Mary Crumpton has more men in her life than the average 44-year-old. As well as a husband, she also has a fiancé and two boyfriends. The former teacher started exploring polyamory aged 29, having been brought up in quite conventional surroundings. ‘I was brought up in quite a traditional home,’ she says. ‘I had boyfriends and was monogamous.
Having more than one partner never crossed my mind. In my twenties, I got married and settled down in Chorlton fully intending to be with my husband for life. ‘At the time I didn’t really question having just one partner. It was normal. I did sometimes have feelings for other people, but I felt guilty about doing so and just took it as a sign that I didn’t love my husband enough. When the marriage didn’t work out, I met someone else, and started a monogamous relationship with him.
‘The idea that loving more than one person might not make me a terrible human being only dawned on me when, at a pub, I bumped into a person who had more than one partner. I had never come across it before, or the term “polyamory” which means “more-than-one love”. I was quite shocked, and curious about how it all worked for them.’ She says that her partner was with her when she met the polyamorous stranger and he was curious about it too.
One of the lovely things about a life with more than one partner is that there is no pressure on one person to supply all my needs. My husband Tim and I share an enthusiasm for environmentalism and all that entails, like electric cars, and veganism. With my fiancé John I enjoy watching science fiction and we go to church together. ‘With Michael, I like to watch and support him playing for his local darts team at the Royal Oak, and we go to karaoke nights – which is possibly more embarrassing than admitting to polyamory!
‘Living in a house with more than one partner is something I have done for a number of years now. I suppose in many ways it is no different from living in a shared house with a group of friends, or family. All the usual things about whose turn it is to wash up, etcetera. Tim and John get on well, I suppose a bit like brothers, going on bicycle rides together for example. So it seems to work okay. They have something in common in that they both love me of course, and friends joke that I need two of them to keep me in line.’
As in any relationship, insecurities can arise but Mary thinks that perhaps there’s less jealousy because there’s no need to lie about infidelities in an open relationship. ‘Sometimes there might be a fear that a new partner is “better” in some way than a current one, but good communication and offering reassurances allows that to be dealt with.
‘In many ways, I have found that being in open relationships has forced me to communicate much better. I am very honest and open with my partners about my feelings and needs, in a way that I didn’t have the courage to be in previous monogamous relationships. So I think I have grown as a person, and have better and stronger relationships now. ‘Of course, all of that is possible in monogamous relationships, and I am not suggesting polyamory is in any way better, just different. But it works well for me personally.’
As for other people’s reactions, Mary says most people have been great – although she has been called a ‘slapper’ and a ‘slag’. ‘I have had women assume that I am a “man-eater” and will try to seduce their husband – to be honest, that just makes me laugh. I have also been told that what I do is “against God’s law”, though in fact there are many instances of multiple marriages in religious texts, and there are denominations of both Christianity and Islam that allow multiple marriages. ‘Mostly though, people are open to my lifestyle – they can see that I am honest with my partners and that we are all happy, so they see it as no one’s business but ours.’
Mary, 44, says that despite being polyamorous, she is quite old fashioned and likes to get to know her men before things turn physical
(Picture: MEN Media)
And Mary is pretty traditional in the way she goes about starting relationships. She says that she doesn’t ‘do’ one-night-stands and that she generally waits a month before becoming sexual with anyone she starts dating. ‘I suppose in that sense I am old-fashioned. My relationships themselves vary in how sexual they are – one of them being more platonic with not much more than cuddling and kissing. ‘I suppose that, for me, is another good thing about polyamory – each relationship can find its own level in terms of sex and with other things too. And there is no pressure on one relationship to tick all the boxes, so to speak.’ Mary is standing at the next local election for the Chorlton ward representing the Green Party.