlueland : Poly and Swingers are totally different. While as a "swinger" you aren't really in a relationship except with the person you came there with, and you "swing" with other couples in a non-relationship just sex thing. Poly peoples, couples, etc usually are in multiple relationships (key word relationships).
So, yeah it's cute.
Sorry to you.
Probably. Being straight doesn't disqualify writers from covering the subject. Interesting point, though. :)