Dumbness on Valentine's Day
A mass-market article with a huge readership features a bit of education and then a couple of self-declared former polyamorists who never got it. Nor does the author, nor his editor.
How to Handle Valentine's Day When You're Polyamorous
By David Moye
...Because Valentine's Day is the day picked to celebrate romance, couples in all types of relationships plan different types of events -- even swingers and polyamorists.
But while monogamous couples might think of going out for a fancy dinner, swingers might use the occasion as a chance to enjoy the company of each other and other partners, according to journalist George Pappas who researched swingers for an erotic novel called "Monogamy Sucks" (Lazy Day Publishing).
...On the other hand, there is another sexual subset that handles Valentine's Day in a different way: Polyamorists.
Often confused with swingers, they actually are very different from each other, according to [swinger Angye] Fox.
"Swingers might hook up with another couple for sex one night and never see each other again," she said. "On the other hand, when polyamorists get involved with other people, it's an emotional attachment and they are involved in each other's lives beyond sex."
One of these polyamorists is Dr. Patti Evans, a mental health therapist and a doctor of oriental medicine in Tampa, Fla. She is also Fox's co-host on their radio show.
Although she is happily married to her husband, the two are involved with another couple and, recently, she started a side relationship with another man.
Since Evans is emotionally attached to all these people, she admits that she and the others are forced to do some calendar juggling around Feb. 12, 13 and 14.
"We're getting together with our 'poly couple' on the 12th, and the 13th will be spent with my paramour and the 14th will be with my husband," Evans recounted. "My slogan is 'Love is limitless, but time is not.' "
Sharing the love and the quality time is all well and good for a polyamorist like Evans, but buying flowers, candy or jewelry for four other people can add up to a lot of cash.
Luckily, in her case, her relationships are built on love, not lucre.
So far so good. And then...
...Former polyamorist Joshua Pellicer, before settling down with the woman of his dreams, dated as many as seven women at a time.
"For some reason, I could never get past that number," he said, adding that he was always upfront about his polyamory from the git-go.
He admits that Valentine's Day can be hard on guys who are dating just one women, but says having seven ladies in your life to satisfy can be, well, complicated.
"Women have a stronger emotional connection to Valentine's Day," he told AOL News. "For guys, it's just a day to comply with what's expected. So when you're dating seven women, you have to make seven women feel special."
Pellicer says practicing polyamory is not easy, and wonders how many of the people who claim themselves as "polyamorists" are sincere.
"It seems like a lot of people who do it are just kinky and some guys who say they are just cheating on a lot of women at once," he said.
...During Pellicer's polyamorous period, money was often tight, so he had to rely on creative methods to avoid getting flat busted on Valentine's Day.
"To make this work, you have to find out a woman's love language," he said. "There are five styles: Some women need quality time, while others prefer acts of service or words of affirmation while still others respond to touch and others just want gifts.
"The keys is to use this love language, but call it out, like, 'I am busy on Valentine's Day, but I'd like to spend quality time with you on the 13th, or 'In honor of Valentine's Day, I wrote you this poem.'"
Former polyamorist Seif-Eldeine Och says if you're not serious about anyone, don't ask them to do something on Valentine's Day because it sends the signal that you are.
..."I remember dating two women and, sometimes, I would be on a date with one and we'd run into the other," he said. "It only made them pursue me harder."
"If you don't have someone you want to be exclusive with, say you're not seeing anyone on Valentine's Day, because otherwise you're sending the signal to them that you want to be more serious," he said.
Read the whole article (Feb. 7, 2011).
I'll hand the mike over to Dan Savage, who also saw the article, so he can reply to this old-paradigm crap:
I'm pro-poly and I vote. But
Describing yourself or your relationships as "poly" implies that there's something more than sex going on. It implies that there's something loving and nurturing and mutually supportive about your relationships. "Poly" doesn't mean "tons of sex with tons of people." So while a person may be able to casually date seven people at once, while a person can have seven fuckbuddies or FWBs on speed dial (or more), a person really can't "be with" seven people at once in the having-an-actual-relationship sense of "be with."... So that doesn't sound poly to me. It just sounds... ambitious.
And if you become a "former polyamorist" the moment your dream woman comes along, well, maybe you weren't really poly at all. Maybe you were just, you know, playing the field, sowing your wild oats, slutting around, etc. No need to attach a $10 word to that. Just call it what it is.
Read his whole post (also Feb. 7).
While we're at it, here's a cute Something Positive cartoon about the elementary-school Valentine's Day ritual that you may still have cringy memories about.
Another comic, of poly Valentine's dilemmas, from Poly in Pictures.
Someone forwarded me this poly Valentine's card, though the one on the left seems in need of a little extra care and attention from the others right now.
And regarding the endocrinology of Valentine's Day, here's a sober look at what the "bonding hormone" oxytocin actually does and does not do, from Live Science. (TL;DR: Oxytocin is a hormone, not a magic potion; its expressions in humans are complex and chemical, not simple and spiritual.) At the article's end:
...And what of "liquid trust," now selling at $30 for a quarter-ounce and citing [Paul] Zak's research as evidence that spraying yourself with an odorless formula can bring success in business and in bed?
"It's totally bunk," Zak said.