"Germany's Polys Speak Out"
Outside the English-speaking world, where have poly ideas taken firmest root? Germany might be a good guess. Its counterculture and out-of-the-box progressive movements match any in Europe. I get more hits from Germany than any other non-English-speaking country, and not just because I've covered loads of poly in the media there. An interesting item coming down the pike will be Antonia Levy's PhD thesis comparing and contrasting the poly movements in Germany and the U.S., for which I was just interviewed on the American side.
The online magazine Monsters and Critics this morning reprints an article adapted from a German newspaper:
Open relationships Germany's polys speak out
By Marco Krefting
Stuttgart, Germany Whenever Michael is away from home for a few days his girlfriend takes the opportunity to meet up with other men. Afterwards, Elisabeth calls Michael and tells him how the meetings went and what the sex was like.
Michael and Elisabeth have a polyamory relationship: that means each person has more than one intimate relationship and the other one knows it. The pair live near Stuttgart, in a conservative part of rural Germany....
...Christopher Gottwald from Germany's PolyAmores Network (PAN) says there are no figures for how many polys live in the country. 'Polyamory is a philosophy that's based on honesty, openness and self-development. It's a broad term that describes an open lifestyle.'
The polyamory community in the United States has an estimated 100,000 members far more than in Germany. According to Gottwald, there are growing numbers of polys who regularly meet in Germany. But they are still encountering intolerance, according to Michael. 'People do not understand. Normally, a man betrays his partner and has a secret affair.'
...Ahead of a regular monthly meeting in Stuttgart, Maria describes why polyamory is so important to her: 'I wanted to experience myself as a sensual woman again.' After almost 20 years of marriage her children had left home. Her husband spent much of his time at work and Maria felt she wanted more from life. 'I was alone and I didn't want that. It was time to pay more attention to myself again.'
...However, sex therapist Ulrich Clement says this form of relationship can be plagued by jealousy. 'Sexual transparency without any secrets such as those found in an extra-marital affair is not easy to maintain in a polyamory relationship.'
...One advantage to a polyamory relationship, according to Maria, is that she can speak to men about problems she's having with her partner. 'They know him and appreciate his qualities. It means I don't have to fall into the old, typical relationship patterns.'
Polyamory is not about having wild sex, its adherents say. Michael describes his relationships with women as sexual friendships, however, they are not one night stands - they are meant to last longer.
'Polyamory should not be compared to the free love of the 1960s,' says couple therapist Abbas Schirmohammadi. 'It's more a concept that is dictated by thought.' Polyamory requires a lot more talk about worries, fears, desires and needs with the different partners. 'That can only work when you feel comfortable with yourself. If you are dragging an inferiority complex around with you, then it won't work.'
...Is polyamory a relationship model with a future? Michael says: 'Sex quickly becomes boring in a relationship with just two people.' Michael believes that leads to what he describes as serial monogamy: when a person regularly changes partner. Gottwald believes polyamory has one big advantage over monogamy: 'It's actually the more honest version of the two relationships.'
Read the whole article (Feb. 23, 2012). The original German article appeared in the Münstersche Zeitung on February 14 with the title "Frau + Mann + Frau = Liebe".