Twice is a film in production about polyamorous love and heartbreak in Paris, written by and starring a polyamorous woman. She’s currently trying to kickstart the second half of the film’s budget. Here’s the pitch:
Imagine if your “one and only” was one of many? Polyamorous people believe that you can love more than one person (sexually and/or romantically) at a time. In this week’s Sex Talk Realness, Cosmopolitan.com speaks with four women about what it’s really like to be polyamorous.
[…] What does your relationship look like?
Woman A: I was usually in a primary relationship with one or two other relationships that were more casual. I did not partake in any group-dating situations.
Woman B: It’s about respecting a relationship for what it is, and not needing it to be labeled, necessarily, for it to be important. I have been with my girlfriend on than off for five years now. We are both open to other relationships, though at present we’re not in other relationships. I have dated and hooked up with people a lot more than my girlfriend has, but she is looking for dating and sexual possibilities more now too.
I have had some other serious relationships in the time that she and I have been together. Because they were briefer, sometimes they felt a lot less solid or like I knew my other partners not as well as I do my girlfriend. But I am always looking for more closeness with other people. I really wish I had other close partners I lived with!
Woman C: Currently I am married to my husband of five years. We have both had other relationships in the past, and he currently has girlfriend who he has been with for a year and a half. He doesn’t love his girlfriend less than he loves me; we have distinct relationships that are both deserving of time and attention. I am not currently in another relationship, though that could change.
Woman D: Neither of us believe in a primary/secondary model of relationships. In practice this has yet to be truly tested. The relationship between us is one where we consider each other to be life partners — we are engaged — however, we remain open to either or both of us forming a similar relationship with someone else.
Do you have any rules you never break in your relationships?
Woman A: We avoid setting lists of rules; simply an expectation of treating people with respect and relying on trust.
Woman B: I care about values more than rules, if that makes any sense. I don’t want to abuse or be abused by my partners. I want to work through problems that come up as much as possible. I want a mutual attention to honesty and introspection. I want us to trust each other as much as we can.
Woman C: We don’t use the word “rule.” But for myself, one boundary is only having unbarriered sex with my husband so long as he is having barriered sex with his other partners. Another is STI testing before going beyond kissing on the mouth.
Woman D: Honesty and respect are foremost in all things. If anyone was ever uncomfortable with something or wanted to make or change rules and boundaries, that is something that would need to be discussed as soon as possible.
How do you deal with jealousy?
Woman A: Jealousy doesn’t tend to happen when you have trust, honesty, and respect. And when it does, you’re with someone you can talk it through with until you handle it as a couple, or group, or however.
Woman B: I used to think that polyamory necessitated a complete lack of jealousy. But I think that it merely provides a more honest and reflective framework to deal with jealousy. The idea isn’t to never experience jealousy. It’s just about learning to analyze why you feel jealous, and figure out how to deal with feeling threatened.
Woman C: I have gotten a lot out of Franklin Veaux’s website and bookMore Than Two, which helped me to think about the root of my feelings (Is it feeling ignored? Anger at an unmet expectation?) and also about my own self-worth.
Woman D: I own it as an emotion of mine, not an action of theirs, and ensure that it doesn’t sound like an accusation [when I bring it up with them]. Identify the root cause inside of myself and remind myself of my value. I may also need to talk about the jealousy with one of my friends.
A Happy Triad
Meet Melissa. […] [I]magine a bright, beautiful, healthy, kind young woman who has matured from a fairly happy childhood. She has received a Sociology degree from a top university and is working on her Masters in addition to having started her career.
A couple of years ago, Melissa met an older woman – older to her, anyway – named Linda and felt an instant connection with her. It turns out the feeling was mutual. They found that they were attracted to each other in many ways, including physically – after all, both Linda and Melissa are what most people would consider attractive. They would have married if they could, but they can’t. It isn’t because they are both women. Women can marry each other in several places in the United States. It is because Linda is Melissa’s biological mother, and the law will not allow them to marry.
Melissa was raised mainly by her paternal grandparents, who fought for custody of Melissa. At the time, Linda was still a teenager, and from very modest means, while Melissa’s paternal grandparents were very well off and had excellent legal representation, and to be fair, were capable of providing Melissa with an intact, stable home with two parents. Melissa’s father, tragically, died young.
But this isn’t the whole story. Linda had previously given birth by the same father, her teenaged sweetheart. When Linda’s mother found out she was impregnated at age 15, she sent Linda away from her sweetheart to be with relatives in another state. Linda’s sweetheart was kept in the dark about her pregnancy. He did not know where she was, or that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Matthew, who was put up for adoption. At 18, Linda, as a legal adult, reunited with her sweetheart, and that is when she got pregnant by him a second time.
Things got tumultuous. After the dust settled, Linda had lost her sweetheart to death and Melissa to her sweetheart’s parents. Linda had a tough time moving forward. But she did. She became an accomplished professional and a good citizen, contributing to her community. She attracted lots of romantic interest, and discovered that she was not only attracted to men. But she never quite found someone with whom she wanted to share the rest of her life, until Melissa came back into her life.
Linda and Melissa found that one of the things they have in common is their attraction to both men and women. Since they had already fallen in love with each other despite legal and social discouragements, it wasn’t too surprising that when Matthew made contact with Linda, his birth mother, and met both her and Melissa, that they all fell in love with each other. They want to share their life together.
[…] Linda, Matthew, and Melissa agreed to let me interview them for this blog. As I have said before, these are not their real names because these consenting, taxpaying adults need to protect themselves from oppression, harassment, prejudice, and bigotry.
Melissa: I knew early on that [my paternal grandparents, who got custody of me] were not my biological parents; that I was adopted. They were great parents and it is hard for me to reconcile how mean they were to Linda all those years ago with the kind of people they were to me. I guess they thought they were doing what was best for their granddaughter. They were very conservative and traditional, and frequently said children need to be raised by a married husband and wife, that they need to learn traditional manners, the whole bit.
They wouldn’t tell me much about my mother, but talked glowingly about my father. I ended up finding information about my Linda when I was looking through some old files they had probably forgotten about. When went away to college to study Sociology, I figured I could start looking for Linda. I also realized that I was bisexual. I had been curious about girls when I was living at home, but I knew that if I got caught doing anything with boys, it would be bad enough. If I was caught doing something with a girl, I would have really been in for it. I tracked down Linda and contacted her, and things picked up from there.
[…] Matthew: I also knew that I was adopted, because my parents adopted other children, too. I had a pretty good childhood. Like anyone else, I wondered about my birth parents. My parents were more open about that than Melissa’s. I was kind of indecisive about contacting Linda, and then when I tried, it was old information. That gave me a chance to think about it some more. Did I really want to contact her? One of my siblings – we were all adopted – had tracked down his mother and it was a situation where he ended up wishing he hadn’t. It was depressing. I was afraid of an outcome like that. Or what if she had this whole family and I would be this outsider, this dark secret? I had a great family already.
Eventually, I decided that I just had to check, and I was finally able to track her down. I didn’t know about Melissa. It didn’t even occur to me that she might have had another child that was adopted out. I figured that if she had more kids, it would have been later, as part of a marriage. I guess there was a side to me that felt better when I found out she did not have a family.
Melissa: Linda didn’t tell me about Matthew until we met in person. I had talked with Linda over the phone and through e-mail. I had been worried, but she was so friendly and sounded so open. She was so beautiful in her pictures.
Linda: When I saw her pictures I was fascinated. I could see some of her father. I knew we had to meet. We kept talking for a while, about anything and almost everything, getting to know each other. […] Finally, we made plans for her to come and visit. I had plenty of room here, so I told her she could crash here. […] When I opened the door I was struck by the thought that she was even more attractive than she was in her pictures. It was the strangest feeling.
Melissa: The feelings I had are hard to describe. I felt like I had just put together a big puzzle, like this enormous missing piece had been found. We hugged and I never wanted that hug to end.
[…] At one point in the conversation, we started talking about relationships, and I was telling her about my relationships. I started off with the boyfriends because I am careful about revealing my bisexuality to people. I wanted to kind of get a feel for her and see if she was the homophobic type [laughs]. Little did I know! […]
Linda: The funny thing is, I was also worried about what her reaction would be if she found out that I am bi. I knew that [her grandparents] were very conservative, and I wasn’t sure what they had told her about me. They don’t know I am bi, but they could have said all sorts of things about me getting pregnant so young and unmarried, and everything that went along with that, and I didn’t want to have it topped off with homophobia. I guess I was afraid of her rejecting me.
[…] [She] remind[s] me of [her father], too. So I got the vibe that she wasn’t homophobic. I asked her. I was still a little clumsy about it. I asked her if she had ever dated girls, and it just didn’t sound right so I quickly added that I had. I was still a little nervous. That’s when she said she considers herself bi, and I got this wave of relief and then I was like, I am too. I felt more relaxed. But then the next wave of feelings was back to just how attractive she was. And I was thinking that all parents think their kids are good looking. And then she said that one of her girlfriends had been older. So I had asked her about that. I had never dated a woman much older or younger than myself.
[…] I was getting these feelings that were confusing. I just wanted to hold her and I thought, well of course you want to hold her. She’s your daughter. But it seemed like more than that, and I was getting confused because I was feeling things I had never quite felt before.
Melissa: I was drawn to her like a magnet. I should have recognized what was going on, but I was too close to the situation.
Linda: We talked for hours, but it seemed like such a short time. I finally noticed the time and I apologized and insisted we get some sleep. When we were saying goodnight, we hugged again and I don’t think either of us wanted to let go. […] I [tried] to avoid spending too much time alone with her, because I was trying to sort out what was happening. I thought maybe it was just the initial newness of being reunited and it would go away.
Melissa: That’s kind of the way I was thinking. I finally couldn’t take it any more. I had been holding back but I just had to find a way to try to test the water. It was first thing in the morning after a night of getting almost no sleep and I had just showered and I had put on some sweats. Since she is a personal trainer I asked her for some tips on stretching. […] I thanked her and gave her a hug. And then I kissed the side of her neck. That was it. The ice was broken and it was being shattered.
Linda: It was intense. I had this sense of urgency, but also this sense of being fulfilled. By the time Matthew showed up, we had this strong bond and a new life going.
[…] Matthew: We had talked over the phone and through e-mail. When I first saw her photos, I thought I was looking at an ad. I had to double check, and make sure the photos were her. I couldn’t believe it. She was… hot. There was no other way to describe it. Very good looking.
Melissa: Linda let me see some of the e-mails and the pictures. I could see the resemblance to a picture Linda has of our biodad. He was quite handsome. I wanted to write back to Matthew and talk with him on the phone, but Linda convinced me it would be better for him to find out he had a sister in a face to face talk.
Linda: And that was something we had to talk about. It was clear we both found him attractive, and we had crossed that line with each other, but I figured we couldn’t assume he would be attracted to either of us, or even understand what was going on between us. He could have become very upset and ended up making life hell for us. We had to take a very cautious approach to the situation.
Melissa: I told Linda that I would go hang out when he came here and she could call or text me to come home to meet him after she had told him that he had a sister and got more of a feel for how he was.
Matthew: I was a blob of nerves when I went to meet Linda. But I had this sense of peace once I actually met her. My fears just slid away. I still had some nerves, though, because I was attracted to her. Not just the way she looked, but her personality and mannerisms. She was telling me about my biodad and why I was put up for adoption, and it fleshed out what my parents had told me. She ended up telling me that I had a full blood sister and it was a shock. I was like, “Wow, how do I get in contact with her?” When she told me I could meet her if I wanted to, I was like hell yes I wanted to meet her.
[…] Melissa: I rushed home when Linda gave me the word. I had been checking my phone constantly. […] [He gave me a big hug.] […] It felt so good to be in his arms. There was this scent to him that I found hypnotic.
Matthew: We talked and talked. Actually, I was having trouble getting a word in edgewise between Linda and Melissa.
[…] Matthew: I ended up staying, since things were going so well and they invited me to. But here I was, having these feelings for both of them and not really sure what to do about it. I started to notice things about how they were with each other. […] Melissa’s room just wasn’t looking like it was lived-in. At first, I figured she was a neat freak. But I could tell she wasn’t. I started developing my suspicions that something was up that I wasn’t being told. They had told me that they were both bi. I told them I was totally straight. I figured that was what they wanted to know when they told me they were bi. But these were two highly attractive women and Melissa was at a university, but there was no mention of a boyfriend or girlfriend or dates. You [Full Marriage Equality] and Linda were not so serious, and there was nobody else.
I took them out separately to have some time alone with them. It really felt like I was on a date, but with someone I’d known for a long time. The talks on the date just reinforced my thoughts that there was something I still had to find out. When I got back here with Melissa, we danced to a slow love song. I was holding this beautiful woman and, well, I was getting aroused. One thing led to another.
Melissa: You’re skipping over the good parts.
Matthew: [laughs] So did you two. It was the best night I’d ever had. Afterwards, I was worried about Linda knowing what had happened. Melissa seemed decidedly unworried. She wanted to go at it again, and I was like “We’ve already taken a huge risk. What if Linda catches us?”
[…] Melissa: What he didn’t know was that Linda and I had talked about it, and we both wanted to make a move. We’d been flirting with him, really. But we agreed that it would be more likely to happen between us. He was more likely to go with it with his biological sister than his mother.
Matthew: So Melissa says to me very clear and deliberately, I’ll never forget this as long as I live, “It would only be a problem if you wouldn’t want to her join us, because I know for a fact that would be her reaction.”
Melissa: He tried to say about a hundred things at once, cutting himself off. He ended up asking how I would know that. I just gave him a look, and I could see the light bulb turning on. […] He reacted positively to the mental picture, if you know what I mean.
[…] Linda: We all had a long, frank talk the next day.
Melissa: And we made special plans for that evening.
Matthew: Yeah, that ended up being the best night I’d ever had up until that time. The previous best night had a really short reign at the top.
Melissa: A whole new world.
Linda: I couldn’t have been happier.
[…] Matthew: I’ve never been happier. I want to live like this the rest of my life. It’s this multifaceted love. I don’t really think of Melissa as my sister and Linda as my mother. I already have a family. I mostly love my life. I can never repay Linda for giving me life
Linda: But you try.
Matthew: [laughs] Yes, I do. But I was raised in a good home, and those are my parents. That’s my family in the traditional sense. Melissa and Linda are my best friends and my loves.
Melissa: It’s great. And it is romantic. It is loving, but we do have a lot of silly fun together and play around, kind of catching up for lost time, I guess, like brother and sister. But I don’t see Matthew as primarily my brother or Linda as primarily my mother. I know there are people who feel that way when they are reunited, and it causes them a lot of grief, but I’m great.
Linda: We’re all adults, and I didn’t raise them. It isn’t like I order them around. I’ll give them advice like anyone would, especially since they are younger. I love and support them in that way. But, yeah, we’re all on the same page. This is an incredibly strong attraction and bond and it is expressed in many ways. The eroticism and romance are intense.
[…] Linda: At first, Melissa and I were still going on dates with others, mostly with men, but that trailed off other than with you [Full Marriage Equality]. When Matthew came along, he had been going out on dates back home, but he didn’t have an exclusive girlfriend at the time, and moving in here made it hard to continue with anyone back where he came from.
Matthew: Doing things long-distance isn’t for me. As far as dating other women here, I only have so much energy.
Melissa: Poor baby. [laughs]
Matthew: It’s rough. [laughs] Seriously, this wasn’t a friends-with-benefits situation here. I’m in love and nothing else compares.
Linda: So he stopped going on out dates with others. I didn’t ask either of them to stop seeing other people. And I don’t think they asked each other to stop. They didn’t ask me. Everything I wanted is what is right here now, so it was a matter of why date someone else?
Melissa: It just sort of happened. We formed this stable triad. We’re serious about each other. You’re the only other person involved[, Full Marriage Equality].
[…] Matthew: Nobody from my family knows. Not unless they’ve put some pieces together on a hunch. They haven’t given me any indication they suspect anything. I haven’t developed really strong, close friendships with others around here yet to the point where I would let them know.
Melissa: Linda went through enough grief. I can only imagine what my grandparents would do if they found out. I have one male friend who knows. He’s gay, so it wasn’t like we had any sexual tension between us. But my guard was down and he could see the way I was looking at Matthew, and he teased me about it until the truth came out. He’s the kind of person who can keep a secret, and he has. It took a little getting used to for him.
Linda: Most people who know us on some level know that they are my biological children. Only a few close, trusted, open-minded friends know that there’s more to us than that. All of them have been supportive, though one was kind of freaked out by it for a while. She later said that we have such a beautiful relationship and she can see such strong love that she changed her mind.
[…] Linda: Yes. One of my friends who knows is an ordained minister and offered to marry us, which was just so touching. But I’ve lived more life than they have and I’ve been giving them time to think about it.
Melissa: I think we’re finally all at the point where we’d want to get married, but we want to do it legally.
Matthew: Yeah, I thought maybe my thoughts and feelings would be different given a little time, but I’ve only grown more certain that this is what I want for the rest of my life.
Melissa: But I don’t want to have two weddings. I want to have the ceremony and have it be legally recognized at the same time. […] There’s a sense of completeness, of wholeness. The only thing missing is being able to be open and free and having that legal equality.
Linda: [Mother’s Day] was quite a celebration, actually. […] As much as I had wanted to, I know I didn’t raise [Matthew and Melissa]. They don’t call me Mom. But I did give them life and I’ll gladly accept credit for that. It has been so nice getting to know them as adults and seeing the people they’ve become. They want to acknowledge me on Mother’s Day, and I’m not going to turn that down. I’ve encouraged them to also show their appreciation and respect for the people who’ve raised them, including for Father’s Day, birthdays, and holidays. Mother’s Day is no different.
[…] There was a greeting card! They just made it themselves. It was a great day. They insisted I sleep in, then brought me breakfast in bed with the card they created together, along with a couple of presents. They wouldn’t let me lift a finger around the house all day. And they didn’t leave any of it for me to do on Monday.
[…] They have such busy lives and we were apart for so many years that the best thing they could give me was simply time together. So we went for a bit of a hike and enjoyed a picnic they had put together for lunch. Once we got back home, they drew me a bath. Then they had a professional masseuse come in and give me this really great massage, just incredibly relaxing. For dinner, they had my favorite delivered. […] They finished off the day by having me get ready for bed early and then just making it all about me. They wanted me just to relax and let them do everything.
[…] [Is it getting mundane?] No. No. No! Did I write “no?” NO! It’s like we’re falling in love more and more as time goes by, and I didn’t think we could love each other more than we did. But here I am, more in love with them than ever. […] [The attraction is s]tronger than ever. […] I’m attracted to them both in more than one way. Emotionally… and the physical attraction is intense, but there are all of the other levels, too. I’ve had intense relationships before, but this is just on this other plane. It’s a marriage of soul mates. I don’t know how else to describe it.
[…] [Hiding it] hurts, but it is the only way we can be together. I can’t see coming out publicly yet. Not us. In our home, we have our sanctuary. But out of the home, online, we are very guarded, as you know. […] If more people could see how we love and care for each other, I don’t see how they could deny us equality.