Rachel Wright never understood monogamy. As early as age 14, she remembers wanting to kiss a guy in choir while still being in a relationship with her boyfriend. "I don't understand why that's not possible," Wright said she thought.
So when she learned about non-monogamy in graduate school for psychology, she felt liberated. "People do this!" she thought. "I'm not just some deviant sexual weirdo that wants variety and enjoys sex as a hobby sometimes."
Still, it took Wright years to pursue polyamory – and an amicable divorce to create the nontraditional family she lives with today.
Wright, now a 34-year-old licensed marriage family therapist in New York, shared her story with Insider to raise awareness of polyamorous, queer relationships and the legislation – like the emergence of multi-person domestic partnership agreements – that supports them.
"These kinds of laws create a mindset shift" in communities, workplaces, and families, Diana Adams, Wright's lawyer and the executive director of the Chosen Family Law Center, told Insider. "It's a seal of approval from the government that this is something that's legitimate and should be respected."
On Wright's first date with her future husband, Kyle, they talked about their interest in non-monogamy. "But because our society is so mono-normative, I didn't really have the courage to say, 'Yes, this is what I want,' and neither did Kyle," Wright, who also identifies as bisexual, said.
Instead, the couple decided to stay together exclusively but check in frequently about potentially opening up their relationship. After nearly six years together, including a few years of marriage, they decided it was time.
The couple downloaded the Feeld app, listened to the Multiamory podcast, and started dating other people in 2018 and 2019. Around this time, Kyle also came out publicly as bisexual. "I found so much joy in watching Kyle blossom, and was feeling more and more like myself," Wright said. "It was just so fun."
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the couple resorted to polyamorous online communities for "dates." In one early chat room, Wright met Yair Lenchner, who was in an open relationship with his wife, Ashley Giddens. "We just really clicked," Wright said.
Soon enough, Wright was flirting with Giddens, Kyle was joking with Lenchner, and all four couldn't stop texting.
At first, their dates were over Zoom. Then, the foursome met up outside in Brooklyn while maintaining six feet of distance to protect themselves from the coronavirus. "We just didn't stop talking," Wright said.
After a few months, they merged "pods" and alternated between homes and date nights. The women would have a romantic night at the Wright's apartment, for example, while the men, who are platonic, would watch movies at Lenchner and Giddens' place. Or, Kyle and Giddens would have a date night, or a triad or all four would go out.
"You know those relationships where all of a sudden you're like, 'Do we live together? Are we engaged?' It's the kind of whirlwind where it's happening, you're aware and you're consenting, but it's happening without you really pushing it," Wright said. "That's exactly how it was."
In 2021, about a year and a half after they met, the Wrights moved out of their Brooklyn apartment and into Giddens and Lenchner's upstate New York home. The "polycule" adopted a puppy and made spreadsheets organizing meals, laundry, home repairs, and who was spending which night with whom.
They were acting like a family of four – not two couples cohabitating or even swinging – but their legal unions didn't reflect that. Plus, the Wrights were helping to pay the mortgage, but weren't building equity.
That's when they sought the help of Adams, the lawyer, who's been on the front lines of passing multi-partner domestic partnership laws in three Massachusetts cities. There, poly families can gain protections like access to each others' health insurance or the ability to visit one another in the hospital.