PQ 11.1 — The Toothbrush, Making Room for New Things

a closeup of a white toothbrush with blue bristles
Image by Electric Teeth / CC BY

PQ 11.1 — How do I view potential partners, both for myself and for my existing partners? Do I see them as potential problems to be managed? Or do I see them as potential sources of joy to enrich my partner’s life? How does my approach to hierarchy reflect that view?

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It all started with a toothbrush.

Margo’s metamour Sheila was spending the night more often at their place, with their shared partner Emily between them in the bed. It had seemed to Margo that the best course of action was to get Sheila her own toothbrush. And put it in the medicine cabinet.

But more than a week had passed without Sheila spending the night again, and every time Margo needed toothpaste to brush her teeth, she had to reach over Sheila’s toothbrush.

The toothbrush was in the way.

What am I doing? Margo would ask herself. Sharing my wife with another woman. How is any of this going to work? Will I end up alone? 

And the toothbrush sat there. Twice a day it served as a reminder that Sheila was in her life. And that Margo hadn’t quite resolved how she felt about it.

Margo considered moving it, putting it away somewhere. But what would that mean? It seemed disrespectful. And things were tense enough, with Sheila brand new to the entire concept of poly and wondering aloud how any of it could work out long term.

So Margo left it there. Reached past it.

Until one day she decided she was going to stop reaching over it every time she went for the toothpaste. Margo bought a special container for the toothbrush to stay in, one that would remind Sheila of Emily.

Well there, Margo thought once she’d rehomed the toothbrush. And as she accepted that Sheila was likely going to be part of both of their lives for a while yet, she cried.

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Sheila loved the new toothbrush holder. “Awww… that’s so cute,” she said, the next time she spent the night. “It’s good for things to have a place.”

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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