Exploring polyamorous relationships
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - In the middle of a major spring snowstorm, the streets of Denver seem deserted, but it's a celebration of love, at the National Loving More Convention in the Denver suburbs. Here a wife may be dancing with her boyfriend, and her husband doesn't mind. That's the polyamorous way.
"It is loving more than one in a committed relationship, it's that simple," said Torin Caffrey.
Robyn Trask runs the nonprofit dedicated to promoting polyamory. She is married to Jesus but has had a year-long intimate relationship with Ben.
"I just came to terms with the fact I wasn't a monogamous person, if that meant I had to be alone then I would rather be alone than cheat or be dishonest," said Robyn Trask.
"For me it just comes naturally, I love seeing Robyn happy, so the thought of her going out and seeing her giddy it actually just warms my heart," said Jesus Garcia.
Robyn met Ben years ago at a conference, and the two have been close ever since.
"Over time anything is going to change, and when people see that there are options they didn't know they had, some of those people are going to be interested," said Ben.
People came from across the country to attend the conference; some say they've been "polys" as long as they can remember, others are just learning about it. Attendance at the event has grown every year, and the organizers say the younger generation tends to be much more accepting of the lifestyle.
"I always knew that our family was a little different from our friends, but I never really paid a lot of attention to it until about age 11 when I noticed some of my mom's friends weren't just friends," said Marina Trask.
Trask has nothing bad to say about her mom's lifestyle. She says she is polyamorous too.
"I feel like my mom being polyamorous made her more honest with me, she used the same honestly, she did with me, and she did with her partners, and any child would want to have that honest with their parents," said Trask.
Seminars at the convention were taught by longtime supporters of the lifestyle; one literally wrote the book on polyamory.
"Love doesn't equal ownership if I'd go to a party and people would say who do you belong to, and I would say didn't slavery go out a long time ago, I really believe love is about giving not about clinging," said Mim Chapman.
Make no mistake we live in a monogamous world; we've all heard about swingers, but polyamory, supporters say, is different. It's more about long term relationships than flings. But with those multiple relationships come a range of emotions, including jealousy.
"With a polyamorous relationship it is important that a person is ready to give time to each of the people they are involved with, give emotional space to each person they are involved with," said Frances.
Scottsdale psychologists Morgan Frances and Marcus Earle counsel couples and have had some experience with polyamorous relationships.
"If anything you have complicated your life. It takes a lot more work. What I found about the polyamorous relationships is a commitment to communicate with one another. To be honest in that communication to stay with the process until they come out with an outcome that everyone feels good about," said Marcus Earle.
It's a growing trend in the valley too.
"Right now we have over 700 members," said Marla Curtis.
Curtis runs a meetup group for polyamorous people in Scottsdale.
"I have been married to my husband for 31 years, and I have a girlfriend that I have been with for over 12 years," said Curtis.
We went to a meeting at a Scottsdale restaurant, but for privacy reasons the cameras stayed outside. Polyamory is clearly not widely accepted, and reputations and jobs are at stake.
"There is a lot of worry being outside the norm, that it could adversely affect your life," said Curtis.
All those worries seemed to be put aside at the Denver convention, where they proudly promote a polyamorous life.
"Really it translates into many loves, and it's done honestly and ethically with all the partners involved knowing about the relationships," said Trask.
Trask says her polyamorous relationships have lasted decades; her monogamous ones did not last very long.