me­moir Be­cause two part­ners are bet­ter than one—my ad­ven­tures in polyamory

I spent months try­ing to choose be­tween the two men I love, un­til I re­al­ized I could have them both

Toronto Life - - Contents - By Jenny Yuen

In July 2013, I drove to Mon­treal for the Just for Laughs fes­ti­val. When I stopped at a café to charge my phone, I found my­self sit­ting next to a cute guy in his early 30s with brown eyes and a goa­tee. This man, whom I’ll call Char­lie to pro­tect his pri­vacy, was from the U.K., vis­it­ing friends in Mon­treal af­ter at­tend­ing his fa­ther’s wed­ding in Toronto. I got a friendly vibe from him and started a con­ver­sa­tion. Over the next 40 min­utes, we were lost in each other, talk­ing about our lives, how our friends were all get­ting mar­ried and how we loved the free­dom of travel. Two nights later, back in Toronto, I took him on what I call the “Scott Pil­grim­age,” a tour of film­ing lo­ca­tions from the movie (he’d men­tioned that he was a fan). Af­ter he went back to Lon­don, we chat­ted on Skype ev­ery day and, a month af­ter we met, he in­vited me to Lon­don for a “sec­ond date.” We spent 72 hours to­gether, and I knew we had some­thing spe­cial.

A few weeks af­ter I met Char­lie, I was chat­ting with a pho­tog­ra­pher at the Toronto news­pa­per where I work. “Adam” is a tall sil­ver fox with a teenage son; at 61, he was 30 years my se­nior. For eight years, I’d con­sid­ered him a good pal. We had a com­fort­able groove where I could talk about per­sonal things, in­clud­ing how much I liked the hot Bri­tish dude I’d met in Mon­treal. But that day in the news­room, some­thing changed. He de­scribes it like the scene in Wayne’s World where Mike My­ers sees Tia Car­rere through a misty lens, with “Dream Weaver” play­ing in the back­ground. Sud­denly and in­ex­pli­ca­bly, we were at­tracted to each other. Over the next few weeks, we fell hard. We had our first kiss in front of a Star­bucks in a North York strip mall.

For a year, I tor­tured my­self with in­de­ci­sion. Both men knew about each other, though I never de­fined ei­ther re­la­tion­ship—we had an un­spo­ken “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. But over the next few months, my feel­ings for them deep­ened—and, as time ticked by, so did my ma­ter­nal clock. I wanted to be a mom. I loved Adam, but I wasn’t sure about com­mit­ting to a man in his 60s who didn’t want to do the par­ent­ing thing all over again. Char­lie was the right age, but it was im­pos­si­ble to gauge if we had a fu­ture when we lived an ocean apart.

One day in 2015, Adam came to me with a sur­pris­ing propo­si­tion: what if I didn’t have to choose be­tween them? What if the three of us could make it work? Char­lie and I would be able to re­new our ro­mance and have chil­dren, while Adam would have some­one who would love and care for him into his re­tire­ment. I brought the idea to Char­lie, and he was open to it. Over the next few months, the three of us spent countless hours on Skype, hash­ing out the pos­si­bil­i­ties. In De­cem­ber, Char­lie moved to Canada to be­gin a life with us. We didn’t know if polyamory would work, but we were willing to try.

A few weeks later, my two guys went to din­ner at Ter­roni. They had to fig­ure out their new roles as each other’s meta­mour— their part­ner’s part­ner. Char­lie re­turned hours later, beam­ing and gush­ing over how nat­u­rally the con­ver­sa­tion had flowed. I felt a buzz from my phone: it was Adam. “Won­der­ful night!” he wrote. In the com­ing months, they con­tin­ued to get closer. Adam even pro­posed a nick­name that the guys now call each other with pride: “Co,” as in “co-part­ners.”

Char­lie is my nest­ing part­ner—we live to­gether—and Adam lives up the street from us. But there’s no hi­er­ar­chy, and nei­ther part­ner is more im­por­tant to me than the other. A cou­ple of times a week, I’ll spend the night at Adam’s, and on Sun­days, the three of us usu­ally do din­ner and a movie at Adam’s condo. We call it NestFest.

Ne­go­ti­at­ing two full-time re­la­tion­ships can be over­whelm­ing, but the guys bal­ance me. If I’m fight­ing with Char­lie, Adam re­mains neu­tral. He’ll text me the Swiss flag emoji as a re­minder to take a breath and calm down. Polyamory has also im­proved my com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. I used to rely on my part­ners to guess what I was think­ing, but with poly, I dis­cov­ered that I need to ex­press my emo­tions to avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings and jeal­ousy. Even my Chi­nese par­ents have ac­cepted it. “You’re all adults, so be happy,” my dad told me when I re­vealed my re­la­tion­ship sta­tus. I think my mom likes hav­ing lots of peo­ple to help carry gro­ceries when we visit.

In 2016, Adam and I held a non-le­gal com­mit­ment cer­e­mony. I wore a gown made from news­pa­per clip­pings of sto­ries that we’d worked on to­gether. When I saw Char­lie smil­ing at us from the front row, I knew I’d made the right de­ci­sion to love these two men. It was the ul­ti­mate mo­ment of com­per­sion—feel­ing joy be­cause your part­ner feels joy.

Char­lie and I got mar­ried in 2017, and we’re ex­pect­ing a daugh­ter in Jan­uary. Adam will be oc­cu­py­ing the “cool un­cle” role. I have no doubt that our child will be loved and sup­ported. Char­lie, a huge Star Trek fan, says that one of the things he likes about the show is that there isn’t much con­flict be­tween the crew mem­bers— the plot hinges on dis­cov­ery and ac­cep­tance. I never fig­ured Star Trek would be a good anal­ogy for poly, but there you have it. “Adam loves you. I love you. You love us. That’s it,” he says sim­ply.

One day, Adam came to me with a sur­pris­ing propo­si­tion: what if I didn’t have to choose be­tween them?

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