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In the process, they rearrange themselves: Matt's hand touches Vera's leg. The child, seemingly unconcerned, puts his arms around his mother and digs into his meal.

Terisa and Matt and Vera and Larry—along with Scott, who's also at this dinner—are not swingers, per se; they aren't pursuing casual sex.

Terisa Greenan and her boyfriend, Matt, are enjoying a rare day of Seattle sun, sharing a beet carpaccio on the patio of a local restaurant.

Matt holds Terisa's hand, as his 6-year-old son squeezes in between the couple to give Terisa a kiss.

But polyamorists trace the foundation of their movement to the utopian Oneida commune of upstate New York, founded in 1848 by Yale theologian John Humphrey Noyes.Keep up with this story and more It's enough to make any monogamist's head spin. Researchers are just beginning to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving contingents in nearly every major city.Over the past year, books like Open, by journalist Jenny Block; Opening Up, by sex columnist Tristan Taormino; and an updated version of The Ethical Slut—widely considered the modern "poly" Bible—have helped publicize the concept.Gay-marriage advocates have become leery of public association with the poly cause—lest it give their enemies ammunition.As Andrew Sullivan, the Atlantic columnist, wrote recently, "I believe that someone's sexual orientation is a deeper issue than the number of people they want to express that orientation with." In other words, polyamory is a choice; homosexuality is not.

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