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

April 13, 2019

"How Polyamory Changed the World"

I'm at Loving More's Rocky Mountain Poly Living convention in Denver, sitting and typing amid a burble of happy, chattering polyfolks waiting for the next session to begin.

Bob McGarey (left), with Loving More's Robyn Trask
and Jesus Garcia on Friday night.
Last night longtime poly educator Robert McGarey gave a keynote talk. His Polyamory Communication Survival Kit (1999) was one of the first poly books published after the word was invented (now there are about 50), and it's as good as ever. He has long been on the board of the Association for Humanistic Psychology and just became its co-president.

He stepped back to offer a broad, bold perspective on what we here, and you readers, have set in motion in the last couple of decades. I'm posting it here because it's much like what I would say, but Bob did it instead and probably better:

How Polyamory Changed the World

If your personal life or your feelings about yourself changed in a major way because you learned that polyamory existed and that there are other people in the world who are poly, raise your hand and keep it up for a minute.

[Most of the audience did.]

How has poly changed the world? Look around you. It has made an enormous difference in the personal lives of these people and the lives of thousands of others. There are stories all around us right here that attest to the impact on our personal worlds. But tonight we're going beyond those stories, to talk about the impact poly has had on the wold writ large.

Poly has profoundly affected how the world views jealousy, Established Relationship Energy, and monogamism.


Before poly, jealousy was a terrifying emotion that destroyed countless lives. It was wielded as a weapon to control and manipulate. It was seen as justification for emotional and physical brutality. And most importantly, it was seen as an emotion over which we have no influence or control, an emotion which forces us to behave cruelly. For millennia, it was an emotion to be feared, suppressed, denied, or run away from. It was our enemy.

But poly gave an unexpected and profound gift to the world. Starting perhaps with Deborah Anapol, polys have begun to declare that jealousy need not be our enemy, but rather a key to understanding more about what is happening in the relationship and what to do about it.

For the first time in the history of the world, we have come to see jealousy in a different light. Because of poly, jealousy is no longer a dragon we must cower from or slay. It has now become a dragon we can train and make friends with. Poly gave the world a new way to deal with jealousy, and that's the first way it has changed the world.


When I did my first workshop on New Relationship Energy vs. Established Relationship Energy, I had never heard anyone talk about Established Relationship Energy (or ERE) and its importance in poly relationships.

I would love to hear more people talking about ERE, because it's a powerful and often unrecognized force in poly relationships. Besides, it's awesome!

I had a married client come in who had fallen in love with a younger woman, and he desperately wanted to get divorced and start his life anew with her. He was deep in the throes of New Relationship Energy, NRE.

Over the last two years his NRE calmed down, and he has started to remember the profound connection he has with his wife from their decades together. He saw that the established relationship was uniquely and brilliantly valuable, even though it didn't have the pizzazz conferred by NRE.

The younger woman and my client are still connected, but he's no longer willing to destroy the connection he has with his wife. He enjoys the dazzling NRE but doesn't lose track of the support and comfort of ERE. He finally realized that NRE and ERE can live happily together, and it saved his marriage.

We as a culture are beginning to learn that we don't have to give up one type of love to have the other. That's another way poly is changing the world.

And finally, MONOGAMISM.

Monogamism is the fervent belief that monogamy is the only way to have a satisfying, lasting, ethical relationship. There are thousands of families in the U.S. right now that are in danger of exploding because one partner loves another person. That emotion creates a hazardous, unacceptable, intolerable situation that results in broken families, broken finances, and hearts that are broken for a lifetime and never recover.

It is simply not true that a human can only love one person at a time in an ethical way, and as we change that expectation in our culture, with the help of organizations like Loving More, we change the lives of thousands of people and create a more humane culture for future generations.

Poly directly confronts monogamism, and in the process opens up possibilities for love and connection that did not exist before. Poly provides an alternative that is more humane; an alternative that is bursting with possibilities and that allows us to be more fully alive.

SO, poly tames the dragon of jealousy, reminds us of the value of established relationships, and tears down the prejudice of monogamism. By attending this conference and continuing to create healthy, open relationships, YOU are how polyamory is changing the world. Thank YOU.

Robert McGarey, M.A., founded and runs the Human Potential Center in Austin, Texas, "which presents programs designed to spark the creativity, love and playfulness of the human spirit."


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April 9, 2019

"You Me Her" Season 4 premiers, and other polyamory on TV

Darko Sikman/ AT&T AUDIENCE Network

The "polyromantic comedy" series You Me Her opens its fourth season tonight (Tuesday April 9) at 10 on AT&T's Audience Network. There is no other show like it on television.

Season 1 was about a troubled couple who, independently, fell for the same third person by way of comic flukes: a novelty gimmick. But creator/producer John Scott Shepherd soon realized that the show was onto something bigger. Season 2 began straight off with the three together in a serious, all-around polyamorous relationship, and things have grown from there.

Life, of course, hasn't been easy for them. Tonight's opening of Season 4 is titled "Triangular Peg, Meet Round World." Season 5 is already scheduled for 2020.

Trailer for Season 4:

Rather than say more I'll send you to Paste magazine yesterday, The Charming Poly Rom-Com You Me Her Reveals the Biggest Problem with 'Peak TV' (April 8, 2019). The "problem" in the title is that a remarkable show like this can go undiscovered on an obscure channel like Audience.


By LaToya Ferguson

...Though the first season leans on the characters’ sexual relationship(s) more than subsequent seasons, You Me Her is not a show about sex and titillation. It’s about romance and love and all that crap: The series is so committed to the rom-com genre that there’s even, at one point, a last-minute dash to the airport. ...

...The series itself roots for its protagonists to make their unconventional relationship work. It doesn’t make it easy for them to do so, but it is invested in their success: While the phrase “just a phase” may have come up, Shepherd and company make perfectly clear that it’s not the answer, and if the series entertains the idea, it’s ultimately to topple it.

...Their (very supportive) friends wonder how they can even function in the world, throuple or not. Indeed, the supporting cast is as integral to the series as the leads: Jack, Emma, and Izzy are each allowed to have substantial, separate relationships with their best friends ... which is another way You Me Her stands out from other rom-coms.

...For a comedy series about polyamory that doesn’t shame it or make it a punchline to be this far under the radar is baffling. ... This is a light romantic comedy about three people who are in love with each other, one that explores the spectrum of sexuality and identity and self-discovery in a way that doesn’t often get explored in more mainstream series. And it’s also not as though the cast is a bunch of total unknowns ... But the conundrum of “peak TV” is that the proliferation of series and networks/platforms has made accessing specific shows more difficult. ...

AUDIENCE [Network]... lacks what’s called “brand awareness.” ... There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s an audience for the series, and its five-season run on AUDIENCE suggests that it’s something of a hit for the network. But the series is only available to watch via AT&T video platforms like DirecTV and U-Verse, international (not American) Netflix, or DVD. ...  You Me Her is, sadly, an object lesson in how shows fall through the cracks when there’s more TV — and more good TV — than ever.

● Five-minute vid on Cheddar.com: 'You Me Her' Stars Talk About The Love and Drama of Season Four (April 8):

Rachel Blanchard (Emma) says here, "I hope that people in the polyamorous community see themselves reflected in what we're sharing on screen."

Priscilla Faia (Izzy) says, "Since the show has aired we've had so many people [in the community] that contact us and talk to us about it. We're so grateful and lucky we get to be involved that way."

● On the Daily Brief: ‘You Me Her’ Wonders If Polyamory Can Survive the Suburbs (March 12).

...At the end of last season, the three sealed the deal with an impromptu commitment ceremony at a pizza joint. Now that they are back living their settled lives in the suburbs, how will they handle new people who are curious about their lifestyle and might be interested in joining in?

● More on the show's Twitter.


Meanwhile, expanding our view, polyamory in one form or another is finally infiltrating television more widely. For instance, in the media just since the start of 2019:

Now Apocalypse, recently launched on Starz, is reviewed by a Slate writer: How Now Apocalypse Creator Gregg Araki Foresaw Our Pansexual Present (March 27).

    – And on Hidden Remote, The 3 main reasons you need to be watching Now Apocalypse (April 1).

Siren is in its second season on Syfy.  Says TVLine, Siren Season 2 Is Giving Us TV's First Polyamorous Mermaid Thruple (Jan. 24).

    – On Syfy's own site, Siren Turns Its Mermaids into Pansexual, Polyamorous Killers (Feb. 27).

    – A rave on the feminist The Mary Sue: Siren’s Polyamorous Relationship Is One of the Most Refreshing Queer Relationships on TV (Feb. 5).

Future Man. As Pride.com notes, Polyamorous Families Thrive in Hulu's Post-Apocalyptic Comedy (Jan. 16).

● The Wanderlust series (BBC, Netflix) has been dissed in poly circles for cringiness, but Canada's National Post said Netflix's Wanderlust offers an honest examination and a unique discussion around polyamory (Jan. 2).

    – Poly comedian and activist Kate Smurthwaite discusses Wanderlust and delivers this memorable line: "It demonstrates one of the most important axioms of the media: If you want to know how to do something, don't look at the mainstream media [such as that]. Wanderlust is sort of a master class in how not to do open relationships":

● I'd never heard of the long-running teen soap Hollyoaks on British TV (Channel 4), but a couple months ago came this: Hollyoaks lines up polyamorous relationship storyline for Tom Cunningham (Digital Spy, Feb. 15).

    – And, Hollyoaks spoilers: Soap to explore polyamory storyline between Tom, Peri and Harley (Metro UK, Feb. 14).

    – But this is a soap opera, so of course the poly relationship didn't last long: Hollyoaks star Mollie Lambert speaks out after Harley Frater's surprise exit (Digital Spy, March 9).

● Teasings of a polyamory direction coming on the macabre Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, Hulu), on Digital Spy: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina needs to be brave and subvert the 'love triangle' (April 5). "Give the people what they want."

● A distant early alert about The Simpsons is getting a lot of notice this week in the queer press (and, furiously, on Breitbart). First out in Metro UK: The Simpsons showrunner teases Lisa’s sexuality and could become polyamorous president (April 2).

The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean has high hopes for Lisa in her future – and has backed up the suggestion she could become the first polyamorous bisexual president. Despite being stuck aged eight for the past 30 years, smart-alec Lisa Simpson is clearly wise beyond her years, and thanks to the magic of flash-forwards and dream sequences, we’ve been given glimpses to who she could become as an adult. ... Al also confirmed that the team were looking to bring more diversity to the show – including more LGBT characters. ... Lisa was seen in a flash forward card to have been in a throuple. ...

Future Simpsons family portrait? Bart looks jealous of Lisa's triad. (Fox) 


● Don't forget about three indie webseries that have been out for a while: Compersion, Unicornland, and 195 Lewis. At last February's Poly Living con in Philadelphia, Ruby Johnson of Poly Dallas called 195 Lewis "my idea of the most realistic portrayal of positive black poly community," with its highlighting of "the mutual support and community solidarity." She called 195 Lewis "a cult classic" among women of color. "The first couple episodes are a bit rough technically, but it gets better."


● Oh, while we're at it, here's The Daily Dot's pick of the nine Best Sex-Positive TV Shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (March 14).


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March 31, 2019

On opposite end of Earth, "Is polyamory on the rise?"

In the last two weeks, while New Zealand was in world news for a very different reason, the country's public broadcaster put up three pieces about polyamory after none for two years. The first is a long feature article on Radio New Zealand's news site:

Is polyamory on the rise?

By Michael Hall

Interest in polyamorous lifestyles may go beyond mere titillation, says an Auckland intimacy counsellor, as more people express an openness to define their own sexuality and sexual behaviours outside of traditional norms.

(At last! A three-from-behind stock photo with hands expressing poly solidarity rather than behind-the-back cheating. Photo/123RF)

Angela Rennie, 43, has been offering specialist sex and intimacy counselling from her Mount Eden practice for the past seven years.

She says her anecdotal experience of talking to clients suggests traditional relationship paradigms are being challenged, revised and even replaced altogether, with more interest in polyamory, where more than one partner is in an intimate relationship with the consent of all involved.

"It is hard to know exact statistics, but many people feel freer to be open about their lifestyle choices in today's society," says Ms Rennie.

"Polyamorous relationships are not necessary less intense than monogamous relationships. These relationships can be very intense. I have seen many couples live this lifestyle in healthy ways, remaining deeply connected. However, just like monogamous relationships, many poly relationships don't work out."

...While hippie free love was part of a marginal counter-culture, forms of polyamory today could be more of an authentic expression of the zeitgeist.

Intimacy without exclusivity

In a technological society driven by desire to consume, to satiate appetites and an unbridled focus on the self, it would be reasonable to think these cultural influences would permeate through to the relationships we have and want to pursue. ... Entering into a marriage or a long-term monogamous relationship was, for those conditioned by the culture, a type of commodity exchange of equal or higher-value to one's own sense of individual value.

...But whereas those seeking monogamous commitment look for one person to fulfil this commodity exchange, for those practising a polyamorous lifestyle there is no need to make an all-encompassing choice of just one well-rounded person. Many commodities can fulfil many needs and expectations. ...

Intimacy counsellor Angela Rennie
[Says Rennie,] "It takes a lot of bravery to be willing to have both emotional and physical closeness with one person. It can make sense to separate these out in different people, it's a lot 'safer' and people can feel a lot less vulnerable."

Jay is a 33-year-old Aucklander who has been happily polyamorous for five years, since a painful ending to a monogamous relationship with a long-term girlfriend.

He expresses unease at describing himself as poly, due to behaviours of single men who feel the label gives them carte blache to do as they please, regardless of the feelings of others.

"I'm a single, straight guy, of which there are many in the community who label themselves as polyamorous when actually they just want an excuse to sleep with people without any emotional accountability. It seems a bit sleazy to me," he says.

[Says Rennie,] "I have had a client say: 'at least they won't cheat on me if they're allowed to see other people'. ... Unfortunately, betrayal happens in poly relationships as frequently as monogamous relationships."

Twenty-eight-year-old Aucklander Ravina has pursued polyamorous relationships since her teens and found it initially fraught with difficulties, until meeting her boyfriend 18 months ago.

"I have always been interested in polyamory, and unsuccessfully attempted it several times as teen and young adult, before discovering my current partner and working out how to get it right," he says.

"The big issue during my earlier years was that we were not confident enough in ourselves to overcome the societal and cultural expectations of monogamy." ... She says polyamory remains challenging at times, but in comparison to past experiences of monogamy, she is more at peace within herself. ...

Read on (March 28, 2019).

The other two pieces are from recent radio broadcasts on the network's program about sex and relationships:

BANG! Season 3 Episode 4: Pretty Poly. Article and 50-minute podcast (March 25).

In this episode of BANG!, Melody Thomas speaks with people practicing polyamory, open relationships, swinging, and "relationship anarchy". Plus Auckland-based counsellor Dee Morgan and co-author of polyamory handbook The Ethical Slut Janet W. Hardy give their advice.

RNZ / Pinky Fang

...The private NZ Polyamory Facebook group has more than 1000 members, KiwiSwingers.co.nz claims to have more than 100,000 people signed up, and workshops and talks about how to open up your relationship are popping up around the country.

Anecdotally, people who have been part of ethically non-monogamous communities for decades report that practitioners are a more diverse bunch than ever before.

Janet W. Hardy, author of polyamory bible The Ethical Slut, says, “The nature of our audiences has changed… in the old days it was mostly Renaissance Fair geeks and old hippies and other people who were on the fringes, and these days it’s everybody.”

Rosie Morrison, 27, grew up in Timaru. She first heard about polyamory when she moved to Wellington and met a bunch of people who were doing relationships differently.

“At the start I think I was pretty taken aback like, ‘whoa that’s radical!’ She says. “By the end I was like, ‘I want in! That sounds awesome.’ ”

...Rosie is what’s referred to affectionately in the community as a “baby poly” -- someone who’s just starting out on the polyamorous path. Some more experienced polyamorous people will actively avoid getting into relationships with baby polys because the learning curve is so steep (others don’t mind).

Dee Morgan runs QPK counselling in Auckland, and specialises in supporting “queer, polyamorous and kinky folk”. Dee prefers the term “consensual non-monogamy” over “ethical non-monogamy” as ethics are subjective. She’s practiced polyamory herself for 16 years, and has lots of practical advice for baby polys. ...

[Says Morgan], ...“And it can take quite a lot of time for the headspace to shift and for them to go ‘Oh! This means they can fall in love with someone and choose to stay’.”

“Ultimately, if they’re in a relationship, everyone chooses every day to stay in that relationship, but we don’t tend to think about that when that’s the only partner. When you’re polyamorous I think there’s an increased awareness that yeah, my partners are with me because they choose to be with me.”

BANG! The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. Article and 30-minute podcast (March 20):

Here’s the story we’ve been told:

For as long as humans have existed, men and women have made a trade. He offers her protection, food, shelter and status, and in return she promises to be his “one and only”, so he can be sure of his paternity when it comes to her children.

They enter into this bargain despite conflicting biological agendas. Because sperm is metabolically inexpensive, it’s in his best interest to spread his seed as far and wide as possible. Because she’s facing a long pregnancy, plus breastfeeding and a couple of years with a toddler -- it’s in her best interest to lock him in. ...

Christopher Ryan
In Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, co-authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá take this story, which they refer to as the “standard narrative of human sexual evolution” and flip it on its head.

Analysing decades of research from the fields of primatology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology and biology, Ryan and Jethá build a picture of human sexual evolution in which “sexual exclusivity was not really part of our ancestor’s expectations around relationships.”

Basically -- our ancestors were much more sexually promiscuous than the ‘standard narrative’ has given them credit for, and this appetite for sexual variety, sharing sexual partners in much the same way as other resources were shared, served both to ensure genetically healthy offspring and to reinforce group bonds at a time when social cohesion was incredibly important.

This is how it works for bonobos....

...So if monogamy isn’t natural to us, when did the concept enter into human existence?

Ryan reiterates the thinking put forward [by] Friedrich Engels in the late 1800s and others before him, that monogamy is an artefact of the agricultural revolution. ...

Polyamory and other models of “ethical non-monogamy” are currently experiencing a boom in popularity.... But, according to Chris and Cacilda, just because monogamy isn’t “natural” to us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try -- if that’s what we want.

“Monogamy is like vegetarianism, clearly it’s not the natural behaviour of our species. Our species is omnivorous… But that doesn’t mean that vegetarianism is wrong… All we’re saying is, approach this from a position where you’re informed....

● That previous Radio NZ story two years ago was Diana Adams -- family law for nontraditional families (20 minutes. Feb. 7, 2017).

And while we're at it, in Kiwi newspapers in the last few years:

Polyamory and the complicated lives of those with multiple lovers (Sept. 17, 2017)

When polyamorous people tell you their way of life is not for the faint-hearted, they're not flipping kidding.

"Yes, we're all a bit nuts," *Samantha, 35, says of her own complicated but contented domestic life with a girlfriend who also has a boyfriend.

"We have some basic tenets that we live by. Don't be a dick is one of them. This means that if any of us chooses to engage in physical activity with a person outside the group, or decides to pursue a relationship outside the current structure, we do so with the greatest possible respect for everyone else and their feelings." ...

Three isn't a crowd as polyamory gets popular (Aug. 30, 2016)

There's another sexual revolution coming, a hip new bedroom trend the early adopters are just loving. ...

Do polyamorous relationships actually make for a better life? (June 12, 2015)

..."I think nonmonogamy frees you, definitely," writes a polyamorous woman from Melbourne I met on a discussion board the other month while searching for a source on the subject.

"But at the outset, I think it's important to understand that CNM (consensual nonmonogamy) exists on a continuum. ...

Laurie Penny: 'I've been polyamorous for nearly a decade. Here's how I make it work' (Oct. 15, 2017)

When I told my magazine editor that I wanted to write about polyamory, she adjusted her monocle, puffed on her pipe and said, "In my day, young lady, we just called it 'shagging around'."

So I consider it my duty to her and the rest of the unenlightened to explain what it is that's different about how the kids are doing it these days.

...What's new is talking about it like grown-ups. It's the conversations. It's the texts with your girlfriend's boyfriend about what to get her for her birthday. It's sharing your Google calendars to make sure nobody feels neglected. ... Far more of my polyamorous life involves making tea and talking sensibly about boundaries, safe sex and whose turn it is to do the washing-up. ...

● An agony aunt offers straight advice: Mrs Salisbury: I have a boyfriend but want a girlfriend too (May 9, 2018)

...Polyamory requires complete openness, excellent communication skills and the maturity to cope with the jealousy and fears that may arise. A contract is negotiated between all parties; there is no room for secrecy between the adults involved.

...There are various forms of poly relationships that you two could try. Sometimes a couple decide theirs is the primary relationship but each will be free to pursue additional relationships individually.... Sometimes a triad is formed, with three people in committed relationship or with one deeply involved with each of the other two but they not choosing to relate with each other. Sometimes four or more people form a close relationship system with agreement on whether each will be sexually exclusive to the group or not.

If these sound complex that's because they are. Making any relationship of two people successful takes a lot of work; that work is multiplied by involving others.


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March 25, 2019

Representing your poly group on local TV news: Five examples

Getting your polyamory group's message onto local TV can be surprisingly easy. Local news-and-talk shows may even help you announce your next public event. A fine example aired a few days ago on KVRR-TV for the Fargo area of North Dakota.

Click here to watch the video (4:30).

Lindsay Fouke (at right) was poised, relatable, and came ready with talking points. You can do this too! If I have any suggestions for her next TV appearance, it would be to remember to smile often — especially important when delivering a message that some will find difficult — and maybe to reconsider the item of face jewelry. In the closeups it often distracts from what she's saying, partly because it reflects glints of studio light as her lips move. Viewers only pay attention to one thing at a time, so as Joreth Innkeeper advises people going on TV, "De-emphasize aspects [of your appearance] that will distract from your message."

Joreth created the Polyamory Media Association site, which offers top-flight, professional advice for anyone appearing in mass media — especially TV, the most demanding. Joreth is a professional camera operator, among other things, in real life.

The Fargo station was quite willing to boost the group's next public event and put details on the segment's page on the station's website (posted March 22, 2019):

It’s one of the least well-understood subgroups in love relationships, and in fact, it’s only been recognized a few years as a social phenomenon.

So it might surprise you that a group devoted to polyamory — or relationships that feature consensual non-monogamy — is alive and well and operating right here in the Red River Valley.

It’s a group called PolyAware, and it exists to help people understand what the practice of polyamory is, how it works in people’s lives, and why it’s different than cheating on your partner.

...PolyAware’s Lindsay Fouke sat down in-studio with the Morning Show’s Emily Welker to talk about [the group's upcoming public] “Shift Happens” session, and explained some common beliefs, misapprehensions and more about the practice of polyamory.

[The event:] Sunday, March 24th, 1 p.m.
Pride Collective and Community Center
1105 1st Avenue South, Fargo

This is typical of the friendly treatment you'll get from local TV if they think you are interesting local material, which they always need. And it doesn't even matter if it's a Fox affiliate.

Here are some previous examples of good poly representation. Watching them, can you spot any dos and don'ts that you can learn from?

● "Chicago Tonight" on WTTW, the city's PBS station, ran a thoughtful, 11-minute (!) interview with Chicago Polyamory Connection co-founder Caroline Kearns and poly-friendly therapists Rami Henrich and Jennifer Rafacz (May 30, 2017. More info.) Watch below:

● An MFM trio shines on KRIV Fox-26 TV in Houston. Watch it here (May 1, 2017. More info.) A still:

● On WJLA's "Good Morning Washington" (DC): "Debunking Polyamory Myths," featuring the four brilliant and interesting young people in the still below. Watch it here. (July 1, 2016. More info.)

● Open Love NY activist Gette Levy salvaged an otherwise dull-headed TV report about polyamory in New York City, on WPIX Channel 11 (May 2, 2016. More info.) Watch below:

● Again, I recommend Joreth's Polyamory Media Association site. Topics there include:


● Another valuable read: John Ullman's Doing a Media Interview? Tempted? Make Sure it’s not Poly In, Garbage Out, on Loving More's site. The article is old but still good as new.

● Want to become a poly media representative more widely? Robyn Trask, Loving More's director, is ready to offer you tips from her own long experience — and she might add you to her list of people to refer media to when they call Loving More asking for interviewees.


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March 22, 2019

In the New York Times, "A Dating App for Three, Plus"

Feeld, which some people tell me is the friendliest of the new apps specifically for group dating, got a writeup in the Style section of yesterday's New York Times:

A Dating App for Three, Plus

Nonmonogamous coupling — and “thruppling” — has been lubricated by the internet.

Emily Keegin; Shutterstock

By Haley Mlotek

Feeld is a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.

If you’re single, you can set up an account stating your preferences and curiosities, as you might with any other service. The app lists 20 possibilities for sexuality alone, including heteroflexible (straight-ish) and homoflexible (gay, for the most part).

But couples and partners can sign up, too, in service of finding a third — or a fourth.

The app was released in 2014 by Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, two graphic designers living in London, as 3nder (pronounced “Thrinder”). They hoped to appeal to individuals and partners looking to join or have threesomes. But after Tinder filed a lawsuit and the company rebranded as Feeld (as in “playing the”), the founders said they welcomed the opportunity to expand the mission of the app.

“Feeld is a platform for alternative dating, for people who are beyond labels,” Ms. Kirova said in an interview. “They can meet each other without the necessity of coming from a very defined place with a very defined requirement.”

According to the company... about 35 percent are on the app with a partner, and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. (Gender options include nonbinary, intersex and two-spirit, as well as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer and gender-questioning.)

Feeld facilitates types of sexual attachment that are not exactly novel, but are often described in novel terms. (See “thrupple,” a term sometimes used to describe a romantic partnership for three people.) ...The company... says there are currently 12,000 connections made on Feeld and an average of 100,000 messages sent daily. ...

(OkCupid recently added a feature that allows couples to link their accounts in their pursuit of a third.)

...Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova, who began dating six years ago... made Feeld as much for their users as for themselves.

Mr. Trifonov said that they had been together for two years when Ms. Kirova revealed she also had feelings for a woman. “She felt really bad about it, like she was doing something wrong,” he said. ...[They] wanted to stay together while also giving Ms. Kirova space to try other relationships, but they didn’t like the options available to them. (They decided to search as a couple.) They felt unfairly judged by the label “swingers,” and recall users on other dating apps reaching out to say they shouldn’t be in spaces intended for single people. ...


...Now, the company is up and running more or less smoothly, with some 20 people employed. In the tradition of small businesses everywhere, all workers do multiple tasks, and titles are given more for the benefit of people outside than those within it. (The company also runs an event series on nonmonogamy [Feeld Experiences] and put out a magazine [Mal, "a journal of sexuality and erotics seeking to create new ground for writing about sex, gender, race & LGBTQ+ issues"].)...

If they had stayed simply a threesome app, Mr. Trifonov believes it would have died as a threesome app. ...

Read the whole article (in the print issue March 21, 2019; online March 20).



March 20, 2019

USA Today contributor declares for poly. Buuut. . .

In this morning's USA Today online, by a millennial contributor:

Polyamory isn't just about sex or lack of commitment. People should be free to explore their options.

By Victoria Gagliardo-Silver, Opinion contributor

I do not feel threatened by feelings or relationships my partners have with other people because that does not make our relationship any less real.

...My friend looked horrified at the notion of me being "the other woman" in someone else's relationship, which I was quick to explain that was not the case. I, my new partner and his girlfriend, like many other millennials, are polyamorous.

Polyamory, or nonmonogamy, defined as the practice of having one or more open romantic relationships at any given time, has gotten a bad rap in modern culture. ...

But, did she fluff the definition there? Whatever people think "open" means, she left out that poly is "with the full knowledge and consent of all involved." Although it becomes clear later on that that's what she means.

....Myths and even positive news media portrayal show us that polyamory is all about crazy group sex, disloyalty and lack of commitment, something even I was guilty of believing at one point.

And if you fumble the definition, casual readers may get those ideas from you too.

In reality, polyamory is a lot less sexy or radical than it has been portrayed in the media. It is not just about having tons of sex or not committing, it is a refusal to limit myself to receiving love and affection from any one person. Instead, I am open to explore whatever may or may not develop, creating lasting friendships and honest relationships without expectations.

Whew, okay, there's the honesty part.

As a young woman in my 20s in a city of 8.6 million, monogamy feels restrictive and unsustainable. There isn't anything wrong with monogamy as a concept, but many young people, like myself, are exploring new types of relationships. ...

(This graph does not tell whether there were many or few
searches on "polyamory" in 2018. It only shows their relative
weekly numbers, scaled to set the peak week at "100%.")
In 2018, the term "polyamory" was a constant high-interest term in Google searches. And our changing culture and growing acceptance of identity beyond the binary have paved the way for queer relationships and polyamory to be seen as valid.

I was introduced to the concept of polyamory in the late summer of 2018 by a new friend, Deborah Joan. I was baffled by how she was able to balance a boyfriend, a (nonlegal) husband, a girlfriend, a fiancé in Europe and her five pets. In seeing Deborah interact with and speak about each person she loved, I learned that love shouldn't be restricted, that feeling love is the most human experience. It was then that I understood what polyamory really was about: sharing and engaging in a human experience.

It is not defined by sex but rather honesty. I am able to openly explore my own feelings toward other people; I am comfortable ending things with anyone I am seeing at any point; and most important for me, I am able to speak openly about my polyamorous endeavors with all of my partners. Monogamy might be something I am open to in the future, but at this point in my life, as a young 20-something in New York City, polyamory has given me everything I felt was lacking in my dating life.

...I have been given the opportunity to create healthier partnerships without the restrictions of monogamy. No longer do I find myself concerned about my partner "cheating" as I no longer expect them to only see me; I don't feel the need to look through their phones or ask where they were. I do not feel threatened by feelings or relationships they have with other people because that does not make our relationship any less real, or any less ours.

Rather, I feel an abundance of love, attention and affection that I am privileged enough to be able to exist in with people I care about. ...

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver is a New York-based writer and student. You can follow her on Twitter: @Viccsilver.

The whole article (March 20, 2019).

As with many millennials, her relationship style sounds like Relationship Anarchy, a well-developed philosophy that overlaps polyamory but is in some ways distinct.

Update: This piece made USA Today's selection of 6 of our top opinion pieces this week: ICYMI (March 22).


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March 19, 2019

"Open Earth," a sci-fi graphic novel about polyamory in space

I discovered this on AL.com, a mainstream newspaper site for the state of Alabama. Not quite what I expected there, though Alabama does have Huntsville, home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Open Earth was written by Sarah Mirk of Portland, author of Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules. The artists, Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre, also draw Kim & Kim, a "science fiction adventure comic about two young queer women working as dimension-hopping interplanetary bounty hunters."

Here's the AL.com article, including a long interview with Mirk. Excerpts:

The 'sweet' and 'sexy' guide to polyamory in space

By Will Nevin

If our ability to travel and survive for extended periods in space gets better, but our will to curb greenhouse gasses and global warming stays about the same, what might happen?

What would life be like if we just abandoned Earth?

What would we take with us? Stuff would be limited. ... But our morals, our philosophical views, our outlook on life and love and relationships wouldn’t have to fit in an overhead bin.

And yet, would we leave them behind anyway?

Last September, Limerence Press — an Oni imprint that focuses on sex education and erotica comics — published “Open Earth,” [which] imagines life above a ruined Earth to be very different from the one most of us know now, in that the next generation — one born in space — might view monogamous relationships as a thing best left on the dead planet below.

“Open Earth” is warm and funny and (being on an adult line) just a little spicy. It was also one of the most revolutionary things published last year. I chatted with Mirk via email on how the book came together, about love and diversity and what the future might hold for the world she has created.

Q: How would you summarize "Open Earth," and how would you describe Rigo, the main protagonist?

The author
Sarah Mirk “Open Earth” is an upbeat, erotic sci-fi story set on a space station after the climate collapse of Earth. It chronicles a day in the life of the people growing up on the station, who have intertwining friendships and sexual relationships. Rigo is part of the first generation of people born in space. At 20 years old, the space station California is all she knows, so she’s skeptical of her parents’ interest in Earth traditions like monogamy and ruminating on the past. ...

Science fiction, collectivist philosophy and an exploration of polyamory might otherwise be taken up in separate works, but here, they're interwoven themes. How do these subjects speak to one another, and ultimately, how does "self" figure into all of them?

...In my mind, the generation of space-born young people see themselves as individuals, but because they’re living in very tight quarters and with extremely limited resources, they don’t have the same concepts around property, ownership and jealousy that we do today. The biggest difference, from a relationship standpoint, is that people are free to be intimate with whoever they want — there is not an expectation of monogamy, because that would lead to tension and resentment. Instead, the norm is that you can have sex with whoever you want, but you’ve got to be honest and open about it. No secrets! No one has a private room on the ship, everyone has at least one roommate and hogging space to yourself is discouraged. But they’re not collectivist zombies. I think humans will always be interested in having privacy, which is the core of having a self. On the California, the most precious commodity is privacy. Every conversation is subject to eavesdropping, everyone knows who is hooking up with who — even if they’d rather not. ...

The parents’ generation is much more tied into how history shapes identity — they named their kids after heroes on Earth and are trying to keep those stories and traditions alive. But the younger generation doesn’t see themselves that way, they see identity as more fluid, ever-shifting and not rooted in history at all. ...

Read the whole piece (Feb. 13, 2019)

A review in Mirk's hometown Portland Mercury: Polyamorous Sci-Fi Graphic Novel Open Earth Feels Lost in Space (Oct. 11, 2018)

By Andrew Jankowski

“Honesty keeps us alive” is a recurring phrase in Open Earth, the debut graphic novel penned by comics writer, author, and (full disclosure!) former Portland Mercury reporter Sarah Mirk. The motto refers not only to the practice of sharing the small quarters of an Earth-orbiting space station, but to its citizens — especially a polyamorous generation that has only ever lived in space.

...Open Earth presents a day-in-the-life look at life aboard the space station California... . Rigo narrates in the California’s official language, Spanglish, and it’s obvious that racism and body shaming are deader than monoculture and capitalism. The book’s main conflict, Rigo’s desire to move out of her parents’ quarters and into those of a partner, is only a problem because she doesn’t know how to tell anyone involved — her parents, her partner, or her other partners. Rigo’s life is a no-frills utopia or, depending on how you feel about non-monogamy drama, a cheery dystopia.

...Open Earth succeeds as an easy, low-stakes read about navigating multiple romantic relationships and having sex in space. But it’s disappointing that the book lacks out-of-this-world situations, especially since the medium of comics is constrained only by a budget of imagination. The space station Rigo lives on ends up looking like a utility closet much of the time, and despite a diverse cast, no one except Rigo has much personality. Furthermore, considering the explicitness of the book’s sex scenes, the space sex is unforgivably tame. ...

...Open Earth has potential as a series, especially if it goes on to explore the other characters and expand its plotline about this new generation taking the station’s cultural reins. As a standalone, though, Open Earth feels more interested in education than story.


While we're on graphic novels, there's the sweet queer poly Sugartown by Hazel Newlevant. Publisher's description: "A bisexual, polyamorous love story for the modern era. Hazel is already in a happy relationship when she meets Argent, a woman who works as a dominatrix, but is sweet and tender outside the bedroom. How will she negotiate this new romance with her boyfriend back home? And what about his other girlfriend?"

Two pages from it:


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March 12, 2019

Bright sides, and dark, of tech's emerging culture of polyamory, intimacy and social exploration

Vice has published the latest article about the culture of polyamory, sex-positivism, and mind expansion that is emerging en masse in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Add to this a big dash of new wealth and power, and it's not always a happy thing.

Ignore the tabloid-style headline; the article is worth reading. Excerpts:


Silicon Valley's Latest Bizarre Craze Is 'Organized Intimacy'

By Andrew Chamings

Much has been written about how the culture and fun has been sucked out of [San Francisco] since the second tech boom. ... Threesomes are tricky on a murphy bed.

In actuality, they’ve just gotten weirder, more organized, more frequent, and sometimes don't exactly involve sex ... from lunch-break tantric speed dates, to lakeside eye contact parties....

...San Francisco sex and intimacy parties in 2019 have been forever altered by the world of tech and money.

...The current popularity of living polyamorously is just as much about having more people to share the rent. Nevertheless, the new San Francisco transplants of the second tech boom are craving intimacy, and local event organizers are more than happy to help. A look on Eventbrite or Facebook on any given weeknight will present various new ways to get cozy with strangers — from lectures on tantra, workshops on “rope play,” sold out cuddle parties, something called "the Heart Fuck!," and another promising “Somantic Exploration” — a “very special evening of dance, connection and PLAY!”

...Nick Meador [organizer of the Cacao, Consent and Conscious Dance Party]... tells me he believes the Bay Area “is a good sandbox to experiment with new social structures and community constellations.... I've traveled a lot and I've never seen this unique mix of practical self-development opportunities, social justice initiatives, and a willingness to explore the taboo and the unusual.”

Elsewhere, those wishing to make connections can simply look into one another’s eyes. That’s the thrust of the world’s biggest [eye gazing] experiment on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland, where the high is delivered not from cacao, but from the release of oxytocin....

Allyson Darling, a writer in San Francisco, attended the mass gazing event, which she described as “more intimate than an orgy” for The Bold Italic. ... “The overall vibe of the event was...weird,” she tells me. “Some people were social and talking and joking around people sitting on the ground and staring into each other's eyes. People’s goals for attending the event were rooted in intimacy."

“There are few things more intimate than looking into someone’s eyes for an uncapped amount of time, whether they’re strangers or not," she says.

...Walking around a city where everyone thinks they are changing the world can be exhausting. You can smell hubris on the streets, alongside a lot of other undesirable scents. But in an industry where even at the biggest firms, team-building cuddle puddles and micro-dosing mushrooms at work are encouraged, the idea of finding new unchartered ways to love each other seems very normal. ...

Most of this New Era of Intimacy is clean (albeit out there), consensual fun. But just as the Summer of Love was eventually hijacked by pimps and bad dudes looking to use “Free Love” as an excuse to bang anything walking along Haight Street, the more drug-fueled orgiastic “cuddle puddles” of today have been exposed as toxic and sometimes dangerous events that revert back to a very unprogressive and misogynistic dynamic, in which entrepreneurial tech 2.0 entitlement and hubris is leveraged to excuse treating women, usually lower on the career ladder, as little more than sex toys. ...

The whole article (March 7, 2019).

● See also the many other posts here about poly in the tech world.


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