Love as a Trio: Polyamory on the Road

Bringing your girlfriend and your fiancée to a wedding may sound like a premise for an uncomfortable romantic comedy, but earlier this summer my fiancé, Jesse, was invited to the wedding of an old college friend in Arizona. He and I have been dating our girlfriend, Maxine, for over a year now, which usually warrants invitations to things like weddings and family gatherings.

Going to a wedding with a partner can be immensely validating for a relationship, especially if it's new. It's an opportunity to meet a ton of friends and family all at once, so bringing a partner can signify that the relationship is headed in a serious direction. Jesse and I wanted Maxine to know that even though we are serious about each other, we are both serious about her, too.

Luckily, the bride encouraged us to bring Maxine and granted Jesse a “plus two” on his invitation.

As much as we were all excited to share the special day and soak up all the lovey-dovey energy, I'd be lying if I said we all weren't a little anxious.

The day of the wedding, we made our way to the quaint downtown where we'd be staying in a 100-year-old hotel. It occurred to me that perhaps we shouldn't all go in together, just in case the management gave us any trouble.

I've seen Big Love, the HBO show about a Mormon family in the suburbs of Utah that has to hide its polygamist lifestyle for fear of arrest and persecution. Though polygamy and polyamory are quite different, I know that outside of San Francisco and New York, nontraditional relationships like ours can result in the kind of attention one doesn't necessarily want in a state where it's legal to carry a concealed weapon.

We stood in the lobby with our luggage and bags of high heels, champing at the bit to get upstairs, but there was a problem. The man at the front desk said the hotel had a policy of no more than two people to a room, as there was only one bed.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I demurely told him that one bed was just fine.

The clerk looked at my fiancé, looked at our girlfriend, and then looked back at me.

“Where are you going to sleep, then?,” he asked me as he narrowed his gaze. “On the floor?”

“I don't believe that's any of your business,” I told him with measured fury just beneath my tongue.

Maybe he couldn't handle the idea that some people get to have threesomes on the regular, or maybe he was just having a bad day, but his voice became threatening.

“Actually, it is my business, because you're staying in my hotel. Now you mouthed off to me once, let's not make it twice.”

I felt rage bubbling up, but I knew that yelling at him wouldn't mean that I'd won.

I just wanted to get upstairs so I could shave my legs.

I stormed out of the lobby to get some air. Jesse and Maxine settled things downstairs. Upstairs, they dried my tears and held me close.

We knew we had to shake it off, lest our desk clerk blues be read as proof that polyamory only resulted in heartache. I took a very hot shower and we hustled to get fabulous.

We somehow managed to not even be late to the ceremony.

“This is my fiancée, Siouxsie, and this is our girlfriend, Maxine,” Jesse said while introducing us to people from his past.

The moonlight and paper flowers made the hateful tone of that desk clerk melt away. A few people had questions, but they were rarely invasive or rude.

We may have been the only triad there, but we didn't feel like outliers.

It's nice to think that for every mean-spirited hotel clerk ready to scrutinize, there are 300 open-minded wedding guests ready to learn.

Nonmonogamy isn't for everyone, but just because we live in a world that says a king-size bed is for two people only doesn't mean that three people can't snuggle close and make it work.

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