Poly Family Matters


Poly Family MattersMy name is Zoe Hanis and this week I got to see the best and the worst of my family in regards to my polyamorous lifestyle.

It started with a phone call. My mother-in-law told Hubby that his dad had a fast moving cancer and that he would not last the month. So we rented a car to make the 10 hour drive; me, Hubby, his Girlfriend and the 2 monsters.

I had originally wanted Girlfriend along to support Hubby, as I was afraid that I would have my hands full with the kids. But having her along felt right; I have been saying for a long time that she was family, but this was the first time that I have felt it unconditionally. Had she stayed behind, there would have been a hole.

We all stayed with my folks. My mother was sure to point out that she had made up the bed in the basement for Girlfriend; thus, the sleeping arrangements were dictated. Not that we minded. Though we had not discussed it beforehand, Hubby and I usually sleep together even when Girlfriend is over (her choice). My parents were gracious hosts and made sure that we were all fed. They even watched the kids the day after Hubby’s dad passed away so all the arrangements could be made.

Hubby’s family took it all in stride. As did the friends that they had told.

However, my sister was a whole different story. While she was not outright rude to Girlfriend, she pointedly avoided conversing with her. As Girlfriend said later, “she sees me as a home wrecking whore.”

It was me that bore the brunt of her displeasure. I was asked if the reason that we had little to no extra funds was because Hubby was supporting ‘Her’. I tried to be nice in my answer that she was self-sufficient and we had little money because we have low salaries and live in an extremely high priced area of the country. Apparently, my sis sees Girlfriend as a gold-digging home wrecking whore.

I was also asked if either Guy or Girlfriend would be coming to an anniversary party for my parents this summer. Sis said that she wasn’t going to not invite them since I was helping throw the party; had she stopped there, the conversation would have been tolerable. But she didn’t. I was told that since we live far away from them, whatever we do at home is fine, but it is not acceptable when we come parading our lifestyle, rubbing it in their faces. To that, I had no response. Arguing with a closed mind does little but frustrate.

My adopted sister, a young woman we had taken under our wing 16 years ago when she emigrated from India, was in on the conversation with Sis and I. She seemed pleased that Sis was of the opinion that this was weird or wrong. After having a heart to heart talk with Girlfriend later that night, I think that she now realizes that Girlfriend is not my replacement. She told me that she would come to accept this as our life.

As hard as this trip was in terms of dealing with the death of a loved one; it did affirm our chosen lifestyle. Families are not only formed by blood relationships, but by those that we hold dear.


Zoe first described herself as "bad at monogamy" until about five years ago when she and her husband discovered the term that actually described her: polyamorous. Since then they have opened their family to other partners. Zoe is currently juggling relationships with her husband, their two kids, her husband's girlfriend, and a slew of friends/loves that she calls her tribal poly family. She can be reached on facebook or on twitter @ZoeHanis


  1. “Families are not only formed by blood relationships, but by those that we hold dear.”

    I think this is really true, regardless of whether you’re non-monogamous or not. There will always be blood-relatives who are not family in the way that our closest lovers and friends are.

    Great piece. And very thought-provoking.

  2. George and Ann on

    You have done brilliantly. Really.

    Just remember the opening line of Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Unfortunately, family dysfunction tends to surface during crises, and sister’s behavior likely represents something deeper.

    Condolences to your family on your loss.

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