By Rebecca Drew
THIS MARRIED couple of nine-years invited another woman to join their relationship and they have officially been a triad for TEN-MONTHS despite most of their family members not approving of their unconventional relationship and receiving “looks of disdain” when they are out and about.
Self-employed sports analytic, Mike and special education teacher, Kristina Green (40 and 34 respectively), from Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA, had been married for eight years when they decided to look for a girlfriend to join their relationship. They met therapist, Ashley Sweet (31) who was married at the time but openly dating other people, through mutual friends at a social event.
The three instantly clicked and started to date on a casual basis before Mike and Kristina asked Ashley to officially form a triad as they had fallen in love with her and they have now been together as a throuple for 10-months. Ashley and her husband separated as of July this year for reasons unrelated to their polyamorous lifestyle with him always being supportive of her relationship with Mike and Kristina.
Kristina, Mike and Ashley have three children between them who they raise together and who they identify as, BR (11), BB (7) and GB (7) to respect their privacy.
Ashley works a busy schedule that often means she is away from the family home, so feelings of jealousy sometimes arise over the time that they get to spend with each other but the throuple have now found a way to navigate these emotions and work through them together so that everyone feels included.
The triad view their relationship as a triangular shaped unit with each person benefiting individually from their unique setup. For Kristina, being in a triad, has given her a female and male partner and allowed her to explore herself more than she did when she was in a monogamous relationship; for Mike, the triad means he receives more of everything he did before, and Ashley receives balance in her love life.
“It allows for additional avenues to share and explore the world with people I care about,” said Mike.
“Being poly gives you a different perspective on the world in general. We don’t view things through the normal society’s spectrum.”
Ashley continued: “Polyamory is about being open to more. More love, more partners, more experiences. Society is largely centred around monogamy, this idea that there is only one ‘person’ for you.
“But what if there’s more than one? Why should we limit ourselves because of a social rule?”
“Having more than one partner means I see the world through my gaze, his gaze, and hers.
“My understanding of the world and what it has to offer is vastly expanded by being open to loving and sharing with more than one amazing person.
“Our relationship works through open and honest communication, respect and consideration for one another’s feelings and thoughts, and a willingness to compromise for the best interests of all.
“For a polyamorous relationship, we have to work harder on those things, because there are more needs, wants, feelings, thoughts and input at any given time. We are also all unique and different, and so rather than having to consider one partner’s needs and differences, we consider two.
“Occasionally one of us is on one side and another is on the opposite side of the issue at hand, and the need for respect and compromise becomes more important.
“We talk a lot and have developed a POT (polygon of trust) where we all hold hands and agree to listen without judgement to one another. Having a ‘safe space’ where we take time to consider our needs and be mindful of being respectful allows us to communicate more openly and honestly.
“There are often feelings of jealousy, particularly around time spent together. I work an unconventional schedule in therapy and so spend more time away from home when the family is together, and I can sometimes feel left out.
“We joked once, months ago, that we should have a word to express when someone feels left out without having to share the vulnerable feelings, because feeling left out in our triad is complicated, as you feel both excluded and guilty for potentially taking time from your partners.
“So now we say ‘orangutan’, which is comical, but also allows us to share when something or some configuration leads to feelings of exclusion. When we disagree, we sometimes talk in our triad, and sometimes if the disagreement is between a pairing, the third partner will try to bring the other two together to hash out the feelings and needs.”
Despite being madly in love with each other, the triad have received mixed reactions from their family members – with only Ashley’s parents supporting their arrangement and willing to learn more.
“My birth parents and family seem more accepting and have been willing to listen and get to know Ashley,” said Kristina.
“My adopted mother is not very accepting at this time, but my siblings are very supportive.
“GB always talks about how she has more family now. She was an only child, and now she has two brothers. She also loves Ashley and tells everyone that she has two mums.”
Mike continued: “My brother is tolerant, my sister is accepting, but my other sister has not approved.
“My family more or less disapproves, and my mother has refused to meet her [Ashley]. Most of my family hates our relationship.”
Ashley said: “My parents have been surprisingly open and accepting. My mother will ask questions and my dad is supportive if confused.
“My sisters are a little less embracing: apart from the youngest, my sisters have expressed confusion, disapproval and concern for the best interests of their children as well as mine.
“I would say that my oldest, BR, truly understands the dynamic we have. I explained the relationship in the context of consent, that just like you wouldn’t date or touch someone without consent, having more than one partner is allowed as long as everyone consents.
“He’s been adjusting to having to listen to more adults, but he loves everyone. BB has adjusted well. He still struggles to see us through a new lens and has confused thoughts about marriage and where I fit in. But he loves everyone, and he calls Mike ‘Dad’ and they call Kristina ‘Mermaid’.
“The kids have never found it weird and in introduce each other to their friends and family as siblings.”
When out in public, the triad receive confused looks from strangers who don’t understand their relationship, but they have been shown an outpouring of acceptance and support for their relationship online.
They are currently working on a blog together to encourage the world to accept their beautiful relationship and show others that people are free to choose the relationships that they want in life, insisting that they are better together.
“Kristina and I often get looks of disdain when we go out together. Occasionally folks will appear confused when they see the three of us out together. Many of our friends have been supportive, and we have had an amazing outpouring of support on social media,” explained Ashley.
“Though not everyone approves of the life we have chosen together, many do. Many more are confused or curious, and we always welcome questions that are asked respectfully.
“We’ve been working on a blog and we share as much of ourselves as we can on social media because we believe that visibility and openness is the best form of activism to encourage the world to accept our choices.
“We are all consenting adults. The problems that seem to arise for other people when confronted with our relationship is that it is unconventional. However, unconventional should be an option so long as everyone involved is happy with it. And we are.
“We love our triad, despite the myriad challenges we have faced both socially and personally. We don’t always have words for what we feel, because language is mostly centred around pairing and monogamy.
“We don’t have titles that seem to encompass what we mean to one another. We regularly have to challenge our thoughts and feelings because we too grew up in a world that said we could only have one partner.
“We are better together, and while there is no road map for our relationship, no guide and very little media representation to support our love style, we believe in the connection we have and the future we are building together.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/polytribe17