Today the number of polyamorists is high enough (at least half a million, according to one informal study conducted in 2002 by Adam Weber for the glossy polyamory magazine called Loving More) that it can support a number of annual conferences, like Poly Big Fun ’08, which takes place this month outside of Austin, Texas. Even Merriam-Webster’s editors recognize the movement’s critical mass—they added the word to the dictionary’s 11th edition (including its adjective form, “polyamorous”) in 2006.

But few places boast a poly community as robust in numbers and enthusiasm as does Portland, which is home to a thriving and complex social network of polys who are eager to meet up with other polys—Brian estimates about 1,500 alone are signed up for the local Yahoo poly chat rooms he moderates alone. Lean into a conversation at your local Anna Bannanas coffee shop and you might find yourself eavesdropping on one of the monthly polyamory discussion groups, get-togethers where couples (and their lovers) problem-solve and vent about quandaries like “What do you do if he’s more into his new girlfriend than he is into you?” Local websites like act as a sort of cyber meet-up and information-sharing hub. And nearly every week there are parties that allow newbies and multipartner veterans alike to keep in touch. Literally.

This expanding social milieu has been great for Brian, although he still admits to being a somewhat closeted poly—in fact, he refrains from using the words “wife” and “girlfriend” in the same sentence at his Beaverton workplace. Nevertheless, he doesn’t regret his choice to join the scene. “I’m a touchy-feely kind of guy,” Brian explains. “Through polyamory, I’ve found a way to get my physical and emotional needs met.”

’There’s nothing sexier than having your wife bring you food when you’re in bed with another woman.’

Which might be why he still can’t wipe that smile off his face. As soon as he manages to down his last swig of beer, he’s headed back home for one final bit of pre-date discussion with his wife so that they both understand what will occur: Will tonight just be dinner and a movie? Will there be snuggling? Kissing? The whole nine yards?

After the cutlets are prepared, the doorbell will ring. While April is doing the dishes, Brian and his date will slip downstairs to the basement with their dinner, slide a DVD of Rent into the player and let the evening unfold. After their bodies have untangled—and if they’re really lucky—April might even bring them a snack (perhaps that Jell-O dessert in the fridge from a few days earlier). Because this is how it’s supposed to work. Respect. Openness. Orgasm. It’s the polyamorous ideal, and tonight Brian and April are living the dream.

“Let me tell you,” he says, a glint in his eye as he slips on his raincoat, “there’s nothing sexier than having your wife bring you food when you’re in bed with another woman.”