With a husband, fiancé and two boyfriends to boot, Mary Crumpton isn't part of what could be described as a traditional, nuclear family.
However, the 44-year-old says that she couldn't imagine things any other way and that despite having been called names, her polyamorous relationship works perfectly for her and the men in her life.
The Chorlton resident hopes that her own, individual story, broadens people's understanding of polyamory and makes people more accepting towards those who choose to adopt the way of life.
Mary, who works as a teacher and a therapist, has a husband, Tim, 43, a fiance, John, 53, and two boyfriends - Michael, 63, and James, 73.
Having more than one spouse is illegal in the UK but Mary and her partners get around that by having unofficial ceremonies at Unitarian churches.
Mary explains how her interest in polyamory was sparked by a chance encounter in a pub.
She said: "I was brought up in quite a traditional home. I had boyfriends and was monogamous. Having more than one partner never crossed my mind. In my twenties I got married and settled down in Chorlton fully intending to be with my husband for life.
"The idea that loving more than one person might not make me a terrible human being only dawned on me when, at a pub, I bumped into a person who had more than one partner. I had never come across it before, or the term 'polyamory' which means 'more-than-one love'. I was quite shocked, and curious about how it all worked for them.
"My partner was with me when I met the polyamorous person, and he was curious about it, too. At the time neither of us considered it for ourselves, but I think the seed had been planted.
"A couple of years later, in 2003, I suggested to him that perhaps we might try an open relationship. I was interested to explore the possibility of allowing myself to love more than one person. I think for him it was more about the thought of more than one sexual partner. We were both curious to see how it could work for us.
"For me, it is all about love. Of course, some of my relationships have been sexual, but sex is not the driving force for me.
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"I am no longer with the partner that I first explored polyamory with, though he and I remain close friends, and he has continued to be polyamorous.
"I married one of the people I first dated polyamorously. My husband, Tim, who is 43, and I got together in 2004 and were married in 2013 at Manchester Museum under the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"I have a partner, John, who I have been with since 2011, and who I am planning to 'marry' this year. We can't legally marry, but we are having a full wedding-style commitment ceremony at Chorlton Unitarian church in May."
Mary has another two other partners, Michael, who she has been with since 2016 and James.
"Like in any relationship, insecurities can arise," she said. "Though in some ways there is less jealousy perhaps - no fear that a partner might cheat on me because why lie about it when having another partner is allowed anyway? Sometimes there might be a fear that a new partner is 'better' in some way than a current one, but good communication and offering reassurances allows that to be dealt with.
"Mostly people have been great. They had lots of questions about it, and some family members needed reassurance that we were all happy and no-one was getting hurt. I find that I have a huge capacity for romantic love. I just naturally fall in love with more than one person at a time. So to settle down with just one person for the rest of my life just doesn't feel natural to me.
"People sometimes ask me if it means that I love my husband, or any of my partners less. And I say no. Perhaps it is a bit like how we love our children - when a parent has a second or third child, it doesn't mean that they love their first child any the less. I think that romantic love is unlimited, too. Time is limited of course. But I do not believe that love is. It certainly isn't for me.
"The only negative for me really is dealing with other people being judgemental sometimes. But thankfully I am quite thick-skinned. And I hope that my being open about it with friends, and your readers, will help people understand polyamory better."
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