Redefining how to love
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Why have one partner when you can have two? Or three? Or even four? This is the question Lina Mooney, 30, found herself contemplating in her twenties. Although she accepts her situation is out of the ordinary, she's comfortable with how normal she feels about it.
Polyamory is nothing new. Hippies have enjoyed communal living and non-monogamous relationships for years, and generations before them did the same. But recently polyamory is making heads turn following the LGBTQIA+ movement.
Lina describes herself as painfully straight, but polyamory was not something she thought about seriously while she was growing up.
“When I was a teenager, I said to my mum I would like a pilot husband, and then a baker husband, and then another husband to stay at home, but it was a joke.”
Lina finds her ability to separate sex from monogamy opens her up to more fulfilling relationships. She is part of something called ‘kitchen table polyamory’, where all the people involved can happily sit around the kitchen table without animosity. In kitchen table poly, not everyone has to be in relationships with each other; one partner can be dating two different people, but they would not date each other, therefore creating a 'hinge’.
‘Kitchen table’ is just a name for this specific type of polyamory, any issues that arise are not literally discussed around the table, but Lina admits that with more people involved there's a lot more talking.
“There’s more stuff to fight about but it requires a level of communication that precludes a lot of fights, so you are forced to talk things to death.”
Despite sometimes talking things to death, Lina finds this type of polyamory best suited to her needs. Currently, she has two boyfriends, who are also polyamorous with other partners and some have children.
Many outsiders wonder how polyamorous people cope with their jealousy, but Lina thinks a lot of it is down to respect. One of Lina’s partners’ is married to another woman and they all get along. Lina makes sure to only complement their marriage and to never come between them.
“I respect my lover's marriage by supporting their relationship as it is: not outing them, toning down the sexting when they are with their family and trying to be on good terms with the children.”
To make this easier she re-examined how she thought about jealousy.
“Jealousy is a secondary emotion, it’s recommended you examine where the jealousy is coming from and there is a gradual dismantling of the ownership aspects of relationships – which is not an easy pill to swallow.”
This lack of ownership is one key factor in making polyamory work, and many remind themselves that they do not own their partner, so how could they ever control their actions?
“It’s recommended to rephrase your jealousy with ‘your partner is not obligated to be with you out of fear of repercussion, they choose to be with you every minute of the day’, and that’s a happy thought.”
Another thing she discovered with her emotions was that she was no longer needed to be the single emotional resource for someone.
“You can kind of outsource it. It’s cliché but women are often forced to perform all the emotional labour for their husbands.”
Once she managed to put all these beliefs into practice, next came explaining to others, which she found quite difficult. Some people didn’t understand and refused to educate themselves. Lina found this especially painful when it came from someone close to her.
Interestingly, none of the hateful comments ever come from the children of Lina’s partners; they treat her like a family friend without hostility. Like most things that deviate from the status quo, it seems that hatred is learned. This is why Lina has now chosen to keep her cards close to her chest for fear of repercussions.
“There is a very difficult balance to strike between being open and just protecting yourself. In the beginning, I had to tell everyone, but this mostly just resulted in people fading themselves out of my life.”
Instead, Lina now skirts around the topic, seeing how someone reacts to the idea of polyamory before telling them about herself. Sometimes she never tells and says one of her boyfriends is a family friend. She admits it’s not full disclosure but that it’s really not everyone’s business what they do in the bedroom anyway.
However, when there is no conversation and she’s just passing by strangers in public, they are too busy with their own lives to care. She has walked down city streets arm in arm with her boyfriend and his then-girlfriend and nobody batted an eyelid.
Polyamory has made Lina’s life feel complete and let her redefine not only her relationship with herself but also with everyone else around her.
“Polyamory allows me to think differently in ways of a relationship, you have love, sex, belonging, marriage and all the legal stuff but it’s not necessary to be in the same pot anymore.”