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“There are no ‘shoulds.’ You don’t have to draw a line between who is a lover and who is a friend.They’ve been “nesting partners” for 12 years, but they’ve both had other relationships throughout that time.(This stigma is also why, with the exception of the Northern Virginia triad, all of the other polyamorous sources in this article asked to go either by their first names or pseudonyms).Increasingly, polyamorous people—not to be confused with the prairie-dress-clad fundamentalist polygamists—are all around us.Of the three people living in the Northern Virginia duplex, Sarah volunteers that she’s the one most prone to jealousy.“It can be about feeling like you’re not special, or feeling like this thing belonged to me and now someone’s taken it.”She said it was rough for her when Jonica first moved in.Both of them say they knew from a young age that there was something different about their sexuality.

In the course of her research, Sheff met one couple in which the man was as “as kinky as a cheap garden hose.” “It didn’t do it for [his wife], the whole kink thing,” Sheff told me.In fact, this quest has become so common (and its object has remained so elusive) that it’s known as “hunting the unicorn.”But Sheff cautions that once said unicorn is caught, “the men are sometimes not as well-tended as they hoped to be.During the actual sex, the women get interested in each other, and the men describe it as ‘not all that.’”Even many devout monogamists admit that it can be hard for one partner to supply the full smorgasbord of the other’s sexual and emotional needs.When I met Jonica Hunter, Sarah Taub, and Michael Rios on a typical weekday afternoon in their tidy duplex in Northern Virginia, a very small part of me worried they might try to convert me. And so are Sarah and whomever she happens to bring home some weekends. Jonica is 27, with close-cropped hair, a pointed chin, and a quiet air.All three live there together, but they aren’t roommates—they’re lovers. Sarah is 46 and has an Earth Motherly demeanor that put me at relative ease.

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