Advice Column Roundup
In Toronto's arts-and-entertainment Eye Weekly (published by the mainstream Toronto Star), "Love Bites" columnist Sasha is very poly-friendly, as when answering this recent request:
"We're looking for a therapist that has a positive disposition towards open relationships and polyamory and we're wondering if you could provide some names or places to look because we're clueless."
She responds with contacts for two local therapists, one of whom writes,
Working with folks communicating about poly really isn't any different from working with folks who are communicating badly about whether to have a baby, or figure out what to do about conflicting emotional needs or it shouldn't be. The longer I work with these issues, the more commonality I find between them and other issues. I also find that that is a very helpful framework for clients, the idea that they can discuss sexual issues like other issues, drawing on their strengths and skills and experience in other areas and making use of them here.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian, one of the oldest alternative newspapers, recently re-ran a column by its alt-sex columnist Andrea Nemerson, who grasps poly but is well known as a skeptic about it:
When last we visited Polyland, I was congratulating myself for doing a necessary public service: warning would-be polyamorists they would fail unless they happened to belong to that select group born with not only the desire but the ability to share. If I gave short shrift to the fact that polyamory takes hard work on top of natural inclination, plus the luck to find similarly inclined partners, I apologize.
She got a lot of mail from polys telling how it works fine for them even if they had a rocky start, and she prints some of it. One correspondent in particular has thought-provoking points:
I come down somewhere between your position and that of Happypoly on the question of who is well-suited to a poly life. I agree that the majority of poly people experience significant challenges in their relationships, especially at first. Of course, this doesn't mean that their relationships ultimately fail. In my experience and observation, the following factors most positively influence the odds for success:
1. General attitude of goodwill and a generosity of spirit
2. Willingness to be honest, especially when the news is likely to hurt
3. Independent spirit
4. Strong personal desire for a poly life
5. Reasonably good emotional intelligence and self-esteem
6. Reading poly literature and discussing it with partners
Likely the poly relationships that you've seen crash and burn were insufficiently supplied with one or more of these components.
Poly Out East
So what do you think? In your experience, which of the above is the most important? The least? What would you add?
(P.S.: "Poly Out East" is actually Anita Wagner; she gave the paper permission to print her name, but they told her it's their policy not to.)