Hanson identifies as polyamorous, a brand of consensual non-monogamy — or ethical cheating — in which partners are in more than one committed relationship at once with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is difficult to determine the actual of people in such relationships because of a lack of research, but they are becoming more visible because of the Internet and social media, according to psychologist Meg Manthos, whose clientele is about 30 percent poly groups. And according to a national Avvo.
The group started five years ago and has grown from four people to between 10 and 25 at each of the monthly meetings, they said. In addition, the Louisville Poly e-mail list which they also run has people on it.
Jason and his wife, who asked that their last names not be used to avoid any social stigma, said they hope more people will come to understand their lifestyle. Like monogamous relationships, every poly relationship has a different set of rules.
And it takes a lot of work to maintain several healthy relationships at once, Jason said. People get crazy when they get into a new relationship. Regardless of how many rules they make, sometimes issues do come up, and it can be hard when there are more than two parties who have to come to an agreement, Jason said. Perennial topics include scheduling, jealousy and public perceptions.
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Polyamorists often see themselves as predisposed to their lifestyle, Jason added. He said that when he was 18, he cheated on a girlfriend, which made him realize that monogamy might not work for him. Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington and a relationship expert for PerfectMatch.
To deal with the problem of jealousy, poly couples talk about what might be causing the feeling, and work to reassure their partners, Sheff said. She identifies as bisexual, and she and her husband have ly lived with another woman forming a triad, one of many ways to make polyamory work.
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She and Jason have been dating for four years, but she has known her husband, Jim, since they were in high school. She and her husband have a 5-year-old daughter.
One of the primary rules in their relationship is that any child she has will be raised between herself and her husband no matter who the father is — something that she has to explain to other partners. Hanson, who works as a nurse at a nursing home, talks openly about her lifestyle with anyone who asks, so people often pepper her with questions. I want him to be happy and he wants me to be happy.
Psychologist Manthos said most of the poly couples she counsels have problems similar to monogamous couples she works with, except poly couples tend to have more issues with how they are perceived.
Unlike monogamous couples, people who identify as poly have to worry about judgment from their families, teachers and the public, Manthos said. The Louisville poly community often works as an extended family as well, Jason said. Couples plan activities so all of their kids can hang out together at local parks or museums.
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But Jason, Hanson and other polyamorists have a long way to go until they are fully accepted. Jason said he and his parents are still working on an understanding about his relationships. Hanson recently had a conversation with her husband about moving to Louisville to be closer to Jason. Reporter Janica Kaneshiro can be reached at and on Twitter janicakaneshiro.
Open marriage : a marriage in which both people agree to allow each other to have sex with other people.
Polyamory: the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time. Facebook Twitter. Louisville has growing polyamory community.
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