Friday Polynews Roundup — creative quarantines, 'The Bachelor' that yet could be, and more
It's Friday Polynews Roundup time — for April 3, 2020.
So this morning I was up at 5:45 for the new super-early grocery shopping hours. I was hunting and gathering for two households and hadn't been downtown for two weeks. The main street was empty when it used to be clogged with dawn commuters. The only action was the yellow road signs, which were flashing infection-control advice. The only cluster of cars was at the grocery store. I went in breathing through my old sawdust mask and wearing cotton gloves. The mask fogged my glasses. A glove fell off while I was disinfecting the shopping cart. Most everybody else was breathing through a mask, scarf, or terrorist-looking balaclava.
On the way home the radio chattered about mass unemployment, mile-long lines of cars at food banks that were bogged down filling out federal poor-harassment paperwork, and talk of whether US deaths would number 100,000, 240,000, or none of the above. A UN guy was calling this the world's greatest crisis since World War II and predicting 20 million starvation deaths worldwide. Cut to reports of hunch-playing incompetence by an angry toddler at the top of the world's top country. And we're only in the beginning.
That's when it struck me that yes, the old normal really is gone forever. When we get to a new normal, maybe later this year, maybe in 2021, it will be a different normal, a more serious normal, for better or for worse. We could try to shape it.
The polyamory in the news this week was about coping.
● Tikva Wolf reissued a Kimchi Cuddles that says it all for so many:
Kimchi Cuddles, used by permission.
● In The Guardian newspaper online, US edition, the top "Spotlight" headline Wednesday morning was Polyamory in a pandemic: Who do you quarantine with when you're not monogamous? (April 1). Excerpts:
Coronavirus is forcing people in poly relationships to make tough choices about who to be intimate with.
"Those in the poly community have had to make difficult decisions surrounding sexual monogamy and cohabitation." (Barcroft Media/Getty)
By Kari Paul
Earlier this month, after being exposed to the coronavirus, Chaele Davis had to decide if she would spend her quarantine with her primary partner, whom she has been dating for a year, or her secondary partner, with whom she just celebrated a four year anniversary.
Davis, a polyamorous woman living in Brooklyn, had arranged her life not having to make choices like these. “But when you love two people, in a time like this, you just have to make the call,” she said.
[Can I have sex? A guide to intimacy during the coronavirus outbreak]
...For people who consider themselves part of the poly community, that has meant making difficult decisions surrounding sexual monogamy and cohabitation, said Daniel Saynt, founder and head of New York City sex club New Society for Wellness (NSFW).
“It’s a terrifying time for non-monogamy,” Saynt said. “There has been a stronger consideration recently for coupling off. It’s kind of like cuffing season, but for corona season.”
...Cat, a polyamorous woman living in New York City... has spent the last 14 days in self-imposed quarantine with her roommate, who had been exposed to the virus. After she leaves the quarantine, she’ll have to decide which of her two partners to see – and if it is ethical to do so. Ultimately, she said, she is leaning towards quarantining alone to avoid hurting either.
Natalie Behring/The Guardian
“Coronavirus is making everyone polyamorous, in a sense,” she said. “We all have to navigate disclosure, safety, and health in similar ways.”
...A lot of non-monogamous couples are seeking to interact in a virtual way, and a rise in online events is making it more accessible.
NSFW has started to coordinate online parties for couples to engage in non-monogamy from a safe distance. Its first online “playdate” attracted nearly 100 people who met one another through group video chats and could pair off for private sessions. Like NSFW’s in-person parties, the event had a dress code and a set of rules stressing consent and privacy.
...New York City artist Olivia Jane... said they are considering moving in together to create a quad relationship as they struggle to pay rent during the pandemic....
● In Vice, How People in Polyamorous Relationships Are Navigating Lockdown (April 1)
By Daisy Jones
...Who do you self-isolate with, for instance, if your poly relationship is non-hierarchical? How do you make time for multiple partners when only one of them is able to be physically present?...
With that in mind, we spoke to a bunch of people in polyamorous relationships about how they're navigating this lockdown scenario....
..."It's kind of fucked up, really. They view me as putting more effort into the new relationship as my communication has been kind of less, but it just feels overwhelming to talk online a lot at the minute."... — Ame, 27
"It's actually been okay! I live with my primary partner, while my other partner also lives with their primary partner. My partner also started seeing someone a month or so before lockdown, so they're in contact too. We sustain our other relationships by making sure that we have regular phone conversations and keeping up that vital communication and intimacy. Just like pre-lockdown, it's about making sure that each person feels valued.
"I do miss being physical with my other boyfriend, but it's more important that each of us stay safe, so that's going to have to wait. We regularly remind each other that this isn't going to last forever and for now we are just valuing all this extra time we have with the partners we live with. ...We're all pretty relaxed and used to being communicative if or when any issues arise." — Rory, 26
"Me, my partner and his other partner have been living together for the past two years. We are quite lucky and have found a good compromise – I have a bedroom, my partner's partner has another bedroom, and our common partner can spend time with both of us separately. It's also nice to spend time with the three of us together over dinner or watching movies. It gives us 'family time,' which is healthy in a moment like this.
"We've been navigating it quite well over the past three weeks, but I feel like this week it will be a bit harder. The blues are starting to hit somehow." ... — Riccardo, 28.
"My girlfriend is isolating with her girlfriend, who is also my best friend. My boyfriend is isolating at his house with no partners. I'm actually breaking up with him soon, so that's going to be weird.
"I also find FaceTime really annoying because sometimes I just want to cuddle and not say anything."... — Cai, 28
"...I'm not going to lie, it's been really nice having so much more time with her. ... Obviously things will change in the future, but for now I feel like the cat who's got the cream." — Alex, 28 ...
● An editor of the alt-weekly Dallas Observer reports that the region's poly and swinger communities are displaying notably good standards for infection control: Swingers Are Setting an Example in Social Distancing (March 31)
By Eva Raggio
...A young women named Sophia... says she’s not surprised that swingers and polyamorous people are taking extra precautions, as it’s second-nature to a group used to proceeding with safety.
“Most poly people I know have locked down more than anyone else, because we understand how many people's health are influenced by our behavior,” Sophia says. “If we wouldn't risk passing an STI to partners, giving them a potentially deadly virus that a condom can't protect against should be out of the question.”
...If polyamorous folks can cancel their really, really exciting plans in the name of social distancing, then surely you can cancel your lame barbecue, Karen.
● The "Life on the Swingset" podcast, episode 375, is Connection and Love During Unprecedented Times (March 31)
● Dan Savage, in his "Savage Love" column in many alternative papers this week, replies to a reader asking about how best to open their marriage: Open and Shut (week of March 31)
I shared your letter with Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships.... But before we dive into the specifics of your situation, MND, there's something Taormino and I want to make clear to all.
"In this time of a global pandemic, thinking and talking about non-monogamy is all you can do right now," Taormino says. "This goes for everyone: No new sex partners until public health experts say we can go back to standing closer than six feet apart. Even then, we're going to have to proceed with caution."
Listen up, people: The woman who literally wrote the book on open relationships says open and poly relationships are canceled for the time being. "Yup, canceled," Taormino says, "unless every one of your partners lives with you."
...The good news is that sexting and dirty video chats are both allowed and encouraged, kids, so we can get off online with new people as well as established partners who live on the other side of town or the other side of the world. Hell, get the whole polycule together on Zoom....
● Meanwhile in Philadelphia magazine, a glossy city monthly that clearly acquires its articles well before publication, We’ve Been Married 10 Months, and We Haven’t Stopped Seeing Other People. They're a gay couple who were together 10 years before they married. (Online March 28; in the April 2020 print issue.)
Michael: I can’t imagine a couple that has more open communication around sex and boundaries and desire. Essentially, you’ve taken the biggest, scariest thing that could ruin a marriage and you’ve made it a given, so that fear is gone. For us, “Can I go and have sex with a stranger?” is a much less loaded topic than, like, “Are you sure you want to eat that burrito without a plate?” ...
I was talking to a straight friend, and she said, “Oh my God, that’s so sad that the two of you aren’t each other’s everything.” And I was like, no, it’s the fundamental understanding that we’re not each other’s everything. It’s loving the other one enough to hopefully [let them] try to find more of their everything.
Tyler: I wouldn’t want Michael to feel like he needs to be everything for me, and vice versa. That feels really limiting and hard. I think this allows for the opportunity to be like, “Oh, you’re not getting something from me? That’s okay. You can get something from somebody else.” It sort of relaxes the pressure.
Published as a part of a “Marriage Stories” feature in the April 2020 issue.
● More gay guys, in The Guardian's online "How We Met" series: 'I think gay men are often able to negotiate an open marriage' (March 30)
‘The relationship works because everyone still wants to be in it …’ Charles, Hugh and Dan.
Dan remembers one evening, sitting on the sofa and talking to his husband, Hugh, about Charles. “It was the most amazing experience because we were really falling in love with this person,” he says. “And we could talk about it with each other, like: ‘Isn’t it amazing about him that he does this thing?’ I remember taking a deep breath and saying: ‘This is becoming something; this is something real.’”
...[Dan and Hugh] legalised their marriage in 2018, and this time Charles attended.
...“Before the three of us got together romantically and sexually, I remember feeling the happiest I’d ever felt with Dan,” says Hugh. “And then when we met Charlie. It was like this extension of a really positive energy. Charlie just slotted into that, seamlessly, without any of us trying to make it happen.”
...Was it strange to join an existing relationship? “In many ways, it felt completely normal and natural,” says Charles, “but there were these habits and rituals that these two people had built up over the years – things such as where you go in the morning to get your coffee and all that. I guess the challenge for me was knowing when to roll with it, and when I needed to make sure that I established my own routines and rituals – and my own stake in the relationship.”
How did Hugh and Dan navigate bringing someone else into their marriage? “I guess like we’ve navigated every other part of our relationship,” says Hugh. “By being honest about what we’re feeling, and talking to each other. And not having any expectation of how we were meant to behave and feel. Allowing each other to feel different emotions, whether it’s jealousy, resentment, anger, happiness, joy, connectedness.”
Dan says: “I always try to impress upon people just how easy and natural it was at the beginning, as any burst of love is when you first get together with somebody.”
It was “more strange”, says Charles, “for the people around us than it was for us.... Most of the people we spoke to, the first thing they would say would be: ‘Oh, I could never do that myself.’ It’s unfathomable to so many people.”
During the lockdown, Hugh and Dan are not seeing Charles in person but doing a lot of video calling. “We talked about being together for a lockdown, but we don’t have enough space,” says Dan. “That aside, we don’t think this is a good time or reason for us to begin living together.”
● Lastly, on another topic — a writer for The Mary Sue ("the geek girl’s guide to the universe") writes, If Only The Bachelor Would Embrace Polyamory Instead of Rejecting It (March 31):
By Rotem Rusak
“I think I’m falling in love with more than one person.” It’s a familiar refrain, heard on nearly every season of ABC’s The Bachelor franchise. Though the long-running show purports ideals of traditional monogamy — setting up a narrative where, in the end, there can only be one, and a lack of a fairy-tale proposal equates to failure — it engineers a situation wherein the complete opposite version of a relationship is not only encouraged, but successfully illustrated to millions of viewers and to the contestants themselves, and yet is rarely acknowledged. While The Bachelor is built on, and perpetuates, the notion of monogamy as the prize, it actively displays how, sometimes, polyamory is actually the answer.
Most recently, on Peter Weber’s season of the show, the 28-year-old pilot was left clearly torn between two women, noting to his soon-to-be-ex-fiancée during the finale of the show, “I’ve fallen in love with you, and I love you … [but] I never intended to give my heart to two people.” ...Neither relationship survived. ...
What fails, again and again, to be laid on the table — by critics, the host, and the contestants themselves — is the notion that, despite having only one final rose, the Bachelor or Bachelorette has two, if not three, very real relationships that don’t just disappear at the transfer (or lack thereof) of a flower. ... Is it any wonder the final relationships [so often] fall apart?
...For weeks the contestants are encouraged to pour their hearts, secrets, and vulnerabilities out to the central Bachelor or Bachelorette. The relationships formed are intrinsically tied to one another. ... What becomes clear again and again, is that when given the chance to participate in multiple relationships, people will find different parts of themselves, different understandings, and different loves in different people. And when that occurs, the transition to monogamy is actually highly unnatural. ...
Perhaps if, instead of burying the potential outcomes it stirs up in service of a specific societal expectation, the show actually... helped assist those involved in whatever relationship structure they choose to pursue, the contestants would no longer have to feel such a gaping lack in their final relationships, and The Bachelor could have a final product that reflected a longer-lasting, more modern, and truly, more human experience.
That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. See you next Friday, unless something big comes up sooner.
SIDE NOTE: In our neck of the woods, as the neighborhood and town social-media groups fill with coronavirus discussion, we see that local crazies are revealing themselves. Advice: Take screenshots and file them away. These people, a month from now or in a year or three, will be furiously denying that they ever said such things and working to erase their record. Some of them might someday run for office.