Nontraditional Relationships in Books


A poll flickered by on Twitter, today. I clicked my answer and left a brief comment, and then, I realized, Hey, that’s my blog topic for today!

I don’t write YA, but I do have a lot of non-traditional relationships in my books.

Some of them, like the Unilateral marriage in my science fiction, would be absurd, or even psychotic in real life. The day some guy shows up outside my house and announces that he has married me, I’m going to call the cops. And I’m pretty sure that most people in my culture agree with me on that.

Some of them are more realistic, like the domestic triad in one of my thrillers. I mean…that could happen. On this planet. Without anybody freaking out and calling the cops.

Once upon a time, (or so I’m told) through the magic of societal pressure, and the need for sturdy sons to work the family farm, there was a default in relationships. You married a member of the opposite sex (whether you wanted to, or not) and produced new cogs in the system (whether you wanted to, or not.)

And maybe some dreamy nostalgia has worked its way into that default. You got married. AND you were certainly not “visiting around” on the side. You LOVED each other.

Don’t ask me. My longest relationship is with an unpublished book. And… it’s not even a healthy relationship. (But I can fix it!)

But now, we have options.

And we need communication.

A while back, a couple I knew moved in together. And then, they moved back out. All within the course of a month. Why? Because one of them thought “move in with me” meant I love you, want to be monogamous, and am looking toward marriage in the future. The other one was pretty sure it meant Hey, wanna split the rent?

You can’t communicate, unless you know there’s something to talk about.

Not everybody is looking for “the one.” Some people are looking for “the two” or the “right now” or the “let’s split the rent.”

Sometimes, communication can mean figuring out what it takes to make things work. Sometimes, communication means figuring out what you both want, saying “no thanks” quickly, and moving on.

Does polyamory belong in YA literature?  As in…Team Jacob, Team Edward… or Team Both?

Or do you mean as in somebody’s boring old set of three or five parents, who all hate the teenager’s boyfriend?

Either way, I think it’s just as important–in terms of communication–for a kid to be able to look at a potential partner and tell them, in advance, that he isn’t looking for monogamy as it is for him to be able to say “not without the ring, big boy.”

I believe in informed choices.


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