Well, you better get used to it, because all across America, in sleepy suburbs just like yours, moms are hiding secrets. In Part 3 of momlogic's "Secrets in the Suburbs" series, we pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding the mysterious and often secret world of polyamory.
Meet Robyn. She's a 44-year-old mom of three and a polyamorist who's currently involved in loving, intimate relationships with three men. And she's open to more, time permitting.
ML: What is polyamory?
Robyn: Polyamory is a romantic relationship with more than one person. It is usually a committed relationship, but polyamory can come in all forms. One form is called polyfidelity, it means that there is a committed relationship between the people, and they are sexually faithful with each other. There can be three people in the relationship or more.
ML: What kind of a polyamorist are you?
Robyn: I am a more open polyamorist. I have a primary partner, Jesus, and we live together with my three kids. He has another partner in Michigan, and I have two other partners who I am in long distance relationships with. One is in New York, and the other one is really long distance -- he's in another country. But I'm not tied down to those three people. I always try to remain open. Right now my life is very busy, but that doesn't mean that if I met someone who I was intrigued by that I wouldn't make time for him.
ML: Do you have sex with his other partner as well?
Robyn: No. I know her and I like her, but I am not sexually involved with her. And Jesus is not sexually involved with my lovers right now. But they do know each other.
ML: How long have you been with Jesus and your other lovers?
Robyn: I met Jesus in 2005 and have only been with him for three years, but he is my primary partner who I live with. I met one of my lovers in 2003 so I have been with him for five years. He also has a primary partner, and he has several other lovers -- he's a very busy guy.
ML: How long have you been polyamorous?
Robyn: I have always been non-monogamous, and when I was 24 years old I came to terms with myself and realized that I would always be that way. I realized that I would never be monogamous, and I was sick of trying to be. I was sick of falling in love with two people and having to choose between them. I didn't want to lie, and I didn't want to cheat, and I knew that if I kept trying to be monogamous that's what I would end up doing. At the time it was a difficult decision. There were no support groups for this sort of thing back then. I didn't know about polyamory -- the term might not have even existed back then. I felt very alone, and it was very challenging. But I knew I had to be true to who I was.
ML: Have you ever been married, and if so, was your husband polyamourous?
Robyn: I was married for 18 years. My husband and I were dating, and we both felt the same way about not wanting to promise sexual fidelity. We decided to get married and have an open marriage. We had no idea how to do it, and we made a lot of mistakes. We started with a don't ask don't tell policy, and for me that didn't work. I didn't want to lie to him about where I was going or what I was doing, and I couldn't get him to ask me. So for a long while I just didn't date anyone else at all. But then we eventually decided to really open up our marriage and we started being open about who we were seeing and when.
ML: Have you ever been in a relationship with two other people?
Robyn: I was in a triad relationship about 6-7 years ago. It was with my husband at the time and another woman. I had been with my husband for a long time, and we were always non-monogamous and then polyamorous. Toward the end of the marriage he brought another woman into our relationship and the three of us got involved. I was very surprised because I am not normally attracted to women, but I was attracted to her. But then he split and she and I remained in a partnership. We were not "sexual" with each other but were very intimate and romantic.
ML: Do you have kids?
Robyn: Yes. I have three children. David is the oldest, he's 21. My son Morgan is 17, and my youngest is a girl, Rico, and she's 12.
ML: Are they aware of your lifestyle?
Robyn: Yes, they are. The kids know that we have romantic relationships with other people, but they are not privy to the details of my private sex life and what goes on in the bedroom.
ML: How do they feel about it?
Robyn: To them it's kind of normal. They have been raised in this family their whole lives. My husband and I really opened up our marriage (and started openly seeing other people and having them visit the house etc.) when my oldest son, David, was 10, and when it became an issue when I would had a boyfriend come over to the house. So I talked to my oldest about it and he was like "OK, cool mom." Some people try to hide being polyamorous from their kids, but outside of custody cases, kids are aware of what is going on. They can sense that one or both parents are seeing other people, or maybe they sense that something is wrong. But if you just tell them what's really happening, then they feel secure (not like someone is having an affair and it's going to tear apart the family) and then they feel like they can trust you and talk to you about it.
ML: Are the older boys polyamorous?
Robyn: My oldest, David, considers himself polyamorous. Morgan doesn't seem too interested either way. And my little girl is obviously still too young to really know, but knowing that she's a lot like me, she probably will be.
ML: Do you or Jesus ever get jealous of the others secondary partners?
Robyn: Jesus does not have a big challenge with it. He is awesome about how he handles things. I on the other hand sometimes have a problem with it, and I have to talk myself through it. I have a handle on the fact that jealousy comes from insecurity, and it's something that I will occasionally have to deal with. But I know that polyamory is the right thing for me, and there is no way that I would ever want to be monogamous.
ML: What's the whole point of polyamory, sex with lots of people?
Robyn: If all I wanted to do was have sex, then I would just be a swinger. The point of polyamory is to be able to experience love and affection, and I just happen to have more than one partner to do that with. It also keeps life interesting.
ML: Do you ever worry that Jesus might leave you for another one of these women?
Robyn: Not really. It's the same as you wonder in any relationship. If Jesus wasn't happy, then I wouldn't want to be with him. I know that Jesus is with me because he wants to be. We have so much good communication so there is almost less concern.
ML: Do your secondary partners spend time at your home?
Robyn: Yes. Jesus and I have separate bedrooms, and sometimes our other partners will come over and spend the night. We all have dinner together with the kids, it's really nice.
ML: What do you say to people who criticize you for your lifestyle?
Robyn: I haven't had a lot of criticism. When I was with my husband sometimes people would say, "What about your wedding vows?" And my reaction is, you don't know what my vows were. Or people will say, "You're going against God." Well, whose god are you talking about? It's funny because what I've found is that the people who criticize the most are the ones who cheat.