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

December 13, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup — Dilbert, things monos can learn from us, a bad-poly play, 12 Pillars, and more

It's Friday Polynews Roundup time for December 13, 2019.

● We gotta start with this one: the December 7 Dilbert strip:

It does confuse what "polyamory" means, which is not just dating two people. That's called "open relationship." Or, "dating." Think instead, "loving relationships with an understanding that everyone's part of the same team."

Thanks to everyone who sent this.

Broadway World announces a one-person play about poly gone bad: Kate Robards Returns to The Marsh San Francisco with POLYSHAMORY (Dec. 11).

...Kate has everything she's ever dreamed of...but so does Kate's husband's girlfriend. With a polyamory therapist and sex-positive ethos, Kate begins a polyamorous marriage that goes wrong. A story of his and her. And hers. And his. And sex. And therapy. And love. ...

PolySHAMory has been welcomed by critics, who called it "a remarkably cohesive narrative" (The Washington Post) and "a rich portrait of a complex life" (DC Theatre Scene), while Robards was praised for her "warm and friendly personality" (Montreal Rampage) and her ability to "create a comfortably comedic atmosphere" (DC Metro Theater Arts).

One-minute trailer:

Omar Lopez / Unsplash
● In the young-women's online mag YourTango: The 12 Principles Of Polyamory (And How They Can Benefit Any Relationship) (Dec. 12). This stemmed from writer and sex educator Jeana Jorgensen rediscovering "The 12 Pillars of Polyamory" by Ken Haslam, an energetic poly activist during the crucial early years when the bandwagon was barely starting to move. Jorgensen adds her own commentary on the 12 Pillars, which are

1. Authenticity
2. Choice
3. Transparency
4. Trust
5. Gender equality
6. Honesty
7. Open communication
8. Non-possessiveness
9. Consensual
10. Accepting of self-determination
11. Sex positivity
12. Compersion​​

The 12 Pillars, BTW,  originated with Ken's talk to Polyamorous NYC on March 19, 2008, which seems like ancient history now. His talk was soon online, widely reprinted, and influential during that key period.

Ken later founded and funded the Kenneth R. Haslam Collection on Polyamory at the Kinsey Institute Library, to gather and archive papers and other materials documenting the origins and history of the modern polyamory movement for future researchers.[1]

● Also on YourTango this week: I Used To Be In A Polyamorous Relationship — Here Are The 3 Major Things Polyamory Taught Me (Dec. 6). They picked this up from PopSugar, where it first appeared Nov. 14. I mentioned it then, but here are excerpts:

By Lexi Inks

...After unexpectedly reconnecting with an acquaintance and now my current partner (the love of my life, to clarify), I came to discover that he was polyamorous with two committed romantic partners. This came as a surprise to me, especially because I hadn't met anyone who was poly, much less learned about it at length.

...Speaking from experience, I can confirm that plenty of poly relationships are committed partnerships founded on love and deep connection.

...Communication is imperative; without it, someone is going to get hurt. ... Without voicing and sharing your thoughts/feelings/desires/needs, not only will you be unhappy and unfulfilled, but your partner will also continue to be at a disadvantage because they don't know how to be a better partner for you.

...Repeat after me: My partner can care about people other than me. Although this isn't the case in monogamy, your partner can (and should!) have healthy platonic relationships with people other than you. Seriously, you should not be the only important person in your partner's life.

..."Compersion" can be difficult to learn and practice for those new to non-monogamy.... As my relationship progressed and I settled into compersion, I realized that it's applicable to every relationship, monogamous ones included.

...While the lifestyle isn't for everyone, anyone can take these lessons and make their relationships deeper, more loving, and more fulfilling.

Prevention magazine — that old health-supplement marketing tool that got my grandmother to buy into every expensive swallowing fad that came and went[2] — has modernized under Hearst ownership for the digital age. That means getting on the consensual non-monogamy horse: Sleep Diaries, Naked Edition: A Divorced Mom Explores Ethical Non-monogamy (Dec. 6). Sleep Diaries is a feature "where interesting people share a week’s worth of late-night habits." This one follows Michelle, a 38-year-old divorced poly mom.

● With the holidays coming up, 10 Non-Confrontational Gifts For Your Girlfriend’s Other Partner in the very poly-friendly Autostraddle, "the world’s most popular lesbian website, with over one million unique visitors and 3.5 million views per month" (Dec. 11). The gift suggestions for polyfolks are unremarkable; Autostraddle too get commissions on sales of featured products.

● News You Can Use

So this week's news crop was fairly thin. Here's something substantial and useful from the poly community itself: The ever-cogent Page Turner's Best Practices for Negotiating Polyamorous Relationship Agreements on her Poly.Land blog. Andrea Green, editor of South Africa's ZaPoly site and discussion list, boosted it as worthy of a spotlight. I agree.

While I’ve had a number of polyamorous relationship agreements over the years, the best ones all had one thing in common: They were very specific, very clear, and comprehensive.

An agreement should meet everyone’s needs. In order to figure out what these are, make sure to devote adequate time for discussion.

As a starting point, here are some questions that have guided developing agreements that I’ve made in the past:

– How much freedom or autonomy do we need?
– What concerns us re: sexual safety?
– What painful scenarios have we run into in the past that we are we looking to avoid? Are there any measures that we can implement to prevent these?
– How do we feel about relationship vetoes?
– Do we want to have a permission structure (i.e., to have a standard that we ask and obtain approval from an existing partner before we start a new relationship) or a notification structure (i.e., don’t need permission but should tell our partners after things happen)? Or something else altogether (e.g., don’t ask don’t tell, etc.)?
– What are the consequences of breaking the relationship agreement?

And this is just a beginning. Developing a comprehensive understanding of each other’s concerns can be quite a twisty-turny process and lead to all sorts of places that are hard to predict until you get in the thick of things. ...

Each week going forward, I'll try to highlight something like this that's really useful and worthy from the community. Your suggestions welcome. Mailto: alan7388@gmail.com.

See you next Friday, or sooner if big stuff comes up!


1.  If you have any such papers in the back of your attic, write to Liana Zhou, Special Collections Librarian, Kinsey Institute Library (zhoul@indiana.edu) to get shipping instructions — before you die and your heirs, not knowing their significance, throw them out forever.

2.  Finally they admit it: "Prevention participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products...."



December 6, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup – Happy poly in Cosmo and the tabs, a student's push against polyshaming, more

Time again for Friday Polynews Roundup!

● This piece, full of gorgeous photography, splashed on the same day into several competing British tabloids with combined circulations in the millions. As usual, the polyfamily is not in the UK but the US, in this case Florida. They sound like a rare case of unicorn hunters finding a savvy, experienced "intentional unicorn." It seems to have worked out well for all of them.

Here's from the version in the ugly Sun, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is working with for his coming election. THRICE AS NICE: Polyamorous throuple say group yoga helps control their jealousy (Dec. 3, 2019)

MDWFeatures / @wearethr33

Michael Taylor and his wife Lauren, both 30, met in 2011 while studying together and married in 2016.

But after seven years together, the couple, from Florida, decided they had ‘more love’ to give, and decided to spice up their relationship by looking for someone to join their unit.

...In 2018 they attended a gig where they met Jessica Woodstock, also 30, and say they all ‘fell in love together’.

Now the trio operates as a throuple, with Michael, a construction engineer, saying that the relationship is equal between them all.

The throuple say they intend on travelling to Thailand or Indonesia to get married, as a union between three people is illegal in the US. ...

And they hope to extend their family in the future by adopting children or having their own.

...Michael explained how they work as a trio, saying: “Our delta is a 33 per cent shared love between the three of us.

“We all have equal responsibilities to care for ourselves and each other.

“Although our triad is predominantly the three of us, there are three additional relationships that need recognition: Michael and Lauren, Michael and Jess, Lauren and Jess."

MDWFeatures / @wearethr33

Lauren said... "It’s important to communicate each individual’s wants and needs, all day, every day, so that no emotions are suppressed.

“Any relationship, monogamous or otherwise has its challenges. Being human, we are bound to feel insecurity, anger, sadness, etc. at some point.

“Although these emotions stem from both internal and external factors, we work together to consciously remove them from our space.”

As the group solidified their relationship, they faced telling their parents about their new set-up. ...

“We were extremely careful and patient in explaining it to Lauren’s family because of the adversity – coming out as bisexual and welcoming another woman into the marriage.

“However, they warmed up very quickly and love Jess and Michael as one of their own. At this point, all three of our families are welcoming, accepting, and loving toward the spouses. “We know it’s not very often you come across families as fun and supportive as ours. ...

“It’s also important to create foundational relationships like the three separate ones we share.

“A triad is a delicate balance.”

The British tabs (or perhaps MDWFeatures, which sold them the package of story and pix) have worldwide reach. For instance a piece about the same people appeared in India in iDiva, "the no.1 online destination for Indian women offering style and beauty tips, relationship advice, entertainment news and celebrity gossip...." Can’t Do A Relationship With 3 Partners? Well, Someone Is Nailing Polyamory & How! (Dec. 4).

(BTW, after all this happytalk about such a successful FMF triad family, see Evita Sawyers' YouTube Why Are Triads So Hard as an antidote.)

● Not to be outdone, papers using another tabloid-content agency, Barcroft Media, rushed out with this: Polyamorous woman, 20, reveals she fell pregnant by one of her FOUR partners after they all went on vacation together – but she says they will ALL raise the baby as a 'family' (Dec. 5)

– Tory Ojeda, 20, from Jacksonville, Florida, lives with three of her four partners.

– Met Marc, 18, at school and started relationship with Travis, 23, two months later.

– Also found love with their long-term friends Ethan, 22, and Christopher, 22.

– Tory and Chris found out that they were pregnant in May, while she got engaged to Travis in July. ...

Includes an 8-minute video of them.

● Meanwhile, Cosmopolitan can't seem to get enough poly stories. New on its website is an interview with three members of a large extended network: Sex Talk Realness: What It's Like to Be Polyamorous (Dec. 4):

Getty stock photo
By Carina Hsieh and Rachel Hills

Imagine if your "one and only" was one of many? Polyamorous people believe that you can love more than one person (sexually and/or romantically) at a time.

In this week's Sex Talk Realness, Cosmopolitan speaks with four people about what it's really like to be polyamorous.

How old are you?

Woman A: Thirty-four.

Woman B: Twenty-five.

Man A: Twenty-nine.

...What made you want to try polyamory?

Woman A: I have always had difficulties in monogamous relationships. I get bored of people quickly and was a serial dater until I found out dating multiple people at once ethically was an option.

Woman B: When I was in college, I needed to break out of socially constructed norms to really figure out who I was. I had oppressed my gayness without really being aware of it because of my family and community. I used college to begin to break these chains and redefine myself. One of the men just outside my social circle was poly and had a long-distance boyfriend. We hit it off as he helped me through a traumatic college sexual assault and we hit it off. I had always been curious and felt a low commitment romantic relationship could help me, my confidence, and reclaim my body.

Man A: I was entering a relationship with a poly woman with the hopes of monogamy at first, but per her suggestion I read books like The Ethical Slut and More Than Two and thought ‘Hey, I’ll give it a try too’. We both made promises of primary partnership to one another and vows of open communication. ...

Do you have any rules you never break in your relationships?

...Woman A: My husband and I agreed to only have children with each other. That’s the only big one.

Woman B: Most of our rules revolved around complete honesty. We both were able to do as we wished with whomever, but had to tell the other person before if possible. So, if a crush or tension grew with another person, we would discuss it. It was refreshing to regularly discuss the very normal attractions that happen in an environment like a small college campus. Another rule was his boyfriend was his first priority; I was perfectly happy knowing that there were no long-term expectations. ...

● More down to earth, at Emerson College in Boston in its paper the Berkeley Beacon, a student tells of struggling with fear of shaming about being in an open relationship, and overcoming it: Love Column: The door’s open, come on in (Dec. 4)

...I’m polyamorous, and, for a while, that was hard for me to admit. It takes a lot for me to define myself as the extremely queer person I am, because I’m afraid it comes off as a search for attention.

To me, polyamory means that my head and my heart have more room to love. I’m not afraid of commitment. In fact, I welcome it. Yes, I want to get married someday. I want to have kids. I want to live the American dream or whatever, but I want to do it my way.

If that makes you uncomfortable, then you should step back and analyze why. It’s not anyone’s job to judge someone else’s relationship, and doing so to my face is incredibly rude. Don’t say it’s for my benefit, because I’m in a loving relationship with an amazing woman, and I don’t need anyone’s validation.

My polyamory is something that I now cherish because it has opened up my life to so many incredible opportunities. I have never felt stuck in my one relationship in college because I allowed myself to experience everything that came to me. ...

● In another student paper, The Hornet of Fullerton College in California, a good poly 101 explaining basic concepts and values: Opinion: Polyamory is a non-traditional option for love (Dec. 6).

● And in poly & Christian news, the young Brian Murphy — whose famous YouTube video Jesus Is Polyamorous raised a huge uproar in conservative Christianity in November 2018, has posted a followup vid on his adventures since then, including the class he now teaches. Jesus Is Polyamorous: One Year Later (Nov. 13; six minutes):

Ta-ta for now. See you next week if not sooner.


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November 29, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup — RuPaul, Mel B., Jidenna, Medical News Today, and a contrarian conservative says we're fine.

It's time again for Friday Polynews Roundup! — as maybe you take a break from cleaning up the Thanksgiving wreckage and munching the leftovers.

● We start with a serious big-think piece by a conservative-ish public intellectual, who takes a contrarian stand against "some of my conservative followers."

Geoffrey Miller is a widely published evolutionary biologist and psychology professor at the University of New Mexico. He's also in a successful open marriage.

Quillette is an intellectual online magazine that calls itself "a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones." Often that means they vent an intellectual's grievance about people attending to people with grievances; think "anti-PC." In such circles, treating poly seriously is not the PC thing to do... so is that why they published this?

Polyamory Is Growing — And We Need To Get Serious About It

We need to talk about polyamory. It’s the biggest sexual revolution since the 1960s. It’s surprisingly common among Millennials and Gen Z. It’s often misunderstood and stigmatized by mainstream monogamist culture. Some people think polyamory is the best way to integrate sexual freedom, honesty, openness, and commitment. Others think it’s an existential threat to Western Civilization.

We should take existential risks seriously. Global thermonuclear war, genetically engineered bioweapons, and artificial general intelligence could exterminate our species. But whenever I tweet about polyamory, my conservative followers react as if polyamory is a fourth existential threat. Any threat to monogamy is, they think, a threat to love, marriage, family, culture, reason, nation, and gene pool. Are they right?

tl;dr: No. But we just skipped about 2,500 words of interesting argumentation.

At the end,

Polyamory is coming. We could continue to ignore it. We could continue confusing libertarian polyamory with oppressive patriarchal polygamy. We could continue conflating ethical non-monogamy with unethical hook-up culture. We could misconstrue poly as an existential threat to Western Civilization....

But maybe we should be smarter about how we handle polyamory. Polyamory, at best, offers a new ethical vision of sexual relationships that prioritizes radical honesty, sexual sovereignty, freedom of association, and social networking. Poly is, admittedly, an experiment. Polyamory would not have been possible before the invention of contraception, condoms, STI testing, the evolutionary psychology insights needed to manage sexual jealousy, and the Google Calendar app to manage dates.

Too much there to begin to take apart; let's just say world cultural history did not begin in 1960. Then,

Polyamory Needs Your Guidance

Here’s the thing: polyamory’s potential as a social experiment is being squandered by many current polyamorists — many of whom belong to the radical Left politically. Widespread, sustainable poly may not be possible without some wise and sympathetic guidance from conservatives, centrists, libertarians, Christians, and other good folks who may think, at first glance, that poly seems insane or evil.

Umm, OK boomer. But he presents his case:

Poly needs libertarians who can explore how freedom of choice, freedom of association, and the non-aggression principle can extend into the realm of sexual relationships. Poly needs “TradLife” pronatalists willing to find common ground with the communitarian child-rearing favored by many poly families. Poly needs Christian ethicists who can imagine a more romantic interpretation of “Love they neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22: 39). Poly needs centrists who recognize that poly relationships are powerful ways to build bridges across partisan divides.

Polyamory is going mainstream, like it or not. You already have poly neighbors and coworkers, whether you know it or not. Many of your own kids are likely to end up in poly relationships. Many of you might end up in poly relationships, sooner or later.

This won’t be a personal or national catastrophe. It won’t be an existential threat to Western Civilization. But if we don’t figure out how to integrate polyamory with our best traditions of commitment, marriage, parenting, and family values, there will be a culture war about sexuality that makes the 1960s look like the calm before a category 5 hurricane.

Take a breath, guy.

Read the whole article, and mark it for your conservative friends. (Dated Oct. 29, 2019. I missed it when it came out; thanks to Dennis F. for passing me the link.)

A technical criticism: Throughout, Miller uses "polyamory" to mean all consensual non-monogamy (CNM). Even though he explains up front that that's what he's going to do, it will still cause confusion.

● Moving on to that part about CNM spreading all over, here are items from the last few days. In UC Berkeley's Daily Californian (one of the country's best student newspapers): The more, the merrier? (Nov. 26)

By Aidan Bassett

Love is inherently tough. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

To add to the innate challenge, we’ve always had social strictures on love.... And among the most difficult norms to defy is monogamy. So if your instincts carry you outside social convention — as mine have — you must work all the more diligently for love to succeed.

...When I was 15, I was increasingly falling for the girl with whom I’d first have sex, who I’ll call “Ava,” and I was also involved with an older girl with whom Ava and I were both smitten. Over the course of my relationship with Ava, I would fall again for an ex-girlfriend of mine, “Diana,” but ultimately leave Ava for another girl I loved, “Joan.” ... I was what is often called a “serial dater.”

Though all of these high school relationships were monogamous, each ruptured when that monogamy became untenable. ... I invariably failed the people I loved. Few things still call up greater shame and remorse than recalling how I mishandled the ends of my relationships.

...Like many people, my [early] impression of polyamory was some caricature of 1967’s Summer of Love: hedonist libertinism void of commitment. ...

Now I think polyamory isn’t right for me, but for other reasons. I’ve lost my teenage prejudice against open relationships, but I’m now better versed in the titanic project of polyamory, the considerable work that goes into not just one serious emotional commitment, but many. In some ways, true polyamory is for people who, far from hating it, actually love commitment, for polyamory requires the same effort and attention in each partnership. ...

Polyamory also exemplifies how love and relationships lie on continua, a notion we have slowly come to acknowledge for gender and will hopefully soon realize applies to almost every human experience. ...

...My conclusion has been simple: As with all relationships, honesty, candor and clear expectations are the secret ingredients; all else is frills. ... The roots of the word “polyamory” mean “many loves,” and sure, perhaps the more, the merrier — but only for people who’ve mastered the labor of love.

● On Yahoo Sports: Mel B wants 'multiple partners' to serve different needs (Nov. 26):

Mel B. during "A Brutally Honest Evening With Mel B" in support of Women's Aid.

Mel [Best,] the 44-year-old ‘Spice Girls’ singer, who’s been married twice before, spoke of her ideal relationship situation on her podcast, ‘Truth Flirts’.

...“I would like to think that there's one person that could encompass everything but two marriages later, three kids later, I'm thinking is there ever that one person that just has everything?”

...Best reasoned that it would have to depends on the individuals in question – but agreed this style of relationship was “possible.” ... “If you can find people who are like-minded who are going to go, ‘Oh I’m open to this,’ then I think in our day and age it’s possible.”

...While Mel B did not label her theory, it’s often termed polyamory ... quite literally a relationship approach which involves intimate, romantic relationships with multiple partners – with everyone consenting. ... The alternative relationship style is increasingly recognised among high-profile Gen Z-ers....

● On The Breakfast Club, a daily black radio program ("the world’s most dangerous morning show") airing on many urban stations: Jidenna Talks About Polyamorous Relationship! (Nov. 26). Jidenna is a famous rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer.

● More celebrity news going around: RuPaul Gets Candid About Open Marriage, Calls Monogamy a 'Hoax' (Nov. 27). "I wouldn’t want to put restraints on the person I love the most on this planet."

That piece is one of many spinoff stories from Vanity Fair's holiday-issue cover story, RuPaul: The Philosopher Queen (online Nov. 20). "As drag’s greatest living ambassador, the performer born RuPaul Andre Charles has spent decades bringing the art form out of the nightclub and into our living rooms. With a new, scripted show on the way and another evolution under his belt, he’s moving beyond the limits of reality TV."

● A review in Broadway World: Song and Spoken Word Make 'POLY QUEER LOVE BALLAD' a Touching Tale of Love and Romance (Nov. 29)

By Isabella Perrone

What happens when a monogamous lesbian songwriter and a polyamorous bisexual poet fall in love? Boundaries are set, broken, upheld, muddled, and re-established over and over again in a story that reflects the complications of modern dating and romantic relationships.

Poly Queer Love Ballad makes its Toronto premiere after a successful run at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, under director Julie McIsaac. ...

As the sole characters to appear onstage, musician Gabbie (Sara Vickruck) and poet Nina (Anais West) struggle to figure out how best to navigate their relationship. It's a classic meet-cute; the pair are performing at the same open mic night during Pride and are instantly drawn to one another. It seems like a perfect match until the inevitable dropping of the other shoe - Nina is polyamorous and cannot change to suit Gabbie's need for a monogamous relationship. Despite their differing beliefs, the two decide to undertake the challenge their relationship presents, and it's the challenge that fulfills the role of antagonist.

● And to round things out, a big one I didn't catch at the time: in Medical News Today, a long feature article titled Polyamory: Beyond the confines of monogamous love (July 26, 2019). Medical News Today is an authoritative, professionally fact-checked publication and web resource for doctors and the public. With 70 million visits a month, it ranks as the third most visited health site in the US.

(One of several generic happy-people pix in the article)

Monogamy is still very much the norm in today's societies, but different types of romantic relationships are gaining ground. [We spoke] to some polyamorous people and asked: What is fact and what is fiction about polyamorous relationships?

...One form of nonmonogamous practice that has been attracting attention in the media is polyamory. ... Is it a dream come true, a way of "having your cake and eating it, too".... Or, is being in a polyamorous relationship really not that different from being in any other kind of relationship?

...Polyamorous relationships can take various forms. They can be hierarchical, with one partner being the "primary" partner, or nonhierarchical, in which all partners have equal standing. Moreover, a person could be in separate relationships with different partners or in a relationship in which all or several partners are also romantically engaged with each other.

...Christian Klesse, Ph.D., a researcher and lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, specializes in sexualities. [He writes,] "Love is central to the discourses on polyamory, [which] is clearly revealed in the etymological roots of the term."

...The polyamorous people who spoke with us also agreed on another issue: the main misconception that non-polyamorous individuals tend to have.... Polyamory is not just about having more sex, and it is not a creative form of cheating on one's partner.

"Many people mistake polyamorous relationships for open relationships," Jim told us. ... Sex can be part of the deal, but it is not usually the focus. ...

Although people who practice polyamory may not have any magical superpowers, sometimes it may seem as if they do. Healthy polyamorous relationships are based on good time management skills and great communication, according to the people who spoke to MNT.

For one, the partners in a polyamorous relationship have to be great at explaining what their expectations, needs, and limits are and at checking in emotionally with their partners at every step of the way.

Different types of polyamorous relationships, therefore, come with different sets of rules, depending on the needs of the romantic partners.

...Ella also noted that, early on in her life as a polyamorous partner, she had to learn to fully understand where any negative emotions, such as jealousy, might come from. ...

...Despite these challenges, there seems to be an overarching sentiment that polyamory is worth the effort, purely for the amount of love and support that goes around among the partners.

"I'm living my best life," Ella told us.

Whew. A few years back, some of us in the Polyamory Leadership Network considered producing a brochure for doctors and other care-givers and getting it mass-distributed to them. The pricing came out ridiculous, so that was the end of that. Now here it's being done for us, more or less the way we'd want, for free!

If you succeed in getting a bandwagon rolling, and manage to keep steering it well as it bounds downslope, it can do much of your heavy work for you.

P.S.: Did you notice that at least half the people in these stories happen to be black? Mostly that's a coincidence this week, but people of color are indeed becoming more fearless about defending ethical non-monogamy — and its deep history of helping build extended chosen family in the face of hard conditions. See my collection of items a few days ago riffing on a much-noted Medium article: "Polyamory Can Be Liberating For People Of Colour, Until Racism Gets In The Way" (Nov. 25).

That's it for now. If you're in the neighborhood, maybe we'll see you this evening at Leftover Pie Party?



November 25, 2019

"Polyamory Can Be Liberating For People Of Colour, Until Racism Gets In The Way"

The story below deserves a post of its own. It appeared on HuffPost Canada a couple days ago. To judge from it, Canada may have made less progress than the organized poly movement in the US — at least the people who organize, present at, and attend the big poly conventions. More on that in a bit.

But first, excerpts:

"When polyamorous people of colour date, they often are mindful of how their identities are treated in community spaces. (Getty)"


Polyamory Can Be Liberating For People Of Colour, Until Racism Gets In The Way

By Al Donato

How can you feel love for more than one person? Before Gabby Cenona opened herself up to polyamory, this question was insurmountable. As the daughter of Filipino immigrants, her upbringing enforced the idea that people are only supposed to romance one person at a time. ...

[As] polyamory, often shortened to “poly” or more recently “polyam,” ...becomes more visible in Canada, so too are misconceptions rising to the surface. Among the most common: “Polyamory is for white people.”

In reality, Canadians of colour like Cenona are just as willing to form polyamorous relationships. Although white people tend to be the face of polyamory, a paper published in the German Journal of Psychology reports that people of colour are just as likely to engage in consensual non-monogamy.

People of colour (POC) who are ethically non-monogamous... explained to HuffPost Canada that while their love lives are active, they aren’t nearly as visible in media or represented in community spaces as their white counterparts. By virtue of who they are, their relationships are nuanced by racial inequality and cultural considerations; two factors that rarely get explored in mainstream conversations about polyamory.

Getting fetishized, ignored can lead to alienation

...Jenny Yuen, a Toronto Sun editor and the author of Polyamorous: Living and Loving More, found that many of the polyamorous people of colour she talked to felt fetishized by polyamorous meetups and discussion groups; when concerns would be brought up, they’d be brushed aside.

“They feel like, for example if they’re Black, they’ll be asked to ‘taste the chocolate,’” Yuen said. When statements like those are called out, Yuen said, it can lead to a defensive retort like, “Why won’t you take that as a compliment?”

Racial fetishes aren’t just a problem in consensual non-monogamy, as they pose issues for many people of colour. But for a community that relies on finding like-minded individuals for a specific relationship style, the fear of fetishizing can become a huge deterrent to forming bonds. Psychology Today [actually Eli Sheff's Psychology Today blog] listed the fear of becoming someone’s fetish as a major reason why polyamorous community spaces like meetup groups are often white-dominated.

...Aside from worries about getting fetishized... stigma and not having the time or money make people of colour hesitant to go to polyamorous events in-person.

Kevin A. Patterson, author of the book Love’s Not Colorblind, notes that when Black people are present in white spaces, white attendees mistakenly believe that that it’s OK to objectify them. He recalls how at one event, a man told him about his wife and bragged about her “queen of spades tattoo;” the ink’s symbolism implied that she was into Black men, as “spade” can be used as a racial slur.

“We’re going to talk about this bullshit racist tattoo that you think is going to endear me to you, your wife, your situation,” Patterson told the man.

Patterson says that he and other polyamorous people of colour deal with this degree of insensitivity on such a regular basis that “for every one of these [incidents], there’s like five that I forgot.”

Millie Boella
...Millie Boella, a Black Canadian who was interviewed by Yuen, felt uneasy when she realized that only 11 out of 1,000 people in a Toronto polyamorous group she was added to were visibly people of colour, based on their Facebook avatars.

Patterson said that when he and his wife went to their first meetup for ethical non-monogamous locals, only five other people of colour attended. Four never returned.

“When you’re a person of colour, you have to decide how much white nonsense you’re willing to tolerate, how many microaggressions you’re willing to tolerate,” Patterson told HuffPost Canada.

People of colour have long histories with polyamory

For many cultures, polyamory isn’t anything new. The long history of consensual non-monogamy in many cultures predates today’s version of monogamy.... Relationship styles like “walking marriages,” open arrangements, and polyamory in Indigenous communities have been documented all around the world.

Despite this, many still see polyamory as a recent concept popularized by white North Americans. “Anything that is progressive is deemed as ‘white people discovered it first,’” Boella said. The Vancouver resident, whose family comes from Kenya, says that there are non-monogamous relationships in her country.... “My tribe has a lot of progressive love practices that I haven’t seen Western culture do … we always judge people of colour as conservative when there’s so much nuance to that.”

...Aside from the unequal treatment they navigate in non-monogamous circles, polyamorous people of colour note that they may also face hardship when talking about love in their own communities.

...For many communities of colour the theoretical, academic framework of polyamory (which comes with an extensive vocabulary) is inaccessible. Kristura also believes that because they are marginalized, communities of colour may form strict attitudes toward behaviour that don’t fit Western norms as a survival tactic.

“The more marginalized a community is, the more it’s going to feel the need to police itself,” they say. “Whiteness is equated with privilege; privilege is freedom. When you get right down to it, white people can do anything and be looked at as individuals. They’re not going to be looked at as a reflection of their race. We are.”

...Boella told HuffPost Canada that she founded the Facebook group Toronto Non-Monogamous BIPOC after deciding the original group she was in needed a separate space for people of colour. The group has become popular in the city, spawning meetups that became workshops on requested topics.

And in the US chapters of Black & Poly have sprung up in 10 cities, there's one in London, and there are now two polycons centering the black experience:  Black Poly Pride in Washington DC in June, and Poly Dallas Symposium in July.

Other ways of improving polyamorous social circles include challenging the existing spaces to do better for their racialized attendees. Patterson said he is vocal when spaces make him uncomfortable as a Black person. This has led to sometimes being shunned for calling out organizers, but has also resulted in direct change...

Boella encourages polyamorous white people to be allies to their partners of colour. That can mean listening when a partner of colour calls them out, or holding workshops that teach fellow white community members to stop unethical dating practices like fetishizing or, on the flip side, avoiding relationships with certain ethnicities. She says she hasn’t seen workshops geared toward being supportive to partners of colour.

“I haven’t seen that; I feel like this is a massive blind spot,” she says. ...

Read the whole article (Nov. 22, 2019).


Kevin Patterson (who's brilliant on many topics, not just the above) will be the keynote speaker at the Poly Living convention in Philadelphia the weekend of February 7–9, and I see that almost a third of the Poly Living presenters in the program are people of color.

That didn't just happen. For several years Patterson and at least a dozen others have been actively working in the poly awareness and education movement for wider representation around race, ethnicity, economic class, and gender diversity, and this has benefited us all. For one thing, it has upped conference attendance numbers. This comes after many years of us well-meaning white folks wondering why so few others than us were showing up. It took a dedicated vanguard — but it also took event organizers ready to partner with that vanguard (thank you Robyn Trask) and to listen to how to create safe and welcoming spaces.

It's de rigeur now for cons to provide at least some scholarships, work trade, and room shares for polyfolks who are not in the middle class and up, and to help pay presenters' travel and hotel expenses where needed. (Most polycons are still not big enough to cover their presenters' expenses as a matter of course; most struggle to break even). There is also greater attention to building in safety for women and gender minorities and accommodating disabilities.

A notable blowup happened when organizers of one polycon, Beyond The Love in Columbus, Ohio, came under criticism for disrespect and then not making things right. BTL, under new management, apparently got the message that the community's concerns needed to be addressed, especially when members of the community are offering to help out, not just criticize. BTL 2019 was three weeks ago. I wasn't there, so I can't report how things went, but I've heard nothing ill. The scholarship money that was collected at a fundraiser last year was located and used, I'm told, and the producers established a diversity and inclusiveness statement for attendees to which they too expect to be held. Any news from people who went?


Also, just up this evening: On Zora, "A Medium publication for women of color," Are Polyamorous Relationships the New Sexual Revolution? (Nov. 25)

By Feminista Jones

...Part of why I began my own work as a sex-positive feminist was because of the lack of Black women’s inclusion in conversations about sexual agency and liberation. I fully understand that sexual conservatism in Black communities is real and is often rooted in religious beliefs and the result of historical sexual trauma. I also know that people of color do have robust and diverse sexual experiences and the nuances of our sexual activity and participation in alternative sexual lifestyles like polyamory must be included in larger discussions about sex and sexuality.

...Websites that center Black people, in particular, are growing in number as more people feel safer sharing their polyamorous preferences. In 2018, BET published an article about being Black and polyamorous in which Crystal Farmer, editor of the online magazine Black & Poly, also pointed out that the larger poly community is still pretty White and she, like so many others, feels more comfortable around other Black people in poly-focused social settings. And because it can be difficult to find romantic partners when society still ostracizes polyamorous people, Black & Poly also operates a dating site for people looking to find poly love online and it welcomes all types of poly configurations, genders, and sexual orientations.

...Black Poly Nation (BPN) was founded by a Black polyamorous couple, Devon White and Danielle Stokes-White, in December 2018. In less than a year, BPN already has an Instagram following of over 13,000 people, over 11,000 subscribers on YouTube, and a Facebook community group with nearly 14,000 members. According to their website, BPN is “dedicated to uplifting all forms of Poly and other forms of ethical nonmonogamous relationships” and its mission is “to create a social engagement centered community, that allows people to learn, network, and even search for love.” I reached out to them to learn more about BPN and what makes them a go-to source for all things Black and polyamorous....

White said the decision to create the BPN community was in response to “a growing call for a change in how Black polyamorous people engage each other.” He noted that “everyday people” weren’t represented in a lot of groups and that their organization “has laid the groundwork for a new, more modern and realistic representation of Black polyamorous people, one where the focus is on building a community as a whole.” BPN shares educational tidbits about polyamory, encourages community engagement, promotes mental health awareness, and according to Stokes-White, BPN has hosted more local meetups across the country than any other organization this year. ...

...There are also conferences that center the lived experiences of Black polyamorous people, and Black Poly Pride is the newest one to enter the scene. Launched in 2019 by Chanee Jackson Kendall and Cheri Calico Roman, co-founders of The Poly Cultural Diversity Alliance, the conference was created because of the lack of Black presenters and educators at other poly conferences. “Instead of waiting to be invited to speak, we built our own table and platform.” ...

As an educator, she was tired of being asked to speak specifically about “diversity” and being Black and poly; she wanted to create a conference where Black presenters were allowed to cover all aspects of polyamory, not just race issues. ...

We are witnessing a shift in consciousness when it comes to the ways in which Black people love. Polyamory and ethical nonmonogamy are increasingly popular because of the people who are unapologetic and unafraid to be open and truthful about their experiences and their love lives. ...

The whole article (Nov. 25).


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November 23, 2019

Today is Polyamory Day. Share it! And why November 23, you ask?

Fire up your meme-sharing fingertips, because today, November 23, is Polyamory Day. Ambitious organizers are getting the idea to spread.

Also available: French and Spanish


For years people floated various ideas for an appropriate Polyamory Day, but nothing happened. Then in 2017 the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) took the initiative by declaring, with a press release, that November 23 would be National Polyamory Day in Canada. In 2018 they repeated the announcement more globally, and the idea spread. Now they're in a broader campaign, in seven languages, for 2019.

Why November 23? That's the date when, in 2011, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled that Canada's anti-polygamy law does not apply to modern polyamorists, if they do not attempt to make a multi-marriage-like arrangement into an official marriage. Previously, according to the law, three or more people living in one dwelling "conjugally" could be sentenced to five years in prison, although no prosecution had been brought for many decades.

The CPAA has posted their Polyamory Day announcement and graphics for anyone to copy and use. Also in French and Spanish.

Please share this from their Facebook page. Or in FrenchOr in Spanish.

Update: Also sites now in Portuguese, German, Dutch, and

And, boost on Twitter.

CPAA writes,

If you agree that people who are polyamorous are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and governmental accommodation that others have, please circulate this image to others on your blogs, in email, and on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Let's make this go!


BTW, here is a list of other more-or-less
settled recognition days that are poly related.
(Image link)


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November 22, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup – metamour relations in the news, black community video, the clueless Federalist, and more

It's Friday again, and that means it's time for (drum roll) this week's Friday Polynews Roundup! With a bunch of fresh new poly-in-the-media.

Bella Thorne
● Actress/ singer/ director Bella Thorne's enthusiasm for polyamory continues to flood the celebrity and entertainment press following her Cosmopolitan interview. For instance, in Billboard: Bella Thorne Says Polyamory Is 'Beautiful' When You Find 'the Right Mesh of Two People' (Nov. 15). And the feminist Refinery29: “I Love Loving Two People At Once” (Nov. 18).

Note that she gets it about the defining aspect of polyamory: that metamour relations are present and matter. From the Cosmo interview:

Thorne — who’s previously shared that she's pansexual — says that successful polyamorous relationships ultimately hinge on the chemistry of the people involved.

"If you’re gonna date a guy and a girl at the same time, those people have to really fuck with each other," she said. "Or literally fuck with each other. You know what I’m saying? It’s like, it really depends on finding the right mesh of two people."

And in her case, she likes her metamour relations to be close:

"If it works, you can spend a weekend with two people and you’re all hanging out and having fun and smoking, and like, sharing stories up late at night," Thorne continued. "Kind of having fun, acting like children in that way. It’s a really fun experience, and I have been able to capture that a couple times, and I just love that idea. I love loving two people at once. I love sharing stories with three people in one room."

More on clear definitions. Insider presents the latest article explaining how polyamory, open relationships, and swinging are three different things (though they often overlap). Being in an open relationship isn't the same as being polyamorous. A sex researcher explains the difference. (Nov. 16, 2019) That would be Amy Moors.

...The differences are especially important to understand if you're considering such an arrangement yourself. After all, how awkward would it be if you think you're getting no-strings-attached sex but the other party wants an emotional relationship only?

...Open relationships tend to be more about sexual relationships.... Polyamory involves having multiple romantic relationships. ... Quite literally, polyamory means "multiple loves."

A consequence of this, unmentioned in the article, is that if your partner loves both you and someone else too, you must at minimum respect your metamour and treat them decently as part of the circle — it's the "We're all in this together" ethic. As the wise Page Turner pointed out on the first page of her book Dealing With Difficult Metamours, this is really the thing that sets polyamory apart.

It's not our partners that really make the daily existence of polyamory that different.... [It's] because of metamours. The fact that you have these people in your life who love the same people you love. ... Being metamours with someone can be an awful lot like sharing a best friend. ... Just like a co-best friend, sometimes your metamour will become your best friend too. But sometimes? It's a regular friendship. And in some cases, for whatever reason, you really don't get along with them. ...

The Federalist, a heavyweight conservative magazine (no apparent relation to the Federalist Society), weighs in with No, Human Beings Aren’t Happier When We Ditch Monogamy For Polyamory (Nov. 15). Is this the best they can do to not get it?

By Elizabeth Pardi

...As a species, we’re pretty terrible at throwing our bodies into something without emerging emotionally unaffected. Physiologically, we’re wired for intimacy of both our bodies and minds, and try as we might, we can’t divorce the two. [Of course polyAMORY is about marrying the two! Ever hear of, um, love? –Ed.]

...But despite monogamy being primarily a cultural construct, it’s responsible for our advanced accomplishments as a civilization. Societies where polygamy [sic] is practiced see far more warfare....

MamaMia, "Australia's largest women's media brand.... To make the world a better place for women and girls," presents 'I was in a happy relationship with my boyfriend. Then he encouraged me to date his friend' (Nov. 15). Includes an unrelated polygroup video.

a stock photo from somewhere

By Shannon Page

Ten years ago, after leaving two monogamous marriages in a row, I found myself happily exploring the delights of polyamory as the “primary partner” of a man we’ll call Mr X, who had introduced me to the concept — and, in time, to several of my other boyfriends.

...Turned out, I loved the freedom to pursue connections with people who intrigued me — without sneaking around, and without any restrictions on where it should lead. I was also pleasantly surprised at my absence of jealousy whenever Mr X hooked up with someone else. I discovered that for me at least, jealousy arose from feeling threatened or deceived. But we had a firm agreement never to start something without informing one another first, which helped me feel safe and stable.

Such open communication was one of the best gifts polyamory gave me: learning how to be completely honest with myself, and with everyone else. This honesty was possible because nothing was “forbidden” or off the table, as so many things had been in every prior relationship I’d had.

Now, I could ask for anything I wanted. If a partner wasn’t comfortable with whatever-it-was, then negotiation started, and a compromise found that made everyone happy. We all had permission to explore, to experiment, to try new things. No one had decided ahead of time how this must go or must turn out.

...It was so, so good. Mr X had another serious girlfriend at the time, and the four of us got along great. We weren’t a true “quad” — Mr X and I were the only ones bed-hopping in that arrangement — but all four of us were very closely connected, and we all learned so much about communication, self-knowledge, and opening our hearts wide. ...

Also in MamaMia, a first-person that it picked up last summer from Medium: My girlfriend and her husband: What I've learnt from my relationship with a married couple. (July 6). With another (unrelated) polygroup video.

By Joe Duncan

I am in love with a married woman, who’s in love with another man — but she’s also in love with me, too. That man is her husband and he and I are very good friends.

Such is the dynamic of my polyamorous relationship, and I’ve got to be honest, we’re all quite happy with this situation. There is no competition, no strife, no jealousy, no hard times, no anger or aggression, and it’s rather surprising, even to me, from the inside, that two men can get along so well and share the same woman.

When I look around at others and the problems they have in relationships, issues with which they can seemingly never compromise, I wonder if it’s us or it’s them that’s different. How is it that so many people are bothered by something that we seemingly absorb with impunity? The fact that we’ve set out on this course of polyamory to begin with is a clue that there’s something deeper — something wonderful happening here that’s quite unique, but is there more to it than that? I think there is.

I think several factors lined up to give us what we have. ...

It’s okay not to fight....
You get what you give....
Independence and balance....

Earlier: I felt dissatisfied in my marriage. So I suggested we introduce polyamory (June 29, 2019).

And earlier: "I went to a polyamorous wedding and it was the weirdest day of my life" (Nov. 3, 2017).

● From PopSugar, 3 Huge Lessons I Learned From My Polyamorous Relationship, by Lexi Inks (Nov. 14; Reprinted by UK Yahoo Style Nov. 15). The three lessons?

1. Communication Is Everything
2. You Don't Need to Be Their Everything
3. Your Partner's Happiness Should Be Your Happiness

Insider: People who think they'd be too jealous in an open relationship may have bigger problems. Namely, the widespread, toxic cultural assumption that jealousy is proof of love (Nov. 14).

"In our society we've really conflated jealousy with love and it's problematic," [Amy] Moors told Insider at the annual meeting for the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. "We often interpret jealousy as that person cares about you and really likes you, and that is so incredibly harmful to want to possess someone like that."

● AOL, Yahoo, and other outlets are airing a video series called "In the Know: Uncommon Ground," described as "a deep dive into society's fringe groups, both well-known and unknown." Here is These polyamorous couples are fighting the stigmas against non-monogamy: 'A way to be less isolated' (4½ minutes; dated Nov. 4, but it's been appearing elsewhere more recently). Notice the majority-black representation.

From the transcript:

Not everyone in Andre's life understands how — or why — he's more than one person at once.

"My family just thinks that I'm just like, doing this thing — and eventually I'll find 'the one,'" he told In The Know.

But Andre, who's in a relationship with four women, says he isn't looking for "the one." Instead, he finds love, support and happiness in polyamory – the practice of engaging in an intimate, romantic relationship with more than one partner at a time.

...We spoke with some of those individuals about how non-monogamy has given them committed, highly fulfilling relationships.

"Polyamory is a relationship that includes emotional attachment and love, and a commitment to each one of my partners," Jari, who is also polyamorous, told In the Know. "No relationship can be assumed about the structure and what it's going to look like."

Martisha, who is in a relationship with both Andre and Jari, says polyamory has given her a large, powerful support system that she might not find in a monogamous situation.

"There are a lot of additional people in my life that I can call on. And it's very freeing and liberating to know that just because there are other people, that does not mean the validity of my relationship is not still there."

For some polyamorous relationships, the presence of other partners can actually add to that validation — not take subtract from it.

"There's something that's really just great about seeing someone else interact with your partner in a way that's similar and also different," Elizabeth, who is partnered with both Andre and another man, Ray, told In the Know....

"The people that you're dating have a type," Andre said. "So if you're with a person long enough and you get to know a metamour [of yours], you realize all of the ways you are similar to that person."

"I think Andre and I have a lot in common," Jari told In The Know. "And I think that we would have met and been friends even if it wasn't through Martisha. So I think that makes it even cooler and easier when we're all hanging out."

See you next Friday, and probably with breaking news before then.



November 15, 2019

Friday Polynews Roundup – further research reports, Bella Thorne, supposed pro tips, and more


I'm going to try something new. Every Friday, I'll publish here a weekly summary of poly-in-the-news items that didn't make my regular posts.

There's so much poly in the media these days that I've been skipping too many items. Or I'll save up a batch on one topic, intending to do a giant one-topic roundup, and the task grows so big I never get a Round Tuit.

So every week I'll post a Friday Polynews Roundup of whatever else caught my interest, perhaps with briefer descriptions and quotes than usual.

I'll still do single posts for important items as they happen, and occasional collections on one topic like before. But I'll no longer be limited by that format.

We start off with items since the beginning of November.

Research was announced on what makes an open relationship successful, and it got a fair amount of media attention. The Independent newspaper in the UK, for instance, summed it up in The key to a successful relationship according to research (Nov. 1, 2019). "Mutual consent, communication and comfort are key to the success of a non-monogamous relationship, according to psychologists at the University of Rochester," the paper reported. "The trio of behaviours has been dubbed the Triple-C Model."

The happiest people were at the two opposite ends of the poly-mono spectrum: mono people in truly monogamous relationships, and open folks in truly informed, consensual CNM. In between were various shades of misery.

See the University of Rochester's press release (Oct. 29) and the original research report: Delineating the Boundaries between Nonmonogamy and Infidelity: Bringing Consent Back Into Definitions of Consensual Nonmonogamy With Latent Profile Analysis (authors Forrest Hangen, Dev Crasta & Ronald D. Rogge; online Nov. 4; paywalled except for the abstract.)

The researchers made a graphic summarizing their results. It also got a lot of media play. The conclusions are at bottom; dark blue there means relationships functioned worst; light blue, best.

A Facebook commenter with about 15 years of poly life offered a more practical and specific list for success.

Other research news: New study helps illuminate experiences of jealousy within consensually non-monogamous relationships, reported PsyPost (Nov. 2). Quoting the researchers,

Consensually non-monogamous people report dealing with jealousy by negotiating boundaries with their partner(s) and by cultivating compersion.... We investigated how jealousy is experienced within consensually non-monogamous and monogamous relationships, and we took it a step further by looking at how negotiating consent impacts feelings of jealousy across these groups.

The study itself was published in August as Jealousy, Consent, and Compersion Within Monogamous and Consensually Non-Monogamous Romantic Relationships (authors Justin K. Mogilski, Simon D. Reeve, Sylis C. A. Nicolas, Sarah H. Donaldson, Virginia E. Mitchell, & Lisa L. M. Welling; Archives of Sexual Behavior, August 2019 issue; paywalled except for the abstract.)

● And there was my Wednesday post about a survey of polyfamilies' experiences with the medical profession around pregnancy and childbirth.

● In Society19, a spending magazine for college women ("the ultimate guide for fashion, beauty, dating advice, and dorm decor"), we got Is Being In A Polyamorous Relationship The New In? (approx. Nov. 8). It's a nice bundle of things for newbies to consider.

We ask the questions that will have you asking if this is the sort of relationship you want for yourself. Polyamory may be on the rise, but that's because people have that choice now to make freely. So by the end of the article, see if it is a choice you are wanting to make.

● In Atlanta's gay Q Magazine, Singer Tom Goss opens up on polyamory, domestic violence (Nov. 7).

On the new album “Territories,” Goss opens up about his relationships with both his husband and his boyfriend, and he lays bare some hard queer truths from his real-life struggles in many areas, including pieces about polyamory and domestic violence.

● The statistic is often sited that 20% of Americans report having been in a consensually non-mono relationship at some point in their lives. That's misleading, says the Catholic News Agency: Despite the hype, non-monogamy is far from common, researcher says (Nov. 6). It's about an article by Charles Fain Lehman for the Institute for Family Studies. He instead cites an "i-Fidelity" YouGov survey done for the Wheatley Institute of Brigham Young University that got a result of 12%, not 20%.

Actually, though, he gets his main point backward. He says that because the survey with the much-quoted 20% was only of single people, it missed the more stable, monogamous population of marrieds. In reality, the singles-only sampling should mean the total of Americans who have ever been in CNM is higher, not lower, than the reported 20%. That's because all married people were single before they married. So the survey caught people earlier in their lives than the population average. The now-marrieds have had additional time, on average, to try consensual non-monogamy.

And we can certainly tell you that scads of couples who were mono when they married later show up exploring the swinger, open, and poly worlds.

Also, a different study using different sampling methods in Canada (culturally similar to the US) independently found that about 20% of Canadians have been in CNM at some time in their lives, and that 4% of their current relationships are open.

● In Cosmopolitan: Bella Thorne Says Smoking Marijuana and Having a Polyamorous Relationship Will Change Your Life (Nov. 14). I can attest that the title is true. Bella Thorne is an actress/ singer/ director. "Also on [her] agenda: staying friends with your exes." The celebrity press is full of this story right now.

● From Insider: The one mistake monogamous couples make when considering polyamory, according to a sex researcher (Nov. 14). And what's that?

"Having an open marriage, polyamory, or swinging really should be coming from a sense of deep security and stability, like 'I feel good with my partner. I can do this,' not necessarily from a fragile state," [Amy] Moors [of Chapman University] told Insider.

See you in seven days, if not sooner.



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November 13, 2019

Small study of poly pregnancy and childbirth experiences gets continent-wide attention

A sign of the times for us:

Canadian researchers got surprisingly wide news attention for their study of polyfamilies' experiences with the medical world during pregnancy and childbirth. The researchers wrote, "Our aim was to identify barriers to prenatal, antenatal and postnatal care for polyamorous families and to share results and strategies with health-care providers in the hope of overcoming them."

Let's start with the press release from the journal that published the paper, the prestigious Canadian Medical Association Journal (October 15, 2019):

Polyamorous families face stigma during pregnancy and birth

Polyamorous families experience marginalization during pregnancy and birth, but with open, nonjudgmental attitudes from health care providers and changes to hospital policies, this can be reduced, found new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

...Few studies exist on the experiences of polyamorous families in health care, and it appears there are none on experiences during pregnancy and birth.

"[G]iven the high proportion of polyamorous individuals who are of child-bearing age and the substantial potential for stigma, it is important to investigate polyamorous individuals' experiences with reproductive care providers to better inform practice," writes Dr. Elizabeth Darling, a study author and assistant dean, midwifery, and an associate professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, with coauthors.

Several themes emerged in this qualitative study of 24 participants, including 11 women who gave birth within the last 5 years and 13 partners.

Key points:

     – Participants deliberately planned families, choosing health care providers who they thought would be less discriminatory because of relationship status.

     – More partners means more support, although some partners were not able to fully share this support because of discomfort in disclosing polyamorous relationships.

     – People in polyamorous relationships often chose to disclose their status when it was medically relevant, and they received both positive and negative reactions from health care providers.

     – Navigating the health system presented challenges, including administrative barriers, in which forms did not have enough space for additional partners, or newborn identification bracelets that could be issued for only two parents
To improve health care experiences for polyamorous families, the study participants suggested health care providers should acknowledge the partners' presence and roles, be open and nonjudgmental, adapt administrative forms and procedures, and advocate for patients and their families.

"Our findings align with recent reports that individuals engaging in consensual nonmonogamy face stigma with respect to accessing health care," write the authors. "Our results also suggest that polyamorous individuals face concerns similar to those of other gender and sexual minorities regarding administrative barriers and challenges with disclosure to health care providers."

The authors state that substantial work needs to be done to remove marginalization experienced by these families in the health care system.

"[R]educing providers' implicit biases toward sexual minority groups, and patients in consensually nonmonogamous relationships in particular, is vital to addressing health disparities," writes Dr. Sharon Flicker, Department of Psychology, California State University, Sacramento, California, in a related commentary.

"Health care providers have an opportunity to mitigate this stress by providing inclusive environments and sensitive health care."

The research paper itself (online October 15). Here are its title and abstract:

The Polyamorous Childbearing and Birth Experiences Study (POLYBABES): a qualitative study of the health care experiences of polyamorous families during pregnancy and birth

BACKGROUND: As many as 1 in 5 adults practise some type of consensual nonmonogamy such as polyamory; many are married, have children, or both. Polyamorous families face unique challenges when accessing care during pregnancy and birth, and qualitative descriptive studies are needed to understand their experiences and inform health care providers’ practice.
METHODS: Participants, who self-identified as polyamorous, had given birth in the last 5 years and received at least some prenatal care, were recruited through convenience sampling on social media. Any of the birthing individual’s partners were also invited to participate. All participants completed a short demographic questionnaire and participated in a semistructured interview. Interview transcripts were coded using Braun and Clarke’s iterative thematic analysis.
RESULTS: A total of 24 participants, 11 who had given birth and 13 partners, were interviewed. Of those who had given birth, 5 received midwifery care only, 4 received obstetric care exclusively and 2 received shared care. Polyamorous families described sharing many common experiences during pregnancy and birth that were affected by their polyamorous identity. Although participants reported both positive and negative experiences with health care providers, when accessing health care all had experienced some form of marginalization that was related to their polyamorous status. One particular challenge for families was with respect to disclosure of polyamorous identity in hospital environments. Participants offered suggestions for improving the health care of polyamorous families during pregnancy and birth, including creating nonjudgmental spaces, accommodating difference through minimizing administrative barriers and allying with patients by providing patient-led care.
INTERPRETATION: Polyamorous families face marginalization when accessing pregnancy and birth care. Care experiences for polyamorous families can be improved by nonjudgmental, open attitudes of health care providers, and modifications to hospital policies to support multiparent families.

Okay, a small interview study of 24 self-selected participants, about experiences in a fringe population, right?


● The same day, Canada's nationwide CTV News aired this report:

From CTV's webpage for the story:

Polyamorous families face discrimination from health care providers during pregnancy: study

...This unconventional family is part of what researchers say is a growing trend of polyamorous relationships, where several consenting adults engage in romantic relationships, sometimes living together. And sometimes, like the Spence family, even sharing a home and raising children together.

“We have three parents that can take care of our kids as opposed to just two,” Taryn told CTV News. ...

But Canadian researchers at McMaster University who studied 24 of these “alternative families” say they aren’t always accepted by the medical system when they decide to have a baby. ...

...“Sometimes there is a repeated need to disclose family arrangements and that can be challenging for people to have to constantly explain their relationship to strangers,” [Elizabeth Darling] said.

A midwife could take on the responsibility of explaining the family status to all the health care providers involved in the pregnancy or birth.

“Participants [of the study] said having that advocacy was very much appreciated,” said Darling.

Doctors could also explain the medical relevancy of their questions. ...

“When selecting a provider, the families would often approach their first visit as an opportunity to interview the doctor,” she said. “They might ask direct questions or make assessments about the space, such as look for symbols that would suggest it’s an LGBTQ2-friendly space. They would also assess the kind of language the care provider uses in their initial interaction.”

● Right behind was CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster: Polyamorous families face stigma in pregnancy care, researchers say (Oct. 15):

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Polyamorous families face stigma during pregnancy and birth because of attitudes and policies in health care that are built around monogamy, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton say.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study Tuesday based on interviews with 24 polyamorous Canadians — 11 who had given birth in the previous five years and 13 partners — recruited through ads posted on social media groups.

The researchers with McMaster University's midwifery program say their inquiry was motivated in part by some team members' personal involvement in the polyamory community and a shared interest in inclusive health care.

Co-authors Erika Arseneau and Samantha Landry say their findings suggest that while participants reported both positive and negative health-care experiences, all faced some form of marginalization rooted in "mono-normativity," the assumption that romantic relationships are limited to two partners.

"There's a lot of people that are engaging in polyamory and a lot of them are having children, contrary to popular belief, and their experience is very similar to monogamous families in a lot of ways," said Arseneau.

"In other ways, it's enhanced by the fact that they have multiple relationships and multiple support people in their lives."

...According to a study of more than 2,000 Canadians published in the Journal of Sex Research last April, four per cent of Canadians who are romantically attached reported being in an open relationship, and 20 per cent said they had previously engaged in the practice.

In 2016, the executive director of the Calgary-based Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family used social media to ask polyamorous Canadians to take part in an online survey. Of the 500 people who responded, more than 40 per cent said there were children living in their homes full- or part-time.

...Due to fears of discrimination, many participants opted not to disclose their polyamorous status unless it was medically relevant, said Landry.

Those who revealed they were polyamorous encountered an assortment of interpersonal and administrative challenges.

For example, some health-care providers would refer to a third partner as an "uncle" or "aunt" rather than their preferred title as a parent, said Landry.

...Arseneau noted that intake forms often only provide spaces for two parents, which can restrict a partner's access to the delivery room and involvement in medical decisions.

...Arseneau said she hopes the study helps health-care providers educate themselves about polyamory so they can acknowledge and accommodate the full spectrum of family structures.

"If you're creating a respectful, inclusive and accessible space for conversations to take place, whether it's about health care or social ideas, then that allows more room for difference and acceptance," said Landry.

● Canada's Global News network also ran the story the same day: Canadians unlikely to reveal polyamorous relationship during pregnancy: study (Oct. 15)

Oliver Rossi / Getty

...Polyamory is typically characterized by engaging in multiple intimate relationships with the consent of all parties involved.

Statistics on the prevalence of polyamory are hard to come by, but there are numbers to suggest that non-monogamous relationships may be on the rise in Canada.

According to a study of more than 2,000 Canadians published in the Journal of Sex Research last April, four per cent of Canadians who are romantically attached reported being in an open relationship, and 20 per cent said they had previously engaged in the practice.

In 2016, the executive director of the Calgary-based Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family used social media to ask polyamorous Canadians to take part in an online survey. Of the 500 people who responded, more than 40 per cent said there were children living in their homes full- or part-time.

It appears the law is slowly catching up to this evolution of Canadian families. Last year, a court in Newfoundland and Labrador recognized three unmarried adults as the legal parents of a child born within their “polyamorous” family. ...

● Three days ago the researchers themselves published an article about their work on The Conversation ("Fact-based articles straight from academic experts to you"). News media worldwide often pick up The Conversation's articles under its free Creative Commons license. More romantic partners means more support, say polyamorous couples (Nov. 10)

...We found that those in polyamorous relationships benefit from each other but not from the system. Many of our interviewees expressed the view that having more partners garners more support.

They told us that although navigating multiple relationships can be difficult, it can also offer greater financial and logistical support when it comes to raising a family. One participant said:

“There’s extra one-on-one. When the 13-year-old middle child is sad and sick and whatever and just wants Momma, and the three-year-old just wants Dad… great, there’s still another adult to take care of those other kids.”

Our research participants also expressed difficulty navigating formal and informal social systems — including the health-care system — as we live in a world that tends to privilege monogamy.

"Polyamory is an increasingly common
relationship choice. (Shutterstock)"
...The polyamorous families we interviewed expressed a great deal of deliberateness in their decision-making, specifically around family planning.

They put substantial efforts into communication around whether children were desired within relationships, when to have children, who in the relationships would be biological parents and what parenting roles individuals would have.

Although this was not always the case, many of our interviewees also reported difficulty disclosing their polyamorous status due to fear of judgment. This was true for disclosure to family, friends, colleagues and, in the case of pregnancy and birth, to their care providers.

...“They asked who is allowed to make appointments for your child, and I said me, my husband and my girlfriend. And I had to give her name and her number. And they asked me several times, are you sure? What’s her relationship to the child? I’m like, well, I guess she’s technically his mother. And they’re like, well, we’ll just put down his aunt because we can’t put down multiple mothers when you already have a father, apparently.”

...Our participants expressed facing barriers such as lack of physical space for additional partners, lack of inclusion in medical decision making and facing judgement with disclosures. ...

● In the United States, Health Day published a story that got picked up by US News & World Report: When Baby Makes Four (Oct. 15)

By Amy Norton

When people in non-monogamous relationships decide to have a baby, they may find that hospitals are not ready to handle their childbirth needs, a new study suggests.

The study is among the first to look into the health care experiences of people in "polyamorous" relationships.

...While polyamory might be fairly common, there are many misperceptions about it, according to Flicker, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

Some see it as an aberrant behavior. However, Flicker said, "there is nothing inherently pathological about these relationships."

Another misperception is that polyamorous relationships are strictly casual — in the vein of "swinging," said Elizabeth Darling, the senior researcher on the study.

But, in fact, many people build "stable family units" where there are simply more than two adults taking care of the kids, explained Darling, an associate professor at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. ...

● And in Popular Science, or at least its website: Stigma against polyamory could put families’ health at risk (Oct. 21). "Nevertheless, research shows polyam families offer serious benefits to their kids."

...For Landry, a big takeaway from the new research is that a lot of people are in relationships outside of what healthcare workers might consider “traditional.” To keep parents and kids as healthy as possible, doctors and nurses should make sure they stay informed. Of course, this study is still one of the earliest to even discuss the topic of CNM parenthood, so more data and study are needed.

“Understand that people are happy and see huge benefits from having multiple relationships,” she says. "It's not just something that 'those other people' do. Most people probably know someone who is polyamorous, whether they are aware of it or not."

And more, including MSN, Medical Health News, Foreign Affairs New Zealand, and MedIndia.

People these days are really interested in us.


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