A couple who opened up their relationship to a female colleague are now raising their brood of children as a polyamorous trio.
Full-time mum Cheyenne Barnes, 29, had only been with her boyfriend James Chorman, 34, for just over a year when she suggested they add a third person to the equation.
Initially, he had reservations – until the pair enjoyed a night of passion with her then-co worker Joelle Temporal, 24, in early 2019.
They are now an official “throuple”, raising a “rainbow family” under one roof – and hope to add to their family.
Each member of the polyamorous trio has a child from a previous relationship, none of whom they wish to name, and Cheyenne and James also have two together – Daria, five, and Lilith, one month.
Cheyenne said: “People say we’re messing up our kids, but the kids don’t care.
“All they see is three people who love each other – and love them.
“My eldest daughter told me her friends think it’s cool she has three parents because, ‘She can get even more presents’ – but she doesn’t look at it that way. She says she has more people to love her.”
The youngsters refer to the women as ‘Mummy Cheyenne’ or ‘Mummy Joelle.’
The three parents all have different parenting styles – with Cheyenne more of a disciplinarian than her boyfriend and girlfriend – and say they disagree from time to time when it comes to decisions about the children.
However, they work through any clashes using open communication – and occasionally, a vote.
Growing up together, Cheyenne and James moved in the same social circles, and had several mutual friends.
They became romantically involved in March 2014 when he sent her a message on Facebook out of the blue.
The couple, who both have a child from previous relationships, welcomed baby Daria in February 2015 and settled into family life.
Cheyenne, who is bisexual, says she was blussfully happy as a new mum but began to feel discontented with her love life.
She suggested to James that they try polyamory – an intimate relationship with more than one person.
They started going on dates, but none lived up to expectations.
“I’d been so excited to bring a woman to bed,” Cheyenne says. “It had been a goal of mine for so long. I wanted to have fun, but in the end, there was just disappointment.
“We decided maybe we didn’t want to do this after all.”
Cheyenne threw herself into her then-job at an insurance company, where she met mum-of-one Joelle in October 2018.
“At the start, I wasn’t interested in her like that at all,” she recalled. “I’d actually sometimes go home to James and complain about her.
“But within a matter of weeks we started talking and bonding over work gossip and our love of 90s rap.”
Before long, Joelle and Cheyenne began socialising outside of work, often with their children in tow.
Then, in January 2019, a playdate led to an actual date.
Cheyenne and James made their feelings clear, and they became an official “throuple”.
Cheyenne said: “It was the first time for all of us, but it all felt so natural. Joelle had never had a female relationship but, like me, she knew she liked girls like that.”
Six months into their relationship, the trio decided to have two more children – one carried by Joelle, and one by Cheyenne.
Only Cheyenne became pregnant, giving birth to 7lb baby Lilith.
They are blissfully happy as a blended family of eight, and Joelle still has her heart set on welcoming a baby.
Cheyenne said: “Some people try and sabotage our relationship by saying it won’t work out or it’s not normal.
“We’ve been together a year and we’re going strong. We have no intention of this not working out.
“I just hope that by sharing our story it becomes more normalised and poly people are treated equally without all the negativity.”
James said: “I figured that Cheyenne was so into the idea of polyamory when she suggested it that there was no harm in seeing how it would work out.
“It’s been difficult at times, but you work through it because you love two people.”
Joelle added: “People have told my daughter from a previous relationship that Cheyenne isn’t her Mummy, and that hurts.
“But no matter how challenging it gets, I feel like we’re in a good place in our relationship and that’s worth fighting for.”