"How polyamory boosts joy and self-discovery (when you do it right)"
I’m at Loving More’s Poly Living convention in Philadelphia, about to go off to a room party where I have a date for a foot massage among brilliant people. Life is good.
At the convention’s opening last night, Loving More director Robyn Trask told the crowd (about 200 are registered) that Loving More is at a crossroads. Eleven years ago when Robyn took leadership of Loving More (then a print magazine, now an educational nonprofit), she made it a central mission to spread polyamory awareness: the realization that good, ethical multi-relationships are even possible, and that people are living this way successfully right now. In 2005 the idea was mind-bending; now it’s getting to be common knowledge.
What will be Loving More’s role in this new era? The public-awareness job still has a ways to go, but increasingly, Robyn said, Loving More will shift emphasis to supporting the poly community. This may mean legal and publicity responses to discrimination; helping to build networks of local poly groups run according to high ethical standards; generally making it easier to be out — or whatever the poly world says it needs. Watch for a community survey about this in coming months.
Nevertheless, when a video crew asks random people on the street, many still have never heard of the word or what it means. That’s gradually being whittled away by stories like this one, which appears in a glossy magazine for the well-off western suburbs of Washington, DC:
adobestock / kavafolio
How polyamory boosts joy and self-discovery (when you do it right)
By Jenny Cutler Lopez
...Swinging is a fresh-cut bouquet: a source of short-lived pleasure whose name doesn’t matter.
Polyamory is an orchid: something that is cultivated for long-term enjoyment.
Former NoVA residents Rebecca Rose Vassy, 42, and Sean Butler, 45, her partner of 21 years, moved to Maryland last year. They now live five minutes from Lydia, Sean’s other partner of 10 years. Lydia* is a married mother. Lydia’s husband, David*, has an extramarital partner.
Rebecca refers to her network of partners as a polycule (think molecule: a unit made of atoms held together by chemical bonds.) “When you first get into a polyamorous lifestyle, you’re like a kid in a candy shop, but now the benefits are more mundane,” Rebecca laughs. Lydia helps with errands; Rebecca and Sean babysit Lydia and David’s daughter.
Sean and Rebecca are primary partners, meaning they are each other’s relationship nucleus, and they work out issues around their other partners together. “If a person in a monogamous relationship is attracted to another person, they often think ‘there must be something wrong with me,’” says Rebecca, but her relationship with Sean is based on open communication. And Rebecca has dedicated years to understanding herself; if she and Sean were monogamous, “we would have lasted for a while, but I would have been dissatisfied in the long term.”
Counselor Leif Tine and clinical psychologist Florie Elmore are happy new parents. In May, they’ll reach five years together as a polyamorous couple.
Leif says about half his patients discuss secretive infidelity because of unmet needs or because they accidentally fell in love with someone else. Although many people express interest in open marriages, it can be a horrendous experience for couples trying to save their marriage. However, if a relationship is in a good place with a robust foundation, there is “such tremendous spiritual and emotional health for the people who do [polyamory] well,” says Leif.
A pattern emerges as you speak to polyamorous couples. Primary partners trust each other not inherently but because of concentrated levels of communication. Each person tends to undergo an independent metamorphosis by examining their feelings: “What happened to make me feel so insecure/scared/lonely with the person I love?”
Fairfax resident Celia Park*, 56, and her husband, Peter, 45, married in 2012. “A poly-lifestyle is transformative as a way to learn more about yourself. As a way to work through your anxieties, it is invaluable,” Celia says. “The qualities of people that make [polyamory] succeed are a high level of emotional intelligence and communication. There are conflicts, but they are addressed by everyone.”...
Read the whole article (online February 19, 2016).
P.S.: The next Loving More conference is Rocky Mountain Poly Living, April 15–17 in Denver.