Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

February 18, 2007

"A love triangle? Try a hexagon"

St. Petersburg Times

Today's Sunday St. Petersburg Times (Feb. 18, 2007) has, on the front page of its "Floridian" section (photo), a great big story on polyamory featuring Florida polyactivists Cherie L. Ve Ard, Franklin Veaux, Fritz Neumann, and their lovers and friends.

By Leonora LaPeter

Cherie Ve Ard is worried. As she waits for her burrito at an Orlando Tijuana Flats, she wonders if she's giving her three boyfriends enough attention.

There's Franklin Veaux, 40, her long-distance love from Atlanta, who has surprised her with a visit. He's holding her left hand and kissing her neck.

Her longtime live-in boyfriend, Fritz Neumann, 40, cradles her right hand on his knee.

And she gazes googly-eyed across the table at her newest love, Chris Dunphy, 34, of California. They met in a Toyota Prius chat room in June, and their conversation was so intense he drove cross-country to her doorstep one day ago.

Ve Ard, 33, knows people may think she's a swinger. But these aren't casual sexual relationships, she says. They are a natural outcome of her belief that there's more than one true love out there for her at any given time.

...The term is used to define an entire range of relationships. Some polyamorists are married people with multiple love interests, and others practice informal group "marriage." Some have group sex, and others have a series of one-on-one relationships.

Polyamorists around the country gather in support groups formed on the Internet; Meetup.com has about 6,000 polyamorous members nationally. A half-dozen groups meet in Florida, including Gator Poly at the University of Florida and PolyTampa in the Tampa Bay area (178 members).

..."The majority of polyamorists are white middle- and upper-class professionals," says Elisabeth Sheff, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University.... "Many work in the computer industry, so there is a strong online community. They tend to gravitate toward urban areas," she said, "much like gays and lesbians."

...Polyamorists like Ve Ard spend a lot of time trying to convince a monogamous culture that their lifestyle is viable. Outsiders are dubious, to say the least, especially where children are involved.

"We need to have a debate right now about what this means for children... because having multiple unrelated adults passing through will open them up to a much higher risk of physical and sexual abuse," said Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families in New York City.

No one has actually studied the effect of polyamory on children. Polyamorists say it has benefits because there are multiple adults around to care for them.

...Ve Ard says she's not having sex with all of her boyfriends. But whenever she adds another lover to her repertoire, she sends him a "sexual history disclosure" spreadsheet, complete with names of partners, the types of sexual contact they had and the results of tests for sexually transmitted diseases. She expects the same in return.

So when she and Dunphy initiated a sexual relationship, they exchanged spreadsheets and she disclosed to him that she has had human papillomavirus, or HPV, a common sexually transmitted disease. They also got tested for other STDs, including HIV, and shared the results with each other — and with Neumann.

"Because I'm sexually involved with her, any new diseases will affect me," Neumann says.

It is hard to imagine all of this ever being simple. Sheff, the Georgia State University professor, said polyamorous relationships sometimes fail because some partners feel unequal. Typically it is the long-term partner who starts to feel neglected.

Neumann, Ve Ard's longtime beau, realizes her new relationship with Dunphy is something special compared with the other relationships she's had. But he appears unconcerned.

"New relationships take more energy," says Neumann. "But it is something we'll get through. She's going to be spending more time and energy with her new relationships. I accept that as an existing partner."

He admitted one feeling: envy.

"I just wish I had that new relationship fluffiness going on," he says. "It's like the little kid in you seeing a new toy and saying, 'I want, I want, I want.' "

He has limits. If Ve Ard's new relationships start taking up too much of her time, Neumann says he'll let her know it.

"Cherie (Smoocherie) invented the word polysaturation," says Neumann. "If she gets enough partners, all of us are going to go to her and say, 'Cherie, come on, you're spread too thin.' "

..."Seriously enjoying having two guys around the house," Ve Ard wrote in her online journal one day recently. "It's sheer bliss and I feel so absolutely loved and adored."

The three planned a seven-day cruise to Mexico on Disney's Magic. They would share a suite.

Neumann offered to let Ve Ard and Dunphy have the master suite while he took the sleeper sofa. Ve Ard said she would probably spend a few nights with Neumann.

A few days later, they boarded the ship hand in hand. All three of them.

Read the whole article. To send a letter to the editor: http://www.sptimes.com/letters/. And you can also leave a comment at the end of the article.

Update: The article was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune for March 7th, under the title "Polyamory: Moving beyond the love triangle." To send a letter to the editor: ctc-TribLetter@Tribune.com .

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February 16, 2007

CNN Special Report on Polyamory

As part of a pre-Valentine's Day special, CNN aired a short but stunningly on-target report on polyamory (Feb. 11, 2007). In only three minutes, they got it just right.

Actually, as soon as I saw the people being featured — Darrell and Nancy from Tampa — I knew it would be a hit. These wonderful people, married 38 years, ran a presentation at last summer's Loving More East conference, and they just glowed. They totally get it.

The CNN report on them and their loving partners had special power coming just before another, very different Valentine's report about a couple nearly torn apart by a screaming, lying affair.

Twelve years into their marriage they began to explore, as Nancy puts it, "the path less traveled."... Over the next 20 years the two began to meet, fall in love with, and have sex with other people, never letting go of their primary commitment to each other. They developed long-term committed relationships with six other couples. They call them their extended family.

Nancy: "They're people that, if I'm feeling sadness or pain, I can share with them, they'll listen, and if they can help in some way they will. I don't just have one or two. I have maybe a dozen. And that's — pretty remarkable."

Watch the video (may require Internet Explorer). This is one to bookmark to send to friends and relatives who need help in grasping the possibility.

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February 14, 2007

"The Soccer Moms of Sexuality"

New York Sun
The small daily New York Sun has a cute Valentine's Day story on polyamory (Feb. 14, 2007):

Rose Fox plans to spend this most romantic of evenings with the woman she calls her "girlfriend-in-law" — that is, her husband's girlfriend. Why not? They're friends, they love Wednesday night choir practice, and, of course, they both love Ms. Fox's husband, Josh.

Josh will be home alone in Inwood, catching up (ahem) on his sleep. If his wife's long-distance lover calls, however, he can always talk to her until his wife — or girlfriend, or both — comes home.

And that's the beauty of polyamory. It's so simple!

... But consider the lesson Ms. Fox learned one polyamorous Valentine's Day a few years back.

"It was me and Josh and his then-still-wife and her boyfriend and his involvements and it went out from there — about eight or nine people," Ms. Rose said. "We all went to the wine country for the weekend and the problem was: One person wasn't feeling well. If you're not well on Valentine's Day, you probably really want your partner's attention."

The weekend fell apart as one lover couldn't pay enough attention to the next lover, to the next, to the next, to the next. "It was a disaster," Ms. Fox said. But she did learn one thing: "Attention is the currency of relationships."

Read the whole article. To send a letter to the editor, write to editor@nysun.com .

The story was reprinted in the Tallahassee (FL) Democrat on February 26th.


February 11, 2007

"How do I love thee? And thee? And thee?"

SEE Magazine
(Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Edmonton's hip "weekly source for news, arts and entertainment" has a long cover story on polyamory this week (Feb. 8, 2007), built around a profile of a happy young FMM triad.

The worst reaction Patrick has gotten was from his mother: "‘I wish you’d just pick straight or gay... It’s too hard to try to explain why you have a boyfriend on one arm and a girlfriend on the other.’"

...All three are quick to admit that they face difficulties, but the troubles they describe are often familiar, albeit sometimes with a twist. Like anyone involved in a romantic relationship, they worry about what they’ve gotten themselves into, and what might come of it. [When asked about their fears:] "[I fear] I’ve bitten off more than I can chew," admits Patrick, "I fear hurting people I love; I fear losing them; I fear alienating them through my shared love."

Tina laughs as she concedes her fear: "That I am here only to make babies!"

"Moving in together... was a big, scary step," Patrick remembers. "Two people who share me, moving on to sharing a home together with me."

Moving in together? You can hear the barricades being personed in greater numbers the farther we get into the subject....

Once [the] trio all lived together, communication became even more important. "We all sit down very regularly, and discuss the relationship," he explains. "The usual check-ups that a relationship needs."

This sounds so matter-of-fact to them. I don’t remember regular check-ups in my monogamous history. A lot of break-ups, but not a lot of check-ups.

Patrick, Tina, and Ryan admit that their relationship takes a hell of a lot of work.

"A poly relationship is a lot like gardening," Patrick meditates. "You spend so much time on your hands and knees mucking around in the dirty chores . . . and sometimes you’re down there so long you almost forget to straighten up, take a look around you, and see the beautiful things you’re helping to grow."

...Patrick expects that fewer than five hundred people in Edmonton identify as polyamorous, but he, Tina, and Ryan all believe that polyamory’s popularity is growing. As Ryan suggests, "People are slowly moving away from the one-size-fits-all relationship, and just doing what feels right for them."

Read the whole article. And see the (cover art).

The article has a sidebar too, with a title I've never seen in a mundane publication:

A Polyamory How-To:
Making the Switch

1. If your partner is a particularly jealous or insecure person, and you don’t want to lose her or him, forget about it. If your partner is not these things, or if you’re willing to take the risk, proceed to 2.

2. Express your polyamorous interest to your partner. But, as Patrick warns, "Be prepared for emotional fall-out." Your partner might not be the rock you thought she or he was.

3. If you have not already done so, find a third person that you, your partner, or better yet, both of you, are attracted to. "Find someone you trust and know you could do stuff with," says Tina.

4. Talk to this person: be open about your current relationship, and about your poly interests–why you want to give it a try, and why you’ve chosen her or him in particular to complete the V or triangle, whatever it might become. (Make the person feel special.)

5. Stress what’s in it for him or her: sexual and emotional access to at least one, maybe two fantastic people. Don’t make it sound like a favour!

6. Talk about your potential poly relationship in terms of the infinity of love.

7. Move slowly and respectfully. You don’t want to pressure anyone into loving. As Patrick advises, "Anyone at any time should be able to say ‘No.’ Without repercussion."

See what happens. "And if it all falls apart, laugh, and keep going. Not everything turns out like a porn video!" reminds Tina.

Makes it sound simple, huh? Here are a few more I'd insert right off:

1.1. Read, read, read. The poly world has accumulated a lot of trial-and-error wisdom that didn't exist 25 years ago. Discussion sites, blogs, memoirs, books, Loving More magazine.... This is still pioneer country, but it's better mapped than it used to be. Study the maps before setting out with your covered wagon.

2.1. Get your existing relationship into tip-top condition first. Take all that good poly wisdom about communication, honesty, empathic listening — all the stuff about safe zones, mirroring, differing love languages — and use it to make your mono couplehood shine. First.

2.2. Move at the pace of the slowest person.

8. "Let your relationships be what they are" (per Franklin Veaux). Friendly, relaxed cordiality all around, of course. But don't try to force metamours into sexual or romantic relationships with each other that don't feel right. No two relationships are equal. Accept this.

9. "Be prepared to find what you were not looking for" (per Jerry Rubin).

This could go on. Comments?

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February 8, 2007

"Something Nice About Monogamy"

San Francisco Bay Times

The San Francisco Bay Times calls itself "the gay/lesbian/bi/trans newspaper and events calendar for the Bay Area." Columnist and psychotherapist Tom Moon writes (Feb. 8, 2007):

Q: Would you say something nice about monogamy? I never hear anybody in the gay community say anything positive about it....

A: I’d be happy to say something nice about monogamy.... Over the past 25 years of counseling gay men and gay couples, I’ve seen every kind of open relationship “work” for some people, and I’ve seen people thrive in every kind of polyamorous lifestyle imaginable. And, yes, I’ve seen couples live quite happily together for up to 20 years or more in monogamy....

Men who prefer monogamy but have also been in open relationships consistently tell me that, in their experience, their monogamous relationships have a deeper level of intimacy. As one man told me, “It’s all about focus and commitment. Since we’re just focused on each other, when we have problems we can’t distract ourselves with outside involvements. We have to hang in there and work on it.”...

Read the whole item.

Oh, and here's another advice column entry (from the Ask Your Mother sex-and-relationships blog) that suggests we're indeed getting more noticed:

Q: I am sick and tired of hearing about Polyamory. It’s everywhere, all the sudden, and no one is talking about monogamy and celibacy, both of which are totally important, valid, real and RIGHT. What’s the deal? Why are you preaching Polyamory so much? Why is everyone?

A: First of all, I am not preaching polyamory. I am not preaching ANY ONE THING as the RIGHT thing....