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Archive for December 9th, 2009

I was moved by the letter I got this week, and though it’s not topical in terms of kink, it’s a complex question about alternative relationships that might as well be discussed here as anywhere.

I welcome your questions, not only about kink, but about polyamory, bisexuality, and any other relational issues you think I can speak to. I can’t promise to know a ton about specifically gay, lesbian or trans issues, as it’s not the life I lead. But then again, Dan Savage answers straight people’s questions all the time, and most of the time I don’t really think that the issues of gay and lesbian folk in relationship are much different from anyone else’s. (Actually, I bet I have more in common with gays and lesbians in poly relationships than I have with straight or bisexual people in monogamous ones.)

To make a long story short: if you feel, whoever you are, like honoring me with your difficult questions, I’ll do my best to answer them well. And if it comes down to it, I’ll call in a guest expert, just like Dan would do. (Because ya know. Dan’s my hero.)

Dear Deliah:

I enjoy reading your column, and when I stumbled into an alternative relationship dilemma of my own, you were were the person I most wanted to consult.

I have been romantically involved with both members of a legally married couple for nearly four years. Although the husband and wife were together before I entered the arrangement, we let our own situations progress organically (I was never brought in as the hot bi babe, for instance) and consider all four relationships to be “on the same level.” There have been ups and downs, and I have been very concerned about matters like the possibilities of moving in and of having children with my partners.

I recently learned that my female partner miscarried after being pregnant for nearly two months. Although I have been doing my best to be supportive, I still feel hurt and rejected: I didn’t even know they were actively trying to get pregnant, nor that she had conceived. I know it’s good practice to wait a reasonable amount of time before informing others about a pregnancy, but I am supposed to be a part of their family.

I guess it goes without saying that I will need to address my feelings at an appropriate time. Do you have any suggestions for how to approach this topic with my partners? When should I go about bringing it up?

First of all, I’m sorry this happened to you, and very sorry that this happened to your partners. Miscarriages can be devastating, and above all it is important that you not make this too much about you: I have no doubt that they’re already going through a lot of pain.

With that said, it sounds like the three of you do have a deeply intertwined relationship – the fact that you reference “four relationships” shows that you know how many dynamics are at play here – and if it really is as you say it is, it’s probable that you had a right to know, and a right to be upset about it.

There are a few possibilities at play here in terms of what has already occurred. One is that she became pregnant by accident; it happens. Once that happened, she might have felt it best to keep it under wraps until the traditional first-trimester mark; as she miscarried, this was probably a good plan in terms of causing the least amount of pain for others.

The other possibility is more sad, but needs to be taken seriously. You say they were together before you, but that you are all considered equals in the relationship. It is entirely possible that this isn’t really as true as you think it is. Even in triads where the third person is brought into the home, involved in a commitment ceremony, etc. – it takes some time and effort for that person to reach the same level of intimacy and equal-partner status as the married couple already had together. If you aren’t living with them, and the relationship is, as you say, up and down, it’s not likely that you really are an equal partner, not in the way they are to each other. They’ve been together for longer, have chosen to live together, chosen to get married, and finally, chose to get pregnant – without consulting you.

What this may be is a sign that you are not in the relationship(s) you think you are in.

I want to tell you to address your concerns with them directly, but I also want to be extremely sensitive to what they’ve just been through. They have a right to that, regardless of how they handled the information.

Just as they probably would have allowed three months before revealing the information to others, I recommend giving them three months before you bring it up. If one of them brings it up before then, great. But I think it’s going to be really rough to address this question while they’re still in the midst of early grieving.

When you do bring it up, gently is the best way. Have dinner with them both one night. Remind them how much you love them, and how you’ve long wanted to make a family with them. And finally, just ask, in a spirit of curiosity and concern. “Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant?”

I warn you that the answer you get is going to be pivotal for how your relationship looks going forward. But as you’ve already surmised, it’s something you have to do.

Sorry to give such a downer answer. Let me know how it goes.

I’m out of questions again. Email me your questions, or comment!

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