What’s Your GOTH Plan?

Sometimes I think most polyfolk are certifiable optimists. Let’s face it, the dating game is an emotional masochists wet dream, but we keep going back, even when we already have healthy and happy relationships. As some friends of mine would say, “That’s just wacked.”

Now, combine that insane optimism with a good dose of NRE, and the result is that most polyfolk don’t put nearly enough thought in what happened when a relationship ends. For lots of poly relationships, this isn’t a big deal, but when you are living together, it’s a problem.

While information on poly relationships is mostly anecdotal, a few things are generally agreed upon: MFM triads are damn common, quads tend to fall apart, and while there are group relationships that last for decades, they tend to be the exception. (I’m not knocking poly or polyfolk—factor in every dating and sexual relationship mono folk have, and the ones that last for decades are also going to be severely in the minority.)

The GOTH Plan

polyamory plan
I have a plan…

Veteran’s I’ve known have occasionally referred to the GOTH plan. No, it has nothing to do with painting your nails black. And it doesn’t involve ancient barbarians either. It stands for Gone to Hell (or go to hell depending on who you talk to). It’s the plan you need for when Murphy, God, and the enemy all decided the screw with you at the same time and you are completely FUCKED. For the military, pulling out your GOTH plan often means that not only i the mission totally screwed, but your retreat is destroyed and all that is left is to take as big an honor guard as you can manage before the enemy takes you down.

In polyamory, a GOTH plan is for when your “mission”—the plans and direction your relationships were heading in—just can’t work. Where your and your SOs lives are in danger of being completely destroyed, or are being completely destroyed, by the end of something you have all come to rely on.

For this reason, a GOTH plan is mainly for live-in and other extremely entwined relationships.

What Is a Poly GOTH Plan?

Imagine a triad who has lived together for five years. For whatever reason, there is a falling out. The relationships split into a couple and a single, or even three single people. What happens now? At least one person needs to find a new place to live. They need to untangle their finances. They need to figure out who takes what of their joint possessions.

They could go the stereotypical monogamous route of one person gets kicked out to land wherever they can, fighting over everything, bags of possessions sitting on the side of the curb…

Or they could plan ahead.

I met one poly family whose GOTH plan consisted of a savings account with enough money to cover security deposit and three months rent for a local apartment.

For my long term partner, Michael, and I, our GOTH plan is flexible. I could stay with my ex and his wife for a month until I find a plan, or he could go stay with friends of his across the country. I would retain primary physical custody of our son, but Michael would have joint legal custody and visitation. We would work together to get paperwork filed with the Department of Human Services to seperate our households.

GOTH plans are unique to each situation, but here are a few questions you and your SOs might want to discuss:

  • Who will keep the house/apartment?
  • Where will the other(s) go?
  • Can we create a savings account to help someone who leaves the relationship cover expenses until they find their feet?
  • What friends and/or family do we have who will help with a move?
  • How will we divide up our possessions?
  • If there are children, how will custody/visitation be handled? Will partners who aren’t legal parents of children get visitation?

Why You Need a GOTH Plan?

Relationships end. It doesn’t matter how much you love each other, how careful you are, or what promises are made. Sometimes things end. The ending of a relationship is always painful, but when the ending of a relationship is also the end of a way of life, it is devastating.

The biggest danger of a healthy relationship ending is the risk that in the middle of that devastation we turn each other into the enemy. Sitting down together when you are still on the same ‘team’ and planning for how to handle the end of a relationship ahead of time can help you move away from each other without attacking each other.

Having a GOTH plan also protects you from the worst devastation of the end of a way of life. By knowing how the end can be handled, the worst of the fear, uncertainty, and temptation to attack each other can be avoided. The end of the relationship(s) will still be sad and difficult, but you can approach the end as teammates facing a difficult situation together, not as enemies tearing each other apart.

It’s a Plan, Not a Promise

A GOTH plan is a plan. Not a promise, not an agreement, not a contract. Like all plans, it may need to change.

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men. Gang aft agley

Don’t approach your GOTH plan with the idea that it is to be cast in titanium or anything like that.

 

Do you have a GOTH plan? Share it in the comments!

Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

Well over five years ago now, my then-triad and I were living together in New Jersey, and our home was a disaster. My partners were largely products of a “Women will do the cleaning” upbringing while I was raised with the assumption that “by the time you graduate college and get a place of your own, you’ll be able to afford to hire a cleaning service.” (Yes, my mother did say that. Yes, the real world came as quite a shock.)

Anyway, in an attempt to 1) get all of us off our asses and cleaning, and 2) keep track of everything that did need to get cleaned and taken care of around the house, I made up a chore chart. Each time one of us did a chore, we would initial it on the chart. If each of us did 3 chores a day, the house would have gotten a thorough cleaning every week.

Does anyone think this actually worked? I mean, I thought it was a good idea. But here’s what happened:

About a week went by. I didn’t pay attention to what my partners were marking off on the chart. It wasn’t my job to police them, it was my job to do my own share of the work. I didn’t manage to do 3 chores every day, but I was picking up the habits. At the end of the week, I looked around and saw a horribly sticky kitchen table, a pile of dishes in the sink, and a bunch of other stuff that screamed “Slobs live here!” So I took a look at the chart. For the most a part, mine were the only initials on there.

I go to talk with my partners. Both swear up down and sideways that they had been doing the chores. They had just forgotten to sign the chart. If things were still a mess it was because other people weren’t doing chores, or the chart just wasn’t working. In hindsight, it was very much like the classic kid’s game “Who Stole the Cookie’s from the Cookie Jar?”

At the time, I wasn’t confident enough in myself to call bullshit. The chore chart fell into disuse and was discarded. Over the next few years, a dozen different attempts to get our act together failed miserably.

Who I eventually realized, long after that triad ended, was that nothing I could have done, no agreement we could have come to, would have worked to keep that house clean. I was looking at it as a household problem, essentially a logistics problem. Gather resources, organize, and it’s fixed.

It wasn’t. I was battling depress, anxiety, and PTSD, so while I was willing to pitch in, I only had the spoons to do so much each day. One of my partners worked 12-hour shifts, at the time was our sole income earner, and harbored resentment against my second partner that he didn’t admit to until years later. He wasn’t going to pitch in and “Get taken advantage of” any more than he already was. My other partner was, to be blunt, lazy. He either needed someone willing to kick him in the ass until he got off his ass, or he needed to not be in a relationship. (He is now happily married to a woman perfectly capable of kicking his ass when need be. Thanks to the combination of her ass-kicking skills and her low-level OCD, their home is immaculate.) The sad truth is that none of us belonged in that relationship, but we were committed to making it work. Or so we said. Our inability to keep the house clean was a major red flag to the contrary.

The point of all this, is that sometimes what appears to be a practical problem–keeping the house clean, managing everyone’s schedules, even people not sleeping well or health problems–are really signs of problems in the relationship. If you are trying to fix a problem in your life (or lives) and nothing seems to work, it may be time to look deeper.

 

Please help support Eve Rickett and Franklin Veaux’s crowdfunding campaign to bring three new and amazing Poly Books to bookstores near you!

Open Relationships Need House Boundaries, Not House Rules

In my last post, I touched on why I prefer boundaries to rules, and the way boundaries apply to a lot more than just relationship stuff. Today I’d like to look at poly homes, house rules, and the clusterfuck that can be moving in together.

My first triad lived together in a large duplex. We had an extra bedroom in the basement, and when the rent got to be a bit much, we invited some of our friends who were house-hunting to come live with us. A few days after they moved in, my partner and I were in the kitchen when one of our roommates came in and tossed a soda can in the garbage. My partner immediately fished the soda can out of the garbage and said to our roommate, “In this house, we recycle.”

I was mortified. We had invited our friends to live with on the understanding that we would share this home, and the only thing we expected of them was helping with the cleaning and paying their part of the rent. But my partner felt free to dictate to them how they would live while in our home. Apparently, in his mind, the living agreements our triad had come to automatically extended to our roommates, even though those agreements had never even been mentioned to our roommates. Much less discussed and agreed upon.

What really horrified me, however, was when I realized that he and I had done the exact same thing to my other partner, when he entered our lives.

I distinctly remember a discussion when I was pregnant with our first child. We didn’t know who the father was, and didn’t care, but we got on the topic of school and I thoughtlessly told Partner B “We already agreed we would homeschool any children we had.”

Excuse me? What the hell was I thinking? The three of us were planning on raising this child together, but I was imposing on Partner B the agreements Partner A and I had come to on our own.

In hindsight, this is the danger of house or family rules or agreements in an open relationship. When you are open to bringing new people into your relationship and/or into your home, you need to be open to letting them decide how they will live and interact.

Poly partners aren’t pets–they don’t need rules for how to behave.

I could have said to Partner B, “I want any children I have to be homeschooled, this is very important to me and I hope over time you’ll come to agree with me.” I could have said, “Homeschooling my children is a hard limit. If you can’t agree to that, we will not be able to raise our children together.” I could have not said anything then, because the kid wasn’t even fricking born yet. Any of those things would have been fine, because those would have been me stating my boundaries regarding raising my children. My imposing an agreement between Partner A and I on Partner B? Completely not okay. But I wasn’t thinking in terms of boundaries, I was thinking in terms of agreements.

The same applies to the way my partner treated our roommate. He could have said, “There’s a recycling bin out back, would you like me to take this can out for you?” or “It bothers me that you don’t recycle, I’m not comfortable living with someone who just throws away recyclables.” Or if it was that important to him, he could have brought it up when we were discussing having our friends move in, “I like our friends, but I don’t want to live with people who don’t share my values. I’d like to talk with them about their feelings on recycling and the environment before we agree to this.”

Not everyone in a relationship will have the same boundaries–I recycle myself, but it didn’t really bother me that our roommates didn’t. This makes rules and agreements seem easier than boundaries–everyone in the home or everyone in the family agrees to them, and that’s the end of it. But think about this—if you have an open relationship and rules or agreements, you have two choices:

  • Impose the existing rules and agreements on everyone new who enters your home or family
  • Renegotiate every one of your rules and agreements—down to whether or not it’s okay to leave the toilet seat up—when someone joins your home or family

It’s actually a lot easier for each individual to establish their boundaries, and maintain those boundaries. When someone new enters your life, they can learn your boundaries, you can learn theirs, and you can all decide for yourselves what your comfort levels are.

If I had told Partner B that homeschooling my children was a boundary, he could have chosen to accept that boundary, to take some time to learn about homeschooling before he made a decision, or to say that if I was going to insist on homeschooling, we would not be able to raise the child together and needed to come up with a custody agreement.

Instead, I imposed a prior agreement on him, and that imposition poisoned every discussion of our children’s schooling for the next seven or eight years. Ironically, once I stopped pushing for homeschooling, he came on his own to the conclusion that he would prefer homeschooling—and then got trapped in a custody agreement that forces him to put the children in public school.

Beyond Relationship Boundaries

Polk folk tend to talk lot about relationship agreements, rules, and boundaries. Of the three I join Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickett in preferring boundaries. Unlike agreements and rules, boundaries are an internal matter. You decide what you are and are not willing to accept, and disassociate yourself from anyone who does not respect those boundaries. Unlike agreements and rules, boundaries are not imposed on others. Today I’m going to talk about boundaries a bit.

This isn’t a relationship blog. I’ve steered hard away from just about everything having to do with making poly relationships work, focusing instead on the way poly relationships impact the rest of life. So you might ask why I’m going to dive into a topic that for many is at the center of making relationships work.

But who said relationship boundaries are the only ones worth talking about?

What I’m calling “relationship boundaries” for lack of a better word, are the boundaries regarding what we will and won’t accept in a relationship. They cover things like STI risk (I will not have sex with you without a condom, and I will not have sex with you if you do not use a condom with your other partners), personal definitions of cheating (if you start a new relationship and lie to me about it, I can’t be in a relationship with you), and what we need need from each other (I need to feel special to you, if I don’t feel like I am special to you, I’ll be constantly afraid that you’ll leave, and I won’t be in a relationship where I’m constantly afraid).

Relationship boundaries are vitally important to poly relationships (or any relationship), but I’m willing to bet that everyone has other boundaries. Daily life boundaries like “I need to keep the kitchen sink clean or I get stressed,” “I keep kosher, so I won’t go out to a non-kosher restaurant with my friends,” or “I won’t be friends with anyone who makes fun of my hobbies.” Like relationship boundaries, these boundaries all different thing we need to be healthy in our day-to-day lives. Some boundaries may be more critical than others, some may be less firm boundaries and more what kinky folk call “soft limits,” things that you don’t like/mess with you a bit, but are okay once in a while with some prior discussion.

These are the kinds of boundaries we don’t really talk about in poly discussions, but can have a huge impact on our lives. Someone who has PTSD will have a lot of boundaries in terms of what they can and can’t deal with without being triggered. Someone who is an observant Jew will have a shitton of boundaries regarding what they can and cannot do on the Sabbath. Someone who is an atheist may have boundaries regarding getting involved with deeply religious people. The thing is, to someone on the outside, these boundaries may seem like personal preferences or likes and dislikes. It is only as we get to know people that we learn that they don’t buy Barilla pasta—and the reason isn’t the taste, but a long standing personal protest to Barilla’s corporate rejection of LGBT rights. We know that when we visit Joyce we can never leave our dishes in the sink, but it only seems like an odd personal quirk until someone forgets one day and she has a panic attack.

Boundaries like this are rarely relationship-breakers unless they are consistently disregarded. However sometimes we need to talk about them. When we do, I never here anyone use the word “boundary.” We struggle to explain and justify our needs, because it isn’t enough to just say “please don’t…” or “I can’t…” when someone does or asks something. If we don’t have a reason why we are being rude or peculiar or a party-pooper. Then we blame ourselves for not being willing or able to cross our boundaries, or we do cross our boundaries to make everyone else feel better and suffer for it later.

Boundary is a beautiful word. “I’m sorry, this is a boundary for me.” That’s all we need to say. Whether we are talking with a new date, long term poly partner, friend or family member. With that simple phrase we can say “this is important to me, and I need you to respect that.” We don’t need to explain anymore unless we want to. We can wait to explain when we are in a better place (physically or emotionally), or we can not explain until we know them better. Either way, just like relationship boundaries, they can respect these boundaries, or we can step back from them. After all, just because my not eating pasta with sauce sounds silly to you, doesn’t mean I need to subject myself to a possible flashback every time I go over to your house for dinner. I can just stop going to your house, and you can wonder why I don’t “like” you anymore at your leisure.

Seriously. No.

Polyamory Living Options

(If you found this post looking for bedroom/sleeping arrangements, click here.)

When we talk about living arrangements with poly partners, we usually focus on two options: living together or living apart.

There are very few truly binary choices in life. You almost always find a third (or fourth, or fifth, or….) option if you look. Sometimes the other options are all bad options, but thy are always there.

When it comes to poly living arrangements, here are some extra options you usually don’t hear about. Whether they are good or bad options will depend on you.

Entwinement Levels

Entwinement refers the how much two peoples lives are intermingled. For many living together automatically comes with high levels of entwinement–you eat together, have joint bills, share living space, etc. In contrast, living apart usually includes lower levels of entwinement. Even if you see each other every day, much of your lives remain separate.

Entwinement tends to be a big part of the relationship escalator, with sharing everything being a popular top step (along with marriage, of course). But for those of us who’ve stepped off the relationship escalator, here are a few living options that offer “middle ground” entwinement levels.

Duplex/Multi-Family: You and your partners could get a pu** duplex or multi-family house. With separate living spaces in the same building, you can have a wide range of entwinement: food shop toegether and share meals, but still keep your bills separate, see eachother every day after work but have your own area to retreat to and close the door when yu need, share backyard cookouts and hangout on the porch, but keep your living areas and “inside” lives seperate. Lots of options.

Apartment life: Get apartments in the same building. This allows similar varieties of entwinement to the duplex arrangement, but puts more physical space between you, so yu don’t need to hear each other’s music through the walls, can’t just shout down the hallway, etc. Basically if sharing a duplex would leave you feeling crowded and pushed together, having other people and a bit of distance between your living spaces maybe a middle ground that works for you.

Co-Housing: There are several types of co-housing communities, but all involve a common living space supprrounded by a number of individual living spaces. Members of the community hang out, cook, relax, and “live” in the communal spave, but have private bedrooms, bathrooms, and (sometimes (kitchenettes) for when theyneed alone time. Co-housings spaces can be converted apartment buildings, or a  intentional community with one big building for the communal space surrounded by a bunch of cottages.

Migrating Living Options

Someones we want to live together, but life, personality conflicts, and prior/other commitment make living together full time unreasonable. And while our culture prefers a sedenetary lifestyle, peoplehave migrated for thousands of years. From ancients herders to modern long haul truckers. If life is flexible enough to allow you and/or your poly partners to migrate, here are some alternative living arrangements that might suit you.

Shifting pivot: One person with multiple partners who can’t live together (whether due ot job, geography, or other reasons) can live with all their partners in turn. Spend the week with one partner and weekends with another, alternate month to month, or on any schedule that works for you.

Anchored pivor: One person with multiple partner’s lives in a single home, and their partners live with them when they can, returning to their own homes when they need/want to. Can work in rotation for partners who don’t get along/want to live with each other, or overlapping if partners are fine together and life is just not letting them move away from other commitments.

Summer Home: polyfamilys/polycules that can’t live together can kepp a home somewhere centrally located that they can all go to and use when/as life permits. Might be a traditional “summer home” set up where everyone goes there for the summer, or more variable, whatever works.

Keeping two homes: for simplicities sake I’ll describe this with a quad made of two couples, it can work for a number of relationship styles. Couples A & B keep their own homes, but sometimes couple A stays with couple B in their home for a week, and sometimes couple B stays with couple A for a week. A good option for polycules who live close together, but can’t have a group home due to custody agreements, health codes other restictions.

Furnishing a Poly Home: Dishes (and things that come in sets)

Thanks to Walmart this isn’t as much of a problem as when I first entered a poly relationship, but I want to take a minute to talk about dishes, utensils, and other stuff that you can (traditionally) only buy in sets. Until Walmart started selling dishes one-off, and the various dollar stores followed suit (or maybe it was the other way around), dishes were usually sold in sets of four. For good-but-not-great quality stuff, they still are. The fancy stuff, of course, has always been sold by serving sets.

How much of a pain in the ass these sets are depends entirely on the number of people in your polycule. For a triad with two kids or a five person poly-network that eats together frequently, buying dishes in sets of four can mean paying nearly twice as much as you need too. Of course, the extras can come in handy for breakage or visitors. Now, the 24 set of glass tumblers my mother got for my old triad was a lovely thought–and insanely more than we needed.

So with all that in mind, here are a few suggestions for places you can pick up dishes, and other “set” furnishings one piece at a time, and get exactly what you need:

  • Walmart
  • Dollar stores
  • Antique and Thrift stores
  • Garage sales
  • Local artisans
  • Flea markets
  • Craft fairs

Okay, so this may be a combination of me being slightly OCD and being poor for so long that the idea of buying any more than I absolutely have to makes me cringe. If you are happy buying 24 glass sets and dishes in fours, go for it! Personally, I prefer to have enough dishes and what-not for the people who share my home, with enough extra for our regular guests. See you at the antique store!

Guest Posts Welcome

Hey folks, life got crazy so no new post this week. I’ll be back next week with your regularly scheduled blathering.

In the mean time, I’m throwing out an invitation for guest posts. If you have something you would like to share about your experiences in poly relationship, advice on managing the daily-life stuff, or basically anything that would fit this blogs usual topics, I’d love to hear from you.

Book Review: Raf and the Robots

Raf and the Robots children's book for poly familiesRaf is a young boy who loves to write. He even writes at the dinner table where he sits with his family. A family which includes three adults and two other children. Raf’s latest story is about robots, but when he tries to find someone to read it, no one has time! Thinking no one cares about his story, Raf crumples it up and throws it away, but when they finish they’re chores, everyone wants to hear Raf’s story.

Raf and the Robots is an illustrated children’s book featuring an unconventional nuclear family. What kind of unconventional family? Who knows? The three adults in Raf’s life aren’t labelled, allowing chidren to decide for themselves if Raf’s family is a blended family, poly triad, couple with surrogate, couple with friend/relative living with them, of anything else they can imagine.

When I first heard about Raf and the Robots I was hopeful but not excited. Writing children’s books isn’t easy (says the author who can’t manage it), and to do it without introducing the adults as fitting some pre-defined category is even more challenging. I was delightfully surprised when I read the review copy I received. Raf and the Robots is a well written and engaging story. Unlike many children’s stories about non-normative families, it doesn’t focus on Raf’s family. The story is about Raf’s need for someone to pay attention to his story, and how he learns that just because someone says “not now,” it doesn’t mean “not ever.” In this, Raf’s experience reflects what Dr. Eli Sheff found when interviewing children of poly families–family is just a part of Raf’s reality, not what his life is about.

I highly recommend Raf and the Robots for children and families. For children whose families include more than two adults, it will be a welcome chance to see their family reflected in the stories they read, for conventional families, it will show children that other family styles exist, and for all children it’s just a good story.

Raf and the Robots is the first book in the Stories for Unique Families series. It’s available as an ebook on Amazon, Apple, and Kobo, or as a hardcover on the Stories for Unique Families website.

 

(Originally posted Sept 28, 2014. This post contains affiliate links.)

Book Review: More Than Two

Update: Since this post was made the polyam communities have been rocked by multiple accusations that Franklin Veaux is an abuser and many folks have come forward to say that advise in MTT has been harmful to them.

Here are the stories of those accusing Franklin: https://polyamory-metoo.com/

Here is a post by Eve, Franklin’s co-author and one of his accusers, about MTT: https://brighterthansunflowers.com/2019/09/02/thoughts-on-the-fifth-anniversary-of-more-than-two/

Here are my thoughts: https://jessmahler.com/abuse-franklin-veaux-and-the-polyamory-communities/

Update 3/18/2020

Survivors have given up on the transformative justice process and published their stories here. As they rightly say, “Franklin published his stories so the world could read them and share in his narrative account. We are taking an opportunity to do the same,…”

Franklin’s Pod never made any official public statements AS a pod, but the survivors have collected public responses, including some from Franklin and his pod.

Regarding More Than Two, I have found Kali Tal’s analysis convincing and recommend folks check it out before buying.


More Than Two book review

A few months ago I was sent a review copy of More Than Two, the long-expected guide to polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.

Folks, the wait was well worth it.

There are things I could quibble with, minor points I disagree with, but overall this is the best book about poly relationships I have ever read.

Franklin and Eve use straight talk, gentle humor, common sense, and years of experience to create a solid guide to along the journey that is polyamory. More Than Two has a great deal to offer both folks exploring polyamory for the first time and experienced poly-folk who may have hit a few bumps in the road.

In particular, I think the sections on rule, agreements, and boundaries is a powerful tool, and I wish something like it were part of the standard cultural narrative for all relationship types.

There are a few (very few) things I would have handled differently, and a few (very few) things I would have liked to see covered in more depth. Overall, this is an amazing book and I highly recommend it.

(Originally Posted Sept 8, 2014. This post contains affiliate links.)

Share Your Poly Stories

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door, is working on a book called “Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families.” This book will be an anthology of stories from and about poly-folk. She is seeking submissions for stories, pictures, poems and essays. Submissions deadline is October 15th. Submissions (and any questions) can be mailed to drelisheff@gmail.com (Yes, submissions can be anonymous)

Here are the details:

Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Edited by Elisabeth Sheff

Are you a member of a poly family and willing to share your story (anonymously) with the world? Consider writing a brief entry for the upcoming book Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families. Submissions can:

  • Range in length from a few sentences to 10 pages long, depending on the age of the submitters, the format they select, and how much they have to say.
  • Take the form of essays, short stories, poetry, drawings, and photographs, or whatever else you create that can be depicted in a two dimensional format.
  • Use pseudonyms or real names, be as anonymous or out as you wish.
  • Come from anyone who identifies as a member of a polyamorous family composed of all adults, adults and kids, or some other mix of folks who identify as family.

To submit a contribution to Stories from the Polycule, please email them to drelisheff@gmail.com by October 15, 2014.

Topics you might consider include (but are not limited to):

SMALL CHILDREN

  • Draw a picture of your family
  • What is the best thing about being in your family?
  • What is the worst thing about being in your family?
  • What do you think about your family? The adults in your life/your parents’ partners?
  • Any cute stories or quotes the adults in your life remember you saying about your family?

OLDER KIDS AND TEENAGERS (ALL OF THE ABOVE, PLUS:)

  • Do you tell your friends, kids at school, teachers, or other adults about being in a poly family? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about your parents’ partners?
  • Can you talk to your extended family members (like grandparents and aunts or uncles) about being in a poly family? If yes, how does it go? If no, why not?
  • Do you think you will have polyamorous relationships when you grow up? Why or why not?
  • If you have tried dating at this point, how did it go? Was it monogamous, poly, or something else?
  • Are you happy your family is poly, or do you wish they were monogamous (or something else)?
  • Some people think polyamory is bad for kids. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  • How did you find out that you lived in a poly family, and how did you feel when you first found out? How do you feel now? Why?

ADULTS

  • What relationship do you have with the children in your life?
  • How do you think polyamory has affected your family?
  • How did your family get together (ie. How did you get started in polyamory, what is your family like now, and how did it get that way)?
  • What are the best things about your poly family? The worst?
  • What is one of the best things that have happened to your family? The worst?
  • Some people think polyamory is bad for kids. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  • Have you experienced any discrimination because of your status as a member of a polyamorous family? What happened, and how did you deal with it?
  • Why have you split up with partners in the past, and how did it go? Why do you have the partners you do now?
  • Do you have any advice on how to do polyamory “right” or pitfalls to avoid? Ways to do poly “wrong?”
  • Did you come out as poly to your kids? Family of origin? Friends? At work? Why or why not?
  • If you are not the biological parent of a child (something Sociologists call a social parent) in a poly family, but have a close relationship with that child – how does it go? What does the child call you? What do you do together? How are you treated in public? By other family members?

ELDERS (ALL OF THE QUESTIONS ABOVE PLUS:)

  • Do your adult children know you are poly? If yes, how do they react? If no, why not? How do you keep it hidden?
  • Please describe your poly family and how it came to be.
  • What are the benefits of being poly now? When you were younger?
  • What are the disadvantages of being poly now? When you were younger?
  • Looking back, what do know now about polyamorous family life that you wish you had known when you were younger?