A polyamorous quad shares their experiences with ethical non-monogamy

Hey, everyone! Viro here. I’ve been busy with travel and running our Open and Polyamorous Furry Relationships 101 panel at Texas Furry Fiesta, so this week we’re featuring a guest column from a happy polyamorous quad who took the time to share their experiences with polyamory with us. I hope you all find this fresh perspective on the polyamorous lifestyle within the fandom to be as interesting and educational as I did!

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Polyamorous relationships are definitely not for everyone, but with people with the right mindset, it can not only work well, but help complete our lives. All of our professional skills complement each other. We work together as a family to accomplish everything together. I (Keiran) never would have thought that I would be in a poly relationship years ago. Now I am now in a stable four-way poly relationship and happier than I ever imagined.

How I ended up in a poly, open relationship, and I’ll use my mates’ online names here:

Years before meeting my mates, without getting into details, my life was horrible. I was in an extremely abusive relationship that only made matters worse. After leaving that relationship I was left in an unhealthy state of mind; at the time I didn’t consider myself mentally stable enough to handle another boyfriend. I was afraid of being used again and hurt. Instead, I focused on getting my life together. During this time I met Skiewolve. Feelings for him started to form, however they were mixed because I didn’t want another relationship. In lieu of this, as time progressed, I became extremely attached to Skie. Looking back I still clearly remember our first “date.” We both took a week off for him to visit, and I remember it as being one of the happiest weeks of my life. However, owing to a fear of repeating past mistakes, I cut myself off from taking it the next step.

About a year later, I met Nashoba by complete chance. We were talking about something trivial online, his fennec profile portrait. Some time later (I had another one of my drunken emotional “moments”) while talking with him I opened up way more than I normally would. I ended up bringing up some dark past experiences and views that are uncommon. I was afraid I was going to scare him away at first, but that ended up bringing us closer together. We share a lot of personal experiences that are extremely rare. Both of us hold a similar worldview, which is not typical, especially among furries.

At the time Andy was already married to Nashoba. Nashoba introduced me to Andy and we slowly started connecting. To note: they felt alone in the world about certain things that Nashoba and I connected on. Andy told Nashoba he was okay with a third. After some time, I moved in with them. In the last two and a half years since we met, Andy and Nashoba helped me resolve many negative personal and emotional experiences that lingered. Because of that, I’ve been trying to make some of their dreams come true as well. Case in point: Nashoba is the reason I am able to physically function now. I had a spine injury for 8 years and had lost hope on ever resolving it. Nashoba pressured me (even when I was being bitter and combative about it) until eventually we found a treatment that worked. Today I can do things that I haven’t in years and I am forever grateful towards my family for helping me.

While all of this was happening, it was obvious to them though that I was still attached to Skiewolve. At conventions for example, when saying goodbye to friends, I was fine. However, after taking Skie to the airport, I would silently cry for hours as we were driving back home. Andy and Nashoba are the only other ones I did that for. We eventually brought him in with us too, and we couldn’t be happier.

About the relationship, and handling some misconceptions:

Some of this applies to both open relationships and poly relationships. To start off: for us, there is no jealousy. Some people do not legitimately feel jealousy when their partners and or spouses are with others. This is because they trust and respect each other. Not because they do not love their partners/spouses. When I talk to some people (in monogamous relationships) I can see the difference in mindset. For example, when talking about playing with others, I might hear “You LET them do that?” Your partner and or spouse is not your property. You don’t “let” them do things. You communicate, you agree on things, and you set boundaries. I’m not in an open relationship to “not feel bad about cheating” as I’ve also heard it phrased. I want my husbands to have the option to play with others as well. If I hear of my husbands having sex with someone else, instead of anger of jealousy, the only thing that goes across my mind is “that’s hot.” We do have rules though. They are mostly about communication and not doing anything that risks our health such as unprotected sex.

The second major misconception is that it is all about sex. Poly families can vary on this as much as monogamous ones. In fact with us, two of us have very low sex drives and mine varies month to month. Using Skiewolve as an example, we cuddle as often as we have time for, but don’t have sex very often, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Nashoba here:

With the notion of jealousy, mentioned above, where I have experienced quite negative misconceptions actually comes from people who have been in an abusive or emotionally distant form of a “poly” relationship. The reason I put quotation marks around the word poly is due to the fact that (the person in question) felt like they were not fully included in the relationship, hence distant. The term “third wheel” comes into play here. Most of the time these individuals or couples play the role of skeptic when asking questions. The questions are often pointed and try to find faults where there are none. It can lead to a contentious argument in which the poly family has to prove their worth and love. It is not a fun position to be in and has often, and quickly, ended friendships.

Continuing on from the prior misconceptions I see from two person couples is that they tend to project their personal feelings onto the poly family when trying to understand them. Some come to the ultimate conclusion that these relationships are “doomed to fail.” Feeling such as jealousy, and fear of loss are the two most common emotions projected. In our family, as Keiran mentioned earlier, we doffed jealousy. To us it is a useless emotion that is easily resolved with prodigious amounts of trust and communication. That being said, the problem is most don’t understand this, instead they fill in the blanks with their own personal feelings allowing them to have such poor misconceptions. With understanding and experience with poly families they soon learn to erase those negative emotions, but it takes time. In reality: humans are not monogamous beings. We, like the many animals on this planet, are driven by instinct just as much as we are driven by emotion, and sometimes (what we think of as) logic.

Other things to bring up on the topic of jealousy: People have stated to me in person that we are trying to “have our cake and eat it too” when, to them, it doesn’t work like that. First of all, that cake is very tasty and I am not sorry for your bitterness as well as your lack of emotional and actual intelligence. That sounds harsh, yes, however it needs to be stated as families like ours are at the point of exasperation with trying to counter these arguments. We are not trying to be “advocates” for poly families, as most are not, we are simply trying to just “BE” in a world so desolate of love, compassion and trust.

Finally the last misconception I see comes from a religious perspective. These arguments vary greatly but always fall into the lines of “God Says.” These people I simply dismiss because I do not feel like wasting my precious time on such little foresight.

Other than the lightning ball of negativity above, most people are surprised when I say I have two husbands and a boyfriend, but quickly process that knowledge and continue throughout their day. These people tend to be quite intelligent and thoughtful as some know that, to us LGBT, our families are not often forged in blood, but in close and intimate friendships with those we trust and love. To understand more of our family, we all see each other as equal in the relationship in which we all come to unanimous decisions on just about anything. If there is debate, we discuss it as a family and move on. No one person has power over the other.

Potential issues:

Legally we are not recognized as all married, but in our minds we are. For legal purposes, Nashoba and Andy are married, and Skiewolve and I might. The government-recognized marriage is for the protections that come with it, which is especially important for gay couples. In a three way poly relationship, that becomes trickier. Depending on the employer, health insurance can also become an issue. Other important protections among many are being a ward of  the estate, being a medical proxy, having child custody, and other avenues of legality and law.

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Nashoba: A workaholic Fenn who bounces and balances between his two favorite hobbies turned careers in one go: Technology and Vehicles. If his nose isn’t buried in a engine bay, it is buried into a computer. Luckily for him his position at his employer offers him both opportunities at once. Occasional motorcycle motovlogger (when it’s warm).

Andy: CraftyAndy, Entertainment Artist and director/owner of Rotten Egg Creations https://www.youtube.com/c/CraftyArtsShow

Keiran: Linux sysadmin / DevOps in professional life and fursuiter on the side. Does programming as a hobby as well as for work. @keiran_snowden on Telegram and Twitter.

Skiewolve:  General craftsman and travel enthusiast, occasionally seen as an orange blur on the highway.

 

Viro the Science Collie

Viro Science Collie is a PhD virologist and medical writer, experienced in teaching, technical communication, and writing for the public. He has been active in the furry community since 2012 and has been happily and ethically non-monogamous for much of that time. His interests include non-traditional relationship structures, technology, biological science, and tennis.