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

July 11, 2018

Unicorn Hunting as a Widely Recognized Thing

Posted to a Facebook poly group:

Wish we could find someone near [town], NV, there must be a lady out there somewhere that is looking for a loving couple. I see all the other comments from other couples looking for the same situation let me tell you there is probably more chance of you winning the lottery.

From Michigan:

ANY bi lady AT ALL out there want to start the new year in a new direction with a nice, kind, attractive couple? PLEASE let us know. Don't know ANY other way of finding her....... :(

Craigslist, Sunnyvale CA:

POLYAMORY LESBAMORY Looking for open minded woman to join our relationship/marriage. Must love babys and dogs....

From Ohio, on Reddit:

We are a married couple that I at least feel we are decently attractive. ... We have tried every dating app and site that I can find even several dedicated specifically to the polymarorous lifestyle. I am getting rather discouraged as is my wife who is very eager to explore with another woman. We just want some advice on what we are doing wrong.

An answer to that question, downvoted to oblivion:

The only advice I can give you is patience. My Fianceé and I are keen on triads ourselves and have had moderate success due to two things. Patience and staying away from online poly communities who have a strict enforcement of their interpretation of how non monogamy works.

For some background to better explain, I'm an emotionally detached ex special forces man who is so straight shooting that 65% of people don't like me because quite frankly I don't give a fuck what you think if you did something dumb we need to fix it and that's okay. ...

On Craigslist in Nevada:

We are a very happy stable couple of 12 years.... You have to be willing to participate with both of us...one on one and together and u must be willing to ensue a relationship with us.... female is 33, 5'8 size 10-12....

Kimchi Cuddles, used by permission. Click to embiggen.

Newcomers to the poly world, and there are lots of them these days, are often confused or offended by the community's reaction to "unicorn hunters."

A unicorn, of course, is an unattached hot bi woman ready to join a couple and slot into the role they have pre-designed for her — stereotypically that she will love them both equally, have sex only with both of them together so one won't get jealous, have no other relationships, and maybe do housework and childcare. And be dumpable at any moment by both of the couple if one of them gets the wibbles.

Some women who've been around this loop swear never to fall in love with a couple again.

Happy unicorns exist. Some women, and the occasional bi guy, find that being a couple's secondary or friend with benefits fits into their life well. But savvy ones take care to maintain their independence and autonomy, and are fearless about rooting out unexamined assumptions and spreading them out on the table under a bright light for discussion. Intentional unicorns are on the good side of a severe supply/demand imbalance, so they can take their pick. And/or have as many couples as they want.

● The wider world is starting to notice the poly unicorn trope and write about it. For instance, in the mainstream Business Insider:

What it means for couples to go 'unicorn hunting' — and why it usually doesn't end well

...Sometimes couples try out polyamory naively, especially when a straight couple wants to find another bi woman to join them. This is called "unicorn hunting," and it's something of a cliché in the poly community.

rawpixel.com / Unsplash
... But it's not as simple as finding a third person you both fancy. In fact, according to Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, expert witness, speaker, and coach of polyamory and author of The Polyamorists Next Door, straight couples often come into the polyamorous community expecting to find a bi woman to join them. This, she said, is called "unicorn hunting."

Sheff's former husband introduced her to the idea of polyamory with exactly this intention. He wanted another woman to sleep with, but he didn't particularly want her to be able to meet other men. Apparently in the poly community, this is quite a cliché.

"She's known as 'the unicorn' because she's so rare, and almost mythical," Sheff told Business Insider. "He thought he was so edgy and out there, and we could have a wife the two of us together.

"As it turns out, it's every straight boy's fantasy. It doesn't fly well in the poly community. And when he didn't get what he wanted, he had a tantrum, and didn't want to do it anymore."

When couples can't find a unicorn, Sheff said it's common that the woman has actually started to quite enjoy the freedom of polyamory. She may have been reluctant to try it at first, but turns out to be the one who enjoys it more.

"The woman of the couple finds other people to socialise with, and the man realises he's not the centre of attention that he [expected to] be, and thinks 'This isn't as much fun as I thought it would be," Sheff said. ...

Remember — everyone has feelings

Alex* is in a polyamorous relationship with his wife. They were monogamous for a long time, but ended up making friends with many polyamorous people, and it turned into quite a normal thing in their social circle.

He told Business Insider he's not aware of a situation where a male-female couple actively seeking a bi woman has worked out well.

..."The stereotype at least is that unicorn hunting couples are looking to treat a partner as an object in their relationship," he added. "They want someone — maybe anyone, reducible to their gender, sexuality, and availability — that fits into their lives and fits their relationship without thinking about the needs and human perspectives of the person they're looking for."...

The whole article (Nov. 29, 2017).

So if you're a well-meaning couple with genuinely big hearts who's looking, what should you do?

Make friends. Lots of them! Lively, thoughtful, socially unconventional friends. Be the kind of friend you want to attract. Seek out your local poly groups, sure, and go to poly cons. But this is not about finding a hole-filler for your marriage. It's about making intimate space for friends who, if cupid's arrows fly, might like to become more.

Splinter, part of the Gizmodo Media Group of online magazines, goes deeper: Bisexual women don’t want to be your sex ‘unicorn’ (July 19, 2016)

By Lux Alptraum

...Holly’s an open-minded, adventurous sort, interested in exploring all sorts of kinks and adventures, particularly with other people who are as queer as she is. But one thing she’s not interested in? Being the third in a random heterosexual couple’s threesome.

...Despite the fact that Holly explicitly notes that she’s very particular about her group sex experiences, she still gets message after message from couples who clearly haven’t read her dating profile, desperately hoping that they’ve finally found their unicorn.

The term is a familiar one to bisexual women like myself — and it may become known to a wider audience thanks to a new web series called Unicornland, which offers a celebratory vision of what it’s like to be a woman seeking adventure in the arms of couples. The series stars a 28-year-old divorcee named Annie who decides to explore her sexuality and expand her relatively vanilla horizons by dating couples looking for a third.

But missing from the show’s premise is a darker truth to the concept of the unicorn. ... As any bisexual woman who’s spent time on a dating app knows, she’s a fantasy come to life, a person willing to show up for a night of excitement and quietly disappear immediately after, a third who’ll ignite a couple’s passions without complicating their emotions. A unicorn is a creature who’ll bring all the sexy fun without creating any drama, baggage, or need for emotional work—and the reason she’s called a unicorn is because, quite frankly, she doesn’t exist.

What does exist, however, are leagues of unicorn hunters: couples on the prowl for the girl of their dreams, the one who’ll bring their fantasies to life without asking anything in return. And though there’s nothing wrong with a couple experimenting with group sex, or using the internet to seek out someone to play with, so many of these couples end up reducing bisexual women to fetish objects, treating us as interchangeable playthings rather than actual human beings. ...

...[The] assumption that being a couple’s third is some sort of special honor shapes the way many threesome seekers approach their would-be unicorns, mapping out elaborate criteria for consideration and often making demands for information and pictures without offering any in return.

...Lost in all of this, of course, is what bisexual women need, or want, or desire. Because while being a tourist in someone else’s relationship can absolutely be a good time, it can also be exhausting, stressful, and emotionally trying. A couple that hasn’t fully prepared for the reality of bringing a third into the bedroom ... is a magnet for drama and disaster, which can easily spill over into the life of an unwitting third. Even if you’re interested in joining a couple for a sexy night of fun, that couple needs to be able to treat you like a person, not a means to an end. Most unicorn hunters don’t seem to have thought enough about their threesome fantasy to realize that.

And there's always been loads about the topic in the poly community itself. What follows is a very partial roundup.

● A deeper, more radical analysis gets the root on The Mouthy Mon-Monogamist's blog: Why couples looking for a third drive polyamorous people stir crazy (Jan. 1, 2018):

Hetero couples seeking another woman to “add to their relationship” represent what happens when people steeped in toxic monogamy culture encounter polyamory. Polyfidelitous triads are seen as a “safe” way to engage in polyamory without having to embrace a full-on rejection of toxic monogamy culture.

...Network polyamory [on the other hand] is inherently feminist. That is, it fully requires that we reject women as being property. It also requires that we respect women as autonomous people able to make their own decisions about their sexuality and relationships and to pursue intimacy for its own sake decoupled from the need to form a family and have children.

Polyamorous people reject a whole lot of Western mainstream premises about love, such as:

     – true love exists and that it’s only with one other person
     – relationships’ value is based on the length of time involved with them
     – the only way to show commitment is through exclusivity
     – one romantic partner must fill all of your needs
     – jealousy is an acceptable way to show how much you love someone
     – jealousy is a good way to control your partner
     – the only natural outcome of love is marriage and children

...It’s a pretty scary thing, to give up all of these ideas of what love and relationships should be. ... It’s also a radical idea that women can pursue equal and open romantic and sexual relationships with other people. ...

How do closed MFF triads attempt to have their cake and eat it too?

[Among many other ways:] One single home remains the site of family and reproduction, and closed MFF triads just become nuclear families plus one, rather than imagining alternate kinship networks.

I think that newbies in search of closed triads drive many of us polyamorous people crazy because in many ways we’re trying to create an intimacy revolution. Meanwhile others think that they can take a shortcut and not do the mental groundwork to change their assumptions, and still get all of the benefits. For me it’s a wish that these newbies would dream bigger....

● Here's a gentle, respectful, but long piece to give to that sweet new couple who mean so well: So, someone called you a Unicorn Hunter? It's a friendly but thorough explanation of the dog poo they just stepped in.

By David L. Noble

...Common issues when opening a relationship

People can actually be perpetuating unhealthy, dysfunctional standards and practices while being completely unaware that they are part of the problem. If anyone has ever described the idea of societal privilege to you, it’s kinda like that. The core of it is, you can be a good person, doing things that seem reasonable from your perspective, and still be part of a problem. It really does take some education, some communication, and a lot of forethought to get this one right. ...

● And of course there's also endless snark, such as Franklin Veaux's Flowchart for Couples Looking for a Third.

● A rather bitter perspective in xoJane: Beware the Unicorn Chasers, and Other Tips I've Learned in 10 Years of Polyamory (Aug. 12, 2015)

By Vae Drennan

...In the polyamory community, there is a common desire, especially from married couples who want to "add some spice," for a third. This third is almost always young, female, slender or fit, conventionally attractive, interested in both members of the couple, and completely new to the world of polyamory, with no compass to guide her. If she's lucky, she'll have other poly friends, but this is usually not the case....

If this sounds like a midlife crisis, you're not far off the mark. Usually, the couple is only interested in their secondary for purposes of their satisfaction. They don't care about what their third wants — or maybe they care, but they don't care enough to provide for her emotional needs or to put her "ahead" of the primary partner even temporarily.

In my first polyamorous relationship, I was the unicorn. My exes loved that they'd finally found a bisexual, thin young goth woman with a high sex drive and a willingness to try about anything. At the time I was still recovering from my first relationship....

● A pair of articles by Chelsey Dagger on Polyamory For Us: To Unicorns, From an Ex-Unicorn, and To Unicorn Hunters, From an Ex-Unicorn

There are plenty of women who are excited to do threesomes, or live in a triad, as the partner of both a man and a woman. I should know, I’m one of them! But there’s a difference between wanting to be in a triad and Unicorn Hunting.

The main difference is that Unicorn Hunters tend to look at the third partner as an addition to their relationship, instead of realizing that you’re creating a brand new relationship, with three people instead of two.

● Page Turner, book author and Poly.Land blogger, tells of the time she and her husband were hunted by a unicorn. It went pretty well; she tells how.

She's also written a little book, A Geek's Guide to Unicorn Ranching: Advice for Couples Seeking Another Partner (2017). The idea is don't hunt them, attract them. "To attract a unicorn, you’ll have to create a sanctuary. Become unicorn ranchers." If that sounds a little creepy don't worry, Page is good.

● Lastly, because I'm a word geek: Who invented the term unicorn hunter and when? On Facebook's Polyamory Discussion group, Mike SantaCruz claimed that he was there (posted April 8, 2016):

I'd like to share my recollection of how we came up with the term unicorn hunting. Back in the '90s we had mailing lists like Polylist and Triples, as well as Usenet's alt.polyamory. And like Old Faithful, new members would join and immediately declare that they were a couple looking for a Hot-Bi-Babe. This would become wearisome, and many folks would attack the new members as objectifying their desires.

Then some lists formed a militia that would handle these new members quickly and directly without an all-out war. On one list we called them Wanna-Warriors.

One of these Wanna-Warriors likened their request to seeking out a unicorn, a mythical beast that doesn't exist. And from that, we began to call these couples unicorn hunters.

Calling someone a unicorn hunter was a vast improvement over the derision offered in previous years. It was a rhetorical device that was designed to enlighten the couple instead of chase them away. Some people still feel this is too mean, but when used correctly it does have its intended effect.

Kimchi Cuddles, used by permission. Click to embiggen.



July 1, 2018

"Those in open relationships as happy with their partner as those in monogamous ones." And lots more poly studies!

Sociologists and other academics are studying people living in consensual non-monogamy ("CNM") much more now than in years past. Another such research project is currently making the news. Here's a report about it on CTV in Canada, where the work was done.

Those in open relationships as happy with their partner as those in monogamous ones: study

franckreporter / Istock.com

New Canadian research has found that individuals in open relationships are just as happy and satisfied as those in more traditional monogamous relationships.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario, the study surveyed more than 140 people in non-monogamous relationships and more than 200 in monogamous ones, asking them about their satisfaction with their current relationships.

Participants were asked to report on how often they considered separating, whether they confided in their partner, and what was their general level of happiness.

For non-monogamous relationships, the questions asked participants about their satisfaction with their main partner.

After comparing the groups' responses, the researchers found people in non-monogamous relationships were just as satisfied with their relationship with their main partner as the participants in monogamous ones.

"We found people in consensual, non-monogamous relationships experience the same levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships," said lead author Jessica Wood. "This debunks societal views of monogamy as being the ideal relationship structure."

The results also showed that there was one important predictor of relationship satisfaction, and it was [the source of] sexual motivation, rather than the structure of the relationship.

"In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict," said Wood. ..."

Between three and seven percent of people in North America are currently in a consensual non-monogamous relationship, according to the researchers, in which all partners agree to engage in multiple sexual or romantic relationships.

"It's more common than most people think," said Wood. "We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfillment and excitement but also emotional and financial support. ... To deal with this pressure, we are seeing some people look to consensually non-monogamous relationships."

However, Wood added that consensually non-monogamous relationships still attract stigma and are viewed as less satisfying and less stable, despite the fact that they are quite common and that research may suggest otherwise.

"They are perceived as immoral and less satisfying. It's assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainized and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that's not the case," says Wood.

The original article (June 29, 2018). News of the study's results are showing up in many other media, from Medical Daily to the Hindustan Times.

Here's the paper itself: Reasons for sex and relational outcomes in consensually nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships, by Jessica Wood, Serge Desmarais, Tyler Burleigh, and Robin Milhausen, in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (first published March 23, 2018). Get around the paywall by going through an academic library.

From the abstract:

Approximately 4% of individuals in North America participate in consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships, wherein all partners have agreed to additional sexual and/or emotional partnerships. ... A total of 348 CNM (n = 142) and monogamous participants (n = 206) were recruited.... Participants reported on their sexual motivations during their most recent sexual event, their level of sexual need fulfillment, and measures of sexual and relational satisfaction with their current (primary) partner. The CNM and monogamous participants reported similar reasons for engaging in sex, though CNM participants were significantly more likely to have sex for personal intrinsic motives. No differences in mean levels of relationship and sexual satisfaction were found between CNM and monogamous individuals. Participants who engaged in sex for more self-determined reasons reported increased relational and sexual satisfaction. ... This study indicates that CNM and monogamous individuals report similar levels of satisfaction within their relationship(s), and that the mechanisms that affect relational and sexual satisfaction are similar for both CNM and monogamous individuals. ...

● A related study, in the U.S. a year earlier, was also reported on by CTV at the time: New research finds low levels of jealousy in consensual open relationships (March 31, 2017):

...The perhaps surprising findings come from a new study by the University of Michigan, which looked at different relationships among 2,124 people over age 25.

Participants were asked about the quality of their relationship with either one or both partners, depending on if they were in a monogamous or consensual nonmonogamous relationship, and asked to rate the different relationship components of satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love, which is the intense love feeling often described in new relationships.

Lead author Terri Conley (Delaney Ryan/Michigan Daily)
The team found no differences between monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants in terms of satisfaction and passionate love.

However, the team found that ratings of jealousy and trust were actually better for those in heterosexual open relationships, contrary to what society often presumes about the benefits from monogamy, considered by many to involve high levels of commitment, trust, and love.

The study also revealed that individuals in nonmonogamous relationships had higher levels of satisfaction, trust, commitment and passionate love with their primary partner than in their secondary relationship, going against another possible assumption that those in nonmonogamous relationships do not care enough about each other to be happy in their primary relationship.

"Overall, the outcomes for monogamous and consensual nonmonogamous participants were the same -- indicating no net benefit of one relationship style over another," concluded the study's lead author Terri Conley.

That finding is buried deep in a long paper that reports on two studies and comments on the whole field, with many references: Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships, by Terri D. Conley, Jes L. Matsick, Amy C. Moors, and Ali Ziegler, in Perspectives on Psychological Science (March 27, 2017. No paywall.)

A story in Vice drawing from other parts of that paper: Why We Need to Challenge the Culture of Monogamy, by Allison Tierney (March 30, 2017). "Relationship norms are so pervasive that they've led to flawed science."

And in Quartz: The idea of monogamy as a relationship ideal is based on flawed science, by Cassie Werber (March 22, 2017). "Is monogamy actually better than non-monogamy? It’s still very much an open question — and one with no clear answers, in part because scientists can’t break free of a certain worldview gripping their field."

● Also notable: in queer communities, These Two Factors Make You More Likely To Be Into Non-Monogamy — a story in Autostraddle by Carolyn Yates about a different study focusing on lesbians, bisexuals, and gays (Oct. 29, 2017):

Open to new experiences? Not very conscientious? Queer? You might be more into consensual non-monogamy.

...A study published last week in the Journal of Bisexuality found that more than any other personality factors or attachment styles, being more open (appreciative of a variety of experience) and less conscientiousness (not very self-disciplined) makes queer people more likely to feel positively about and engage in consensually nonmonogamous relationships.

...The study focused on how personality traits — specifically openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism — are linked to positive attitudes and inclination toward consensually non-monogamous relationships among sexual minorities. The authors recruited 108 LGB participants online — 67% identified as women, 62% identified as bi- or pansexual, and 38% identified as gay or lesbian — to answer questions on their attitudes toward romantic relationships.

The authors found that being more open made people more attracted to consensual nonmonogamy, and write:

“[O]penness to new experiences and conscientiousness were robust predictors of attraction to multiple-partner relationships among LGB individuals. People who tend to have active imaginations, a preference for variety, and a proclivity to engage in new experiences (i.e., high in openness) hold positive attitudes toward CNM and greater willingness to engage in these relationships.”

While being more conscientious tended to make people less attracted to consensual nonmonogamy:

“[I]ndividuals who tend to be very organized, neat, careful, and success driven (i.e., high in conscientiousness) perceive CNM negatively and have less desire to engage in CNM. ...”

...They also found that, maybe counterintuitively, being extroverted made someone more likely to feel negatively about consensual nonmonogamy, and didn’t impact willingness to try it out.

The paper itself: Personality Correlates of Desire to Engage in Consensual Non-monogamy among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals, by Amy C. Moors, Dylan F. Selterman and Terri D. Conley, in the Journal of Bisexuality (published online Oct. 10, 2017. The abstract is free, the rest is behind a paywall.)

● Another: What attachment theory can tell us about polyamory, by David M. DeLuca in Medium (Oct. 8, 2016), drawing from this paper: Attached to monogamy? Avoidance predicts willingness to engage (but not actual engagement) in consensual non-monogamy, by Amy C. Moors, Terri D. Conley, Robin S. Edelstein, and William J. Chopik, in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (April 1, 2014).

● Long essay: The Distinctiveness of Polyamory, by Luke Brunning in the Journal of Applied Philosophy (Aug. 5, 2016). "To render [polyamory] palatable to critics, activists and theorists often accentuate its similarity to monogamy. I argue that this strategy conceals the distinctive character of polyamorous intimacy."

Has the American Public’s Interest in Information Related to Relationships Beyond “The Couple” Increased Over Time?, by Amy C. Moors in The Journal of Sex Research (published online: May 23, 2016). "This study utilizes Google Trends to assess Americans’ interest in seeking out information related to consensual nonmonogamous relationships across a 10-year period (2006–2015). ... Searches for words related to polyamory and open relationships (but not swinging) have significantly increased over time."

● This one got a great deal of attention when it came out two years ago, and it has been cited often ever since: Prevalence of Experiences With Consensual Nonmonogamous Relationships: Findings From Two National Samples of Single Americans, by M. L. Haupert, Amanda N. Gesselman, Amy C. Moors, Helen E. Fisher and Justin R. Garcia, in Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy (published online June 20, 2016).

"Using two separate U.S. Census based quota samples of single adults in the United States (Study 1: n = 3,905; Study 2: n = 4,813) ... more than one in five (21.9% in Study 1; 21.2% in Study 2) participants report engaging in CNM at some point in their lifetime."

Justin Lehmiller, on his Sex & Psychology site, published two articles on this report: How Many People Have Ever Had A Consensually Non-Monogamous Relationship? (May 30, 2016), and How Common Is Consensual Non-Monogamy? (May 13, 2016). Also: Lehmiller on people's suitability for friends-with-benefits relationships: Why Some People May Be Better Suited To Consensual Nonmonogamy Than Others (Aug. 15, 2016).

● From the Open Source Psychometrics Project, The demographics of polyamory/monogamy from a general population survey (2015). "A survey of users of this website was conducted that asked about demographics and about polyamory/monogamy. For those not familiar with polyamory, the definition from Wikipedia was provided. In October 2015, 5,043 responses to this survey were recorded...."

● On the other hand, this on Mic.com: When It Comes to Relationships, Turns Out We're Not as Edgy as We Think We Are (March 25, 2016). "We" means millennials:

Only 15% of Americans age 18 to 29 would ever consider being in an open relationship, according to a new survey conducted by the Huffington Post and YouGov. That proportion is nearly identical to — not higher than — the numbers for adults age 30 to 44 and 45 to 64.

The survey also found that 18% of 18- to 29-year-olds have been in an open relationship, while only 14% have attended a party where they engaged in sexual activity with multiple partners.

● There's a lot of stigma, but less when people know what "polyamory" actually means: Around Consensual Nonmonogamies: Assessing Attitudes Toward Nonexclusive Relationships, by Katarzyna Grunt-Mejera and Christine Campbell, in The Journal of Sex Research (published online Aug. 4, 2015). From the abstract:

The present study examined the social norms that are violated by different forms of consensual nonmonogamy and the negative judgments that result. We asked 375 participants to rate hypothetical vignettes of people involved in one of five relationship types (monogamy, polyamory, open relationship, swinging, and cheating) on items related to relationship satisfaction, morality, and cognitive abilities. The monogamous couple was perceived most favorably, followed by the polyamorous couple, then the open and swinging couples who were rated equally. Participants judged the cheating couple most negatively. ... We conclude that the aspect that has the most effect on judgments is whether the relationship structure has been agreed to by all parties.

● An important work was the big Loving More survey six years ago: What Do Polys Want? An Overview of the 2012 Loving More Survey. It followed and improved upon Loving More's pioneering survey of its members and their associates in 2000.

One particular paper that came out of some of the 2012 data was this: The association of an open relationship orientation with health and happiness in a sample of older US adults, by James R. Fleckenstein and Derrell W. Cox II, in Sexual and Relationship Therapy (published online Nov. 18, 2014). From the abstract:

The authors collected 502 responses via an online survey from individuals aged 55 and older residing in the United States who engage in consensually non-exclusive sexual relationships. Self-reported health and happiness, number of sexual partners, and sexual frequency were compared with 723 similar respondents from the nationally-representative 2012 United States (US) General Social Survey. Key findings were: irrespective of formal relationship status, the non-exclusive sample reported significantly more sexual partners, more sexual frequency, better health, and were much more likely to have had an HIV test than the general US population; the non-exclusive sample also reported being significantly happier than the general population, with the exception of married men, who reported being as happy as the general population sample; and regression analyses suggest that the factors which predict better health and happiness differ between the general population and those who participate in consensually non-exclusive sexual relationships.

● The leading specialist regarding the health and outcomes of kids in poly families is of course Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door (2015). She's now in Year 20 of her own very longterm study tracking children of poly. Here's one of a five-part series about such kids on her Psychology Today-hosted blog.

● This list makes no pretense of being complete! If you've read this far, you may want to join the long-running PolyResearchers Yahoo Group, which Sheff founded long ago. Many papers can be read for free in its ample files.



June 21, 2018

That Canadian polyfamily with three official parents? The CBC finds and interviews them.

Although it hit the news only last week, a poly family in St. John's, Newfoundland, made legal history on April 4th when a judge granted three adults status as parents to their child. The family maintained their privacy even while getting international attention.

Now they've talked to CBC-TV News / Newfoundland, using their initials and photos that conceal their identities. The click below jumps you to the polyfamily segment (4 minutes long).

On the show's website is an article with many photos:

All in the family

Meet 3 parents who won a historic legal victory for polyamorous families

Text by Jonny Hodder, Photos by Paul Daly

Three parents who have made Canadian history by winning a court’s recognition as a legal family are still adjusting to their status as pioneers for polyamorous rights.

"I'm absolutely stoked about it," said a woman known to the courts as C.C., who with her partners — two men named J.M. and J.E. — won the right to be listed as parents on their daughter's birth certificate.

"I think the world is going in the right direction, and I'm so happy, proud, baffled that we made a difference in this."

In April, a judge in the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court's family division issued a decision that made them the first polyamorous family in Canada to have more than two people legally recognized as a child's parents.

"[That] was a big elephant in the room. It was a big weight on our shoulders," said J.E. "And the fact that it's a first is cool. That's great — I love it."

Polyamory is the practice of people engaging in intimate, romantic relationships with more than one individual at a time, but with the consent of all those involved.

...Polyamorous relationships can take many forms. In their particular case, J.M. and J.E. are each involved in separate, committed relationships with C.C., the child’s mother, but not with one another.

Meanwhile, all three live together — each adult has their own bedroom — and share parenting responsibilities of their daughter, whom they call Little A.

C.C., J.M., and J.E. met with CBC News in their St. John’s home. CBC News has agreed to not use their full names in order to protect their daughter’s privacy.

Contrary to what people may assume, the three do not often share a bed together.

"Three people, it's a lot of people to have everything condensed to one room," said J.M. "I don’t know if you've ever slept in a bed with two other people before, but it's very warm, high chance of snoring happening. There's a lot of limbs."

C.C. makes a distinction about the relationship dynamics.

"I'm polyamorous. The boys are both monogamous," she said.

"It's not that I split the love; it's that I have a lot of love. It took a little bit of trust on their behalf … because this was all new to them. Their ideal wasn’t to be in a polyamorous relationship, but it is ideal now."

Although the two men are not romantically involved with one another, they had been best friends for nearly a decade prior to meeting C.C. at a local music festival. While some may bristle at the thought of sharing a long-term romantic partner, both J.E. and J.M. say it was a relatively smooth transition.

"I don't remember it being that tumultuous. Everything kind of flew naturally," J.E. said.

"We live in a culture where everyone's born to think if someone loves one person and has sex with one person, then that means that’s it," said J.M. "But when you open your mind to that concept, you realize there can be more than one person that someone has feelings for."

Given those societal norms, the three were preparing themselves for a drawn-out court battle. Their lawyer, Tracy Bannier, had advised them there was no previous legal precedent in Canada for a polyamorous family seeking to have all parents' names on a birth certificate. (Although, Canadian courts had previously recognized that a child can legally have more than two parents in cases involving biological and same-sex parents.)

...They were... surprised at how quickly Justice Robert Fowler delivered his decision.

"We were expecting a call from our lawyer to get our next court date, and she called me and she was like 'Hey! ... So, your request has been accepted,'" C.C. said.

"And she kind of giggled on the phone, like, 'Yeah, it's done! So Little A has three parents!' ... I just literally started to cry here."

In his written decision, Fowler noted that there was "an unintentional gap" in the Children’s Law Act of 1990 regarding the legal status of polyamorous parents. Rather than prohibiting more than two parents, the nearly three-decade-old document simply doesn't take into account “the now complex family relationships that are common and accepted in our society.” ...

Read the whole article (June 20, 2018).

● Also out yesterday, in The Lawyer's Daily in Canada: N.L. polyamory parenting decision puts children first, lawyers say (June 20):

By Terry Davidson

An unusual court decision declaring two men as parents to a child born into a polyamorous relationship with a woman drives home the justice system’s precept of doing what’s best for children and furthers its attempts to keep up with changing familial realities, experts say.

According to the written decision (C.C. (Re) 2018 NLSC 71), a child was born into the relationship in 2017. Neither man wanted to know which one was the biological father and both sought to be recognized as the child’s parents along with the mother.

Lawyers for the province maintained that Newfoundland’s Children’s Law Act (CLA) does not allow for more than two people to be named as parents of a child.

But Justice Robert Fowler ruled it would be in the best interests of this child to name both the men as its parents. ... “In the present case, the child … 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. The fact that the biological certainty of parentage is unknown seems to be the adhesive force which blends the paternal identity of both men as the fathers. … I can find nothing to disparage that relationship from the best interests of the child’s point of view.”

When asked for comment, Newfoundland’s Department of Justice and Public Safety had little to say.

“This decision is still under review to determine whether or not there is merit for an appeal,” a spokesperson said in an e-mail. “As such, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

The decision speaks to the justice system keeping its eye on the changing face of the Canadian family, said Jodi Lazare of Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law in Nova Scotia.

“The courts are recognizing that the concept of family is becoming increasingly diverse through [things such as] same-sex marriage, through increasing … resort to assisted human reproductive technologies, and I think this is the court acknowledging that a legal regime that doesn’t recognize that diversity does a disservice to citizens — and particularly children,” said Lazare, adding that children “have always been conferred a sort of special status by the law,” which “should be the driving force in parentage determination.”

Tracy Bannier, of Curtis Dawe Lawyers, acted for the trio.

“In the Children’s Law Act, there are places that refer to the mother of a child and the father of a child,” said Bannier. “Certainly, at this point in time, it would never be read to mean that a child could have only one mother or could only have one father. Our argument was the legislation didn’t specifically prohibit a child from having more than two parents. It just simply hadn’t considered the fact that a child may have more than two parents. That point in time when the Children’s Law Act was brought in, it didn’t consider even that a child could have two moms.”

This case is similar to a 2007 Ontario Court of Appeal decision where the female partner of a woman impregnated by a male friend was declared one of the child’s parents.

When asked about the Newfoundland case, St. John’s lawyer Kellie Cullihall, of Gittens & Associates, called it “a victory for people who have non-traditional relationships and their children,” but said there could be unique complications should there be a relationship breakdown of some kind. ...

But professor Rollie Thompson, also of Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, doesn’t see it that way.

“If the relationship breaks down, it just falls into pretty standard Canadian law — it’s no big deal,” said Thompson. “...For example, both of them would have to provide child support to the mother if all three of them split up. The finding of status has rights and obligations that flow from that.”


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June 20, 2018

Playboy: "Are Some People Just Slapping the 'Poly' Label on Their Cheating?"

Playboy is still around (who knew?), and a writer for it weighs in against what I've long thought is the greatest threat to the future of our movement: the misappropriation of our big idea's defining word.

I think the threat is receding. The actual precepts of modern polyamory — ethical, honest, equal, and respectful toward everyone involved — are becoming widely recognized in society. Stories like this, which address the problem head-on, are part of why.

Are Some People Just Slapping the "Poly" Label on Their Cheating?


By Sophie Saint Thomas

“I had been spending time intimately with someone on multiple occasions when I learned he had a girlfriend,” says Melissa Vitale, a New York City-based publicist. He said that his relationship was open and that he was “ethically non-monogamous.” As it turned out, Vitale’s lover’s girlfriend was not aware that he was sleeping with others under the false label of ethical non-monogamy. “I later found out that he was full of shit. He's just a small man who cheats on his beautiful girlfriend,” Vitale says.

New York magazine reported in 2017 that 20 percent of Americans had practiced polyamory at some point in their lives. As a side effect of the normalization, are more people not only misusing the term, but using it as an excuse for bad behavior — therefore stigmatizing non-traditional relationships and stomping on the hard work advocates have done to help normalize such relationships in the first place?

Anyone who has spent time on a dating app recently has likely noticed a rise in people identifying as ethically non-monogamous and polyamorous. The Latin translation of polyamory is “many loves,” and polyamorous people don’t just have sex with, but date and love more than one person. Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy, but the two words are not interchangeable. Ethical non-monogamy is an umbrella term for open relationships formed on consent, trust, and honesty, and includes polyamory, swinging, and relationships in which a couple is emotionally exclusive but occasionally sleeps with others.

Historically, such communities are marginalized compared to the monogamous norm. While monogamy still reigns supreme, in recent years, ethical non-monogamy and polyamory have become more normalized and even trendy, thanks to books such as The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, and Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. All of the above titles should be required reading for anyone entering an ethically non-monogamous set-up.

The increasing acceptance of polyamory is great news for those who have long had to keep their relationship structure in the shadows. “What is better than having more love in your life? One thing we lack in society is love,” says sex therapist David Ortmann on the pros of the rise of polyamory. However, open relationships are not for everyone. Depending on your attachment patterns, monogamy may be the best option for you. “With polyamory becoming trendy, people are putting it on their dating profiles, without any sense that it’s more than just fucking a lot of people. It requires a tremendous amount of communication and empathy, compassion and honesty,” Ortmann says.

We’re reaching a point culturally where there are enough people being non-monogamous that folks are starting to use that label inappropriately, and that’s going to happen with any label.

We see non-monogamy within “monogamous” relationships in the common practice known as cheating. Some people who cheat get off on the secrecy and sneaking that accompanies seeing someone behind their partner’s back. “Sometimes people get off on lying, that is their fetish,” says sex therapist Dr. Denise Renye. If you’re in an open relationship and wish to integrate secrecy into your sexual encounters, you can consensually negotiate that with your partner. “Most things are possible as long as consent is present. If the consent is not present, this completely clashes with the principles of ethical non-monogamy,” Dr. Renye says.

However, some folks seem to have attended Burning Man once, learned the word “polyamory,” stuck it on their Tinder bio, yet continued to date in a manner that involves non-consensual lies and secrecy. When they’re called out, they throw up their hands and say, I told you that I was poly! “They are attempting to sugarcoat their cheating styles. I do not necessarily think that people always know what they are talking about,” says sex educator Jimanekia Eborn.

Some folks, such as Vitale’s lover, may use words like “ethically non-monogamous” to cover up bad behavior. Others may simply be brand new to the poly lifestyle and in need of an education. “Do you even know who you are? Or do you know what kind of relationships actually work for you? You can also be hurting yourself in the process,” Eborn says. ...

Zachary Zane, a New York City-based writer, dated a woman who identified as poly, but did not live by its principles. “She would start dating someone new and completely forget about her previous partners. While all of us in the poly world cut a partner some slack when they start dating someone new and are in the midst of NRE [a poly expression for new relationship energy, or the giddy rush of joy you experience when you first start seeing someone], she never seemed to get over the NRE — until she found someone new and then forgot about her previous partner(s) altogether,” Zane says.

...You can avoid such misunderstandings by taking the time to think about what you’re truly looking for: one partner, multiple partners, or just multiple partners until you fall in love? ...

“A lot of us have been trained from the mainstream model to not ask tough questions about what realistically are you looking for, what are you available for, and what does your model for this kind of relationship look like?” says sex-positive psychologist Dr. Liz Powell. If you’re in a period of your life in which you want to be poly, but feel you may end up in a monogamous set-up one day, one argument is that it’s better to just identify as single. ...

The plus side to identifying as open or poly, even if you may not always be that way, is the transparency. If you tell multiple partners that yes, there are others, and no, it won’t just be you right now, you don’t have to worry about hurting feelings with false pretenses. However, if you’re dating other poly people, you do have a responsibility to talk about what that word means to you. While it can be flexible to you, it may be a lifelong lifestyle to another, and vice-versa. ...

“We’re reaching a point culturally where there are enough people being non-monogamous that folks are starting to use that label inappropriately, and that’s going to happen with any label,” Dr. Powell says. There’s a term known as “poly preaching,” which refers to poly people taking on an enlightened attitude that they date the way that humans are meant to — that it’s more intelligent than monogamy. While that is true for some, it doesn’t mean that poly people don’t mess up. And they should be allowed to.

“I think non-monogamous communities sometimes like to think of themselves as these like beautiful utopias full of enlightened people, who never have relationship drama. They only have relationships made completely of love and free of jealousy and fear. And that’s just not real. I’ve been non-monogamous on and off for 18 years, and I still have issues sometimes. We are all imperfect, messy humans,” Dr. Powell says. The key to being an ethical messy person, and not a harmful one, is honesty.

The original article (June 11, 2018).


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June 19, 2018

"A ‘spillover’ effect found in consensually nonmonogamous relationships"

It doesn't always happen, of course. But as polyfolks have long known, when one romantic partnership is fulfilling, the goodness tends to spill over to benefit other romantic relationships, as a new study finds.

First, a short report on the study in PsyPost, a psychology news feed:

A ‘spillover’ effect found in consensually nonmonogamous relationships

By Eric W. Dolan

New research on consensually non-monogamous relationships indicates that having one partner who meets your sexual needs is linked to increased satisfaction not only in that relationship, but also in a concurrent relationship. The study was recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

...The study of 1,054 individuals in consensually non-monogamous relationships found evidence that sexual need fulfillment in one relationship could “spill over” to another relationship. The researchers found that having sexual needs met by one partner was associated with greater satisfaction with another partner.

“I think one takeaway even for people who are not in CNM relationships is that it might be possible for need fulfillment in one relationship to have benefits for other relationships,” [coauthor Amy ]Muise told PsyPost. “Of course, there may also be times when seeking need fulfillment outside of a relationship may not be beneficial.”

“In the future, it would be ideal to look at need fulfillment (beyond sexuality) across relationships. So how does perceiving a partner as motivated to meet your needs influence your relationships with friends and family members?”

The study has some limitations.

“One major caveat is that this sample includes people who are consensually involved in multiple relationships, it does not suggest benefits to non-consensual additional relationships,” Muise noted. “One question that needs to be addressed is why perceiving one partner as responsive is beneficial for (or detracts from) another relationship — Are people having more needs fulfilled, etc?”

The study, “Sexual need fulfillment and satisfaction in consensually nonmonogamous relationships“, was authored by Amy Muise, Andrew K. Laughton, Amy Moors, and Emily A. Impett.

The article (June 16, 2018).

● As reported in more depth on the feminist site Bustle: Non-Monogamous Couples Who Are Satisfied In One Relationship Are More Likely To Be Happier With Another, Study Finds (June 18)

Ashley Batz/Bustle
By Lea Rose Emery

If you apply the "grass is always greener" theory to poly and consensually non-monogamous relationships, it might seem like everyone would constantly be unsatisfied. They would be thinking about what they don't have in one relationship and what they do have with another person. But yet, people have very happy poly and non-monogamous relationships. A new study... shows why that might be the case. In what they're dubbing a "spillover" effect, researchers recently found that for consensually non-monogamous couples, being satisfied in one relationship can "spill" over into another.

There were actually two studies that looked at 1,054 individuals in consensual non-monogamous relationships. In the first study, they found that those who were more sexually fulfilled in their primary relationship also experienced greater relationship satisfaction in their secondary relationship. The second study was a little more complicated. Researchers looked at how satisfaction in a secondary relationship affected the primary connection. They found that men who were more sexually fulfilled in a secondary partnership also reported higher satisfaction with a primary partner, but women who were more sexually fulfilled with a secondary partner were less satisfied with their primary partner.

But overall, it seemed like the "spillover" effect was a positive one — satisfaction in one relationship translated into satisfaction in another. The interesting thing was that researchers thought this might extend outside of non-monogamous relationships. ... "In terms of monogamous relationships — I have been thinking about this more broadly, like whether having non-romantic relationships (friends, family) who are communal/ fulfill needs could be associated with more satisfaction in a romantic relationship and vice versa," Muise says. ...

● The paper's abstract:

Consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships allow individuals to fulfill their sexual needs with multiple partners, but research has yet to investigate how having one’s sexual needs met in one relationship is associated with satisfaction in another relationship. We draw on models of need fulfillment in CNM relationships and theories of sexual communal motivation to test how sexual need fulfillment in one relationship is associated with satisfaction in another, concurrent relationship. Across two studies, individuals in CNM relationships (N = 1,054) who were more sexually fulfilled in their primary relationship reported greater relationship satisfaction with their secondary partner. In Study 2, men who were more sexually fulfilled in their secondary relationship reported greater relationship satisfaction with their primary partner, but women who were more sexually fulfilled with their secondary partner reported lower sexual satisfaction in their primary relationship. Implications for communal relationships and need fulfillment are discussed.

The full paper is behind a paywall; get it through an academic library. Reference: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407518774638


So in the poly context, it's not a competition. The authors don't go here, but I will: Compersion in humans is normal and, when societal conditions permit, fairly common.


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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'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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