"Everybody adds value to my life." Those who pursue an "open" or polyamorous relationship are obviously not conventional types, says William Doherty, Ph D, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, St. "There are always some people who want to push the limits of their experiences -- their joy, their ecstasy in life," he says. Those who pursue multiple relationships simultaneously, Doherty says, say they are capable of many loves and passion and that "artificial cultural constraints" tell them they should restrict their love and passion to just one person.
Polyamorists, to their credit, are often open about it, Doherty says.
They regularly go out on "dates," although Block's daughter knows only that Jemma is a family friend. Limiting love, she says, doesn't seem normal to her.
Jenny Block often invites her best friend, Jemma, to join her, her husband, and their 8-year-old daughter for dinner.
"We might order Chinese and then play Scrabble after dinner," Block says. She simply couldn't get everything she needed -- sexually, physically, or emotionally -- from just her husband.
"In the '70s, there was the playing loose around the edges idea," she says.
"Poly is trying to come across as thoughtful and considerate." An obvious benefit, Weston says, is that sexual monotony seldom sets in.
Now, the term polyamory or "poly" is viewed as the hipper term, with numerous web sites offering chat rooms, bulletin boards, and personal ads.
One even posts a glossary of poly terms, explaining that relationships can be triads (three people), vees (in which one person has two lovers who aren't involved with each other), quads (four), extended networks, and other arrangements.
"There is a kind of idealism around these folks," he says.
"They want to be completely open and honest about it." Louanne Cole Weston, Ph D, MFT, a Fair Oaks, Calif., marriage and family therapist and Web MD's sex and relationships expert, agrees that the concept of open relationships has evolved to become more idealistic.
"Every partner adds something to my life," he says.
"All of these things make me a better person." The big attraction, he says, is emotional intimacy.
Before the road trip, Cherie had three boyfriends at once.