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



May 17, 2022

Washington Post: For the wedding season, "How polyamorous people are marking commitment to multiple partners"


Just out at the Washington Post: How polyamorous people are marking commitment to multiple partners (May 16, print and online). Because it's spring wedding season.

"Polyamory is going mainstream," comments Michael Rios, who sent me the link. "This is from the Lifestyle section, and reads almost like talking about the latest in diet trends or evening wear."


María Alconada Brooks / Washington Post

By Suzannah Weiss

Sarah Brylinsky, a 34-year-old working in higher education in Ithaca, N.Y., is legally married to 36-year-old farm manager Brandon Brylinsky. Two years ago, on a camping trip a decade into their relationship, they met 35-year-old Matte Namer, the founder of a real estate firm.

All three of them fell in love.

The Brylinskys and Namer are polyamorous, which means they are open to romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. They started going on dates together, and soon after, Namer moved in with the Brylinskys. Now, the three plan to have a child, and they want to make their relationship official so that they can be recognized by their community as a family.

But how do you make a relationship official when there are three people in it?

Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy — when people have more than one sexual or romantic partner at once with all partners’ permission. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology found that one in nine single American adults had engaged in polyamory.


In legal terms, polyamorous people are unable to marry all their of partners: It is illegal throughout the United States to marry more than one person at a time. Somerville, Mass., is thought to be the first U.S. city to legally recognize polyamorous domestic partnerships, which it started doing in 2020.

However, people like Namer and the Brylinskys are utilizing an option that symbolically, though not legally, binds all three of them: a commitment ceremony.

Commitment ceremonies are events that celebrate any number of people’s commitment to one another, and they can look many different ways, according to Connecticut-based marriage and family therapist Kristen C. Dew.

She’s seen some that “resemble the typical monogamous couples’ weddings,” she said, while others are parties or outdoor gatherings. She also said that “many opt for handfasting ceremonies,” or choose unique items as symbols of their love.

The ceremony that Namer and the Brylinskys are planning will be similar to a wedding. They’re discarding some traditions: They’ll have a cookie table instead of a cake, for example. But they will all make vows to one another. In addition, the Brylinskys will create a joint vow just for Namer, and vice versa, they said.

“We met Matte as a couple; there was a relationship that came before them, and it’s both important to establish that we made a family together and to acknowledge that we transitioned our existing relationship to make room for that,” Sarah said.

Ambyr D’Amato, a wedding planner based in New York, is helping to plan this ceremony. She said she has worked with several other polyamorous people on commitment ceremonies: In one of them, a couple that was already married waited at the end of the aisle, and the third person walked down the aisle to symbolically join them.

“It was important to [the third person], since they were not legally married to anybody, that they had a ceremony where they could involve their family and have things be more in the open,” D’Amato said. The event took place in Central Park, she added, replete with flowers, champagne, oysters and live music.

...Rachael, a 37-year-old writer, and Tom, a 36-year-old tech adviser — both based in Santa Barbara, Calif. — were legally married for financial and logistical reasons in 2015, but they publicly became each other’s spouses during a commitment ceremony on the lawn of the Santa Barbara courthouse six months earlier. ...

[They] said they are non-monogamous and are open to committing themselves to an additional partner. Part of the reason they joined through a commitment ceremony is so that, if they do decide to hold another one with a third person, all three of them will be on the same footing, they said.

...Jessica Fern, a Boulder-based psychotherapist who works with polyamorous people, touted the potential benefits of ceremonies like this.

“When someone experiences legal marginalization for their relationship structure or style, commitment ceremonies can go a long way to deepen a relationship, publicly acknowledge its significance, and even assuage some of the pain and injustice that being a minority can create,” she said.

Fern’s clients who have undergone commitment ceremonies have reported feeling more secure in their relationships as a result, she said: “They have more of a structure that they can rely on that’s bigger than just them. They can lean on each other in hard times, like, ‘I made this commitment.’ ”

But many non-monogamous people say they don’t feel safe holding an event as public as a commitment ceremony, because of existing stigma. And while those in polyamorous relationships can work with lawyers to secure certain legal protections (Namer and the Brylinskys are working with the Chosen Family Law Center to ensure they all have equal status as parents of their future child), a commitment ceremony does not confer the same rights as a legal wedding.

Some non-monogamous people hope that this will change in the future. “We have the right to be with our loved ones and share the resources that we would normally get to share in a monogamous context,” Fern said. ...


Read the whole article.

●  Want more poly ceremony examples and ideas? Start at Offbeat Bride with its 44 articles featuring 44 polyamorous commitment ceremonies. All with gorgeous photography.

●  And for fixing up important legal stuff you may need as committed unmarrieds, check with the Chosen Family Law Center for information and referrals.

-------------------------------   

Back 14 years ago when the polyamorous possibility was still little known, the same Style section of the Post ran a groundbreaking feature article on the annual Poly Living convention, which I attended. The reporter they sent was sharp, brilliant, accurate, and knew how to pry critically without scaring her subjects off. They recognized a coming story when they saw it.

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May 13, 2022

The polyamory model opens lives for non-poly people. Plus new novels, TV, theater, an Irish activist, and other poly in the news


The polyamory movement is making waves apart from sexual and romantic openness. We model how intimate partners can break rigid social assumptions and strictures about what is a "real relationship", so that they can design one of their own. One that fits, that lets them breathe and thrive.

Sometimes our model shows monogamous couples how they can take better charge of their own path as just two. Especially, we read, older couples with kids grown and gone.

This piece in The Observer / Guardian touches on poly only as a model for the main topic: long-term partners discovering ways out of unspoken models that can kill relationships: Nifty ways to leave a lover (temporarily) – how a gap year could save your marriage (April 23).


By Lucy Cavendish

Is life with your spouse stale and limiting? Maybe, instead of a divorce, all you need is a few months apart.

...They were in their mid-50s and they told me they had been married for more than 30 years. They loved each other. They had a marriage that had survived the ups and downs of most unions. They had three children all of whom had left home. Yet they were looking at a future together with apprehension. They didn’t want to divorce, they just wanted to work out how to stay together while also being apart. The wife was a homebody.... The husband had rediscovered an adventurous side in himself that had lain dormant for a couple of decades.

What they were proposing was a marriage gap year.

“I’m a doctor,” the husband told me. “I just want to experience something different.” His intention was to go and spend a year working as a volunteer in Malawi.

...His wife, understandably, was nervous about it. “I don’t want to go to Africa,” she said. However she also did understand how important it felt to her husband. “I love him so I don’t want to stop him from having this year out,” she said.

...But, in reality, how does this work? It’s not easy to explain to your long-term partner that you want to take a break.

As a counsellor I find this fascinating. ...

...My gap-year couple agreed that sex with other people was off the agenda. ... But for some people it is also about having different sexual experiences. ... My friend’s sister and her husband agreed they would be free to date and have intimate relationships with other people. ... She had a fabulous two years travelling the world and taking lovers, then came home and the marriage continued. “It’s better than ever now,” she said. “I feel settled. I’ve done my thing and now I am home and I’m happy to be here.”

Younger couples are far more au fait with this sort of thing – polyamory and “ethical non-monogamy” appear to be growing in popularity – but it’s a whole new game for my generation of forty- to fifty-somethings. ... We were brought up to believe in The One. And in... a kind of stoicism. Young people don’t see it like this. They can have very strong prime relationships that are open and communicative and connected while also having relationships with other people. They have a completely different working model. ...

For older couples, it is not easy.

...For most it’s about relocating for a while, working at a different job, volunteering. ... The marriage or relationship can even be enhanced as the couple involve each other in hearing about these new adventures – bonding them more securely.

My original couple ended up being excited at the prospect of the gap year. “I can’t wait to wake up in the African sun,” the man said, “and then I’ll come home to suburbia and begin again.” ...


Read the whole article.

 
Lots of poly arts and culture items have popped up in the last couple weeks: novels, plays, news of TV series. For instance, 

More poly in Young Adult fiction. I recently linked to Why Not Both? 8 [YA] Books With Love Triangles That End In Polyamory and The State of Polyamory in YA Fiction; both appeared on BookRiot. Here's more, from the University of Utah's independent student newspaper The Daily Utah Chronicle: Healthy Depictions of Non-Monogamous Relationships in Books (May 1).


  
“Endless Love” (Fredrik Kleppe / WBUR)

By Whit Fuller

...When the subject of non-monogamy first appeared to me in literature, it came in the form of Gabby Rivera’s young adult novel Juliet Takes A Breath. Protagonist Juliet learns of non-monogamous relationships during her internship with feminist author Harlowe Brisbane. Brisbane and her primary partner Maxine have a conversation with Juliet about their relationship structure and introduce her to the concept of hierarchical polyamory. Rivera’s novel explores the concept of consensual non-monogamous relationships honestly and through intersectional feminist lenses that discuss the importance of acknowledging and understanding connections formed in polyamorous relationships with interracial dynamics.

In reading Mary McCoy’s Indestructible Object, I [saw how] books can involve polyamory without centering it in their narratives. McCoy explores relationship dynamics through main character Lee and her boyfriend Vincent. There are moments of discomfort and betrayal, but the book culminates in a moment of growth and an understanding that loving multiple people doesn’t make one flawed, but allows the indestructible object of the heart, as McCoy wrote about it, to keep beating and loving in its own time. ...

...To see young adult literature engaging with non-monogamous relationships amid self-discovery and coming of age is particularly powerful....



Appearing on TV (spoilers ahead):

  S.W.A.T. is a police action series on CBS. From Movieweb comes S.W.A.T.: How the CBS Police Drama Explores Polyamory with Respect and Grace (April 27).


By Kassie King

One of the main cast of characters is fan-favorite Officer Christina "Chris" Alsonso, the only woman SWAT member in the department and a total badass. ... In addition to having superior tactical skills and a delightfully sardonic personality, Chris is also openly bisexual. ... In seasons 2 and 3 as she and the show itself explore a subject matter that is still somewhat taboo for primetime television police procedurals: a polyamorous relationship. And it wasn’t a joke. Or a disaster.

Kira, Chris, Ty














In early season 2, it's revealed that Chris has begun dating a woman named Kira, who admits that she is engaged to a man and that they practice polyamory. The couple is looking for a third person to join their relationship as an equal partner — colloquially known as a "throuple." Chris declines at first... but soon realizes how deep her feelings for Kira are and decides that she’s interested in meeting her fiancé Ty and exploring the possibility of a relationship. ... Chris looks to Street for some guidance before making the leap, and he thoughtfully suggests, “Who knows? They could be the loves of your life. You should just do what you want to do. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

...Since she doesn't fully understand the dynamics of polyamory yet, we as viewers are able to learn about it alongside her. S.W.A.T. does an excellent job bringing us inside this new experience, rather than presenting viewers with something they might not understand and expecting them to just get on board with it. ...

Ty and Kira explain some of their "we rules,” which focus primarily on open communication. They tell her, “This only works if we all feel secure and valued.” One of Chris' major concerns is that the relationship won’t remain equal between the three of them because Ty and Kira are getting married. Chris confides in her only married teammate, Deacon (Jay Harrington), [who] warns her, “That couple is in a relationship that predates you. They’re getting married, and you’re not part of that marriage, no matter how they try to sell it to you. I think you’re setting yourself up for heartache.” Despite her fear, Chris moves forward with the relationship and eventually accepts Ty and Kira’s offer to move in with them.

Although some of Chris' teammates seem concerned about this new development in her life, it is always treated as a worry that she will be heart-broken due to the complicated nature of the relationship, rather than a disdain for polyamory itself. In fact, the only significant pushback within the narrative comes from Annie (Bre Blair), Deacon’s wife. The couple’s daughter Lila asks Chris about Ty and Kira, and she tries to explain to the little girl that it’s okay to love more than one person. This conversation upsets Annie, and she tells Chris that she doesn't believe polyamory is moral, nor does she want her kids to grow up thinking that it is.

...Although this confrontation was heartbreaking for Chris, and for viewers who care about the story, it was important for S.W.A.T. to portray an opposing viewpoint. Public contempt, especially from loved ones, is a realistic complication that people who practice polyamory have to deal with in the real world. 

...Although the relationship between Chris, Kira, and Ty did eventually end, S.W.A.T. never treated it as a silly plot device or something taboo that was just presented to be criticized. Instead, the show explored the real dynamics of polyamory, the complexity of the emotions involved, and the external pushback that can arise, all with the same attention and grace they would have given any other relationship on the show. ...



●  Also: 90 Day Fiance: Love in Paradise. From Showbiz CheatSheet, May 5: "The new season features two new LGBTQ couples, including the franchise’s first triad (a polyamorous relationship consisting of three people)."  It's on TLC. 


●  Afterglow, a queer poly play. I just posted about Fiveplay, a new theater piece about a rollicking queer poly household that recently ran in DC. Now the better-established play Afterglow has opened in the Los Angeles area. West Hollywood's WEHOville reviews it and interviews the writer/director: ‘Afterglow’ explores the naked truth of open relationships (May 5).


By Brandon Garcia

S. Asher Gelman gets letters from people who said seeing “Afterglow” led to the end of their relationships.

“That is fantastic,” the writer/director says. 

“It’s a fantastic thing that you were able to communicate effectively. We are so primed to consider that the worst thing in the world is to be alone. That’s not true. The worst thing in the world is to be with the wrong person.”

S. Asher Gelman

Five years ago, “Afterglow” took the off-Broadway world by storm with its frank depiction of an open gay relationship and its generous helping of on-stage, full-frontal male nudity. The tiny off-Broadway production was only supposed to run for about eight weeks. Instead, it blew up, ran for 14 months and spun off productions all over the world. ...

While the show makes headlines for its fearless erotic flair, “Afterglow” exerts its true power after the curtain closes, raising taboo questions and inspiring tough conversations in the minds of its audience.

“I think it really paints a real picture of what relationships actually are. We have a very romanticized version of what relationships are and it’s unrealistic and these characters get into the grip of it all,” [Gelman] said.

The tale of two men who embark on a polyamorous relationship with a third was drawn from the writer/director’s real-life experiences. 

...He has found peace and satisfaction in the romantic paradigm depicted in the play – but the road to happy polyamory was not without its perils. ...

“I wrote this play because I realized I had done something wrong but I couldn’t figure out what. So I essentially used the play to troubleshoot what I always thought the ‘crime’ that I committed was — allowing myself to fall in love with someone else — which is actually not true. The crime that I committed was that I was not being completely honest with everybody and just thinking that if I fudge the truth a bit, it’ll all work out. Of course my dishonesty thinking that I was being so good about everything by telling everybody 90 percent of the truth, it was awful and caused a lot of pain. ... 

“Being honest and forthcoming with everybody about boundaries and wants and needs is just the most freeing thing,” he said. “When there’s nothing to hide it’s kind of amazing what you can do.”


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

●  In Ireland, the major newspaper Independent.ie spotlights therapist Ruth Crean, a member of the parade-marching Polyamory Ireland: ‘There’s a perception that polyamorous people are highly sexed, which I find really annoying’ (April 12).


Ruth Crean (Eamon Ward photo)


I was always a little bit different. When I was a teenager, I was the person who was trawling second-hand shops and wearing the things that made me feel good about being myself. My mum was great. I remember someone saying to her, ‘How do you let her dress that way?’ And she just said, ‘Because they’re expressing themselves. Why would I stop that?’

So from a young age I had support around expressing myself. But that took longer to filter through to other things. Relationship-wise, I was really steeped in that rom-com idea that one person fulfills you. Like you could have happiness and success, but if you were alone then something was missing in your life. ...


It's paywalled after that, but Ireland's NewsTalk followed up a day later interviewing Crean for radio: Polyamory: 'It's more about an expanded sense of what a relationship can be' 


There is a common misconception that polyamory is all about having as much sex as you can, with as many people as you can.

Ruth Crean, psychotherapist and a member of Polyamory Ireland joined Sean on the show to dispel that myth....




●  From Israel: 'Polyamory is playing with fire': Israeli couples' navigation of non-monogamy. Originally published in Maariv. Here it's in English on YnetNews, April 23. The title sounds dire, but the article is upbeat.




...Keren [left photo above, with Shavit] started researching polyamory online. "I suddenly discovered that there was such a thing as polyamory, whereby being married, I could go out on dates, feel excited and fall in love – I could have my cake and eat it," she says with a smile.

Shavit, 37, sensing changes in Keren, told himself that this was a passing phase of post-natal depression. "I remember her feeling that something was missing. Things weren't right for about two years. She was looking everywhere for some kind of freedom. She started writing Facebook posts, expressing support in non-monogamy. Anyone reading these postings assumed that we were in an open relationship and I wasn't there, not even in my mind.

I asked her to remove the Facebook posts and I didn't ask nicely," he admits. "I now understand that for quite a long time, I'd been feeling everything that Keren was talking about... but at the time it was the cause of a lot of friction between us." 
  
Tell us a little about the process you went through. ...


BTW, yes: Carelessness with poly can indeed be like being careless with fire. But we've learned how to use fire. You probably have a stove in your kitchen, a furnace in your basement, and gasoline in your car. If a religious outfit tried to frighten you into rejecting those things, you would know they had an ulterior motive that was not about your well-being.


●  And, the latest from the British tabloids: WHO'S THE DADDY? We don’t know who our kids’ fathers are – our unusual family dynamic may surprise you. (in The Sun May 6, and many other outlets since).

They're a quad with adorable pix.

Sean, Taya, Alysia, and Tyler with their two older kids. The dads are giving early kisses to the next two, who were still on the way.

Romantic, yes. However, the learned-by-experience advice that you will hear in the poly community — the topic comes up fairly often — is that it's a bad idea to not find out who the bio dad is. If there's any uncertainty you should arrange for DNA tests at the time of birth.

Why? Several reasons.

First and foremost, for the kid. Their genetic lineage could have vital medical relevance, maybe not until years from now. And, the kid will likely want to know which dad is the bio dad as they get older, and it is wrong to withhold it or prevent them from finding out. The grandparents (or non-grandparents) will almost certainly want to know and could make trouble in court; it happens. And if you ever break up, the kid deserves proper legal access to support.

The advice you will hear is do the test now, while you're all together and in love, rather than later when you may be broken up, and maybe on bad terms or unable to find each other.

Another reason, from my own observation of quads with kids. The child's bio dad will become pretty clear anyway, especially if the dads don't look alike. But this will happen gradually. Everyone will slowly see and slowly know. But if no one is supposed to talk about it, it'll always be an elephant in the room. Room elephants damage relationships, families, and children.

If you are romantic enough that you really don't want to know, do the tests and put the unopened results envelope in a safe-deposit box or on file in a lawyer's office. That way, you'll have it when the time comes.

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

SPEAKING OF ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM. . . .

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society, because by living outside their worldview successfully, we expose its incompleteness. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the ability to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all. 

People and communities who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their own way — by intimidation, repressive laws, propaganda and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)

But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes.

The coming times are going to require tough things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we are born into. But we do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

PS: Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.
Another version.

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April 24, 2022

Are people *really* swarming into CNM post-lockdown? Also: polybombing, YA fiction, and other polyamory in the news


Are scads of new people suddenly exploring consensual non-monogamy as Covid stagnation eases? Dating sites report skyrocketing statistics for multiple-partner interest. Relationship counselors describe an upsurge in questions about polyamory and other forms of CNM as people re-engage with the world. But I'm skeptical of "trends" where rumors amplify rumors. Does anyone have trustworthy data?

The latest example: In Metro UK, a free public-transit paper with a vast circulation, More people are opening up their marriages thanks to the strain of lockdowns (April 12)


By Ellen Scott

...The number of Brits considering open marriages has soared by 45%, according to sex therapist Dr Tammy Nelson, who reports a dramatic rise in calls, emails, and appointment bookings from bored married couples looking for guidance on open relationships.

Dr Tammy said: ‘People are emerging from the pandemic feeling the need to start picking out who the important people are in their lives and whether that’s sexually, emotionally, or romantically.

‘And many of them have started to outsource their needs in the shape of affairs or by discussing open relationships.’ ...

Dr Tammy, whose book Open Monogamy: A Guide to Co-Creating Your Ideal Relationship Agreement came out in January, added: ‘Couples are now keener than ever to spice things up a bit.’

...Dr Tammy says the majority of the conversations are started by men, but it’s women who tend to find more fulfilment in non-monogamy. ...


The article includes "How to start the open relationship conversation." It's totally geared to primary couples, who are Nelson's counseling clients and book audience, but to be fair, primary couples living together are more than half of the adult population (58% in the US).

The article's section heads:


Make sure you’re sure.
Think about why you want an open relationship.
Choose your moment wisely. 
Make it private.
Express your desires honestly – but with kindness.
Give your partner time to process.
Have a chat about your ‘rules’



●  Metro UK has been fascinated with polyamory for several years, as regulars here know. The same day as the above it published this tabloidy profile: Married woman gives up monogamy for four-person polycule relationship (April 12)


Spencer, Jake, Anna, and Ellie make up their polycule relationship (Spencer K / Mercury Press)

...Based in Chicago, US, costume designer Anna has three separate romantic relationships: with Jake, Spencer, and most recently, her girlfriend Ellie.

[She and husband Jake] ‘are still very much in love, but I have a whole lot of love to spare for other people as well.’

 ...Not everyone in the group is in a relationship with each other, but Anna describes theirs as a ‘kitchen table style polycule’ where everybody gets along and hangs out.

Anna added: ‘I live with Jake full time, but Ellie and Spencer live in different states, and everyone has full time jobs so it’s always quite hard to schedule separate time for each individual.

‘I would love for us all to be able to live together at some point, but that’s not really a viable option right now as everyone is on their own path in life.’

Date nights between Anna and her individual partners are usually scheduled months in advance, and when it comes to staying in the same bed, that’s really up to everyone involved.

‘When Spencer comes over, Jake tends to go and sleep on the couch,’ explained Anna.

Spencer said: ‘Jake also snores! But he’s a big cuddler as well, so it’s nice to chill with him as a friend and get a hug from him every now and then.’

Jake says he and Anna’s love is ‘pretty grounded’, and argues that polyamory ‘doesn’t work unless you make a point to understand your partner’s feelings and help them love who, and how, they want to.’

It’s this attitude that’s meant, according to Anna, ‘there’s never any jealousy in the relationship.’

She continued: ‘Polyamory really makes you look into your own feelings and where those feelings come from, it definitely puts a focus on dealing with things in a healthy way.’...



●  Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey is the therapist front-and-center in that new reality show Open House: The Great Sex Experiment now airing on the UK's Channel 4. She's there to counsel the couples who come to the show's swing-party venue, where they explore opening their relationships and maybe try threesomes on camera (in indistinct night vision). In particular, she talks directly to the viewing audience about consensual non-monogamy. The viewers may have come for the titillation, but they leave a little more educated. 

Now, in Newsweek, Bisbey tells more about herself, her work, and her take on how to open a couple relationship with a good chance of success: 'I'm a Non-Monogamous Therapist, Here Are My 4 Tips For Open Relationships'.

The section heads with the four tips are


– Know exactly what you're asking for
– Don't go for a threesome as your first non-monogamous experience
– Keep talking
– Do your own work


...but the value of the piece is her depth in discussing each point.


I have known since adolescence that I am polyamorous; I love more than one person at a time. ... My non-monogamy is what is known as "kitchen table polyamory." Everybody knows each other and we are all close. ...

...Couples who want to open up their relationship come to a retreat in the show; I meet with them, find out what they want to do and then come up with activities to help that along. ... Overall, I've worked with about 1,000 couples opening up their relationship over more than three decades of work as a therapist.

Often people I work with haven't really talked about what they want. I frequently see couples when they have attempted non-monogamy and it's gone really badly.

...I advise my clients to figure out exactly what it is they want. Do they want to do things together or separately? Are they talking about opening up for life or for the short term? Are they talking just sex or do they want to be friends with people they're having sex with. After that, there still needs to be discussion about boundaries and what comes up for people.

I worked with one couple, Mary* and John*.... Mary thought they were going to go and find someone for a threesome. Meanwhile, John wanted Mary to go off and have her dates while he had his separately. They had a completely different idea of what they were going to do.... So, they ended up in a fight.... I began by suggesting that they start with talking through why they wanted.... Then they were able to agree on what would work for both of them.


Pretty darn elementary ("communicate, communicate, communicate"), but new people constantly need to hear it anew.


This couple had also never talked about sex and they had been together for about 10 years. That's not unusual, I'm afraid.


Dear God.


Don't go for a threesome as your first non-monogamous experience

Three is an awkward number. I can't tell you the number of couples who want a threesome and are really excited about it, and then it doesn't go well because one person feels left out. ... They came and saw me and we talked about why they didn't communicate during the situation. Having sex doesn't mean you don't talk. ... The second time this couple and a third woman talked about what they wanted beforehand and during, and everybody had a wonderful time.

...One of the mistakes I see people make is having an agreement with each other about the rules they're going to have and not [regularly] reviewing that. They then go out and have other relationships but they don't continue to look at what they have agreed to. Humans are not static!

...Non-monogamy and polyamory require self development. ... I gently reminded [Jessie] that she had agreed to non-monogamy, so we looked at what her negative feelings were about. For Jessie, it felt like her husband was dating a younger version of her. She felt that all of her perceived flaws were being magnified, and that her husband was going to eventually run off with this other woman.

I call this "Monogamy hangover." Monogamy is "either/or" whereas non-monogamy is "both/and". ...

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey is a GSRD (gender, sex, relationship diversity) therapist, sex and intimacy coach and psychologist. You can find out more at drloribethbisbey.com or follow her on Instagram @drbisbey.



●  But let's remember, a movement can succeed too much. Throughout history, you see good movements brought to ruin by poorly handling their success. Because hubris, because humans. I see the following as a distant early warning coming over our horizon: The Monogamous People Who Live in Fear of ‘Polybombing’ (Mel magazine, April 21)


Traditionalists worry that any closed relationship is at risk of being pried open against their will.

The polybomb


By Miles Klee

Reddit’s r/monogamy, in theory a small community to discuss the benefits and challenges of sharing your life with one committed long-term partner, more often devolves into angst over polyamorous arrangements. Formerly poly members share horror stories of open relationships that ended in heartbreak, while strident monogamists condemn the poly scene as a pit of selfishness, hedonism and false superiority. While it’s true that non-monogamous individuals can be a little smug or self-aggrandizing in their abandonment of traditional romantic mores, there is a tacit understanding throughout the subreddit that such a lifestyle can never be healthy or sustainable. They’re united in the corollary belief that only an asshole would want to try it. 

A newcomer lamented in a recent post that the group, instead of being “a place that supports monogamy as a normal okay thing, without shaming polyamory,” was focused on “over-generalizing and straw-manning” the practice. An established user replied that such venting was necessary, “since so many people here have been polybombed and manipulated, and so many poly people like to manipulate.”

...Someone who proposes marriage isn’t “matrimony-bombing.” These are decisions made between two adults with equal say in the matter [or ought to be. –Ed.]  But r/monogamy operates from the assumption that the “polybomb” is a concerted attack, unforgivable in its own right. 

No doubt this is partly the result of both sides’ unfortunate tendency to value their chosen paradigm by disparaging the opposite — that is, endorsements of either monogamy or polyamory may proceed from a case for why the other model is unrealistic or “wrong.” ...


Once again: Monogamy is the right choice for many people, probably most. They need to find each other. Their decisions and lives are not to be culturally dissed.

Because, courtesy aside, there is nothing so dangerous as a dominant majority who come to feel they are an aggrieved minority. Distant early warning.


● Charming new play ‘Fiveplay’ depicts housemates with benefits (DC Metro Theater Arts, April 17). It's about a rollicking queer household.


By John Stoltenberg

...Erica Smith’s charming new play Fiveplay is set in the shared household of an assortment of idiosyncratic personalities in their twenties. ...The housemates of Fiveplay are all polyamorous, which one of them helpfully explains early on, in an amusing teach-the-audience scene:

AVERY: Polyamory is being involved in multiple committed relationships at once with — and this is the most important part — the full consent of everyone involved. Also referred to as a form of ethical nonmonogamy. I’m gonna repeat that: ETHICAL nonmonogamy.

Someday some smart TV producer is going to notice the zeitgeist is ready for a sitcom based on this provocative premise — it’s only a matter of time.... Perhaps that polyamorous reimagining of Friends will be inspired by Fiveplay, who knows? ...

...Keeping track of who’s having relations with whom can get complicated. So you’ll thank me, when you see Fiveplay, for this handy color-coded diagram:


One of the most interesting things about Fiveplay is what it’s not. There’s a lot of situationally appropriate hugging, kissing, and other casual affection and a lot of banter about an upcoming special event (a house orgy they call Fucksgiving), but no clothes come off, there are no sex acts, and nobody objectifies or body-judges anyone else. The actors who very capably play the five polyamorous characters ... and the sole character not coupled lives in the moment in their interrelationships as if nothing at all out of the ordinary is going on. It’s simply their chosen everyday family, they are refreshingly at ease in it, and the eroticism between them can be sweetly funny....

When dramatic conflicts arise, it’s never about jealousy or betrayal or any stereotype one might have about these people’s multiple sex-partnering. Instead, it’s tensions and incursions from outside — an antique suspected of being haunted, the curtly texted news of a beloved grandfather’s death, the antipathy of offstage parents — all episodes that while not particularly earthmoving, illustrate how the premise of polyamorous housemates could well be deployed in a [TV] pilot. ...


Yup. I've long pictured the setup for that pilot: a big old Victorian house in a hip-ish neighborhood, full of clutter and cats and six adults embroiled in an ever-morphing constellation of relationships, with lots of kitchen-table angst and hilarity and oversharing metamours. Add a couple of super-precocious kids and a baby, weirded-out or over-eager friends and neighbors, older relatives visiting from Peoria in various states of cluelessness that requires impromptu closeting (but here come the kid-blurts) — make them quirky and mostly-lovable, and hey, you'd have the makings of "Big Bang Theory"-level success. 


●  Elsewhere in pop culture, last fall I posted about a Book Riot review, 8 Books With Love Triangles That End In Polyamory. These were all in the Young Adult (YA) genre. Now from Book Riot comes The State of Polyamory in YA Fiction (April 14).


By Tirzah Price

...The first instance of polyamory in YA that I remember reading was in Malinda Lo’s Adaptation and sequel Inheritance [where] Reese develops feelings for Amber and enters into a relationship with her even as David indicates he’d like to start a relationship with Reese. The love triangle is fraught, until it’s suggested that Reese date both Amber and David. The second book ends with an epilogue ... that informs readers that Reese has proceeded with polyamory and that while it’s not without its struggles, it’s been a happy solution. However, Lo gave little indication and details about said struggles, and I was left feeling a bit disappointed that after seeing the love triangle play out up close, we didn’t get to see the solution in action.


Also described are Rachel Hartman’s fantasy Seraphina duology and her Tess of the Road, Laura Nowlin's This Song is (Not) For You, Mary McCoy's Indestructible Object, the short-story anthology Fools in Love edited by Rebecca Podos and Ashley Herring Blake, and Xiran Jay Zhao's Iron Widow, "one of the biggest books of 2021 and an instant New York Times bestseller. Iron Widow is arguably one of the highest profile YA books with a polyamorous relationship at the center that actually plays out."


● More polycons stir from hibernation. In hopes that the pandemic will stay diminished, the annual round of polyamory conventions, retreats, campouts, and similar events is beginning to open back up. See the signs of life returning on Alan's List of Polyamory Events. Let me know if anything there is incomplete or out of date.

Most events say they will require some measures against spreading Covid including proof of vaccination. Ask about their refund policy if either you or they change plans due to pandemic developments, and I wouldn't book expensive travel yet without a refund provision. Some events are capping in-person attendance and will have an online option.


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

And on the grim new world-era we are entering... some perspective.

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society, because we live outside their worldview and expose its incompleteness. Our freedom to build non-traditional relationships, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one small way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all. 

People who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to go their own way — whether by intimidation, laws, propaganda and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)

But that's only the start. For those of us born after World War II, this is setting up as the most consequential war of our lifetimes.

The coming era is going to require tough things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we are born into. But we do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

PS: Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.
(Another version.)


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April 7, 2022

Vogue tells our story well. So do others in the last few days.





Vogue, the heavyweight (literally) among high-fashion magazines, presents in its April issue The More the Merrier? by Michelle Ruiz. The article's  online title: Is Monogamy Over? Inside Love’s Sharing Economy. It's an outstanding piece of work: a deep dive for the curious, excellent explanations of what we're about (at least from a mainstream perspective), and the writing displays dollar-a-word polish.


And it's long: 4,000 words, spanning six pages.

It starts by following a once-lively couple into their midlife dullness. Megan and Marty reminisce about the people they used to be and feel that there's nothing ahead now but years of more years. They put a toe into swinging but find it's not what they want. Then Megan develops a crush on a guy of a new and different kind, named Kyle. The three become friends, and during a dinner visit Marty encourages the two to go ahead and kiss. And then before they quite grasp what's happening to them, they emerge blinking from a threesome. 


The experience felt transformative: “It was like reigniting the curiosity of a teenager,” Megan remembers. Questioning the confines of her marriage “was like coming into Technicolor,” she marvels, referencing the movie Pleasantville, in which rainbow hues begin to populate a puritanical, black-and-white town. Megan was alive with excitement and energy; she describes the feeling of returning to her body, as if she’d been previously numb. “I remember looking back at them at one point, and both of them looking at me,” she says of that first encounter. “It was like, Oh my God, this whole other world is out here.

Opening their relationship sparked a stream of existential questions for them, according to Megan: “Whose life are we living? What do we want?” Entrenched systems were equally open to debate. “We are in a time of questioning institutional structures like health care, education, and, yes, monogamy,” she says....“I think people are disillusioned with life right now and really starting to write their own rules.”

...In contrast to the free love of the ’60s or suburban key-party ethos of the ’70s, consensual non-monogamy in 2022 is a thoughtfully considered, typically therapized practice, complete with a tidy acronym. CNM is rooted in open relationships that aspire to be “honest, moral, and trustworthy,” says Jessica Wood, Ph.D., a sexuality and relationships researcher....


The article follows the growth of the movement in recent years, quoting such figures as CNM researchers Amy Moors and Zhana Vrangalova, legal activist Kimberly Embers, and Feeld CEO Ana Kirova. The writer tells about some of her own Connecticut friends and neighbors newly gossiping, during "the ennui of Covid," about the cultures of swinging other consensual non-monogamy.


Sex scholars studying CNM are beginning to explore the possibility that the desire to be non-monogamous is a “relationship orientation” unto itself, or may be part of sexual orientation. Creating a more nuanced definition of sexual orientation could mean asking: “Do you want no partners, or do you want to be exclusive in sexual and/or emotional ways to one partner, or open with multiple?” Moors says. As with gender and sexuality, relationships can exist on a spectrum, Vrangalova argues. “We’re not dealing with a binary world of ‘Oh, you’re monogamous,’ or ‘You’re totally open.’ There’s lots of different things in between.”

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

...Megan considers herself a better parent now that she’s polyamorous, saying she’s a more loving person in general. She and Marty give their son and daughter an age-appropriate explanation of their unconventional relationship structure or “polycule” (CNM is only the beginning of a seemingly endless glossary of terms). “At one point, when we lived in New Zealand and Kyle lived with us for about six months, they knew I might be in Kyle’s bedroom or I might be in Daddy’s bedroom,” Megan said. “We talk about ‘Mommy loves Kyle and Daddy,’ and ‘Daddy loves Mommy and Daddy loves his partner’…and they don’t know it’s not normal yet.”

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

...“This is the next wave of inquiry,” Moors agrees. “This is going to be up for national discussion in the coming decade, if not sooner.” It all amounts to a migration to the mainstream: At [Janet] Hardy and coauthor Dossie Easton’s earliest book events for The Ethical Slut, in the late ’90s, “audiences were mostly geek culture—Renaissance Fair, science-fiction conference attendees, old hippies like us,” Hardy said. Now, the crowds are much more diverse. ...

...Joli Hamilton, Ph.D., a research psychologist, told me CNM is about “returning agency” to your partner. She and her second husband, Ken, who have seven children between them, live in small-town Massachusetts. They “look like soccer parents,” she says....


The story quotes Koe Creation, author of This Heart Holds Many: My Life as the Nonbinary Millennial Child of a Polyamorous Family. Koe grew up in a Seattle nest of three moms, two dads, and their extended relationship network. This expansive early polycule, including the legendary Erosong House, had a "founder effect" that drew others to the area and contributed to Seattle earning, by around 2010, a reputation as the poly capital of America. Here's Koe, reading their words from Vogue:




-------------------
1.  No, monogamy is not "over" despite the online title and the printed cover line. Monogamy will always be the right choice for many people, perhaps most, and they need to find each other. But this is a fashion magazine, and the fashion industry is all about shaming endless container-shiploads of new clothes into landfills as fast as possible, because capitalism. So the title came naturally. </rant> 

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


●  In other big media: the World Service of BBC News broadcast a 23-minute radio program last Sunday titled Divisible Love, part of its "Deeply Human" series (April 3). It's worth a listen in your drive time. Webpage description:


Why do you love the way you do?
 
We're expected to love only one romantic partner at a time. But we can love more than one parent, sibling, and friend - so why do so many cultures demand monogamy in romance? Is it time to reconsider the old model?
 
Dessa speaks with a philosopher, an economist, and sexpert Dan Savage to talk about love, sex, and commitment.


Listen here (streaming).


●  Google Alerts doesn't serve up as many small-town newspaper profiles of local out-and-proud polyfamilies as it did a decade ago, perhaps because there are ever fewer small-town newspapers. But the genre continues. This appeared in The Gabber of Gulfport, Florida: Meet Gulfport’s Polyamorous Throuple (April 1)


Rachael Meir, Aaron Meir, and Kasey Kershne (Ran & Rami Photography)

By Abby Baker

When Rachael and Aaron Meir met in college in Colorado 20 years ago, their future seemed on track for children, the white picket fence, and everything that comes with it. 

Until they took the time to talk about what they wanted. 

...Today, the Meir’s are in a polyamorous triad relationship with Kasey Kershne. The group moved from Colorado to Gulfport three months ago.... 

Despite the Meir’s being together for nearly two decades, their relationship with Kershne is an equal one. That’s the entire idea behind ethical polyamory, says Rachael, a licensed psychologist. 

The three have separate dynamics with one another, each with their own relationship within the triad, as well as a dynamic as a group. They go on dates, scooter around town, have disagreements, triple spoon, and live a normal life like traditional couples. 

The triad cites warm weather and lower cost of living in their decision to move from Colorado to Florida, despite Colorado having a sizable polyamorous community. 

Florida, not so much. 

“A lot of Florida isn’t friendly for our situation,” Aaron said. 

Despite this, they traveled the state searching for a potential home, and settled on Gulfport.... The three of them have posted their polyamorous status on various Gulfport Facebook groups and received overwhelmingly positive responses. 

Well, not all positive, Aaron says. But for the most part, people have been understanding and [shown] willingness to learn. 

“The idea of being able to walk down the street and all be holding hands … we didn’t want to hide ourselves for any reason,” Kershne said. 

...“We did a lot of research on triads and ethical polyamory and how to do it in a way that didn’t make someone feel like they are a third, or disposable,” Rachael said. 

...“In a lot of cases, people are still living in the shadows,” Kershne said. ... But with the changing nature of societal norms, perhaps it’s not off the table. 

Find out more about the throuple on their TikTok and Instagram @triadandtrue.


That's how you can represent if you're securely out. Create a social media presence, show it to the folks at your local paper and ask if they'd like to do a writeup, and off you go.


●  An outsider looks in on us and is impressed: What I’ve Learned About Love From My Polyamorous Friends, from The Good Men Project (April 3; originally on Medium.)


Unexpected relationship insights from the world of
ethical non-monogamy.


By Sian Bennett

Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t think much about ethical non-monogamy (ENM). ... But after spending time with friends from diverse cultural backgrounds who are exploring non-traditional relationships, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of why ethical non-monogamy is an attractive option for them.

...During one of our get-togethers, it transpired that she was exploring polyamory.

I was fascinated. But I also had so many questions about its practical application. Like, how does it work? Don’t you get jealous? How many people can you date at the same time? What do you tell family or friends?

Through my new friend, I met more people exploring this lifestyle choice. Then I started noticing it almost everywhere. ... 

I clicked with people in this community because they were open-minded, non-judgmental, intelligent, respectful, interesting and inclusive. ... I became a poly-ally.

One of my first observations was that to navigate this lifestyle successfully, you must be prepared to work — on yourself, your communication, your emotional regulation and on owning your s**t. What a radical idea.

One of the things that attracted me to go deeper was the awareness and discussion around consent — in all its forms.

At its essence, consent is about boundaries. It’s about checking in with what feels OK for you and knowing how to communicate that.

...The people I’ve met are less caught up in the script of what life “should” look like. I celebrate that. ... Breaking down programming as to why things need to be a certain way can be a challenge.

...A community often becomes like a family, or tribe, due to the shared values. 

...One of the biggest takeaways from my time in Polyland is the amount of clear, honest communication that’s required to manage multiple relationships successfully.

Heck, having one successful relationship is something to celebrate. So then double that, add a few dates, plus a job, friends and other commitments… I feel tired just writing this.

...One approach that many people swear by is Nonviolent Communication. It’s a great resource for anyone that wants to communicate with their partner in a healthier way. 

...Another key takeaway from the polyamorous lifestyle is that each relationship provides something different. And that’s one of the main reasons people choose it.

...For the monogamous among us, I hope this has given you something to ponder, whether you choose to explore a different way of relating or not.


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

And on the grim new world-era we may be entering... some perspective.

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society, because we live outside their small worldview and we expose its incompletenesses. Our freedom to build non-traditional relationships, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one small way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all. 

People who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to go their own way — whether by intimidation, laws, propaganda and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)

The coming era may require tough things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. But we do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

PS: Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.

_________________________
 Don't miss Polyamory in the News!
 SUBSCRIBE by a feed, or 
 SUBSCRIBE by email

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