Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



June 30, 2015

US News: "Polyamorous Rights Advocates See Marriage Equality Coming for Them"


A couple days ago a reporter from US News (a decades-old, well-respected mainstream news magazine) wrote and asked for poly spokespeople who would be good to talk to about the Supreme Court's gay-marriage ruling. I suggested Diana Adams and Robyn Trask, and they're among the people he quotes in his article this morning, below.

Missing from the article is his long conversation with Ricci Levy of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. She described at length why marriage rights are the wrong way to approach poly family rights. Many rights that currently accrue to marriage should accrue to any individuals, she argued, and individuals should be able to design their own families of choice by their own contracts.

Not a word of that got used. Poly marriage is what the media are obsessing about right now.

In my opinion, multi-marriage would be a poor paradigm for poly rights even if it were legally available. But that's another story (to come). Right now we have no choice but to ride the tiger, and try to steer it.


Polyamorous Rights Advocates See Marriage Equality Coming for Them

Justice John Roberts was spot-on about polygamy, advocates say.

Robyn Brown, Meri Brown, Kody Brown, Christine Brown and Janelle Brown from reality TV program "Sister Wives" [sued] to decriminalize polyamorous living arrangements in Utah [and have won so far –Ed.]. Other polyamorous advocates expect lawsuits seeking marriage rights.
By Steven Nelson

Like others across the country last week, a Washington, D.C., couple and their housewarming guests buzzed about the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. But they were far more interested in Chief Justice John Roberts' dissent than the majority opinion that made same-sex marriage the law of the land.

The couple – a husband and his wife – are polyamorous, and had just moved in with their girlfriend. And in Roberts' dissent, they saw a path that could make three-way relationships like theirs legal, too.

“Did you see we were mentioned by Roberts?” the husband beamed as he welcomed guests the day after the ruling. The chief justice wrote that polygamy has deeper roots in history and that the decision allowing gays to marry "would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

“If the majority is willing to take the big leap," [Roberts] added, "it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.”

An attorney at the housewarming who works at a prominent Washington law firm tittered at the thought of repurposing gay rights arguments to sue for government recognition of plural marriages. It would be a lot of fun, he told his host, if he wasn’t saddled with corporate law work.

Roberts' analysis wasn't unique. The suggestion previously was made by judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, who in November wrote, “there is no reason to think that three or four adults, whether gay, bisexual, or straight, lack the capacity to share love, affection, and commitment, or for that matter lack the capacity to be capable (and more plentiful) parents to boot.”

Some gay marriage supporters see the analogy as far-fetched. But for polyamorous advocates it’s welcomed as a potential boost for future legal efforts.

Some advocates believe Roberts' dissent will prove as useful to the polyamorous movement as dissents written by Justice Antonin Scalia in gay rights cases were to the same-sex marriage movement. In Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case, and in 2013's U.S. v. Windsor, Scalia warned his peers were laying the groundwork for universal recognition of same-sex marriage, which other federal judges pointed to in their decisions knocking down state bans on gay marriage.

"I do think the dissent by Roberts provides a legal foothold for people seeking polyamorous marriage rights," says Diana Adams, a New York attorney who specializes in nontraditional family law. "As Roberts points out, if there's going to be a rejection of some of the traditional man-woman elements of marriage... those same arguments could easily be applied to three or four-person unions."

Adams says she's heard chatter of looming lawsuits now that the same-sex marriage issue has been resolved. She personally is interested in helping extend co-parenting arrangements for three or more people to benefit same-sex couples who cannot reproduce with each other, and she says such cases could ultimately break ground for polyamorous families.

Robyn Trask, the Colorado-based executive director of Loving More, a polyamory support organization, says she believes Roberts’ dissent will prove prophetic.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as far in the future as people think,” she says.

Trask says the marriage issue currently is “debated within our own community, similar to the gay community – there are people who don’t believe we should go after plural marriage, and there are those who do.”

A significant majority within the community appears open to the idea of marriage with multiple partners should it become legally possible. In a 2012 survey, Loving More asked more than 4,000 polyamorous people and found 66 percent were open to plural marriage, with 20 percent unsure.

There are many practical reasons to marry, Trask says, including immigration and medical decision-making rights. She has personal experience with both, marrying a Japanese partner in the late 1980s so he could remain in the U.S. and struggling for the right to speak for a female partner while she underwent surgery.

She says she once knew a married American couple who divorced so one could remarry a Canadian partner who wanted to live in the U.S. Another three-person relationship featured an American, a Canadian and a Mexican who wished to live together.

Despite the real-world benefits of legal marriage, Trask says many people living in polyamorous relationships “are in the closet and being very careful,” with a large number feeling it’s more important to protect their employment, housing and children than to lead the charge for marital rights.

But she says polyamorous partners, particularly younger ones, are increasingly “out” about their lifestyle, and believes change will come with greater swiftness than for gay people. "They blazed the trail, if you will,” she says.


Read the original: Polyamorous Rights Advocates See Marriage Equality Coming for Them (June 29, 2015).

Here are Ricci Levy's remarks as posted on the Polyamory Leadership Network (quoted by permission):


Steven Nelson is a generally fair reporter and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with him. I gave him a great deal of information about our human right to family, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and various international treaties since, as well as the refusal of the United Nations Human Rights Commission/Committee to limit the definition of family, stating that we must recognize the diversity of family today.

For the first time in the history of our country there are fewer than 50% of married households (per the census). I answered every push for a statement about whether the next battle should be for poly marriage by stressing that we should shift the conversation to our right to family, and that rights should accrue to the individual rather than be based on a relationship structure that, historically, favors marriage above all other relationships. I also stressed that I believe anyone who wishes to celebrate their relationship, no matter how many are involved, by get married should be able to do so.

As you'll see in the article, there is no mention of this conversation at all. My feelings aren't hurt. :) I suspect the frame will be poly marriage in the media for some time to come. And we will end up, I fear, if we don't push back to shift the conversation to the right to family, fighting for one "marriage" configuration after another.

Steven asked me, by the way, how we separate out the rights from the relationship. My suggestion is that rights accrue to the individual rather than being based on a relationship.

The quotes in the article are good and favorable, by the way.

And I would encourage all of you to check out a document that was drafted in April 2006 by a wonderful group that came together in response to the movement for (what was then) Same Sex Marriage: Steven Nelson is a generally fair reporter and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with him. I believe that Anita Wagner Illig did as well, and, as we can see from the article, Diana Adams and Robyn Trask did too.

When I spoke with him I gave him a great deal of information about our human right to family, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and various international treaties since, as well as the refusal of the United Nations Human Rights Commission/Committee to limit the definition of family, stating that we must recognize the diversity of family today.

For the first time in the history of our country there are fewer than 50% of married households (per the census). I answered every push for a statement about whether the next battle should be for poly marriage by stressing that we should shift the conversation to our right to family, and that rights should accrue to the individual rather than be based on a relationship structure that, historically, favors marriage above all other relationships. I also stressed that I believe anyone who wishes to celebrate their relationship, no matter how many are involved, by get married should be able to do so.

As you'll see in the article, there is no mention of this conversation at all. My feelings aren't hurt. :) I suspect the frame will be poly marriage in the media for some time to come. And we will end up, I fear, if we don't push back to shift the conversation to the right to family, fighting for one "marriage" configuration after another.

Steven asked me, by the way, how we separate out the rights from the relationship. My suggestion is that rights accrue to the individual rather than being based on a relationship.

The quotes in the article are good and favorable, by the way.

And I would encourage all of you to check out a document that was drafted in April 2006 by a wonderful group that came together in response to the movement for (what was then) Same Sex Marriage: www.beyondmarriage.org.


-----------------------------------------

Some other items:

● Many right-wing voices agree with how we see Roberts' dissent. For instance, blogger Amy Hall substitutes "polygamous and polyamorous groups" for "same-sex couples" into swing-justice Anthony Kennedy's landmark ruling. Sounds good to me: Justice Kennedy’s Arguments for Polygamy and Polyamory (June 27, 2015).

● Keith Pullman reposts his Why Polyamory Will Gain Acceptance Faster than gay rights (April 20, 2015).

● An enthusiastic article in South Africa's Independent Online:
Let’s legalise polyamory next?
(June 29, 2015). It's been republished several other places.

More coming.

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June 27, 2015

After Supreme Court decision, "It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy"

Politico

Just hours after yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that institutes gay marriage nationwide — and Chief Justice Roberts' dissent spelling out how the way is now wide open to multi-marriages (see my previous post) — Politico published a ringing opening shot from the left arguing that that would be just fine.

Legal recognition for polygamy is a goal not just for breakaway Mormon patriarchs and their wives, but for some fraction of modern, secular, gender-equal polyfamilies.


It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy

Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.

Getty

By Fredrik deBoer

Welcome to the exciting new world of the slippery slope. With the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling this Friday legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states, social liberalism has achieved one of its central goals. A right seemingly unthinkable two decades ago has now been broadly applied to a whole new class of citizens. Following on the rejection of interracial marriage bans in the 20th Century, the Supreme Court decision clearly shows that marriage should be a broadly applicable right — one that forces the government to recognize, as Friday’s decision said, a private couple’s “love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

The question presents itself: Where does the next advance come? The answer is going to make nearly everyone uncomfortable: Now that we’ve defined that love and devotion and family isn’t driven by gender alone, why should it be limited to just two individuals? The most natural advance next for marriage lies in legalized polygamy — yet many of the same people who pressed for marriage equality for gay couples oppose it.

This is not an abstract issue. In Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissenting opinion, he remarks, “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” As is often the case with critics of polygamy, he neglects to mention why this is a fate to be feared....

The moral reasoning behind society’s rejection of polygamy remains just as uncomfortable and legally weak as same-sex marriage opposition was until recently.

That’s one reason why progressives who reject the case for legal polygamy often don’t really appear to have their hearts in it. They seem uncomfortable voicing their objections, clearly unused to being in the position of rejecting the appeals of those who would codify non-traditional relationships in law. They are, without exception, accepting of the right of consenting adults to engage in whatever sexual and romantic relationships they choose, but oppose the formal, legal recognition of those relationships....

...Polyamory is a fact. People are living in group relationships today. The question is not whether they will continue on in those relationships. The question is whether we will grant to them the same basic recognition we grant to other adults: that love makes marriage, and that the right to marry is exactly that, a right.

Why the opposition, from those who have no interest in preserving “traditional marriage” or forbidding polyamorous relationships? I think the answer has to do with political momentum, with a kind of ad hoc-rejection of polygamy as necessary political concession. And in time, I think it will change....

But the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy, and for a particularly unsatisfying reason: short-term political need. Many conservative opponents of marriage equality have made the slippery slope argument, insisting that same-sex marriages would lead inevitably to further redefinition of what marriage is and means. See, for example, Rick Santorum’s infamous “man on dog” comments, in which he equated the desire of two adult men or women to be married with bestiality. Polygamy has frequently been a part of these slippery slope arguments. Typical of such arguments, the reasons why marriage between more than two partners would be destructive were taken as a given. Many proponents of marriage equality, I’m sorry to say, went along with this evidence-free indictment of polygamous matrimony. They choose to side-step the issue by insisting that gay marriage wouldn’t lead to polygamy. That legally sanctioned polygamy was a fate worth fearing went without saying.

...In 2005, a denial of the right to group marriage stemming from political pragmatism made at least some sense. In 2015, after this ruling, it no longer does.

...Conventional arguments against polygamy fall apart with even a little examination. Appeals to traditional marriage, and the notion that child rearing is the only legitimate justification of legal marriage, have now, I hope, been exposed and discarded by all progressive people. What’s left is a series of jerry-rigged arguments that reflect no coherent moral vision of what marriage is for, and which frequently function as criticisms of traditional marriage as well.

...Another common argument, and another unsatisfying one, is logistical. In this telling, polygamous marriages would strain the infrastructure of our legal systems of marriage, as they are not designed to handle marriage between more than two people. In particular, the claim is frequently made that the division of property upon divorce or death would be too complicated for polygamous marriages. I find this argument eerily reminiscent of similar efforts to dismiss same-sex marriage on practical grounds. (The forms say husband and wife! What do you want us to do, print new forms?)....

If current legal structures and precedents aren’t conducive to group marriage, then they will be built in time. The comparison to traditional marriage is again instructive....

...I suspect that many progressives would recognize, when pushed in this way, that the case against polygamy is incredibly flimsy, almost entirely lacking in rational basis and animated by purely irrational fears and prejudice. What we’re left with is an unsatisfying patchwork of unconvincing arguments and bad ideas, ones embraced for short-term convenience at long-term cost. We must insist that rights cannot be dismissed out of short-term interests of logistics and political pragmatism. The course then, is clear: to look beyond political convenience and conservative intransigence, and begin to make the case for extending legal marriage rights to more loving and committed adults. It’s time.

Fredrik deBoer is a writer and academic. He lives in Indiana.


Read the whole article (June 26, 2015).

● Earlier this year, in the Emory Law Journal, Ronald C. Den Otter published a lengthy analysis Three May Not Be a Crowd: The case for a constitutional right to plural marriage. From the abstract:


This Article takes seriously the substantive due process and equal protection arguments that support plural marriage (being able to marry more than one person at the same time). While numerous scholars have written about same-sex marriage, few of them have had much to say about marriages among three or more individuals. As progressive, successful, and important as the Marriage Equality Movement has been, it focuses on same-sex marriage at the expense of other possible kinds of marriages that may be equally worthwhile. The vast majority of Americans still do not discuss plural marriage openly and fairly, as if the topic were taboo. One of the goals of this Article is to convince readers that marriage in the future could be a much more diverse institution that does a better job of meeting individual needs. After all, one size may not fit all. Unfortunately, too often, scholars reduce plural marriage to the exploitation of women and the abuse of children. This approach makes it too easy to dismiss the possibility that a plural marriage might work better than the alternatives for at least some individuals in some circumstances.

Because the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples is bound to cover a broader range of marital relationships, lawmakers, judges, and the rest of us eventually will have to decide which kinds of intimate relationships will be accorded legal status and which kinds will be left out....

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In Chief Justice Roberts' dissent: Route now wide open to multi-marriage.


And how the language in his dissent may help bring it about.

A new era for relationship rights began yesterday at the Supreme Court, and for better or for worse, we're next.

In his dissent to the Obergefelldecision establishing gay marriage nationwide, Chief Justice John Roberts fired the opening shot from the right, calling out plural marriage and polyamorous relationships specifically.

From his dissent:


One immediate question invited by the majority’s position is whether States may retain the definition of marriage as a union of two people. Cf. Brown v. Buhman, 947 F. Supp. 2d 1170 (Utah 2013), appeal pending, No. 144117 (CA10). Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one. It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” ante, at 13, why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” ante, at 15, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” ante, at 22, serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships? See Bennett, Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution? Newsweek, July 28, 2009 (estimating 500,000 polyamorous families in the United States); Li, Married Lesbian “Throuple” Expecting First Child, N. Y. Post, Apr. 23, 2014; Otter, Three May Not Be a Crowd: The Case for a Constitutional Right to Plural Marriage, 64 Emory L. J.
1977 (2015).

I do not mean to equate marriage between same-sex couples with plural marriages in all respects. There may well be relevant differences that compel different legal analysis. But if there are, petitioners have not pointed to any. When asked about a plural marital union at oral argument, petitioners asserted that a State “doesn’t have such an institution.” Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 2, p. 6. But that is exactly the point: the States at issue here do not have an institution of same-sex marriage, either.


Analyst James McDonald has written,


On record, a Chief Justice has stated that:

-- Restricting marriage to couples is an arbitrary choice.
-- Plural marriages can be the product of consenting, autonomous adults, and their choice to marry is a "profound" one.
-- Children of plural marriages are subject to harmful stigma under our current legal paradigm.
-- Individuals can find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships. (Again, he didn't say polygamous relationships.)
-- Not being given the same opportunities as individuals in other relationships disrespects and subordinates individuals in polyamorous relationships.

All of these points can be used in arguments for equality beyond marriage equality — any debate over whether poly people can be denied housing, employment, or custody of children can reference Roberts' statement.


Indeed, this looks like a parallel to Justice Antonin Scalia's dissents to the court's Windsor (2013) and Lawrence (2003) decisions, in which Scalia darkly spelled out the ways in which those rulings would logically lead to requiring gay marriage nationwide. Much to Scalia's dismay, one would think, lower courts cited his language when justifying their extending gay marriage to more states. Lower courts take seriously statements from a Supreme Court justice as to what a law logically requires.

Watch for the same thing to happen with Roberts' dissent.

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June 25, 2015

"Polyamorists Assume the Missionary Position"

The Daily Beast

A Daily Beast regular writes about poly evangelism. None of the examples she quotes seem egregious to me (except for the 19th-century one), but I'm not the most objective judge.  :)

Remember — the overarching aim of our movement, as articulated by many activists and groups such as Loving More and the Polyamory Leadership Network, is relationship choice: the right to understand and live by your own relationship style, whether monogamous or open — and the responsibility to discuss this topic early, with honesty and transparency, with any potential partners. Who in turn have the right to seek partners in accord with their own needs and intentions.


Polyamorists Assume the Missionary Position

If you’re anti-monogamy [sic], a social movement awaits you. But are polyamory’s supporters too evangelical in their mission to convert the rest of us to their bed-hopping ways?

Dumb illustration: Sarah Rogers / The Daily Beast

By Emily Shire

“I’m probably the only little girl who fantasized about meeting her handsome prince and having him sweep her off her feet — and then falling in love with another guy,” Cunning Minx tells me with a laugh.

It’s a rosy, even wholesome way of framing her first childhood indications that she would ultimately identify with polyamory, a term Merriam-Webster defines as “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”

People who identify as polyamorous, like Minx — a sex educator who uses the pseudonym professionally, including for Poly Weekly, a podcast “devoted to tales from the front of responsible non-monogamy” — would likely pick a bone with that rather sterile definition.

According to the website for Loving More, the leading national support and advocacy group for the polyamorous community, “Polyamory refers to emotionally connected relationships openly involving three or more people. It is about honesty, integrity and respect.”

I would venture that most Americans would not be familiar with either of those definitions of polyamory. Many may not have even heard of the term.

Despite a Showtime reality television show and Loving More’s 25,000-strong database of members, polyamory is still a relatively unheard of relationship construct.

To those who have heard of polyamory, the concept is surrounded in stigma, often conflated with “swingers.”

In fact, proponents of polyamory (or just “poly” as it is colloquially referred to) are quick to point out sex with multiple people is by no means a requisite.

The term “polyamory” is “intended to differentiate emotionally connected relationships from simple coupling, casual dating around, or recreational sex,” according to the Loving More website.

Not that most of America is aware of these nuances....

In the same way that proponents of CrossFit and IUD’s love to preach their gospel, many in the polyamorous community have that same verve, passion, and, at times, a bit of a self-righteousness....

While he doesn’t think polyamory is for everybody, [Robert] McGarey certainly doesn’t think monogamy is either, and he wants to spread the gospel. In fact, he thinks the polyamorous view towards jealousy “could potentially radically transform American society.”

Poly proponents preach that the inevitable jealousy that results form dating multiple should not be ignored, but rather, owned, recognized, and studied to realize what deeper insecurity or problem is bothering you.

“Approach jealousy not as a terrible thing, but as a gift of self-awareness,” McGarey says....


Read the whole article (June 25, 2015).

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June 23, 2015

"I Realized I Was Polyamorous… While Engaged to A Monogamous Person"

xoJane

And another poly-mono tale appears in a millennial-oriented webmagazine. This one is happier than the one in my last post.


IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Realized I Was Polyamorous… While Engaged to A Monogamous Person

When I proposed to R, there were two things I still didn’t know: That I was polyamorous, and that R was monogamous.

Sam Dylan Finch
By Sam Dylan Finch

R was a genderqueer dreamboat. Seriously.

We met during undergrad, first at a film screening and then again working in the same office on campus. They were a passionate feminist (this is a very important criterion for me), a brilliant thinker, and just as cynical about people as I was… but still down to watch an episode of Spongebob or play Wii Bowling.

My extroverted, chaotic nature pushed R out of their shell; R’s quiet, introverted nature always seemed to bring me down a notch.

In other words, R was a breath of fresh air. And our relationship, in the beginning, was so easy – almost too easy.

No one was surprised, then, when we announced our engagement a year later.... It felt like everything was finally falling into place.

But when I proposed to R, there were two things I still didn’t know: That I was polyamorous, and that R was monogamous.

Since monogamy was the default, we had never really talked about the structure of our relationship before. What structure? There was only one, right?

Somehow I had missed the signs – signs that are obvious to me now – about my polyamorous leanings.

In the past, I had always had intimate, loving friendships – noticeably deeper than other people I knew – with cuddling, hand-holding, even kissing and sleeping in the same bed. I just assumed I had a bigger heart than most.

In fact, my last relationship ended in part because I was in love with my partner and my best friend simultaneously. I assumed that meant I was confused. Deciding I was a terrible partner, I broke things off, feeling guilty but relieved....

I had never heard of “polyamory,” nor did I understand that there was nothing wrong with having deep and intimate relationships with multiple people simultaneously. I thought you could only love one person at a time, or else you were unfaithful.

It wasn’t until I lived with a polyamorous roommate that the doubts started to creep in. Could I be happy in a relationship like that? Would I be… happier?

I watched my roommate navigate polyamory in a way that seemed so effortless....

I trusted R completely – we told each other everything – and as I started to reflect on my past, we could see clearly what had been right in front of us. My intense friendships that always seemed to blur the boundaries, my crushes that sometimes seemed a little too distracting, and my wandering eye that sometimes made us both a little uncomfortable…

...When I finally said the words, R shifted and quietly responded, “But I’m monogamous. At least, I am right now.”

My first instinct was to assume it was over.... [But] from there, a new kind of relationship opened up....

...I woke up to a partner who wanted to talk through things, who wanted to establish new boundaries and explore our feelings about what happened. A partner who listened when I talked about my feelings, a partner who supported me even when we were both hurting....

...Even though I may never have complete and total romantic freedom, and R may never have the complete and total commitment that is desired, we’re happy to meet each other somewhere in the middle.

It might seem absurd to the rest of the world – how could a poly person and a monogamous person ever commit their lives to one another? But for us, this exercise in defining our boundaries and exploring our comfort zones has only solidified our love and trust in each other.

As long as we’re happy, the labels seem less important. Polyamorous, monogamous, polyflexible, monogamish, whatever – the most important thing is that it works for us.


Read the whole article (June 18, 2015). It's longish, 1,300 words.

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June 17, 2015

"I Fell For The Perfect Guy, But Not For His Open Relationship"


BuzzFeed may be the king of clickbait, but occasionally the content is worth a click. I skipped the video of a guy's impacted-earwax removal to read this monogamist's perspective on starting a relationship with a man in an open/poly marriage-to-be.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed


I Fell For The Perfect Guy, But Not For His Open Relationship

By Jess Haberman

Love, to me, is simple. Love is a man who will stay over after sex (without being asked). A man who will drive on our road trips to national parks, but let me navigate. A man who knows I’m his Number One (and Only) Girl. But it took spending time as someone’s Number Two Girl — dating a man who made no secret of already having a fiancé — for me to better understand and accept the kind of relationship I really needed.

...We exchanged emoji-laden messages and goofy selfies. He was forthcoming about his “poly” (short for polyamorous) lifestyle, and encouraged questions. I grilled him. He answered them thoughtfully and sent me a Venn diagram of different types of nonmonogamous relationships. “Can I get college credit for this?” he asked.

...We discussed what it meant to be poly and to openly love many partners at a time. “Love doesn’t subtract; it multiplies,” he said. Loving isn’t the hard part, I thought. He explained that his serious girlfriend (his fiancé, in fact) was the one who had suggested they transition to an open relationship, and that he was also seeing another woman casually. It sounded complicated.

...The more we talked philosophically about relationships and about the things we had in common (video games, beer, art), the more I felt drawn to him. After slogging through interactions with lackluster guys for so long, I felt like I had emerged to find a freshwater lake glistening in the sun at the end of a long, sweaty hike....

What I facetiously called my “social experiment” with Greg was starting to matter. A close friend, who could tell I was wading in deeper than I was openly admitting, urged me to have the talk. “He should expect you to ask where this is all going, since he’s dating a monogamous girl.” A monogamous girl. That was my label.

And suddenly that concept, and in essence, part of my identity, was in question. What if I could be persuaded to bend the rules?...

----------------------------

And then things got weird.... When I arrived and he began making dinner, he handed me an envelope, looking a little embarrassed. “Look, I know how you feel a little weird about this whole thing. But Cassy wanted me to give this to you. I haven’t read it. I think she wanted to say hi and welcome you.”

I was curious, even if I was unnerved by this woman hand-writing a nicey-nice note to her fiancé’s lover. You be the judge of the subtext of this missive:

Dear Jess – I just wanted to say hello and welcome you to our home (though I’m positive Greg will do an excellent job in carrying that out ). Please make yourself at home — and enjoy

I look forward to potentially meeting you in the future!

Best, Cassy


Maybe it was just an effort to dispel awkwardness, since I was about to sleep in her bed. Maybe it was about establishing her territory: This is my house, this is my man, and I’m allowing you to enjoy them. Maybe she was recruiting....

The letter effectively doused any thrill I might have felt that evening....


Clueless, no? She was your metamour doing her best to be nice!


I don’t regret a minute of it. This experience made me redefine concepts that I imagined to be black and white, and I think more openly now about love and desire, marriage, and monogamy. Something that I insisted (firmly, even heatedly, at times) was not a relationship clearly was one — perhaps the most significant relationship I’ve had, in terms of personal development....


The whole article (June 17, 2015).

Update the next day: Well this gets interesting! On reddit/r/polyamory, "Greg" is speaking up about being ambushed by this story and about the duplicity the writer showed him during her dating time by hiding what she was actually thinking. Go here and do a control-F search for GregNotGreg . This is from his opening post:


Hi, so, I can give a little perspective from the other side. I'm the "Greg" from the story. I received a copy of this essay on Monday, and made this throwaway account last night because if it got posted here I'd like to tell my side of the story.

Mostly, I feel very betrayed by this. I knew she was iffy about the poly situation from the beginning, but I really liked her. We did have a great connection, but I always had that anxiety in the back of my head. When we broke things off, it was sad, but I understood that poly isn't a lifestyle for everyone, and I was happy for the experiences with her. I thought we could still be friends.

What I didn't know was that I was being used for the subject of an essay for Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed, for shit's sake. Not even a good website. In her email to me about this, one of the things she said was "The risks of dating a writer, right? It's not a great excuse, but it's all I've got."

What hurts the most for me, and also my main issue with the whole situation, is that I only found out some of this information because of this essay. She didn't tell me about most of these things when we were dating, so even though I was there for it, a lot of things came as a surprise. It was hard to find out she couldn't tell me things but then had no problem sharing them with the editorial staff at Buzzfeed and whatever other sites she sent this too. I was very open and honest with her, using clear communication. I asked for the same thing in return and what I got was to be the subject of this essay.

Curious about "Cassy's" opinion on this? She's LIVID. As many of you have figured out, the letter in question was very sincere, and something she likes to do for any new lovers I invite into our home the first time. It was a gesture of reassurance, and we're both saddened to find out it was received like this....

We opened our relationship a little less than a year ago, and it's been one big learning experience about love and relationships. This was a big learning experience for me, as well. Where she learned some deep, meaningful truth about herself, I learned about being weary of who I trust.


And now "Cassy" has joined that thread. Search it for cassynotcassy .

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June 15, 2015

*Polyamory: Married & Dating* lives on.


Members of the San Diego pod in a scene from Season 2.

Showtime's docu-drama series Polyamory: Married & Dating, which ran in the summers of 2012 and 2013, must be having a good afterlife. Although it ended a year and a half ago, I keep getting lots of Google hits to my old coverage of it. In fact the second-most-read item on this site in 2015 is my followup on what happened to people after the end of Season 2 — posted in October 2013.

Kamala Devi, a star of both seasons, is keeping her family's Facebook page for Showtime viewers busy and up-to-date. You no longer need a Showtime subscription to watch the series in its afterlife — it's now available on iTunes: Season 1, Season 2. ($2.99 an episode, $17.99 a season in HD; $1.99 and $12.99 in SD.)

Meanwhile, Season 1 just ended a run on German TV-SIXX.

If you're a Showtime subscriber you can still watch any episode free on demand, or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime. This has been extended to November 2016.

Here are all the free videos from Season 1, giving a good idea of what the show was like.

All the free videos from Season 2.

Here are my many posts about Season 1, with recaps, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.

My posts about Season 2, even heavier on recaps.

Showtime’s Facebook page and website for the series.

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And in other replay news:  The Atlantic, one of the great online magazines, put its 5,600-word article from last summer, Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy, back on its front page for a second run. Predictably, it returned to the "Most Popular" list. Here are my news and comments about some of the people in the story, including the much-remarked age gaps.

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June 14, 2015

Poly TEDx talks

If you're not up to speed on TED and TEDx talks, here's the scoop. TED originally stood for "Technology, Entertainment, Design", the name of an influential annual conference that took on more topics with time. It's now a nonprofit organization "devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less)." TED talks became a thing because they developed a reputation for quality in all kinds of subjects.

Their success gave rise to TEDx talks, which are organized on the same model by local communities. Official description: "TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, 'Ideas worth spreading.' It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community." In addition, TEDx serves as a farm system to scout local talent for the TED major league.

Two TEDx talks specifically on polyamory are currently online.

1. The latest, just up, is by Leon Feingold of Open Love NY. He delivered it earlier this spring at TEDxBushwick (a hip district of Brooklyn). Leon is super-enthused. He writes, "My TEDx Talk is finally up! Please post! Plus, if anyone spent the 19 minutes and can spend 1 more, click the link at the top of this page and give the video a 5-star rating! If it gets enough, it will be featured on the full TED site!



Description:


Polyamorous relationships consist of individuals of multi-partner relationships and families. Leon offers an insight through his journey in finding polyamory as the means to creating intimate, valuable relationships with multiple people. Through his journey and explanation, Leon debunks myths and presents the values of polyamory.

Co-Founder and former President of Open Love NY, Leon Feingold has become a polyamory activist on a national scope. He coauthors "Poly Wanna Answer?" a monthly polyamorous relationship advice column, and has discussed polyamory on The View, Huffington Post, PolyInTheMedia, Jezebel, and other media, plus the HBO movie "Americans in Bed". In 2014 he helped launch New York's first openly polyamorous residence, here in Bushwick.



2. The other was by delivered Kel Walters last fall at TEDxUTA, at the University of Texas Arlington: "Polyamory and emotional literacy" (5:36).



Description:


Polyamory, emotional literacy and the benefits they can bring to society. Having multiple romantic and sexual relationships at the same time with all partners full knowledge and consent. Build your emotional literacy."


Tragic update: Kel Walters was killed by a hit-and-run driver who ran a red light while she was crossing a street on January 16, 2015. Coverage of a memorial gathering. A friend's post.

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