Kitchen Table and Parallel Polyamory: Part 2: Extreme Kitchen Table
If we see entwinement of a specific relationship in a network as a spectrum, on one end we have Extreme Kitchen Table; the full-entwinement, cohabiting partner(s) who know(s) the whole group and may be jointly involved with some additional partners, and has a close friendship or sibling-like relationship with the others. If they are not, currently, they may be encouraging it or pushing their partner to end relationships with people who are not open to this/these kind(s) of relationships with them. Big life changes would involve telling and consulting with everyone in the polycule, in an idealized version of this.
We’re talking about the extreme end of the spectrum here, so imagine a communal ideal - the house probably isn’t big enough, but everything is done with an “it takes a village” mentality, and if somebody won a huge amount of money, the whole extended polycule would move out to a giant plot of land and build houses close together, maybe with communal lounging/cooking/eating space. Because this is very extreme, like any part of the ends of a spectrum, it is harder to find clearly healthy examples of the dynamic.
Historically, this has been done in a healthy way for limited periods of time, with turnover in individual participation. The Kerista community, which you may have read about in my Brief History of Polyamory post, ran in a mostly healthy manner, with individuals leaving as their ideals shifted, on a polyfidelitious basis very similar to this idea, from 1971 to 1991, with the number of individuals varying between 5 at the foundation to 44 at the high point, and 22 when it disbanded because of differences in opinion as to how to enact community ideals. That freedom to leave if you change your mind about engaging in any part of community ideals, rather than being coerced into continuing to participate, is the requirement for the situation to be considered healthy, from my point of view.
The criticism available of the health of the community part, in this case, is that the movement of the group from New York to San Francisco in 1971 was to follow a charismatic and arguably cult-like leader, ‘Bro Jud.’ Jud influenced the enumeration of the standards of the community throughout its existence, and his influence keeping a larger number of women and smaller number of men in the Kerista community can be read as controlling.
Throughout this series, I will try to give healthy and unhealthy examples of every level of relationship entwinement. I find that most difficult at the extremes. So, my apologies to you, my readers, for not being able to find fully formed examples of obviously healthy or unhealthy relationships in the categories at each end of the spectrum, but I promise, there is at least one of each for the more central portions of the spectrum.