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



November 9, 2018

"What is polyamory? This is what it’s really like to have multiple partners"


Two weeks ago I posted about Heath Schechinger, one of the leaders of the new Consensual Non-Monogamy Task Force within the American Psychological Association. They're getting stuff done to advance professional understanding of us and our needs.

Heath writes in response, "People may be interested in knowing that we are organizing over 50 poly researchers and activists from across the United States to accomplish our twelve initiatives.

"I'd also welcome giving folks an opportunity to sign up for our mailing list (which is the best way to stay updated on our progress) and sign our petition to support relationship diversity in mental health, medical health, and the legal professions."

Meanwhile, he's getting quoted quite well in various news media. For instance, in the Australian edition of Vogue:


What is polyamory? This is what it’s really like to have multiple partners

...As relationship norms shift, the acceptance and popularity of polyamory is growing. So what is it really like to have multiple partners?

“People have been non-monogamous, and practising polyamory, for as long as there have been humans,” says Dr Heath Schechinger, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Before you dismiss the notion as promiscuity slapped with a fancy label... consider this: the fourth most popular relationship Google search in 2017 was ‘what is a poly relationship?’ ...

...It isn’t simply an open relationship whereby you live largely monogamously, save for the occasional one night stand after a couple of after-work drinks. ... “Part of it is there is an emphasis on being ethical and consensual, so that there is no hiding and no deception,” says Schechinger, noting that current data, although scarce, does suggest a fairly equal split in men and women who choose a polyamorous lifestyle. “There will be people who say it is just something that guys want, but that doesn’t fall in line with the data.”

Current figures suggest that around four to five per cent of the US population is in a consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationship (a term that encompasses polyamory as well as swinging and open relationships), and more than one in five people have indicated that at one point they have been in a consensual non-monogamous relationship. “The CNM community is just as big as the LGBT community combined, and in terms of the number of people that have ever practised CNM, it is about as common as the number of people who own a cat,” says Schechinger. ...

...At the heart of this movement is a big heart. It seems that for the poly community, love isn’t a zero-sum game in which loving someone deducts love from another. ...

... “It was hard for me to understand how [partner] could envision a life together without what I saw as recognisable commitment and without monogamy” [says relationship coach Dr Elisabeth Sheff], who, despite eventually breaking up with her partner, began studying polyamory and has since penned three books on the subject, [including] The Polyamorists Next Door. “It turns out that I’m not polyamorous myself. But it can work well for other people. It isn’t for everyone, in fact, I would say that it is only for a minority of people. I would think that other forms of non-monogamy that have less emphasis on interaction and emotional sharing are probably a lot easier to manage.”

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

“We’re not sure if people experience less jealousy because they are naturally drawn to polyamory, or if polyamory helps reduce jealousy, or if it is a combination of both,” says Schechinger. The takeaway? If you’re the type who has ever skimmed your significant other’s texts, then polyamory probably isn’t your jam. “If you have that high level of jealousy receptors, then perhaps don’t do consensual non-monogamy, because it’s going to hurt you like hell,” echoes Sheff.

For others, however, uncovering polyamory has been more of an ‘a-ha’ moment. Gender diverse Eve De Zilva discovered polyamory after attending sex-positive workshops at university. “I just thought: ‘That is so for me!’ I get to live my life to the fullest and connect with as many people as possible.”

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

Those within the community insist on ‘relationship choice’ and say that while monogamy may be the default, there are other options. “For some people, they’ll talk about when they were little kids, never having a single best friend but having different friends that they did different things with,” says Sheff. “Others try and try to be monogamous and just can’t: they can never do it. One of my favourite explanations was from a respondent who said: ‘It was just like trying to wear shoes that were three sizes too small.’”

...Love doesn’t come in a neat, heart-shaped form. “There is no rightness of fit in respecting people’s choice or biological disposition to live their lives in a way that feels congruent to them,” says Schechinger. “I think that we all stand to benefit from knowing there are options and that it doesn’t have to be that one-size-fits-all.”


Read the whole long article (online October 26, 2018; in the November 2018 print issue. Reprinted in Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper).


● Schechinger was interviewed at length by email for Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's "lifestyle brand" magazine: A Therapist on Polyamory and Consensual Nonmonogamy. This one is a long, rich resource of talking points to keep on hand. A sample:



Q: What are some misconceptions around CNM and polyamory?

A: Because we don’t talk about CNM openly — despite it not being very unusual — there are a lot of myths. ...

Psychologist Dr. Heath Schechinger
Myth 1: CNM relationships don’t last, or are unstable. Research suggests this is not true: CNM relationships have equitable levels of commitment, longevity, satisfaction, passion, greater levels of trust, and lower levels of jealousy compared to monogamous relationships.

Myth 2: Damaged people are attracted to consensual nonmonogamy and/or it causes people psychological harm. Research suggests psychological well-being is independent of relationship structure. That is, there’s a statistically proportionate percentage of monogamous and CNM people with relationship and psychological concerns. CNM doesn’t appear to “draw damaged people” or hurt people any more or less than monogamy does.

Myth 3: Humans are “naturally” monogamous. ...We know that between a quarter and half of adults report being sexually unfaithful to their monogamous partner.

Myth 4: People in CNM relationships are more likely to have or contract STIs. The research we have on this suggests that people in CNM and monogamous relationships don’t really seem to differ when it comes to their likelihood of having had an STI. Many ostensibly monogamous people do not live up to their commitment... and CNM people are more likely to use safer sex practices, such as using condoms with a partner, condoms with their extradyadic partner(s), and they talk more with their partners about the people that they’re sleeping with. They’re also more likely to be tested for STIs and are more likely to discuss their STI-testing history, [all of] which appears to counteract the increased risk of having multiple partners.

Myth 5: Men are driving the interest in CNM, and women are only nonmonogamous when they’re tricked or just trying to please their man. There are a number of scholarly articles (written mostly by women-identified authors) that address how polyamory is grounded in feminism, promotes equity, and empowers women; this is one example. Feminist scholars have also articulated how traditional monogamous structures are more likely uphold a system of gender oppression and how polyamorous women tend to indicate feeling more empowered and have more expanded family, cultural, gender, and sexual roles.

Myth 6: CNM is just an excuse to cheat. ...CNM promotes having honest dialogue about nonmonogamous desires to avoid deception and create space for honesty and authentic relating.

Myth 7: Monogamy protects against jealousy. While monogamy may act as a buffer from certain experiences that provoke jealousy, it may also act as a barrier to addressing any fear or insecurity driving the jealousy. ... What we do know is that jealousy levels tend to be significantly higher in monogamous relationships.

Myth 8: Children are negatively impacted. There does not appear to be evidence to suggest that children of poly parents are faring any better or worse than children of monogamous parents. Given the number of blended families, having more than one parent [of a given gender] seems to be pretty normalized.


And here are headings from another section that's worth saving to give people who might ask,


Q: If you want to explore opening your relationship with your partner, what’s the best way to communicate it or broach the subject?

A: I’m not convinced there’s one best way. Some people test the water by asking about related topics to see how their partner responds, while others approach it directly. There are a few principles, however, that come to mind.

1. Fully acknowledge the legitimacy of their feelings. ...Avoiding, minimizing, or rushing through this part of the process will not serve you or your partner....

2. Your partner may conflate their desire for connection with judgment. ...

3. Be patient and supportive. ...

4. Do your homework. ... Once you engage the topic, be prepared to provide reassurance and have resources available to address your partner’s concerns. Again, reading a book or exploring online resources together may be helpful.

5. Find support. You can’t do this alone. Both of you need a supportive community. ...


● The UC Berkeley alumni magazine California profiled Shechinger earlier this year: Popular Polyamory: A Berkeley Psychologist Seeks to Bring the Non-Monogamous Into the Fold (February 28, 2018). This too is a good read.

● A HuffPost story by a therapist who attended one of his trainings: Consensual Non-Monogamy Or Simply Put, Cheating, oh jeez. The article is good, it just had a stupid headline writer (Aug. 6, 2018).


...Recently I attended his webinar on clinical management of Polyamory. Yes, we therapists need training in and containing of our own possible discriminations and stigmas. And since CNM is the new kid on the therapy block, new learning is necessary for every therapist. ...


● He's quoted in a long article in the online dads' magazine Fatherly: Could Open Marriages Save Monogamy? (Sept. 2, 2018). "A group of cutting edge researchers, advocates, and writers believes that consensual non-monogamy should be a more considered option for couples."

● And here, in an advice column of Aplus, an online women's magazine: 'I Love My Husband, But Still Think About Opening Up Our Marriage'. The asker wants to explore a threesome. (Oct. 5, 2018)


...The next step is having a conversation about your boundaries, according to Dr. Heath Schechinger, a licensed counseling psychologist specializing in consensual non-monogamy. "Be honest and specific about what you do and don't want at this time," he explains. "These boundaries can be revisited later on.

..."Have a conversation about desires and boundaries with everyone involved before you engage. Each person in [a] threesome should negotiate their own needs and desires independently, as opposed to having one person in the couple speak for the couple as a unit." This is a key step in the sexual exploration process because it establishes the lines that can't be crossed, but it doesn't have to be clinical. Instead, try to view this conversation as a kind of socially-conscious dirty talk because "the more clarity, the more room for pleasure," according to Schechinger. ... Enthusiastic and ongoing consent is necessary for everyone to have a good time. ...

After you all agree on your individual limits, Schechinger advises against re-negotiating boundaries in the heat of the moment. "It can be tempting to request or permit extended boundaries during sex, but it's risky," he explains. "Consent is ideally requested/given when in a grounded state of mind. Trust that there will be other opportunities to experiment with expanded boundaries."

To make sure all participants are getting what they want out of the threesome, check in with each other regularly. Schechinger recommends doing this by making intentional eye contact, smiling, or asking "Is this feeling OK?" A good rule of thumb is to apply the ways you and your husband already check in with each other during a one-on-one sexual encounter to your interaction with this new person. ...


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November 1, 2018

"Not the Father: When Community Elders Erase Race from Polyamory"


Last week I posted about an interview with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart on his life in the polyamory movement, his role in the word's origin and its initial spread in the hippie and Neo-Pagan worlds, and his hurt reaction to an unexpected dust-up with New York polyfolks. The interview was by Leon Feingold, who Oberon perhaps did not know is on poor terms with New York poly leaders. It reopened wounds that had seemed to be resolved.

What happened?

Apparently Oberon, who's in his late 70s and on a walkabout around the Americas, was invited to a large, private poly party in New York while passing through. A friend of his argued online that he (the friend) should be allowed to publicize the party because "the Father of Polyamory" would be there. Oberon has not called himself that and insists he never would. But others in the thread apparently thought it was Oberon's own boast and called him out for gross world-cultural ignorance and white blindness; multi-partnering with the knowledge and consent of all has an ancient history in cultures around the world. Oberon defended himself but, IMO, became blunderingly reactive and exposed blindnesses like those being denounced; others then called him on that, and down it went.

Eventually the argument got resolved on the thread. But a couple weeks later Feingold published his interview with Oberon, and the wounds were reopened. I, unfortunately, worsened things by naively directing attention to the interview.

Kevin Patterson has just published an essay on Medium about the larger problems of cultural obtuseness that were at the root of the blowup. He calls me out too, and fact is, I do need to improve my perceptions about these things. I damn well don't want to be the clueless ally who messes up. Kevin's essay is guest-hosted by Eve Rickert in her column on Medium.


Not the Father: When Community Elders Erase Race from Polyamory

(Daytime TV host Maury Povich)
This is a guest post by Kevin Patterson, curator of Poly Role Models, author of Love’s Not Color Blind and co-author of For Hire, discussing a recent kerfuffle among polyamorous activists and what it means for the safety of people of colour in our scenes.

Every few years or so, someone tries to steal cornrows. To be clear, what I mean is: every few years, white folks try to colonize the hairstyle known as cornrows. ...Some fair-skinned public figure appears in cornrows, or some stylist claims discovery of an identical hairstyle, and celebrity media applauds them as a tastemaker and a trendsetter. ...

...So when the white celebrity of the day is given credit for popularizing a look that’s long been a standard in Black culture, without facing any of the social stigma involved, there’s a notable reaction. ... One of the most difficult parts of having these conversations is being spoken over and disregarded by folks who don’t understand or won’t accept their privileged place in that conversation.

Recently, some notable names in both local and nationwide polyamory circles had a dustup that turned into exactly this sort of dialogue. ...


Read on (October 29, 2018).

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October 28, 2018

New moves for poly awareness in mainstream counseling and psychotherapy


Today, unlike just a few years ago, you have a pretty good chance of being able to find a poly-aware therapist or counselor. (If, of course, you have good insurance or can afford to pay out of pocket.)

You still have to vet potential therapists in advance about their knowledge of polyamory or other forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM, the term now used in psychology land). Otherwise you still may get one who doesn't grasp what you're talking about — and who, at best, you have to educate on your own expensive time, or who at worst seizes on your poly-ness as "obviously" the cause of all your problems.

But your initial vetting is getting easier. More therapists are specializing in non-traditional relationships, and many others are becoming educated on the topic through their own professional channels.

This is partly because a lot of academic research on CNM has been published in the last several years, while many less formal articles have appeared in the literature for psych professionals, and the topic is showing up at conferences. And there's always NCSF's booklet What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory, which you can point your therapist to so they can educate themselves on their own time (though it's getting a bit dated).

Last January the American Psychological Association (APA), in its Division 44 (sexual orientation and gender), set up a Consensual Non-Monogamy Task Force to better serve our community's needs. It's co-chaired by Amy Moors (Chapman University and Kinsey Institute) and Heath Schechinger (UC Berkeley). They're gung-ho for educating their peers on how to understand and serve CNM clients.

Recently, as Schechinger posted on the PolyResearchers Yahoo Group, "Drs. John Sakaluk, Amy Moors and I had an article accepted for publication at the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology. It's the largest study to date (that we're aware of) addressing the therapy experiences of people engaged in consensual non-monogamy." Here's a preprint.

Schechinger is getting quoted in the media, and we couldn't ask for a better explainer. He also wrote an article for Medium about the paper's findings and what to do next. Excerpts:


Cris Beasley

What Therapists Need to Know About Consensual Non-Monogamy

By Heath Schechinger, Ph.D.

Too many clients who are in consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships have to educate their therapists. Too many of them discontinue therapy because their therapist judged them, didn’t know enough about CNM to be helpful, or worse, makes actively stigmatizing comments such as “polyamory isn’t stable,” “women can’t do non-monogamy,” or “we can’t accept you to our therapy group as you’re non-monogamous — you wouldn’t fit in.” These are real quotes from a study about the experiences of CNM clients in therapy a couple of colleagues and I recently had accepted for publication in Journal for Clinical and Consulting Psychology.

We believe our results clearly highlight how we need to start taking the mental health needs of the CNM community seriously. For context, around 4–5% of people in the United States report that they are in CNM relationships, comparable to how many people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. More than one in five adults have also tried CNM at some point, which is not far off from how many people own a cat. ...

It is still rare, however, for mental and medical health professionals to receive training on how to effectively support people who are engaging in or exploring consensual non-monogamy. ... As co-chair of the American Psychological Association’s Division 44 Consensual Non-monogamy Task Force, I’m calling for my colleagues to thoughtfully examine our assumptions around monogamy, pursue and promote education about relationship diversity, and approach this issue with the same level of respect and care that we do with other marginalized communities.

In our study, Drs. John Sakaluk, Amy Moors, and I asked 249 people engaged in CNM about their experiences in therapy, making it the largest study to date on this topic. ... We asked participants in structured and open formats what their therapist did (or did not do) that they found to be helpful and unhelpful, allowing us to generate broad and specific practice recommendations and calls to action.

Educating Therapists

... One-fifth of our participants ... reported that their therapist lacked the basic knowledge of consensual non-monogamy issues necessary to be an effective therapist, and/or had to be constantly educated about CNM issues. ... One-third of therapists in our study were described by CNM clients as quite knowledgeable of CNM communities and resources. ... It is important to note that our results may be inflated positively as nearly half of our participants reported intentionally seeking a therapist who was affirming toward CNM. ... Clients who screened for a CNM-affirming therapist reported better treatment outcomes. They experienced more “exemplary” and fewer “inappropriate” therapy practices by their therapists, and they rated their therapists as being more helpful than those who did not search for a CNM-affirming therapist.

...Educating therapists needs to be addressed at the highest levels of the mental health profession. It is time to include CNM in therapist training and continuing education programs, and I am calling on my colleagues to join me in advocating for this change.

Removing Barriers to Treatment

...I am also requesting my colleagues advocate for CNM to be included as a search term on therapist locator websites (such as Psychology Today and APA Psychologist Locator) to help remove barriers to the CNM community accessing culturally competent care.

This is a step that I am pleased to announce that APA Psychologist Locator has agreed to take. ... with the changes (hopefully) set to go live in November/December 2018. We hope Psychology Today and other therapist locators will follow suit.

Blaming Problems on Relationship Style

Over half of participants indicated their therapists held judgmental or pathologizing beliefs towards consensual non-monogamy. The most common way this judgment appeared to manifest was in attributing clients’ problems to CNM.

For example, when a monogamous couple is having problems we typically don’t assume it’s because they’re monogamous. We also don’t assume a monogamous client is depressed or anxious because they are “attempting monogamy.” ...Multiple peer-reviewed studies have compared data on monogamous and CNM relationships with regard to participants’ relationship quality and personal well-being (e.g., depression, happiness) or relationship well-being (e.g., satisfaction, commitment, longevity). There is also substantial overlap in the perceived benefits of monogamy and consensual non-monogamy.. ... Compared to monogamous relationships, CNM relationships appear to exhibit approximately equal levels of commitment, longevity, satisfaction, passion, and love. The research also indicates that CNM relationships enjoy advantages of greater levels of trust and lower jealousy.

...In other words, therapists’ comments about CNM relationships not lasting or causing problems for clients have more to do with therapists’ pre-existing biases than they do with CNM. These biased attitudes are informed by our mononormative culture, not empirical data.

Another way stigma shows up in therapy is assuming clients are monogamous. This was one of the most common mistakes made by therapists, with over one-third of our sample indicating that this happened to them. The hopeful news is that this practice is easily preventable — we just have to ask. ... Therapists should ask about relationship style, (preferably) on intake demographic forms. This step has been embraced by an increasing number of mental and medical health centers, including all ten University of California counseling centers.

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

Dr. Amy Moors and I are serving as co-chairs of the APA Division 44 Consensual Non-monogamy Task Force and are currently overseeing initiatives on a number of topics such as including CNM as a protected legal status, educating therapists, making it easier to find CNM-affirming therapists, and promoting awareness of issues facing individuals engaged in CNM with multiple marginalized identities.

We believe this task force is a significant sign of how far the non-monogamy movement has come and suggests there is hope that the world will become safer for people in CNM relationships.

...One of our initiatives is to advocate for the eventual creation of practice guidelines, similar to those that were created by the American Psychological Association for working with lesbian, gay, and bisexual therapy clients as well as transgender and gender nonconforming therapy clients.

In addition to signing our petition and/or joining our mailing list, we would like to invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we will be posting updates. I will also be making updates on my Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin accounts.

...Just as monogamy is not right for everyone, neither is consensual non-monogamy. It’s not about what’s right for all, but what’s right sized for the individual.

Heath Schechinger, Ph.D., is a licensed counseling psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley.... His private practice specializes in providing support to the CNM, kink, queer, and gender non-conforming communities.


Read the whole article (Sept. 26, 2018).

● Also, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS or "Quad-S") recently interviewed Schechinger and Moors in its newsletter (Summer 2018 issue). PDF download.

UPDATE: Heath writes, "People may be interested in knowing that we are organizing over 50 poly researchers and activists from across the United States to accomplish our twelve initiatives.

"I'd also welcome giving folks an opportunity to sign up for our mailing list (which is the best way to stay updated on our progress) and sign our petition to support relationship diversity in mental health, medical health, and the legal profession."

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October 25, 2018

"Jake, 37, thought polyamory might mean casual hook-ups. Instead, he found love and stability."


Here's a nice sweet one. Although its subjects live in the US, it appeared yesterday in iNews  in the British isles (the print edition is just called ), a tabloid said to be "aimed at 'readers and lapsed readers' of all ages and commuters with limited time."

The story is in both the UK and Irish editions, at least online. I expect it'll be syndicated elsewhere.


I thought polyamory would be no-strings fun. Now I’m in three relationships

Jake thought polyamory might mean casual hook-ups. Instead, he found love and stability.

Illustration from a photo. The women didn't
want their faces used. (Ella Bucknall)
Jake, 37, is an office worker who lives in the US. Here he talks to Poorna Bell about navigating the complexities of polyamory.

I’m in a loving relationship with three different women. I’ve been with Ellie for seven years, Cyn for six years and Kayla for two.

I used to be monogamous but after a break-up in 2010 with a long-term partner, I wanted to explore my kinky side. I soon found FetLife, a website that’s a bit like Facebook for kinky people.

It was an overwhelmingly positive experience for me and I started to question the relationship norms I had previously taken for granted.

My first exposure to polyamory came at a group meeting that I went to thinking it might be a good place to meet a woman for no-strings fun. But listening to people talk about their relationships made me realise polyamory isn’t always about hooking up with anyone and everyone.

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

...Eventually, I met Ellie via OkCupid in 2011. Ellie was married – her husband Nahli was okay with her dating other people – and although it was meant to be casual, within months, we fell in love.

It was strange at first sharing a woman I loved with someone else. ... But Nahli is one of the nicest, most easy-going people I’ve ever met. I realised that this wasn’t a competition and that each of us brought something different to the table. He’s a godsend – when Ellie and I get into an argument, he’s often acted as a referee. Likewise, when those two have had trouble, I’ve stepped in to lend a hand.

Not long after I met Ellie, I met Cyn at a FetLife meet-and-greet event at a local restaurant. She had a warm, welcoming personality and I immediately took a liking to her. Her boyfriend wasn’t okay with her having sex with other people, but she said we could see each other minus the sex. ... To her boyfriend’s credit, he gradually softened and eventually decided he was okay with Cyn and I fully exploring our relationship. She’s still with him today, but I don’t have the same relationship with him as I do with Nahli. He prefers to compartmentalise....

In 2016, I met Kayla on OkCupid because I was still casually dating other people in the middle of all of this. Kayla identifies as asexual, and her sex drive is virtually non-existent. In the time when we’re not together, we still maintain the relationship via text and a Discord group chatroom that Ellie, Cyn, and Kayla and I all share.

These days, everything has settled into a stable routine of sorts that works fairly well for everyone. Every now and then, the four of us (and sometimes Nahli) will schedule group days where we all hang out at home or go to a movie....

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

There is a certain amount of worrying that goes into it. These aren’t casual relationships; I love these three women, and that means that I’m constantly trying to check to make sure they’re doing okay and not feeling neglected.

Polyamorous relationships are a lot of work. In some ways, every time you add a new relationship on top of an existing relationship, you are doubling the work. Everything you have to do to maintain the relationship with one person, you now have to do with the second person, and you also need to try to maintain things between those two partners.

...Boundaries are also important.... The rules we follow include things like not keeping secrets from each other, making sure to share STI test results with any new partner (and passing on that information to each other) before becoming sexually involved with them, and trying to respect each others’ alone time with other partners.

...Probably the biggest downside is the stigma against polyamory in our society. We live in a fairly liberal city, but even so, we’re careful not to talk about this stuff at our respective jobs for fear of causing friction there.

On balance, it takes a lot of work, but I have an incredible amount of love in my life as a result of it – I wouldn’t change that for anything.


The whole article (October 24, 2018).

iNews has run three other articles about polyamory in the last two years.

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October 22, 2018

In Russian state-controlled media: "How polyamory is breaking the rules of love and sex" (Updated)


Russia Beyond's original logo. Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the
Russian government's official newspaper of record.
 
At first I thought Russia Beyond might be an independent or semi-underground outlet, considering the topic. But no, it's part of the same state-owned and -run conglomerate as Russia Today and many other Putin-controlled media. It's published in 14 languages to improve Russia's image in Eastern Europe and around the world.

So does this mean that discussion of polyamory is officially okay in Russia's current climate — unlike sympathetic gay reporting, which can get you criminal charges or a visit from state-approved thugs? And what is the Russian poly scene actually like? I'd love to hear an informed opinion.

From the English edition:


No more excuses: How polyamory is breaking the rules of love and sex

By Yekaterina Sinelschikova

Society is not ready to accept the polyamorous view on love: the right to have a relationship with multiple people, without the torment from pangs of guilt. Some people, however, think that society’s view on the issue will begin to change. Russia Beyond’s correspondents met with Muscovites who identify as polyamorous.

...It was a small, smoky room in a jazz bar in the center of Moscow: a basement without a sign, between a grocery store and a coffee shop. You can only get to it through the [closet] in the corridor of a tavern. Instead of coats and hangers, there was a passage inside. Six people were inside the room gathered around a table. It was tea time and a single domino was on the table.

“We're not expecting anyone else. The rest are tired after the orgy and will not be coming,” a man with a red beard and a pipe says on top of everyone’s laughter.

All of them are in relationships (or know that they could be in a relationship) with several partners, and each of the partners know about the existence of the others.

He calls himself Tur, like they called the primeval wild bull, which by the 17th century was entirely extinct. There are four other girls in the room, as well as Ian, a non-binary transgender, which means he doesn't consider himself a woman or a man. Everyone shares a single way of life, one philosophy, one modern view of love, which is unaccepted by most of society. All of them are in relationships (or know that they could be in a relationship) with several partners, and each of the partners know about the existence of the others.

"We are polyamorous. In a nutshell, it's ethical non-monogamy," Tur says. “But that’s only if you explain it in the simplest of terms.”

Once upon a time, 41-year-old Tur had a wife. ... Now he still owns the theater, but without his wife. He also builds and sells homes, advises and consults on real estate, builds historic ships like Drakkar or Ushkui, and takes them through northern routes. One of his girlfriends is sitting next to him with her head on his shoulder. She introduced herself as Fox. She wears a spacious t-shirt that does not fit, and on her thin hands she wears multi-colored trinkets made of of beads. She is 18 years old. ... Fox has two girlfriends, two boyfriends and Tur, who lives with her most of the time.

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

This is Ian, a 21 year old designer. He has a rough voice, short, stiff hair on his head and a loose tank top that exposes thick black hair under his arms.

When his family didn't accept him as transgender, he ran away from home. He chose a new name for himself, which has the old Irish meaning of "God is gracious,” and the Hebrew meaning of “Gift of God” (“gift from God”). He has a boyfriend and so far he is in a relationship only with him. But that’s for now.

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

In the turbulent 1990s, a common euphemism amongst students and nonconformists read as follows: "to do friendship," says Tur. You were friends with someone, and suddenly you wanted to have sex with them. But you did not stop being friends. You did not become a couple. You did not become husband and wife. And no one thought that was bad. It was accepted.

For 40 years Tur witnessed how this “acceptance” changed. And despite the fact that the polyamorous community is now keeping a low profile, and most don't want to show off, Tur thinks it's temporary.

"People are afraid or don’t want to notice that the norm is changing,” said Tur. “But some of them are brave enough to say it out loud."


Read the whole article. It's currently one of the six most popular on the site.

Other stories there push some edges a bit, such as a feature on Stalin airbrushing historical figures out of photographs, while others echo the clumsy foreign outreach of old Soviet days: "Why is Russia’s S-400 Triumph Air Defense System So Popular Abroad?" "Why do Russians use tractors on aircraft carriers?" (That's not a joke; a tractor is used in cleaning the deck.) "Inspired by Russia’s greatest commander, Suvorov shortbread cookies are a blast".


Update Oct. 22: Anton B. writes,


Hi from Russia!

The Russian poly-scene exists. Not very widely, but it became a lot stronger in last couple of years.

There have been many articles in Russian media, and some of them are good. Here is a list of some of articles (in Russian, but Google translate can give you an impression):

I'm glad that my husband has another romantic relationship. Interview with two trouples, 6 persons in all.

What is compersion?

It isn't about sex, it's about connection. Poly monologs, published on the official state day of "family and fidelity."

Territory of trust. Deep reflection of a famous Russian feminist.

From monogamy to polyamory: how to choose right relationships format

There are websites (not many), there are groups on social media (the largest I know has more than 7000 subscribers), there are chat rooms. There are meetups.

There is partial translation of Kimchi Cuddles (more than 500 strips).

There are published The Ethical Slut (translated from the first edition, sadly) and amateur translations of The Husband Swap and The Game Changer. You can call it piracy, but they really can't be published here in the proper way.

But the article you have linked... It's a sort of shit (official media, yes). I've heard that the person who wrote it promised to send text to interviewed persons, but didn't. And... a 40-year old man with (all those) 16-18 year old girls... you name it...


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October 21, 2018

Oberon Zell, co-creator of the word, on polyamory today



Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is a legendary figure from the beginnings of the modern poly movement. In 1961 as a college freshman, he discovered science-fiction author Robert Heinlein's new Stranger in a Strange Land and became the book's foremost evangelist, helping it to become a "bible for multi-love believers" by the late 1960s. In the 60s and 70s he helped advance and popularize Neo-Paganism with his Church of All Worlds, inspired in part by Stranger. And he became a practicing wizard.

His life partner Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart is especially known for inventing the word polyamory. In a kitchen-table discussion at the home of Deborah Anapol and Paul Glassco in Mill Valley, California, around 1988, the four of them were trying to come up with a succinct word for their community's deep belief in, as Morning Glory later defined it, "having more than one sexual loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved." "Polyamory" was what they settled on. Morning Glory first published the term poly-amorous in the Beltane (Spring) 1990 issue of the Church of All Worlds magazine Green Egg, and Oberon says they published polyamory in a glossary leaflet at a convention soon after. If you wonder why the early poly movement was so full of Pagans, Scadians, and science fiction fans as it started to take off, their influence is why.

Far into his 70s now, Oberon is currently on a "Walkabout" around the Americas, visiting friends, lovers, pagans, and poly groups and looking for his next life direction. His deep belief in magical thinking — literally, via ritual magic — does not seem to have had much practical result; after many failed ventures he has been impoverished for years and has been living by his wits and the generosity of friends and lovers.

Earlier this month he was in New York, where he gave an interview to the new website Polyquality, produced by Leon Feingold.

Some excerpts:


A Conversation with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Posted October 5, 2018

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart... visited New York City this week for the first time in years, and was gracious enough to sit down and answer some questions....

PQ: What brings you from California to New York and what are your plans while here?

OZ: I have a number of wonderful sweet lovers around the country, and I’m currently on Walkabout to visit and spend time with them all. While here I plan on attending the Poly Drinks and Thinks at Retro this upcoming Monday, and enjoying conversations and food with whomever shows up to join us, after which I admit I am quite curious about Poly Cocktails and would like to take a look.

...PQ: I read Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land in middle school, and I identify it (along with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in college) as the most important book I’d ever read in my formative years, guiding me both with respect to ethical non-monogamy, and many more aspects of my personality. To what extent did the book shape your vision for polyamory and Church of All Worlds?

OZ: SISL was a HUGE influence on all of us! I (and a number of reviewers of the time) considered it to be the most significant influence on the entire sexual revolution of the ‘60s, as well as the real-life CAW which gave rise to the entire modern Pagan movement. Heinlein’s definition of Love as “that condition in which another person’s happiness is essential to your own” became our fundamental concept, and a core of what today is called compersion. And the poly relationship dynamic described in the book became our model for our own relationships, which we eventually labeled “polyamory.” SISL was kinda our “Bible,” and everyone who came into our lives was expected to read it, if they hadn’t already (unsurprisingly, nearly all had)....

The actual experiences [of group marriage] vastly exceeded all expectations and visualizations. We found we could do and be so much more as a group family than we ever could without each other. Even though we are now geographically dispersed since MG’s death, we’re still very close in our love; and our kids, now grown with kids of their own, still consider themselves dear brothers and sisters.

PQ: I’ve always wanted to ask this question: why “polyamory” and not “polyphilia” (Greek) or “multiamory” (Roman)?

OZ: That’s the exact conversation MG and I had that led to the term. Many people had been trying to come up with terms to describe such relationships that preferably didn’t have the root “gamy” (marriage) in them. Terms such as “polyfidelity,” “responsible non-monogamy,” “panfidelity,” “omnigamy,” etc., were being tossed around in the many articles of the time. “Polyphilia” sounds like a disease, or worse, an affliction, like pedophilia. “Multiamory” just sounded awkward. But “Polyamory” sounded perfect and self-explanatory, so that’s what she went with....

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

PQ: How has polyamory changed since you and your family first started practicing it?

OZ: There are actually two main answers I have to this question, one positive and one negative. The first revolves around evolution of word usage as relates to identity, perspective, and definitions. Please keep in mind that MG wrote her 1990 “Bouquet of Lovers” article as a request from our third partner, Diane, who was editing Green Egg at the time. They’d been discussing someone who was claiming to be in an “open relationship” (the best term we had at that point), and being sneaky and dishonest about it. MG said, “Well, he’s just not following the rules!” And Diane said, “You’re always referring to these unwritten ‘rules.’ How about you write an article on them for GE?” So she did.

But at that time, MG was writing from the perspective of a couple looking to open their relationship (or marriage; the most common term was “open marriage”) to include other lovers. So those were the “rules” she wrote up, on how to do that successfully to the positive benefit of all. So a core element was that of commitment priority, so as not to jeopardize the relationship between the initial couple. Hence reference to “primary,” “secondary,” etc. relationships.

Diane, MG and I (and later MG’s previous husband, Gary, who married Diane to join our new family) felt our Triad was entirely stable, and we all knew where we stood in it. But insofar as MG was advising other couples on how to open their relationships, the element of priorities was crucial for the security of all. ... However, as time went on, we realized that often the secondary partners in such relationships were not happy about being relegated to second place. ...

As to the negative change I referenced, there seems to be less of the innocent Hippie/Pagan love and exuberant idealism that so characterized the early glory days of the ‘80s-‘90s. ... Some of our biggest challenges within the polyamory community have taken place quite recently; it’s been challenging maintaining clarity of the definition with people who keep wanting to change it to something else in order to fit their own reinterpretations of value, ethics, and history. The movement seems to have gotten more politicized, and downright meaner. We are now seeing poly people using their public platforms to be judgmental, disrespectful, and exclusive, ironically the opposite of what we always stood for as cultural groundbreakers in the United States.

PQ: I understand you had a surprising experience along those lines recently....

OZ: This week, for the first time, I experienced what I can only describe as unmitigated hostility coming from certain vocal poly folks, who seemed to despise me for my role in launching the movement they apparently think of as theirs alone. It left me just stunned. I’d never encountered such a hostile reception in the communities I’ve founded and been involved in, all my life. I’ve attended countless Poly and Pagan gatherings around the country and in Australia, often as a guest of honor, and I’ve always received a warm welcome as a founding Elder. But in this scenario, I was rudely and ignorantly accused of being a colonizer, a racist, and worse.... Polyamory was just our term we came up with for precisely how MG and I and our community lived....

PQ: Sounds like you walked into a firestorm you weren’t expecting. Welcome to New York?

OZ: Certainly I had no idea what I was stepping into when I just blithely and innocently accepted an offer to attend a poly party, exactly the sort of thing I’ve been doing all across the country (and in Guatemala) for the past 4 months.... I acknowledge that because of my status as a white, cis, male Elder, there very well may have been situations in my orbits where racism existed and I was unaware, or a power dynamic was in place that I didn’t see. I by no means am trying to take away or denigrate anyone else’s experiences or emotions. ...

PQ: So let’s focus instead on the positives. What have been your best memories since you first identified as polyamorous?

OZ: Group sex would have to be high on that list for me! Many sweet and delightful threesomes, and a few wondrous orgies. I always say the biggest problem with monogamy is that nobody gets to sleep in the middle. Our wonderful group marriage families, and all living together, working on family projects, raising our kids together, presenting at festivals and polycons, going on camping trips and other adventures, such as the International New Age Trade Show in Denver every Summer Solstice, etc. Especially when the whole Ravenheart clan all lived together in a beautiful and spacious eco-house on 94 acres near to Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm in Laytonville, CA. ...Creating amazing rituals for our community, including reviving the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries; developing Mythic Images as a family business, and sculpting statues to produce and market. Our group handfastings (marriages). 20 years of this! Enough beautiful memories for several lifetimes!

PQ: How have YOU changed – other than years going by – since you first identified as polyamorous?

MG and OZ
OZ: ...Not a lot, other than growing older (which is far better than the alternative!). But I haven’t really slowed down much. I’m still quite sexually active, with a number of enthusiastic sweet lovers around the country, ranging in age from 38 to 77, who all know of each other, though not all have met in person. Polyamory has been one of the best things in my life, running neck-and-neck with Paganism and Magick. I cannot imagine how I could have gotten through the death of my beloved lifemate, Morning Glory, without my other lovers giving me a reason to go on. ...

PQ: What is the most important message you have to share, whether people are new to poly or consider themselves veteran poly people?

OZ: Remember, it’s all about the Love. Be impeccable in your open honesty with each other, and with yourselves. Not everyone is cut out for polyamory, and that’s OK. I think the most common default relationship dynamic for most people is probably serial monamory, not polyamory. Be honest with yourself: is this really who you are? Can you handle your lovers having other lovers? Being poly means no cheating, no deception. And no jealousy. If you can’t handle that, don’t claim to be poly! But if you truly are polyamorous at heart and by nature, don’t try to mate with someone who isn’t. That will just result in everyone getting hurt. ...

Also, never make [unrealistic] rules, such as “It’s OK to have sex with other people, but you’re not allowed to fall in love with them.” This is the major reason many poly agreements fail.

PQ: What is next for you?

OZ: I identify with no home; everything I own is in storage in Santa Rosa, except what I brought with me in my car for my Walkabout. Ultimately, I’m searching for a new (and hopefully final) home, and someone to share it with. Where that search will take me, and with whom, is still open. This could be a long journey, and since my lovers are so widely scattered, I will want to keep visiting with them from time to time, which will mean many trips away from whatever home base I may eventually settle into. I have cast my life (and my fate) upon the winds. ...


Read the whole interview.

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October 12, 2018

"Many Love" poly author is in today's New York Times, on the eve of her wedding


Illustration by Sophie Lucido Johnson, from Many Love

Sophie Lucido Johnson, whose sweet, self-illustrated poly memoir Many Love came out this summer, is getting married tomorrow. And she tells the tale in the Style section of the New York Times . (Update: It went online October 12th but appeared in the print edition of Sunday the 14th.)

Excerpts:


Talking to My Fiancé About My New Girlfriend

After enjoying an open relationship, a couple decides to tie the knot. Just one question: Why must marriage require sexual fidelity for life?

By Sophie Lucido Johnson

Luke came to my front door in New Orleans on a sunny day several years ago with a sparsely decorated cassette tape and said, “I made this for you.” I could tell this was a move he had used with other women, but I had to hand it to him: It was a good one. ... I was charmed that Luke liked music and was obstinately analog about it. ...

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

...Two years later, we moved from New Orleans to Chicago and rented a one-bedroom apartment. ... But I never wanted to give up dating other people, and neither did Luke. In Chicago, we maintained our Tinder accounts and would lie side-by-side in bed swiping right, occasionally showing off our respective matches.

Polyamory wasn’t something my parents easily understood. My grandparents told me they felt “truly worried” for me. But nothing about our arrangement ever felt unusual. ... Before Luke, I had spent almost a decade building and prioritizing a close platonic friendship with my roommate, and she never minded that I went on dates with other people. Why should it be different with someone I slept with?

...Sometimes I got jealous; sometimes Luke did. We talked about our jealousy at length and afterward felt closer. Three years into our relationship, we kept dating other people, but we noticed that the jealousy just kind of stopped. In the spring, Luke filled our living room with yellow daisies and we got engaged.

The next winter, at a party, I met Kat.

She wore a skintight black dress with see-through keyholes on the sides. I couldn’t stop staring. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in real life.

She was there with her boyfriend, Brendan, who was visiting from Portland, Oregon, and they were also polyamorous. I liked Kat and I liked her boyfriend ... finally Luke told me I should ask her out.

I decided I would ask her out by writing her an actual letter and sending it. The letter had a long list of possible dates and times when we might hang out, and I drew cats on the front of it to indicate how whimsical and carefree I was. ...

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

People ask me why I’m getting married, considering my open approach to sexual fidelity. ... I’m getting married because I want to promise, in front of my friends and family, that I am going to love Luke forever. I want to assure him that if he can’t pay his rent, or when someone he loves gets sick, or if his car breaks down in an ice storm and he’s stranded on the highway, that he can call me and I’ll be there for him no matter what. ... More than anything, I want Luke to know that I will tell him the truth, and that when the truth is painful I will stop what I’m doing and tend to him until he feels better.

But I am not going to promise him that our love won’t change, and neither will he promise that to me. The fact that love absolutely will change is one of my favorite things about love. Rather, as the love changes, I hope Luke and I will be able to hold each other with compassion; that we will stay curious and empathetic.

One night, after a December evening out, Kat walked me to the train station. Under the overpass, she pulled me toward her and kissed me in a small, sweet way that threw my stomach into knots. ... Talking with the love of my life about falling for Kat has been an incredible gift. Luke pets my hair and lets me wax poetic in a way that most of my friends can only tolerate for so long. And it goes both ways; I root for him when he goes on dates. Kat says she talks to her boyfriend about me, too.

Right before Christmas, Luke and I went to Portland (my family lives there; we always head over for the holidays) and met up with Kat and Brendan. We all went on a date together. After it was over, Luke and I lay awake in my childhood bed, laughing about how sweet and strange and beautiful our lives were turning out. ...

I know not everyone wants to love this way. I understand fear of loss, and I understand wanting to hold something still when it’s good. Ultimately, this particular shape makes sense to me: love as a blob that can’t be pinned down, as something alive, an animal that ventures from person to person but finds places to call home.


Read the whole article (online October 12, 2018; in the print edition October 14). More about the book.


● More from the author: an excerpt from the book published by Refinery29, How Friendship Can Be Just As Intimate As A Relationship (June 27, 2018). In part:


...We agreed to float a little ways down the river, using our forearms to keep ourselves gently tethered to the ground. We reached a place where the water was deep, but a red maple had fallen across its narrow width. We both grabbed hold of the tree so we could stay in one place, tumbling like wind socks in the current.

By the time we fixed ourselves to the tree, Hannah and I had already spent three hours talking nonstop. The conversation rolled forward unpredictably. There were no lulls or awkward pauses; the things we wanted to say turned up without announcement, and then we broke off into other topics altogether.

Women are especially good at this, psychiatrists Jean Baker Miller and Irene Pierce Stiver point out: they engage in “connective” conversations — conversations that are uniquely healing, and, unfortunately, critically absent in public discourse. According to Miller and Stiver, connectivity occurs when both people are equally invested and share the emotional weight of the conversation’s experience. "Connection in this sense does not depend upon whether the feelings are happy or sad or something else; it means having feelings with another person, aside from the specific nature of the feelings."

Conversation with Hannah was long and easy because we were not seeking solutions to our problems. In discussing the pleasures and pains of our daily lives, we constructed reality together. ...

Sometimes I don’t need a solution nearly as much as I need to be told that whatever crazy thing I’m feeling — terrified of going to sleep at night; palpably angry that my local bagel shop has run out of poppy-seed bagels; in love, unconditionally, with people who can’t love me back — is an okay thing to feel. I’m constantly amazed at the ways in which our world believes that uncomfortable feelings are abnormal and should be avoided or fixed at all costs. Hannah never tries to fix my problems; she sits with me in their shadows, engaging with the darkness.


That was then. . .

"Design for the wedding Go-Cups!"

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October 11, 2018

"Polyamory, unicorns, demisexuality: Five takes on monogamy and its alternatives"

A show on Australia's ABC public radio network called The People vs ("where the people debate the ethics of one thorny issue") did a one-hour "The People vs Monogamy" on September 30th. (Listen or download here.) Then yesterday the network posted a web article with extended quotes from the five folks profiled.

It's all less edgy than the title, but it models acceptance of diversity for its mainstream audience. Excerpts:


Is monogamy outdated? We asked five different people. (Pixabay: Gisela Merkuur)

 
Polyamory, unicorns, demisexuality: Five takes on monogamy and its alternatives

By Sue Daniel and Georgia Power

...It seems open relationships are having a moment. ... "The People vs" asked a panel of five people the question: Is monogamy simply outdated?

'Monogamy does not come naturally'

[Dan] Savage says, "One of the problems with monogamy is the unrealistic expectations that we attach to it.

"We conflate monogamous behaviour, successfully executed over five decades, with the sincerity of someone's commitment, with love. A relationship can be sexually exclusive, [but also] abusive, where both parties treat each other with contempt."

Savage has as "an evangelical mission" to reframe monogamy so couples understand that while they may struggle with infidelity, they can also survive it. ...

'It's called demisexual'

Erielle Sudario, from western Sydney, [says], "I have my own views on sex and basically I want to do it with someone I really trust, with someone I'm close with. I'm pretty sure there's a term for it, it's called demisexual or demi-romanticism, and I identify with that aspect of the asexual spectrum."

People who are demisexual/demi-romanticist need to feel a strong emotional connection before feeling sexual attraction. ...

'Hey, maybe this isn't for me'

Stephen Holden... would like to see more open discussion about how difficult it can be to challenge the cultural norm of monogamy. ... He says its taken him more than 50 years to realise that maybe, it's not for him.

..."I'm a little bothered at how difficult it is for people to explore, discuss and to be honest about the fact that 'hey maybe this isn't for me'. I would love to see people more open to that."

Mind meld? Monogamous for life

Peter McCarthy married his high school sweetheart Toria, and they have been together for 40 years. If anything happened to her, he doubts he could ever marry again. ... He references the third mind, a concept where life partners begin to think and feel as one.

'The worst problem is deception'

Columnist, author and dating expert Kerri Sackville [says] "The worst problem is deception, and whether you choose to be in a monogamous relationship or in an open or polyamorous relationship and workshop or talk through your challenges, that's going to be the best option."


The whole article (October 10, 2018).

And here are two more items from Australia since my last batch of them:

● In Melbourne's city magazine The Weekly Review, Three’s not a crowd: The rise of polyamory (May 30, 2018)


(No information or credit)


By Kirsten Robb

When Diane Cameron told people she was polyamorous ten years ago, she always got the same reaction.

“When I used to say, ‘I’m poly’, I’d get a lifted eyebrow and I’d have to explain it,” the life coach says. “But nowadays, I get a shrug or a ‘me too’. I don’t have to spend a half hour explaining to someone I’m not morally corrupt or full of STIs”.

To the monogamous heterosexuals amongst us, it might seem like non-monogamy is suddenly in vogue. If you use dating apps, you might be surprised by the amount of people listing “poly” or “non-monog” in their profile. You may have even seen articles in the newspaper, or Netflix programs with polyamorous plotlines.

But has there actually been a rise in non-monogamous relationships, or is there just a cultural shift in the way we talk about it?

“Polyamory is nothing new,” says Cameron, a relationship coach specialising in polyamorous relationships. “I think what’s new, is the fact we can talk about it a bit more and the fact that the glorious internet gives us the ability to meet like minded people.” ...

(More white-duvet feet, now with nail polish!)

 
...“It does require you to do a lot of work and be really vulnerable,” Alex* says. “It requires you doing a lot of introspection about why you’re having certain feelings and be honest about them.”

But jealousy, secrets, or even that uncomfortable feeling you get when your partner is getting close to someone else – these feelings aren’t specific to non-monogamous relationships. In fact, many in the poly world say that having to operate in a way that acknowledges those feelings actually minimises harm.

“This is just a way for getting through those situations that have always existed, with the largest amount of respect and love for the people around you,” says Alex. “We’re not trying to create a new way of living [Ahem, oh yes, some of us are! –Ed.], it’s a way to talk about it and hurt people less.”



● The Murdochs' News Corp. publications ran this just before the last Sexpo Melbourne: Bradford and Angela Atom are teaching Australians how to be in successful open relationships (Nov. 17, 2017)


A BISEXUAL married couple had done the “normal” married thing. It didn’t work out. This is why they turned to being swingers.

By Vanessa Brown

WHEN Angela and Bradford met for the first time and subsequently started dating, there was a big condition for their relationship to work.

It had to be open.

...Mr and Mrs Atom, from Raleigh in North Carolina, are both bisexual and have been married for three and a half years, moved to Australia after Bradford received a job opportunity too good to pass up.

Both working in the science field, the international move allowed the pair to have a clean slate and be completely open about their relationship from the get go.

“When we moved, we got a free pass to restart everything. When we arrived, we made it a point to be open and honest with everyone about our relationship. ...

The pair, who now live in Sydney and run adult sexual education classes in addition to their full time jobs, said every open relationship was different — but they tend to see other couples together.

“It’s a fun experience, but the key to any successful open relationship is a strong basis of communication and trust,” Mr Atom said. ... This is much more than just sex. ...

...Mr and Mrs Atom saw a gap in adult sexual education market, and made the decision 18 months ago to launch By the Bi — which teaches couples and singles everything they’ve wanted to know about sex, but haven’t felt confident or comfortable enough to ask.

“A lot of people in the 25 to 50 year old age group get their sexual education from porn,” Mr Atom said. “That’s like getting life information from an Avengers movie. ...”


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