Before we get deep into poly finances, I want to take a minute to discuss entwinement and specifically financial entwinement.
Polyamorous relationships exist on at least three spectrums: emotional, sexual, and entwinement.
Emotional: ranging from affection to love
Sexual: ranging from “none” to…well, whatever you can imagine
Entwinement: ranging from keeping separate lives to joint everything (mortgage, kids, bank account, will…)
Entwinement is tying your life to some else’s. We twine our lives together, or become entwined, when we move in together, budget together, commit to supporting each other emotionally/socially/financially, and in many other ways. Everything from sharing meals regularly to having a family Netflix account can be a form of entwinement.
You can be barely entwined with someone and still love them. You can love them and not have sex. You can be fully entwined, have only occasional sex, and feel strong affection.
The monogamous ideal is the extreme of all three spectrums: fully entwined, deeply in love and all the sex you’d ever want, with one other person. Some poly folk want the same thing with multiple people. This trifecta gets more challenging to both find and keep functioning the more people you add, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or doesn’t happen.
Other people prefer relationships to develop naturally into the level of emotional, sexual and entwinement that suits the people involved.
Okay, so that’s entwinement and how it fits in with polyamory. Couples and groups who live together are pretty high on the entwinement scale. So are people raising children together whether or not they live together. Most solo poly folk I’ve spoken with prefer to keep their relationships low entwinement, but that’s not a universal.
financial entwinement is entwinement that specifically involves money:
- joint bank accounts
- shared budget
- shared bills
- joint lease or mortgage
- shared retirement plan
- shared financial assets
For some poly folk, moving in together means complete financial entwinement. All income and all bills go into a family pot and (at least in theory) are handled jointly. How this works in the real world varies. For other poly folk, moving in together can be more like being roommates-with-benefits. Everyone has their share of the rent and utilities, buys their own food, and has their own individual expenses. Of course, there’s every option in between.
You can also have entwined finances when you don’t live together. You can budget together, share bank accounts, pitch in to pay for major expenses and more, from across town or across the world.
Throughout this series, we’ll be looking at a different options for how poly folk can manage their finance. Some will be pretty high entwinement options, others will be low entwinement options, with more options in the middle. Always go with what works for your and your poly partners.