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135. Just Another Old, Married, Non-Monogamous Love Story with Kyros

Nicole: The first question I like to ask each guest is how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Kyros: I'm a 54 year old gay man with two husbands living in Southern California. All three of us have a great relationship with my kid. I've been with my husband's, the three of us have been together 15 years. Mm

Nicole: hmm. Mm hmm. And I'm excited to talk about all of the beautiful relationships you have in your life.

Yeah. I'm curious if you could take me way, way back to even the first time that you heard of non monogamy or polyamory, where were you at? What did you think of it? Take me back.

Kyros: Yeah. So, it would have been 1994? Okay. 1993? Something like that? Yeah. Somewhere in there, I first heard of ethical non monogamy, started doing some reading about the time I owned a bookstore.

And so, I had seen one of the books come, you know, like in the new books out kind of thing. I said, oh, that looks interesting. So, I read, uh, The Ethical Slut.

Nicole: Of course. The canon. Of course.

Kyros: Yes. And then, there were a few other books that came out right around that time. I just kind of dove into him like, Oh, this is neat.

And my partner and I at the time had an open relationship. So I was already, it's fairly common. I don't say fairly common. It is common in the gay community for, uh, especially if you've been together for a long time to open the relationship, stuff like this. So I had already, you know, been. in an open relationship.

When that relationship ended and I went into my next relationship, I pretty much stated from the get go, this is going to be an open relationship. I don't, I don't do, you know, I don't do myogamy well, not anymore. And about six months after we got together, his ex wife showed up on our doorstep with a kid and a bag of diapers and clothes and here you take.

And my partner and his ex wife went out and screamed at each other for about an hour while I'm holding this child. And I raised that child for the next eight years. And that's the adult child that lives with me. So it's, they're my kids. They're, both their biological parents are, yeah. Yeah. But during the course of that relationship.

We got, but we were living in this gallery. We got involved with a polyamory group that was just kind of starting. And so we had a group of probably about 20 of us or so that would get together on a weekly basis at one of the local malls, because one of the two people in the group were musicians and an open mic night, so the, they would go up and perform and we would all be there to support them.

And one person was from this couple was dating the other person that couple and it was like this big ring. Sure. Of course. And we were all just exploring, you know, what this all meant together. And we went to a few sci fi conventions and actually held panels on What we knew as people who were actually doing it for people for other people that were asking questions Yeah, and so that was like from like 96 97 98 99 those four years and when that relationship ended I You know went right into another non monogamous relationship and was actually briefly in a triad.

It didn't work and I really, it was about that time that I realized trying to find a triad, looking, actively looking for it, typically blocks you from actually finding anything because you're, you're so desperate. You'll grab anybody rather than waiting for the right person to call and you'll just grab anyone who's like, Oh yeah, yeah, you want to try it?

Let's try it. Sure. And that tends to lead to a lot of problems and why people perceive Polly is not working because you're not getting a relationship because, Oh, I love this person. You're getting a relationship because I want another person. And then, you know, I met Scott or my other husband about two months after I met David and we were all good friends.

And then, you know, when Scott was in a relationship, his relationship ended, he started spending time with David and I, and we were just kind of playing around, having fun, you know, but then at a certain point we were planning a vacation together. And I looked at David and I said, I think we're dating him.

And he goes, yeah, I kind of wondered about that. And I'm like, so is this something we want to do? Yeah. You know, and so we had like, Multiple conversations about whether or not that was where we wanted this to go or whether we should put a pause on things and we decided, sure, let's give this a shot. And so we went to Scott and like, Hey, so we think we're kind of dating you and we want to know how you feel about that.

He goes, Oh, good. I felt the same way, but I didn't want to cause trouble between you guys. So I didn't want to say anything. Yeah. So we decided to give it a shot and here we are 15 years later.

Nicole: Wow. Beautiful. What a beautiful love story that you've created, right? I think there's so much, you know, the reality is there's a lot of stigma around non monogamy and open relating and this idea that, you know, this is something that you do when you're young and you have all that sex drive and then that shit doesn't last.

I mean, you're, you're, yeah, you're palming your face. So I would love to hear what you have to say back.

Kyros: Well, I'm 54. Scott is 54. David is 46. So we're all in our, you know, 40s, 50s, and, you know, we got together. When we were, uh, I was, I had just, Seth and I had just turned like 40 when we got together. Saying that it's all about sex and it's all about, you know, yeah, we, we had fun at the beginning, but we're just like any other long term married couple, you know, you know, sometimes things happen, sometimes things don't happen for days and weeks, you know, but we love each other.

Nicole: Yeah, but of course, yeah, there's so much, it's so much more than just Sex. Right? That's what you're speaking to here is like the stigma, the cultural perceptions around it being just about that.

Kyros: Yes. And it's definitely not about that. It's like any other relationship, you just happen to have extra people.

Mm hmm. And because we still have an open relationship, that means that, you know, David went to Japan to visit a friend who was going to be moving there to teach English for a year. Mm hmm. And so he went to go visit the guy. I know it's someone that he's played around with in the past, you know, before we got together.

And I'm like, have fun. Yeah. And, you know, when he got back, he gave us the whole story about, you know, oh, this and this and this and this. We went here, we did this and like, told us all the things they did and then, you know, occasionally throw in, you know, and then, you know, we got into the hot tub together and had this kind of fun and, you know, it's not a, it's not an issue at all.

Nicole: Was it ever? Yes. Yeah. Exactly. That's the question I have to ask. You're here now, but you take us back, you know, way, way back. What was it like when you first heard your partner doing stuff with other people?

Kyros: Well, when we first got together, even like when the three of us were together, like if I went to the bathroom and I came back and they were already playing around, I would get upset.

Oh, he couldn't even wait on me. And, you know, and then we talked it out and like, okay, yeah. And you know, in the early days it really was like that, you know, it was. Yeah. If some, if two of us would start without the other one, there'd be some hurt feelings or like, Oh, you know, but we soon realized that it was mostly FOMO, you know, just, we were missing out.

It wasn't that we were upset that the first they were together. It was just, Oh, why, you know, why am I not part of this? And you know, now two weeks ago or so. I had to leave because I had a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning, so I was in the shower. I came out of the shower, and they're going at it, and I'm like, I see, cutting away from me, huh?

And I just, it was a joke. Yeah. And, you know, I, I stood there and kept getting dressed while they were still going at it, and I leaned over and gave them both a kiss and left. I mean. Yeah. Yes. So much of. What I thought was jealousy was actually just fear of missing out. I was just, you know, like, why am I not involved in this?

Why am I not getting this? Whatever. And once I hit kind of that point, that was like a huge realization for me that I'm not jealous. You know, that they're getting some, I'm not, whatever, it'll all even out in the end. I'm not worried about that. I love these people. I want to see them happy. And that's what it boils down to.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And so then holding space for the journey of that path, right? That first time you're hearing about it and it makes your, you know, depending on where you're at, you know, specifically if you came from the gay culture where open relationships are more common, you might've even had. Way more openness to this than someone like myself who had never heard of it and was like, how, how could you love me and someone else at the same time?

Right. And so holding space for our initial reactions to that, as we're deconstructing these narratives about what it means to love is hard.

Kyros: Yeah. Well, and even, even, so this is a common misconception. You can still cheat when you're poly. Yeah. My first two partners. Both. Even though I was at an open relationship with the first one, the second one we were poly, both of them did things and lied about it, which is what ultimately destroyed the relationships.

And so, you know, I came into relationships already like this, Oh, they're going to leave me. Oh, they're going to, because both my first partners were bisexual and would go play with women, but then lied to me about it. I was like, I don't care that you're going and doing something I'm bisexual too.

Occasionally I want to, but it's just, don't lie to me about it. Right. And so, you know, I know that early on I wasn't that jealous. Because I kept getting cheated on multiple times, I got jealous. And so it was like I had learned it and then I had to unlearn it.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. I hear that. The attachment, right?

The security. Mm hmm.

Kyros: Yeah. We went through this when we first, the three of us first got together that there was some jealousies that came up, but we always made a commitment to talk through everything, you know, to, to just. Be honest with each other and like, say, Hey, I I'm, I'm feeling jealous right now.

And one of the things that, one of the things that we did early on, which we've stopped doing, because it can be good. It can also be unhealthy was that like, if David and I were arguing, Scott would play mediator and it can be good for some things. But it can also be bad because if the person who's playing mediator doesn't walk this fine line of I'm not giving my opinion at all, if they agree with one or the other, the other person will feel like they're being ganged up on.

Sure. And so we, it works in some cases, and we used to use it all the time. And then it would put whoever is the mediator in this really awkward position of I can't say what I'm thinking on this. Right, right, right, right, right, right. So we now just sit down, the three of us and talk because nine times out of ten, honestly.

An argument is just a misunderstanding, and that's where the person can go, you're saying this, you're saying this, you're both saying the same thing, you just can't hear each other because you're too upset. Yeah. And once you hit that, we're, oh, you're right. Okay. Sorry.

Nicole: Yeah, exactly. There's a misunderstanding, and I'm hurt.

There's something I'm needing. There's some tender part of me here that's getting activated, right? And being able to name that Let's that power go and you can come back into that connection. The normalization of ruptures and repair in relationships is so huge.

Kyros: Yeah. I mean, we've been together 15 years.

We still fight. I mean, we still have our fights. It's not usually about anything jealousy or like that. It's just. Oh, why didn't you take out the trash, you know, kind of stuff, it's the same for any relationship. Oh, you're not doing enough around the house, you know, kind of stuff.

Nicole: Yeah, of course. And when you were talking about being able to name the jealousy in the relationship that you were feeling, and I'm curious, you know, as a man, what it was like to name that, there's a lot of cultural scripts around how you should be showing up.

And so I'm curious to be that open and vulnerable, what that was like.

Kyros: Thankfully, the three of us Aren't none of us are the toxic masculinity. Yeah. All three of us are really good about talking about our emotions. I tend to be the one that talks about my emotions the most. And that was the way I was raised.

I was raised to be very honest and open about my role or my, my feelings. One of the hardest things to learn was that sometimes you can't talk about it right in the moment. Sometimes you need to say, I can't right now. I'm too emotional to. upset, give me a little time to decompress, and then I can talk to you about what's going on.

Yeah. And that was the hardest thing to learn, really, was learning that you can't always deal with it right this second. And if you try and force it, it will just make matters worse.

Nicole: Right, exactly. Cause you get activated, right? And you're in that moment and you're like, I want to solve this. I want to solve this.

I want this to be fixed. I want it to be fixed. But in that moment, you know, like if we could tune into the body, usually we're, we're feeling that fight and flight freeze response in the brain, right? We're in our amygdala, we're fair, we're fearful. And then, so that is coming out rather than our ability even to just be in our prefrontal cortex and think and communicate clearly.

And so when we are having conflict. And conversations, I'm always asking people like, how in tune are you to your body? Do you feel that rise in your chest, that turning in your stomach? And can you notice that enough to say, Hey, I need to go take a walk. I'm feeling lots of energy in my body. I want to go take a boxing class and come back and talk about this.

You know what I mean? Like, how can we process those emotions and come back to each other?

Kyros: Yeah, for men in our culture, we're kind of raised to be, fix everything, fix everything, you know, we have to fix it right now, you, you have, everything's a problem needing a solution, and David used to be like that when we first got together, he, I was triggered by something, he'd want to fix it right then and there, and I finally, you know, like, honey, I need, just give me a little time to decompress, and then we can talk, and You know, at this point, yeah, we, we just automatically do that for each other.

We just like, okay, you're upset. I'm going to give you some time. You go chill and then we'll come back together when you can talk about this. This is a hard thing for me to admit to a stranger, but I will tell you, uh, growing up, my father told you he loved you by insulting you. And so it was, my sister and I both learned this.

You had to hit him back with an insult so fast, so hard that it shut him up. It was the only way to make him stop. And so in my first relationship and my second relationship, I had this habit of casual, funny insults. And those things hurt. Yeah. You don't really think about it when you're the one doing it because you've been raised around it.

It's not normalized. And so when I started dating these guys, I made a very conscious choice to not do that. And to, if I'm upset, literally bite my tongue, do not speak because the first thing out of my mouth is going to be something hurtful. And I know this from my growing up and now I can actually talk about things pretty fast because I've broken that habit enough that it's not my first response to being angry is to hurt.

Yeah. What used to be, I need 20, 30 minutes to cool off before I can talk because otherwise. First thing out of my mouth is gonna be something mean, and I don't want to say something that I can't take back. That's probably the best advice I could give anybody for any relationship. Don't talk when you're angry, because you'll say things you can't take back.

And once they're out there, they're always going to be there in the back of that person's head. You can say you're sorry until the cows come home, but that's always still going to live in the back of their head that you said that. And so I made a conscious choice with these guys to not do that. And it has made our relationship so much better because, you know, we've just grown together.

I mean, it's, yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, we're always, always growing in relationships and I want to thank you for sharing that piece about your dad and how that impacted you. I, I can't imagine how hard it was to grow up in that space, you know, like connecting with him, wanting that love and security and to get that back.

Like you said, it created them that pattern of connection and love being so deeply tied to that pain.

Kyros: Cause he was a mechanic. So he used to complain that I was always reading books. I loved to read as a child, so he would tease me about reading that I was stupid because I was reading.

Nicole: Yeah. So then love became teasing and those sorts of remarks from a young age in a way that you had no other world, no other model to know that that wasn't appropriate, right?

Kyros: No. I learned the hard way through watching my relationships deteriorate, how that could affect things. And I just made it, like I said, I finally made a conscious choice. I have to break this habit because this is not. I'm never going to have a good relationship as long as I'm doing this. Mm hmm. And I'm proud to say that I've only done it once in 15 years.

Nicole: Yeah. Wow. Great. So much growth, right? And, and I think.

Kyros: Yes. Continued. Yeah. There, there's still a struggle sometimes because it's like, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah. Yeah. You know, if I'm mad about something.

Nicole: Yeah, the humanness of this reality, right? Of what it means to be a human in relationships, growing, learning, evolving, right?

Kyros: Yes, and having two relationships simultaneously. Well, three, technically, because I've got a relationship with Scott, a relationship with David, and then a relationship with the three of us. So it's managing... On a whole different level.

Nicole: Absolutely. And I think it's so important, you know, to have compassion for ourselves in these moments when we're having to unlearn the patterns that we had enacted and set for us in childhood that maybe weren't the best.

And so like, we know that that's not our fault, right? There's so many people in that same boat as you have of having that process of learning later in life of, damn, that's. That wasn't okay. And having that.

Kyros: That was toxic. Why am I doing that?

Nicole: Yeah. And like, and like, there's no need to blame yourself in that experience, right?

Because it is the reality of the relationships creating that pattern, but that doesn't negate your responsibility, like you said, to make a choice moving forward of I'm going to break this pattern.

Kyros: Yeah. Something I said there, I want to, I want to definitely kind of like underline that when you're in a poly relationship.

You have each individual relationship, as well as the group relationship. Sure. And don't ignore that. So we try to do like, Scott and I'll go do a date night. David and I'll go do a date night. They'll go do a date night without me. So that each individual relationship still has its alone time and its time to grow, as well as the three of us.

Scott and I are both big sci fi nerds, so we do sci fi stuff and go to the movies together. David and I are book nerds, so we'll geek out about books or language or whatever. And the two of them are both computer programmers, so they start talking programming and I'm lost.

Nicole: Totally.

Kyros: So, you know, it's nice that we each have things that are individual to us.

Nicole: Mhm, mhm. And then holding space for what it means to be a group together, right? And the relationship dynamics of that as well. Yes. Do you like to do relationship check ins on that? Or like, how do you kind of navigate that?

Kyros: We don't exactly do check ins. We just kind of, at this point, you know, after 15 years, we just, if there's anything going wrong, anything bothering me, we just try and bring it up right ASAP, as soon as we realize it.

Or if one of us sees the other one's, I was like, I have clinical depression. I'm on medication for it. So does Scott. And we both have therapists and we both take medication for depression. And so if he's looking down, I'll just go check in with him and go, Hey, are you okay? You're all right. Is everything okay?

And they did that with me too. They'll, they'll check in with me and make sure I had a really down day the other day. You know, crawl on the floor, basically. And both guys individually during the course of the day is like, Hey, hon, how you doing? You know, you look like you're kind of down, is everything okay?

And you know, the first time I was asked, I was like, I couldn't really put my finger on why. I just knew that I was down the, when the later on in the day, when I got approached about, again, we were all sitting at our desk, which are together. And I'm like, so here's what I realized is bothering me. And I sat down and talked to both of them and said, here's, I realized this is what it is.

And I got hugs from both of them just trying to, because it's, it's something I can't do anything about, unfortunately. And so, you know, that's the other thing about it that you don't really think about with Polly. So like Scott and I were both down at the same time. And so it's hard to be there for your partner when you're going through this.

But we had David. And so David was able to just give both of us big hugs and like be their horse until we can ride through it. I got out of mine first and then I can be there for Scott too. But I've been in situations where I've been in a poly record, but where I wasn't dating anyone else. It was just the two of us.

And we were both in the middle of crises and it's we couldn't be there for each other and so it added more stress on top of it because we couldn't be there for each other in that moment, because we were too stuck in our own heads with what we were dealing with. And so it's nice to have that. Other person there that lean on that person.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. We're stronger in community than in the dyads, right? Whether you're doing monogamy or polyamory or whatever sort of relationship style, right? Like we're stronger when we're able to have that support with other people that we can bounce off of and cry with and laugh with and have that connection.

Kyros: That's another piece of about our age. Is that as you get older, you don't have as many close friends when you're younger in school, all this stuff, you have a lot of close friends and then it gets harder and harder as you get older to make new friends and add in the fact that we moved, you know, it's, we don't have as many close friends to talk to, to, to.

Lean on outside of our group. We're starting to get there. It's been a year, but you know, it's, it's, it's been slow because you either have people you work with that you're friends with, or, you know, people you go to school with, but then after we're all retired, so, you know, we don't have work, we don't have.

School. We don't have any way to really meet people if we don't leave the house.

Nicole: Sure. It's a, it's a function of capitalism and our world that we're so deeply disconnected. We're in these little silos. I mean, you're, yeah, you're already nodding your head. I'm curious if you have anything to say about that and how the systems impact us.

Kyros: I grew up in small town, Indiana. Literally when I grew up, none of us in our neighborhood locked our doors. We were out in the country. 10 miles from the nearest town. And the town only had 3000 people. So that small town and growing up, I can remember, Oh, I'm making dinner. I'm out of milk. Can you go see if the neighbors have milk and literally walking in, pouring the milk into the thing, closing it, putting it away because they weren't home and taking home and leaving them a note saying, Hey, we borrowed this next time we go to town.

We'll get you some more milk. That was what I grew up with. It was that whole area was just a community. You know, we just took care of each other. You know, with. If mom had to go do something, I would just go over to the neighbors because she would just watch me, you know, I... This was never a thing. And so I grew up in a very, very strange environment when it comes to that.

Yeah. So I saw community. I saw all this where everybody just kind of worked together to help each other. So when I moved to Seattle, when I was an adult, I created that community.

Nicole: Yeah. What a different world where you were able to go in and get milk and write the note, right? Like it's radical to think about how, you know, I live in a world where it's like, no, you locked the door and no one can get that milk because I don't have any money to buy more milk.

So I need to hold onto what I can right here. And it's like, that's a reflection of the system, you know, with The billionaire's at the top. Um, and then all of us at the bottom going like, hold on, let me hoard, let me hoard, let me hoard, because we have to. Right? And so like, just what a different paradigm of a world of open door, you know, sharing and community.

I mean, if we can get back to that level of world, I think we would be in a much more loving state.

Kyros: Yes. I agree. The, the main thing that stops us from going back to that It's fear because with with a 24 hour news cycle that that came up, we learned so much more about a bigger world and oh, they sell fear.

It's like you should be afraid of this. You should be afraid of that. And so they've got us all terrified to leave our houses. They got us all terrified to open up and be vulnerable. I try very hard to make a conscious decision to allow myself to be vulnerable. Like when I'm talking to Chad. You know, there's been times.

I'll be very blunt here. Yeah. I messaged him one time and said, you know, why me? Why, why do you want to be friends with me? You know, what is it about me? And he was kind of caught off guard by that. But then he answered me and it's like, and he's like, well, thanks for being vulnerable like that. I'm like, I was sitting here in my own head, spiraling, you know, he doesn't really want to be friends with me.

And this is, you know, he's just humoring me. And rather than sit there and stew in that, I actually was vulnerable, brought it up and said, Hey, this, this is going through my head. So I want to talk to you about it. And we actually had a good talk about it. And that's where I'm very, very lucky that Chad is someone who I can be that vulnerable with, without it being, you know, being teased for, Oh, why is that?

It's hard to be that vulnerable, but when you start allowing yourself to be vulnerable, yeah, sometimes you're going to get stepped on. I got to give people the chance. To show me who they really are.

Nicole: Absolutely. And then the, the amount of intimacy and connection you have by opening up to share, this is where I'm at.

Right. And then getting that validation from Chad back and then integrating that. And then that's also a hard piece too, right? Cause sometimes we can hear people say that and it's like, I cognitively know that you're actively telling me that you love me. However, it is not sinking into this heart. I do not feel it in my body.

But I mean, I think that, Yeah, exactly. There's so much healing and power and being able to name that internal experience. And I think maybe it's because of my positionality as a therapist, right? Like that is constantly what I'm hearing across the board from clients, like, right? Like, am I failing? Am I doing this wrong?

I feel like no one likes me. I feel like all of this sort of stuff. And, and when we're doing like a group therapy process, right, which is so phenomenal, you know, we do a Individual therapy is great, right? But also there's so much power in doing it in community. Oh, yes. Yeah. And then being able to hear a whole group say, I feel the exact same way.

And then do that fact check across the board of, how are you perceiving me? And someone says, I'm so inspired by you and you are so this and that. And you have to kind of like re imagine what it means to be in relationship because you're getting this new data, like you're getting from Chad of other people love and care for you.

Kyros: Yes. Even when you're being weird or, you know, Oh, I'm, I'm having, I'm feeling really insecure right now and I need that validation, that it's okay to say, I'm feeling really insecure right now and know that that person's just going to go, I hear that. I feel that way sometimes too. And you know, it's okay.

And I still love you, whatever. And the guys and I are good at that too, which is great. Yeah. Part of that, it's getting older too and not giving a fuck.

Nicole: Yeah, totally it is.

Kyros: I'll, I'll, I'll fully admit that, you know, as I've gotten older, it's a lot easier to do because I don't give a fuck what anyone else thinks.

Nicole: Yeah, you're secure now and you're looking at your life in a different perspective when you know the finality of it all too, right? And like you, when you look at that timepiece, like of course I'm going to ride this out with my own freak flag flying, right?

Kyros: Yeah, I nearly died when I was 26. And so I've also got that perspective.

My appendix ruptured and they didn't believe me. So I sat in ER for four hours with a ruptured appendix. No one would believe me. Dear God, that's scary. Until my, you know, vitals crashed and they're like, Oh, Hey, run, rush her into surgery and find out that. Yeah, it actually had.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And then that perspective is so powerful, right?

I try to practice with the Buddhist meditation of waking up in the morning and meditating on death. Like, what does it mean to actually like simmer in that of this is going to happen? And because of that, can I taste this finite moment that's happening right now? You know?

Kyros: It makes you look at Life is a gift, you know, and you don't take things for granted as easily because it can end, you know, I was 26 years old and it could have ended right there for me.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. My existential professor is always trying to remind us that, like, we, we move through this world thinking we have so much control, but the reality is we don't, right? Like, if you would have, Gone to drop off the birds at the vet. Could you have gotten in a crash? Right? Like all these different things that like, we're really living in this world with very little control or we seemingly think we have much, but we really don't.

And so being able to get comfortable with that and, and the inevitability of change, right? I'm sure your relationships with your husbands have changed over the years, right? If you tried to hold on to this static image of who they are and how you show up, oof. No.

Kyros: Yeah. That's not good. People grow and change.

If they don't grow and change, that's the bigger problem. That was what ended my friend's 25 year marriage was. She was still growing and changing, and her husband wasn't. And she's like, I'm still wanting to learn and grow and become more. You are content to never ever change ever again, and we're going in opposite directions.

Nicole: Yeah. And there's a lot of people in that space.

Kyros: And it's hard. Because if one person is like, I'm fine with the status quo for the rest of my life, and the other person is, I want to continue to grow and learn and evolve and all this. The only resolution is that either the one who's growing and evolving gives up on that, or the other one has to start changing and realizing that life is a continued journey.

Otherwise. You're going to continue going further and further apart.

Nicole: Yeah, it's tough.

Kyros: The same things I went through in my early days, other people are going through, you know, so I have a perspective where I can go, okay. Yeah, I remember going through this and this is advice I would give you based on that.

Here's some advice I can give you on that. So I tend to be Mr. Advice Boy.

Nicole: Yeah, because you have the lived experience of navigating that, right? And, and can offer a perspective that, that may be helpful to someone who might be in a different space, right?

Kyros: Yeah. So that's what I try and do, even though I don't have any kind of credentials like this.

And I tell them I don't have any, I'm not a counselor. I'm not any of this. I just have lived a lot.

Nicole: Yeah, and seen a lot, right? And I think that's the power of community outside of, you know, the structures of healing and stuff. Like, there's so much power in community and wisdom and elders, right? Like, that's an interesting thing to think about.

Like, because of the disconnect, at least for me, I'll speak to my own lived experience, because of my queerness and my family's deeply religious Space. It's, it's, it's really hard to connect. And so I have built a chosen family, but then within that, like, I don't have generational connections, right? Like my chosen family is frequently my own age.

And so I don't even have someone who can speak to the lived experience of doing polyamory and queerness for years and decades to give me that sort of perspective. So I'm lacking that, right?

Kyros: Yeah, you're queer, so I don't know if you know this particular piece. But it's one of the problems in the gay male community, because we lost so much of a generation to AIDS, Ah, yeah.

that there was not this... older generation to guide people. And so a lot changed in the gay community from when I first, because I came out in like 1990. And so that was right during the height of the AIDS epidemic. And so there were still a lot of the older people around, though some of them were sick. We lost this whole generation of people to guide the younger people and kind of show, hey, this is how, who you are.

This is how you should show up. This is how you grow old gracefully.

Nicole: Yeah. Being able to create that space where you can connect with people and, and like you said, such a, such a loss for the whole community with. The AIDS epidemic and all of that. And so, you know, once we had the rise of medication and all these things, like you are now a part of that generation that is aging and creating a new model of what it means to be a gay man.

Kyros: And having to figure out what it means to be a gay man in his fifties that isn't buying into the youth obsessed culture and to try to set an example of, you know, we're married. The three of us actually have had a ceremony together. Um, on our, on our 10th anniversary in front of friends. It was great.

Yeah. We live just like any other old married couple kind of thing. You know, it's like we talk about bills. We talk about vacations. We talk about, you know, how are kids doing? It's so normal that it's.

It's like, you know, everybody thinks it's, it's this, that, or the other, and it's, it's just like any other relationship. It's just there happens to be three of us.

Nicole: Yeah. And I think we need your story. We need many more stories of this, right? Because when we think about how we're social beings, we're social creatures, and we're looking to, how do I shape my world?

What am I doing? We look to maybe media, TV, other sorts of narratives of what it means to construct a life, and right? And so when you are reading The Ethical Slut in 1994, your mind's starting to percolate of, wow, there could be a whole different world of how I do this, right? But currently, Where can I go to see some sort of representation of someone who's polyamorous and thriving in their old age?

Where do I go to see that? I, I quite literally have no examples of that. And so when I'm trying to predict what my future looks like, it's dark and scary because it's, it's, it's completely unlit. I have no examples to speak to. And so I think we need more conversations around the. normalization, right, of what it means to be a polyamorous person in the longevity.

Kyros: And that's one of the things where I'm really lucky that we were We, you know, like I said, we just moved to Southern California. We were in the Bay Area before that. When we first got together in 2009, we decided we weren't going to hide that we were a triad. And so when it came time for Christmas parties at any of our works, we all three went.

Everybody at work knew I had two husbands and it was, it was weird for a lot of people, you know, but, but people were like, Oh, you know, and they get to know us and they're like, Oh, you're just like any other relationship. You love each other, you support each other, you take care of each other. It's not weird.

And so we went, we tried really hard to normalize it by just being ourselves. And I can honestly say, you know, David's work we used to do. You know, yearly parties with them. We'd go on, there was like a getaway thing because he was an executive. We'd go to that as the three of us. We would just do it as the two of us, you know, pretend like, Oh, it's just me and David or just me and just David and Scott.

And we normalized it as best we could by just being ourselves and going to these things and like, Oh, I thought that was David's husband. Yeah. That's our other husband. Yeah. Wait, what? Yeah, the three of us have been together, you know, it's, it's, it's all good. My work, David's work, Scott's work, it didn't matter, everybody knew, and by being in the Bay Area, it was safe to do that.

Right, right, right, right. But I mean, I know another couple, another triad that lives in Kansas City, and they've been together for like five years, and I've been friends with them for years, I've known them for years, so they do the same thing. They try and just like be themselves, all their friends, all their family, everybody knows.

Same with, you know, our families all know too.

Nicole: Yeah, which I'm sure was incredibly, you know, it's so brave of you to do that, right, and to put yourself out there. Go ahead, yeah.

Kyros: I'm originally from small town Indiana, but my parents are small town religious. Scott's from small town, Alabama, David was raised in Texas, but his parents, his parents are from California.

They're from San Diego. So they were the easiest ones to tell Scott's dad in Alabama. My parents, they were like, Oh, as long as you're happy.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. I want to say thank you for your bravery to do that. Right. To put yourself out there to risk. Right? I mean, like you said, being in, you know, San Francisco, right?

These different areas, you know, being in these areas where it's maybe more accepted versus where it's not and making those judgment calls of who you who you talk to about this. I mean. I just want to say thank you for your bravery to normalize that culture. And, and I know it's not necessarily direct, but I do believe in the ripples of that, right?

Like that, that small connection where you're with your coworkers and changing their paradigm and how that ripples out to create a world where me as someone who's younger than you steps into a more normalized. It's certainly not. Let's be very, very clear, but like it is more normalized because of the steps that you've taken.

And, and in that same way, I think a lot about like the queer journey, right, of what it meant for the first people to be stepping out and being killed and attacked to be able to demonstrate how much they loved, right. And how nowadays I 10 year olds coming out being like, I'm queer. I mean. What a paradigm shift.

And so I think it takes a lot of these small steps of bravery of, hey, this is my other husband.

Kyros: Yeah. Yeah. I, I was actually part of the queer movement too, because I was kicked out of the military in late eighties before don't ask, don't tell. Whoa. And so I marched and protested and all this stuff to try and get that change.

And I'm one of the ones that's real quick to jump down people's throats. Oh, well, they gave us Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I'm like, yes, but you've got to remember what was before Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Because they bugged my room, they bugged my car, they followed me around for days when they suspected I was gay.

Wow. So, you know, they couldn't do that anymore once Don't Ask, Don't Tell went in. So as much as you want to rag on it, remember, what was there before was worse, because they would threaten to put you in jail. To get you to name anybody you knew that was gay once they found out you were. And, because they did the same thing to me, they threatened to throw me in Leavenworth.

And I'm like, I don't know anybody, sorry, I, I can't even, I couldn't if I wanted to. And so, the struggle for gay rights, the struggle for poly visibility, they're all kind of tied together because it's, Getting the dominant culture to realize that there are other people out here that live life differently, and that's okay.

It's okay that not everybody is the same. You wouldn't really want everybody to be the same.

Nicole: Right, right. And I think that, you know, People are forgetting that narrative, right? Which is, is good. We love, we love that people are raised with more privilege to live a happy, healthy life and not even think about that world.

Like, we love that, right? But like, it's important to hold the context of the historical struggle. That all so many people before us fought to be able to even have this conversation that you and I are having and sharing with the world, right?

Kyros: And we've seen in the last few years how tenuous that can be and how, you know, there are forces that are trying to undo all the work that's been done and the things that people are taking for granted.

Now, I got into this conversation with someone not that long ago and they're like, Oh, well. . Now I can be out with my boyfriend. I'm like, right now they're already setting the stage to try and undo all of this work that's been done so that you think, oh, well I can just be out with my boyfriend and it's no big deal.

Yeah, that can go away in a heartbeat. Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. , you, you can't forget that these things were fought for and they can be taken away. In a heartbeat.

Nicole: Absolutely.

Kyros: Absolutely. And so, I am very thankful we are where we are now. Right. But that doesn't mean that I'm ever going to let my guard down and just like, oh, yeah, they'll never do that.

Nicole: Right. Yeah. The, the holy book of the DSM and therapy and psychology had, Homosexuality is a pathologized diagnosis for years. Okay. So I just, it's wild to me when people look at these books and these systems of having some sort of truth. And I'm like, these things are biased through a million and different systems here.

And we have to be critiquing them. We have to be acknowledging that and asking deeper questions. And it's just always baffling to me that, you know, like what we're talking about is love. Like, we are asking for the space to love and be ourselves,

Kyros: but the people that are against it. are convinced that that's not the case, that it's all about sex, it's all about, and it's because they don't know anybody.

That's one of the things that's been great in the last 20 years or so is that the visibility is there so much more now on media in the world with people being more out and open that a lot more people know. When I was a kid, I didn't know anybody was gay, right? And the only representations that were on TV were tragic characters.

And then once it got to be like late 80s, early 90s, it was All characters who were just dying of age, you know, so I was like, that's all you saw. And so I had no, absolutely no role models, no idea what even, you know, how to express that I was gay. And when I started exploring polyamory, I had no idea how to express that either because I'd never seen it.

Now, you know, occasionally you'll see TV shows that show decent. healthy poly relationships. And it's like, first time I did, I just was like,

Nicole: And I mean, for me, I'm still waiting for my polyamorous love story. Like, where is my, you know, romantic rom com? I want it.

Kyros: Funny you should mention that because I don't know how many times we've watched movies and you see this romantic triangle going on and it's like, just be Polly!

Nicole: I know! It's too simple. It's too simple. You can't do that. You can't give them the answer like that.

Kyros: It's like two guys fighting over one girl or two girls fighting over one guy. It's like, just be Polly. Sure. It solves all your problems. You don't have to choose.

Nicole: Yeah, I know.

Kyros: God, I, I've yelled at the screen.

I don't know how many times.

Nicole: Totally, totally. I know. It's, it's wild. Or you watch those dating shows, like the ultimatum, where they like switch them around and then they're like, I love both people. And you're like, what a concept.

Kyros: Wait, you can love more than one person at a time? You mean like you can love your mom, your dad, your siblings, your friends, and have a romantic partner as well?

So, if you can love all of those people and it doesn't take away, why can't you have a second romantic partner, and it doesn't take anything away?

Nicole: Mmm, boom.

Kyros: Yeah, boom.

Nicole: Yes, exactly. But it's hard when... As someone who was raised in a very Christian culture, that was so hard to imagine because I was taught this is the one way to love.

This is the one way to be and anything else is actually sin. And so then it was a moral issue of it is my righteous job to try and keep people on the path of God. And so when I saw other people doing that, I'd be like, no, we need to save them. They are corrupt and all that sort of stuff. So like my heart does go out to the reality that

But it's such a closed minded perspective to think that there is only one way to exist in the world and that I need to force that on other people, which is radical because that seems directly against the concepts of what America stands for. But like, I, you can't hit them with that sort of logic too hard because then they're like, rah.

No, no.

Kyros: I was raised Southern Baptist in small town Indiana, so I, I'm right there with you on that. Yeah. It was hard to transition at first. But, I just, the first time I actually fell in love with a second person, I was like, chastising myself, of like, Oh, how can I love this person? Does that mean I don't love my partner?

Does that mean... And, it was... Really freeing once I realized it didn't take anything away from how I felt about my other partner that I could care about this person and I went through this whole, I can have, I can care about multiple friends. Why can't I care about multiple people in a romantic sense? And It was, I, you have to spend some time unlearning all the things you've learned growing up, but once you do, it's very

freeing.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's where we've, you know, again, because of the liberation that we fought for and we're still fighting for, right? But because of that space of being able to talk about queerness, I think that there's, there's now a space where people understand the word internalized homophobia, what it means to have that.

That desire for some sort of queer interaction and then at the same time having a part of our psyche going gross, why would you do, you know, like that negative internalized homophobia. And so I think as we continue to have more conversations about what it means to do open relating and non monogamy. We have to have more conversations about what it means to be, have internalized mononormativity, right?

That thought that you just said of, of what does this mean? How horrible all that sort of stuff and hold compassion for ourselves as we have to dismantle these ways that these systems have really restricted our ability to love.

Kyros: Yeah. And, you know, you see, especially in men who have women are much, much more relaxed when it comes to exploring with other women, but there are so many men who still have that toxic masculinity of, Oh, you know, I can't, I have to own my, my other, my wife, my girlfriend, whatever, or.

My wife wants me to play around with her and her boyfriend and I just, I can't be with another man even in the same room and it's hard for a lot of people to, to cross that barrier or, you know, they try it and then they like it then that what does that mean, you know, and then they're, they're. It's like, it doesn't have to mean anything.

It can just be, Hey, I'm having fun.

Nicole: Exactly. Exactly. But you know, I'll, I'll be antique shopping and then I pick up a book about sexuality and it will be like the homosexual is corrupt. And I was like, wow. Okay. So, so when we think about the internalization of that, right. If you, you are actively going through a struggle where the messages about that have taught you that if you do these things, things, you're going to be, uh, judged, isolated, all of these really scary things.

So it makes sense that it would, it would bring up so much of a struggle internally and, and God, it just, it breaks my soul to think that what is that the other side of that is quite literally love and pleasure. Like we are able to love and embrace more pleasure in our bodies with more people. My God.

Like what?

Kyros: Yes, I totally agree with you on that. It was, I think, easier for me because I'd already kind of crossed a lot of those barriers by realizing I was gay. Yeah. But I've seen so many people I know that have struggled for years with, you know, like their poly and they have an experience with another man in, in with a woman and they enjoyed it.

And then watch them struggle because what does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean? And then, even beyond that, I have a particular friend that is in my mind now, realized, hey, I don't, I like full enveloped guys too. Even then, has to, it always has to be a woman present. They could never do something with another guy by themselves because that's a bridge too far.

Yeah. Mm. And it's like, uh, you know, just, just. Relax. Whatever happens, happens. Don't, don't. Love is love. Just let the love happen. And don't get stuck on labels.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Absolutely. Allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to express that. And, and again, yeah, holding compassion for the reality that that is much, much harder to do for the generations that are older compared to the 10 year olds that are coming out now and being able to share.

Yeah. Right?

Kyros: Yeah, I, I have a friend who's, one of their kid's friends is like 12, 13 and has, you know, has very openly said, Oh, I'm bisexual. And it has dated both men and guys and girls, and at one point was dating one of each. And was, you know, they introduced him to me because like, oh, hey, this guy's Polly too.

And then I kind of talked to them and their boyfriend and their girlfriend like, Oh, that's so cool. You guys are doing this at 12.

I know. I know. Right?

I'm like, What? 12? At 12, I had a hard time dating anybody. Yeah.

Nicole: But it makes sense. As a kid, I would have crushes on multiple people. Like, what a wild concept, right? And I hope that from their ability to start learning at 12, that when they're older, they will have processed many of the lessons that some of us had to learn later in life of what it means to handle...

Much later in life. Totally. And I mean, that honestly, it gives me so much hope to know that because of the liberation that we're still actively fighting for, right? But because of the liberation that has been done thus far, that that child feels safe to express that and to embrace more love in their life.

I mean, amazing, right?

Kyros: Yes, very much so.

Nicole: Yeah. I want to hold a little bit of space as we come towards the end of our time in case there was anything on your heart that maybe we didn't hit to, otherwise I can move us towards a closing question.

Kyros: I think I've talked about a lot of, uh, Very personal stuff.

Yeah. So I think I've covered all the things I should cover.

Nicole: Sure. And I appreciate you trusting me to hold this space and to share your personal pieces with the listeners. I, I do think like you were saying earlier, right, having those conversations with your coworkers and your family, I do think it's these vulnerable conversations of, of here's what my life looks like and here's how I love that can change hearts and minds.

Kyros: It's not all roses and candy and all that stuff. Oh yeah, no. There are good days. There are bad days. And it's life. It's not, you know, being poly doesn't mean life is suddenly super easy. It's actually more of a circle sometimes because you have two different people you're dealing with their emotions and, but, you know, the benefits far outweigh any of that other stuff.

It's so great to me to be able to wake up every day and know that I have these two men who want to spend their life with me and support me and take care of me and love me. I've got a great picture. I got sick and I was in the hospital and I had my phone on me and I woke up. And I looked over, and David's sitting here, and Scott's leaning on top of him, and they're both asleep, sitting in chairs.

I took a picture of it, and it's one of my favorite pictures of them, because it just, it made me so happy, just to see the two of them. They were, I, I was in the hospital, they could have gone home, but they were gonna stay to find out what was wrong with me. And, they're both sitting there, asleep, in chairs.

Awww. In the room with me. Yeah, that love. Yes. Mm. Thank you. Turns out I just had mono.

Nicole: Well, I'm glad you're okay. But yeah.

Kyros: Oh, this was years ago.

Nicole: Sure, sure, sure, sure. But yeah, thank you for sharing those pieces. I hope it inspires people to step into more expression of love, whatever that may look like for them.

Kyros: Yeah. Yeah. I hope so.

Nicole: Yeah. Well, the one question I do ask every guest on the podcast, yeah, exactly, is what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Kyros: That it's just like any other relationship. That you have your good days, you have your bad days, you have your ups and downs and to not think that, oh, just cause.

You have a bad day or a bad week. That means Polly doesn't work. Polly works. It's just... It's still a relationship. You still are going to have good days and bad days and tough times and good times and it's just like any other relationship.

Nicole: Yeah. Yes. Yeah, so normalizing polyamory. Yeah. Mm. That's important to hit on because so many people, when they have any sort of struggle with it, immediately go, it's cause I'm trying to do polyamory and I can't do this and oh my God, I can't.

And, and particularly within a therapy context, there are many therapists who will be like, it's cause you're trying to do polyamory. Obviously that never works.

Kyros: Yes. I don't know how many times I've heard the, it never works. Oh, cannot tell you how many times I hear that. And my response now is, really?

Because I've been doing it for 15 years. No problem.

Nicole: Totally. That's what I, I literally had to say that in my class. Like, I am actively going through school training. We were training on some emotional therapy thing with One of my professors and I was like, how about applying this to open relationships and other things?

And she's like, well, from my clinical experience, that actually never works. And it's always one person wanting it and the other one doesn't. And I was just like, God damn. I, I actually, I took a deep breath and I was like, you know what, actually from my lived experience in the community, that's not what I see.

I see many people who thrive in it and both wanted, but like the fact that I even have to name that in my class is radical.

Kyros: Well, the thing is, and from a therapist point of view, that makes sense. Because they only see people who are actively in crisis. If, if, if they judged every other person in the world by the people they see in their practice, they would think everybody was completely messed up.

Totally. And so, you know, you can't generalize off of, Oh, well, all I see in my practice is this, well, yes, you also only see in your practice people that are depressed and, you know, anxious and suffering. Do you think that the entire world is like that? There are hundreds of polycouples out there that you don't see who are thriving.

And because they're thriving, you don't see them.

Nicole: Yes, exactly.

Kyros: And that's one of the reasons we chose to be so open with our co works, et cetera, is because. isn't something people see. So many people I know that are in poly relationships. We'll only take one partner to, you know, like a work event or whatever, so that all they think is they have just this one partner, because they don't feel safe being out, they don't feel safe showing who they really are, and only to a very select group of people do they show who they really are.

I know so many poly couples and poly triads, whatever, all over the country, and even in other countries. And that's what they do, a lot of them, is they just only show the world. You know, they think that this is a couple living together with a, have a roommate. Yeah. You know, and that's not what it is. And it's, so you don't see it.

It's hidden. Yep. Exactly. Or they don't live together. So people don't realize that this person, that person, and that person are all in a relationship together. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's hidden from the public view. And one of the reasons we chose to actively be out was to normalize it. To show that we're just like everybody else.

We're not these crazy sex fiends or whatever you think it means. And we have our good days and bad days, and we love each other. It's just a relationship.

Nicole: Thank you for doing that, and for taking that step to do it in this space with me. If there's anything that I can do in this space, right, to bring more of that future where we can have these pieces of our life that are quite literally how we're constructing family, how we're choosing to love, be normalized at bare minimum, normalized, let alone celebrated, let me tell ya, you know what I mean?

Yeah, for real. This podcast has gone global and is in like in the top 10 percent of podcasts, so if we can keep running this. dream here, right? Of like, what does it mean to have more expansive love and the space to do that? I think, I think it does take conversations like this where you open up and share about this piece so that hopefully, you know, that younger generation does not have to live in the silence, in the shame of what you're mentioning here.

Kyros: Yes, that'd be great. Yeah.

Nicole: Thank you for coming on to the show and for sharing so much of yourself with me and with all the listeners.

Kyros: I'm happy to. And it's been fun for me, too.

Nicole: Good. Good, good, good. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And head on over to ModernAnarchyPodcast.

com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in, and I will see you all next week.

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