THE WEEK: "Everything you wanted to know about polyamory but were afraid to ask"
Yesterday it published this hugely positive feature article on its website — including live links to Loving More, Tristan Taormino's book Opening Up, Sex at Dawn, and Modern Poly's Local Poly Groups Registry:
Everything you wanted to know about polyamory but were afraid to ask
Inside the sex positive world of multiple partners
By Leslie Turnbull
First things first: Maintaining intimate emotional and physical relationships with multiple partners is not for everyone.
American cultural norms steer us toward monogamy — a faithful, one-on-one, forsaking-all-others, 'til-death-do-us-part definition of love and intimacy that usually involves marriage. For a lot of us, this works. For others, it doesn't....
All this begs the question: Is there a functional alternative for those who are not by nature monogamous? One that doesn't involve secrets, dissemblance, and emotional betrayal?
...The estimated 500,000-plus polyamorous (or "poly") relationships in this country vary in configuration as widely as the people who comprise them, from heterosexual married people who simply date others, to larger, more complex relationship structures that often involve shared living space and raising families. What all truly polyamorous arrangements have in common — and what makes them distinct from secretive infidelity or "cheating" — is a defining characteristic of the practice: transparency. Polyamorists believe that their relationships can thrive only in an environment of complete honesty.
In that spirit, a number of polyamorists agreed to share with me the following pieces of wisdom and advice for those who might be considering "going poly," or those of you who are just curious about the practice.
Polyamorists are just like the rest of us.
...Most poly people are otherwise ordinary Americans who raise families, pay mortgages, and go about their daily routines just like everybody else. If anything, poly people tend to skew a little more intellectual — or "dorky," as one thirty-something biologist describes his poly circle of friends. Perhaps this is because most polyamorists have come to their decision to open their relationships by doing a lot of research....
Polyamory is not just about sex.
...Polyamorous relationships are based as much on emotional intimacy and love as they are on the physical. With many polyamorous arrangements lasting years and even decades, all participants eventually develop a deeper personal connection with one another that may or may not have anything to do with who sleeps with whom and when.
There are practical benefits as well....
Communication is key.
From a couples' first conversation about the possibility of non-monogamy to deciding which of the many poly-family-friendly vacations you three (or four, or five) are going to take the kids to this year, poly people assert the importance of strong, sensitive communication. Why? Because honesty and empathy are the backbone of intimacy and trust, and intimacy and trust are essential to successful polyamorous relationships.
The more people involved, the greater the need for everyone to feel heard, understood, and respected. So be prepared to talk — a lot — with your partner(s). Perhaps more importantly, be prepared to listen. All of your relationships will be the stronger for it.
The nonprofit 501(c)3 organization Loving More is a great resource for poly individuals and families seeking additional advice and support.
Speaking of support…
...What most poly people agree on, however, is the importance of building a strong network of like-minded people with whom you can share perspectives, information, and advice. In addition to the well-publicized Polyamory Conference (or "Polycon") held in Atlanta each year [too bad she mentions only the one], numerous local groups exist to provide poly people with an opportunity to connect. Try Googling "polyamory" and your city, search meetup.com using "polyamory" as a filter, or visit the website www.polygroups.com.
Hey, for that last sentence she read my Alan's List of Polyamory Events site! (the "Find Your Local Groups" section).
Other resources include Reddit and dating sites like OKCupid.
If this lifestyle feels right for you, it may be worth diving deeper. Who knows? You may just meet the love(s) of your life.
Leslie Turnbull is a Harvard-educated anthropologist with over 20 years' experience as a development officer and consultant. She cares for three children, two dogs, and one husband. When not sticking her nose into other peoples' business, she enjoys surfing, cooking, and writing (often bad) poetry.
Read the whole article (Feb. 14, 2014).
And elsewhere in big media yesterday, Time magazine online gave polyamory a nod in its heading to this article by Jessica Bennett (Feb. 14, 2014):
Searching For Meaning In 50,000 Essays About Modern Love
What have other people's tales of love, heartache, lust, fetish, divorce, longing, polyamory, spanking, marriage and loss taught New York Times ["Modern Love" column] editor Daniel Jones? Simple. When it comes to the heart, none of us have a clue.
(I would argue that last point, but never mind.)
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