Jenny Schnitzer, 28, lives in Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. She works full-time and is studying English literature.
I can’t say for sure when I started being interested in non-monogamy. Even as a child, I didn’t understand the point of only having one partner. I thought that if you love someone and you also love someone else, then why not love them all? I tried monogamy as I was growing up but I could never make it fit.
It wasn’t until my first marriage that I realised I needed a different relationship structure, and it wasn’t until I met my husband that I found a name for what I wanted: polyamory.
Polyamory is when people have intimate relationships with more than one partner at a time, with the consent of everyone involved
When I first started dating Pete, he was living in Harrisburg while I was still living at home in New Jersey. I remember saying it didn’t make sense for us to be exclusive since we lived three hours away from each other and he agreed.
Why our relationship works
We decided to keep things open. There are now four of us in our relationship: myself, Pete, Kati and Andrew.
Pete and I found Kati on Tinder in November of 2014 and I met Andrew through work. My boss made me introduce myself and we started dating in May 2015.
We all live together in an apartment and we see each other, at least in passing, every day. Sometimes it’s just for a quick “good night,” while other times we go out on dates in whatever pairing or group seems to fit.
I don’t know if there’s a way to really describe how our relationship works. It just…does.
‘Sexually, Pete and Kati sometimes do add to the mix, while Andrew and I are happy with each other’ The ‘hierarchy’ of partners has shifted over time. Originally Pete and I were each other’s primary partners, but over time he and Kati have gravitated towards each other as primaries, as have Andrew and myself. It kind of changes as it needs to.
I don’t really have a physical relationship with Kati, but she’s become my best friend. Pete and Andrew are not into each other. Andrew is fairly monogamous, just involved in a polyamorous relationship. Pete is bisexual, but he’s not into Andrew.
Our biggest rule is that you don’t bring a toxic person back to the home. If Pete and Kati decide to find a partner, there has to be some heads-up for the rest of us, and the new partner has to be made aware of the situation they are about to get involved with. Sexually, Pete and Kati sometimes do add people to the mix, while Andrew and I are happy with each other. We’ve all found someone who works with our appetites. I think if Pete and I did want to have sex again we would, but Andrew and Kati have no attraction to each other; they’re just good friends.
Sexual encounters outside of our relationship
The only two who really have sexual encounters outside of our relationship are Pete and Kati, but mostly Pete. He’s got quite the appetite. I think Kati’s attracted a few people, both men and women. They definitely make it work.
The aspects of polyamory that I appreciate are the communication, the shared responsibility, and knowing that I’ve got love coming at me from three different people. Any relationship needs communication to work, but in a polyamorous relationship it really plays a big part. I like knowing that we don’t have to guess what the other person is feeling. None of us are the kind of people who keep anything quiet. Everything is on the table and it’s always up for discussion.
‘I know that I can come home to find people who genuinely care about me’ I also enjoy the shared responsibility for maybe the wrong reasons. With four of us, the chores get spread pretty evenly and I think I’ve ended up with the easy stuff: emptying the dishwasher and folding the laundry.
And love, who doesn’t love being loved? It’s amazing. I know that I can come home to find people who genuinely care about me and who want me to be at my best.
The part of our relationship I find difficult is when Pete brings in potential partners for him and Kati or just for himself. I don’t find it as easy to trust new people, and I’m pretty guarded when I first meet someone. I’ve gotten so used to the four of us that new people feel a bit weird. Some I’ve gotten used to, others have shown themselves out. …