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"Miss Manners: Addressing invitations when there's more than one partner"

on Saturday, 07 May 2011. Posted in Media Updates

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Dear Miss Manners: I have several friends in open or polyamorous relationships. Because I'm happy for their happiness together, I would like to make sure that I'm not excluding or slighting any partners.

If I am sending them an invitation to a gathering, how on earth do I address it? "Mr. and Mrs. Jane Doe and Ms. Lily Smith"? "The Doe and Smith Family"? "John and Jane Doe and Lily Smith"?

I don't want to draw overmuch attention to the fact that one couple is legally married and the other is "just" secondary. (This is insulting in polyamorous circles.) Also, am I correct in assuming that if the third partner has taken the legally married couple's name as part of a long-term arrangement, the correct address is "John, Jane, and Lily Doe" or "The Doe Family"? It seems silly to use "Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs. Doe."

Also, how do I introduce a polyamorous group socially? Do legally married partners have status over second partners, meriting first introduction, or do I simply say, "Ms. Jones, these are my friends, the Does" and leave Ms. Jones to establish how they interrelate? ...

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