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



June 18, 2018

More on Canadian ruling for a child having three poly parents

The news last week that a Newfoundland judge granted legal parentage to three adults in a poly household — they were functioning as co-parents, and the judge found that recognizing this fact was in the best interests of the child — spread all over Canada and reached a few other places. It certainly blew up in the poly world. My post about it became this site's fastest-shared post ever, with 12,000 hits the first day.

Here's the basic story if you missed it, this time as told Thursday in the Toronto Star:


Three adults in polyamorous relationship declared legal parents of child


By Michael MacDonald | The Canadian Press


ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — In what is believed to be a legal first in Canada, a court in Newfoundland and Labrador has recognized three unmarried adults as the legal parents of a child born within their “polyamorous” family.

Polyamorous relationships are legal in Canada, unlike bigamy and polygamy, which involve people in two or more marriages.

In this case, the St. John’s family includes two men in a relationship with the mother of a child born in 2017.

“Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it,” says the decision, by Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court’s family division.

“This must be recognized as a reality and not as a detriment to the best interests of the child.”

The April 4 decision says the unconventional family has been together for three years, but the biological father of the child is unknown. The family members are not identified in the decision, which was released Thursday by the court.

It’s not the first time a Canadian court has recognized that a family can have three legally recognized parents. In 2007, for example, the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized two women in relationship as the mothers of a child whose biological father was already deemed a legal parent. But the three adults in that case were not in a relationship.

The three people in the Newfoundland case turned to the courts after the province said only two parents could be listed on the child’s birth certificate.

Lawyers for the province’s attorney general argued that the provincial Children’s Law Act does not allow for more than two people to be named as the legal parents of a child.

The lawyer for the family, Tracy Bannier, said the law has not kept up with changes in Canadian society.

“It wasn’t that the legislation was specifically prohibiting any child from having more than two parents,” she said in an interview Thursday. “It’s just that the legislators at the time simply didn’t consider a family structure with more than two parents. Because it didn’t prohibit it, there was a gap in the legislation.”

In his decision, Fowler said his decision hinged on what was in the best interests of the child.

Fowler said the child was born into a stable, loving family that has provided a safe and nurturing environment.

When the Children’s Law Act was introduced about 30 years ago, he said, it did not contemplate the “now complex family relationships that are common and accepted in our society.”

The judge said it was clear the legislation was aimed at assuring equal status for all children, but he agreed that the law included an unintentional gap that acts against the best interests of children born into polyamorous relationships.

“I have no reason to believe that this relationship detracts from the best interests of the child,” Fowler’s decision says.

“On the contrary, to deny the recognition of fatherhood (parentage) by the applicants would deprive the child of having a legal paternal heritage with all the rights and privileges associated with that designation.”

Toronto-based lawyer Adam Black said the most significant legal implications of this case will arise when polyamorous relationships break down.

“How do we use the current model to resolve the issues that arise when there are three parents, particularly with respect to issues of property and support — the financial side of the breakdown?” said Black, a partner in the family law group at Torkin Manes LLP.

“For me, this is very much uncharted waters. It’s a new frontier in family law. ... The legislature may need to turn its mind to these issues to have the legislation keep pace with the evolution of what a family looks like today,” Black said, adding that the Ontario legislature modified some legislation last year with the All Families are Equal Act.

“There’s seems to be a bit of appetite for these types of changes,” he said.


The original story in the Star (June 14). Same story on the CBC. En Français.


● The news prompted a widely reprinted, very basic Poly 101 from the same reporter, who seemed new to the concept — and who couldn't think to find a better picture than the Mormon polygamists whom the text says are not about polyamory. Hey, Journalism 101?! To not confuse your readers, run a picture of what the story is about, not what the story says it's not about!

Five things you need to know about polyamory


By Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press (agency)

...It was believed to be a legal first in Canada. However, many Canadians were left with one big question: What does polyamorous mean? Here’s five things you need to know:

1. There is no definitive definition, but there are a few basic principles.... There’s an added dimension that typically involves a high degree of openness and trust about the voluntary arrangement....

That picture: Winston Blackmore and wives.
(The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/2008)
2. Polyamorous relationships have nothing to do with bigamy or polygamy. ... Last July, two men in British Columbia were found guilty of polygamy. Winston Blackmore, 62, was married to two dozen women, while James Oler, 54, was found to have married five women. Both are leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bountiful, B.C.

Boyd said these arranged marriages were part of a patriarchal structure that led to “serious, negative social effects within that community.”

“They were mandated by God and there’s no pretence of equality,” he said. “And it’s mandatory.”

By contrast, polyamorous relationships are voluntary.

“The key is that whatever (polyamorous) relationships look like, they are consensual,” he said. “Everybody knows what’s going on. Honesty and transparency are at the core of it all.”

Boyd said his research has found that among those who consider themselves polyamorous, there’s a heavy emphasis on equality, regardless of gender, sexual identity and parenting status.

3. We really have no idea how many people are polyamorous, but there has been some fascinating research. ...

4. Polyamory is not just another term for what “swingers” do.
...Polyamorous relationships emphasize emotional and egalitarian aspects, while swingers focus on sexual non-monogamy and emotional monogamy.

That said, a polyamorous person may engage in swinging, while swingers sometimes develop emotional bonds with their sexual partners.

5. Children are frequently part of polyamorous families. The data compiled from Boyd’s 2016 survey showed that 40 per cent of respondents said there were children living in their homes full- or part-time. ...

Still, the recent case in Newfoundland and Labrador drew attention to the fact that the law hasn’t kept up with the evolution of Canadian families. ... In his decision, Justice Robert Fowler of the provincial supreme court said: “Society is continuously changing and family structures are changing along with it. This must be recognized as a reality and not as a detriment to the best interests of the child.”



● Religious conservatives weighed in, including in the US. For instance, in The World, The Rise of Polyamorous Parenting (June 15)


By Kiley Crossland

...Neither the court nor the polyamorous triad acknowledged that a DNA paternity test could easily identify the biological father. Fowler instead said that denying “dual paternal parentage” would not be in the child’s best interest. ... The Canadian triad intends to raise the child without knowledge of his or her biological father, a goal that will likely prove impossible as the child grows up and starts to look like one of the two men. ...



● The polyfamily in the case remains anonymous. But the story brought attention to, and congratulations from, some local poly connunities. This appeared in The Telegram of St. John's, Newfoundland: Local polyamorous group applauds Newfoundland and Labrador court decision on three-parent family (June 15).


By Tara Bradbury

A local support group for people who identify as polyamorous is applauding a recent Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court decision declaring two men the fathers of a one-year-old boy.

“Amazing!!! So thrilled to see our province as a pioneer in the field of polyamory!” wrote the administrators of a social media page for Polyamory/Non-Monogamy Support Group NL. “And a huge congrats to the parents! All the best!”

...Fowler gave his decision in April, though it was released publicly just this week.

Others who posted public comments on the local polyamory/non-monogamy site shared the organization’s applause.

“Deadly, sure,” wrote one. “It takes a village to raise a child and as a parent I can tell you if I had two other people to help out some days it would be a huge relief.”



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June 12, 2018

"All three adult members of polyamorous family deemed child's parents by Newfoundland judge"


This just in from Canada, in the Financial Post and other newspapers in the same chain today:


All three adult members of polyamorous family deemed child's parents by Newfoundland judge

Financial Post file photo
By Laurie H. Pawlitza

In the first decision of its kind in Canada, all three adult members of a polyamorous family have been recognized as parents of a child.

Two months ago, Justice Robert Fowler of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court (Family Division) in the case of Re C.C., decided the adults would be named as parents of the child born within their three-way relationship.

In the introduction to his decision, Justice Fowler described the unconventional St. John’s household:

“J.M. And J.E. are the two male partners in a polyamorous relationship with C.C., the mother of A., a child born of the three-way relationship in 2017. The relationship has been a stable one and has been ongoing since June 2015. None of the partners in this relationship is married and, while the identity of the mother is clear, the biological father of the child is unknown.”

The three adults brought a court proceeding asking to be recognized as the parents of A. after the Newfoundland Ministry of Service refused to designate them as parents, saying that the Vital Statistics Act allowed only two parents on the child’s birth certificate.

In his ruling, Fowler observed that “the child, A., has been born into what is believed to be a stable and loving family relationship which, although outside the traditional family model, provides a safe and nurturing environment…. I can find nothing to disparage that relationship from the best interests of the child’s point of view…. To deny this child the dual paternal parentage would not be in his best interests. It must be remembered that this is about the best interests of the child and not the best interest of the parents.”

Both Canada and the U.S. have innumerable organizations supporting or connecting people in polyamorous relationships: there are 36 in Quebec and Ontario, and 22 in British Columbia alone.

John-Paul E. Boyd, who has written about the the polyamorous community in Canada for the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, has defined polyamory as “multiple romantic relationships carried out with certain assumptions and ideals: of honesty and clear agreements among partners, mutual good will and respect among all involved, intense interpersonal communication, and high ethical standards.”

...The legal issues arising from polyamorous relationships are new, as Justice Fowler observed: “There is little doubt that the legislation in this Province has not addressed the circumstance of a polyamorous family relationship as is before this Court, and that what is contemplated by the Children’s Law Act is that there be one male and one female person acting in the role of parents to a child.”

In the Act, there is no reference “which would lead one to believe that the legislation in this province considered a polyamorous relationship where more that one man is seeking to be recognized in law as the father (parent) of the child born of that relationship.”

Justice Fowler relied heavily on the 2007 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, A.(A.) v B.(B)., in which a lesbian couple sought to have both women legally recognized as the mothers of a child.

...There is little doubt the recognition of three parents will be the least legally complex aspect of polyamorous relationships. Family law legislation across Canada now recognizes only one spouse’s obligation to the other. ...


The whole article (June 12, 2018).

UPDATE: This is not unprecedented. For a US case, see these legal comments.

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June 11, 2018

"People Are Calling Out 'Alex Strangelove' For Confusing Polyamory With Pansexuality"


I post this as an example of how youth media we've never heard of feel seriously invested in the word polyamory being used correctly. An article in PopBuzz today:


People Are Calling Out 'Alex Strangelove' For Confusing Polyamory With Pansexuality

Netflix

Netflix's latest teen movie Alex Strangelove is getting a lot praise for its LGBTQ friendly storyline but some are puzzled by the way it discusses polyamory.

If you haven't seen the film already, the story follows Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) who is determined to lose his virginity to his girlfriend. However, after he meets Elliot at a party, he starts to question his sexual identity. The film has received largely positive reviews and people are fawning over Alex and Elliot on social media. But there's one line in the film that mentions polyamory that has left people confused.

As most people know, polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple emotional or sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved. Yet some people feel that when the subject of polyamory comes up in the film, the writers might have gotten the definition wrong.

The scene goes a little something like this: Alex walks into a bedroom at a party and meets Elliot and his friend Gretchen for the first time. Alex wrongly assumes that they're in a relationship and comments that they're cute together, to which Gretchen responds: "I think so. If only Elliot were straight or bi...or poly. Then at least I'd have a chance."

"What's poly," asks Alex.

"It's some new things that some kids at our school are experimenting with. Polyamory", Gretchen responds. "Except this one. Sorry, ladies."

Just because Elliot is gay — rather than bi or straight — that doesn't mean he couldn't be polyamorous too. The line in this context doesn't make much sense.

People are now questioning whether the writers have confused polyamory with pansexuality - when a person is not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.

So what the hell is going on?

Some people have suggested that this is might be clumsy writing rather than a total misunderstanding of the definition of polyamory. Perhaps the writers added 'polyamory' to that line to mention Elliot's relationship preferences, as well as his sexual identity. ...

Despite this, there is still a lot to love about Alex Strangelove and we would recommend that people watch the movie - but it might be wise to make sure you have the correct definition of polyamory first.

The whole article (June 11, 2018), including video clips of the offending dialog.

The Alex Strangelove trailer:



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June 8, 2018

NY Times Mag profiles an extraordinary queer teen triad


The New York Times Sunday Magazine has put a stunning beautiful story for this Sunday's "Love City" issue online early. It's about three Brooklyn high school students in love, and the happily genderfluid youth world they are embedded within.

You've got to read this. Excerpts to get you started:


THREE KIDS
Hanna, Beaux and Harry: A Love Story


Hanna (right) with her boyfriend, Harry, and her girlfriend, Beaux, at Hanna’s house in Brooklyn.

 
Text by Elizabeth Weil | Photographs by Isadora Kosofsky

HANNA, AGE 17, WOKE up from under the “Dear Evan Hansen” poster she’d duct-taped to her ceiling, pulled on her good jeans, brushed some glitter across her cheeks, ran her fingers through her rainbow hair and walked with her mother, a rabbi, down Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, to shul. Her boyfriend, Harry, was already there, 16 years old and newly manly in his purple button-down shirt. The two sat down in a fluorescent-lit room, ate bagels with schmears and discussed their coming Advanced Placement exams, disappearing into each other in that calm, fractal way of a couple inside a bubble of love that is itself floating deep inside a sea of love. Then they joined a classroom of 7-to-9-year-olds to help the religious-school teacher explain how Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

...In the synagogue, during the services that followed, Hanna and Harry sat in the back, his fingers tapping on her knee, her head resting on his shoulder, their chins occasionally tipped toward God as they sang prayers like show tunes. ... Everybody stared and smiled at them with the confidence that all was right in that tiny corner of the world....

Two by two may have worked for Noah’s animals in the (heteronormative!) Bible, but these are people — specific, glorious, teenage people — and their hearts are much bigger than anyone could imagine. As congregants spilled into the temple foyer and wished one another “Shabbat shalom,” Beaux, Hanna’s girlfriend, appeared — her face tough, tender, searching, critical, defended and vulnerable all at once. She wore boots, baggy jeans, shark-tooth earrings and a silk camisole, and her head was shaved.

...Over lunch at a big round table in the temple basement, Beaux looked at Hanna and said to the world, but mostly to Harry, “She’s so pretty!” Harry and Beaux shared a moment of mutual appreciation over Hanna’s adorable nose freckles. Now, at the end of 11th grade, the three teenagers moved with a flowing intimacy — their bodies melting, looping and reconfiguring like the liquid in a lava lamp. A 10-year-old girl, watching them, became so mesmerized that she inserted herself in the middle, on Beaux’s lap.

Beaux was patient and kind but did ask, “Don’t you have other 10-year-olds?”

“I also have feelings,” the girl said.

Hanna, meanwhile, stood behind Beaux, rubbing Beaux’s head with such tender affection that an older woman nearby asked, “Is she being blessed?”

Beaux (right), Hanna and Harry at a playground in Brooklyn.

 
On the rainy walk back up Church Avenue to Hanna’s house, Hanna, Beaux and Harry cycled through those seemingly profound topics that teenagers have been discussing forever.... Hanna floated between Beaux and Harry. She’s the quietest of the bunch, and her heart seems almost miraculously whole and unbroken, like a cake hot from the oven before the surface cools, contracts and cracks. This is perhaps a result of the fact that Hanna is a person who falls in love with one thing and then falls in love with another thing and then, instead of letting go of the first, just adds on. She loved all the Harry Potter books, and then she loved all the Percy Jackson books, and she still rereads them both. ... And so it was with Harry and Beaux.

-------------------------

...Harry [had] handled Beaux’s request extremely well. He was a mensch already and had been friends with Hanna in ninth grade, when she talked about almost nothing but her love for Beaux. He did not want to be the kind of boyfriend who kept his girlfriend from chasing her bliss.

When they arrived at Hanna’s house after shul, the three kicked off their shoes and flopped together on the wide, tawny brown couch in the living room. Beaux pretended to whisper in Harry’s ear and then licked it instead. I lost track of their limbs.

“No one in New York is straight!” Beaux texted me a few weeks earlier. “ESP not high schoolers.” She was not entirely kidding.

Harry extracted himself from the girls and sat up. “If our life is a sitcom,” he explained, “I’m the token straight guy.”

Beaux has a theory: San Francisco is the capital of white gay men. New York City is the center of queer youth. “When you are queer, that becomes like a huge part of who you are,” Hanna told me, “because you just start to be like, Damn, I’m so gay, constantly.” You’re sitting watching “Castle,” and Stana Katic comes on-screen, and you’re like, Damn, I’m really gay!” ...

But the city is not all one big sparkly unicorn of love. Hanna and Beaux are lucky, they know that. ... Hanna’s house is where a bunch of Hanna and Beaux’s friends plan to come if they get kicked out of their own homes. The space is a monument to comfort, supersaturated with chairs, books, blankets, snacks, humanity, tea bags, extra beds and warmth. ...


Go read the whole thing (online June 7, 2018), then share it.

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June 7, 2018

Mic.com looks at the future of poly marriage by 2030


"The story is out on mic.com and I'm really disappointed," writes Diana Adams, a leading lawyer for alternative families. "A sensationalist headline that provokes hatred, like we're trying to take marriage from everyone, and conflation of polyamory and polygamy throughout. He even said I listed Sister Wives as an example of poly in the media — I certainly did not. Sigh. This is why I have such poor trust in journalists."

What do you think? Excerpts:


What will the future hold for LGBTQ rights and representation? With this year’s Beyond Pride series, Mic looks forward to see how the radical changes in recent years will continue to transform our culture.

Marriage, Deconstructed: The Next Battle for Marriage Equality Could Mean the End of Marriage

(The Multiamory podcast crew: Jase Lindgren, Emily Matlack, Dedeker Winston)

 
By Steve Friess

A windowless, basement-level law firm conference room in suburban Kansas City was hardly the most romantic setting for Anne, David, Benjamin, Seth and Donna to affirm their various commitments to one another, but it would have to do. David and Benjamin wanted Anne and Donna to have certain parental rights for 8-year-old twins born to Donna, who call the women mom and ma. Donna wanted Seth, Benjamin and Anne to have equal say in her health decisions if she became incapacitated. They all wanted hospital visitation rights for one another. David, Benjamin and Donna also arranged for all three to appear on the deed of the home they sometimes share. Other permutations of wills, living wills and powers-of-attorney were settled as well.

Such customized patchworks are what pass for forms and gradations of “marriage” for polyamorous Americans.... Efforts to bring legal support to such complex interlocking relationships are also likely to become more commonplace by 2030.

“We know it’s weird to some people, but this is us,” says David, the only one of the quintet willing to talk — and under the condition that only their middle names be used. “There are things we want to protect if we can. But there are things we don’t want to be legally obligated to, too.”

Indeed, marriage itself is facing a devolution. Adults in increasingly unconventional relationships are trying to peel off pieces of what is now an all-or-nothing proposition and mold it to their interests and circumstances.

“We’re moving toward more of that unbundling, deconstructing of marriage down into parts so that people can access them and so we can allow for more creativity in family configurations,” said Diana Adams, an attorney based in New York City and Frankfort, Germany, whose practice focuses on guiding people involved in untraditional relationships. “Historically, you’re either married or you’re not married. This allows for the possibility of acknowledging families as they really exist in the United States. … I hope in 15 years we see a movement toward people being able to create legal relationships with the person or people of their choosing without the government being the arbiter of whether their sexual or romantic relationship is worthy of getting tax and immigration and other benefits.”

The concept of polyamory remains fairly new to most Americans. ... Modern polyamory “is more like interconnecting two-person relationships,” explains Dedecker Winston, 30, who co-hosts the weekly Multiamory podcast with Emily Matlack, 30, and one of Winston’s romantic partners, Jase Lindgren, 35. Matlack has also dated both Lindgren and Winston in the past. Winston splits her time between life with Lindgren in Los Angeles and life in Singapore with another man, Alex, who also has other relationships; Lindgren has another girlfriend, Crystal, who lives with her longtime girlfriend.

...That, they admit, is a lot for most people to comprehend — or for the government to accommodate, given how marriage laws have long been specifically designed to bestow a series of rights and privileges on two-adult units. The notion that any jurisdiction in the United States might fully recognize a triad — some poly folks dislike the portmanteau “throuple,” FYI — by the end of the next decade seems preposterous even to poly advocates.

“I don’t expect marriage among more than two people to be legally recognized in the foreseeable future,” said attorney Jonathan Lane, whose poly-friendly family-law practice is based in Washington D.C. “It’s easier to imagine government benefits being disconnected from marriage rather than having them apply to three people. It may be preferable to get the government out of the business of privileging romantic and sexual relationships entirely.”

Ironically, it is opponents of gay marriage who seem most convinced that legal polygamy is coming — and soon. In his dissent in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case that struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. …"

So far, lower courts in Utah and Montana have summarily dismissed the idea of legal polygamy as the next logical step, and the Utah legislature actually increased penalties for polygamy in 2017. A spate of similar lawsuits in Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama — filed by anti-same-sex-marriage activists seeking, oddly, to somehow undermine Obergefell by creating rights to polygamy or marriage between people and inanimate objects — have gone nowhere.

Those lawsuits are the work of outliers and saboteurs, and they represent an illogical conclusion of what many polyamorous families want, Matlack said.

“People who are willing and interested in multi-partner relationships have already divested themselves of the dream of finding one soulmate and getting married and it being forever,” she says. “There are more people who are vocal about just securing rights for single people. We know a lot of poly people who have actually given up their legal marriages. They’re still together but they want to be less hierarchical and be equal to everyone else involved in the relationship.”

The baby steps that may portend some broader legal acceptance and protection of poly families have occurred in the area of child-rearing. In March 2017, most notably, a New York judge granted custody of a 10-year-old Long Island boy to all of his parents, two women and a man who were once, but are no longer, in a three-way relationship. ...

The Long Island decision, heralded as a novelty because it involved an explicitly polyamorous situation, actually built on rulings by several state courts that first sought to resolve sticky custody questions that arose in divorces in which the child’s interest was served by ongoing relationships with adults such as former stepparents. ...

“The law often plays catch-up to how people are living their lives, and the ability to secure parental rights and responsibilities for more than two parents is a good example of that,” Lane says. ...


The whole article (June 4, 2018).

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May 31, 2018

"Do polyamorous people understand love and sex better than you do?"


Now that the polyamory bandwagon is racing ahead of us on its own momentum — after devoted activists spent years pushing and straining to get the bandwagon's wheels to move half an inch — what's next?


One way our movement is succeeding in steering the bandwagon, even from behind as we run after it, is by continuing to press for correct narratives of polyamory's true nature. So many of you dear people — in your blogs, websites, Facebook presences, lectures, TED talks, and media appearances — continue spreading the word that poly done right demands high ethics, free and informed consent among all persons affected, and a foundation of good-heartedness, caring, and respect. And that if you want to succeed, you want to develop fearless communication, honesty, self-knowledge, a toolkit of relationship skills, and good character in general.

Of course many polyfolks fail to live up to such standards or even try to. But bad actors and messups often find themselves called out by the community around them before they can taint everything. Keep that up.

Ideally our communities should be safe places full of trustworthy people who get it. We're not always there, and we seem to be losing ground now that "polyamory" is trendy enough that anyone can announce a local Meetup and collect a flock of newbies, people who may not recognize an untrustworthy leader.

In helping us keep steering the bandwagon toward good directions, the news media — love 'em or hate 'em — have been crucial. Writers, whether for the Washington Post or network news shows or the smallest new-media fly-by-nights, are impressed by our insistence on good practices and good character, and they almost always get the basic definition right: "with the full knowledge and agreement of all concerned."

Sometimes they almost seem in awe of us, as if we're the relationship ninjas. The grad school of relationship skills. Cool! Such media treatments help inform newbies what they shouldn't tolerate from that random Meetup organizer — or from once-reputable established groups where a problem person has muscled their way to the top.

Some examples:

● The May Men's Health magazine at the drugstore checkout, with a muscly alpha male on the cover and headlines like "Protein Up Your Diet," has an Open Relationships 101 article that might scare a guy like the model on the cover. A version went online last week. Thanks Kevin and Antoinette, and Robyn and Chuy, for representing so well again.


Why More and More Married Couples Are Opening Up Their Relationships

They're married, but they sleep with other people. Do polyamorous people understand love and sex better than you do?

By Kristin Canning

Kevin and Antoinette, a married couple in Philadelphia, are out to dinner with their two little girls. Between inside jokes and bites of chicken fingers and pasta pomodoro, they talk about their day, about school, about movies. Like any typical family. But two other adults are with them at the table, a man and a woman. After settling the check, Antoinette leaves with the man — her boyfriend, Gary. Kevin says goodbye to them and to the woman, his girlfriend, Maggie. (Some names have been changed.)

Just a random threesome photo from Getty
Kevin will take the kids tonight while Antoinette sleeps at Gary's. Tomorrow, Antoinette will be with the kids while Kevin stays with Maggie. People sometimes think they're divorced with new partners, trying to make coparenting work. Nope: "I have a new partner," Antoinette quips, "but I kept the old one too."

...If that's hard to wrap your head around, you're not alone. For most of us, the traditions and limits of monogamy are deeply ingrained. There's courtship, marriage, and children. Then you grow old together, faithfully. That's relationship success, right? For those who aren't monogamous, there's no such road map. And that, they'll tell you, is a good thing. With fewer rules, there's more negotiation, more talking.

"Open relationships require so much communication just to survive," says Kevin. His previous monogamous relationships, by comparison, were on nonverbal autopilot. "We didn't feel we needed to talk about things, because all of our lessons came from TV shows and pop culture. Everything was just on a default setting." Antoinette agrees: "The moment we chose to step off the relationship escalator, we had to say, 'Okay, what are we doing?' "

...Another married but open couple in New York City, Sam and Kate, say they'll sometimes share partners and sometimes date separately. ... The unexpected result: Outside dating brings a new, appreciative vibe to their relationship.

Getty
...Start by nixing your default setting. "We shouldn't be static," says Renee Divine, LMFT, a sex and relationship therapist in Minneapolis. "We should constantly be looking at what's going on, communicating what we need, and thinking about how we can make things better."

For Kevin and Antoinette, that means not taking each other for granted — ever. ... That desire to continuously be a better partner — that's where open couples might be onto something. The lifestyle may not be for you, but their love lessons could be instructive:

– Know what you each want.

...Lots of monogamous people know that walking-on-eggshells feeling. If needs aren't expressed, Divine says, a relationship can crumble. Successful poly people form their guidelines from scratch and know exactly what they are and aren't cool with.

– Make a "want, will, won't" list with your partner.

...Wants are what you'd like to get from your relationship (support for your goals, for instance), wills are compromises you could make (moving for a partner's job), and won'ts are hard-stop things you can't live with (drug use, say; or handholding with an old friend). You each write yours down on separate Post-its and stick them to a board in three columns. Then share and compare. ...

– Take time for yourself ... Agree with your partner that you each deserve "me time."

– Accept the inevitable jealousy.

Robyn and Jesus first met in a small town in northern California at a conference on polyamory (aptly named "Loving More"). Robyn was running it; Jesus was a rookie. They started dating, keeping things open — Robyn already had two long-term, long-distance partners, and Jesus later got another girlfriend too. Now they're "nesting partners" on a farm in Colorado.... Idyllic, right? Well, even after years of living a peaceful, poly lifestyle, they still struggle with jealousy. "Jesus recently had this hot chick over and took her up to the bedroom, and I managed to sit on the couch and watch TV by myself, and I was like 'Yes!' " says Robyn. "That's still a major victory for me."

How do they deal? By admitting the emotion — out loud. And by taking responsibility for it. ...

– Welcome change, always.

Open couples and poly groups are constantly tweaking the boundaries of a relationship — adding people, breaking up with others. They expect change, which can help the relationship endure even as partners evolve with age....

Asking for a change can be terrifying, Smith admits. Focus on what's going well first, and then use the word "and" (not "but") to segue into your request. Such as: "I'm really happy with how things are going and wonder if it could be even better if we didn't go out with the same people every weekend."

If you're asking for a change in behavior, your keyword is "I," says Divine. As in: "I feel bad when you get ticked off at my schedule, and I'd feel great if we could come up with a compromise." ...

This takes the blame off the partner and turns it into a discussion that you both can tackle. Awkward, maybe, but Smith says being direct is productive. ...

– Be radically honest.

People don't hold back at Loving More conferences. They get real about their feelings, sometimes while naked. "After I took my mom to a Loving More conference, she told me, 'I can't be around normal people now. They don't talk about anything!' " says Robyn. ...


The whole article (online May 23, 2018).


● From the Parenting and Family section of Greater Good magazine, published by UC Berkeley as "science-based insights for a better life": What You Can Learn from Polyamory, by Elisabeth Sheff (Feb. 13, 2018)


A 20-year study of consensually non-monogamous adults reveals seven lessons for anyone who wants to keep love alive.

...I studied polyamorous families with children for a period of 20 years, and I discovered their relationships can be intense, complicated — and fulfilling.

I also found that polyamorists have developed a set of relationship practices that can serve as lessons to people in monogamous relationships. ...

Polyamory isn’t for everyone, but here are seven lessons from polyamorous families that anyone might find helpful.


1. Spread needs around

...In their quest to maintain sexual and emotional fidelity, some monogamous relationships prioritize the couple ahead of other social connections. When this focus reduces other sources of support, it can lead to isolation — and the resulting demands can be too much for many relationships to bear.

By and large, that’s not the case for polyamorous people. ... This process can also be good for children. “It gives my children a sense of community,” said Emmanuella Ruiz, one of my study participants. “They don’t have cousins or the typical biological extended family. But they have a big, happy, productive, healthy family nonetheless, and it is a chosen family. They know each person’s relationship to them the same way they would know if they were first or second cousins, aunts, or uncles.”

2. Don’t leave too soon

In serious relationships, giving up without trying hard to work things out can mean prematurely ending a good relationship that is simply having a difficult period. ... Polyamorous relationship require even more of this kind of work, because of their complexity. My participants report developing the skill to stay with a difficult conversation, even if it is uncomfortable. As one study participant, Morgan Majek, told me about moving from monogamy to polyamory with her husband, Carl:

"It really opened up communication between us. Because we’ve been together for nine years and that was my biggest complaint about him was you don’t talk to me… It really just helped us to learn how to be completely honest and communicate."

People in polyamorous relationships are also more likely to seek support from others, something that could benefit and sustain serial monogamous relationships as well. When things get rocky, we’re prone to hide the trouble from friends and family. Polyamorists suggest an alternative: reach out to friends and community members for sympathy, support, and advice. ...

3. Don’t stay too long

In what can be a delicate balancing act, polyamorous people find that it is important not to drag things out until the bitter end, when partners have been so awful to each other that they simply must run away.

Instead, polyamorists suggest that it is better to recognize and accept when people have grown apart or are not working well together, and then change — not necessarily end — the relationship. “I am not best buddies with all my exes,” said study participant Gabrielle. But she doesn’t think of many of her “former lovers” as exes at all.

...From this perspective, gracefully ending or transitioning to a different kind of relationship can be a celebration of a new phase instead of a catastrophe.

4. Be flexible and allow for change

Polyamorous people sustain their relationships through these changes in part by being willing to try new things. (This may also be because there are so few role models for consensually non-monogamous relationships that polyamorous people are usually making it up as they go along.) If the relationship isn’t working, then trying something else can be quite effective for both polyamorous and monogamous people. ...

...Polyamorous families must routinely adapt to new familial and emotional configurations as they accommodate multiple partners. To manage their unconventional family lives, polyamorous families try new things, reconfigure their relationships or interactions, and remain open to alternatives.

“I guess I’m not necessarily what you would call normal, but who cares?” said Mina Amore, the teenage child of one couple I interviewed. “Normal is boring.”

5. Support personal growth

...Instead of trying to avoid painful emotions, polyamorists try to face them head on.

People in long-term polyamorous relationships say that a combination of introspection and candid communication is the route to managing potentially challenging or painful feelings. Having to face their self-doubts, question their own motives, and consider their own boundaries often forces poly people to either get to know themselves — or to quit polyamory. ...

6. De-emphasize sexuality

Even though most people associate polyamorous relationships with sex, polyamorists frequently de-emphasize sexuality to help reconfigure and cope with change. ... Polyamory emphasizes that the end of sex does not have to mean end of relationship. Remaining friends is a real choice....

Another important element of de-emphasizing sexuality is the tremendous importance polyamorous folks often attach to their friendships and chosen-family relationships. Emotional connections with intimates do not rely on physical sexuality. Monogamous people can also establish deep friendships that provide support, emotional intimacy, and meet needs.

7. Communicate honestly and often ...

Monogamous relationships have many social rules that structure the way partners are supposed to interact. Some of these rules encourage people to tell each other small lies to smooth over possibly difficult or hurtful situations. While diplomatic phrasing and empathy are important for compassionate relationships, small lies that start out protecting feelings sometimes grow into much larger or more systemic patterns of deception. ... If you want to be close to your partner, tell the truth and create a compassionate emotional environment that is safe for them to tell you the truth as well. Gentle honesty may break well-established monogamous rules about hiding things from a spouse....



● In Humans magazine, Best Polyamorous Relationship Tips to Make It Work (Feb. 2018)



By Ossiana Tepfenhart

...Speaking as someone who was in a polyamorous relationship with five different people, I'll be the first to say it's not for everyone.

In fact, if I was honest, I'd say most people do not fare well in poly relationships. However, if you're extremely emotionally intelligent and are able to control yourself, you can find a really unique and rewarding way to have an amazing family.

In my days, I've seen seriously fucked up people who hid under the guise of "poly" to emotionally manipulate, abuse, and neglect people who just wanted a relationship. This is not what a polyamorous relationship is about.

Some of the best polyamorous relationship tips include...

Meet your partner's other partners, and give them permission to be a partner. ...

Use protection with all the other partners, talk sex health with each of them, and get tested regularly. No excuses.

As hard as it is, don't try to force your relationship to be some kind of way. ...

Don't keep score, but do keep an eye on trends. ...

Here's what you need to understand about poly mindsets versus normal ones:

Your needs matter, but they do not have anything to do with other partners. ...

Similarly, if you feel squeezed out and your complaints are falling on deaf ears, it's on you to extricate yourself and find happiness on your own. If anything else, polyamory puts a huge amount of personal responsibility on you.

...A person who is insecure will flip out in a polyamorous relationship ... Do yourself a favor, and fix yourself before you even consider this kind of relationship.

Don't be afraid to ask others for advice when it comes to complex emotions. ...

Therapists can help, as can polyamorous communities. ...

You need to tell your partners what you need. In a polyamorous relationship, letting problems sit and stew is a great way to destroy your life. ...

A lot of the polyamorous relationship tips you'll read deal with arguments. You need to learn how to argue without hurting others. To start, stay calm, bring facts. ...

...[Getting disapproval from friends? Look for] friends who are more interested in making sure that sex and relationships are healthy rather than traditional.



● Esquire: How to Be Non-Monogamous Without Being a Jerk (Aug. 16, 2017)


By Sofia Barrett-Ibarria | Aug. 16, 2017

...As Michon Neal writes for Everyday Feminism, consensual non-monogamy is "a community that prides itself on offering healthier solutions regardless of relationship orientation." Polyamory can be a way to build a family, or spread out your sexual and emotional needs so that they don't fall on one person's shoulders alone.

...When done correctly, consensual non-monogamy is meant to be a mindful, communicative practice that a lot of people find incredibly fulfilling. ... Alex, a researcher in New York, describes her current poly relationship as "the most honest relationship I've been in."

...Speaking from personal experience, I can point to a few ill-advised situationships with guys who said their girlfriends were "cool with it" (SPOILER ALERT: they were not). They made excuses for their shitty behavior by telling me there was "no wrong way" to do poly, my feelings of being left out were the fault of "society," and I was just too much a normie to "get it." The use of gaslighting and general dishonesty violate both the "ethical" and "consensual" part of the whole "ethical and consensual non-monogamy" thing.

One of the core components of consensual non-monogamy is talking candidly and honestly about everything — face to face, not in angry emails. Be honest about your own boundaries, but never assume anyone is cool or not cool with something just because you are.

Occasionally, ugly, uncomfortable feelings like jealousy toward a partner's partners will arise. ... Own your mistakes and know when to let go — no one's perfect.

...Be honest, be respectful, don't be an ass. Basically, try to leave people better than you found them. Not only is this the decent thing to do, but it will help build your network....


Lots more, but that's enough for now.

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May 26, 2018

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho to "marry" two women in private ceremony



Several of you sent me this news item that's stirring up world soccer fans. From the version in the New York Daily News:


Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho to marry two women in private ceremony

By Megan Cerullo

I, Ronaldinho, take you both to be my wives.

Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho Gaúcho will "wed" his two fiancées in a private ceremony in August, Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Dia reports.

Polygamy and bigamy are illegal and punishable by up to six years in prison in Brazil, so the union won't constitute a legal marriage.

Ronaldinho began dating Priscilla Coelho between 2012 and 2014, while he was playing for Atletico Mineiro, according to local media reports. He met Beatriz Souza in 2016 and began dating her as well.

The lovers have reportedly lived happily together in Ronaldinho's Rio de Janeiro mansion since December.

The threesome will "marry" in a small ceremony at their home.

Ronaldinho will likely establish a private contract that creates a set of rules for the family he forms with the women, according to Brazilian lawyer Michelle Viana.

The contract could cover financial responsibilities and repercussions should the civil union come to an end, she said. ...

--------------------

Brazil is in the process of reviewing its marriage laws — a National Council of Justice hearing on polyamorous unions was postponed Tuesday. So far, four council members have stated their opposition to legalizing the unions, while two voiced their support. Five council members have not yet cast their votes.

"Brazilian law is changing to adjust to society, but it might not be ready to accept polygamy," said Sergio Botinha, an international family lawyer based in Brazil.

In 2012, county clerk Claudia do Nascimento Domingues approved the first civil union between a man and two women.... Three years later, three women entered into a civil union, approved by another county clerk in Brazil. But the validity of those unions is up for debate. ...


The article (May 25, 2018). Scan down this list for news coverage of previous poly civil unions officialized in Brazil.

In reaction to the furor, Ronaldino insists that an actual group marriage (which would be illegal) is not happening. "It's the biggest lie," he says. Even so, according to other reports, the ceremony, planned for August, will include exchanges of rings.

Sports Illustrated says,


All three people live together in Ronaldinho's [palatial] Rio condominium. A small [ceremony] will be held in Ronaldinho's home, though his sister, who does not agree with his lifestyle, says she will not attend, O Dia reports.


From O Dia, one paragraph long: Ronaldinho Gaúcho vai se casar com suas duas mulheres (Ronaldinho Gaucho will marry his two women) (May 24).

Earlier, on March 29, the paper wrote ‘Poliamor’ pode colocar em risco pretensões políticas de ex-jogador Ronaldinho Gaúcho ('Polyamory' Could Endanger Political Hopes of Ronaldinho Gaúcho). The three have often been seen out and around together.

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May 23, 2018

And more happy polyfamily goodness in the tabs


Here come more stories in what has turned into a whole new genre for the notorious British tabloids and their syndication partners overseas. I'm now letting a bunch of these stories accrue, then noting them in batches. Here are five more — with the now-standard happy storylines in long headlines, choppy paragraphs, and heaps of smiling family pix.

And, of course, the setups are always white.

Most recently,

● In the Daily Mail — sensationalist, conservative politically, known as "that dreadful rag," and read mostly by older housewives — comes this: Polyamorous trio preparing to welcome their first child say they plan to parent as a 'complete' threesome – but insist they won't 'judge' their baby girl if she decides to be monogamous (May 21, 2018).


For the triad, polyamory means being able to love more without restriction. Ashta (right), Ash (left), and Rowen (center) agree this means that there is a community within their home.

 
Ashta Monogue, 33, and her husband Ash, 36, from Georgia [US], met seven years ago at a street fair; they have been married since 2013.

They met Rowen, 28, online in May 2016. Ash and Ashta weren't planning on forming a triad relationship, but after the three met, they all fell in love.

Ashta is now pregnant, meaning the three are now joyously expecting their first child in October this year.

They intend to raise their baby in a happy and healthy environment and have lots of adventures as a family of four.


...Ashta has been polyamorous for a decade, and throughout their marriage, she and Ash have explored the concept. They met Rowen, 28, online in May 2016. Ash and Ashta weren't planning on forming a triad relationship, but after the three met, they all clicked and fell in love.

The three are now joyously expecting their first child in October this year, as Ashta is pregnant.

'We're pretty complete as a family of three, and I think we would be happy even if we never had kids. But Ash and I have always wanted children, so when Rowen came into our lives, we decided to make a go at parenting as a triad,' Ashta said.

'The pregnancy was very planned. We had begun treatments at a fertility clinic when we found out that I was pregnant naturally. All three of us were very excited and we still are.

'Rowen had decided that they (Rowen is gender-queer and prefers neutral pronouns) would have a baby for us if I couldn't, but they are happy that I got pregnant.

'It's possible that they will have a child someday, but that will be a conversation for later. We're all very focused on this baby.'

Parents: 'I think we will all encourage our daughter to be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do.'

 
They say that any feelings of jealousy that may arise don't affect them because they function as a group, and they discuss and resolve any emotions that may arise.

'We're all geeks and have lots of common interests. We love animals, board games, hiking, and trying new food. ...

'We're not restricted in our relationships, so we're not restricted to whom we can spend time with, or who we can date or love. Being in a triad means having a community built into our home. There's always someone around to help you, or to talk to.

'I don't know how to answer how our relationship works. It just does. We're mature and we talk about our issues and discuss our feelings. We're each delegated chores and responsibilities so that the house runs smoothly.

'We're pretty well past the point of jealousy. We function as a group so if someone has feelings of jealousy, we talk about it and address any issues that come up. We occasionally have disagreements, but usually about how to decorate the house or what color pillows to buy.'

Once the baby arrives, Ashta will be a stay-at-home mother to look after their child, while Ash and Rowen will continue working as a customer support engineer and transcriptionist (a typist who transcribes audio recordings, usually medical reports) respectively.

...Ashta says that the three won't force polyamory on their child and will encourage her to be whoever she decides.

'I think we will all encourage our daughter to be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do,' she said.

'If she decides to be monogamous, no one will be mad or judge her for it, but we're not going to make her think that polyamory is better in some way. It's not for everyone and that's OK.

'Poly people aren't abnormal. We're just like monogamous people in many ways. We have jobs and hobbies and go out to dinner. We just live life with a few more people around.

'Lots of our friends are poly as well, so we're lucky to be surrounded by a good support network.

'We rarely get bad reactions from people. Most people just acknowledge that our lifestyle isn't for them, but they see that it works for us.'


Versions id this packaged story (from the Media Drum World agency) also appeared in Metro UK, the Mirror, the Daily Star, and probably elsewhere.


● Three weeks earlier, the Daily Mail's UK and Australian editions edition picked up on a couple who appeared on SBS Insight on Australian TV: Swinger couple reveal what it's REALLY like to welcome other partners into their bedroom and juggle multiple lovers (May 1). They started as swingers, then relationships grew.


Wye and Dave

 
...Wye has been dating another man, Andrew, for 16 months and Dave has another girlfriend called Chrissy, who he was friends with for 15 years before starting a sexual relationship six months ago.

'He and his girlfriend Chrissy share a deep, solid, loving connection. Loving Dave has brought me face-to-face with some mighty big scary demons!,' she wrote for whimn.com.au.

Wye soon found herself dealing with feelings of jealousy, insecurity and fear on a level that she had never experienced before.

...Dave and Wye share a home and finances and she says that all four of them have even become friends, often spending time together in a group.

'We individually spend on average two nights a week with Chrissy and Andrew respectively, [who] both have their own homes in which they live with their children,' she wrote.

Wye originally met Dave at a swingers event she went to with a previous boyfriend, and both couples became friends. ...



● The Daily Mail made a separate story out of others who appeared on the Australian TV show: From separate apartments for their lovers to a three-date limit and 12 sexual partners: Inside the lives of the polyamorous and their open marriages (May 2)


...Crystal said she was married for years before she branched out in search of a new relationship.

Crystal appeared on the program with her second partner Andrew, and Andrew's primary partner Cassie.

Crystal said her relationship with Andrew worked seamlessly, despite having a husband and two young children at home.

But the mother-of-two said polyamory wasn't always smooth-sailing.

'My previous partner and I tried it, and that was when the jealously kicked in. We had a foursome and my partner got incredibly jealous,' she said.

Crystal admitted she also let jealously get the better of her.

'He wanted to be alone with another woman and I had to confront my insecurities. What if she's better in bed, what if he falls in love with her?' Crystal said.

She said that relationship ultimately ended, but her current polyamorous relationships made her happy.

--------------------

...Revealing intimate details about his open relationship, Michael said his infidelity ended up being the best thing for his marriage with wife Renee. ... Michael said the couple struggled at first because Renee suffered from depression, but they quickly went from strength to strength.

The couple told Insight they were together for 20 years before they made the joint decision to open their marriage and invite other people in.

It wasn't long before Renee developed a strong connection with another man.

She said the connection helped her realise she too wanted an open relationship. ... The couple said they now had 'total freedom' and an 'amazing' bond.

...A study conducted at the University of Michigan in 2017, found people in open relationships were just as happy, if not more happy, than people in monogamous relationships.

The sample included more than 2,100 people, with about 1,500 in monogamous relationship and 600 in committed non-monogamous relationships.

Researchers found people in consensual open relationships felt similar levels of satisfaction and passionate love.

However, levels of jealously were lower and trust was higher among those engaged in committed open relationships.



● The free-on-mass-transit Metro UK presented this article and podcast: Sex with seven men – we talk polyamory on the Good Sex Bad Sex podcast (May 2, 2018).


...There were definitely moments of fear – because you’re essentially changing your entire value system around relationships.

I was like ‘Am I ready for this?’ For my values to change. What does it mean in other areas of my life? How I relate to people in general.

And something that’s been so strongly embedded in me by my family and generations before.

Am I ready to put all that on the side because I feel, strongly, that my sexuality as a woman wants to be expressed in that way?

I thought about it quite a lot and these days I believe that the world would be so much better off if we as women owned our pleasure and owned our sexuality much more – which is why I’m here!



● And this rather different, deeper story, just in today from Metro UK: ‘I’ve learned a lot about how I function in relationships’: How I became polyamorous and why it works for me (May 23)


Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk
By Julia White

I leaned over to my lover from Norway and kissed him on the lips. Then I leaned over to my husband and did the same. Both smiled at me lovingly.

The three of us were attending a tantra weekend retreat.

‘How are you doing?’, asked my lover. ‘Which one of us would you like to do the next exercise in pairs with? Or one of the other guys in the group perhaps?’ asked my husband John.

I went with my lover as he was flying out of London the following day. John blew me a kiss and went off to be paired with a random lady in the group.

It may sound extreme but this type of scenario isn’t unusual in my polyamorous life these days. There are seven lovers in my life, based all over Europe (I travel quite a bit); several (but fewer) in his.

All of us love hanging out together, having long weekend brunches, attending play parties and self-development courses, chatting about anything from philosophy to kink.

I’ve never felt juicier, more fulfilled and more honoured in my womanhood.

And yet, just over a year ago, I wouldn’t even dream of this lifestyle. ...

In spring 2017, I attended a relationships and sexuality themed weekend festival called Togetherness and suddenly connected with my body in a way I haven’t done before.

I feel my blood boil and my vagina ready to make love to all the beauty in the world.

As a friend puts it, I finally lost my mind and came to my senses.

I noticed men, in casual situations, looked into their eyes and felt shivers go up my spine.

This wasn’t just about physical lust. It felt more like an awakening, an adventure of a lifetime – scary and exciting, waiting to happen. ... We decide to test whether we actually mean it.

A couple of gentle, conscious (and generally alcohol free) play parties later, ‘compersion’, a word used in the poly community to describe a sense of satisfaction one feels when seeing one’s partner delighting in his/her sexuality with another, started to make sense to us.

...My entire value system around relationships, how they work and how I look for meaning in them, underwent a thorough upgrade. And, like any major upgrade, it’s rather painful too, at times. ...


All my recent posts tagged Tabloids (including this one; scroll down).

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