There are two things most polyamorous couples are looking for.
One of them is a single bisexual woman to complete a male/female/female triad. That hunt is usually about as successful as the war in Iraq, but you can't tell that to someone with bi-fem-triad fantasies. They just have to learn it the hard way. The other poly quest that rarely yields a satisfying result is the eternal search for a short, easily understandable title one would use to indicate "this other person I'm involved with in addition to the person you already know." Poly people yearn for a universally understood descriptor for this person.
It's tricky. If you're just having one relationship, you don't stress about what to call it, because this is a dyadic culture. No matter what exotic title you come up with, people will mentally slot him/her into the "Bob's significant other" category and think no more about it. It's when you add another lover to the mix that you start getting that "your, um, friend" business.
But how to correct them? The ideal term should indicate an ongoing committed love relationship. It should not be too sexually graphic. And it should be easy to spell and pronounce. Of course, there already are words like that in the language. Unfortunately, they are husband and wife. If you talk about "my wives," people will assume you're part of some rebel Mormon sect. I don't know what they'll think if you say "my husbands" and I do not care to find out, thank you. Besides, being the enlightened types that we are, we'd prefer words less steeped in the heterosexist male-dominated narrative. You know, like something from a Robert Heinlein novel! (Oh—wait a minute...)
Something not gender or orientation specific would be best. Lover is too racy and too vague. Partner has dignity, but saying, "This is my girlfriend Kate, and this is our partner Chris," is going to make people think you've all started a business together. And it can't be an endearment, like my sweetheart or my darling. Those phrases lack sufficient gravitas—mothers employ them to describe infant children, and swishy gay men use them to address small dogs.
I'm good at identifying what doesn't work, but I'm damned if I can come up with any good contenders. I most often fall back on "My other boyfriend," which I know is neither pithy nor poetic. I generally get one of two responses from listeners: Sometimes they just give me that slightly puzzled stare, but say nothing else; the inquisitive among them say, "What do you mean, your other boyfriend?" I then proceed to give them the two-minute answer, which sometimes leads to an even longer conversation. And you know, perhaps that's as it should be. A one-word solution to this problem doesn't exist, because it's not just a word we need, but an entire cultural concept. That'll only come through education. So why not talk more about exactly how you're structuring your love relationships? Poly people are always talking about communication—let's be willing to open conversations up instead of shutting them down.
RAIN CITY JACKS
Inject for less! For every 30 units of Botox you shoot into your face, you receive a $50 discount! Ageless Center for Rejuvenation, 601 N 34th St, Suite C, 467-1000, 8 am—6 pm, call for estimates.
COLUMBIA CITY CABARET
This week's show has a Travel Safari theme, with Ruby Phoenix, Kitty Baby, rope aerialist Jonathan Rose, Mrs. Trixie Lane, Stewie the Wonder Dog, and Quyn Horton. Hosted by Tamara the Trapeze Lady. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave S, 605-9920, www.trapezelady.com, 8 pm, $25, 21+.
MEN-ONLY NIGHT AT THE WET SPOT
Socialize, flirt, and do BDSM with the boys. All orientations welcome. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, Building E, 270-9746, email@example.com, www.sexpositiveculture.org, 10 pm—3 am, $15, members only, male ID required.
EROS EVENTS SWING PARTY
This Eastside swingers' group is throwing a gangbang-themed party. Single men must request to be added to the waiting list; couples and single women can just show up. Eros Events, 425-868-8169, www.eros-events.org, 7 pm, new people must arrive by 7:30 pm, $30 for new couples and single women, $50 for returning couples.
SEXY BODY SEXY MIND
Teri D. Ciacchi, MSW, an educator, pleasure activist, and counselor will guide you though exercises to gain a new perspective on your attractiveness and improve your love life. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, Building E, 270-9746, www.sexpositiveculture.org, 7—9 pm, $20, membership required.
PARADISE POOL TIME
A clothing-optional "swim and be social" event at an indoor pool. The Longhouse in Redmond, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-9746, noon—6 pm, $10, RSVP required, members and their guests only.