A Happy Triad That Deserves Equality
Linda, Matthew, and Melissa agreed to let me interview them for this blog. As I have said before, these are not their real names because these consenting, taxpaying adults need to protect themselves from oppression, harassment, prejudice, and bigotry.
Describe your background.
Linda: You’ve put some of it up online already. I was raised by my mother. My father was never really in the picture. My mother struggled to provide for me and keep me out of trouble, but I got in trouble anyway. You’ve already covered that.
I didn’t have my kids, I didn’t have my boyfriend. I had been dragged through the mud. I just had to get out of there, and I did.
What I did have, though, was all of this burning interest in nutrition and fitness that I had started to pick up during my first pregnancy. So I started working and I put myself through school and started getting clients who wanted a personal trainer. I gained some clients who were really well off, and so it became quite a nice career.
I was definitely attracted to men, but I was also finding myself attracted to some women. I thought at first I was just admiring what good shape they were in, but it turned out to be more than that. Then Melissa found me.
Melissa should probably tell her story.
Melissa: I knew early on that [her paternal grandparents, who got custody of her] were not my biological parents; that I was adopted. They were great parents and it is hard for me to reconcile how mean they were to Linda all those years ago with the kind of people they were to me. I guess they thought they were doing what was best for their granddaughter. They were very conservative and traditional, and frequently said children need to be raised by a married husband and wife, that they need to learn traditional manners, the whole bit.
They wouldn’t tell me much about my mother, but talked glowingly about my father.
I ended up finding information about my Linda when I was looking through some old files they had probably forgotten about. When went away to college to study Sociology, I figured I could start looking for Linda. I also realized that I was bisexual. I had been curious about girls when I was living at home, but I knew that if I got caught doing anything with boys, it would be bad enough. If I was caught doing something with a girl, I would have really been in for it.
I tracked down Linda and contacted her, and things picked up from there.
Matthew: I also knew that I was adopted, because my parents adopted other children, too. I had a pretty good childhood. Like anyone else, I wondered about my birth parents. My parents were more open about that than Melissa’s. I was kind of indecisive about contacting Linda, and then when I tried, it was old information. That gave me a chance to think about it some more. Did I really want to contact her? One of my siblings – we were all adopted – had tracked down his mother and it was a situation where he ended up wishing he hadn’t. It was depressing. I was afraid of an outcome like that. Or what if she had this whole family and I would be this outsider, this dark secret? I had a great family already.
Eventually, I decided that I just had to check, and I was finally able to track her down. I didn’t know about Melissa. It didn’t even occur to me that she might have had another child that was adopted out. I figured that if she had more kids, it would have been later, as part of a marriage. I guess there was a side to me that felt better when I found out she did not have a family.
Melissa: Linda didn’t tell me about Matthew until we met in person. I had talked with Linda over the phone and through e-mail. I had been worried, but she was so friendly and sounded so open. She was so beautiful in her pictures.
Linda: When I saw her pictures I was fascinated. I could see some of her father. I knew we had to meet. We kept talking for a while, about anything and almost everything, getting to know each other.
Melissa: We avoided talking about our love lives, other than the fact that we were both unattached.
Linda: I didn’t avoid it. I just didn’t think you would want to hear about it. [laughs] That seems so funny now.
Finally, we made plans for her to come and visit. I had plenty of room here, so I told her she could crash here.
Melissa: I told my grandparents that I was taking the trip to check out a program at another university, which wasn’t a lie. But it wasn’t the whole truth.
Linda: When I opened the door I was struck by the thought that she was even more attractive than she was in her pictures. It was the strangest feeling.
Melissa: The feelings I had are hard to describe. I felt like I had just put together a big puzzle, like this enormous missing piece had been found. We hugged and I never wanted that hug to end.
Linda: But it did, because we had to sit down and talk.
Melissa: At one point in the conversation, we started talking about relationships, and I was telling her about my relationships. I started off with the boyfriends because I am careful about revealing my bisexuality to people. I wanted to kind of get a feel for her and see if she was the homophobic type [laughs]. Little did I know! I figured the best way to get an idea was to mention bisexuality as a Soc[iology] topic.
Linda: The funny thing is, I was also worried about what her reaction would be if she found out that I am bi. I knew that [her grandparents] were very conservative, and I wasn’t sure what they had told her about me. They don’t know I am bi, but they could have said all sorts of things about me getting pregnant so young and unmarried, and everything that went along with that, and I didn’t want to have it topped off with homophobia. I guess I was afraid of her rejecting me.
Melissa: They didn’t really say much. I can see now that they were very good about that, careful not to put my birth mother down. They would always steer conversations about you to my birth father and talk about how much they loved me, and how much I reminded them of him.
Linda: I don’t doubt it. You remind me of him, too, So I got the vibe that she wasn’t homophobic, I asked her, I was still a little clumsy about it, I asked her if she had ever dated girls, and it just didn’t sound right so I quickly added that I had. I was still a little nervous. That’s when she said she considers herself bi, and I got this wave of relief and then I was like, I am too. I felt more relaxed.
But then the next wave of feelings was back to just how attractive she was. And I was thinking that all parents think their kids are good looking. And then she said that one of her girlfriends had been older. So I had asked her about that. I had never dated a woman much older or younger than myself.
Melissa: She told me she could understand why an older woman would be interested in me as I seemed very mature and was attractive.
Linda: I was getting these feelings that were confusing. I just wanted to hold her and I thought, well of course you want to hold her. She’s your daughter. But it seemed like more than that, and I was getting confused because I was feeling things I had never quite felt before.
Melissa: I was drawn to her like a magnet. I should have recognized what was going on, but I was too close to the situation.
Linda: We talked for hours, but it seemed like such a short time. I finally noticed the time and I apologized and insisted we get some sleep. When we were saying goodnight, we hugged again and I don’t think either of us wanted to let go.
Melissa: She showed me around town the next day, and we checked out things at the university. We were going all over place for the next few days.
Linda: I was trying to avoid spending too much time alone with her, because I was trying to sort out what was happening. I thought maybe it was just the initial newness of being reunited and it would go away.
Melissa: That’s kind of the way I was thinking. I finally couldn’t take it any more. I had been holding back but I just had to find a way to try to test the water. It was first thing in the morning after a night of getting almost no sleep and I had just showered and I had put on some sweats. Since she is a personal trainer I asked her for some tips on stretching.
Linda: That was torture. I tried to get into professional mode, but it wasn’t quite working.
Melissa: I thanked her and gave her a hug. And then I kissed the side of her neck. That was it. The ice was broken and it was being shattered.
Linda: It was intense. I had this sense of urgency, but also this sense of being fulfilled. By the time Matthew showed up, we had this strong bond and a new life going.
What about Matthew?
Matthew: We had talked over the phone and through e-mail. When I first saw her photos, I thought I was looking at an ad. I had to double check, and make sure the photos were her. I couldn’t believe it. She was… hot. There was no other way to describe it. Very good looking.
Linda: His voice and his pictures reminded me so much of his father.
Melissa: Linda let me see some of the e-mails and the pictures. I could see the resemblance to a picture Linda has of our biodad. He was quite handsome. I wanted to write back to Matthew and talk with him on the phone, but Linda convinced me it would be better for him to find out he had a sister in a face to face talk.
Linda: And that was something we had to talk about. It was clear we both found him attractive, and we had crossed that line with each other, but I figured we couldn’t assume he would be attracted to either of us, or even understand what was going on between us. He could have become very upset and ended up making life hell for us. We had to take a very cautious approach to the situation.
Melissa: I told Linda that I would go hang out when he came here and she could call or text me to come home to meet him after she had told him that he had a sister and got more of a feel for how he was.
Matthew: I was a blob of nerves when I went to meet Linda. But I had this sense of peace once I actually met her. My fears just slid away. I still had some nerves, though, because I was attracted to her. Not just the way she looked, but her personality and mannerisms.
She was telling me about my biodad and why I was put up for adoption, and it fleshed out what my parents had told me. She ended up telling me that I had a full blood sister and it was a shock. I was like, “Wow, how do I get in contact with her?” When she told me I could meet her if I wanted to, I was like hell yes I wanted to meet her.
Linda: He asked if she lived in town, and I was able to honestly say yes, but I held back the part that she was living right here.
Melissa: I rushed home when Linda gave me the word. I had been checking my phone constantly.
Matthew: She came in and, again, my worries just vanished and I just gave her this big hug.
Melissa: It felt so good to be in his arms. There was this scent to him that I found hypnotic.
Matthew: We talked and talked. Actually, I was having trouble getting a word in edgewise between Linda and Melissa.
How did you find out what was really going on between Linda and Melissa?
Matthew: I ended up staying, since things were going so well and they invited me to. But here I was, having these feelings for both of them and not really sure what to do about it. I started to notice things about how they were with each other.
Linda: We had separate bedrooms and had to sneak around, but I think we weren’t doing a very good job of it.
Matthew: Melissa’s room just wasn’t looking like it was lived-in. At first, I figured she was a neat freak. But I could tell she wasn't. I started developing my suspicions that something was up that I wasn’t being told. They had told me that they were both bi. I told them I was totally straight. I figured that was what they wanted to know when they told me they were bi. But these were two highly attractive women and Melissa was at a university, but there was no mention of a boyfriend or girlfriend or dates. You and Linda were not so serious, and there was nobody else.
I took them out separately to have some time alone with them. It really felt like I was on a date, but with someone I’d known for a long time. The talks on the date just reinforced my thoughts that there was something I still had to find out. When I got back here with Melissa, we danced to a slow love song. I was holding this beautiful woman and, well, I was getting aroused. One thing led to another.
Melissa: You’re skipping over the good parts.
Matthew: [laughs] So did you two. It was the best night I’d ever had. Afterwards, I was worried about Linda knowing what had happened. Melissa seemed decidedly unworried. She wanted to go at it again, and I was like “We’ve already taken a huge risk. What if Linda catches us?”
Melissa: I said what if she does?
Matthew: I said don’t you think that would be a problem?
Melissa: What he didn’t know was that Linda and I had talked about it, and we both wanted to make a move. We’d been flirting with him, really. But we agreed that it would be more likely to happen between us. He was more likely to go with it with his biological sister than his mother.
Matthew: So Melissa says to me very clear and deliberately, I’ll never forget this as long as I live, “It would only be a problem if you wouldn’t want to her join us, because I know for a fact that would be her reaction.”
Melissa: He tried to say about a hundred things at once, cutting himself off. He ended up asking how I would know that. I just gave him a look, and I could see the light bulb turning on.
Matthew: Everything suddenly made sense, but it was a lot to think through.
Melissa: He reacted positively to the mental picture, if you know what I mean.
Matthew: I did, didn’t I? I found the idea so arousing. But I still knew there was a lot of think about. That did not stop me from continuing to have a great night.
Linda: We all had a long, frank talk the next day.
Melissa: And we made special plans for that evening.
Matthew: Yeah, that ended up being the best night I’d ever had up until that time. The previous best night had a really short reign at the top.
Melissa: A whole new world.
Linda: I couldn’t have been happier.
How do you feel about the physical side of your relationship? Is it just experimentation, play, a mutual physical need or a romance, an additional dimension of love – what?
Matthew: I’ve never been happier. I want to live like this the rest of my life. It’s this multifaceted love. I don’t really think of Melissa as my sister and Linda as my mother. I already have a family. I mostly love my life. I can never repay Linda for giving me life.
Linda: But you try.
Matthew: [laughs] Yes, I do. But I was raised in a good home, and those are my parents. That’s my family in the traditional sense. Melissa and Linda are my best friends and my loves.
Melissa: It’s great. And it is romantic. It is loving, but we do have a lot of silly fun together and play around, kind of catching up for lost time, I guess, like brother and sister. But I don’t see Matthew as primarily my brother or Linda as primarily my mother. I know there are people who feel that way when they are reunited, and it causes them a lot of grief, but I’m great.
Linda: We’re all adults, and I didn’t raise them. It isn’t like I order them around. I’ll give them advice like anyone would, especially since they are younger. I love and support them in that way. But, yeah, we’re all on the same page. This is an incredibly strong attraction and bond and it is expressed in many ways. The eroticism and romance are intense.
Aside from being a polyamorous consanguineous triad, in which any two of you might pair off or all three of you might be together, is there any aspect of kink to your sexual relationship?
Linda: You mean like occasionally including you? [laughs]
Okay, let’s address that first. Is this polycule closed or open?
Linda: At first, Melissa and I were still going on dates with others, mostly with men, but that trailed off other than with you. When Matthew came along, he had been going out on dates back home, but he didn’t have an exclusive girlfriend at the time, and moving in here made it hard to continue with anyone back where he came from.
Matthew: Doing things long-distance isn’t for me. As far as dating other women here, I only have so much energy.
Melissa: Poor baby. [laughs]
Matthew: It’s rough. [laughs] Seriously, this wasn’t a friends-with-benefits situation here. I’m in love and nothing else compares.
Linda: So he stopped going on out dates with others. I didn’t ask either of them to stop seeing other people. And I don’t think they asked each other to stop. They didn’t ask me. Everything I wanted is what is right here now, so it was a matter of why date someone else?
Melissa: It just sort of happened. We formed this stable triad. We’re serious about each other. You’re the only other person involved.
And I’m only a part-timer.
Melissa: We’re not swinging or having play parties or anything like that.
Matthew: That would be risky.
Linda: Getting back to the question. I think that if someone saw Matthew and Melissa together, like a home video – and no, don’t ask - they’d think they’re just an ordinary couple, deeply in love, with a lot of passion. If they saw me with one of them, they’d probably think I’m an older woman with a younger man or a younger woman, deeply in love with each other, very passionate.
Matthew: There are no whips or anything like that. There is no fetish. Just a lot of loving, good sex.
Aside from me, who else in your life knows and how did they find out? How have they reacted?
Matthew: Nobody from my family knows. Not unless they’ve put some pieces together on a hunch. They haven’t given me any indication they suspect anything. I haven’t developed really strong, close friendships with others around here yet to the point where I would let them know.
Melissa: Linda went through enough grief. I can only imagine what my grandparents would do if they found out. I have one male friend who knows. He’s gay, so it wasn’t like we had any sexual tension between us. But my guard was down and he could see the way I was looking at Matthew, and he teased me about it until the truth came out. He’s the kind of person who can keep a secret, and he has. It took a little getting used to for him.
Linda: Most people who know us on some level know that they are my biological children. Only a few close, trusted, open-minded friends know that there’s more to us than that. All of them have been supportive, though one was kind of freaked out by it for a while. She later said that we have such a beautiful relationship and she can see such strong love that she changed her mind. You can write how you found out.
I found out because was dating Linda back when Melissa first showed up. We were getting along very well but it wasn’t serious. I wasn’t going to stand in the way of their relationship. I didn’t have a right to anyway. I continued to offer my friendship and take Linda out, and since I was supportive and open-minded, I’m still around.
What advice do you have to someone who has romantic or sexual feelings for a family member?
Melissa: First of all, there’s advice I would give to any friend of mine with feelings for someone else. Are you free to pursue them? Are you obligated to someone else first? Do you have the time? Are you open emotionally? Is this person right for you?
Then on top of that comes all of the additional considerations. Our situation is different from people who were raised together. Consider when you date a classmate or a coworker and then you break up. What does that do to how you feel about your class or your job? If you have a familial social relationship with someone, how would that be changed if you added a romance to that, and then it didn’t work out. If you’re being reunited, it is a different consideration. Maybe you’ve always wanted a sibling or a father or a mother, and finding them is a chance to have that, although as adults. Will you be jeopardizing that?
Matthew: Plus there are the social and legal considerations. Are you willing to do what it takes to deal with those things, either by having to be in a kind of closet, or are you willing to be more open and challenge those who want to tell you “you can’t do that?”
Melissa: If you want to try it, go ahead and romance them. Flirt. Spend time with them. Do all of the things you would do to seduce anyone.
Linda: If it works out, they may want to move to a place that doesn’t prosecute people for having this kind of relationship.
Do you think family members have some things better or some advantages that unrelated lovers might not, such as more intense feelings and lovemaking?
Linda: Yes. There’s a deep love there, and the attraction is strong, I can see aspects of their father in them. That probably has something to do with it. No offense, but no other relationship I’ve had was anything close to this.
Melissa: Definitely. I don’t know if those who haven’t experienced this can have a good understanding of just how intense it is. I’ve been in love before, and this is much more than that.
Matthew: Without a doubt. I’d been in love before, too, but there’s no comparison. It’s not even close. The sex is the best.
Would you get legally married if you could, and if that included protection from things such as workplace discrimination based on your relationship?
Linda: Yes. One of my friends who knows is an ordained minister and offered to marry us, which was just so touching. But I’ve lived more life than they have and I’ve been giving them time to think about it.
Melissa: I think we’re finally all at the point where we’d want to get married, but we want to do it legally.
Matthew: Yeah, I thought maybe my thoughts and feelings would be different given a little time, but I’ve only grown more certain that this is what I want for the rest of my life.
Melissa: But I don’t want to have two weddings. I want to have the ceremony and have it be legally recognized at the same time.
Linda: I agree.
Matthew: Me too.
Melissa: There’s a sense of completeness, of wholeness. The only thing missing is being able to be open and free and having that legal equality.
What are your plans for the future?
Linda: Getting married. But we can’t do that until we get equality.
Melissa: I’ll be completing my Masters soon.
Matthew: Continuing to build a life together.
Is there is anything else you want to add?
Matthew: Please support our right to get married. I want to make honest women out of these ladies.
Melissa: [laughs] But if we were honest ladies, how could we associate with a scoundrel like you?
Matthew: I wouldn’t be a scoundrel any more. I’d be an honest gentleman.
Linda: All kidding aside, I would hope that people would see that our love is real and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be married under the law. We’re married in practice, really. We just haven’t had a ceremony. That’s the way it feels.
UPDATE: Mother's Day 2011
UPDATE: November 2011 - Still a Happy Triad
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