Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

October 10, 2006

Polyamory on the Tyra Banks Show

The Tyra Banks daytime-TV talk show ("empowering young women") for Oct. 10, 2006, was devoted to polyamory — with many fine, articulate guests getting the word out about the basic concepts (with the 16-year-old daughter of one group stealing the show!), and some opponents on for balance. Check your local listings for possible reruns.

The show is unavailable on the Tyra Banks website, and I haven't yet heard from anyone who recorded and YouTubed it. Someone help me out here?

Here's the promo for the show:

Would you share your lover with other women? Managing one relationship is hard enough, but in the world of polyamory, people deal with two or three relationships at the same time! To understand this committed group love, Tyra invites a group of polyamorists to the show to explain how their intimate networks function, how it differs from polygamy, the scheduling of sex and what happens when jealousy occurs. Tyra’s cameras follow a couple who are looking for a third partner out on a date with a potential woman to join their relationship. Plus, a former polyamorist explains his change of heart, and a 16 year old who wants to lead a polyamorous lifestyle!

The backstory: a couple months ago the show's producers went hunting for polys to display, and warnings spread on the poly lists that this was one to avoid — that it would probably be stupid and exploitive and awful. In the end, however, the community produced several brave and distinguished volunteers for this hazardous-duty mission: outspoken poly therapist and public speaker Nan Wise, Loving More editor and publisher Robyn Trask, Dawnd and members her family, and others.

Wrote Dawn on the LiveJournal Polyamory community: "Tyra was trying her best to be serious about the subject, while still doing daytime TV. The audience was pretty negative.... My sense is that it will likely be OK, but not as good as the Montel [Williams] show" (a surprisingly well done daytime-TV polyamory exploration that first aired last November).

But after all the fears, the show came out very well — judging by comments from Dawn and poly viewers in this LiveJournal/Polyamory discussion and elsewhere. Congratulation to all involved. Your courage created an educational event that has introduced thousands of people to the concept, its perils, and its possibilities for wonders that most people never imagine.

Check out (and add to) the show's comments page.



Anonymous Dawnd said...

Hey Alan:

You've got the date wrong in your post about the Tyra show. It should be October 10, not Sept. 10.

Thanks for the positive feedback. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. It's always such a scary thing, when we leave the studio and the footage is in the hands of the editors. But they all did a great job, and the show turned out really well.

October 11, 2006 2:27 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Dawnd posted the following to the Tyra Show blog (reprinted with her permission):

Dawn's comment on the Tyra blog:

First, thank you to Tyra and all the wonderful staff for such a good experience being on your show. I was particularly impressed by the wardrobe and makeup staff and the "field shoot" team, and I was extremely pleased at the deft and light-handed editing done to produce the final version of the episode. You all made a stressful experience as fun as possible, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share our perspective with others. Thank you.

A comment directly to Dr. Michelle: While I appreciate your obvious concern for the children, I'd like to clarify that when we spoke of spending a lot of time making sure everyone's needs get met, that these needs include the needs of the children as well as the adults in the household. For instance, our entire family was unable to appear on the show because our daughter had a need to attend school. Additionally, our "PDA's" (expressions of affection such as kissing and hugging) are also tailored to the comfort and developmental levels of our children. I believe it is never wrong to show honest, loving, and appropriate expressions of affection to and in front of our children. As I'm sure you know, many studies have indicated that children do best in families where they are assured that their caregivers love each other, and love them. That includes expressions of affection between the adults in the family.

Moving on to the comments in this blog, several people here said that they think polyamory is dangerous due to the risk of spreading disease. This is a common misconception which most often occurs when people confuse being open to loving more than one person at a time (polyamory) with being sexually promiscuous and irresponsible (which includes cheating or simply not being honest with all of your dating partners). To help address this, I'd like to clarify what was unfortunately unclear on the show, which is the purpose and functioning of our Relationship Agreements. Our family has a set of written agreements designed to keep us, and everyone around us, as safe as possible, both emotionally and physically. These agreements specify what sorts of contacts we can have with those outside of our group, and under what conditions. They require extensive conversations and STD testing before a new person has any sort of sexual contact with any of us, as well as various sorts of protection (condoms, dental dams, gloves), so that we don't expose anyone to unnecessary risks. We also require ongoing testing, so any problems that crop up can be swiftly dealt with. In general, I find that the polyamorous people I know are far more safe, in terms of STDs, than are many of those in the general population, because of the higher degree of education and awareness about this topic, and the willingness to be open and honest with ALL of the partners.

Next, I'd like to address several points brought up by Brenda, including the myth that all "love triangles" will necessarily end badly. It is not surprising that you believe that this is a foregone conclusion, because the media have focused on negative outcomes to the exclusion of positive ones since approximately the dawn of time. Nor is this unique to polyamory -- take a look at the balance between "happy news" and news about death, abuse, and financial ruin in your average newspaper. In general, happy people do not make news. Therefore, you could not be expected to know of the many thousands of polyamorous people who are successfully living their lives here in the US. That was one of the reasons I agreed to take the risk in doing this episode -- to show people that a positive outcome is possible for a multiple-partner relationship, as long as all of the parties are willing and able to put in the effort necessary. Make no mistake -- the effort and skills required can be considerable. This is not a relationship style to choose if you are looking for "the easy way out." But for some of us, polyamory can be a wonderful choice that allows an amazing richness of love in our lives.

Additionally, you ask how long such a relationship could last before someone gets hurt. My personal answer is "25 years and counting." I've been dating my longest-lasting partner for 25 years as of this summer, and the only thing that's ever gotten damaged was the pipe outside of our house where he accidentally put a garden tool into it when working off some upset digging out a stump a few years back. Sure, we've gone through emotional pain; most everyone does when they're in a relationship at some point or another. However, I don't consider that a failure unless I fail to learn something from it. But to assume that all polyamorous relationships will necessarily devolve into abusive ones makes just as little sense as assuming all monogamous relationships will devolve into abusive ones -- obviously there are many more happy and functional monogamous relationships than abusive ones, and the same is true of polyamorous relationships. Abusive relationships have little to do with the number of people involved and everything to do with the relationship skills of the participants.

You also noted that the episode only featured relationships showing one man and two women, and asked if the producers had found any relationships where it was one woman and multiple men. In fact, our own relationship is not the MFF (Male-Female-Female) relationship that it appeared to be on the show, but is instead an "intimate network" of relationships far too complex to relate in text. Most important to this particular question is the fact that I myself have multiple long-term male partners (including 25 years with one partner, and 16 years married to my husband). Polyamory can be a very egalitarian relationship style, where both men and women have the opportunity and power to explore fulfilling relationships beyond those most commonly seen in our society.

Last and certainly least of these, you say that "[a]ny sexual relationship outside of the marriage bonds is "adultery" and grounds for divorce." That may be true in the state in which you live, but it is not true in all states. California, along with many other states, has a "no-fault" divorce law, for which presence or absence of adultery is irrelevant. See this handy chart for a listing of the grounds for divorce in your own state: http://www.divorcelawinfo.com/Pages/grounds.html#bystate .

I'd also like to echo Alan's comment toward the beginning of this thread, about other sites containing further information about polyamory. A particularly good introduction to polyamory and an excellent glossary of terms can be found here: http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html . And our own professional page has a listing of some references on the topic, including books and websites: http://www.mandalaenterprises.com/polyResources.html . It is my hope that these resources will be helpful to those who are in inquiry around this topic. Thank you again for the opportunity to share with others about our lives.

October 15, 2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi... just wanted to let you know that this is available to see online (for now).


November 01, 2008 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Leigh said...

That is the incorrect episode. The previous link isn't about polyamory but about open marriage. I know the 16 yr old girl, now 18, who is on the episode. I am dissapointed because I would like to watch the episode.

December 22, 2008 6:33 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

So can anyone find the actual Oct. 10, 2006 episode? It's not on the Tyra Banks website as far as I see. Help me out here....

December 22, 2008 9:32 AM  

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