Huffpost DC

Q&A With Tamara Pincus: Valentine's Day For Non-Monogamists

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Andarge Asfaw
Andarge Asfaw

WASHINGTON -- How do you celebrate Valentine's Day when your husband has two girlfriends, one of whom lives with you? How about when you've got two boyfriends yourself?

For answers, The Huffington Post turned to Tamara Pincus, a local psychotherapist who specializes in sexuality. Pincus hosts a call-in radio show -- "Sex Talk with Tamara Pincus" -- and leads a discussion group for people in nonmonogamous relationships.

She also knows about Valentine's Day for polyamorists from personal experience. Pincus lives in Northern Virginia with her two children, her husband and one of her husband's girlfriends. Her husband also has one other girlfriend and Pincus has two boyfriends.

It sounds like a complicated group of people to share a box of chocolates and a candlelight dinner with every Feb. 14. Is it?

HuffPost DC: What does it mean to be in a polyamorous relationship?

Pincus: We are open and honest about having multiple relationships with multiple people. My poly family consists of me and my husband. We've been married for nine years. One of my husband's girlfriends lives with us, so she also helps out with childcare and house work, and that kind of stuff. And we also have outside relationships on top of that.

We were non-monogamous for the last four years or so. But we didn't start having real intense poly relationships until about a year ago. I'd experimented with being poly before. For my husband it was totally new.

HuffPost DC: Do you find the D.C. area to be welcoming to poly families? Are there particular places in the D.C. area that are more or less welcoming?

Pincus: Honestly, we're not very out. I think that's really true for a lot of people in the area. There's a big poly community, but most of the people are younger and don't have kids. Or they're older and their kids have already graduated and moved on. A lot of the people in the poly community are in their 50s and 60s. They're in a different sort of place. The other poly people with families that I know, I don't find being that out about it.

HuffPost DC: How does Valentine's Day get celebrated in your family?

Pincus: Valentine's Day isn't really a big deal for a lot of us. One thing that I plan on doing is something my mom used to do when I was a kid. She would set the table for breakfast. And on the table would be Valentine's cards and candy and she would make breakfast. I plan on doing that for my kids. As far as Valentine's Day itself, I'm working. And that night I have my radio show. Strangely enough the show is going to be about sex addiction. I'm not sure that was the best choice.

HuffPost DC: So you wouldn't all go out for dinner together?

Pincus: No. We don't have the kind of relationships where we're all romantic with each other. It's not like that. So it wouldn't really make sense for us. It might make sense for other groups. I know some triads [relationships involving three people] who would probably end up doing something like that. We did, actually, on New Years. We invited all our partners over with their kids. We all hung out, and let the kids run around. That was fun. But Valentine's Day is not really a big holiday for me. I can't say for the poly community as a whole.

HuffPost DC: Does Valentine's Day heighten insecurities and anxieties in the poly community the way it seems to in the non-poly community?

Pincus: I haven't really seen that. I think that the December holidays seem to have more issues because you have to figure out who you want to spend them with. People can get insulted if you're not at the place where they think you should be. I haven't heard a lot of drama around Valentine's Day.

HuffPost DC: In the poly community, does Valentine's Day takes more planning than in the couples community because there's more relationships to take into account, so you can't do a cookie cutter evening?

Pincus: You could do a cookie-cutter evening with one of your partners. But you probably couldn't do a cookie-cutter evening with all of your partners.

HuffPost DC: What are the upsides and the downsides of being in a poly relationship?

Pincus: We spend a lot of time trying to set aside time for our own relationship, to make sure we're still connecting with each other. My mom will take the kids for dinner once a week and my husband and I will just spend time with each other. I think that's really important for managing this kind of lifestyle. I think it's easy for people to fall for someone new, and then get so into the new person that they let the other relationships slide. I think when people don't think it through, disasters can happen. When you do think it through you make mistakes, but as you make mistakes you learn from them. Things that are really hard in the beginning get less difficult.

We've found that it works really well for us. It's not for everybody. We feel like having more adults is more helpful as far as raising our kids. And a lot of the outside people we're dating also have kids, so when we get together all our kids play, and run around, and have a good time. It's been great. I didn't actually imagine it would end up being this good.

RELATED VIDEO: Newsweek video profiles a polyamorous Seattle family.