By Chris Lane
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He appreciates what Taylor and Lisa are doing with the dinners and the mailing list back in Houston. But he won't return. He has found something even better out in California. There, the Ravenhearts are open and out, and everyone knows they are polyamorists. Wolf lists the television programs they've been on with great excitement. The Montrose in Houston may be a "mecca of weirdos," he says, but go ten minutes outside the city in any direction, "and if you're one of them pinko commie faggots, they'll kick the shit out of you," he says with a forced, fake twang.
When asked about jealousy, Wolf sighs like he has been asked this question too many times before. Like he almost feels sorry for someone who hasn't evolved enough to get past such a boring caveperson emotion. The trick is to be inclusive, not exclusive, he argues in a singsong teacher's kind of voice. He uses the word "compersion," coined by his older wife, Morning Glory, the same woman who came up with the word polyamory in the first place. Compersion is the feeling he gets when he sees his wife Wynter in love with other people he loves. It's better than jealousy, he says. It's the opposite of it.
"I don't feel shortened by anything but time," says Wolf. "I've got a job, two wives and a girlfriend in the city. But my needs are being met. I fell into a place where I got to have my cake and eat it too." Like the bird in Aesop's fable who has to fill a water jar with stones to get the water level high enough to drink, it seems the more people Wolf puts into his life, the easier it is to find fulfillment. Fulfillment is a word polyamorists use often. Sacrifice is not.
Wolf offers this easy quiz to find out if you are polyamorous. He says if only one person turns you on ever and you don't feel the need to go anywhere else, you are probably monogamous. But if you love someone, and then somebody else walks by and your heart rate goes up, you are probably polyamorous.
And probably human, too.
It isn't as easy for everybody as it seems to be for the Ravenhearts, with their sculpture business and their Sonoma County group home and their appearances on A&E's The Love Chronicles. Take Frank and Emily. Frank and Emily are having a lot of trouble finding just one wife, much less five or six. They had a wife for a while, and then they lost her. After two years of everybody living together in the same house, their wife moved to California to take care of her sick mother.
Frank, 33, and Emily, 36, can't use their real names for this story. They only want to say that they are a professional couple who live in Houston. They fear if anyone found out about the way they live their lives, they could lose their jobs. Emily's strict religious family would not understand. Even Frank's preteen daughter from a previous relationship does not know. They told her the wife was just a roommate. They told friends she was just the housekeeper.
When Frank met Emily over six years ago, he made it clear she would not be the only woman he would date. He had never dated just one woman at a time, because it hadn't been enough. Emily figured she could be okay with that. But Frank went away on business a lot, and Emily was lonely. She thought back to college, when she had felt an attraction to women but had never done anything about it. But if she had an attraction to women, and Frank had an attraction to women, maybe a wife could work. She would be someone for both of them.
They met her at a party, and after eight months she moved in. She had been a couple's wife before, and she knew how it worked. It was so wonderful that Frank says he doesn't have words to describe it. No words could do it justice. Emily says the closeness and the intimacy she felt with their wife was like nothing she had ever had before. Maybe it was even deeper than the intimacy she felt for Frank.
It was difficult, of course. It had to be kept a secret. No one could know how happy they were. Even now, as Emily talks over the phone about having to place personal ads to find a new wife, she has to make sure the door to the room is shut, perhaps so Frank's daughter will not hear. She has to talk in a low voice. No one serious is responding to the ads, she says, in a tone that is both sweet and desperate. Some guys even call, pretending to be women. She doesn't get it. One of their ads clearly states, "Couple Seeks Wife." Now why would a guy answer that?
Now their wife is gone. They need another. They say they've gone to some of the monthly polyamory dinners, but there is a boom of couples seeking a third person. And the two of them can't exactly approach a woman at a bar or a regular party like a single person could. She might think they were crazy, or sick. So for now they are looking anonymously in newspapers and on the Internet.