About the Author

Jenny Yuen

Jenny Yuen is an award-winning news reporter, who covers a wide variety of local, provincial and national stories, and has written for the Toronto Sun, Now Magazine, and CBC Radio. She is a proud poly partner and has a dog named Wampa. She lives in Toronto.

Books by this Author
Polyamorous

Polyamorous

Living and Loving More
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

Chapter 1
The Welding

It wasn’t a wedding. It was welding.

For years, I thought I was too commitment-phobic to walk down an aisle without running the other way. Maybe I watched that Julia Roberts movie, Runaway Bride, too many times. But on that June morning, as several friends helped carry layers of scalloped printed newspaper that comprised my gown — stories my partner Adam and I had worked on together over the years at the newspaper as reporter and photographer — I took confident strides toward my unorthodox future.

Several feet away, I could see Adam, beaming, a silver-haired fox. He stood six-foot-plus in his newspaper vest collaged with photos, including one of Iggy Pop from the New York Times Sunday styles section. Charlie sat in the front row, where his encouraging smile caught my eye, and I knew I was making the right choice to unabashedly love two men.

***

Our story began as a love triangle and eventually became a committed V.

In 2015, even though all three of us would have categorized ourselves as monogamous, Charlie and Adam and I started exploring the possibility of polyamory.

I discovered the two loves of my life — Charlie and Adam — a few weeks apart in the summer of 2013 when I felt that spark and connection with both, in different ways. But because we thought monogamy was our only choice, there was a lot of heartbreak for all three of us, with me caught in the middle.

From the get-go, I was always honest with both men — how I cared about and was attracted to both of them and valued each of them in my life. Looking back now, I think that laid the foundation for open communication, and the respect and trust needed in any relationship, but especially poly relationships. Otherwise, things fall apart pretty quickly.

I struggled at the time with what life was supposed to look like: One partner. Monogamy. I was often told “You can’t have it all,” but living an ordinary life just wasn’t me.

Around that time, I discovered Design for Living, a 1933 black-and-white pre–Hays Code film by director Ernst Lubitsch. The film focuses on Gilda, a petite, quirky blonde played by Miriam Hopkins, who ends up in a polyamorous relationship (or as close as you could get to one in those days) after a chance encounter with two men, George and Thomas (Fredric March and Gary Cooper), on a train to Paris.

They both fall hard for her, and she for them, but she cannot decide between the two. So instead, she ends up marrying Max, a stout, rigid, and commanding husband who is very much about “keeping up with the Joneses.”

What changes toward the end of the story (spoiler alert), after Gilda realizes “the normal life” isn’t for her, is that her two loves come and rescue her from her unhappy marriage.

By that point, both men realize they need her and all three realize that each of them brings something different to the relationship. Th e result is balance. The takeaway is that this love — although unconventional — is possible, but it can’t come from a place of starvation or fear. And the two men can still remain friends, even though they had been fighting for the attention of the same woman.

While I don’t agree that Gilda required “rescuing,” her succumbing to a monogamous marriage — even though in her heart she knew George and Thomas were the right people for her — resonated with me as a cautionary tale.

As the film winds to a close, the starlet is in the back of a cab sandwiched between her two loves and they drive off to Paris to live together, not knowing whether it will work or fail. She kisses one and then leans over and kisses the other, and the screen fades to black.

Although my relationships with both Adam and Charlie began a week apart that summer, a number of conflicting factors contributed to my uncertainty about the future: Th e nearly thirty-year age gap between me and Adam. My desire to sooner-rather-than-later become a mom with Charlie. A long-distance relationship. And, of course, being in love with two people at the same time.

***

Charlie and I met on July 24, 2013, in one of those “meant to be” Hollywood-type stories, as our paths crossing was really quite against the odds. I had recently split from my ex after my very messy affair and decided to take a solo road trip to Montreal to check out the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

I drove seven hours to Quebec, making stops along the way. I was to be in La Belle Province for trois jours. On the second day, I had some time to kill, so I strolled down boulevard St. Laurent. After falling into a smoked-meat coma at Schwartz’s, I noticed all those obnoxious pictures I took of my food had drained my battery and I wandered into the nearest caf. to find an outlet. It had a pi (3.14) symbol on the front and an advertisement for chess and London fog lattes in the window. Foreshadowing!

My high school French was rusty and embarrassing. The Asian girl with ombre-tipped hair behind the counter asked me if I was “attempting” to order a drink. “Yeah, I guess I am,” I responded in English. She began making random comments about the process of doing ombre highlights at home or in a salon, so I quickly ordered a cold drink and made my escape. Walking back toward the front of the caf., I scanned for available wall outlets. They were all occupied. Except one.

There was a guy sitting at the table, but the plug was free.

Parlez-vous Anglais?” I asked.

“Yes.”

Relief washed over me. I asked if I could sit down and plug in my dying phone.

“No problem,” he said.

He had his headphones on and seemed to be daydreaming. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I also felt awkward just sitting there at the small, intimate round table for two, not saying anything.

So, being the curious reporter, I asked him about his life. He was in Montreal with his sister and brother-in-law. They were all from London, England, and had travelled to Toronto for their father’s remarriage to a Canadian woman. Th e road trip to Quebec was a good excuse to get some poutine with squeaky cheese.

For the next forty minutes, Charlie and I got lost in each other. We talked about our families, our lives in two different cities, places we’d travelled to and places we’d still like to see, and how annoyed we were that our friends were getting married, having kids, and buying houses together. Ironically, some of those things are now what we want as a married couple — the American/ Canadian/British/Millennial dream.

That’s what connected us — talking about these subjects with such confidence and ease. Years later, we still joke about the weirdo behind the café counter.

I had to leave to meet a friend, so we exchanged information. A friend request popped up on my Facebook the following day. I didn’t really think anything of it.

Two nights later, with us both back in Toronto, I offered to take Charlie on the “Scott Pilgrimage,” my own constructed tour of locations around the city that are featured in the namesake movie and graphic novel series.

I wasn’t even sure it was a “date,” per se. I messaged my friend and joked I would text her a safe word to let her know I wasn’t murdered. “Foliage,” I said.

“Michael Scott’s safe word?”

“Damn straight.”

Charlie met me at work and I drove him back to my place, where we walked my dog, Wampa, before going for dinner at Korean Village. I was startled and flattered when he sat beside me instead of across from me in the booth.

Later, I showed him the Metro, the last operating porn theatre in Ontario. He pulled me close to him as a picture of Ron Jeremy reflected at us from the marquee. Th e loud hum of a street sweeper was nearing. He grabbed my hand. And didn’t let go.

After spending the night together, we went our separate ways. He sent me a text saying he just realized he was heading home to London that day. I offered to meet him at the airport to see him off.

We both agreed that we didn’t see this as a booty call, but having just split from my ex, I wanted to take it slow and see where things went. I didn’t want to fall back into my serial monogamist patterns.

Fast-forward a few weeks.

I was covering a Scarborough by-election with Adam, who was my photographer that night. After Mitzie Hunter was declared the winner, we decided to catch up over a beer (for him) and a soft drink (for me — Asian flush barrier). I told him about Charlie, showed him photos, and shared stories about our escapades that night.

Up until that point, Adam and I were, as he calls it, “gal pals” — work confidantes who were comfortable friends. But there was a moment — which, in hindsight, I admittedly felt as well — where we had that “click.” I approached him one day in the newsroom several weeks after the by-election. Adam describes it like that scene in Wayne’s World, where Cassandra is onstage playing heavy metal, but Wayne Campbell can only see her through a misty kaleidoscope with “Dream Weaver” playing.

I emailed Adam one night after that moment, on a long weekend, to tell him I was going to London.

“Without me?” he said.

“I’ll bring you back a chicken pot pie.”

He realized then I was going to see “the other guy.”

And then, for whatever reason, call it my exhibitionist nature, I ended up sending him some sexts. Th at’s the night when we went from gal pals of seven years to something more. Something we couldn’t have ever imagined.

Adam’s been there for me when I’ve needed him most and vice versa. He’s my rock. We’re old souls and he’d always be my first pick when I needed help with a lede. One symbol of our synchronicity throughout the relationship has been the numbers 11:11. We’d randomly check our phones, see it was 11:11 a.m. or p.m., and send screenshots to each other.

I found myself falling fast. But I was also into Charlie, and I wanted to see where that would go.

Th e month after I met Charlie, he invited me on a “second date” in London. I hadn’t been in years and was always up for an adventure, and so I flew over and spent seventy-two hours with him. It was a risky amount of time to spend together, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. He showed me the Natural History Museum, his childhood school, all his favourite haunts. Holding hands, we walked around Regent Street and Clapham. There was something good there, I knew it.

And so, our love triangle formed.

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