The Next Chapter

Zoey Leigh Peterson shatters myths about polyamory

Zoey Leigh Peterson redefines the modern-day relationship in her debut novel, Next Year, For Sure.
Peterson's story of the two lovers, Kathryn and Chris, stemmed from the loneliness couples often experience when their friends move away to start families and advance careers. (Scribner / Vivienne McMaster)

Vancouver-based librarian and writer Zoey Leigh Peterson seeks to debunk the myths about polyamorous relationships in her debut novel, Next Year, For Sure. It revolves around the two main characters, Kathryn and Chris, who have spent nearly a decade together in a loving and supportive relationship. When Chris develops a crush on a woman named Emily, Kathryn encourages him to pursue her and begin an open relationship. The book is a portrait of their year-long experimentation with non-monogamy and the revelatory experiences it brings for the couple.

Dispelling stereotypes

I think on one hand, I did want to upend those stereotypes about people in open relationships or people in poly relationships, that it's all about the sex or it's this crazy deviant lifestyle. It's very often not the case. It's often just a different way of being. I wanted to upend some of those tropes and stereotypes. But the other factor is the reality I see amongst my friends. I don't see friends in my social circle who are acting selfishly or callously or chasing their own desires with total disregard for partners. I see people who care deeply about their partners and want to make their partners happy, but are also trying to find ways to fulfil their own destiny, their own lives and trying to find a balance that is ethical and fair and loving.

Lonely together

I was thinking a lot, as I was writing the book, about loneliness. And I think that Chris and Kathryn, while they are incredibly compatible and incredibly happy together and very in love, they are lonely. I don't mean lonely in the sense of it's a loveless relationship. There's an enormous amount of love and affection there. But friends are starting to disappear into family. They're starting to have kids and move to the suburbs and have careers. And they're more and more isolated as a couple, so they're lonely together. So I think that's part of what's motivating Kathryn, is she can't imagine a more perfect relationship than one that she has but she is unhappy on some level and she's trying to find a way to negotiate that and find something. I think she senses that something is not working and is looking for something that might.

Zoey Leigh Peterson's comments have been edited and condensed.

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