BY: JESSICA BURDE
Polyamory is defined as having multiple relationships with “the full knowledge and consent of everyone who is affected.”
I recently had a chance to talk with Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, authors of More Than Two, a how-to book for polyamorous relationships.
Franklin has “always been poly, even before [he] had the language to describe it.” He started practising polyamory in 1984, but it wasn’t until he found the alt.polyamory list in 1993 that he learned the term for his unconventional approach to relationships. He also realized he wasn’t alone.
Eve’s journey took a different route. Eve “never felt monogamous, but never explored it as openly or concretely as [Franklin] did.” After some experimenting in high school, she settled into monogamous relationships in university. She learned of polyamory through a friend, but didn’t pursue it. Instead, she came to practice polyamory through swinging with her husband, Peter.
“We were monogamous for four years. We read Dan Savage’s book, Skipping Towards Gomorrah, [in 2004]. There’s a chapter in there on swinging. That got us talking about non-monogamy and the fact that we didn’t want an exclusive relationship anymore and weren’t sure what that would look like,” says Eve.
Eve and Pete tried dating with strict rules of what was and wasn’t allowed. In 2008, Eve fell in love her husband’s friend, Ray. “In that four years of exploration and learning, nothing really happened. Meeting Ray and falling in love with Ray was like ‘Boom, okay, this is real now.’”
Openness towards polyamory (or what some call open relationships) is growing in popularity among those who believe that love is strongest unchained. There are many approaches to the practice of polyamory; some prefer to keep other lovers completely separate from their committed relationship as a way to curb jealousy, while others, like Eve and Pete, regularly socialize with their other partners as a group. Eve described a time when she, her boyfriend Ray, her husband, and her husband’s girlfriend Cleo went to Polycamp Vancouver Island together.
“All of us were there, we were relaxed, we were away from the troubles of anything. And we went out to dinner that night and it was this weird feedback loop of happiness, and we were all so happy, we got giddy walking down the street. We took some pictures of all of us linked arms along the waterfront, and it’s just this happy bubble we were in with our NRE [new relationship energy] and happy-to-see-each-other happy.”
New relationship energy is the sublime buzz and initial spark one feels in a new and unsoiled love affair. Compersion, which can be thought of as the opposite of jealousy, is a feeling of joy when a loved one takes pleasure from investing in another romantic relationship.
But still I wondered: When you are in multiple relationships, is there a tendency towards favouritism?
“My fave kitten is always the one I’m holding right now,” said Franklin
Franklin and Eve’s personal experiences, the good and the bad, fill More Than Two. Their mistakes and triumphs offer people considering or exploring polyamory a chance to see what it can be like. The two met in Portland at an astronomy lecture on Hawthorne Street (later to inspire the name of their publishing company, Thorton Press) after Eve—a long time fan of Franklin’s polyamory and BDSM blog—messaged him on Facebook and then followed him on Twitter, where her handle was @TalkScienceToMe.
Franklin grinned and said, “Totally set me up. How could I not follow up on that?”
Franklin had been querying publishers for years to write a how-to book on polyamory. Continuously, he received nearly identical rejection slips that said they wouldn’t publish a how-to book but would love to do a memoir. He didn’t want to write a memoir, so the book stayed an idea. When Eve approached Franklin about writing a book together, he wasn’t quite prepared for her drive to get things done. The two decided that they would skip the middleman and start their own publishing company.
In More Than Two, the authors advise that couples shouldn’t go into polyamory intending to “try” it. The book lays out some solid logic in opposition—it isn’t fair to use your new partners as guinea pigs for your relationship experiments, and polyamory is a lot like skydiving. You can’t ease out of the plane, sit on the wing for a while, cling the landing gear until you feel safe, then finally let go.
“When you leave that plane,” Franklin says, “there is no going back, even if you decide poly is not for you, you may go back to monogamy, but you’re probably going to approach your relationship differently after that, and that is okay.”
I wondered about the people who are considering polyamory but hesitant of the potential consequences? In the end, the attitude with which you approach it is the great definer. You can get into a pool by sticking your toe in, but the best way is usually to just jump in. You can take the ladder out later if you need to.
As Eve puts it, “the early stages of a poly relationship are very hard if you are not prepared to confront that struggle and move through it. When you hit that struggle, which is going to happen, you are going to put other people at risk. And it is really worth it to sit down before hand and discuss [how you will handle the struggle].”
Franklin added, “Don’t make veto [rules], don’t script in advance, be prepared for the fact that it’s not going to be easy, be prepared to jump out of the plane, and really examine your reasons for going into it.”
“I would say, also, be prepared for the possibility that you and your partner may end up wanting different things,” Eve finished.
If you are interested in exploring polyamory for yourself, or learning more of Eve and Franklin’s stories, More Than Two is now available in eBook on Amazon and paperback through online retailers and bookstores.
When it comes to polyamory, many tend to focus on the negatives, while ignoring the benefits of the liberation of love.
As Franklin puts it, “I would not be who I am without the love of my partners. Every one of them has changed my life in some way, and I am hugely indebted to all of them.”
To learn more about polyamory check out this episode of Fully Exposed Podcast.