When it comes to being polyamorous, I know many couples who are successfully following the primary-partner/secondary-partner model. What I don’t see as often are happy and stable long-term triads—a three-person relationship in which all three people are each involved with both of the others. But my pals Jim, Allena, and Jennifer have been a triad for about three years, and I asked them to tell me a little about how it worked for them. Jim Duvall is a Bellingham photographer, Allena Gabosch is the director of the Wet Spot, and Jennifer runs LibidoEvents.com, a Vancouver BC erotic-events organization.
Tell me about your poly arrangement.
Allena: The three of us have been an official triad just under three years, although I've been seeing Jim for almost seven.
Jim: We consider ourselves a family, the three of us. We don’t have a hierarchy within the family, but I definitely prioritize the three of us over any outside relationship.
Jennifer: We have different types of intimate relationships with other people, outside of just us three, with agreements about how we date outside the family and what level of disclosures to each other we want.
Do you think being in a triad is more challenging than being in multiple dyad-type relationships?
Jennifer: I don't think it's more challenging for me.
Allena: Yes, I think it's more challenging. It's not just a simple triple, but three separate couples and also a triple. Each of the couples has their own dynamic, and when we're all together as a triad, it has a completely different dynamic.
Jim, what’s the most common misconception about being the guy in a MFF triad?
Jim: The assumption is that I have a lot more sex than anyone in a monogamous relationship. The reality is I’m probably about average, but I have a greater variety of sex. What I do get more of is more people who love and care about me, and I reciprocate that. The guys for whom it’s only about the sex would usually lose interest there.
When two partners have a conflict, how do you keep it from affecting the third person?
Allena: We do our best to keep from triangulation—"triangulation" meaning when someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, pits two others against each other to achieve a desired outcome. That doesn't mean we never discuss our issues, as sometimes the person not involved with the conflict has a different point of view and can give good advice.
Jim: Triangulation is often tempting. It’s easier to unload on the third when you have anxiety over an issue. But we’re all good at getting someone back on track by saying, "Why not talk to him/her about it?"
How do you handle inter-triad jealousy? What about jealousy about partners outside the triad?
Jennifer: I honestly do not know the last time I felt jealousy with Jim or Allena. When faced with jealousy from outside of our family relationship, it usually stems from me not having enough information to feel safe.
Allena: When I feel jealous, it usually means that a need of mine is not being met. It's my responsibility to figure out what that need is and get it met. My jealousy belongs to me and it's inappropriate to give it to anyone else.
Jim: Whenever it pops up for me, I just have to wait, and it all evens out.
Jennifer, you have a pre-teen daughter. Are you out to her about being polyamorous?
Jennifer: Although I've never used the word polyamory, she does know about my capacity for love and how that love extends to Jim and Allena. Maybe I'll use the word polyamory one day, but it's unnecessary today.
What makes being poly something positive for you?
Jennifer: It allows each person to be someone uniquely special to me. I'm not interested in being everything to one person, and you don't have to be everything to me.
Allena: Poly isn't easy and it isn’t for everyone. It means that you have to be able to share. However, it's the most amazing life anyone could have. I feel so blessed, and I couldn't dream of being any other way.
Jim: It gives all three of us an opportunity for joy that we could get no other way.
LOVE LOUNGE SEATTLE
Love Lounge is an “adult social club” that holds events for bi women and male/female couples—no single men, please. Lovelounge@lovelounge.net, 9:30 pm, no cover, membership required, 21+.
BLACK FRIDAY AT THE EAGLE
It’s leather night, with a $50 prize for the hottest hunk in cowhide. Seattle Eagle, 314 E Pike St, 621-7591, 9 pm–close, no cover for full leather, $3 for partial leather, $5 otherwise, 21+.
LITTLE RED STUDIO
Erotic dance and spoken-word entertainment. Little Red Studio, 328-4758,www.littleredstudioseattle.com, $30, 9 pm, RSVP required.
GET WHAT YOU WANT: FLIRTING SKILLS FOR EVERYONE
Flirtation can be difficult in real life. Teri Ciacchi and Ian Hagemann show how to read which body-language signals are indications of sexual interest and how to become conscious of what your own body language is saying. School of One, 523-5544 or www.schoolofone.com, 8–10 pm, $20 donation requested.
EROTIC CANING CLASS
Canes can be sensual and erotic as well as extreme and scary. Come learn some of what’s possible in this beginners workshop. If you have a cane, please bring it, otherwise a few loaners will be available. Wet Spot, firstname.lastname@example.org, 650-5234 or 669-5881, 2–5 pm, $35, Wet Spot membership not required.
SPICE IT UP: SIZZLING SEX TIPS
Babeland sex educators Alicia and Rebecca help you explore your desires and expand your sexual repertoire, with tips on sexy communication skills and fun activities to help get the ball rolling. Babeland, 707 E Pike St, 328-2914, 7:30 pm, $30/sliding scale available.
SEATTLE ATARI 2600 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Kink out with your joystick at this all-ages Atari battle, featuring Frogger, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and all those other games that helped you kill the pain of your adolescence. Sea-Tac Holiday Inn, 17338 International Blvd, 425-556-1985, 1–4 pm, $25.