"Polyamory looks a lot like ordinary family life", and other Canadian normalization
This morning Canada's largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, carried us another tiny step toward normalization.
Every piece of good mass-media coverage like this makes it a little easier to explain yourself, a little easier to be out.
Polyamory looks a lot like ordinary family life: Modern Family
An estimated 4 to 5 per cent of Canadians identify as polyamorous, which is when both partners are free to form romantic connections with others.
According to a study published in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy in 2012, when given the opportunity to live as they please, polyamory looks a lot more like ordinary family than one big, free-loving party. (Dreamstime)
By Brandie Weikle
Jacki Yovanoff’s Waterloo, Ont., household looks like any other blended family. She and her common-law husband live together with their four combined kids — two each from their former marriages — ages 7, 9, 10 and 12.
But the couple is polyamorous, meaning both of them are free to form romantic connections with others.
Polyamory gets its name by combining the Greek word for “many” with the Latin for “loves,” Yovanoff says, and it’s a relationship form that falls under the umbrella of what’s known as “consensual non-monogamy.”
People tend to think of swingers when they first hear about polyamory, she says. “That’s kind of where our brains go — that ’70s-style key party is the image that that conjures up.”
But for the estimated 4 to 5 per cent of the Canadian population that self-identify as polyamorous, according to a study published in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy in 2012, when given the opportunity to live as they please, polyamory looks a lot more like ordinary family life than one big, free-loving party.
Yovanoff’s journey into polyamory began with her and her current domestic partner — who prefers not to be named for privacy reasons — dating other couples.
“We began a relationship with a couple about three and a half years ago. Our kids would also be hanging out and we would be like a big family and they would stay for the weekend,” she said. “I was involved with both of the parties of the other couple but my partner was only involved with the other woman.”
Did the children know what was going on between their parents?
“No, because we don’t talk about our sex lives with the kids,” says Yovanoff. “What I mean by that is we don’t talk specifics. I know my kids will very likely Google things … I’m am open to them knowing I have relationships with more than one person and those relationships may or may not have a sexual component.”
In the meantime “we’re very open with our kids,” she says. “If they are asking questions, I feel they deserve an answer, whatever we feel is age appropriate for them.”
Her children do know that she identifies as pansexual — attracted to all genders — and that both she and her partner are poly, just as kids of same-sex parents understand what it means to be gay. The kids have seen their father holding hands with another woman, for instance, and other signs of affection similar to what they’d see between their parents.
...Only Yovanoff and her domestic partner live together, but for other poly families it may look like three or more spouses under one roof along with the children, and it’s a far more stable environment for the kids than people may assume.
“Polyamorous families across Canada are raising healthy, happy children,” says Zoe Duff, director of the Victoria–based Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association and author of Love Alternatively Expressed: The Scoop on Practicing Polyamory in Canada. While public perception of polyamory is still quite reserved where kids are concerned, Duff says, “these are homes where the resources, attention and love of several adults enhance, support and empower children and youth.”
...Another point in favour of polyamorous households?
“In this economy, having more than two adults pay the bills, arrange child care, appointments, sports, lessons and listen to the children just makes sense,” says Duff.
...“Polyamory is not for everyone, though, and demands a great deal of soul-searching,” adds Duff. It requires a great deal of communication to “overcome any hurt feelings and jealousy.”
Yovanoff says it requires a lot of “talking and thinking and work that does not necessarily come along with monogamy.” ...
The whole article (November 17, 2016). It's been reprinted by the Hamilton Spectator and probably others.
Also, here are two other Canadian items that were waiting in my queue:
● In September we saw a wave of coverage of a report calling for Canadian law to adapt to poly relationships; see my roundup post of the news then. Turns out I missed a big one: CBC Radio's popular nationwide program "The Current" aired a 25-minute segment on September 16th, Polyamorous families want Canadian law to catch up with their relationships. You can listen or read the complete transcript at that link. This is from the link's shorter article:
In June 2016, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family surveyed 500 Canadian polyamorists and their families — the first of its kind — and found the number of Canadians living in polyamorous relationships is significant, and believed to be growing.
Polyamorists have more than one committed intimate partner at a time. And unlike polygamy, polyamory is completely legal — though they face unique legal issues.
Tia Thompson and Abhann Cupper Scott are two members of a three-person relationship and say it's time Canadian law reflect the reality of polyamorous relationships.
Abhann Cupper Scott, Tia Thompson and Braelor Rolston are in a polyamorous relationship and say their family unit deserve more rights. (Courtesy of Abhann Cupper Scott)
Thompson tells The Current's Friday host Piya Chattopadhyay that their daily life reflects a typical family.
"We're a normal family that has a whole lot of love to give to a whole lot of people. We all sit down and eat dinner together and we adopted two cats... and we all work. We all watch Orange Is The New Black."
Scott tells Chattopadhyay that unlike polygamy, a polyamorous relationship is not driven by religion, "even though as Wiccans that fits our philosophies and beliefs." As well, Scott points to the difference that polyamory is based on a "shared voice together and equal communication and equal rights."
Thompson says medical benefits and a lack of legal precedent are just some of the challenges polyamorists face. ...
John Paul Boyd is the executive director of the University of Calgary's Canadian Research Institute for Law in the Family. He conducted a national survey of polyamorous families and found the number of people involved in polyamorous relationships seeking advice about issues such as parental rights, formalising relationships, and immigration is on the increase.
"Our research showed that the lion's share of of people involved in polyamorous relationships lived in three provinces — British Columbia followed by Ontario followed by Alberta," says Boyd.
"They tended to be young, with almost 75 per cent of respondents being 44 years or younger .... have higher incomes than the Canadian population as a whole and they tended to be far better educated."
Boyd says that B.C. is the most "friendly" towards people in polyamorous relationships, while Alberta is the "least friendly."
"We're not talking about legalizing relationships that are already legal." Boyds tells Chattopadhyay. "We're talking about extending coverage under benefits and rights and responsibilities of the laws — on domestic relations to people that are in family structures like this."
● Last February, longtime Canadian poly organizer Zoe Duff went on CKNW news-talk radio in Vancouver to discuss Polyamory Grows in Canada (length 7:09. Dated Feb. 13, 2016).