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.