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



September 18, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup: A spate of "how polyamory shaped me" tales, poly as a spiritual path, ten recent books, and more


●  Earlier this week I posted Cambridge, Mass., delays action on nation's second domestic multi-partnership law. The delay was likely to allow improvements to the proposed city ordinance, which  would enable domestic-partner rights for polyfamilies of three or more adults.

The ordinance could come to a vote at the next meeting of the City Council this Monday (September 21), but it's likely to be delayed further. When it does come up it is likely to pass.
 

●  Something different from Chatelaine magazine ("Canada’s leading women’s integrated media brand," which claims to be "the #1 Canadian website for women 18+"):  How Polyamory Helped Me Survive Widowhood (Sept. 11)


My husband and I had an open relationship. When he died unexpectedly, my support system included several partners who had been part of our lives for years.

iStock
By Anonymous 

Victor* and I were making out on my couch when he pulled away and asked, “Should we talk about this? Are you sure you’re ready?”

I rushed to respond—yes—but he was not convinced.

“Is there anything specific that would feel good to you tonight? Is anything off limits?”

Again, I stammered. “No different boundaries than usual. You know how to make me feel good.”

I am normally quite confident when navigating sexual scenarios, but nothing felt normal. My husband Alex had died unexpectedly six weeks earlier. Alex and I had always been non-monogamous; he loved Victor and celebrated the relationship Victor and I had, so I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt when I texted Victor to let him know I was craving sexual touch. I knew, unequivocally, that Alex would want me to continue experiencing pleasure, joy, love and connection. Even so, rocked by grief, I had lost my usual bravado.

***

...What [Alex and I] initially envisioned as mostly sexual adventures with other partners gradually developed into a network of deeply intimate, loving friendships. As a result, when Alex died, my support system included several partners who had been part of our lives for years.

In the months following Alex’s death, I connected with dozens of young widows online. I was relieved to hear my own experiences echoed in theirs, to commiserate about the clueless and hurtful platitudes people utter to the grieving—throwaway lines like “Everything happens for a reason” or “He’s in a better place.” Every widow’s experience is unique, but most young widows grapple with some common challenges, including how to navigate relationships with in-laws and when (or whether) to stop wearing our wedding rings. But when it came to sex and dating, I couldn’t relate. We were a diverse group—gay, straight, religious, atheist—but nearly all were monogamous.

...I read numerous posts from widows who were struggling to navigate sex and relationships. ... It pained me to read over and over that, while most widows were struggling with a lack of physical contact and unmet sexual needs, many wouldn’t seek physical connection because the mere idea felt like a betrayal of their late spouses.

While I had lost the person who felt most like home to me, I was still able to experience connection with trusted partners like Victor, Keith and James. Victor and I met a year and a half before Alex died, and we hadn’t been able to keep our hands off each other since (or to stop jabbering about work, travel and language). Keith and I had been lovers for more years than we could remember, so our connection was soothing and familiar. James was quite simply family—my emergency contact, the witness at our wedding.

Alex and I met Keith shortly after we started dating, and grew close with him and his wife. One evening, Keith helped me write Alex’s obituary and design the program for his memorial. When I explained that I wasn’t ready to be intimate, relying on a clumsy euphemism for sex to mask my insecurity, Keith responded, “I think this is the most intimate we’ve ever been.” ...

At social gatherings, without Alex to anchor me, I felt adrift among a sea of happy people. After years of proximity, James was deeply attuned to my emotional states and how I expressed them through body language, so he provided a safety net at events. ...

The support I received extended beyond my romantic partners and came from our broader polyamorous community, as well. One friend organized a rotating group to bring me meals, be on call for emotional support and stay with me when I didn’t want to be alone. For weeks, a different friend slept in my bed every night and cuddled me when I asked. ...Others opened their homes to care for and feed each other when we were all in shock and reeling.  his type of community care and platonic touch were instrumental in my healing, but I’ve found these practices exceedingly rare in the more mainstream (read: monogamous, heteronormative) circles I occupy. ...

***

So, there I was on the couch with Victor, clumsily navigating my first sexual encounter as a widow. He coaxed me patiently until I finally managed to utter, “I’m just worried it will become too emotional for me in the moment.”

“What do you want me to do if that happens?” he asked.

“Just hold me,” I replied. ...

...Eventually, I stopped crying and began stroking Victor’s arm. He pinned me beneath him and planted butterfly kisses up and down my torso. I gasped as he entered me, releasing weeks of tension and devastation and evoking a fleeting, visceral escape—without any sense of betrayal or regret.



●  On a lighter note comes The Guardian's "My Life In Sex" department, where "each week, a reader tells us about their sex life." My life in sex: the ethical non-monogamist (Sept. 11).


I’m happily dating four people, who are aware of each other. How can we expect one partner to meet all our desires?

By Anonymous

I’m a woman who’s always been interested in ethical non-monogamy (ENM) – all partners agree to seeing other people – but had only been in monogamous relationships. Then, a year ago, mine ended and I was free to explore.

I began using an ENM dating app, at first fearing people would be aggressively sexual, or show a lack of respect. In fact, 99% of people I interacted with were emotionally intelligent, open-minded and kind. Now, I’m happily dating four people – two men and a male-female couple. They are aware of each other, and adore me in different ways. ...

Since March, I haven’t spent much time with anyone apart from my housemates. But I’ve stayed in contact with everyone, and made plans for picnics soon.

How can we expect one person to meet all our needs? Sexually, I enjoy playing with different power dynamics; seeing multiple people allows me to do that. Yes, it’s harder to stay on top of your calendar, and there is more room to disappoint multiple people when you’re not honest with what you can give, sexually and emotionally. But I could not go back to monogamy. I now prioritise myself more, and am able to evaluate what someone can bring to my life and what I can offer in return. ...

Each week, a reader tells us about their sex life. Want to share yours? Email sex@theguardian.com.



●  Another country heard from:  I am haunted by the Reykjavík Grapevine's long feature on the prizewinning, ethereal cellist and spirit-music composer Gyða Valtýsdóttir in Iceland. Her new-agey soundings in the music links haunt me too. The Evolution of Gyða: On Music, Multiple Dimensions Of Love, And Our Collective Future (Sept. 11).

The story includes,


...The spiritual path of polyamory

At this point in the conversation, we turned to a subject that also reflects the importance Gyða places on dissolving boundaries: polyamory. Her perspective on this subject demonstrates her drive to embrace the dissipation of categorisation. And the journey there began early in her life.

“There were obviously so many different levels of love, physicality and connection and it didn’t have anything to do with gender,” Gyða explains. “I didn’t even identify with bisexuality because that wasn’t it; I felt like there was no closet to come out of. However, when I actually started a relationship with a woman, we both had partners. Polyamory or ethical non-monogamy were new concepts for me and I felt like it was still such a taboo. ...”

The discovery and realisation of polyamory would prove to be an epiphany for her.

Photo: Viðar Logi
It truly exploded my preconception of a relationship and it finally started to make sense,” she says. “There are no rules, it didn’t make sense to just move the rules a little bit further out—they all had to go to find the ultimate trust and honesty.

For me, polyamory is a spiritual path, it goes so far beyond sex. It is about full dedication to trust and honesty, also towards yourself. You can really start to share every aspect of yourself with your partner(s). And allow the person you love to blossom in their utmost way, even if that blossom is sparked by another person. Those who have entered our relationship have enriched it and left us with precious gifts, but to be honest it was sort of a disaster in the beginning. While you’re peeling the layers off, that is painful but very worth it. And don’t get me wrong, ‘conscious monogamy’ is beautiful; it is like a diamond, but we can learn a lot from polyamory to reach that.” 

For Gyða, polyamory is not only in keeping with the evolution of society; it may also heal the way we currently do relationships.

“If we are to build a new world, the fastest way is breaking down the social construct,” she says. “Let’s admit it, we are failing miserably at love and relationships! We can do so much better. It is sort of approaching everything with an open curiosity; to ask ‘who are you and what is this relationship?’ instead of ‘oh, this is a relationship; this is how that should go.’ Get rid of the recipes. We can have so many nurturing relationships and we really need that, I think connection is what we humans are needing the most. 

To watch humanity blossom

...Gyða’s philosophy informs all of her work and even in the midst of these tumultuous times, her optimism shines through.

“I feel like that’s what we’re working on right now, on a global scale,” Gyða says. “We have to open up our minds. You know how you can make a melon grow into a square? It’s like to stop doing that, with everything. If we didn’t have all these forms and criticism, all these beliefs in how things should be; if we just watch humanity blossom, what would it look like? How would it feel to be human?”



●  10 Books About Polyamorous and Open RelationshipsThese are recent novels and memoirs, not how-tos, collected and described by Preety Sidhu at Electric Lit (a nonprofit "to ensure that literature remains a vibrant presence in popular culture by supporting writers, embracing new technologies, and building community to broaden the audience for literature.")

Each book gets a concise, roughly 100-word summary description. More than half the books were new to me. All have been published since 2017.
 
Next Year, for Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson
Luster by Raven Leilani
This Heart Holds Many: My Life as the Nonbinary Millennial Child of a Polyamorous Family by Koe Creation
Open Earth by Sarah Mirk
Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s) by Sophie Lucido Johnson
The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee
Last Couple Standing by Matthew Norman
Necessary to Life: A Memoir of Devotion, Cancer and Abundant Love by Louisa Leontiades
Neotenica by Joon Oluchi Lee
Vanishing Twins: A Marriage by Leah Dieterich


●  Announcements: 

      The producers of the acclaimed black poly webseries 195 Lewis send out, "Hey Fam! 195 Lewis is now available on YouTube with multilingual subtitles (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese) so you can spread the Black queer love far and wide!"


      The Joy of Consent is a new nonprofit for a world of sex positivity, poly acceptance, and communication/ consent mastery in relationships, brainstormed by Nomi Dogan and friends. Join its online Virtual Party and Variety Show next Saturday, Sept. 26, 7-10 pm Eastern time. Spectate, chat, and/or perform; "No Talent Needed – very supportive crowd!" Small donation requested.


      Participate in research on CNM relationship maintenance. Elisabeth Sheff posts, "Are you currently in, or have you been in, a consensually non-monogamous relationship (e.g., swinging, polyamorous or open relationship) and want to contribute to science? My colleagues and I are conducting a study looking at the practices and guidelines that people in CNM relationships follow to help manage relationships with multiple partners. We hope to have a large number of people in diverse relationships participate in order to have a deeper understanding of CNM relationships. This survey will take about 10-15 minutes and is open to anyone 18 or older who has been in or is currently in some form of CNM relationship." Info and survey: Multi-Partner Relationship Maintenance Study. The principal investigator is Dr. Justin Mogilski (University of South Carolina). 


      Got an announcement to spread? Email me at alan7388 (at) gmail.com.


That's it for Friday Polynews Roundup. See you next Friday, or sooner if stuff comes up.

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September 15, 2020

Cambridge delays action on nation's second domestic poly-partnership law


Cambridge City Hall
Polyamory activists nationwide hoped that last night's meeting of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council would expand the city's domestic partnership law to allow for polyamorous families of three or more adults, as neighboring Somerville did on June 29.

It didn't happen. But that may be a good sign, not a bad one. 

At 1:10 in the morning, more than seven hours into a contentious City Council meeting with an overloaded agenda, Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui postponed consideration of the multiple-domestic-partnership ordinance until next week or later. She explained that the city lawyer did not yet have materials ready, and that recommendations for changes to the proposed ordinance may come from the city's LGBTQ+ Commission and other interested parties.

Those changes may include the improvement to the definition of what a qualifying polyamorous partnership can be, making it more realistic for many poly people, that Kimberly Rhoten has proposed and describes below. Rhoten, who holds a law degree, is a local legal activist for poly and LGBTQ+ issues who has been on this since at least June.

The City Council next meets in six days, on September 21. The ordinance may not be finalized and ready for "second reading" and passage by that time (though it's on the meeting's agenda under "unfinished business"). The measure's approval on July 27 to go to second reading, by a Council vote of 6-0 with two abstentions and one absence, suggests that it's very likely to be enacted when it does come up.

But first it needs significant work, says Rhoten, currently a graduate student at Boston University. This is from a post they made to New England Polyamory on September 11:


Polyam/CNM Legislative Update and Information: 

While I hope we can celebrate this step forward for our communities' legal protection, I also hope we can take a moment to be critical of the alarming ways in which the most current draft of Cambridge's legislation [is inadequate]:

– You can only be in ONE domestic partnership with multiple people [as the legislation is currently drafted]. You cannot be in multiple domestic partnerships with multiple individuals. Meaning, if anyone of those individuals dies or is no longer involved with any one other person in that domestic partnership, the whole partnership dissolves and is terminated. There is a "cooling off" period before you can refile, leaving folks without each other's health insurance and/or other benefits during that time. You would then have to refile again for the remaining people. For more information on why this is a legal and bureaucratic nightmare, see analysis by Infinity_8p.

– If you are married, you can only enter into a domestic partnership if your spouse is in that relationship configuration as well.

– If your domestic partnership is in some way legally contested (by insurance companies, your employer, the City itself for example), you must submit evidence of "how you hold your relationship out to the world."...That's right, evidence of how you out your relationship to the world around you.

...Again, heck yes, celebrate the second city caring about polyamorous relationships, but also maybe someday we'll see something better, more representative of the complex relationships our communities have, and more protective of our right to disclose our relationships to the world at our own pace and safety.

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

– Somerville did an excellent job in wording their ordinance, which allows multiple two-person domestic partnerships as well as all-in ones, depending on what the folks engaging in them actually want.

– Here is the email I sent the LGBTQ+ Commission of Cambridge when they were reviewing the draft:

...2) Issue: The Ordinance's Failure to Provide Appropriate Dyadic Domestic Partnerships

The current ordinance would require that a polyamorous persons be in only one domestic partnership at a time. Though there may be multiple people in that partnership, the ordinance would only permit that one domestic partnership be used to cover all persons involved. This is exceptionally problematic. First, it fails to consider situations in which a polyamorous persons' family does not all consider each other family. For example, consider a polyamorous women, lets call her Miranda, living together for the last 20 years with her two life partners, Bob and Tom. Bob and Tom are not dating nor would they consider each other family yet they both consider Miranda family and Miranda considers each of them family. The current ordinance would not be capable of providing appropriate protection and recognition for Miranda. Note that the ordinance would require that Miranda submit evidence that all three of them operate and consider themselves a three person family, which is not the case. In contrast, a dyadic option (which is exactly what the City of Somerville aptly and correctly provided to the City's polyamorous constituents) would allow Miranda to register her two dyad domestic partnerships: one with Bob and one with Tom.

Why is this a problem (besides of course, not recognizing the structure of Miranda's family)? According to Cambridge's current law (which is unchanged by this new ordinance) Section 2.119.030 Registration and Termination, the death of one person in the domestic partnership would dissolve the entire domestic partnership for all persons in it. For Miranda, Bob and Tom, this would mean that if Tom passes away, Bob and Miranda are now no longer legally partnered. Whereas, by using Somerville's dyadic approach, for the case of Miranda, Bob and Tom, the death of Tom would not destroy the domestic partnership Miranda has with Bob.

This exact issue would also arise if [irreconcilable] differences surface between any person in the domestic partnership and anyone else. If these two individuals decide to terminate the partnership, it would obliterate the rest of the family's legal standing rather than solely the legal standing between these two persons. And, according to Section 2.119.030(E) none of the domestic partners in this former multi-person partnership may file another domestic partnership until six months have elapsed from termination, leaving this family completely unprotected legally for half a year.

The issues with this type of legal recognition for polyamorous persons is well known, documented, and discussed by long time poly activists.

Recommendation: Strike provision 2.119.020(D)(5) from the proposed ordinance.


Rhoten tells me this morning, "The last time the City Council looked at this [July 27] they sought additional comment and guidance from the LGBTQ+ Commission and the city solicitor [city lawyer]. I and a few others commented to the LGBTQ+ Commission, but they haven't really followed up with me. They meet once a month." The commission's next meeting is September 24th. The minutes of its August meeting won't be available until they are approved at the September meeting.

"I hope they have adjusted their language to include a dyadic approach [multiple separate, two-person domestic partnerships] just like Somerville did," says Rhoten. "I think it would be incredibly problematic for municipalities to start passing legislation that doesn't do that."


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September 11, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup – Jealousy and compersion for beginners, Black polyactivists represent on talk show, and cuddly polyfam goes very public



Welcome back to Friday Polynews Roundup, for September 11, 2020. 

It was a thin week for polyamory in the media; the various growing national crises are pushing "non-essential" topics toward the media sidelines. But three items of note: 


●  Remember the Porter polyfamily in Houston? They've been busy doing poly education and awareness work in the Black community, and they appeared last February on The Isiah Factor talk show on Houston's Fox 26 TV.


They've been involved with Black Poly Nation, have spoken at any number of community groups, and they've appeared on shows in both new and old media. Now they have a book out, and Fox 26 host Isiah Carey brought them back for a 4-minute segment, Catching up with the polyamorous Porter family (Sept. 4). Watch here:


The host couldn't be more appreciative, though he's still incredulous. See more about the book at their website, ThePortahFamily.com. Here's their well-stocked YouTube channelFacebook page. Their other media and podcast appearances


●  More in the Department of What Poly Practices Can Offer Everyone, this time in The Greatist: Compersion Is the Opposite of Jealousy, and We All Should Learn It (Sept. 10)


By Melissa Fabello

When people learn that I practice nonmonogamy, one of the first questions that they ask me is “How do you handle jealousy?”

To which, I respond, “How do you?”

...Jealousy shows up in all kinds of relationships, and when it makes us intensely uncomfortable, we find ourselves doing anything to avoid feeling it.

It’s no wonder so many people feel confident saying “I could never do nonmonogamy; it would make me too jealous.” While choosing one relationship structure over another is a valid personal choice, that reasoning is misguided.

By that logic, I would never try anything new, for fear of embarrassment. I would never watch a tearjerker, for fear of sadness. I would never go on a rollercoaster, for fear of, well, fear. How many amazing things would we refuse to do, if we were equally avoidant of other uncomfortable feelings?

So what is it about jealousy that makes us so uniquely uncomfortable?

In talking with thousands of people about their experiences with jealousy, in my work as a sex and relationships educator, it appears that where people get stuck is in feeling like jealousy is an unacceptable emotion. ...

But... what if we let jealousy be like every other emotion that we feel — an indicator that our nervous system is asking us to pay attention to something?

Let’s start here: Jealousy is a perfectly healthy emotion

...Jealousy alerts you that a situation doesn’t feel good to you — and asks you to sort out how to regain a sense of safety and security. So why would you want to get rid of it? That sounds like an adaptive emotional response to me! ...

Like with any emotion, the key is being careful of what you do with it. ...

(Kathy Labriola's Jealousy Workbook
isn't mentioned in the article, but
it's very recommendable here. –Alan)

So how do we start changing our response to jealousy?

...When I was a community educator for a local domestic violence agency, I co-taught workshops on healthy relationships for middle and high school students. And in that work, we would make a distinction between jealousy and extreme jealousy, where the latter indicates a response that sets out to control other people. ...

When does jealousy cross the line into possessiveness? ...

How compersion can help relieve the discomfort of jealousy. ...

Compersion is the positive vicarious feeling of seeing someone you love have their needs met.

...Seeing your partner happy doesn’t always feel like jealousy or disappointment or rage. Most of the time, it feels like compersion.

Compersion is essentially the opposite of jealousy, and it’s an experience we talk about a lot in nonmonogamy. ... Jealousy, at the end of the day, is your nervous system alerting you to a threat to your safety. ... You can change how you approach that feeling. Instead of “How can I remove the threat from my partner’s life, and therefore mine?” ask “What is this telling me? What do I need to feel safe again?” ...



●  And you knew this was coming. This week's polyfamily heart-melter in the British tabloids is about the @PolyamCatfam, the adorkable young MNbF triad you'd dream of going on a picnic with. It's in the Daily Mail September 7: Couple who invited an old school friend to form a throuple claim it's EASIER than a normal relationship because you're not putting pressure on just one person to fulfil your needs.

Excerpts, and a few of the pix:


 Brandon, Eli and Amber

Music teacher Amber Parker, 24, and boyfriend Brandon Meadows, 23, from Muskegon, Michigan, first met on dating app Tinder in January 2017 and their initial attraction soon blossomed into an official relationship. Amber and Brandon were strictly monogamous at first, but discussed the possibility of opening their relationship up to a third person.

It wasn't until New Year's Eve 2018 when they met one of Brandon's old school friends, Eli Schalk, 21, at a party, that they realised that Eli, who is non-binary, could be the perfect person to add to their relationship. 

...'We had a good time playing board games and talking with friends, and the next day or so, we all mentioned to each other that we thought each other were attractive, and that we wanted to talk and see each other more.'

The three continued to hang out together and bonded over interests they had in common, such as art. 

...When they first formed a triad, Amber admits that there was some jealousy, but with honest and open communication all issues were resolved. 

'In the beginning of our relationship, there were frequent moments of possessive and jealous feelings, but we would talk through them every time they arose and got to the root of each issue.

'Since we were open to communication from the beginning, those moments don't happen much anymore, if at all.


'The hardest part to me is dealing with the fear of judgement and assumptions from others, but that fear has almost dissipated as well.

'We have learned many things from each other and the triad experience as a whole. Eli has taught me more about incorporating science and spirituality into my daily life. Brandon has shown me growth and structure, and both have shown me what is possible when humans genuinely care for each other and themselves simultaneously.

...'The assumption that multiple partners must be a result of cheating or manipulation is just as silly as the assumption that monogamy is always a result of possessiveness and jealousy.

'We all just want to love and everyone loves differently. Any support and happiness we can get on this planet should be encouraged and celebrated.'

...'Some people have asked about our sex life as soon as they find out we aren't monogamous.... Then some feel the need to tell us if they would sleep with a man, with a transgender person or with two people, when we really never asked for that information.'

...Amber said: 'Polyamory helps us meet our romantic wants and needs in a way that doesn't put unrealistic expectations on one given person. 

'Instead of wishing one person would be more cuddly, I can have cuddle time with both of them.

'Instead of wishing I was into a certain show or book, they could talk about their shared interests with each other.

'There is a lot more to it, but in essence there is more love, communication and perspective in our relationship than previous monogamous relationships we have been in.'

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

For the most part, the reaction to their relationship is incredibly positive and those close to them are supportive.

Amber, Eli and Brandon plan to buy a house together one day, adopt children, and would like to see the day when marriage between three people is legal. ... 'We want to grow old together and support each other through life.'

...They document their lives as a throuple on their Instagram account @polyamcatfam, which also features their much-loved pets. 


The cats outnumber them 5 - 3.

That's it for Friday Polynews Roundup till next week, unless something big comes up sooner. Which it may (hint hint), from Cambridge, Mass.

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September 4, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: New novel "Poly." Open-relationship therapist in the news. "I moved my lover in with my man," and more


Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for September 4, 2020.

●  A novel is out this week titled Poly, by Paul Dalgarno in Australia. The publisher's blurb:


Author and book

Chris Flood – a married father of two with plummeting self-esteem and questionable guitar skills – suddenly finds himself in the depths of polyamory after years of a near-sexless marriage. His wife, Sarah – a lover of the arts, avid quoter of Rumi, and always oozing confidence – wants to rediscover her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity.
 
Their new life of polyamory features late nights, love affairs and rotating childcare duties. While Sarah enjoys flings with handsome men, Chris, much to his astonishment, falls for a polydactylous actor and musician, Biddy.
 
Then there’s Zac Batista. When Chris and Sarah welcome the Uruguayan child prodigy and successful twenty-two-year-old into their lives they gratefully hand over school pick-up and babysitting duties. But as tensions grow between family and lovers, Chris begins to wonder if it’s just jealousy, or something more sinister brewing…
 
A searing and utterly engrossing debut, Poly is a raw, hilarious, and moving portrait of contemporary relationships in all their diversity, and an intimate exploration of the fragility of love and identity. 


The Guardian gave Dalgarno space for a first-person article: 'Do you get jealous?' The six questions I always get asked about being polyamorous (Sept. 2). Excerpts:


Paul Dalgarno has had a wife for 15 years, and another partner for four. He gets asked the same questions a lot

‘Polyamorous relationships are as varied as any other straight, gay, lesbian, asexual or wholly platonic relationship.’ (nadia_bormotova/Getty/iStockphoto)

Tell people you’re polyamorous and a few common questions will almost certainly be coming your way. I know this because I’m polyamorous – by default, if I’m honest, rather than by some deeply held philosophy. My wife of 15 years, in addition to being my wife, has other partners. I also have another partner, of four years, who (to date) seems to have no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone other than me. Go me!

Which segues nicely into the first thing non-polyamorous people are likely to ask you:

What are the rules?

Easy. There are none, except for those set by the people involved. “How-to” books such as More Than Two and The Ethical Slut offer some valuable frameworks and considerations for polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships, but that’s about as far as it goes. And even if there were pre-existing rules, who wants to be the person trying to enforce them?

... I’ve read as widely as I can on the subject and the advice I’ve found most useful comes not from the literature on polyamory but from the motto for the annual Meredith music festival: Don’t be a dickhead.

Do you get jealous?

No, never. OK, I’m lying. But the fact we have the word “compersion” – for the joyful sensation associated with seeing your partner enjoying a happy romantic or sexual connection with someone else – suggests that, in fact, some people can operate with only minimal or passing feelings of jealousy. In my case, jealousy has triggered everything from spontaneously smashing the tiles on my bathroom wall with my fist to panic attacks that haven’t just given the impression I’m dying – I’ve been convinced I really am dying, my lungs collapsing under the heavy existential fear that I’m going to be left alone....

Multiple partners … so you think you’re really hot, then?

Um, see above.

Polyamory, unlike consecutive monogamous relationships and their hidden affairs, gives a unique opportunity for real-time, in-your-face A/B testing. While your new partner or partners, high on new relationship energy, may be primed to respond to your carefully crafted selfies enthusiastically, your longer-term partner or partners may not. They’ve seen you, they know you and, miraculously, they still want to be with you.

What about STIs?

Yes, they exist – with problems ranging from all sorts of undesirable genital conditions to Aids to infertility. But condoms can definitely assist, in much the same way as wearing a face mask and washing your hands for 20 seconds can help amid a deadly pandemic. Are any of those precautions foolproof? No. But they help.

Do you split your time equally between partners?

More accurately, in my experience, you split your time completely between partners. Forget about those quiet moments to yourself and the good old days of feeling bored to tears by your own company. ...

Do you feel in control?

OK, nobody’s ever actually asked me this, but I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions. And the answer every time is no. Because the hard-to-swallow truth is that none of us, in any meaningful way, has any control over anything. You might disagree but you’d be wrong – you really don’t.

And that’s maybe the toughest and most beautiful lesson polyamory has to offer. If you truly love somebody and choose to set them free, they may not come back to you, but the reality of it is liberating: they were never yours in the first place.


The gay paper Out in Perth (Australia) prints a synposis: Paul Dalgarno delivers polyamorous romantic drama in ‘Poly’ (by Lezly Herbert, Sept. 2). The story starts out as a romp, but then mister dark horse enters the picture: 


It is a wild ride for the reader as they are thrown into observing the chaos generated when multiple partners are mixed with multiple drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Dalgarno also includes mental health issues that impact on contemporary relationships as several of the male characters are suffering anxiety and/or depression along with questioning their masculinity.

Just when Chris and Sarah decide to rent a larger house so Zac can live with them, their lives are further thrown into turmoil when they discover that Zac may have been lying to them about a whole lot of things. Well, actually, all the characters are doing a certain amount of lying, but Zac’s motivations might be more sinister than the rest.



●  Elsewhere, open-relationship therapist and book author Susan Wentzel got a nice profile in the Winnipeg Free Press where's she's a local: Kissing monogamy goodbye (online Sept. 3).



By Jen Zoratti 

Before she literally wrote a book on open relationships, Winnipeg sex and relationship therapist Susan Wenzel was in a monogamous marriage with her husband Denys.

That is, until, he came to her wanting to discuss opening their marriage.

"It was a very scary time for me, because I had that idea of monogamy," she recalls. "I remember feeling very dizzy, very confused, very hurt. All that anxiety kicks in." She even kicked him out.

That was eight years ago. Now, Wenzel, 41, and her husband, also 41, are in a consensual non-monogamous open marriage, which means they are free to pursue relationships with other people — and she’s never been happier.


Susan Wenzel and her husband, Denys Volkov

"I wanted something for people who are considering opening their relationship, so they could have a guide," says Wenzel, who has worked with many couples who are either curious about open relationships or are currently in one through her therapy practice. Their struggles and challenges were familiar to her, and she shares her own story in the book.

"(The book) doesn’t advocate, it doesn’t say, ‘non-monogamy is the way to go’ — it just says, ‘if you are in a non-monogamous relationship or you’re considering opening up your relationship, this is a book that will help you maintain and navigate that relationship well.’"

..."Hearing a different story can really throw people off. People get very triggered when they hear about open relationships because of their own fears. ... It’s like, ‘How come you guys are so happy and you’re living this lifestyle that is not the norm to many people?’ But then they see we haven’t changed, we’re still relatable.

...At first, Wenzel’s newly opened relationship was fraught, governed by control, fear and jealousy. Wenzel began to look inward in order to answer a question that both scared and excited her: "What would happen if I embraced this?" Through her own personal growth, she was able to pinpoint that a large source of her anxiety related to a childhood-rooted fear of abandonment.

"But that’s a story I tell myself because my partner is there for me in so many ways," she says. "I know he’s reliable and dependable — that doesn’t change because he’s seeing someone else."

...Wenzel and her husband have two kids, a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old-daughter. The idea of a different family unit wasn’t completely unfamiliar to them: their Kenyan grandfather, Wenzel’s father, has two wives. "My son says, ‘No, that’s not for me’ and my daughter says, "It makes sense, sometimes I like different people,’" Wenzel says.

The couple maintains boundaries with their children: general questions only; their sex lives are not up for discussion.

..."One belief system I changed is, ‘My husband is not the source of my happiness. I am the source of my happiness.’ ... And also to know that he came into this life to do his life, and for me to do my life — and maybe we can walk alongside each other and do that life together."

Wenzel views her open relationship as a gift that has allowed her to grow in all areas of her life.

"It’s not the open relationship that brought me happiness," she says. "It’s the work around it."


A couple other articles about Wenzel, from last March when her book came out: Yes, you can have a healthy, happy open relationship. Here’s how, in Canada's gay paper Xtra (March 2).

And the mistitled Why this sex therapist says you should be in an open marriage, in, of all places, the ugly and creepy New York Post (March 9).


●  Department of Happy Polyfams in the Tabs. This latest one comes from tabloid content supplier Hotspot Media, so expect it to show up in the British tabloids and around the world. The first version to cross my screen is from That's Life! in Australia: I moved my lover in with my man! (Sept. 1)



With two boyfriends, Sunny Saap admits that her relationships are far from conventional.

Now, with the three adults living under one roof together, she's adamant that they've become one big, happy family!

As told to Candice Fernandez, Hotspot Media

My eldest daughter shrieked with laughter as she jumped onto the swings.

Then, her dad, Matt, 34, pushed her up into the air.

‘Higher, Daddy!’ London, three, squealed.

Beside me, my boyfriend Kody, 27, held our daughter Thea, two months.

I’d been in a polyamorous relationship with Matt and Kody for two years, which meant we all consented to non-monogamy.

I loved them both, while they loved me, but to each other they were just friends.

I’d met Matt first, four years earlier, when we lived in the same apartment building. ...

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to [ask] Matt.

‘What if we opened up our relationship?’ I asked. ‘It doesn’t mean I don’t love you,’ I added.

We chatted for hours and Matt understood.

‘We can try it,’ he smiled.

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

...He was tall and handsome with muscular arms.

As we chatted, I pointed to Matt in the distance.

‘That’s my partner,’ I said.

Kody’s face dropped.

‘You’re not single,’ he muttered.

‘We’re open,’ I explained.

Kody looked confused, even more so when Matt appeared and shook his hand!

...They need to become friends, I thought, texting Kody to come over.

When Kody arrived, Matt made us coffee and soon we were all laughing.

From then on, Kody came around for dinner once a week and he and Matt bonded further.

...One day, Matt and I were cleaning the spare room.

‘Why doesn’t Kody come and live with us?’ he asked. ‘He could stay in this room with you, then we can swap around,’ he offered.

...It felt so normal to live with them both. And from then on, I swapped between bedrooms each night.

It was perfect.

We even broke the news to our parents, and after the initial shock, they gave us their blessing.

Soon after that, Kody and I sat down with Matt.

‘Kody and I want to have a child,’ I said.

‘I’d love to be a dad too,’ Kody added.

‘That’s amazing,’ Matt said.

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

...In March 2019, Matt and Kody were both by my side when I gave birth to a little girl named Thea.

With our new addition, our family has gone from strength to strength.

Matt and Kody have since become like brothers.

‘Mummy, Daddy, Kody!’ London squeals when she runs into a room.

Whenever we go out together, I swap between holding Matt and Kody’s hands.

Sometimes strangers give us funny looks, but we don’t care.

Both Matt and Kody love me very much. And I love them.

Now, I can’t imagine being in a conventional couple.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have two wonderful men in my life.


Dismiss the tabs as junk media if you like, but they are powerful opinion shapers for the bottom third. For instance, in the UK they had a lot to do with Brexit passing in 2016, and in the US they helped to wildly demonize Hillary Clinton that year. We're a lot better off with them gushing for us rather than otherwise; just ask your Trumpie co-worker or your dotty great-aunt.

But no illusions here — they run these stories only because they sell.

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

●  PolyDallas conference to be held online November 6-8. Most everything on the 2020 calendar of polycons got canceled due to covid after March, but some moved online. Next online will be PolyDallas Millennium, organized by Ruby Johnson, centering polys of color. She writes, "PDM is a symposium that brings queer, trans, and nonbinary POC who are nonmonogamous together to educate one another, celebrate our love, and liberate our voices in a space that is affirming, safe, and accessible. We are bringing that same mission, vision, and passion to a virtual space. Our theme celebrates the abundance, liberation, and unlimited possibilities of love."  Conference page.  Facebook page.


 
●  Then comes PolyCon Canada, November 22-23.  "Honouring Diversity in our Communities. Live-streamed hosting, interactive chat and video segments, exploring diversity in the polyamory communities across Canada (and globally) and where polyamory intersects with other aspects of individual and community experiences. Wanted -- video clips 5 to 15 min long. Presentations, workshop in a nutshell, music performances, author readings, etc. These are meant to be fodder for discussion."  Facebook event page.

Are you hosting an online event that oughta be mentioned here? Write me! alan7388(AT)gmail.com

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August 28, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: The instructive Jerry Falwell implosion, poly role models for school podding, unicorn problems analyzed, and more


Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for August 28, 2020.

The hottest non-monogamy topic in the news this week has to be the spectacular implosion of Jerry Falwell, Jr. — possibly America's most powerful evangelical leader, and the boss of Liberty University (training "champions for Christ," with 85,000 students including online). He was a key early backer of Trump in 2016 and a major factor in bringing conservative evangelicals into Trumpland.

You've seen the headlines and pictures. Maybe heard that drunken, slurred radio interview. Maybe you've seen the many accounts of ripoffs, corruption, and intimidation.

Tame by comparison: unzipped on a yacht with a
woman not his wife. He expels students for less.

But the grand finale came early this week when a young former hotel pool boy went public, describing the cuckolding-kink relationship that Falwell and his wife drew him into in 2012. It continued for seven years. The young hunk would ball Mrs. Falwell while Jerry "watched from a corner," sometimes taking photos and/or videos. And now other, unrelated allegations of supposedly forbidden sex are coming out of the woodwork.

Under Falwell's leadership, Liberty University — widely described as run by a culture of fear — punishes or expels students and faculty who attempt, or just speak up for, even ordinary, respectful lovemaking anywhere outside of marriage.

A debate sprang up on the Polyamory Leadership Network over whether there's a teachable moment here for our issues. The general sense was "Hell no!" If nothing else, the ugly power differential overwhelms everything. A 20-year-old hotel worker versus a man who commands millions of loyal followers and is now buddies with the President? And, Falwell seems to consider Liberty's $1.6 billion endowment fund to be the next closest thing to his personal spending money. Yet according to the pool boy, the last straw was that Falwell stiffed him on a business deal and thought he could get away with it. Because power.

While the PLN debated, however, Lux Alptraum took the opportunity. NBC News published her piece Tuesday in the "Think" opinion section of its website. She cuts to the heart of it. Excerpts:


The Falwell affair shows non-monogamy isn't rare — but it does challenge social norms

Monogamous marriage is still considered a bedrock of modern society, whether you're liberal or conservative. Maybe it's time to rethink that.

By Lux Alptraum

On Monday, long-circulated rumors about evangelical leader and now former Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. burst into public view, which may end up costing Falwell both his job and, perhaps, his political reputation.

According to what a former business associate, Giancarlo Granda, told Reuters, Falwell and his wife, Becki — who met Granda while he was working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel — had spent years engaging in a sexual practice known as cuckoldry, with Granda serving as the “bull” with Becki as Jerry allegedly looked on. While Jerry Falwell ultimately acknowledged a sexual relationship between his wife and Granda, he contested Granda’s version of the events and said in a statement Sunday that he hadn’t been a consenting participant but a beleaguered husband who’d been cheated on by his beloved wife.

The Falwells are hardly the first prominent political couple to possibly have a sex life that strains the boundaries of monogamy. ...

Yet even as non-monogamy runs rampant in Washington, D.C., it’s difficult to imagine it ever being openly accepted. ...

It feels worth asking why.

...A 2018 peer-reviewed study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, based on a 2012 study of partnered Americans, suggests that, at any given point, 89 percent are actively monogamous, while 4 percent are consensually non-monogamous and 8 percent are actively non-consensually non-monogamous. ... [I'm amazed that cheaters supposedly outnumber CNM people by a mere 2 to 1. Can that possibly be right? People notoriously shade the truth when speaking to pollsters about their personal lives. –Ed.]

...The story that Jerry Falwell tells about the affair is one where the couple retains their fealty to the idea, if not the actual practice, of monogamous marriage — and to Falwell's stereotypically masculine role in that marriage.

That is very, very different from Granda’s tale of happy rejection of monogamous norms — which is a significant distinction, particularly for an evangelical leader like Falwell. Because whatever else it might be, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is a bedrock of the patriarchy. And a political establishment that’s willing to put a public commitment to monogamy aside is one that’s willing to truly challenge men’s power and dominion over women, their bodies and their sexuality ... which is something American society doesn’t seem quite yet ready to do.

This is not to say that all monogamous marriages are inherently patriarchal, or that casting off the shackles of monogamy suddenly renders your relationship egalitarian.... But monogamous heterosexual marriage as an institution has long been used to police the sexual behavior of women, with tools ranging from virginity pledges to slut-shaming employed to keep the ladies in line.

And, as a concept, monogamy is supposedly gender blind but, in practice, its social enforcement tends to favor men....

What would it have meant for Jerry Falwell Jr. to openly admit that he enjoys watching his wife in the arms of another man? It would mean, certainly, a major challenge to the rigid sexual norms he's publicly supported for decades. But it would also mean challenging his own status as the patriarch within his family and society at large, acknowledging that the family structure and sexual roles on which men have based society for millennia just don’t really work for him and, likely, for many other people.

...We’ll continue to have “sex scandals” in which ostensibly monogamous political figures sheepishly admit their monogamy has been more aspirational than actual. And we’ll continue to uphold monogamous, heterosexual marriage as a goal and even a requirement for everyone's supposed happiness, rather than reject it as the ill-fitting, repressive and punitive institution that it has been since its beginning.

Lux Alptraum is a writer and producer who served as development producer for Fusion’s Peabody-nominated show "Sex.Right.Now.” Her first book, "Faking It: The Lies Women Tell About Sex — And the Truths They Reveal,” explores our cultural obsession with feminine deceit.


Read her whole article (Aug. 25). 

Incidentally, this thing keeps getting bigger. What happened to those years of photos/videos that Falwell supposedly took of Granda doing his wife? Apparently a Miami lawyer was holding some of them. And guess what: Donald Trump knows the story of what happened to these compromising materials from there, according to Trump's longtime lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen. Because Cohen says that he was dispatched on a mission to fix the problem. He was supposed to make the items go away, and he says he did; he says he got their owner to destroy them. One wonders how he performed this persuasion; right afterward, the lawyer went to the extreme of changing his name. The Miami Herald says the lawyer "said he opted to switch identities after Cohen got involved over the photos." 

After that, Jerry Falwell, who had been preparing to back Ted Cruz for president, switched allegiance to Trump. Rod Dreher, writing this week in The American Conservative, is one of many people across the political spectrum to connect the dots:


It raises an important question too about whether or not the Trump campaign used knowledge of the Falwells’ affair to pressure Jerry Jr. to endorse Trump. Former Trump legal fixer Michael Cohen told Tom Arnold that he handled a situation down in Florida in which somebody had some compromising boudoir shots of Becki Falwell that he (Cohen) had to obtain. Funnily enough, right after that, Jerry Jr., who was lined up to endorse Ted Cruz for president, flip-flopped to Trump. Amazing, eh?


And now Cohen is in the news confirming again that yes indeed, he was sent to get those pix. The link is to a Miami Herald story about this ongoing development.

Also from Dreher,


Here’s a video on the Trump YouTube channel, of Becki Falwell, Giancarlo Granda’s former mistress and a board member of Women For Trump, joining Lara Trump in 2019 to talk about strengthening families. Wonder how much longer that's going to stay there?





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

Phew. Moving on to healthier topics,

●  A new genre of poly-in-the-media seems to be developing: parenting magazines and parenting websites talking about how poly ideals can model useful practices not just for mono couples who want to better their relationship skills, but also for managing podded households with kids. Last week we saw Here’s How Being Polyamorous Prepared Me For Parenting, from HuffPost Personal. Now comes, in Romper, What Can Polyamorous Families Teach Us About Pod Schools? (Aug. 24).


"Stock photo for illustrative purposes only. Posed by model. Getty Images"

By Jamie Kenney

One set of parents, in a committed relationship with their school — that is just one possible arrangement among many, in a year that has seen the rise of learning pods; multiple families banding together to hire a tutor to teach their children at home.

...How can multiple families juggle the mix of egos, group dynamics, and communication styles? For insight, I spoke to polyamorous moms — couples in relationships with other couples or individuals. Both pods and polyamory involve an unorthodox arrangement of interconnected adults coming together in a way that fulfills their needs. Both can complicate existing relationships and, if not approached mindfully, become a minefield of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. They can also be very rewarding.

Pod learning isn’t intimate to the same extent as polyamory, but it’s still a meaningful relationship that requires a lot of mindfulness, communication, and trust, as these three poly moms explain. They offered advice on what “pod families” might expect, and how to avoid common pitfalls of sharing your life with multiple people.

Assume Nothing (And Get It In Writing)....

“Being poly is about 5% fun sex and 95% insane communication and negotiation,” says Erin S. ... “You need to be heard, consent, discuss, be honest, and feel comfortable and confident with what you want and your goals..

...If even well-meaning enthusiasm gets ahead of planning and logistics, it’s not going to work out. She recommends would-be pods take a page from the Polyamory Playbook and write out actual contracts — complete with rules, plans, schedules, and even mission statements — before classes get started. Though not legally binding, they nevertheless outline clear boundaries, expectations, and goals upfront.

 ...To set yourself up for success, she recommends parents “do the hard work in the beginning so that you don’t get stuck questioning things later on.”

Conversations About Health Don’t Have To Be Awkward....

...Cait says anyone in a learning pod should take note and not shy from questions that might seem invasive. “You have to ask how many other people have you been seeing? When is the last time you got tested? Have you been tested for antibodies?”

Contact tracing is a de facto part of the poly community even under normal circumstances....

Lean On One Another’s Strengths....

...“In polyamory and study pods, it’s about finding people who are all complementary to each other, who you can work with in close quarters and also gain something new or needed.”

Perri is currently discussing podding with some members of her friend group, where all the adults will pitch in and teach different subjects. She thinks her poly lifestyle lends itself well to this kind of communalism. The dynamic is familiar: she and her partners are used to, knowing when to step up or step back when working as a group. ...

She advises people keep an open mind. “Even if you disagree, make sure to point out any valid parts of other stances before you state your own case. It makes it easier to find a compromise when everyone knows what they agree on.”



●  An overlapping genre is non-monogamy during Covid-19. Here's from Vice this week: How to Safely Practice Non-Monogamy During the Pandemic (Aug. 28). The writer uses the term "polyamory" a lot, but in fact she is talking mostly about the more individualistic phone-hookup and swing cultures. Which the graphic suggests:


Cathryn Virginia

If you're polyamorous, social distancing probably means fewer in-person hookups – but, as with anything else in an open relationship, communication will keep things sexy.

By Penda N'diaye

...The way people are relating to and adjusting their boundaries with their partners, as is necessary for a more socially distanced version of polyamory, may be taking some extra thought right now. ... If it’s time to renegotiate previous boundaries and get a little more creative about when and how often you spend time with multiple partners, here's how to think about respecting everyone involved.

Figure out what kind of safety measures everyone can agree on before anything else.

Your poly lifestyle is not worth other people getting COVID. If you do intend to see multiple partners in any way, shape, or form—which is hella risky, and which you probably shouldn't—make sure everyone's on the same page, and take meticulous safety measures.

...Unless your alternative partners are willing to move in and commit to an exclusive relationship within your polyamory bubble or polycule, body-to-body sexual contact with them is probably not doable, and everyone needs to have a straightforward discussion about that. ...

Ask questions of all of your partners if you go forward with continuing to be with them physically. You'll need to know:

“Who else are you sleeping with?”

“How many partners have you had in the last month?”

“What safety precautions are you taking?”

When each additional person opens you up to the risks of their own network, the space for error can compound very quickly....

Communicate with all your partners about how emotionally involved you want to be with each respective person, and vice versa. 

If you and your partners decide to abstain from sexual and physical contact for health reasons, it doesn’t mean your relationships have to be placed on hold. ...

...“We’re not having much human connection at the moment, [so] sometimes the lines between physical and emotional intimacy get blurred because we’re craving human touch and human interaction,” Hall said. ...

Create a schedule—or, at least, discuss timing—with your partners.

...Smith shares her personal Google Calendar with her partner, and he and his wife share theirs with her. “We have to be very candid, to the point that if I spend time with any friend, or partner, I put it into the calendar, as well as any social engagements. Even before quarantining, we relied on this system to organize our schedules and designate when we would spend time together.”

“By looking at the calendar, my partner and his wife can make a judgment call like, 'Hey, maybe you’ve been seeing too many people. Can you get tested before we meet up again?'”

...Above all... be patient with yourself and others as everyone adapts. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what feels good about being with—and how to be respectful toward—each person in your life that you're into having sex with (even if that's just in your iMessage inbox or voice notes). 


●  On a more perennial topic, Abby Moss reports to HuffPost UK readers why unicorn fantasies so often end poorly: Why Being The 'Unicorn' In A Threesome Isn't Always A Magical Experience (Aug. 26)


...According to one study, 95% of men and 87% of women have fantasised about sex with multiple partners. Dating app Feeld (which has been called “Tinder for threesomes”) has more than 200,000 weekly users, 3Fun encourages users to browse and “meet open-minded hot couples and singles nearby”. Meanwhile, hookup and swingers’ site Adult Friend Finder has a staggering 80 million users worldwide. [Again, we're talking mostly hookup culture, not polyamory.]

...Cath*, 30, used to meet couples through dating apps. But after a series of unpleasant experiences she now steers clear of “unicorn hunters”.

“I’ve had situations where the male part of a couple has pushed my boundaries too far, even when I’ve been asking him to stop,” she tells HuffPost UK.

“It can be alienating being that third party. I slept with one couple who did try hard to include me. In the morning the woman went out and bought us all breakfast, but the night before I’d really felt like I was just there to fulfil their fantasy and in the morning I couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

This feeling is echoed by Kate*, 27, who has also stopped meeting couples after one too many bad experiences. “I’ve been made to feel like an unpaid sex worker at best, and a human sex toy at worst,” she says. “Too many couples don’t understand how to treat a third person with respect.”

Dr Ryan Scoats, a lecturer in sociology at Coventry University who holds the world’s first PhD in threesomes, has interviewed hundreds of threesome participants, from those in existing relationships to people who’ve had more casual hookups, as well as studying more than 200 qualitative surveys of people’s sex lives.

The fact that many threesome horror stories are told by women could be partly down to the types of threesomes people are having in the first place, he says.

...“Historically, certainly for 50 or more years, we’ve seen a tying together of masculinity and homophobia”, says Dr Scoats, who suggests that while women have not been constrained in the same way, “women’s sexuality is encouraged from the perspective of the male gaze”.

This can be connected to perceptions of emotional security and threat, he adds. “Women’s bisexuality is often not taken seriously, so it’s not seen as a threat to [a] relationship. This can be problematic when it leads to the man involved in the threesome feeling that the threesome is all for him.”

...Feeld’s user guidelines encourage inclusivity and openness to other people and minds, but also stipulate: “no one owes you anything” and “consent is key”.

...Certified sexologist and feminist writer Gigi Engle says that planning, as well as clear communication, is one of the most important parts of any threesome. ...

...Boundary crossing in threesomes can be emotional as much as sexual. For Gemma*, 29, a recent encounter with a couple went wrong when they expected more from her than she was comfortable with. What began as a casual sex arrangement became more serious when the couple asked her to join them on holiday.

“I wasn’t comfortable with that and didn’t want anything more than a casual relationship, which I’d explained to them from the start. They got quite upset and couldn’t understand why I wanted to have that boundary,” she says.

...The terms “unicorn” and “unicorn hunters” may seen harmless, but Engle argues they are symptomatic of the way society often views sexually-empowered women. “The problem is we don’t have adequate language to talk about sex and sexuality in the first place. So, we fill the space with language that’s fun and cutesy,” says Engle.

“It’s really important to question the terms we use. Using a term like ‘unicorn’ really shows where people think the power lies. In this case, it’s all with the couple, and it implies that they don’t need to treat that third individual like a person… or even that to do so would threaten their relationship.”...



That's it for this week's Friday Polynews Roundup. Stay healthy. Mens sana in corpore sano. And to that, add spiritus sanus. Healthy mind, body, and soul. You deserve nothing less, dear people.

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