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

July 7, 2014

Elisabeth Sheff on her monogamous "poly-affective" life, final installment

Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff published her book The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families last November. A month ago I posted a pointer to the first two installments of her personal story ("Why I am not polyamorous, but you might want to be") at her ongoing blog at Psychology Today magazine's site.

She just posted the tale's final installment. She's the inventor of the term "polyaffective" for relationships that are nonsexual but something more than friendships.

...Together for almost three years, Kira and I have rarely availed ourselves of our relationship flexibility.... We have rarely tested the boundaries of our agreement and are waiting to see how things evolve. So far, making relationship decisions in response to shifting circumstances is working great for us, in sharp contrast to the endless discussions I had with Rick making rules for imagined situations that turned out completely differently in real life.

...Polyaffective relationships are connected by emotional intimacy but not sexuality, either because they have never been sexually engaged or because the sexual portion of the relationship has waned and they remain emotionally intimate.... One common polyaffective configuration is a woman with two male partners who are emotionally close but not lovers. A quieter version of poly identity, polyaffectivity can be more durable and flexible than its romantic counterpart — often able to supersede, coexist with, and outlast sexual interaction.

While Rick and I are no longer in a romantic relationship, we are still in each other’s lives because we co-parent our children. “Splitting up” romantically helped to lessen some of our tension, and over the last eight years that we have been separated I have come to like him a lot better again. Things have not always been smooth, and during several rough patches we have argued over what happened in the past and sometimes money – much like other couples who split up. A big difference for us is that we followed the poly breakup method that entailed lots of communication and trying diligently to work out our problems.... Now we can have a congenial dinner together, chat about the kids, and share holidays together. Rick and Kira get along great, and the kids have three adults in two households who love them, and whom they can count on....

Read the whole piece (July 6, 2014).


Also: here's a real-time online discussion with Sheff that was sponsored last April by the science-geek site io9 (slogan: "We come from the future". The longtime editor-in-chief of io9, Annalee Newitz, wrote an important popular article about polyamory in New Scientist magazine back in 2006 before the current wave of public interest took hold.)




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