Each month, Narratively’s “People of Interest” series offers an up-close look at one New York community or subculture. Poly Cocktails is celebrating its tenth anniversary this Valentine’s Day. The monthly New York event is a hub for people who are polyamorous, meaning they have multiple romantic partners with the consent of all parties. Narratively’s Daniel Krieger headed to the rooftop lounge at The Delancey on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to hear some of their stories. Each Wednesday this month, we will share one in Polyamorous People.
Who: Chrissy Raymond-Holman; 34; grad student in nonprofit management at Columbia University; Upper West Side, Manhattan
When I was eight years old, my best friend and I had our eye on a boy. We both wanted him to be our boyfriend, but instead of fighting over him we decided to split him. So I got him on Mondays and Tuesdays, and she got him Wednesdays and Thursdays. When we were about nine, she started also being boyfriend and girlfriend with somebody else down the block, and eventually I became the girlfriend of that person too, so we had some sort of “quad” thing happening. And in high school, at a really liberal school in Brooklyn, we were all kind of dating one another. At one point, I had three boyfriends and a girlfriend.
In college I decided to experiment with monogamy. I was seeing someone who was not down with non-monogamy, so I told him I’d give it a chance. We did that for about a year and it was torture. Then I got into a relationship with someone else who also wanted monogamy. I was too busy with school to look for other partners at that point, so it was okay for a while. But the moment my free time came back, it was over. Eventually it dawned on me that serial monogamy is just not for me. I wanted to be open to dating whoever I felt like. Then I met the person that I’m married to now. We fell madly in love. He was monogamous at the time, but he was totally cool with all of this. He believes in the freedom to explore everything that comes along.
I first heard the term “polyamory” in an AOL chat room about ten years ago. I hadn’t known that what I was doing was a thing. Then I joined a group on Facebook called Polyamory and started learning all the vernacular. I found a community of people online from all over the world. Four years ago I was looking at New York specifically and happened upon Poly Cocktails. The poly community in general is super inclusive, super diverse, and reflects the life I’ve had in New York my entire life. And there’s a lot of overlap with the other communities I’m a part of, like the metal scene and the queer community.
Gender doesn’t really matter to me. I don’t pay attention half the time. Pretty much anybody who catches my eye who I wind up having a strong connection with is who I date. My husband is my anchor partner, and we have two children together. I have a queer platonic partner who I’ve been with for fifteen years. Then I have a huge poly network in Norfolk, Virginia – about forty or fifty people that I have various relationships with, depending on the day and the moon. They’re fluid; sometimes they’re physical, sometimes they’re not. I see them every two months or so. My biggest poly network is from the online group that I admin for, which has 22,000 people, and 100 are close friends I see sometimes – in Seattle, Portland, Detroit and outside the country.
Most people don’t have a problem with it. The people I’d expect to be the most opposed to it, like my religious Midwest family, they’re just like, “We don’t really care, you do what you need to do.” But at my mother’s funeral in the summer of 2015, a couple of friends from high school didn’t know that I was going to have all my partners present. One of them had a meltdown, telling me I was disgracing my mother and family and I’m going to hell. Later that month, she tried to “rescue” my husband while I was away with another partner.
Typically it’s not that extreme. People might say: “Your poor husband. He’s at home not dating people. Don’t you think you’re being really cruel to him?” Well, I’ve been nudging him to date for years. He just really values his free time. But he recently started dating other people and went to his first poly event by himself last week. He’s finally getting out there.
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Come back to Narratively next week for more Polyamorous People.