With her relationship falling apart, Zara Burrows, 33, came up with a controversial idea
Brad and I had only been dating for six months when I fell pregnant.
Living in the same apartment block, we loved having fun and cooking together, but we were far from ready to have a baby.
When Nora was born in September 2011 though, it was love at first sight for both of us.
We made a vow to do our best to provide a happy, stable home for her.
Yet life was not easy – I’d given up work as a reporter to be a full-time mum, and Brad was suddenly faced with paying all the bills himself.
Working long hours in his management role, he hated not having enough quality time with Nora.
Our sex-life was almost non-existent.
It all felt like too much pressure, far too soon in our relationship.
I began comfort eating, and with my weight creeping higher, I felt depressed and unattractive.
In March 2014, Brad delivered a bombshell.
‘I can’t take living like this anymore,’ he said.
He confessed that he’d started dreaming about travelling the world on his own.
I understood Brad’s longing for freedom – I felt it too – but it also felt like my life was falling apart.
I didn’t want to be a single mum, but also didn’t know what I could do to save our family.
If only there was a way we could both have more fun in our lives, without splitting up.
Days later I came across an article about polyamory, which explained how some people enjoy open relationships and have more than one sexual partner.
I’d never heard of it before, but it was like a light bulb came on.
Could this be the answer to our problems?
Soon after, I mentioned the article to Brad.
‘Are you saying this is something you want to try?’ he asked, staring at me.
I nodded in reply.
Just talking about seeing new people gave our sex life a much needed boost.
Just talking about seeing new people gave our sex life a much needed boost
Both of us started to read up on polyamory, set up dating profiles and joined some online chat groups.
In April 2015, Brad was the first of us to enjoy a night of passion with someone else.
I was happy for him, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous too.
When Brad came home with renewed energy for our family, I realised how positive this could be.
I hadn’t seen him this happy in months.
Brad said he felt guilty but excited and rejuvenated too.
As my partner went on to sleep with five other women, I gradually found it easier to deal with.
In November last year, something happened that meant Brad wasn’t the only one having fun – his best friend Ben, 29, moved in with us as a housemate.
I’d always thought Ben was attractive but saw him as more like a brother.
However, within days of him unpacking his bags, my feelings changed.
Brad went to bed early one night and Ben and I started flirting.
One thing lead to another and we ended up having a night of passion in Ben’s bed.
It was amazing, but both of us were racked with guilt too.
What would Brad say?
I told him the next morning.
‘How could you do that?’ he gasped.
For the next two weeks, the tension in the house was horrible.
The three of us barely spoke to one another.
Then one night, Brad asked us all to sit down together.
He told us that while he felt odd about Ben and I being together, he was willing to try and be open-minded about it.
That’s how our current arrangement came about.
One thing lead to another and we ended up having a night of passion in Ben’s bed
Now, there are nights when the three of us all go out for dinner together, and there are nights when I just see either Brad or Ben.
On the nights I stay with Ben, I let Brad know in advance so he can make alternative plans.
Ben helps pay the bills, and best of all, he is helping us raise Nora.
I have explained to her that Ben is Mummy’s boyfriend too.
Of course, there are plenty of times when jealousy is still a problem for all of us.
That’s why I’d never kiss Ben in front of Brad – although we do cuddle.
No matter how difficult it is juggling everyone’s feelings, I believe the positives of our new polyamorous family far outweigh the negatives.
I love both Brad and Ben equally, and I never feel bored with either relationship.
Without me falling in love with Brad’s best friend and Brad dating other people, our relationship would have been over by now.
Instead, Nora has her parents living together in a happy, loving environment.
In many ways I think we have the perfect family.
Originally published in that's life! issue 29 2016