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

November 27, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – a lockdown triad "changed my idea of love." Sidewalks not wide enough for three to hold hands. And the passing of Allena Gabosch

Welcome to Friday Polyamory News Roundup for November 27, 2020.

●  Refinery29 this Thanksgiving week presents a tale of triad love conquering Covid disruption: Forming a 3-Way Relationship During Lockdown Changed My Idea of Love (November 24). Excerpts:

Naomi Blundell Meyer
By Abigail Moss

It’s a cold, windy night in February when my partner of eight years and I arrive at Original Sin, a cocktail bar in Stoke Newington. ... We’ve been chatting online with Andrea for a few weeks but this is the first time we’ll meet in person. In just over a month’s time, lockdown will force our relationship back online, though of course none of us knows this at the time.

...We agreed when we first joined Feeld that anonymous flings don’t do it for either of us. We both feel that a large part of what makes a person attractive is their personality and we wanted to get to know someone a bit before sleeping with them. With Andrea, this was easy – we realised straightaway that we have similar outlooks on life, the same weird senses of humour and loads of interests in common. Our dinner date flew by, just like our first date had done. Before any of us knew it, Monday had arrived; we’d spent the whole weekend together. The relationship quickly became about more than just sex.

...Then, one Sunday night shortly after Andrea had left mine and Paul’s flat, Boris Johnson announced that the UK was in full lockdown. ...

The next few months [of seperation] were tough. A lot of anxieties and insecurities bubbled to the surface for all of us and we each had moments of doubt about the future of the relationship. Even though polyamory is becoming more common, navigating a relationship like this can be tricky at times because there’s less out there to guide you. ... We chatted about our concerns and helped each other deal with the stress of the pandemic. As lockdown dragged on, we kept talking and worked hard to be honest and open with one another. There were some fun times too, and plenty of naughty WhatsApp chats....

When the lockdown rules eased, we arranged to meet up in a local park. Later, we admitted that we’d all been quite nervous beforehand, worried that it’d be awkward after all those months apart. It wasn’t. We drank rosé out of plastic cups in the sun and it was more like a few days had passed rather than a few months....

When the country went into a second lockdown, we barely had to discuss how we’d manage it... Paul and I immediately became Andrea’s support bubble. Our weekends are spent having lazy lie-ins, cooking together, watching movies. Lockdown fever still gets us sometimes (last weekend Andrea and I got bored of watching TV and successfully taught my cat to fetch a ball) but together this lockdown feels like a breeze compared to the first one.

We all feel incredibly lucky to have met and that the tough times were worth it. We don’t see the good times ending any time soon, no matter what surprises the future has in store. 

●  Also just out is another relatively happy Covid-era tale, by poly author Page Turner regarding her surprisingly good quaranteaming with just her spouse: What 8 Months of COVID Lockdown Have Taught Me About Toxic (and Non-Toxic) Monogamy (Nov 23)

...Since the middle of March, I’ve seen no one else in person aside from my live-in partner and the occasional delivery driver.... These are the perfect conditions for the kind of insularity that can threaten a bond, by making both parties feel trapped, smothered, or deprived. And yet, we’ve avoided that.

If anything, I’m finding we’re closer than ever. We’re getting along extremely well, despite being forced into close quarters together. We’ve not only been functionally monogamous but also just plain socially isolated.... This is not normal for us. It seems like a potentially socially toxic environment.

And yet, we’re thriving. Wow.

...I’m not one of those polyamorous people who think monogamy = bad. (Nor do I think that polyamory = good in every situation). ... Whether a relationship or relationship system is healthy depends less on the structure and more on the motivation for the relationship structure — why [it is] exclusive or open.

There are people who want relationship exclusivity because they think it’ll help them control someone else. ... That is what people mean when they talk about toxic monogamy.

I have certainly seen some examples of toxic monogamy culture during lockdown — in other relationships.

...It makes me really grateful that even when I’m functionally monogamous with my partner (we’re both basically ambiamorous, not squarely polyamorous or monogamous but able to do either happily depending on the health of the situation), that our relationship never looks like THAT.

Even when I haven’t seen another friend in person for months on end, I feel very free. Very unrestricted. And not a bit smothered.

It’s a good lesson about non-toxic monogamy, I think.

●  How often have you been presented with stereotyped love tragedies — in real life, the movies, literature, Italian opera, Shakespeare, advice columns — and thought "Well going poly would have solved that! Duhh?"

If they had known it was possible. They, and the culture around them. 

The classic love tragedy is about someone torn between two people, where rejection of either one will be a catastrophic heartbreaker/life-ender. Yet there is no other choice in sight.

The dummies.

To read about polyfolks in much of the mainstream media, you might think that the polyamorous possibility is only for a few extraordinary people with extraordinary skills. Mainstream advice columnists, in particular, need to get a clue otherwise: that knowing this option can be just as important for your conservative aunt in Dubuque as for a co-living urban Millennial who eats emotional-intelligence exercises for breakfast.

So we need more advice columns that raise the possibility. Like this one in The Good Men Project: ‘Should I Leave?’ Is the Wrong Question (Nov. 18)

By Jessica

“Should I break up with them?” is something my worried little fingers have typed into Google many a dark night. ... The question  “Do I want to break up with them?” hasn’t worked for me either. ... Using this method, I quite spectacularly broke my own heart by ending my first ever healthy relationship. ...

If we ask “What is better for my future self?” it can be more helpful in a variety of scenarios because it enables us to look several steps ahead. ...

This question also might lead to finding alternatives other than simply stay or leave. ...

If you want more romantic adventures so you feel you should leave your partner, but don’t want to because you still love them, polyamory or some form of open relationship could be solutions....

If you stopped feeling attracted to your spouse but loved parenting with them, you could consider a “parenting marriage” where you still live together but just as companions and co-parents.

The possibilities are, well, not endless but certainly less restrictive. ...

●  I quoted M. Ellery's Medium article How to Be a Non-Monogamous Mother in a Binary World a couple weeks ago. Turns out it's in a Medium sub-magazine called Polyamory Today that's been running since 2018. I should have known about this and maybe you should too. It has grown to 25 articles, mostly by people with their unvarnished tales of navigating actual poly life. It's excellent reading and might be good to suggest to newcomers whether they're starry-eyed or scared. The archive is sortable by category.

●  You knew this was coming: the latest fairytale polyfamily romance in the British tabloids. I haven't kept good count, but in the last six years or so I'd estimate there have been close to 80 of these happy tabloid profiles. Most of them follow the identical perky formula, with once-sentence paragraphs and lots of professional pix. The latest of these, out yesterday, is Newly-engaged couple who found themselves both falling in love with the bride-to-be's friend reveal they've formed a throuple after she ditched her boyfriend to be with them (Daily Mail, Nov. 26). They're in Germany.

From front: Larissa Mader, Patrick
Friedrich, Laura Hinsche

...Larissa met Laura, a nurse, in December 2019 at a friend's birthday party and the two become close friends.  

With Larissa introducing Laura to her long-term boyfriend soon after their engagement, the trio began to realise that they had a growing mutual love for one another. 

...Despite none of them having considered polyamory before, in April 2020 Larissa and Patrick invited Laura to form a throuple after both deciding that Laura would bring even more love and intimacy into their relationship.

Laura, who broke up with her boyfriend of six years to join the couple, spoke candidly about the throuple hitting some bumps in the road, figuring out how they could make their three-way relationship work.  

'From April to the end of May, we tried to make our relationship work but everything went wrong.

'The biggest mistake we made was actually that we talked far too little about the little things that bothered us.

They separated for a while, then came back together to try to make a better go of it.

'Since then, our relationship has been wonderful and we enjoy every second of it,' [said Laura].

'We live together and choose to do everything together.

'For us polyamory is not about having to share a partner with someone else because everyone loves everyone equally.

I hope they know to be flexible about that as time passes. No two relationships are ever alike, at least nor for long, and that's okay. 

...[Laura:] 'The most important thing in the poly relationship is communication because misunderstandings often arise much faster with three people than with two.'

Luckily, the throuple's respective families have been largely supportive of their decision to enter a three-way relationship, wanting the best for them however unconventional this may be. 

Learning from their previous mistakes and improving their communication, they are happier than they have ever been before and say that polyamory has just multiplied the love they give and receive.

She joked the throuple also had to overcome 'tiny' day-to-day obstacles, like sidewalks not being wide enough for the three of them to hold hands.  

...Larissa, Patrick and Laura are keen to show others online that being in a three-way relationship can work just as well as a conventional relationship.

'We just want to show that love works in a threesome,' Laura said.

'Of course there are some hurdles to overcome with communication in a throuple being even more important than in a couple.

'However, you shouldn't give up. You should fight for your love because polyamory is so special and unique.

...Larissa and Patrick are still planning their wedding for 2021 and would be marrying Laura too if three-person marriages weren't illegal in Germany. They also have plans to start a family. 

"Learning to live as a throuple was not easy on Larissa, Laura and Patrick, but
they are now looking forward to watching many more sunsets together."


   – That children's polyfamily book, A Color Named Love, reached its Kickstarter goal fast. That means the book is due out in March.

   – Loving More's Robyn Trask and Jesus V. Garcia will host an online discussion of all topics polyamory, Tuesday December 1 at 7 pm Mountain time, 9 pm Eastern. "Discussion is always open to current issues that people may be dealing with." Free.

   – Allena Gabosch, 1953–2020. Many of you knew this was coming, many didn't. For decades Allena was a beloved activist and whirlwind community educator in the polyamory and sex-positive worlds of the Pacific Northwest. She passed away on Wednesday, at age 67, after a fight with cancer. Notice and memorial from Zoe Duff.

Among other things she directed Seattle's Center for Sex-Positive Culture, originally known as The Wet Spot, for many years. Wrote a friend, "She lived her life loud and proud, on her own terms, and she literally pulled thousands together and created a community that fed all our souls. I certainly would not have accomplished what I have over the years had it not been for this amazing goddess."

Live like her.

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November 23, 2020

Today is Polyamory Day. Share it! And why November 23, you ask?

Limber up your meme-sharing fingers! Today, Monday November 23, is Polyamory Day.

Please share this from the original site (the Share button there is below the graphic on a phone, or in the big white sidebar on the right of a computer screen.)

Ambitious folks are building on the successes of the last several years to get this meme spreading, to further polyamory visibility and community.

Here's the Facebook post to share it from. It's best to share from there because, creator Steve Ks says, a thing shared from several different origins won't trend like something shared from a single origin.

Under the graphic is this:

If you agree that people who are polyamorous are entitled to the same rights, privileges, and governmental accommodation that others have, please circulate this image to others on your blogs, in email, and on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate loving relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Thank you from activists on the Polyamory Leadership Network!

The backstory:

For years people floated ideas for an appropriate Polyamory Day, but nothing happened. Then in 2017 the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) took the initiative by declaring, with a press release, that November 23 would be National Polyamory Day in Canada. In 2018 they repeated the announcement for not just Canada but worldwide, and the idea spread. It spread further in 2019, with a graphic and text also offered in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and Italian. This year Steve Ks in Canada took the initiative and is publicizing this year's graphic through the Polyamory Leadership Network page. (I helped.)

Why November 23? Well, it had to be some date. This is the day when, in 2011, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled that Canada's anti-polygamy law does not apply to modern polyamorists, if they do not try to make a group bond pass as a formally sanctioned marriage (polygamy). Previously, according to the law, three or more people simply living in one dwelling "conjugally" could be sentenced to five years in prison, although no prosecution had been brought for many decades.

But now that's fading into history, while the day is becoming a thing worldwide. Let's make this go!

BTW, below is a list of other more-or-less settled recognition days that are poly related (image link for sharing).  

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November 13, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup: Relationship anarchy as poly framework. New polyfamily kids' book, a heart-melt wedding, hihi birds, and more

●  Canada cross-border relationships update. Last month I posted a call by Canadian poly activists to press Parliament to allow not just "exclusive" relationship partners to visit from the US during Covid, but poly partners too. The "exclusivity" wording in the rules turned out to be vague, but even so the push failed. Says organizer Eve Rickert, "The [Immigration] Ministry has confirmed that polyamorous relationships are not eligible for visitation under these new rules." She and Carrie Jenkins wrote Canada Defines Love—Exclusively (Oct. 31).

●  Remember that piece on platonic romantic friendship in The Atlantic last month, built on the concept of relationship anarchy which the magazine failed to name? Following up, Self magazine named it: How ‘Relationship Anarchy’ Can Help You Deepen Your Friendships (Nov. 4).

Sarah Alice Rabbit / Adobe Stock
By Melissa A. Fabello

“You want to write about Rachael?” my mother asked. ... But when she read my [college application] essay for errors, she shed tears.... Not only because I was lucky to have someone so powerful in my life, but because she knew her own childhood best friend—more than any public figure, family member, or romantic partner—had deeply impacted her too. For both of us, the relationships we forged with our childhood besties would serve us well into adulthood: We would grow into who we were, partly because of the women we relied on while coming of age.

...It can be helpful to think of how cisheteronormativity feeds into our relationships as a relationship escalator, whereby societal messaging encourages you to date serially and monogamously until you meet the One. Friends support while you’re “on the hunt,” but then society expects you to hyper-focus on a singular, all-encompassing relationship. ...
Pushing back against the relationship escalator takes a fair amount of introspection and intentional action. Enter: relationship anarchy, a phrase created by queer feminist thinker Andie Nordgren, meant to capture the philosophical idea that social rules should not limit our relationships. ...

Overall, relationship anarchists place less emphasis on titles—like partner, sibling, parent, or friend—and more on the relationship’s significance. You’re not expected to prioritize your mother just by virtue of her being so. You’re not expected to live with a romantic interest over a platonic connection. Instead, you organize your life around the relationships that are most meaningful to you. ...

I practice polyamory, recognizing how unexamined monogamy can be harmful and limiting. By deprioritizing cis men in my life, I challenge the patriarchal notion that as a woman, my role is to cater to men. And I place friendships back where they belong for me—front and center—by giving mostly fellow queer, femme women the most gravitational pull in my orbit. ... A multifaceted system will always be more supportive than a singular focus for me. ...

In a world where we often joke about how hard it is to make and maintain friends in adulthood, we should question the systems that drive a wedge into those relationships in pursuit of one, narrow, sometimes fleeting structure. ...

●  So much for "natural law." Biologists say about 1,000 animal species are known to engage in homosexual or bisexual partnering and/or sex acts, with at least 450 of these species having it solidly documented. The number of known polyamorous species is growing too. These are creatures (often birds) that display long-term sexual and/or offspring-rearing partnerships among three or more adults.

The latest picked up by news media is New Zealand's hihi. New Zealand bird of the year: adult toy store endorses 'polyamorous' hihi (Guardian, Nov. 10).

Rod Williams / Alamy stock photo

...The hihi, or stitchbird, is the only bird in the world to mate face to face, according to a statement released by Adult Toy Megastore as part of its campaign endorsement.

“We are proud to endorse the hihi for bird of the year 2020. Hihi lead the sex positivity movement among songbirds and for that we salute them and say to you: VOTE HIHI.

“Male and female hihi practice consensual polyamory (the practice of intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners) which is rare.

And as often happens in animals where a female mates with several males in rapid succession, sperm competition has evolved:

“Male hihi have testicles four times larger than they should be, making them, by size, the largest testicles on a bird in the world!… 

But don't go hoping for role models:

...Claims of consensual polyamory, however, were contradicted by a 2004 university thesis which found “male stitchbirds seem to be able to bypass female choice through adopting a face to face forced copulation position”.


Massey University zoologist, Isabel Castro, who studied hihi mating systems, found they had a reproductive flexibility with few peers among perching birds. They can be found in conventional pairings or in breeding groups, Castro told NZ Geographic magazine. The group might consist of one male and several females, or in some cases one female may have several males in attendance. ...

New Zealand's bird-of-the-year competition has become a big thing in that nation. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is silent so far on the hihi; she is reported to be backing the black petrel.

I've been saving up a collection of polyamorous critter news for a future post. Watch this space.

(Update: Victory in the national competition went to the Kākāpō, the world's fattest parrot aka the "mighty moss chicken": an endangered, flightless ground dweller with a face likened to "that of a Victorian gentleman" and a smell "like the inside of a clarinet case, musty and kind of like resin and wood.")

●  A heart-melter today in the New York Times Style section, "Weddings" department: A Blue Moon Wedding for Two Goth Romantics (online Nov. 13). It's by Jenny Block, author of the groundbreaking book Open published back in 2008 when open relationships were barely recognized as a workable thing.

Vivienne Vermuth and Jason Perkins met in 2012 when she was performing at a burlesque show in Dallas. Although polyamorous, they decided to marry because they are “the center of each other’s lives and love.”

Dee Hill

On Halloween night, under a blue moon, Vivienne Vermuth and Jason Perkins, both dressed in black, were married after a dating life that Mr. Perkins describes as more layered than an onion.

...They call themselves “goth romantics” and were thrilled to realize 2020 would have the first full blue moon on Halloween in 76 years. “It’s a big deal for us,” she said. “It’s a time of cleansing, of starting over, and I can’t imagine a better time to do so than right now.”

The couple married in an outdoor ceremony Oct. 31 at Flag Pole Hill Park in Dallas by friend and fellow performer Honey Sin Claire, an Open Ministry minister.

They would have liked to have had more guests than the 10 that current Covid-19 protocol allows in Dallas. “We wanted to include our partners and their immediate family,” Ms. Vermuth said. “So it got hard very fast. Luckily it’s still about us, our love, and everyone around us understand and supports us which is most important.”

Mr. Perkins wore a gray velvet blazer and black pants. Ms. Vermuth wore a 1931, hand-sewn, black silk gown with a spider web Art Deco beaded back. Her sheer black gloves were embossed with velvet runes. Her bouquet and his boutonniere included ethically sourced mink skulls with wedding runes burned into them for love, perseverance, trust and sensual energy.

●  A children's book about polyfamilies is in its Kickstarter phase. A Color Named Love is written by M. Ellery and illustrated by Clara Reschke. "Meet Anna and her 4 parents in this children's book that celebrates polyamory and all the beautiful and valid forms of loving families." 

The authors' Kickstarter video.

Ellery has also written a Medium article: How to Be a Non-Monogamous Mother in a Binary World (Oct. 30). "Finding resources with polyamorous parents represented seemed impossible, so I created my own." The deadline for pledge donations is December 10. Estimated delivery of the book, if the Kickstarter goal is met, is March 2021. If the goal is missed your pledge will be returned.

●  And in the South Seattle Emerald ("a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet offering a wider lens of our region’s most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities"), comes some poly poetry: I am learning to let love be boring, by Nic Masangkay (Nov. 11). Not bad.


–   The annual round of polyamory hotel conferences, rural retreats, and other regional events shut right down last March when Covid hit. Nevertheless I'm keeping Alan's List of Polyamory Events updated for the coming year.

Don't expect any big gatherings to restart until deep into 2021, I'm guessing. But some events are moving online, meaning you don't have to travel! Next up: 

November 22–23, 2020

PolyCon Canada 2020, a project of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), was originally scheduled to gather in Edmonton. Now it's a "24 hr livestream event from sundown Nov 22 to sundown Nov 23, 2020 (PST). Join us on Twitch or YouTube at no cost to view." Write for details.

"Title: Honouring Intersectionality and Diversity in our Communities. Livestreamed hosting, interactive chat, and video segments. Broadcast will also be available on YouTube and Twitch 24 hrs after the event." See schedule and program updates, including speakers. 

–   Got an announcement that belongs here? Write me at alan7388 (at) gmail.com 

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October 30, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – Covid solidarity, the many ethical non-monogamy types, good how-tos, and a Vermont legal ruling

I'm hurrying to get this out before it's time to join the all-else-aside task for today and the next four days: phone-banking, friend-organizing, and safe-distance canvassing for Biden and the Dems.

These few days are, quite frankly, our last, best chance to save the United States as a free and open society — a functioning, non-authoritarian republic, one based on respect for people, facts and truth, where we can live free from fear of cruel and ruinous out-of-control leaders.

The America we were taught we could believe in.

Someday your grandchildren will ask you what you did in 2020. If you want to hold your head up when that question comes, join the phone banks and other campaigns to get out the vote for Democrats in these next five days. There are a zillion opportunities, such as here or here or here.


●  We've seen many poly-in-the-time-of-covid articles in the mainstream media. But this new one, by Madeline Wells on SFGate, a website of the San Francisco Chronicle, is one of the best of the type: Multi-love: What it's like to have more than one partner in the pandemic (Oct. 26). Extended excerpts:

Andy Andersen
By Madeline Wells

...The Bay Area has a reputation for being particularly poly-friendly, where regular meetups for the community aren't hard to find. ... Before the pandemic, Krista Varela Posell, a 30-year-old who lives in Rodeo, was in a polycule of 10 people (that’s a connected network of people in nonmonogamous relationships). When COVID-19 hit, she hunkered down with just her husband, and found herself unable to see most of her partners for months.

“It’s been such a challenge to have people we care about and not be able to do the same things we used to do on a regular basis,” explains Posell. “We were going out and seeing partners two to three times a week, and now to be stuck at home is a very drastic change in our routine.”

Stephie Winter and Bex Coffey, both 35, are two friends who both identify as poly and live together in a house of nine people in Brentwood. Winter lives with her husband, but was unable to see her other partner for months due to the inherent risk of having a large social bubble.

“My boyfriend and I met a month and a half before COVID started, and his older son is asthmatic, so in the beginning we didn’t see each other for eight weeks,” says Winter. “We eventually made the decision for his mental health that he needed human connection, and we needed to expand to include him in our bubble.”

...Some are choosing to suspend dating altogether. One source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that “nesting” with one partner has led them to bond more closely than before, but that not being able to act on the poly facet to her identity has been a little uncomfortable.

“Basically ... we have the appearance of monogamy and that has brought some discomfort for me, but we are overall very happy and secure in our relationship itself,” she said via Facebook messenger. “… Like it's so normal to just be assumed mono. But if that's not ‘who you are’ it can just kind of grate on you. It's like being bisexual in a relationship (I'm bisexual btw) where everyone assumes you're either straight or gay based on who you are with. It just makes a key part of who I feel I am kind of invisible.”

Others, however, go bravely forth with dating. Miles-Kaleb Raymond, a 19-year-old living in Oakland with one partner, occasionally goes on dates with others — but only those who get tested often and wear masks outside the house. But so far, he says, dating during the pandemic has been all “dead ends.”

“It’s affected my partner and I mentally a bit,” says Raymond. “We love each other but it feels lonely at times. The world feels more quiet.”

On the other hand, some have found love in the chaos. ...


There are some advantages, too, to navigating relationships in the pandemic as a poly person. For one: communication skills.

“When you’re in the poly community, there’s a certain level of skill you have to already develop in terms of being in touch with what's important for you when it comes to relationships, and knowing how to negotiate needs and working through disappointments,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Gal Szekely of the Couples Center. “I think those skills are really needed right now.”

Broaching the subject of risk with partners in regards to the coronavirus also feels familiar, says Posell.

“The transition to talking about those kinds of things has felt somewhat easy being poly, because when you see a lot of people, you have to talk about STI safety,” she says. “This has added another layer on to that … we all have to be more up front about levels of risk we take as individuals in order to consider spending time with other people.”

And, there’s also the element that unlike with some monogamous couples, there isn’t the same pressure for one person to be your everything in a time of crisis. ...

The Bay Area poly community has also gotten creative to stay connected during the pandemic. Lauren Vegter, who lives in Oakland, started a pandemic-era dating app for both ethically non-monogamous and monogamous people called Bloom. The app sets people up on socially-distanced group dates in parks with 6 to 8 people. It’s still in its pilot stage, but Vegter says she’s already seen overwhelming interest.

“We created it because I was interested in bringing together ethically non-monogamous communities in a time when we can’t gather in our traditional, often indoor spaces,” says Vegter.

For those who aren’t comfortable meeting in person, one Facebook group for Bay Area-based poly people offers a monthly virtual happy hour on Zoom. And it’s not all about dating — the community is also there to help each other through the trials and tribulations of coronavirus. ...


●  Some new Poly 101s popped up this week. This one in Shape magazine (lifestyle & fitness for women) is deeper than usual: What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy, and Could It Work for You? by Gabrielle Smith (Oct. 28). It offers a taxonomy of nine forms of ethical non-monogamy, and it gets them mostly right IMO. Its section "How to Know If Ethical Non-Monogamy Is Right for You" has these subsection headings:  

– Are you pursuing ethical non-monogamy for the right reasons?

– How do you handle jealousy and insecurity?

– Remember that overhauling your entire relationship structure is difficult.

– Communication is key.

– Give yourself some structure.

– Think boundaries, not rules.

– Veto power is unethical.

Other main sections are,
"How to Introduce Ethical Non-Monogamy to an Existing Relationship," 
"How to Pursue Ethical Non-Monogamy While Single,"
"Having Safe Sex with Multiple People," 
"Research, Research, Research."

●  Similarly, this one appeared in the healthy-living site MindBodyGreen ("connecting soul and science"):  What Ethical Non-Monogamy Really Means & Why People Practice It (Oct. 27). Excerpts:

..."When explaining ethical or consensual non-monogamy to my clients, my go-to is the three C's: communication, consideration, and of course, consent," psychotherapist Cheyenne Taylor, LMSW, explains to mbg. "Ethical non-monogamy is based on the concept of using socially acceptable guidelines and ethically motivated tools to cultivate a relationship built on the foundation of non-monogamy. At its core, though, ENM means not cheating or acting without the consent of your partner."

What it means to practice ethical non-monogamy:

1. You and your partner(s) agree on what you want and don't want. ...

2. Honesty is vital. ...

3. You need to care about your partners' feelings. ...

4. You can still have a primary partner. ...

5. You can also choose to have non-hierarchal relationships. ...

6. There will be ups and downs. ...

7. Yes, you'll likely be jealous sometimes. ...


Ethical non-monogamy vs. polyamory.

Polyamory is one form of ethical non-monogamy, which is an umbrella term that encompasses many other types of relationships. Swinging, casual sex, open relationships, and polyamory are all forms of ethical non-monogamy, and there are many others. Polyamory refers to having multiple romantic partners at once, which not all ethically non-monogamous people do. ...

Ethical non-monogamy vs. open relationship.

Open relationships are another form of ethical non-monogamy, with ethical non-monogamy being the umbrella term. ...

The article continues with a classification of many more ENM types.

●  In the online magazine MamaMia! ("To make the world a better place for women and girls. ... Australia's largest women's media brand") comes Jealousy is normal. My honest experience of what polyamorous relationships are really like (Oct. 25)

No matter how ‘woke’ we think we are, feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, or simply being overwhelmed happen. What’s really the magic wand, so to speak, in any relationship, mono or poly, is fervent communication.

My first foray into the poly world is not the Poly 101 course I would want for anyone else, but it did teach me a lot. ...

●  If you're into the tabs, here's yet another new happy-polyfamily feature: Mother who went on a date with a married man who claimed to be separated reveals she now lives with him, his WIFE and their five children - and says 'it's not perfect but we're soulmates' (Daily Mail, Oct. 29). They're in Connecticut. A powerful bonding experience for the two women was getting one of their infants through cancer five years ago.

"When you say 'hey I'm in a poly relationship,' that is overwhelming for some people. Now we are all one big happy family. We all cook together and have family time. We sit around the table and talk about our day and just cherish each other."

As always, with lotsa pix.

●  And lastly, we get down in the legal weeds of the poly parental-rights decision just issued in Vermont's Lanfear v. Ruggerio.

Parental-rights disputes in a failed polyfamily are likely to be complicated and messy by the time they reach the courts, and the issue of polyamory rights will usually be obscured by an overlay of circumstances. That fact should never be used to mask prejudice, however, which occurs regarding many issues throughout the justice system (such as race, just in case you hadn't heard).

Vermont Supreme Court Justice Karen Carroll

But apparently it didn't happen here. In this case, Vermont Supreme Court Justice Karen R. Carroll wrestled in depth with a triad partner's claim to non-bio co-parent status after the triad collapsed. The judge applied what seems to be a steep but fair set of specific standards that is developing for such determinations, and the non-bio partner lost. 

The standards employed in this case are a useful example of what poly people may encounter as the basis for a reasoned decision, depending of course on your state and your judge. Bottom line: the non-bio third parent has an opening but has a lot to prove.

Libertarian law professor Eugene Volokh posts Justice Carroll's opinion in Lanfear v. Ruggerio on his much-read Volokh Conspiracy blog: The "De Facto Parent" Doctrine and Polyamorous Relationships. He writes that the case 

offers an interesting illustration. The relationship seems to have been dysfunctional in many ways (as relationships that go to court usually are); and I have no reason to think that it's any more representative of all polyamorous relationships than the "traditional" child custody case is representative of more common heterosexual relationships. Still, it struck me as an interesting story that helps point to issues that will sometimes especially arise when courts deal with polyamorous relationships, as opposed to (say) "de facto parent" claims brought by stepparents or even by grandparents.

You can read the bulk of the judge's opinion there, or read her original here. (Update: story in the Vermont Digger with more perspective, Nov. 6.)

Warning: Your state and especially your judge will vary. Vermont (I used to edit a newspaper there) is one of the poorest and most rural states in the nation, but by several measures it is one of the most civilized, perhaps the most civilized state. This is enabled and sustained by a high degree of social trust among its residents. For instance most of its politicians, including Republican Governor Phil Scott, never politicized the coronavirus or mask-wearing but led by example and have kept the public mostly united in vigilance — the main reason why Vermont continues to have the lowest Covid rate in the nation (scroll down to the table of the 50 states). The virus is exploding in other rural states, but not one Vermonter has died of it in more than two months. More about this anomaly from the New York Times (scroll to last item at the link).

Shows what could have been done everywhere else, in an environment of national decency.


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October 23, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: More poly TV coming. Why so many triads? New space for platonic romantic friendship, and more

●  A trend continues in TV land:  From the Los Angeles Times comes Open relationships are 'common' in Hollywood. ’Soulmates’ is helping TV catch up (Oct. 19). Soulmates is a new series on AMC that uses a science-fiction gimmick to explore "whether love is destiny or a choice." The show's creators tell how they were dazzled by the concept of poly.

By Sonaiya Kelley

AMC's new anthology series "Soulmates" imagines a world in which knowing one's fated love is only a test away. ...

...The show's third episode, "Little Adventures," which aired Monday [Oct. 19], follows Libby and Adam, a happily married couple.... After Libby's test results pair her with Miranda, she has to figure out which partner to choose — or if there's a possibility of making it work with both.

"It felt like a very relevant story to tell now about how relationships are changing," said [series co-creator Will] Bridges. "We wanted... an honest look on how (polyamory) affects the characters within that relationship."

...The writers drew on the experiences of people they know to inform their characters.

"I had a lot of friends, particularly in L.A., who [were a part of] throuples and dealt with all the different politics of open relationships," said [the show's other co-creator,  Brett] Goldstein. ... "I think there's something weird about how we always say 'It takes a village to raise a child,' but when it comes to our relationships, we believe in only one person to do everything," he added. "When you put it like that, that's mad."

"Remember like 20 years ago yoga was really weird? Now everyone does yoga and there's nothing weird about it," said Bridges. "And I feel like there's a world maybe where open relationships, or at least untraditional non-monogamous relationships, are much more acceptable and an option rather than, 'Oh, that's a weird thing you're up to.' "...

[Lead actor Shamier Anderson says,] "I did a bit of research but not too much, because my character was unfamiliar with it." ... 

"I think [open relationships] work when people are being open to the possibilities of it," said Bridges. ... "With the research that we did and all the people we spoke to, it becomes clear that it's not about sex," he added. "It's not about the tantalizing idea of what it's like to have another person to have a sexual relationship with. It becomes about what each person brings to the relationship and how that affects what you give to each person."

It's been 14 years since the very first polyamory-themed series was pitched to a TV studio, to the best of my knowledge. HBO "almost bought" Reid Mihalko's "Polly and Marie" series in 2006 after he and others filmed a pilot, he told the 2009 Poly Living conference, but HBO thought advertisers would be too scared of the topic. Now everyone in TV land seems to be trying to hitch a pull from this moving train, advertisers included.

●  However, a lot of the entertainment world's poly and CNM representation remains naive or superficial and fails to grasp the lived life. So of course there is a Facebook group: This IS the polyamory exposure I wanted. With 9,900 members. Have fun. 

Relationship Anarchy logo

●  The profoundly deep platonic romantic friendship flourished as a relationship style from the 1700s to the early 1900s, especially between women but also sometimes between men. It surely provided respectable cover for many closeted lesbians and gays. But at least as often, by all evidence, it was exactly what it seemed to be: a passionate romance entirely of soul to soul.

The passing of the romantic friendship as an understood thing has been a tragic loss for the modern world. Today "romantic" and "intimate" are so synonymous with "sexual" that many people can't imagine a working alternative. Unless they know about asexuals (aces) in their various varieties, who have self-identified and found each other only recently, or the very modern philosophy of relationship anarchy — the younger, wilder, overlapping sibling of polyamory.

And polyamory itself, with its freedom from rigid sexual assumptions and requirements, is giving old-fashioned romantic friendships new space to grow and thrive, as many have discovered and remarked. 

The Atlantic just published a long essay on the forgotten power of the platonic romantic friendship and its history in the western world: What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? by Rhaina Cohen (online Oct. 20). “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1. Our worlds are backward.”

Go read it. It ends on a hopeful note of rediscovery:

Polyamory and asexuality, both of which push back against the notion that a monogamous sexual relationship is the key to a fulfilling adult life, are rapidly gaining visibility. Expanding the possible roles that friends can play in one another’s lives could be the next frontier.

●  New book on the history of monogamy and its alternatives. Luke Brunning, a UK philosopher, published a shortish book this week Does Monogamy Work? A Primer for the 21st CenturyHe is interviewed in Mashable: Does monogamy work? This new book explores the controversial question (Oct 20). The interview ends with this:

...You discuss the concept of jealousy and compersion.... Is jealousy an inevitable part of non-monogamy, or if it's possible to get to a place of full compersion?

I've written about this recently [Imagine There's No JealousyAeon, Feb. 27, 2019] and tried to think about it in more detail. What I've put in the book [is] based on this academic article I published [Compersion: An Alternative to Jealousy?Journal of the American Philosophical Association, Summer 2020] where I'm thinking through those questions. 

...[Some] people think jealousy is inevitable and you can never get rid of it. Other people take a completely different view and think it's easy. The emotion is linked to two things. One is our sense of personal vulnerability. The other is our beliefs about what we're entitled to, what we expect from other people, what we deserve....

Luke Brunning

It's relatively easy... to change your beliefs about relationships. You might think, 'Well, I've had all these dodgy beliefs about what I can expect from a partner or what I'm entitled to or how they should behave.' And so, change your kind of attitudes in that way. 

At the same time, the fact that you've changed those beliefs — you feel less entitled, you don't think that you possess your partner, you don't think can claim their attention — doesn't necessarily mean that you can alter — or alter quickly — your personal vulnerability ... [or] the way you get attached to people. ...

I know lots of people who've thought about this a lot, and they've got a clear sense of what they think is justified or not justified, and they think jealousy is not justified ... but nonetheless they feel horrifically insecure and vulnerable. 

●  Speaking of books, remember Paul Dalgarno, author of the novel Poly that came out last summer?  He writes about his own poly life, and the competing plusses and minuses of both polyamory and monogamy, in Archer magazine in his native Australia: Polyamory and the mirror on the wall (Oct. 15)

Mirror on wall, by Suhyeon Choi

...For monogamy, some of the bad press comes from the assumption it’s the natural way of things, as opposed to a practice that’s long been promulgated and bolstered by patriarchy and land (read ownership over other people) rights.

But monogamy also has plenty going for it.

Even though the “one-and-only” approach to love is prone to abuse through hush-hush affairs and their fallout, even though it’s vulnerable, as we all are, to the monotony of life and the law of entropy, having an “other half” provides a reliable data point – a mirror, as it were....

In my case... polyamory has providing me with, at best, a glorious infinity mirror, at worst a nightmarish funhouse of reflections in which my sense of who I really am becomes as stretched and distorted as the bedsheets in a cheap motel.

...Of all the benefits of polyamory, the one I’ve found most invaluable is the growing awareness that my relationships and the self-esteem I derive from them are chiefly my responsibility. There actually is no house of mirrors, no magic mirror on the wall – it’s you and what you bring to those around you that matters.

●  The Independent, one of the UK's major papers, just republished online a basic, longish Poly 101 from 2017:  7 things people with multiple partners want you to know about what it's really like (Oct 19). Its main source is Elisabeth Sheff. The 7 things it lists are,

1. They don't really get jealous [some don't, anyway, or at least not so much]
2. It's not all about sex
3. Sometimes people just fall into the lifestyle
4. It involves a lot of communication
5. It's not always easy
6. Kids don't complicate things as much as you might think
7. It doesn't always work

●  People complain: Among those happy polyfamilies so relentlessly featured in the British tabloids, why always so many triads?? A fresh example: Woman in polyamorous 'throuple' explains how they organise bedtime (Daily Mirror, Oct. 12, among others. With video.)

Janie, Cody, Maggie (TriAdventures / Instagram)

...Maggie and Cody first met on Tinder in February 2016, but became a throuple after meeting Janie in November that year.

In a video on TikTok, Janie says that while they weren't planning to end up in a relationship "it just sort of happened."

Cody and Maggie married in January 2018 at a courthouse and held a ceremony in May, where Janie was the maid of honour....

Now they share their life on social media on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, from their home in Chattanooga, southeastern Tennessee.

In a video, Janie says that meeting their pair was the "best thing that ever happened to me."

In one video, which has been seen three million times, she explains how they manage the bedroom dynamic.

Janie shows off their king-size bed and says that sometimes the couple do all sleep there together sometimes.

She adds: "I sleep in the middle and Maggie and Cody sleep on either end.

"But its not actually normal for all three of us to sleep together."

"And we don't have a sleep schedule. Usually we just decide whoever sleeps in the King by whoever hasn't been sleeping the best recently goes to sleep by themself."...

So why do the tabs seem crazy for "throuples" over other poly family structures?  

Surely it's just because triads are the most abundant. There are more triads than quads, more quads than quints, and polyfamilies of six haven't even earned a special name yet. The pattern is clear: The more complex the structure, the less often it "occurs in nature." 1  

So when the tabloids' content agencies go beating the bushes for polyfamilies to hire and exhibit, triads are mostly what they find.

And maybe another factor: The bigger the family, the more people have to agree to tabloid exposure. And, the paycheck will be divided more ways.


1.  The exception to this rule is the extended poly network. Network poly seems to be the commonest form today, at least in densely populated areas. A large network can absorb and damp out perturbations among its links, to continue through internal breakups, re-formations, new additions, and dropouts. A poly network is an intimate form of community. But within a network you almost always see, again, tighter sub-units forming: primary-ish couples, triads and quads, in that same decreasing order of abundance.

This is why I predict that even in a future society that's totally poly-friendly and -accepting, couples of two will be the relationship that most people are in for most of the time. Couples are just the simplest structure.

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