Polyamory in the Twin Cities

A peek at the metro community that believes love is too big for just two

The group officially has a couple hundred active members, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding a poly group in the area.

"There are groups for people in their 20s and early 30s, who don't really want to hang out with us old folks," Carrie explains. "There's also a group that focuses on advocacy (Modern Poly, based in Minneapolis), which means we (MN Poly) can really just focus on the social aspect."

And while the idea of a "poly party" may invoke visions of wild, sexually charged debauchery, Carrie puts those fantasies to rest.

Jeffrey Alan Love

"Our parties usually include a few adult beverages, maybe some board games," she explains without a hint of sarcasm. "I actually get new members emailing me asking about these parties, like what they should wear and what they should expect. Honestly, the craziest thing that may happen is we'll end up in a cuddle pile at the end of the night."

Aside from the tight-knit circle of her group, Carrie has actually dated three "non-polys" since she started identifying herself as polyamorous, but says these weren't the most successful relationships.

"One guy was turned off immediately because he didn't want to be a 'home wrecker,'" she begins.

"It's much tougher to sit down at a bar or something and strike up a conversation with someone, only to then say, 'Oh, and I'm married but I'm poly so it's fine,'" adds Rick. "It's an idea that you kind of need to educate people on before they can feel comfortable entering the relationship."

"Or they think you're just looking for sex," Carrie laughs.

While her quip was made in jest, Carrie agrees that the idea of sexually transmitted diseases due to multiple sex partners is one of — if not the most — talked about topics with those who are uninformed about poly.

"Most of my monogamous friends just assume I'm a slut, and to a degree I guess they're right," Carrie explains.

"Here's the thing though: In a group like ours, you're a lot more cognizant of who you sleep with," Rick adds. "We all hang around each other in the same circles, so I know that if I sleep with someone, then I'm affecting the other people she may be in a relationship with."

"I know more about STDs than my monogamous friends," Carrie adds. "It's funny, because they assume my number of partners is higher than theirs. Then we compare numbers and I think it scares them a bit how many more people they've been with than I have."

Sex and commitment are two of the most frequently discussed hot-button topics in the poly world, but neither of those holds a candle to the most significant question: What did your mom (or dad, brother, sister, friend, etc.) say when you told them?

"You have to be careful, because you trigger people's judgments when you come out," says Carrie. "So if the moment is there I might bring it up, but you'd be very surprised at how some people completely misunderstand what poly actually represents."

While she has been fairly open about her poly lifestyle, she has the benefit of being a housewife without the prying eyes and judgments of co-workers to worry about. That's something that both Rick and Mark have dealt with in their own ways.

"I'm out to some of my family, and most of my friends know," says Rick. "As far as work, I don't decorate my cubicle with pictures of my poly family or anything like that, so it never really comes up. If I have a co-worker who passes the boundary of 'friend' at some point, then I'll let them know, but otherwise no."

While that makes sense to an office worker who can maintain a low profile, Mark has seen a much more drastic example of poly being judged by peers.

"My ex-wife, who I was actually married to when I first began to practice polyamory, was very active in her church, and when she decided to become poly she came out to her pastor about it," Mark begins. "It became a big conflict. He told her he couldn't support it as a pastor and as leader of the church, and that she couldn't be in a leadership role any longer as a result. That hurt her a lot, but she still remains in contact with people from her church and identifies as Christian. But that was a major issue that came up when she decided to be open about being poly."

When speaking about the religious beliefs of their various poly friends and fellow MN Poly members, the triad members point out that they have a wide range of preferences spread across the group that allows for continued diversity and individuality among a set that's often only classified for being polyamorous.

And then, there are the kids.

The subject of children in polyamorous households is still a hot-button topic, and one that Carrie says has forced many to downplay their lifestyle choices.

"I doubt you'll find anyone with kids who will talk with you," she confesses when asked about the topic. "They keep that on the down-low because courts today will still take children away from polyamorous people. They award custody to the grandparents. It's happened in multiple states."

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