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Study finds consensual non-monogamy is more common than people realize

Posted at 1:18 PM, Sep 01, 2021

Aaron Meir, Rachael Meir, and Kasey Kershner are in a closed poly triad. The Meirs are married and Kershner is their girlfriend. They call themselves Triad and True on social media. The three of them have been in a consensual non-monogamous relationship for more than two years.

“A triad specifically is three people who are in a relationship where we are all connected," Kershner said. "So we each have relationships in addition to our relationship altogether.”

The three are exclusive with each other, which is why they call themselves a "closed poly triad."

Their story starts with the Meirs who got married 14 years ago. They say they had a very happy and healthy relationship. However, Rachael is bisexual, so they decided to search for another partner.

“If there was any void or anything that was missing, it was simply because Aaron isn’t a girl," Rachael said. "He can’t change that.”

They ultimately decided they wanted to have a deep, emotional connection with a third person in their relationship. They found Kershner on a dating app. After some serious conversations, they formed a triad.

“Rachael and I are very different people, and it’s great that Kasey is almost in the middle like from a day-to-day perspective," Aaron said. "Kasey and I love sports, Rachael hates sports, Rachael and Kasey like rom-coms, I don’t like rom-coms. It’s really nice to have that dynamic.”

Just recently, they started sharing their story with family, friends, and the world.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t get to see what relationships like ours look like because so many people hide it and it’s all very behind closed doors, smoke and mirror type of things, and it really is so much more common than people know,” Kershner said.

Researchers conducted a study to find out how common it really is. Dr. Amy Moors is a co-chair on the Committee of Consensual Non-Monogamy with the American Psychological Association.

“In this study, we found that about one out of five people in the U.S. have engaged in a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point during their life," Dr. Moors said. "And to help put that into perspective, that’s as common as how many people own a cat in the U.S.”

Dr. Moors says her study found that one in 20 people in current relationships are engaged in a non-monogamous relationship, and one out of nine people say a non-monogamous relationship would be ideal for them.

“People engaged in consensually non-monogamous relationships have really satisfying and committed and trusting relationships," Dr. Moors said. "Yet people believe that they don’t so that’s part of why the stigma is so robust surrounding these relationships.”

Kershner says she experienced the negative mental health impacts of being secretive about their triad until they finally came out.

“For the first several months, year, what was it, it was like ‘oh, these are my roommates, my really cool roommates, we spend a lot of time together, are in every picture together, but we’re roommates," Kershner said. "Some of that too is such a heavy feeling of kind of having to lie to everyone in your life.”

Now, the three say they feel a sense of relief being their true, authentic selves and they’re able to cast the hatred and misunderstandings from other people aside.

“There are fears around ‘Kasey’s 10 years younger, is she just going to replace me, is Aaron just ready for something new, is she going to come to take our money, finances and wealth that we have created together’ or other things and we’re just very open to say ‘those are all fair, legitimate, valid questions and no we’re just three individuals created a unique, different, non-traditional lifestyle because we have different sets of interests or different wants,” Rachael said.

Dr. Moors says the best way to end stigma is to educate people about ethical polyamory. She says she’s also hoping for some legislative changes that make multi-partner domestic partnerships legal and protected under anti-discrimination partner laws.

This triad does hope to have a union ceremony at some point. Just like any other relationship, they hope they can continue to grow, loving each other and living their best life.

“At the end of the day we are three consenting adults," Kershner said. "This is the life we choose. We always say we’re not hurting anyone, we’re not causing any issues for anyone else. All we ask is that people are ok with that and are at least familiar and open to the fact that just because we live our life differently than you doesn’t mean we have any less respect for you and your relationship. It’s just different.”