Okay, it took me way longer than it should have, but I finally fought my way through the formatting. The Polyamorous Home is now available in paperback on Amazon.
Here, for the first time, is a guide to how polyam folk can create homes and living situations that suit our lives and our relationships. Whether you live alone or with a dozen of your partners, friends, and family, you can create a home life that works for you.
-Alternative living arrangements
-Budgeting for dates
-Moving in together
The original version of this post really reflected some of my old assumptions about the “norm” in polyamory. Hopefully I’ve managed to clean all of that up. Polyamory is complicated and everyone does it differently. Revised 1/11/2017
A couple posts back I mentioned that if someone in a polyam relationship gets pregnant, people who had been living separately may decide to move in together. Moving in with other people is always a big step, whether it’s getting a new roommate or the next stage of a relationship. When multiple people in a polyamorous relationship (or multiple relationships) move in together, it can get complicated. Especially if two people in the relationship have been living together, and another partner moves in with them.
It’s fairly obvious that the person who is moving in will have to make a bunch of adjustments. The people already living together often don’t think through the adjustments they will need to make. I have a distinct memory of my ex telling a new (non-polyam) roommate who had just thrown a soda can into the garbage ‘We recycle here.’ Leaving aside the utter rudeness of the comment (how about ’The recycling can is out back, I’ll take it out for you if you’d like’ instead, hon?) it never occurred to him that he was dictating his living style on someone else, who may not share his values.
If you have been in a relationship, you probably know each other’s views on recycling, but there are hundreds of ways this kind of conversation can crop up. Everything from how the laundry is separated, to who does the shopping, to how the dishes are put away. And it is an almost automatic assumption that the person moving in will adapt to the way the people living together do things. Now, this can get especially problematic when a secondary is moving in with a primary couple. So the secondary is automatically outvoted by the built in 2-1, making it very easy for the secondary’s needs and preferences to be swept aside. In the meantime, the primary couple congratulate each other on how fair they are being with everyone having an equal voice. It’s even worse in many primary/secondary relationships where a secondary partner’s opinion automatically carries less weight than a primary partner’s!
So, to beat the dead horse one more time – no one who stopped to think about it would expect to bring a child or a pet into the house and not have it create changes. And people who don’t stop to think generally can’t make poly work in the first place. So please, please do not assume you can bring another life partner into your house and not have it make huge changes.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of planning ahead (6Ps – Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance). Moving in together is complicated. There is no way that planning ahead can account for everything that might come up. But sitting down and discussing things like how will laundry be handled (does everyone do their own? If not, who does?), meal times (what time is good for everyone to sit down to dinner, does everyone take turns cooking?), shopping lists (who does the shopping, where is the list kept so people can add to it, what do you do if you need a specific brand), bathroom arrangements (I’ve done 4 grown ups in one bathroom, with 3 people scrambling to get out the door for work . . . PLAN AHEAD!).
And anything else you can think of.
Now, if you live in the same town, have been spending almost every day together, sleeping over more often than not, and decided to make the jump to move in, a good bit, though not all, of this will already be worked out. If you live further apart, spent a few weeks vacation together to see how it worked, and are jumping into the deep end . . . yeah, much planning.
Some fairly major changes here. Revised to include separate sections for solo, couple, and group living, and get away from the previous focus on group living. Actually, most of this is excepted from an early draft of The Polyamorous Home. Updated 11/25/16
On the surface, this is more for the polycules who live together. However, solo polyam folk and couples who live together and have other partners who visit also sometimes need to worry about who sleeps where. Michael and I live as a couple. Almost every time one of my metamours visits they ask if I mind them sleeping with Michael and insist they’ll be ok on the couch. (Usually, I end up taking the couch.) We’ve tried all of us sleeping together with some metamours, but we don’t have a big enough bed (especially for when I was pregnant!). So, yeah, unless you never sleep over, chances are you’ll need to work out sleeping arrangements.
Here are the pros and cons of a few possible sleeping arrangements for polyamorous relationships. If you have experience with possibilities that I miss or some pros and cons of your own you’d like to add, please leave a comment.
One Bedroom Shared with Guests
If you and your partners are comfortable with it, you can have one bed that visiting partners share with you. Depending on your comfort levels and needs for personal space, you can have partners spend the night. Alternatively, you can use the bed for cuddles and/or sex with your partners going home at the end of the night.
Having just one bedroom is cheaper than paying for a home with two bedrooms, but may not be comfortable for everyone.
One bedroom, with a couch or blow up mattress
You might be comfortable sharing your bed for sex and/or cuddles, but want space when you sleep. Or you might prefer not to share your bed at all. You have options for a partner spending the night, even if your home only has one bedroom. Your partners can sleep on a pullout couch, blow up mattress, or other temporary sleep spot.
If you can afford it, a second bedroom is another option. You might use your bed for cuddles and/or sex. At night, your partners can sleep in the guest room. Or your bedroom might be just for you and physical intimacy stays in the guest room.
Having a second bedroom is more expensive, which means it won’t work for everyone.
Shared bed and bedroom with family
Unless there are laws against it (and some places there are) you and any other family members (kids, your sister-in-law, your mother…) who live with you can share a bedroom, even the same bed. The general reaction from my US readers is going to be “OMG, what!” However, it was pretty common in Europe and the US a few hundred years ago. It is still normal in some parts of the world. Partly because not everyone can afford separate bedrooms (or beds) for everyone, partly because it is easier to keep warm in the winter when you were sharing body heat. The modern Western obsession with privacy is just that—modern and Western.
Shared bed and bedroom The couple to share a bed and bedroom. Other family members (if any) have their own room(s). This is the default in most parts of the US
Shared bedroom, separate beds Why not? It isn’t common, and it sounds like something out of “I Love Lucy,” but the for some couples separate beds just make sense. No one can steal the covers and a restless sleeper isn’t keeping their partner awake. Maybe someone has medical equipment they need to sleep with. Separate beds aren’t as physically intimate as a shared bed, but you can still fall asleep listening to each other breathe. Bonus: having a visiting polyam partner spend the night in your bed won’t mean kicking your partner out of their bed.
Not an option for everyone if only because of the increased the cost. However, some couples have found it suits them to keep separate bedrooms and only sleep together occasionally. This is actually increasingly common among some monogamous couples. Polyam folk who advocate for this arrangement say your sleep is healthier and less disrupted, and the times you cherished the times you sleep together because they are intentional.
Individual Bedrooms Just what it says—everyone has their own bedroom.
Pros: No worries about how to rearrange things if a metamour comes over. Privacy. Extra space. Flexibility.
Cons: Increased cost of living. Less communal space. For large group marriages, it will be hard to find a place with enough bedrooms.
Master Bedroom Every adult in the family shares one bedroom and (possibly) one bed. With standard-sized bedrooms in the US, this can work comfortably for a triad and be a squeeze for a quad. I’ve seen bedrooms (and beds) that would fit larger groups comfortably, but that aren’t easy to find or in most peoples’ budgets.
Pros: Shared bedroom=relationship bonding. Lower cost of living than other options.
Cons: Lack of closet/dresser space, crowded bed, NO privacy, lots of people on the couch/floor/recliner if a non-resident poly partner comes over.
Master Bedroom and Guest Bedroom Of course, if you have more than one bedroom in your home, you can always make one the master bedroom and one the guest room. This way, there is a place for people to go if they need a night on their own once in a while. As well as a place for non-resident polyam partners and resident polyam partners to hook up without displacing the rest of the family.
Pros: No worries about how to rearrange things if a metamour comes over. Extra storage/closet space.
Cons: Increased cost of living.
Couple Bedrooms Whether or not your family group is made up of distinct couples, you can set up your bedrooms to be shared by two people in your family. In the US, most bedrooms are built with the expectation that one or two people will use them. So this works better space-wise that everyone sharing one room. It’s also less expensive than getting a place big enough for everyone to have their own room.
Pros: Enough closet/dresser space for everyone. Reasonable cost of living. Some privacy. Only one person on the couch if a non-resident polyam partner comes over.
Cons: Need to rearrange everyone if want to swap partners for a night. Possible jealousies or perception of favorites. Lack of flexibility.
Two Bedrooms, “Hinge” Moving Back and Forth This arrangement is difficult to make work. It takes a lot of communication and one or more family members who are comfortable not having their “own” bedroom space.
Pros: Plenty of room. Some privacy. Flexibility. Less likely someone needs to find a couch if a non-resident poly partner spends the night.
Cons: Higher cost of living then sharing a room. Possibility of jealousy/tension/perception of favorites.
Sleeping Bedroom and Stuff Bedroom
This idea comes from my friend Lauren. When she first suggested I didn’t know anyone who had tried it. Since then I’ve heard from a few people who say it has worked really well for their polycule.
Two bedrooms — one is a pure sleeping room, with king size bed, piles of futons on the floor, whatever sleeping set up you need to fit everyone comfortably. And nothing in it but the bed. In the other put everyone’s dressers, most of the hanging clothes, and any other furniture you’d normally put in a bedroom. If you have a third bedroom, set it up as an office, with everyone’s computer/desk setup.
Pros: Lots of cuddle time, room enough for everyone (at least up to 4 or 5 spice, anyway), reasonable cost of living.
Cons: No privacy, there might not be a big enough (and affordable) bed.
Mix and Match Maybe one member of your family just needs to sleep alone for whatever reason, but everyone else is cuddle bugs. Well, that one person can have their own room while the rest of you have a big shared room. Maybe you like the idea of Sleeping and Stuff bedrooms, but also want a guest room for when people visit. Pick and choose what works for you a la carte as it were.
There are other options out there, but this covers the basic sleeping arrangements for polyam folk.
Looking for more ideas and info on polyam living arrangements? Check out The Polyamorous Home.
Some technical glitches have delayed the paperback, but expect it later this week.
Polyamorous relationships challenge the way mainstream society expects people to live. Mainstream assumptions about who sleeps where, how a family manages their money, and even who lives together, fail before the sheer variety of ways polyam folks build our relationships.
The Polyamorous Home is practical a guide for polyam folk on creating homes and living situations that suit our lives and our relationships. Whether you live alone or with a dozen of your partners, friends, and family, you can create a home life that works for you.
Alternative living arrangements
Budgeting for dates
Moving in together
Prioritizing the individual or the community
I know the posting and everything kind of went to hell the last few months as I finalized getting The Polyamorous Home together. I expect to be more on the ball going forward, with regular posts Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. Thanks for your patience while I dealt with both this book and release and various personal upheavals.
I’ve also managed to get a start on the next book in the Polyamory on Purpose Guide series. I’m currently about 13,000 words into the first draft of Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous. Check out my Patreon campaign for irregular updates and early access.
(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 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.