Ginny’s recent post about how future planning happens (or doesn’t) within polyamorous relationships got me thinking about my own future planning. I mused over my plans with Jon and Lora as well as the future that I’d originally planned with my defunct polycule. I wanted to share the planning process that I went through (and ultimately failed) and my thoughts on why it failed, as well as my current thoughts on building something for the future, given my current poly situation.
One thing that is important to point out is that for me, future planning mainly involves buying a home. I currently am saving for my retirement. I have an emergency fund in case I lose my job. I put excess savings into other accounts. Those are things I do whether I’m partnered or not. If I were part of a polycule that shared similar ambitions, I would love for us to buy a home together. Although I completely gave up that dream over a year ago with my old polycule, I feel like I’m still recovering from that shiny future I’d thought was nearly in our collective grasp.
Before I start talking about what went wrong with my last polycule when we attempted to plan for the future, I should describe all the players as they were at the time:
Me/Liz: In a romantic relationship with Jon. In a partnership with Rachel. Exploring a possible partnership with Rob. Exploring a romantic relationship with Jessica.
Jon: In a romantic relationship with me and Lora. Building a solid friendship with Rob.
Lora: In a romantic relationship with Jon.
Rachel: In a romantic relationship with Rob. In a partnership with me and in a partnership with Jessica.
Rob: In a romantic relationship with Rachel. Exploring forming a partnership with me. Forming a really solid friendship with Jon.
Jessica: In a romantic relationship with George. In a partnership with Rachel. Exploring a romantic relationship with me.
George: In a romantic relationship with Jessica.
A little background first: Jessica and Rachel have been “together” the longest of any of this group. The reason I say “together” is because while they’ve felt, since they met, that there were soulmates, it wasn’t until a few years ago that the “officially” became poly/decided to share their lives as intimately as they do with their romantic partners. Jessica and Rachel were “together” for a number of years before Rachel and I met. Rachel and I fell in love with each other within months, then moved in together. We’d been living together for about a year and a half when Rachel met Rob. Rachel and Rob fell in love and decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together about a year into their relationship. As Rachel realized how she felt about Rob, and that they’d want to move in together soon, and start their life together, she became very upset that her life with Rob meant no longer living with me.
It was around this time that I was seriously considering become poly, in part because of my feelings for Rachel, and wanting to have her be as involved in my life as much as any romantic partner. When I suggested the idea of being poly to her, and staying together, she loved the idea and floated it by Rob. Rob, while romantically monogamous, always loved the idea of poly and having an intentional community of friends and lovers sharing the joys and burdens of life together. It was around this time that Rachel also told me more about her relationship with Jessica, and how much they loved each other. She said that if she was to live polyamorously in order to keep her friends as close to her as her romantic love, then Jessica had to be involved too.
I was a bit taken aback by this – not because I didn’t want her to have other partners, but because I’d known her for quite a few years without knowing how close her bond with Jessica was. I knew that they were very close friends. I didn’t know that they considered each other soulmates. I also didn’t know (and didn’t find out until later under less-than-ideal circumstances) that they considered each other to be the most important person in each other’s lives, above and beyond their romantic partners (more on that later). The important thing was that I didn’t know Jessica well, but as she was so important to Rachel, I definitely wanted to get to know her better. I also wanted to get to know Rob better, as our plans were ultimately for Rob, Rachel and I to live together.
So, the original four of us (Rob, Rachel, Jessica and me) decided to buy a two unit home together. It initially seemed like the perfect idea for us. There are so many things we’ve love to do if we owned a home instead of renting. A little greenhouse in the yard. Custom home design, cool grouting and mosaics. A hot tub. Better bathrooms. Maybe even solar panels. We decided even then to make sure that the home had (at the very least) room for me to have a partner join, room for Rob and Rachel to have kids, and room for Jessica to both have a partner and kids. We were all up for the idea of having roommates until we had kids (since that would help pay off the home faster). It was during this time, when we’d roughed out our ideas for what we wanted (but not yet started looking, or even solidified all the little details) that I met Jon (and through him, Lora). A few months later, Jessica and George started dating. Jessica and I filled in George and Jon respectively about our home-buying plans. Jon was interested in fully buying in, whereas George was interested in renting (as was Lora), should things in our respective relationships continue to work out well. Though we wanted them to join us (and they wanted to join too), that was not a requirement of continuing to have a relationship with Jon that he (and Lora) move in. Had Jon not wanted to move in, but wanted to continue to have a relationship with me, that would have hurt some, but not been any kind of deal-breaker.
Seven incomes would buy a really nice-sized home and pay it off much faster than two incomes, even with two parties paying a lesser share in rent. And as Jessica/George and Rachel/Rob both wanted kids, having them while sharing living space with other loving people meant more adults around to help take care of the kids (something that Jon and I were both very on-board with. Lora also was willing to do some amount of help with childcare, though not as much as Jon and me). Overall, our plan was looking really good.
To begin to bring us together Rachel and I moved in with Rob. If that went well, we were considering all of us renting a brownstone with a two or three units to see how things went with all of us living together. In that case, Jessica and her partner George would have been in a unit. If it were a two apartment building, then me, Rachel, Rob, Jon, and Lora would have been in the second unit. If we found a three unit home, then Jon and Lora would have been in a unit, and Jon would also live part-time with me, Rachel and Rob. Jessica and George would have continue to have their own unit.
Sadly, things didn’t work out with me, Rachel and Rob living together. Rob’s desire for privacy and solitude and my desire to have people over regularly clashed. There wasn’t any fighting, but there was stress between the two of us, as we could find no reasonable compromise where I didn’t feel alienated from my friends or he didn’t feel like his home was constantly being invaded by other people.
Because of that, we started considering a three unit situation where Lora, Jon and I would live together, Rachel and Rob would live together, and Jessica and George would live together. Despite making that decision, Rachel, Rob and I all felt really sad and upset about not living together anymore. It was something that we kept bringing up and wishing that it could happen.
Eventually, Rob and I had a eureka moment.
As we were browsing homes, we noticed that a lot of the two-unit brownstones had a garden level that had several rooms, then a kitchen/living room/dining room level, then a bedroom level for one unit. The other unit was split between 2 floors, once with living area and the other with bedrooms. Rob and I started talking about how we could maybe all live together – If Jon, Lora and I took the garden level and converted it into two bedrooms and a living room with kitchenette and if Rob took the one of the upstairs bedrooms and converted it into an office, then I could do some socializing with friends on the shared kitchen/living room floor when Rob was in the mood to be social and I could also have people socialize privately in the garden level when Rob wanted alone time. And either way, Rob’s home office would be on the bedroom level that he shared with Rachel, so he’d definitely have privacy. And this new configuration also had more possibilities for other people to have friends/people over without everybody being smushed together. We were specifically thinking that if Rob needed to have coworkers over (he works from home), and Rachel wanted to have friends over to cook, and Jon and I wanted to have friends over for movies (or some other combination), we could all do so without being under each other’s feet.
It was going to work out!
Rob mentioned this plan to Rachel and she liked it. She really missed living with me, once we split homes and she loved the idea of being able to live together again. She loved the idea of us having shared space and also having our own private spaces to retreat to. Overall, it sounded like a great solution that put us nearly back where we’d originally been with our home plans.
So where did it go wrong? A couple of places, which I’ll get into in part two.