My non-traditional relationships

I lead a non-traditional life in a non-traditional household with many non-traditional relationships. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll start at the beginning and see where we end up.

I met Tim and Aicila in 2012 through a mutual friend. Tim and Aicila are married. They have two children from Aicila’s first marriage (to a man named Ian). Aicila and Tim are polyamorous (“poly” for short). They have romantic and/or sexual relationships outside their marriage. Everyone knows what is going on, and this is not cheating. Every friend I have the poly lifestyle abhors cheating and will not become involved with someone who is deceiving their partner (if they can help it. Sometimes people are dishonest with everyone involved.).

Image: a diagram of a polyamorous relationship. In the middle are two stylized people in a circle labeled “Primary Partners”. Above are the words “Secondary Partners” with arrows going to two more stylize people outside the circle.

Aicila and I became close friends in 2014. I had just been dumped, and she reached out to me. She taught me the term “misery diet”, which refers to the weight I lost because I was too sad to eat.

As I hung out with Aicila, I got to know Tim better. Tim fancied me, but I had thought his life too complicated to get involved. As time passed, his life grew less complex, and I developed an interest in him. Still, I hesitated. I had been a secondary partner in a relationship before, and there were things I did not want to repeat.

When discussing poly relationships, you’ll often hear the terms “primary partner”, “secondary partner”, and, sometimes, “tertiary partner”. I refer to “tertiary” partners as boyfriends, girlfriends, and friends-with-benefits (FWB). I am lucky enough to have a few of those. They enrich my life in ways I cannot describe.
Primary partners may be married, or long-term, couples. They often share finances, kids, and households. A secondary partner is involved with one (or more) of the primary partners. Their lives may be less entwined. However, this is only one example. There are as many ways to “do poly” as there are people practicing it.
Aicila once described the different relationships like so:
1. If your primary partner takes a job in another part of the country, you pack and move.
2. If you secondary partner moves, you help them pack and visit as often as possible.
3. If a tertiary (or higher) partner moves, you help them pack and wish them well, agreeing to see one another should the opportunity present itself.
There are many people who disagree with almost everything I’ve written above. Still, the description is adequate for my purpose.

I felt comfortable becoming involved with Tim because I already loved his wife and his 17-year-old daughter. Their family is like my family of origin; their chaos is like mine. I felt comfortable there from the start. I would not have dated Tim had that not been the case.

Tim and I dated for 2 years. Over that time, many things happened. By the summer of 2016, I was living with Tim and Aicila. Tim and I were having issues within our relationship and we were on the verge of making changes.

Around this time, Aicila’s ex-husband, Ian, died. We all traveled to Salt Lake City where most of Ian’s family lived. The funeral was a mess and hurt many people. The repercussions continue to this day. This is not my story to tell, so I’ll leave it at that.

While in Salt Lake City, Ian’s brother, James, joined us. During the trip, he took a shine to me and we’re getting married later this year. James sees me in ways I have never felt seen, and my life is infinitely better with him in it.

Image: my fiance, James, and I looking at one another and smiling.

Back in 2016, Tim and I shifted our relationship. Issues in one relationship often leak into other relationships. This is not unique to polyamory. Consider how a rocky relationship with one of your parents affects your relationship with the other.

Tim’s and my issues were rippling in a way we were not comfortable with. Not wanting to destroy everything, he and I let go of the parts of our relationship creating trouble and kept the good parts. As a result, today we have a strong platonic partnership / friendship and love one another dearly.

Image: my partner, Tim, and I with our heads together, smiling. We are wearing Santa hats.

Aicila and I continue our platonic relationship. It is the strongest, most important relationship I have ever had with a woman (except my mother and sister, but those are different), and I treasure it above most things in my life. I call her my “heart sister” and I love her beyond measure.

Image: my partner, Aicila, and I at Red Rocks Ampitheater. I am sitting behind her with my arms around her.

Today, James, Aicila, Tim, and I live as partners. We all have other relationships outside the house at different times, but we are the core. I call them all “nesting partners”.

Image: left to right, James, me, Aicila, and Tim standing close together holding a sign that says, “Wyles Love!”. Photo by Peggy Dyer, all rights reserved.

I’ll expand this as we go forward should it be necessary. For now, I think this explains the situation well enough to move forward with my other stories. If you have questions, comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.