Relationships don’t have to be conventional to make you happy, as one woman in Los Angeles has discovered through her four-way set-up.
Abbie Lill has been with her boyfriend Elijah, 38, for five years but also has a two-year long relationship with girlfriend, Emily, 39, and her 32-year-old husband J – Abbie’s metamour [partner of your partner].
The 28-year-old started dating her first partner in 2018, and on their initial date told him that she was bisexual and not ready to commit to a monogamous relationship with a man.
Elijah said he had no issue with Abbie continuing to explore her queer identity.
‘We set a standard from the very beginning that anything and everything is fine, as long as we talk about things together first,’ Abbie said.
‘We decided that if we wanted to see other people, we would both be open to it as long as everything was on the table and there was no deception involved.
‘In the early days when we were first developing our relationship, we put most of our efforts there.’
Two years into their relationship, the couple moved into their first home – and with that, they met new neighbours, Emily and J.
She said: ‘We all got to know each other as friends pretty quickly, and a few months later, Emily and I went out crystal shopping together.
‘That was the first time we spoke deeper, we talked about our relationships, our histories, our sexualities, our journeys of coming out as both bisexuals.
‘She brought up monogamy, I explained Elijah and I’s stance, and then she admitted her feelings to me.
‘She told me that she and J were non-monogamous but were also waiting for the right person.
‘Emily very sweetly and very openly shared her heart and asked if I was interested in pursuing anything.’
Abbie said she had been ‘missing’ Emily’s ‘flirting attempts’.
Elijah was out of town at the time but as soon as he got home, Abbie spoke to him and they agreed to take things slow, but try the situation.
She said: ‘Emily and I took a couple of weeks talking more and getting to know each other more in that way, but we waited to have our first kiss or anything more until both of us and both of our partners were ready to take that step.
‘We told each other “I love you” about a month in and things have just been growing and getting better every day!
‘I didn’t know a relationship could feel so secure.
‘When Emily and I were first starting our relationship, I was surprised to feel like my love for Elijah was growing at the same time as my love for Emily.
‘I’ve really learned deep in my soul how possible it is to love two people at once.’
But Abbie’s relationship with J is purely platonic.
She said: ‘Me and J get along so well. We also communicate well and that is so, so important to me.
‘These people are my family.’
Abbie has received mixed reactions from friends and family about their set-up.
Abbie said: ‘All of my close friends were immediately accepting and excited to meet my new girlfriend.
‘My parents on the other hand… it was a difficult time. My grandmother passed away less than a month after coming out to my mum and that threw a huge curveball our way.
‘No one handled the situation well.
‘We went a couple months without talking, which was truly awful as we were all grieving a giant loss.
‘A year-and-a-half later and things are better but not like they were before. We are still working to heal our relationship, which I am holding out hope that we can do.
‘They love Elijah and have loved and accepted him from very early on in our relationship, as soon as they saw how good he was to me and how happy he makes me.
‘I hope that someday they can extend the same respect to my second relationship.’
Abbie has also had to deal with opinions and comments from strangers and colleagues.
She said: ‘On my first day back at work after the quarantine, one of my old coworkers asked me what was new, so I said I have a girlfriend and am polyamorous.
‘Then, I heard and saw a middle aged man say “this is why I’ve got to get my kids out of California” – how extreme!
‘Living [where we do], we don’t get a lot of in-person negative attention. Emily and I feel safe as a queer couple out in LA, and we tend to hang in queer-friendly spaces.
‘I often use they/them pronouns [at work] if I’m talking about my partner because I don’t want to identify which one I’m talking about.’
She said to begin with, telling people she’s polyamorous was a ‘strange experience’.
‘I had to learn to thicken my skin if my goal is to normalise polyamory and be seen by people outside of the community,’ she added.
‘I get random negative comments online but that’s usually the worst of it.
‘It astounds me how people can so confidently spew vile hatred at random strangers on the internet, but hey, that’s the age we live in and I’m learning to accept it.’
Abbie hopes to one day live in a house with Elijah, Emily, and J, so they can enjoy their polyamorous life together.
She added: ‘Even when I didn’t have the words for it [polyamory], monogamy didn’t sit right with me.
‘My dream is to buy a house between all four of us with at least three bedrooms, giving each couple a room.
‘That is the loose plan for the future, but who knows where life will take us.
‘None of us want children and we all came to that decision individually.
‘At this point we kind of check in every now and again to make sure everyone is on the same page, but I’m very confident nothing will change that.’
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