Guest post: Lessons From My Triad by Jessica Burde

I recently covered the chapter on opening up monogamous relationships in my read-along of The Ethical Slut. Since I don’t have a lot of experience in this arena, I asked some other bloggers and polyamorists to share the lessons they learned.

Jessica Burde recently started her own blog, Polyamory Practically, including an excellent post on Polyamory and Power of Attorney. Here she shares what happened when a monogamous couple became a triad:

Jessica Burde, of Polyamory Practically, guest blogger on Approximately 8,000 Words.

We never set out to open our relationship. It just happened. One mischance leading to another. I knew of poly, but never seriously considered it something that I wanted to do. My fiancé had been in a poly relationship before, that didn’t work out well. He talked about maybe having a girlfriend one day, if I agreed. The possibility that I would fall in love with someone else never occurred to either of us.

They say God watches out for fools and drunkards. Drink was lacking, but foolishness was in abundance. None of us knew what we were doing; my fiancé wasn’t able to be honest with himself, never mind us. It was because of something he said that we formed a triad, but three years later he told us he never meant he wanted a triad: he just thought our third and I could have a fling and ‘get it out of our systems,’ and then never spoke up because he thought I would leave him. I was so lost in New Relationship Energy (NRE) I had no idea what was going on. The man who became our third was pretty much along for the ride. He didn’t screw up anything, but he trusted us to know what we were doing and we didn’t.

Then, before we were sure our triad would be anything more than a flash in a pan, we found out I was pregnant, and no idea who the father was. Yes, I’d been using birth control. No, it didn’t work. And we all looked at each other and said, we don’t have a choice now, we have to make this work. My fiancé’s fundamentalist Christian parents came to our wedding ceremony and brought a gift. My more ‘liberal’ parents refused to have anything to do with us.

In successful relationships, communication must not only be frequent, but also clear and honest. Photo by Paul Shanks.

God, I look back and don’t know whether to cry or laugh, but I wouldn’t change it. We had 5 wonderful, rollercoaster years, and two beautiful children. What did I learn?

  • Honesty and trust are crucial. God knows what would have been different if my fiancé had trusted me enough to say he didn’t want a triad from the beginning. Certainly, years of trouble with jealousy and a lot of heartache would have been avoided.
  • NRE is a drug. Don’t let it make you stupid.
  • Having a friend you trust to bounce things off is a life saver.
  • Unless you are all sterile, talk about how to handle an accidental pregnancy before it is ever possible.
  • The ‘Three C’s of polyamory’ aren’t ‘Communicate, Communicate, Communicate’. They’re ‘Clear, Consistent Communication.’ Communication is useless if it isn’t clear and ongoing. As God is my witness, this I will never forget.
  • Oh – and modern life (homes, cars, beds, etc) is designed for two adults. Fitting three is doable, but takes some imagination.

Jessica Burde embraced ethical non-monogamy 7 years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. She spent several years with a polyamorous triad, and is now engaged to a new partner in an open relationship. She recently started the blog Polyamory Practically, about the day-to-day practical issues that crop in polyamorous relationships.