Poly on campus: new roundup
Athens Post (Ohio University)
The Western Front (Western Washington University)
The Easterner (Eastern Washington University)
The Horn (University of Texas / Austin)
Daily Californian (UC Berkeley)
Her Campus (American University)
Virginia Tech Collegiate Times
It's been a while since my last roundup of poly articles in college newspapers. Here are another 13.
See what you can get going at your school!
● In The Athens Post of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio:
Polyamorous relationships redefine commitment, love (September 8, 2015):
By Rachel Hartwick
Jasper Wirtshafter had only ever known monogamy — just two people in one relationship....
During his freshman year, he said it was a perfect coincidence that he started dating a man who brought up the idea of polyamory first. Wirtshafter began dating polyamorously throughout college, and after attending Beyond the Love, a polyamory convention in Columbus in November 2013, he was inspired to start a chapter — Athens Poly.
...The group of about 15 people usually meets at least three times a month on Saturdays and is open to all people — whether they are polyamorous or not.
...Athens Poly public relations director Pop Peterson is in a “triad,” which is a form of polyamory in which all three members involved are considered equals. He calls them his “partners” because they are financially bound in some way — but at the same time, he and his partners both have an ever-changing flux of boyfriends and girlfriends. The key to pulling off this relationship, Peterson said, is constant communication.
“The only reason I’d say polyamorous people are more apt for communication is because we don’t have a playbook to go by. In monogamy, everyone has assumptions about the way things are supposed to work,” the 26-year-old Athens resident said. “In polyamory, you don’t have a blueprint given to you from fairy tales, from parents. You’re pretty much starting with a blank slate.”...
“I very much comfortably see me and my current partners growing old and dying together, but I’m also realistic enough to know that may not happen,” Peterson said. “In monogamy, you expect one person to be your everything. … In polyamory, you’re more allowed to bring what you have to the table and if that’s not enough, your partner isn’t going to expect you to do without. Your partner can find that missing piece elsewhere, and I appreciate that.”
● In The Western Front at Western Washington University, Student discussion on polyamory (May 8):
By Caleb Galbreath
Not Yr Ethical Slut was a discussion on polyamory and non-monogamous relationships led by Western alumna Ro Sigle and student Kyan Oliver Furlong on Friday, May 1.
Sigle and Furlong opened the discussion up by asking participants what needs, such as emotional support, sexual satisfaction or acceptance, are expected to be met in a monogamous relationship. They then had the group write down the people in their lives that fulfilled those needs.
The exercise showed that these needs were met by many different people and not necessarily just one. The idea that one person must meet all your needs is perpetuated by society but isn’t very realistic, Sigle said.
Jesse Doran, a Western student, said that what is generally considered fulfilling or important in relationships can be very restricting.
“Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves how they wish,” Doran said. “Society pushes us into boxes where we don’t feel comfortable with ourselves.”
Sigle said the concept of monogamy is rooted in many problematic parts of society such as white supremacy and classism.
“Because monogamy is so rooted in literally everything and because the institutions that support monogamy are so tied to the financial sector and cultural ways of relating to each other, we’re asked to give up parts of ourselves in order to fulfill the myth of monogamy,” Sigle said.... “Relationships are life giving. We need each other. So if we’re not engaging in collective action for good interpersonal relationships, then we can’t get anywhere.”
● And in The Easterner at Eastern Washington University: Polyamory unveiled (May 9):
By Zoe Colburn
Polyamory is coming more and more to the forefront of modern consciousnesses, and as it does, those of us who are polyamorous are often confronted with parades of questions.
The usual questions usually range from “Don’t you get jealous?” to “So, is it like a constant orgy?” For me personally, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “No.” For most polyamorous individuals, jealousy isn’t usually a problem.
...There are more or less endless combinations of whatever rules or parameters a couple, triad, or so on may decide on, but one thing has to remain 100 percent consistent: all people involved must be aware and on board with polyamory. Anything where even one partner is unaware of the others’ actions is, hands down, cheating.
Polyamory requires just as much trust and understanding as monogamy. Even in an entirely open relationship, there is still an understanding that, at the end of the day, you are a couple. If one person decides they’re done with an open relationship, whether that means the relationship is over entirely or it just becomes a closed relationship, the decision is up to both partners; there’s respect that goes along with polyamorous relationships just like monogamous relationships.
There are way more specifics and intricacies to polyamory than I could possibly go over in one article, but I guess it always ends up circling back to a core question a lot of people have, though: Why can’t I just be happy with one partner?
It’s not about being “happy” with one partner — it’s about knowing that my love for one partner doesn’t discount my love for another....
● In The Horn at University of Texas / Austin, about a local LGBT film festival: aGLIFF Review: S&M Sally: "I'm ready for an honest, mature, and realistic film portrayal of BDSM and Polyamory. S&M Sally is unfortunately not that film...." (Sept. 9, 2015)
● A long one in The Daily Californian at UC Berkeley: The Magic of Polyamorous Relationships (Feb. 13):
I attended a fashion show last year with a very good friend of mine and her husband. She donned a black Victorian lace headpiece and petite Coach purse; her husband dressed in something I couldn’t remember. My eyes were on her, and I joked about taking her home that night, ready for Mr. Husband to make some kind of defensive remark. “Go ahead,” he said with a tone I almost realized was serious....
Months later, the tales of their luscious affairs made their way into my ears, and I realized that this couple was on some other level. She called it an “open marriage,” but I know now that “open marriage” is a baby term protecting the monogamous from going into shock at the beautifully complex world of polyamory....
...If you can develop intimate feelings for more than one person at a time, then you can identify as polyamorous. Polyamory, in practice, means consensual nonmonogamy. It doesn’t mean being a selfish dick and boning whoever you want left and right. That’s just hooking up. Polyamory means communicating what you’re doing with your partner(s) as soon as it’s necessary.
In my first poly relationship, we fell in love at a ridiculous Romeo and Juliet pace but didn’t want to give up our sexual capabilities outside of each other. We agreed to be primary partners and set ground rules.
...Compared to tradition, it’s basically organized cheating. Except everyone is in on it, and it’s magical.
...There’s a saying about candles that equates flames to happiness. I think the same could be said for love and sex. When one lights another, the original doesn’t lose its fire; happiness — and love — is not lost as it’s shared....
...I am now what some call “solo poly.” Picture a Maypole planted center in the ground with various multicolored ribbons attached to it. That’s me and my “other bitches.”
That sounds callous and egotistical, but solo polydom grants me so much more control than ever before that I can’t help but feel relieved for my ego.
My good friend Nam once said of my personality that I “exist in multitudes.” I think the same is true of my sexuality. I love the thrill of flirting, meeting new bodies, new personas. I’m a honeymoon-phase junkie, a first-date-o-holic and a Tinder match connoisseur. Polyamory frees my interests so that I can pursue them all simultaneously.
● In the American University edition of a commercial magazine called Her Campus, An Ode to Polyamory (March 29):
By Magdalene Bedi
The standard expectation for relationships in America is a rigid cycle of dating, commitment, monogamy, and marriage.... A choice separate from monogamy is thought to be unhealthy or a sign of irresponsibility, which leads many to actively seek out marriage and commitment even if they otherwise wouldn’t....
What many don’t realize is that polyamory isn’t restricted to a man with multiple wives or girlfriends. It can be a single person in four different relationships, three people in a relationship with each other, etc. and it’s not restricted to specific genders or gender roles.
...The core values of any relationship include communication and honesty, and those are still upheld in alternative structures. If anything, there is a higher emphasis placed on these values in non-monogamous relationship because all participants must be aware of each other and the extent of each other’s relationships in order to consent (and consent is a requirement)....
● In The Daily Egyptian at Southern Illinois University: Polyamory is not for me (March 15)
By Branda Mitchell
...Being jealous or territorial does not work in these types of relationships, so I ended it completely. Although my free love lifestyle was short lived, I learned some things about expectations:
1. Sharing may not be caring. I spent the majority of that time convincing myself I was okay with something I wasn’t. Polyamory is totally fine for people who can handle it, but some people simply cannot....
2. Circumstances matter. There is a difference between casually dating and being in a defined open relationship....
3. Ground rules are important.... For example, I strongly suggest discussing threesomes before you find someone in your significant other's bed, because it just gets awkward.
4. It’s risky business. When it comes to your health, having multiple partners increases your risk for just about everything....
5. Don't knock it until you try it. Initially, the thought of sleeping with other people made me immediately feel like I was insufficient. Most people I discussed my relationship with thought I was in it just to sleep around. However, neither of those things turned out to be true.
The implication that people cannot truly care about more than one person is unfair. It may not be for me, but the only way I learned that was by keeping an open mind.
● When Allena Gabosch appeared at the University of Washington, "Ask The Sexpert" wrote it up in the UW Daily: (Feb. 13)
By Laura Mishkin
What’s sexier than consent?
Nothing, according to relationship and sex coach Allena Gobosch, who was one of three experts to present at Thursday night’s Ask the Sexperts event.
Consent was one of the many timely topics she, along with Kristen Knapick and April Lee, addressed at the Q&A session in the Ethnic Cultural Center, sponsored by UW clubs Third Wave Feminists and Campus Coalition for Sexual Literacy.
...“Even if schools have sex ed, they usually do it from a heteronormative point of view,” [Rachel] Mahre said. “There’s not a lot of information in mainstream sex ed about queerness, disability, polyamory, asexuality. We want people to be able to ask questions they may not be able to otherwise.”
...“We live in a monogamous culture which means we also grew up in a culture that is secretive [about our sexualities],” Gobosch said. “Be generous with each other, be compassionate. The more open you can be, the more honest, the better the relationship will be.”...
● In Hilltop Views at St. Edwards University, a Catholic college in Austin, Texas: Polyamory a legitimate source of mutual respect, support (March 2):
By Jackie Schicker
Love is infinite, right? The Hollywood love stories and romantic novels all say so. Hearing such a statement is comforting and idealistic, and for the polyamorous community it is a daily practice.
Polyamory is the practice of having multiple intimate, romantic relationships, with the consent of all parties involved. Like the root of the word itself, polyamory is as varied as the partners involved in polyamorous relationships.
...This likely sounds like just another branch on the tree of hook-up culture, but that is an unfair assessment of polyamory. The idea of polyamory is that romantic love is not a finite thing and that romance can exist in a multitude of forms.
Commentaries on being a polyamorist emphasize consent, trust, open communication and love. The community tends to specify that they are not “swingers” (couples that have sex with others recreationally) or “cheating” on their partners, since consent of all parties involved is required. The relationships people have with one another are about those people first and foremost.
Just as the LGBT community should not have to constantly justify their romantic interactions to the heteronormative standards of American culture, the polyamorous community should not have to justify themselves either.
It is with the word "consent" that polyamory shows its validity and its strength....
I have watched a handful of friends in polyamorous relationships and their successes or failures are based around open communication. Consent should be provided each and every time partners have intimate interactions with one another. People change their minds and have every right to do so, but if you are comfortable with multiple partners and your partners are equally comfortable, the thoughts of other people should not be affecting your choices.
Relationships are always complicated; they always involve compromises and expectations, but from my understanding honest communication is the number one factor in staying in a relationship.
I thoroughly believe that if being in polyamorous relationships enables you to have better communication and interactions with your partners, that it is healthy.
This does not mean that everyone should have multiple partners. It means that whether you are single, in a monogamous relationship, or in a polyamorous relationship, you need to show respect and love and kindness toward the people with whom you engage, and the labels, for some of us, simply do not matter.
● The Tab in the U.K. is a chain directed at college students. This appeared in the edition for Cambridge University: The perils of polyamory (Feb. 13):
By Alex OBT
Everyone assumes that every sexual encounter you have is an orgy. They’re right.
I’ve been polyamorous for the past year.
...As I was exploring this brave new world, it was all too easy to think I’d stumbled into some kind of romantic Nirvana. Love without limits? Relationships, freed from exclusivity? Surely this was all too good to be true.
I’ve since discovered that polyamory, like any relationship style, has its own set of pitfalls, ready to ensnare the unwary adventurer.
So before you throw off the yoke of mononormativity, ask yourself: are you ready to handle the consequences?
These are just some of the trials and tribulations I’ve faced in the past year....
Valentine’s Day. It gets expensive, fast. They sell Christmas cards in multipacks but not Valentine’s Day cards. #everydaypolyphobia
The difficulty coming up with metaphors to illustrate polyamory. Imagine your love life is like a Cadbury’s Milk Tray. Monogamy is like deciding that Turkish Delight is your favourite, then making a pledge in the eyes of the Lord to eat only that one for the rest of your life.
...Your conversations sound like a Chemistry lesson. Metamour. Compersion. Triad. I’m pretty sure those are all words I had to memorise for my Chemistry GCSE.
Being accused of selfishness or greed. “Do you really need more than one person to make you happy?” This is a weird one, seeing how it’s monogamous people who are going all US Border Control on their SO’s genitalia and/or rights to feel certain forms of affection for other people.
Being unable to join in commiseration DMCs about other people’s love lives....
Your crippling sense of superiority. How do you manage to keep a straight face while listening to your monogamous friend explain his concerns about his girlfriend spending too much time with her male best pal? How to console someone who’s feeling guilty for fantasising about her girlfriend’s best friend without bursting into supercilious laughter?...
We in the poly community have to accept the everyday reality of walking amongst monogamites – or ‘muggles’ as we call them behind their backs – as Gods amongst mortals, bearing witness to their petty and entirely self-inflicted woes without letting our smug superiority show on our faces.
So there we have it. It’s not always easy, but I’d like to think the rewards of polyamory are worth the risks.
After all, the prize of a secure and committed relationship is worth a little bit of compromise and sacrifice.
Wait, no, that’s monogamy I’m thinking of. Now excuse me while I go have sex with a bunch of people.
If any of this interests you, Alex and his friends have started up a brand new discussion group, open to people of any relationship preference: the University of Cambridge Open Relationship and Non-monogamy Society (UniCORNS) (best acronym ever).
● In the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times: Sex & Relationship Column: The rise of polyamory (Feb. 5):
By Kaite Britt
...Polyamory is growing in popularity even if its not accepted by the majority. Perhaps one day, polyamory could be as widely accepted as gay marriage. Though that day seems far, it’s just around the corner.
● At Memorial University of Newfoundland, in The Muse, a long one: More to love: Understanding polyamory (Feb. 9).
By Laura Howells
...So instead of limiting ourselves to one person and denying our own complexity, why not just expand our love? Such is the foundation of polyamory, a concept that has been gaining popularity and recognition in recent years. Last fall, MUN student Jef Anstey created St. John’s first polyamory support group, where “poly” people can talk about issues, share advice, and learn more about the concept.
Literally meaning “many loves,” polyamory is the practice of engaging in more than one romantic relationship at one time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It is not a free for all, it is not a license to cheat, and it is not the polygamy depicted on Sister Wives. It is the understanding that people can love different people in different ways, and embracing that plurality responsibly and ethically.
“Most people in polyamorous relationships find that having multiple relationships adds something important to their lives,” said Anstey.
“It’s kind of like when you have a friend, that friend doesn’t like every single thing you like. You don’t do all the same activities with them as you might with another friend, you talk about different things. The relationship can have a very unique dynamic. And it would be kind of silly for someone to say ‘well why do you need all those extra friends? You have me, I’m your friend! I look at relationships more so like friendships with varying degrees of intimacy or emotional closeness or companionship.”
Polyamorous relationships exist in many forms....
“Poly complicates everything, so you have to be a lot more open and honest with your partner. You have to communicate what you’re feeling now as opposed to letting it sit. If you’re not perfectly aware of what’s going on then it puts people at risk of harming each other,” Anstey said.
“From time to time there are more small things that we have to talk about, but we resolve them. But then the tradeoff is that I’ve found we have been able to understand each other a lot better. We talk more about how we feel and we share in each others excitement or interest in people. I’ve found recently I’ve learned a lot about my partner and myself, and we’ve gotten a lot closer because of that.”
● And to end in a different Athens than the one where we began, this comes the University of Georgia's The Red & Black (Feb. 14): Free love: Polyamory in Athens.
By Blake Morris
“[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.”
Roughly a year ago, several Athens citizens formed a Meetup group called Athens Polyamory and began having meetings on the first Saturday of every month.
...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.”
...“I’d estimate one out of five women or men I’m matched with say they are polyamorous,” Gaultney said....
Although living in the South can definitely be a mixed bag for those with nontraditional relationship ideas, parts of Georgia seem fairly accepting of polyamorous people. Athens and Atlanta both serve as havens for more liberal thought, and polyamory is growing in prevalence in both cities....