Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 12, 2007

"How many mates is too many?"

Miss Manners

In her newspaper advice column this week, Miss Manners addresses an increasingly frequent conundrum facing thoughtful hosts:

By Judith Martin

Dear Miss Manners: I am struggling with the invitation list to my child’s confirmation. Some of the potential invitees are members of a “poli” family.

The man is married to one woman. They live with a second woman. While I have not ever inquired about their bedding arrangements, I believe she is romantically attached to the wife. There is a third woman who dates the husband but lives elsewhere.

While they are quiet about this in their work and “in public,” most of their friends know of the arrangement. They are not sneaking around — the four of them are on excellent terms with each other. However, some of my relatives would be shocked if they knew of the relationships.

My daughter is friendly with the girlfriend, as am I. She would like to invite her. My husband and I are also friendly with the husband, whom we know through different connections. While I have met the wife and the other woman and get along with them well enough, I don’t know them well enough that I would invite them to this sort of event were it not for their family connections to the husband.

So, are the four of them a package deal? Can I invite the husband and his girlfriend? Just the girlfriend? How do I introduce them to my family?

Gentle Reader: Since you admittedly do not know the bedding arrangements of this interesting assortment, you are spared the temptation of enlivening your child’s confirmation by explaining their relationships to your relatives.

You can invite only the married couple, only their household, only one or both of the single ladies, or the whole group. But in any case, you introduce them by using their names. Miss Manners is sorry if this disappoints you.

Speaking of manners... I've often been struck by the ways in which polyamory is a throw-in-the-deep-end, crash course in applying cat-like good manners (a Robert Heinlein expression) to new and unexpected situations. Poly is too new to have yet evolved a widely understood politeness rulebook, such as exists in most other realms of society. So, we have to invent it on the fly. It's another way in which poly challenges us to grow and evolve by applying wits and good character — or else wipe out.



Blogger tamoroso said...

"You introduce them by using their names"

What a revolutionary concept. I've always liked Miss Manners, although I don't always agree with her (usually, but not always). This is classic and excellent.

August 22, 2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will admot to being a huge fan of Miss Manners. And, if you read her book "Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium", you will discover within oone of the questions/answers that she had an aunt who was poly. This is covered under the section on dinner parties, and the "single male", as her aunt had two partners to take to dinnre parties.

December 16, 2007 11:51 AM  

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