Sync Your Calendars

My Dad Life Includes Family Vacation With The Polycule

“Our kid has, on their own, asked questions and figured it all out and everything feels very normal to them.”

by Ryan G., As Told To Alyssa Shelasky
Are You Open?

My wife and I have been married for 16 years and polyamorous for eight or nine years. The conversation started about a year after we had a kid. It came up because I was meeting a lot of people in the mental health and sexuality field, and hanging out with poly people in my professional and social circles, and non-monogamy started to really connect with me. When I first approached the conversation, my wife was caught off-guard. She worried it meant that she was replaceable. She had the classic reaction of: Am I not enough?

After that, I brought it up every year for like four years. Just like, “I’m still interested in trying this.” The issue would cause a bit of conflict, enough that I’d put it away. Eventually, by virtue of living in a progressive part of the country, we had more exposure to families living non-monogamous lifestyles. We saw friends who were poly raising wonderful kids, and there wasn’t any crazy, insane weirdness surrounding them. We saw how it worked out well for them, how their kids were lovely and healthy children. That was encouraging.

We opened things up when our child was around 6. With all things, from math to sex education, we have a policy of child-led learning, where you let your kid come to you with questions. Essentially, if they’re not asking, they’re not ready. I personally don’t think it’s that healthy to stare a kid down at 4 or 5 and be like, “These are the people I sleep with.” Even if you’re monogamous and the answer is, “It’s your mom.” Our kid has, on their own, asked questions and figured it all out and everything feels very “normal” to them.

It’s a joke in the poly world that you have to be good at Google Calendar before anything else.

Of course, there have been some questions about privacy and how much to share at school, but no real issues, or judgment from other parents that I know of. I’m sure it’s happened, but nothing that’s really hurt.

I’ve been with my long-term, long-distance partner, Lola, for about six years. We met through work, and it was a gentle transition. One day at a conference, once my wife and I were officially open, I was like, “I find you attractive. I’d love to hook up… or maybe we can go to a play party?” We found we had strong sexual chemistry. From there, it was like, you want to date? There was a progression of steps and conversations. A year in, I was like, “Come stay at our house!”

Now, she’s fully integrated into my family life. I mean, I date with my whole self. There’s no part of me I’m obfuscating. Polyamory, to me, means my partner is going to be invited to my dinner parties, come to my house, and hang around with us! Lola always stays at my place now when she visits. My kid interacts with her. They watch anime together. They are close. My partners have healthy and organic relationships with the people in my life. It’s the only way for me.

As for finding the time, we didn’t have many bumps in scheduling. Sure, there’s a lot of Google Calendar, which we constantly check, and Lola’s calendar updates with mine, too. It’s nice to know, at a glance, that today she has a meeting and is doing laundry. It’s a joke in the poly world that you have to be good at Google Calendar before anything else.

I have a photo framed from one of my favorite recent memories. Lola came into town this Thanksgiving. My parents came. My wife’s parents came. Also, my wife’s other boyfriend, and his soon-to-be-wife were there. It was like this 10-person polycule, plus the grandparents. It was so great. After the holiday, Lola, my kid, my wife, and I all went to the Redwoods. Again, it all feels normal to my kid. We were all enjoying the outdoors, relaxing and reading. I have a picture of me, my wife, and Lola standing in front of this giant heart that says “I love you.” The image means so much to me.

Interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Alyssa Shelasky is the author of This Might Be Too Personal and Apron Anxiety. She is also the writer of New York Magazine’s popular Sex Diaries column, and star of the HBO Sex Diaries docuseries. Her work can additionally be found in The New York Times, The Zoe Report, Elle, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.