Valentine's Day poly stories, continued
Here's more of what the world just said about us in the last few days. This coverage makes me proud to wear the poly label. Click the titles for full articles.
● The online women's magazine YourTango published 12 Principles Of Polyamory That Benefit Monogamous Marriages, Too. It's undated but apparently they put it up a few days ago for Valentine's. The original appeared on the author's website Dec. 14, 2014.
12 Principles Of Polyamory That Benefit Monogamous Marriages, Too
I believe that understanding how relationships work is key to being happy in them, whether we’re talking about friendships, family relationships, monogamous relationships, non-monogamous relationships, or something else entirely.
A friend recently shared The 12 Pillars of Polyamory (by Kenneth R. Haslam, MD) with me, and I thought, gosh, these ideas are just too good to keep to myself. No matter what kind of relationship(s) you’re in, you will benefit from pondering these principles and figuring out how they apply to your life. I’ll list each of the 12 pillars with some of my own commentary, focusing on making them applicable for everyone....
[Each topic gets a paragraph or two:]
5. Gender Equality
7. Open Communication
10. Accepting of Self Determination
11. Sex Positive
Whew – did you make it through the whole list? What did you think? Are there relationships out there where, say, transparency and consent aren’t important to include? I know I’m a fan of relationship strategies that span relationship types, but maybe this approach doesn’t work for everyone. In that case, I challenge you to come up with counterexamples!
Dr. Jeana Jorgensen is a sex educator, scholar, and writer with a passion for relationship communication, narrative models of gender and sexuality, and alternative sexuality communities like non-monogamy and kink/BDSM.
This article was originally published at http://www.doctorjeana.com. Reprinted with permission.
● GBtimes is a global Chinese media network based in Beijing. Published and broadcast in at least 12 languages, it's designed to promote China's international image. Yesterday its English news site, at least, saw fit to cover polyamory approvingly. The article profiles Robyn Trask, director of Loving More, which is putting on next weekend's Poly Living conference in Philadelphia. We couldn't ask for a better spokesperson (regardless of the medium).
Love: The more the merrier? (Feb. 13, 2015).
By Sara Steensig
...But what if we have got it all wrong? What if serial monogamy, despite being the norm in many societies, is nothing to strive for? What if we could be with whoever we wanted without leaving a trail of hurt feelings?
Robyn Trask with her husband, Jesus, on the right and
her "sweetie", Ben, on the left. (Photo: Robyn Trask)
Having loving relationships with more than one person simultaneously is not only possible, but for some it has turned out to be the only good solution. That is the case for Robyn Trask, executive director for Loving More Nonprofit. The organization raises awareness of polyamory, or “consensual non-monogamous relationships,” as she defines the term in short.
...Trask herself is polyamorous: she shares a home in Loveland, Colorado, with her husband, who she has known for 10 years. Her other partner, who she has known for 12 years, lives in New York with his partner of 30 years. “And he has other partners, she has other partners, and my husband has other partners,” she explains with a laugh. “I have these incredibly intimate wonderful loving relationships, and I just happen to have them with more than one person. That doesn’t lessen the depth of those relationships.”
Thought she’d be alone forever
Honesty is the common factor in all of Trask’s romances. She and her husband introduce each other to new dates, and many metamours – as polyamorous people often call their partners’ partners – have become friends of the family.
“My sweetie who lives in New York, Ben, is friends with my husband. And in fact, when we had our wedding ceremony, one of the most important things was that Ben and his partner could be there for us and that they were part of that ceremony,” Trask explains.
...It was not, however, until the age of 35 that Trask discovered Loving More. Here, she found a community of people similar to her, and she learned that there was a word for openly loving more than one person: polyamory.
Poly people get jealous too
The idea of sharing your intimate partner with others has the potential to make even the most reasonable and open person jealous, and polyamorous people are not automatically free of the green-eyed monster. “Some people think that if you are polyamorous, you're not jealous. And that’s not the case. A few people aren’t, and I personally envy those people,” Trask reveals.
Trust and honesty, love and understanding, respect and commitment are positive features in any type of relationship, and in a polyamorous relationship, they are crucial, says Trask. “There is a need to really be self-reflecting, to be willing to deal with your emotions and take responsibility for them. You have to grow up a little bit, and that can be challenging.
“We're raised in a culture which teaches us that jealousy is an extension of love. And I personally don’t believe that. Jealousy is an emotion which tells us that we're not feeling secure, or that something's going on; something that we need to look at, instead of being afraid of it or using it to throw a tantrum like a two-year-old,” says Trask. “That said, there are plenty of poly people who are very immature and have a lot of drama in their lives, who get jealous and don’t deal with it well,” she adds. Trask knows this not only from personal experience, but also because she works as a counselor for other polyamorous people.
Instead of trying to control each other with rules, she recommends that partners make agreements – these can always be renegotiated. Like most other polyamorous people, Trask and her partners have agreements about safe sex. Trask and her husband have also agreed not to share their common bed with others, unless they both feel comfortable with it; instead, they take dates to the guest bedroom.
Mom, dad and their lovers
Trask has raised all of her three children in a polyamorous family setting. During their younger years, some of Trask’s partners and metamours functioned as an extended family, she explains. “I was dating one woman fairly seriously for about five years. She had kids, and she would bring the kids over: those kids really became family.”
Having more than two adults in the family is not only nice, says Trask, but it can also be very practical. For example, when she and her husband had to rush to the hospital with their son, who had broken his leg. Trask’s female partner came over to care for the rest of the kids. “I don’t have family nearby who could have done that. So that was really useful.”
Trask says that her daughter especially – the youngest of the three – has always appreciated having lots of adults around. There's always someone to talk to, even about topics that she does not necessarily want to share with her mother or father.
Only Trask’s oldest son, who is now 26, had a strong reaction against his parent’s lifestyle during his teenage years. “When he was 16, I remember him telling me that polyamory was wrong and that he would never do that. And then, when he was 17, he was dating a girl, he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, and his ex-girlfriend was dating somebody.
“They all sat down and talked about it, and the four of them started dating. They actually asked his mom – me – to come and help them talk about it and set up their agreements,” laughs Trask.
...The organization that Trask heads, Loving More, supports people in making their own relationship choices, whatever those may be. But for many people monogamy is not a choice; it’s more of a default, she points out....
In China itself, we should note, sex and relationship radicals are sometimes persecuted by the same government that puts on a happy media face to the world.
● In Canada, the national TV network Global News just published on its website Sharing the love: polyamory offers different take on relationships (Feb. 14, 2015). The stock photo they stuck on top is irrelevant to poly; freelance photographers, get busy.
By Tania Kohut
Two may be company, but three, four or even five might not be a crowd, if you practice polyamory.
Relationships can be tough — you have to care for and be respectful of someone else’s feelings and needs through the ups and downs. Now imagine adding in another person to the mix. Or maybe two or even three more people.
Polyamory is a term many don’t recognize. But it’s a way of life for some, with an upswing of support groups and events for polyamorous people. It’s a term that can be used for open relationships, for someone dating multiple people, or for group relationships.
“Polyamory is becoming more of a general term,” says Samantha Fraser, a life and relationship coach and sex educator. “The root definition is many-love. Poly meaning many, amory meaning love.”
Fraser lives in Toronto with her husband of eight years. They own a home and have three cats. On the surface they seem the norm, but their lifestyle would give some a shock. They have an open relationship, and Fraser is a vocal proponent of “non-monogamy.” She says more and more people are embracing the lifestyle, or at least doing so publicly....
...Infidelity is a leading cause of breakups and divorce. So could polyamory, or ethical non-monogamy, save relationships?
Not so fast, says clinical practitioner and family therapist Carol Morotti-Meeker, based in Philadelphia.
“Some people will run for more partners when things aren’t good, but we don’t think that’s a positive way to have healthy relationships.”...
“Consent is a big part here. Everybody knows what’s going on and consents to whatever is going on.”
She says it takes a level of emotional intelligence to balance a polyamorous lifestyle. And while there’s a lot of info out there, not all is accurate....
She adds that it can be stressful juggling multiple relationships.
“It’s a challenge. It’s really hard. It’s a lot of work and so much communication is required to be successful at it.”
● In the campus paper of the University of Georgia in Athens, GA: Free love: Polyamory in Athens (Feb. 14, 2015).
By Blake Morris
An example of a polyamorous relationship
on February 10, 2015 in Athens, Georgia.
(Photo by Mercedes E. Bleth).
Openly having several romantic partners at once may seem impossible for more traditional folks, but such an outlook on relationships is becoming increasingly popular in Athens.
“[The polyamorous scene in Athens is] small and growing rapidly,” said Eli Gaultney. “It wasn’t something I’d ever heard of five years ago, and these days nearly every person I talk to has at least heard of it. At UGA, I think a lot of people are polyamorous, or at least ethically non-monogamous, without realizing there’s a word for it.”
...Seeing love as a positive and generally unlimited resource, polyamorous people see nothing wrong with sharing their love with multiple partners.
“It’s not solely about sex — we want romance,” Gaultney said.
By definition, polyamory should be consensual to all parties involved and is often egalitarian in nature. As opposed to some other forms of non-monogamy, polyamorous relationships are generally based on pleasing everyone involved.
“I think that one of the biggest things people don’t realize is that there’s so many different ways to do polyamory, and it can be different for each person or group of people,” said Sarah McManus, another organizer of Athens Polyamory. “So it’s more based on figuring out what works in an ethical way than having a specific set of rules.”...
● Poly activist Amanda Zuke, who you may have seen on the interwebs, is psyched to have been profiled in her hometown online daily paper in Sault Ste. Marie on the Michigan-Canada border: Love according to Zuke: 'People who want to be a thing should be a thing' (Feb 14, 2015).
By day, Amanda Zuke is a long-term care provider.
A fairly normal job.
But that's where normal ends.
In her off time, Zuke is a certified wedding officiant with All Seasons Weddings who will join any two people in any situation under any circumstance at any location.
Pretty much, anyway.
..."I'm really lucky in that when couples book with me, they seem to more often than not have a really strong vision of what they want their big day to be. I get really creative couples," she continued.
...But unique weddings are only part of Zuke's unconventionality.
She's also a proud Pagan who, for a number of years, organized the Pagan Pride Days celebration in Sault Ste. Marie.
And although she's happily married, she also has a boyfriend.
She and her husband enjoy a polyamorous lifestyle, and all parties involved are perfectly okay with it.
"I consider polyamory not only a practice, but an orientation," she explained. "In terms of orientation, it's a matter of who you love. But it's also related to how. In my case, I've always been inclined to love more than one person at a time. I just didn't know I could do that for most of my life."
"I often have to correct the notion that [my relationship] is recreational. I'm just not into the recreational thing," she said. "What I have right now are two substantial long-term relationships. I tend to have very long, very serious relationships that just happen to come in numbers more than one."
For obvious reasons, conversations with new potential partners don't open with a declaration of polyamory, Zuke joked, and being comfortable with someone prior to pursuing a relationship is important.
"It can be very impractical when you're in a polyamorous relationship to begin with to meet someone. It can be difficult," she told us. "But part of being poly is developing really strong communications kills. The kind of skills that anybody can use, but are absolutely mandatory when you're dealing with multiple partners. When you're in love with multiple people, you really have to be completely open with them."
Aside from the overt advantages to having more than one serious relationship, Zuke says it's common for polyamorous couples to become very close with each other's partners, developing important and lasting friendships.
In fact, she stood as wedding officiant for her husband's ex-girlfriend.
"The reasons that I've embraced polyamory in my own life are very similar to the reasons that lead me to become a wedding officiant," she said. "Fundamentally, I'm for free choice and finding your happiness. I've found my way to be happy and what I really want when I'm performing weddings is to help other people be happy their way."
...I'm very pro individual choice and people who want to be a thing should be a thing."
Update: Happy ending to newspaper misusing "polyamory." At the behest of Eve Rickert, who tweeted him, that New York Daily News reporter apologized and corrected his online article (scroll down).