Category Archives: Poly101

Causing Others To Stumble

On Christian Polyamory

Progressive Christian blogger John Shore got an email the other day looking for advice on being a polyamorous Christian. John’s written on polyamory before, and in a fairly balanced way, which makes this post particularly disappointing.

Alas, John has chosen to fall back on tired stereotypes and glib dismissal, rather than consider that a person might be struggling with a very legitimate concern. His entire advice amounts to “My insight is that you should (children: avert your eyes) stop fondling your dick through your pants pocket. You’ve got a wife. Put your attention there. I think you’re really just looking for a way to have an affair. Stop doing that.”

It’s hardly unexpected to see even the most progressive Christians equate polyamory with cheating, but still disappointing. The letter-writer is less looking for advice on how to open his marriage or negotiate two relationships at once (there are dozens of secular resources to handle this topic), and is more concerned about his standing in his Christian community. I’m especially drawn to “even though I know I am capable of loving more than one person completely and intimately, I should restrain myself out of my respect to fellow believers, so that they don’t stumble.” I know I’ve worried about this same thing myself, often.

The reference here is Romans 14, where Paul is discussing whether Christians should keep kosher. Paul knows that Jesus has changed the terms of salvation, and we no longer need keep strictly to the law in order to experience right relationship with God. Because of the expansive love of Christ, distinctions between clean and unclean no longer matter. I like thinking of Biblical cleanliness as decency; Christ’s love can enter and redeem even the most indecent of places and actions.

Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t stop there. Concerned about the health of his community, Paul first cautions against being judgmental. Live and let live, embrace all as your sisters and brothers in Christ. However, “if your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15). To best understand this Scripture, it is perhaps good for us to apply it to something other than unclean food. I imagine Paul talking about alcohol or sex, both of which can be good gifts from God, or can be abused and lead to disconnection and sin. It takes a lot of maturity and strength to be able to indulge in alcohol or sex as a glorious celebration of God’s beautiful creation, and not to pervert either of these and worship them in place of God. It is easier for some people to abstain altogether and thus retain their focus on God.

The problem comes when we live in community with one another. For those who are early in their journey, and have not yet learned to see God in all things, will the existence of alcohol or free sexual expression or other so-called “vices” distract them from developing the basic spiritual disciplines? If religious leaders are seen to indulge in these pleasures, how can the weaker members of their flock resist?

I find this interpretation patronizing and unrealistic. The statistics for the success of abstinence-only sex ed programs are telling; even though teens often lack the resources and maturity to engage in fully ethical sexual relationships, they still choose to enter them. The teens we give the least education to suffer the greatest consequences; those who have access to comprehensive education and a space to talk about the emotional and spiritual ramifications of sexual activity (as opposed to an overly physical focus on STIs and pregnancy) often choose to delay their own sexual activity, and are better able to make informed and ethical choices when they do choose to have sex.

I’d argue that this approach is necessary for all apparent vices we think would cause others to stumble. Polyamory is hard. It requires a lot of maturity and relationship skills and self-awareness, and should not be entered by just anyone. There are plenty of people who are capable of doing so, however, and it is more, not less, important that these people be able to do so and educate others about the possibility. Like teenagers who have had no practical sexual education and thus are unable to prevent pregnancy, many people who find themselves interested in more than one person are led to cheating, breakups and other negative relationship consequences. Even though every person who desires two or more people does not have the resources and ability to ethically love both people, everyone can benefit from being educated about what is actually entailed in such an arrangement. Everyone can benefit from learning to have an open and honest conversation about love and desire with one’s partner.

Being polyamorous is a part of my Christian witness. The strong family I am building with multiple partners is just as legitimate as the strong families monogamous Christians build. I am better able to minister to and offer care to people because of the lessons I learn in my family. God loves me, and God empowers me to love others without limits. There is no decent and indecent in Christ, only great love.

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It’s a Unicorn, Not a Throuple

Note: this post originally appeared on In Our Words.

Guys we need to talk. Specifically, about this really terrible word everyone has suddenly decided they love: “thruple.” (Or is it “throuple?” God, I don’t even want to debate this.)

It started with New York Magazine a few weeks ago, doing an otherwise adorable little profile on a committed triad of gay men who happen to all run a porn company together. These three men apparently like to refer to themselves as a “throuple” (I refuse to remove the quotes), and, as I read about their life, I decided this was because they have no poly friends and don’t really know how this stuff works.

Then it just got worse. Those three Brazilians got married. I want to be happy for them; this is a huge step and represents the kind of civil rights I might want one day, and yet all I can do is hate them. Because, whether by their own choice or because everyone who has written about this is awful, they keep being called a “throuple.” The Guardian thinks this word is “charming.” The Guardian is wrong about a lot of things.

I’ve spent this weekend watching all of Showtime’s Polyamory: Married and Datingbecause the season wrapped and it’s all finally available on illegal channels. Like any proper internet resident, I then spent a few hours reading blogs about it, to make sure that I was snarking on all the right parts, and maybe to develop a good drinking game in case I ever watch this thing with Johnny. And Gawker just had to review the show, and refer to the triad (who call themselves a triad the whole time!) as a “thruple.” Why? Where did they get this word?

I’ve done some research now. Urban dictionary results for both spellings date to 2008. A few poly blogs and forums have posts from people self-identifying as such a relationship. The word seems to be used predominately in all-male trios, which may explain why I didn’t encounter it until this summer. I may be an Advanced Polyamorist who’s read all the major theory, but my exposure has been almost entirely in the multi-gendered end of the pool–bisexuals are more common in the poly world, and it hasn’t occurred to me to go looking for stories of all-male poly experiences.

Nevertheless, this word is terrible, and gay men don’t get a pass, especially now that it’s being applied to all committed three-way relationships. There is a word for that. It’s well established, and it doesn’t make me want to puke. That word is triad. A triad is what happens when three people love each other and form an equilateral triangle of relationships. Triad. Not “throuple.” Never “throuple.” Triad.

There are lots of other words for three people in some relationship configuration, too! If one person loves two other people, but those two are not connected to each other, that is called a Vee (because it looks like a letter V if you draw it). The person in the middle of the Vee is called a fulcrum, and the two people on either end are each other’s metamours (a word that is used for any partner-of-a-partner).

The favorite kind of triad of people who are a little bit too heteronormative is the MFF, in which a straight dude and two bisexual ladies are all committed to each other. These things totally happen in real life (the triad on Polyamory: Married and Dating is such a triad!) but waaaay too many male-female couples get into polyamory looking for a “hot bisexual babe” to “complete their family” and it’s creepy and gross. Lots of people call the MFF triad a Unicorn, because it’s the goal of many a poly person/couple, and because it is much rarer than other configurations, and maybe also because a single horn is evocative of a single penis.

I love unicorns, and I hate supporting heteronormativity. So I use the term Unicorn interchangeably with triad, especially because when I was 12, I had an elaborate story going on in my head in which I both had a unicorn AND two boyfriends who were also with each other. So the two obviously go together as “things little girls want,” although one of them is mildly easier to achieve. (I gave up on my interest in unicorns shortly thereafter, but I still tell myself bedtime stories about a variation of that adolescent imaginary triad. Because bedtime stories are cool.)

Beyond Triad, Vee, and Unicorn, there are obviously the terms three-way and threesome. These refer to sex more than committed relationships, but are still totally useful and are actual words, unlike “throuple.” Please continue to use them to refer to your three-person sexual encounters, whether you’re in it for the long haul or not. “Three-way relationship” is a little bit clunky, but a whole lot more graceful than “throuple.”

Normally, I’m a descriptivist, and I’m happy to let people use language any way they damn well please. I love a good portmanteau, but “throuple” is an AWFUL one. It sounds like something being killed in the blades of a helicopter, or maybe some weird sludge you clean out of the filter of your water feature. At best, it smacks of the New Age-y approach to relationships that wants to talk about “lovestyles” and forbid kissing with your eyes closed. I say this as a person who mixes spirituality with my sex, and who uses the word metamour in casual conversation. “Throuple” is NOT A WORD.

It’s still early in the spread of this linguistic disease. I’m worried about major news outlets picking it up, though, especially with the Brazilian marriage case. If this breaks out into the wider marriage equality movement, it’s all over. We need to put a stop to it now. It’s going to be hard to take back where it’s already shown up, but if we put out a stronger usage of Triad, we’ll be fine. Start working it into your daily conversation. If you’re friends with someone at a major network morning show, or one of those pop tv psychologists, especially encourage them to use the right word. As long as no housewife ever hears this crime against language, “throuple” can die an ignoble death. Please. Make this happen.

Reclaiming Family Values: Proof that Poly Relationships are Biblically Based

Note: this post originally appeared on In Our Words.

You know what I’m tired of? Conservative, heterosexual, monogamous Christians being the only ones who get to talk about family values. I’ve recently decided to reclaim the word family for my partners and theirs and those other dear wonderful people who float around my inner circle and whom I used to refer to as my Herd. Because then I can claim that I’m not willing to do something because it conflicts with my family responsibilities, and that shuts people up real damn fast.

Of course, you don’t have the real Moral High Ground until you can prove that your family is Biblically based. Fortunately, my views on family are way more supported by the Abrahamic faiths than this bullshit about one man who is in Total Control and one obedient woman. Here are some of my favorite marriages in the Bible:

1. Abraham.

This dude is looked to as both the first Jew AND the first Muslim, and Christians are also a big fan of how he and God were BFFs who ate dinner together all the time. So what did Abraham’s marriage look like? Well, his legal wife Sarah happened to be his half-sister, but he’s early enough in the Bible that people don’t seem to care about that. Abraham really wanted people to know that fact, though, so much so that, every time he arrived in a foreign land, he would introduce Sarah only as his sister, only to find that suddenly she got swooped up and placed in some king’s harem and then Abraham would have to go and apologize and awkwardly free her. This literally happens three times, guys. But don’t worry, Abraham wasn’t a sad mono partner. When Sarah failed to get pregnant, she generously offered her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham, with whom he promptly conceived a son. Of course, then Sarah got jealous and threw Hagar and Ishmael out, which is really poor poly manners. No matter, the First Family Of Three Major Religions remains poly as all get out.

2. Jacob. 

Jacob is Abraham’s grandson, and picked up his grandfather’s polygamous ways after Isaac, who was completely monogamous, proved to be a Really Boring Character Who Couldn’t Even Tell His Own Damn Sons Apart. Jacob did it kind of my accident, though, because he fell in love with this girl Rachel, but her dad switched her for her sister Leah at the last minute and apparently Jacob didn’t notice until the next morning and then they were already married, so whoops? Anyway he got to marry Rachel eventually, too, creating the first literal Sister Wives. What I actually love most about Jacob’s marriage is this wonderful little scene in Genesis 30, when one of Leah’s sons has harvested some mandrakes, which apparently were supposed to increase fertility. Rachel was desperate to get pregnant, and so she asked Leah to help her out. Leah agreed, but only if Rachel let her have a Sexy Date Night with Jacob. This kind of metamour bargaining happens all the time in my life, and I’m charmed to see it so plainly in the Bible.

3. David.

David is considered the Best King Israel Ever Had, and he’s deeply associated with the Messianic myth. Neither Christians nor Jews can pretend they don’t venerate him. And do you know how many wives David had? I don’t, actually, because no one can quite keep track of them all. Everyone knows about Bathsheba, the woman whose husband David had murdered after he got her pregnant via extramarital affair. David’s divine punishment for this action? That baby died, but then the next baby Bathsheba had was his heir Solomon, aka the embodiment of all Wisdom. David’s got some other wives with good stories, though! Abigail is my favorite. She’s married to this guy Nabal, who refused to help David when he was fleeing Saul’s armies (long story). Abigail apparently had a big crush on David, though, because she sent him supplies without Nabal’s knowledge. God apparently was so touched at Abigail’s generosity that he immediately struck Nabal dead so that David could marry her. Even though David was already married. God really wanted to make sure David had lots of variety among his wives, you see.

4. Solomon. 

David’s son Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. It would take him two and three-quarters years to have sex with all of them, if he fucked only one per day. Respect.

5. Hosea. 

Hosea was a prophet, and his prophetic career began when God told him to marry a prostitute. Because Israel had been slutty, see, and just like Sarah Palin opposes abortion so much that she had a special needs baby, Hosea opposed Israel’s spiritual sluttiness so much that he married a real slutty lady and raised the children she conceived by other men. And probably lived off her prostitution profits, because Political Performance Art can’t be that lucrative.

I also want to give a Special Bonus Mention to the Prophet Muhammad, who was a proud polygamist. What I like about Islam is that it does set limits on polygamy (four wives per man), which is a pretty good practical rule for polyamorists, too. Once you get past four serious partners, scheduling gets real damn hard. The Prophet had way more than four wives, though (13!), because he is Special. He actually seems to have been a really great guy to them; many of his wives were widows or orphans, i.e. women who didn’t have a lot of options on their own. Marrying the Prophet gave them status, security, and opportunity they never would have had otherwise, and that’s honorable.

So, there you have it. That Bible folks love to thump is chock-full of families that look like mine, only with a lot more murders and a lot fewer happy dinners followed by board games and beers. I think I’ll stick to my Family Values, thanks very much.

Poly Etiquette: For Poly Folks and Their Friends

Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.

1. What is okay about contact with other partners during time with one?

So, you’ve got more than one partner, congratulations! But where do you draw the line between them?  If you’re on a date with your boyfriend and your wife texts you, can you answer that text?  What if you and your wife are off on a romantic getaway weekend- can her girlfriend call her just to say hi?  There’s no easy answer to this, and really needs to be negotiated in each relationship. Some people are more inclined to jealousy and want some special time that’s just theirs, and some people (like me) don’t really care who you text when, as long you’re also paying attention to me.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to do exactly what you’d do if you were monogamous and the contact was coming from a friend- don’t spend your whole dinner date texting someone else, but if you’re just watching tv together, it’s probably okay to exchange a few messages. And if the partner you’re with (or the one trying to contact you when you’re not responding) gets offended, sit down and talk about it. Boundaries are best when explicitly stated.

2. Nicknames: How many pookies are you allowed to have?

Some poly people like to have a “special” category within relationships.  So, one partner is Sugartits and another is Babycham and your third is Sweetie.  I’m generally pretty against this kind of policy, and not just because of terrible nickname choices (it could also be something like “I will only eat sushi with you” or “We’re exchanging ceremonial toe rings and I will never do that with anyone else”).  Mostly I am against this because it gets to be a lot to keep in your head, and because it implies that your relationship needs some external trappings to make it special.

My partners are special to me because of who they are, not because we heard some song on the radio together once and now No One Else Is Ever Allowed To Listen To It. Implying that your Special Thing That You Do is what makes your relationship is kind of sad- so the moment you slip up during sex and say Sweetie instead of Sugartits, everything you and Sugartits had is ruined?  Unlikely.

3. How do you meet your partner’s partners?

Metamour etiquette could probably be its own huge topic, but one often nerve-wracking experience is meeting your new squeeze’s partner for the first time.  Different people have different expectations about this: some relationships are Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and you’ll never see your metamours, some people want everyone to be a Big Happy Family that spends all their time together, but most people like some balance, where metamours can enjoy each other’s company, but without the expectation that you’re going to be best friends just because you’re dating the same person.

It’s best to try to figure out what your expectations are ahead of time, and what your partner and metamour are expecting, and then to take things slow. Do something low-key the first time you meet, ideally with the middle of the vee also present, and see how you click.  Sometimes you’ll have all kinds of things in common beyond mutual attraction to a partner, and want to deepen the friendship, and sometimes you’ll just be cordial.  And sometimes one or both of you will be jealous and it will be hard to spend time together.  The important thing is to be open and honest and try your best, and avoid treating this like some big scary rivalry.  You’re both nice people, otherwise your partner wouldn’t be with either one of you.

4. How do you invite a poly person to something? A plus-three?

So, you’re pretty sure your good friend has at least three partners, and maybe those people have partners, and you definitely want your friend at your wedding, but do you have to have everyone else? Of course not, it’s your wedding! Do whatever you want!  But seriously, this can put some relationships in a more difficult place than others.  Some poly people have clear primaries and secondaries, and there’s no need to invite more than the primary if you’ve got limited space, (Note: if your space is unlimited, go ahead and make that unlimited invitation and let your friend decide).

Some are pretty close-knit triads or quads, though, and it’s not easy for the center of the vee to decide which partner to bring. In that situation, if you can make space for a plus-two, you are a Really Great Friend. It’s definitely okay to ask, though! Just let your friend know you want to invite them and the people they are close to, but you’re concerned about your guest list. If there’s one thing poly people understand, it’s balancing limited resources. Your friend might already have some agreements with their partners about who goes to what, or might not want your grandma to know they’re poly, and so may prefer to bring no one.  Asking goes a long way.

5. So really, what is it okay to ask about?

A lot of my friends are naturally curious about my relationships, and want to know more.  Many of them feel a little sheepish asking me things, though.  They don’t want to offend me, look ignorant or delve into things that aren’t their business.

Fortunately for my friends, I’m pretty much an open book in the middle of a poly circle that doesn’t know how to keep secrets. I can’t promise everyone else is like me, but it’s probably safe to ask your poly friends about relationship dynamics and who sleeps with whom and whether they experience jealousy. Don’t push for details that would be overly personal if your friend was monogamous, but you don’t have to act like you automatically know how everything works.  We know our relationships are complex.  We’re used to drawing maps for people.  It’s kind of like grandparents showing off pictures of their grandbabies: we actually love talking about the people we love, and we’re flattered you asked.

Crazy Things People Ask My Boyfriend When They Find Out He’s Poly

Note: this post originally appeared at In Our Words.

So, the other day I finally introduced Thing One to the joys of David Chastity’s wisdom. Not, like, finally gave him some advice about his life, ’cause let’s be honest, I’ve been doing that forever, but specifically showed him all the silly questions you fine folks have needed me to answer. And because Thing One is a more grown-up type married person than I am, he also gets asked some crazy questions by poly-ignorant folks, and felt that it was time to set even more people straight.

So, without further ado, I have assembled another fine collection of ridiculous Family Values questions about the Polyamorous Lifestyle that we need to get out of the way.

What if you meet someone you like more than your husband/wife?

There’s this problem in monogamous culture. This myth about One True Love, and either loving someone so much that you want to smoosh yourself onto them all the time and sync up your pooping and whatever else Phil Collins sings about, or being Cold and Heartless and not really worthy of the title True Love.

In real life, though, relationships take on lots of shapes and sizes and go through all kinds of phases and you can love different people different ways at the same time. Or in similar ways. Let’s imagine you have one of those Married Relationships, where you signed some papers and bought a house and linked your retirement accounts and all that romantic mumbo-jumbo. Let’s go ahead and say you’ve been doing that for five years together. And now you meet a new hottie, who is super-hot, and wants to sex you up, and because you have a Healthy Polyamorous Marriage, you get to go start sexing up that super-hottie and having conversations about mutual interests and developing an intimate and emotionally supportive relationship. Does this mean you love your Spouse less? Why should it? Even if you and your New Hottie have more common interests and sexual compatibility than you and Spouse, New Hottie doesn’t have the five years’ time that you’ve spent with Spouse.

That’s not worth nothing, folks. Building a long-term life with someone is a really strong tie.

Of course, if you’re Thing One, you might eventually end up in a situation where the person who is your legal spouse changes–because of this weird law we have that you’re only allowed to be married to one person at a time. See, Thing One’s (now ex-) wife is gonna marry her other partner and Thing One’s also remarrying. The point here is that if you’re involved in a relationship with mature adults, the nature of your life and relationship(s) can shift, but you can talk about those things like mature adults and come up with agreements that work for everyone.

Be warned, though: divorce is complex and expensive, even if you are all mature adults who just want to sign the papers and continue to live in the same house and share everything.

WILL SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

I’ve been trying really hard to avoid this Newt Gingrich Open Marriage Fiasco, because I don’t want to hear people’s loony ideas about what poly is, and I most certainly don’t want to hear said loonies slapping an “open marriage” label on straight-up cheating–and thus Ruining Everything.

But it’s hard to avoid, and one of the reasons people love to whine about marriages with multiple partners involved is so they can say it creates a bad environment for children. Because of stability or something. Poor Thing One and his first wife deal with this judgment crap a lot, because they have a 6 year old and a 3 year old.

But look, People With Opinions on Parenting. When you have more than two adults in a house, that means more than two adults are paying attention to them there children. That means that it’s a lot easier to find someone to be home with the kids at any given time, and leaves each individual adult a lot more time to take care of their own needs and be happy and healthy and not take out their unhappiness on the children. It’s not like having sex with more than one person suddenly means you forget how to not have sex in front of your children, or otherwise expose them to age-inappropriate and/or scarring experiences.

And don’t go giving me that bullshit about how polyamory means that children are deprived of a stable home and are instead cycled through a laundry list of interchangeable adults, leading to Confusion and Problems. That’s what happens when a single parent is a serial monogamist. In the poly world, you only bring home partners that you are serious about and intend to keep around for a long time. Random hookups don’t want to deal with your kids anyway. And because you have a Mature Adult Non-Monogamous Relationship, your core marriage is likely going to be a lot stronger, and avoid divorce, unlike certain Republican Presidential Candidates I know who can’t seem to keep a single long-term relationship going because, it turns out, lying to your spouse is not a very good Family Value.

This whole situation just sounds like an excuse to cheat, you selfish cad.

I always assume this question comes from a place of jealousy. Some sad sack can’t believe you’re getting all the honeys, and so accuses you of being selfish and terrible and stealing all the pretty people for yourself, and in the process ruining your own marriage, because outsiders know more about your marriage than you do. There’s a second version of this question that goes the other way, which is “how can you deal with letting your husband/wife sleep with other people? Don’t you have any self-respect?”

The same fundamental misconception lies behind each of these, and I kind of have to blame Sister Wives for it (sorry, Sister Wives). See, simple people can’t seem to hold in their head that both partners in a non-monogamous relationship would have other partners. But I don’t care that Thing One is spending the majority of his time with his other partners, because (a) they were there before me and I knew what I was signing up for and (b) I got my own other stuff going on, including other partners of my own. It would be kind of unfair and sad if only one person in the relationship was allowed to pursue other romantic partners.

It doesn’t always go like that, of course. Some people are quite content having just one partner, and allowing that partner to spend time with other people. Humans are all different from each other, and we fill our needs in lots of ways. Poly is cool because it lets us experiment and find the balance that is right for everyone, without pretending that co-pooping is everyone’s dream life.

Crazy Things People Ask Me When They Find Out I’m Poly

Note: this post was originally published at In Our Words.

I’m one of the polyamorous types that are so hip in the news these days. It is at least five times more exciting than you think. And I know you think it’s exciting, because all the monos I talk to are always full of questions. So settle on down there, I am here to answer all of your worst questions about the poly lifestyle, so you can stop embarrassing yourself. Seriously. Y’all ask ridiculous things.

First, though, there is one legitimate question that no one asks often enough. Is poly an orientation or a preference or what? Do you choose to be poly, or are you born this way, or something else?

The answer, as you will often find in the poly world, is “yes.” I was born this way. The first time I wanted two boyfriends, I was about 13. A few years later, I learned there was a word for it, and I’ve never looked back. I tell people I’ve only been monogamous by accident, and these days I can barely even date single people. It just weirds me out, all that free time they have.

Don’t assume I’m the norm, though. Plenty of now-poly people spent years happily monogamous, then fell for someone poly, then discovered that this way of life is so much better. (I’m at least half kidding, some of my best friends are monogamous, etc.) Sometimes, dating a poly person isn’t enough to change a mono! My boyfriend’s wife’s partner is STILL monogamous, in spite of being involved in a family in which “boyfriend’s wife’s partner” is a perfectly normal way to describe someone.

So, as you can surmise, there is no easy overarching poly story. Because we’re humans, complex and all. There are some broad themes, though, and it seems like everyone pretty much wants to know the same three or four things, so how about we get those out of the way now, so we can have more interesting conversations? Awesome.

1. How do you make sure not to call the wrong person’s name out during sex?

Easy. Stop saying people’s names during sex. For a while, my response was, “Who the hell does this anyway?” but then it turns out that my boyfriend’s wife totally does, so I guess at least one person might have this problem. But I haven’t heard of her screwing this basic thing up, either, because of “the different people you are dating are different from each other.” And if you do screw it up, you all have a good laugh and go back to the sex you were having — because sex is awesome and names aren’t that important anyway.

 2. Can I have a threesome with you and your roommate?

Usually, this is from someone I have already had sex with or am about to. The answer is: DEAR GOD, NO. Why do you think this is okay, dudes I have had sex with? (Ladies know better than to ask.) What awful porn plot has made you think that people regularly engage in casual sex with the people they live with?

My sluttiest boyfriend has tried to tell me that this is a totally legitimate request, but I have seen the way he reacts when someone suggest that he and his roommate have sex. It is: “we have a good thing going on here, adding sex would make it weird.” Having sex with someone you live with after you start living with them is weird. Stop suggesting it.

3.   How do you know who sleeps in which bed?

My boyfriend lives with two partners and also his wife’s partner. I generally go over to his house to hang out. That’s a lot of people, and there aren’t that many bedrooms — so this is actually a pretty legit question. The answer is very simple, though. We talk about it. Sometimes, we have a fancy robot battle to figure out who’s gonna be stuck in the bed that will inevitably have a squirmy three-year-old by the middle of the night. Mostly we just use words, though. They’re pretty useful. (Some poly-people put more than two adult people in a bed at night. Some don’t! I bet they all talk about it though.)

4.   Aren’t you going to get AIDS?

This would be the judgmental response to “I’m not monogamous.” It doesn’t even really make sense, and you all certainly know better. So I’m not going to spend much time on it. The answer is: “People who are honest about having multiple sexual partners tend to be a lot more careful.” We use condoms and other barriers; we get tested regularly. Some poly people talk about “fluid bonding,” but I think that sounds gross, even if it’s supposed to be a tender expression of deep love and commitment.

5. How can you be a Christian and poly?

I probably get this more than most poly folks.  Let’s not pretend all the poly people are Christian, after all; none of my partners are.  I just happen to be in seminary and pretty active in a lot of Christian circles. And let me tell you, folks: it is not that hard to be Christian and poly. Sure, you gotta deal with judgmental conservatives, but who doesn’t?

And there is a lot more Biblical evidence that God doesn’t care so much about monogamy than there is evidence for a pro-queer stance. I don’t know that there’s a single dude in the Old Testament who has only one lady-partner. (Alright, Isaac, but he’s the worst patriarch anyway, and God wanted to kill him, right?)

Sure, the New Testament’s stance is generally “sex is kind of icky and you should avoid it,” but who wants to live like that? You don’t need to dig into fundie Mormonism to justify multiple partners; it’s all right there in that emphasis on loving everybody. And the part where Solomon, Wisest Person Who Ever Was, has over 1000 wives and concubines. I wanna see HIS Google Calendar.

So, there you have it, folks! The five questions I am most tired of answering. I hope this helps you dispel some of your silliest notions about the lifestyle where love is multiplied, not divided. (That’s a Sister Wives quote. Sister Wives is a fantastic show.)

If you have less silly (or, I guess, more silly) questions about being poly, hit me up in the comments! I am full of Sage Advice.