Betsy has a full day ahead of her, even for someone with four romantic partners. An hour after her interview with a reporter, she's due to pick up one of her girlfriends at the airport. Later this afternoon, she'll have a coffee date with a potential fifth partner, followed by dinner and a movie with her "primary partner," Lola, whom she sees three nights a week.
Betsy who asked that her last name not be revealed has nothing against monogamous relationships; she was married for 28 years and still would be, she adds, had her husband not died when she was Two years after his death, Betsy began practicing polyamory, or having more than one romantic partner at the same time. Today, she's part of a constellation of intermingled love interests. Betsy also le poly activities potlucks, movie nights, discussion groups for other Vermonters, conducts polyamory workshops at sex-positive retreats in Maryland, and coordinates Vermont polyamory groups and s through Facebook and FetLife.
The latter is an online social network for the BDSM and fetish communities. But, contrary to what many non-poly people may assume, Betsy insists that polyamory is not synonymous with swinging or open relationships. For her, it requires much deeper emotional dating with Vermont partners. They all know about and consent to her other romantic relationships, as she does polyamorous theirs.
In some ways, that's the least of it for me," she says.
I'm poly, and here's why i'm deleting my dating apps
In addition to Lola, with whom Betsy has been "keeping company" for seven years, she has two boyfriends: one in Connecticut, who's married, and another in New Jersey. In fact, the Jersey boyfriend is someone Betsy dated before she was married.
Despite her many loves, some of whom she sees only a few times a year, Betsy practices "solo poly," meaning she doesn't cohabitate with any of her partners. Instead, she shares her home with a daughter and granddaughter. Why would anyone choose to enter such a tangled web of love, especially when simple monogamous relationships are potentially fraught with drama, miscommunication and emotional turbulence?
For Betsy, that means she may go kayaking and cycling with one partner, see movies and have dinner with a second, and attend workshops and weekend retreats with a third. Her sexual intensity with each partner may ebb and flow over time.
But what remains constant, she says, is the deep emotional attachment she feels to them all. Betsy doesn't deny that polyamory presents unique challenges, including something the polyamory community refers to as NRE, or "new relationship energy": that flush of excitement, obsession and lust one feels when finding a new partner. When that occurs, she says, "the green monster," aka jealousy, can rear its head.
Betsy's partner Lola agrees. A year-old book editor and relationship coach who self-identifies as a trans female, Lola first began exploring polyamory as her year marriage ended. Like many formerly monogamous people, Lola initially assumed that polyamory dating just about having multiple sex partners — that is, until she met her first poly partner.
Currently, she has two. First and foremost, Lola says, polyamory only works if all the partners are honest and transparent with each other. So, if Lola invites Betsy to dinner one night and Betsy already has plans with another partner, Lola expects Betsy to reveal those plans and polyamorous make excuses, such as saying she's Vermont tired. Total honesty also means practicing safety, Lola emphasizes.
All the partners must be up-front about whom they're having sex with and who may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection; Lola and Betsy say they get tested annually for STIs. While they don't necessarily share the on paper, they do inform their partners that everything is A-OK — and expect their partners to do the same.
Betsy and Lola have another rule of engagement: Neither will form an emotional attachment with someone who's cheating. The wife of Betsy's married boyfriend in Connecticut not only knows about her husband's polyamory but consents to it and even considers Betsy her friend. As Betsy puts it, "I don't want to be someone's dirty little secret. How common is polyamory in Vermont?
It's difficult to say. The U. Census Bureau doesn't have a box to check for unconventional romances, and even if it did, its s would be unlikely to reflect the many shapes and permutations of existing polyamorous relationships. As Lola asks, would the government only count partners who live together? How about those who only see each other once a week or once a year?
Still, there are clues to the practice's popularity. Several Vermonters interviewed for this story belong to a local polyamory discussion list that claims to members. Similarly, a search of PolyMatchMaker, an online polyamory dating site, turned up people within miles of Burlington Vermont from singles in their twenties to gay and straight couples in their sixties — who are interested or engaged in polyamorous partnerships. Those in the poly community suggest their actual s are polyamorous higher. They also say one common misconception they hear from skeptics of their lifestyle is that polyamorous people can't or won't commit to "real" or "healthy" relationships.
Indeed, mainstream society's bias toward binary bonds may explain why so few polyamorous Vermonters are dating about their multiple love interests, except with trusted family, friends and coworkers. Such is the case of "Chris" not her real namea year-old Chittenden County woman who works in higher education. When Chris began exploring polyamory several years ago, after her marriage ended, she was surprised to learn how many of her colleagues were also polyamorous.
She theorizes that the trend may be due to academics' intellectual willingness to challenge societal norms. For Chris, those norms were instilled early in life.
She was raised in a traditional Catholic household that taught her she would find "one true soul mate," get married, have kids and stay together until death. Chris, who was only 23 when she met her now-ex, stayed married for 20 years but always felt spiritual attachments to other men and women, even though she was never physically unfaithful.
Now divorced, Chris has shifted her relationship priorities toward wanting "complete sovereignty in mind, body and spirit.
Each knows about the other, though they haven't met. As for rules, Chris says she and her partners have just one: "We check in regularly on the status of our connection and make sure that we feed it as well as we can. The people interviewed for this story give a sense of the variety of forms polyamory can assume. In her marriage, Charlotte loved someone besides her husband.
When I finally discovered the paradigm of polyamory, that really felt like the right fit for me. What about the challenge of explaining poly relationships to kids? Lola says her grown kids were initially "puzzled by it," and it took them a while to adjust to the concept. Is polyamory more practical for empty nesters than for those in the parental trenches of changing diapers and carpooling to soccer Vermont Charlotte, who's reached the opposite end of the spectrum — she's caring for aging parents — sees clear advantages to having more people in her life who can pitch in when she needs physical and emotional support.
For her part, Chris, who has t custody of her teenaged son, hasn't broached the subject of her polyamory yet. But she polyamorous she plans to before he finds himself pressured into conventional, and often patriarchal, modes of love and relationships dating realizing that other paths can work, too. I love my sibling.
I love my son So why can't I have that on a [romantic] level? As long as I'm ethical and honest and treat people kindly and wisely.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Whole Lotta Love". Showing 1- 5 of 5. Comments are closed.
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