Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

November 27, 2007

"The Strange Credibility of Polyamory"


This site is named Polyamory in the News, so I haven't been calling attention to blogs. I'm making an exception for a major, thought-provoking essay by San Francisco queer activist and theorist Pepper Mint (his actual name). He just put it up on his freaksexual blog:

The Strange Credibility of Polyamory

Polyamory has a certain credibility these days. Media outlets interview poly people and actually present it with a positive spin.... While coming out as polyamorous can still lose you friends, often people turn out to be surprising supportive.... Moreover, the idea of polyamory seems to be hitting a cultural tipping point, where people are simply expected to know the word and the ideas behind it, with zero explanation....

I want to point out that the current credibility of polyamory is in fact odd.... We live in a culture that is still puritanical, where mere positive mention of masturbation is enough to have you removed from the Surgeon General’s office, where infidelity is grounds for impeachment....

Since polyamory is a basic rethinking of some primary structures in relationships and culture, you would think it would not be so readily accepted. We should be be getting more flak, more backlash, more hostility, more attempts to make us invisible. The fairly rapid spread of polyamorous ideology, and the relatively positive media and cultural responses to polyamory, are all a bit surprising to me.

The positive shine to polyamory does not seem to apply to other mixed-gender nonmonogamy movements, like communal marriage, swinging, open relationships, or BDSM-based nonmonogamy. The wide media exposure of polyamory does not seem to make sense, given that the actual numbers of practicing poly people are likely somewhat less than these other movements, and polyamory is not nearly as well-entrenched in the culture....

He analyzes several reasons for this "strange credibility," how we can use them to our benefit, and how we could lose them in the future. Read his whole article (Nov. 27, 2007).

Here are two additional explanations of my own:

1) “All the world loves a lover” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Romantic love brings out warm feelings in onlookers, including journalists, and we spend a lot of time talking about love with earnestness and idealism.

2) “Character is everything” (Andrew Carnegie and others). The poly movement and its spokespeople put great emphasis on honesty, responsible behavior, high ethical standards, self-improvement through hard relationship work, self-discipline in hard situations, owning your own shit, and the need to “Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong” (US Marine Corps).

This creates, or self-selects, a movement of high-quality people. Those who violate these standards hear about it from the community (brutally so when the discussion is online!); they find themselves left out of the community when their reputation gets around; and in any case they tend to fail at polyamory and hence disappear on their own.

The straight world notices these signs of good character in our movement and spokespeople, and tends to be at least grudgingly impressed.


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November 23, 2007

Dear Margo comes through!

Many newspapers

Wow. Margo Howard, a leading newspaper advice columnist, does us a major educational service with a followup to her "Dear Margo" column of three weeks ago. And your letters made it happen!

She issued this new column yesterday (Nov. 22, 2007). It should appear in newspapers in the coming week:

More polyamory...

Dear Readers: I ran a letter from a woman in a polyamorous situation and many people felt my answer was condescending. I apparently did not choose my words carefully, because I have no problem with how consenting adults want to live. I was merely pointing out that the polyamorous lifestyle was by no means mainstream. I received a letter from a clergyman in Houston, the Reverend Storm Weaver, whose letter I would like to share with you because he speaks for me, as well:

"I have a response for 'Happily Poly.' I've spent 25 years providing support and pastoral care for individuals who have chosen 'culturally fringed' lifestyles, including polyamory.

"If Happily and her family came to me, I would tell them the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, so people are going to have an opinion. It is up to her and her family how they respond to those opinions... but they won't stop people from having them. If she lets it get to her, it will compromise the joy she has in her family.

"The success of a complex family style hinges on open, honest communication, and on acknowledging that you are something different, and once you are visible you will be targets for people's curiosity and commentary. Hold on to one another, protect those who really need protecting (whether it's a family partner or a child who is learning how to integrate into a social environment where kids have only two parents, instead of four or six), and never forget that you came to this place in a spirit of love and joy.

"I am encouraged that people like Happily are becoming more visible. For the past 25 years one of my most difficult struggles was in helping people who were terrified to let their alternative family be seen in public. Those days are passing, and those of us who have been involved in this area since early on see the ability to talk about things like polyamory or same-gender-parent families in public as a real blessing.

"Many people will disagree with these choices, and it's unlikely that family groupings like polyamory will ever become 'commonplace,' but knowing that these kinds of families exist, that they are our neighbors and sometimes our friends, that happy families can develop even in groups that are not typical is encouraging. As a longtime proponent of honesty in dealing with familial alternatives, I say, 'Be as happy as you can. Your joy is the thing that will eventually quell the commentary.'"

The column first appeared on Yahoo News.


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November 22, 2007

"Kinky sex makes for happy people"

The Georgia Straight (Vancouver)

The cover of Vancouver's alternative paper ("Canada's largest urban weekly") declares, "For a growing number of young adults, swinging and spanking trump monogamy and the missionary position." The article profiles people and places in the local kink scene, and poly gets a section too:

By Pieta Woolley

..."Polyamorists" (those who love more than one person) are finding each other on the Web, and [University of British Columbia] PhD candidate Danielle Duplassie believes their numbers may reach the thousands in B.C. "There seems to be a trend that one person cannot meet all of another person's needs," she told the Straight. "There's certainly a trend to more openness."

...Nine years ago, [Scott] Barnes was 17 and travelling across Canada with his girlfriend. In Montreal he met another woman. He asked his girlfriend, "If I sleep with this other woman, does that mean we have to break up?" She thought that didn't make sense. So Barnes began a two-year "freeing and liberating" sexual era in his life: lots of partners, lots of sex.

...To help himself and others sort through the issues, Barnes started a Facebook group called 'Poly-Monogamy: An Inquiry Into Open Relationships.' After heated online debates and private thoughts, his conclusion is, "Except for those who enshrine a coherent set of principles — like Roman Catholic or fundamentalist Muslim marriage, unless it's that strict — I think everyone wants something different out of their relationships."

That conclusion, and Barnes and [Lulu] West's own histories, are consistent with their demographic, according to sex counsellor [David] McKenzie. Those under 40, he said, are far more willing to try kink and open relationships than their seniors. In the six years since McKenzie started his practice, the biggest change he's seen is the more liberal attitudes of many of his clients toward swinging.

...Monogamy is not working, according to Duplassie, the founder and director of Burnaby's Shanti Counselling Centre.... Her PhD thesis in counselling psychology addresses polyamory. She hopes that a better clinical understanding of the subject will aid counsellors in helping those with more than one partner.

Duplassie started her research when, two years ago, she found herself to be in love with two people. At a conference she attended in Ottawa, she talked about the idea of polyamory.

"My questions were shut down," she told the Straight during an interview at a Commercial Drive coffee shop. "They said, 'I wonder what polyamorists are running away from?' and I thought, 'Wow. That's ignorant.' I wanted to research women who can speak to that experience, without the pathological viewpoint."

What she's found so far is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Vancouverites who identify as polyamorous, and probably many more who consensually have more than one partner without self-labelling. And — apart from the December 2006 issue of the U.K.–based Sexualities online journal, which was devoted to polyamory — there's very little recent academic research on nonmonogamy, Duplassie has found. Canadian laws governing marriage and benefits don't support it; universities don't study it; the pharmaceutical companies would rather medicate low sex drives than promote alternative sexual expression; and society does not yet embrace it, she said. Yet lots and lots of people are doing it....

Read the whole article (issue of November 22–29, 2007). Word is that the author, Pieta Woolley, may be doing more on poly in the future.

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November 21, 2007

WebMD: "The Truth About Open Marriage"


WebMD aims to be the premier source of reliable medical information on the net. Maybe you've heard its ads on the radio. In its Health & Sex Center, an article just went up (Nov. 21, 2007) with an ominous title but remarkably straightforward content about polyamory and those who practice it well. Regular readers here will recognize some of the characters featured.

Couples who practice "polyamory" say it's good for their relationships. Some therapists disagree.

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Feature

Jenny Block often invites her best friend, Jemma, to join her, her husband, and their 8-year-old daughter for dinner. "We might order Chinese and then play Scrabble after dinner," Block says.

It all sounds very Middle America, until you know the rest of the story. Although Block and her husband, Christopher (not his real name), have been married for nearly 11 years, Jemma (not her real name) is Block's other love. They regularly go out on "dates," although Block's daughter knows only that Jemma is a family friend. And Block and her husband go out regularly, too. Block is intimate with both of them.

...Those who practice open relationships or polyamory often say they are "hardwired" this way and that laying the ground rules for multiple relationships spares everyone hurt and disappointment. Not everyone agrees, with some therapists calling the polyamorous model a recipe for hurt, disappointment, jealousy, and breakups. On one point all agree: a "poly" relationship isn't going to work unless all partners are in favor of the arrangement.

...Freedom of choice is a big draw, says Cherie, a 34-year-old technology consultant who is traveling around the country and telecommuting with her partner, Chris, also 34 and in the same business.... "Over the years," she tells WebMD, "I have been involved with a very wide variety of relationships and configurations, from triads, vees, quads, and extended networks. At one time, I even co-purchased a house with three other partners."

Her partner, Chris, says that his heart is "wired" for multiple relationships. Those classic love triangle movies, he tells WebMD, were always frustrating to him. "Why should the hero or heroine have to choose between two partners?" he asks. "Why not have both?"

Franklin Veaux, an ex-partner of Cherie, says he, too, is hardwired to be a polyamorist. "Why does the princess or the prince who lives in a castle have to choose?" he asks. "There is enough room for everyone." He keeps in touch with Cherie through instant messaging, although they are not romantically linked right now.

"Every partner adds something to my life," he says. "All of these things make me a better person." The big attraction, he says, is emotional intimacy. "Everybody adds value to my life."

Those who pursue an "open" or polyamorous relationship are obviously not conventional types, says William Doherty, PhD, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. "There are always some people who want to push the limits of their experiences -- their joy, their ecstasy in life," he says. They feel convention and tradition inhibit them.

...Polyamorists, to their credit, are often open about it, Doherty says. "There is a kind of idealism around these folks," he says. "They want to be completely open and honest about it."

...Some say they learn something about relationship skills from their other partner or partners, something that can be applied with the primary partner.

"Where it becomes threatening is when [partners] think love implies exclusivity," says Veaux. "It's the starvation model of love. That is, if you love two, each gets half of the love. That's not true. Every single person is absolutely unique. Because of that, it means my partners can never be replaced."

...Ground rules are essential before starting a poly relationship, Veaux and others say. Some Internet poly sites offer sample contracts for multiple relationships.

"You have to figure out what the rules are," Weston says. "Otherwise so much could be hurtful."

The increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease is another obvious drawback. Veaux says he is careful about monitoring his sexual health. "I get a general physical once a year, and I'm screened for STDs. Whenever my partnership status changes I am screened again." He asks his partners to do the same. He asks for written proof that his partners are infection-free and provides it to them as well.

To read the whole article, go to the WebMD home page and enter "polyamory" in the search bar.

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November 19, 2007

Loving More leaders go on the Rev. Barry Lynn show

Culture Shocks

Robyn Trask and Jesus V. Garcia of the Loving More nonprofit organization (it runs poly conferences and occasionally publishes Loving More magazine) recently went on Rev. Barry Lynn's radio talk show. They explained Loving More's mission, and themselves as a poly couple, quite excellently.

Rev. Barry Lynn is not that kind of Reverend. He's a leading civil libertarian and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State — a big and effective lobbying group that keeps the theocrats from bending the government to their purposes even more than they already do.

His talk show is called Culture Shocks. It's on five stations. He was respectful, interested, and sympathetic.

Some highlights:

Robyn: The reason we do what we do, and why I believe in this, is about choices. There are a lot of different ways to have relationships, and yet we're only taught one way. And not everybody is going to fit into that one way of doing relationships. Monogamy can be a great choice for a lot of people — but it's not going to be right for everyone.

Jesus: ...One of the reasons why we put on the conferences and workshops and seminars is to educate people that polyamory is a choice for some, it's not a choice for others — that this is another viable option.


Barry Lynn: Is there a tendency for polyamorous people to struggle with the same issues that a monogamous couple would struggle with, and lose partners over the same issues — money, jealousy, sexual incompatibility — and risk it happening more times because you've got more partners?

Jesus: Yes, I have seen that happen quite a bit. Polyamorous relationships do suffer a lot of the same things that monogamous relationships do. As far as the frequency [of those things], I'd have to say they may happen less than in monogamous relationships, mainly because one of the strongest focuses of polyamory is open, honest communication — where in order to be able to maintain more than one in relationship, you need to be able to communicate openly about everything with your partners. So those money issues, those relationship issues, they may or may not be as severe as in monogamous relationships, but they tend to happen with less frequency.


Robyn: It's not necessarily about sex. It's really about the freedom to choose our relationships. For example, when you talk about commitment — Jesus and I have a very strong commitment: to honesty, to our relationship, and to our agreements that we've chosen to make. At the same time, it leaves me open to explore other levels of relationship. I had a partner at one point — not really a partner, but a very intimate friendship with a man — we weren't lovers, but he did sleep with me sometimes. And we weren't sexual. We just cuddled [laughs]. And often in monogamy I wouldn't have been allowed to have that kind of loving relationship with someone.

...It's something to explore, and to explore extremely cautiously. I say that because it takes a lot of honesty and a lot of good relationship skills. If you don't already have them, if you succeed at this you will.


Robyn: About 40 percent of the poly community identifies as bisexual. [Apparently based on the survey of Loving More magazine readers a few years ago and other sources].


Robyn: [Meeting one's metamours] can be quite fun. It also brings an intimacy to friendships and relationships, I've found, when I meet my partner's partner. There's an intimacy in that friendship — if you are friends, that is. You're not always going to like them. But when I do, it brings a deeper friendship with that person.

Listen to the whole show (Nov. 8, 2007).

Loving More is the only credible national organization supporting people who want to try this life and educating the public about it. I think it's doing an excellent job of explaining us to the world while respecting the very wide variety of viewpoints and attitudes under the poly umbrella.

With that in mind, I've donated quite a bit to Loving More and hope you will too. Right now they're money-limited. Their events struggle to break even; some do, some don't. I'm privy to the board of directors' discussions and decisions and can vouch that your donation will be used with integrity.

• The next issue of Loving More magazine should be out soon.

• On February 1 – 3, 2008, Loving More is putting on the third Poly Living conference, at a convention hotel just outside Philadelphia. Loving More is taking over and reviving Poly Living after this event failed to happen last year following the death of its originator George Marvil. (You can read my writeup of what Poly Living 2006 was like.)

• Loving More hopes to put on one-day hotel seminars for the polycurious in various cities in the coming year. The first two events in this new format have been held in Colorado and California and have proved a success.

• The more intimate Loving More weekend retreats continue in July and September in Northern California and upstate New York, respectively.


P. S. Speaking of radio-type stuff: I've just started a new gig as the Poly in the Media reporter for Polyamory Weekly, the hugely successful podcast produced by host cunning minx. Listen to my first show (mp3 file). Yay!

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November 18, 2007

"They've got 'big love,' and they love to talk about it"

Palm Beach Post

In South Florida, Beki Rosenthal and Peter Strowbridge decided not only to be out, but to offer short Poly 101 workshops free to the public. They sought publicity from a local newspaper, which obliged with this nice article (Nov. 17, 2007):

They like to hold hands and look into each other's eyes as they tell you of their deep love. They also practice polyamory. If you are heading for the Merriam Webster, make sure it's not old.... Polyamory is the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at a time, with full knowledge and consent by all partners involved. In other words, it's consensual non-monogamy.

...Rosenthal, a self-employed graphic designer from Boca Raton, and Strowbridge, a licensed massage therapist from Fort Lauderdale, have decided to hold open workshops for people who are considering this love style....

The reaction [Strowbridge] gets most often, when talking of his lifestyle: "You can do that?"

As with a monogamous couple, every polyamorous couple makes their own rules. Rosenthal and Strowbridge's requires constant communication. "In the past relationships, there were always things being hidden, things not stated," says Strowbridge. "Suddenly, I was in a position where I could say exactly how I felt about things."

...Michael Dean Goodman [is] a spiritual teacher and counselor who sees all types of couples and has written articles on nontraditional relationships. Goodman, 60, who divides his time between West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, says that being a polyamorist himself helps him relate to the couples he sees....

...Polyamorists won't tell you this is the only "right" way to be, but simply present it as an alternative.... "I wouldn't try and talk anybody into this," Strowbridge says. "I would just say: This is who I am, and it works wonderfully for me.

"But you have to do it your own way."

Read the whole article.

If you're out, maybe this'll inspire you to do it in your community?

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November 17, 2007

"And Baby Makes Four"


Babble.com, "the magazine and community for a new generation of parents," features a heartwarming story from a tightly-bonded triad about having a baby together and raising her with two mommies and a daddy.

By Miriam Axel-Lute

"Why do some kids have three parents?"

A group of our friends were spending a weekend at a cabin in the mountains, and our hosts' not-quite-three-year-old was starting to do the math. Over the squalls of nap-resisting toddlers, her mom responded without missing a beat: "Because they're lucky."

Living in a committed multiple-adult household always takes some explaining. In a nutshell: My wife and I were college girlfriends and had a commitment ceremony more than ten years ago. Our husband joined our family in 2001, and we had a three-way wedding in 2005. We own a house and car together and are equal co-parents (or as equal as you can be when one person is breastfeeding) to our one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

It used to be that the most common questions we got when we explained our relationship involved jealousy (not a problem, but an understandable question) or sleeping arrangements (why this is so often the first thing people think of is beyond me).

But once I became pregnant, things changed. No matter how traditional the person or how new the idea was to them, we'd most often get a pause, a misty-eyed look, and then, "That sounds like a good idea. I could have used an extra parent."

I've definitely been known to describe our current set-up as having my cake and eating it too: I work from home, my husband works out-of-the-home, and my wife stays with my daughter. We get to have two incomes, neither of which would support the family on its own, and a stay-at-home parent. I get to do work I love and continue to breastfeed, without even pumping.

...There's no question in my family about who is a parent. All three of us went to every prenatal appointment. My wife cut the cord at the birth and is on the birth certificate as the witness. We took the same last name so as to share a family name with our children. We paid way too much money to a lawyer to draw up a co-parenting agreement so that our intentions are crystal clear, even though the state of New York would consider it an unenforceable contract. My daughter just learned to pronounce "Mommy" and "Mama" differently...

Like preschoolers everywhere who point out sets of big, medium, and small things as the daddy, the mommy, and the baby, the daughter of another three-parent family I know identifies three-parent groupings wherever she goes, finding mama, daddy, and papa in what look to our untrained eyes like the oddest places. In a nativity scene, for example, with Mary, one of the three kings, and the shepherd who happens to be standing nearest by....

Even when relationships do end, having an additional person intimately involved can be a real strength. When both biological parents of another former triad I know were having mental health issues and going through a painful breakup, their daughter was able to go live with her other dad — a man who had never been related to her by blood or marriage, but who had been a part of her family since she was born and whom she knew as Dad....

Here's the whole article, and here's the print-friendly version to avoid the annoying ads. And add your thoughts to the comments.

I learned about the article from AOL Newsbloggers, where a discussion of the article is growing rapidly. Go pile in!


While we're at it, here are three poly parenting sites:

• The Children of Poly section of the Polyamorous Percolations forums.

LovingMorePolyparent, a Yahoo group.

• The Polyamorous Misanthrope's poly parenting columns, by Noel Figart. In particular, her column "But What About the Children?".

• Also: read advice on how not to have poly used against you effectively in child custody disputes (from the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund).

Update, December 2008: A huge poly parenting discussion thread has been running for the last six months at Mothering.Com, with 570 entries and 50,000 reader views.


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November 16, 2007

Woodhull event addresses poly

Edge (Philadelphia)

Anyone interested in non-mainstream sexuality, carried on in an ethical manner, should know about two organizations: the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Do take a look.

The latter (named for 19th-century free love pioneer Victoria Woodhull) recently held its first annual Sexual Freedom Forum in Philadelphia.

by Matthew E. Pilecki

...Co-founder and executive director Ricci Levy said the so-called sexual freedom movement encompasses every person and every issue around sexuality and sexual expression, including reproductive choice and comprehensive sexuality education. "All issues that you could think of are advocated for under the banner of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right," Levy explained.

The concept of sexual freedom... gained renewed attention after the World Association of Sexologists drafted a list of 13 sexual rights during its 1997 meeting in Spain. Former Surgeon General David Satcher and others later concluded organized religion and socially conservative attitudes towards sex remain serious obstacles to the expansion of sexual freedom.

...Ignacio Rivera, a transgender man of color who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., agreed. He founded Shades of Poly after he could not find an online group geared specifically towards polyamorous (those who have simultaneous relationships with more than one person) people of color....

Read the whole article (Oct. 10, 2007). Edge is one of a chain of gay newspapers by the same name in 11 cities. (Warning: mildly explicit ads.)

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November 15, 2007

Poly rules couples use

The Stranger (Seattle)

Alt-columnist Mistress Matisse lists 20 dating-and-mating rules that poly couples of her acquaintance have agreed to follow. Or not.

What I’m giving you here are not Official Poly Rules You Must Obey. They are simply examples of the kinds of things you might agree to. Hopefully these will provide you with a jumping-off place for your own discussion.

• Certain days/times are always reserved for us to be together alone.

• We agree to use safer sex practices, and we specify exactly what that means.

• I must approve your new partner before you sleep with him/her.

• We’re a package deal — we only date/have sex as a couple.

• No sexual behavior with other people in front of me....

...As you can see, you won’t adopt all these rules, and they speak to very different ways of being poly. And no matter what rules you set, if you keep doing poly, they will evolve and change as you gain experience. When you’re first venturing into new territory, having rules can make people feel safer. Eventually, however, most poly rules wind up being made to be broken — but only when you both want them to be.

Read the whole list (Oct. 31, 2007).

Frankly, to me some of them sound more explosive than the problems they're supposed to prevent. Boundaries are good to declare and respect — but fears and insecurities need to be addressed at their root, say I, and rules that you set up to protect your fears and insecurities should be seen as temporary band-aids, not as cures. And be aware that an un-aired wound under a band-aid may fester.

On the other hand, here are six sound agreements, IMHO:

• Communicate everything all around that might be important to the relationship.

• If you're afraid to say it, that means you should say it (tip o' the hat to Marcia Baczynski).

• Listening is to be done in a respectful way that encourages further divulging.

• Any agreement that is in effect is not to be broken, period.

• Any agreement can be opened for rediscussion at any time. (And the agreements should be reviewed periodically — at the start of every even-numbered month? — regardless.)

• Anyone may end an agreement unilaterally by leaving the relationship. (This is simple reality, but good to spotlight upfront.)

Oh yes, take notes — and save them where all parties can find and reread them in a pinch.



November 14, 2007

Sandra Day O'Connor: "Not Jealous"

Associated Press and elsewhere

The public tends to think polyamorists must be young, hot, and wild. We look around and see a lot of the middle aged and ordinary (at least in the circles I hang with). But there is another, often poignant, locus of it at the far end of life, as those of us with parents in retirement communities and nursing homes sometimes know.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, 77, now finds herself as one wing of a sort of a V — with her full approval — involving her Alzheimer's-patient husband:

A new page in O'Connors' love story

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's husband, who suffers from Alzheimer's, has found a new romance, and his happiness is a relief to his wife, an Arizona TV report reveals....

"Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn't complaining," Scott, 50, told KPNX-Channel 12 in Phoenix in a story that aired Thursday.... Scott compared his father to "a teenager in love" and said, "For Mom to visit when he's happy... visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands," was a relief after a painful period.

...Peter Reed, senior director of programs at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, said the frequency of Alzheimer's patients forming new romantic relations is hard to estimate. "But the underlying causes of this are fairly common," he said. Though patients lose their cognitive abilities and experience mood changes, "one of the things that doesn't go away is the need for relationships."

"Justice O'Connor is certainly to be commended for... raising awareness and helping to reduce stigmas," he said.

Read the whole article. Here is a report from the Phoenix TV station where the story originated. Here's the Arizona Republic story.

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November 5, 2007

"Du und ich und ich und er"
("You and I and me and him")

Die Tageszeitung (Daily News), Berlin

A progressive daily newspaper in Germany, often aligned with the Green Party, presents what looks like a good introduction to what polyamory is about. Here's some of what I make of it (with lots of help from Google Language Tools):


Karin's second wedding ring hangs from a chain around her neck. The other, the official one, is on her ring finger. "Unfortunately," says the 47-year-old, "in Germany you can't marry several partners." Rainer, her husband, 53, sits at the other end of the couch and nods, smiling. In addition to Karin he has "between two and five relationships, depending on how you look at it." They've been a couple for 20 years and married for nine. For about five years, they've called themselves "polyamorous" or simply "poly."

...In contrast to an "open relationship," [polys] emphasize emotional attachments to several people. Sex is a possibility but is not the decisive factor. A polyamorous relationship involves readiness for complete equality, honesty, and communication....

Polyamorists share their experiences in Internet forums, and groups also exist in larger cities. Overall, the scene in Germany has a few hundred active members.... Books like Breakfast for Threesomes [Ein Frühstück zu Dritt: Leben und lieben in Mehrfachbeziehungen] serve as guides....

...For the last few months [26-year-old Juliet] has written in her blog, polyamor.blog.de, the everyday thoughts of a young poly woman. She quotes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke: "The more love you give, the more of it you have." Sounds good; sounds simple. But it's not.

"Living polyamory is hard work," says Martin, 35, host of the website polyamor.de. "This way of life requires complete honesty and constant communication with each other." Any doubts, any harmful feelings or jealousy must be addressed....

Okay, from here on I can't resist putting up the raw Google Translator, just for hilarity:

Zerfasert not love, when they split, fragmented, it divides? Will not be the last refuge for romance to the consumer society barters away? "In my opinion, you can only Polyamorer a doubt love other people," says Martin. "Suppose you been in a stable two-heritage drawing. Routine has crept. And then you are at a party and meet a person who you will find incredibly exciting. As Mono gamer you make accusations, zweifelst to love your partner and with your partner. You are under pressure decision, you are unhappy."

(James Thurber would have loved that.)

...For Karin and Rainer... more important is to last remnants monogamer embossing rid: "In the past our common bed was always closed," says Karin. "I was not jealous of his sexual contacts with other women, but I took our common bed as a safe shelter, the only one of us. But now is no longer a problem." Recently, she said, she could be just in Hamburg at Holger's, her second husband, was, as Rainer they called on the phone. "He was so happy. He was just in love and I had to tell." Rainer grins. Then he tells how he, for the first time, Karin and Holger sexual zusah and he dazulegte. And then grin both.

Sounds hot. Here's the whole article, in German (Nov. 2, 2007).

The paper put up a poll asking its readers whether they could be happy in a poly situation. Of about 1,400 who replied, 47% said yes, monogamy is unnatural; 31% said maybe, with jealousy always present; and 22% said no, two loves would negate each other.

Updates: Sprechen Sie Deutsch? A German-language poly community has sprung up on LiveJournal. Here are its posts tagged as being about poly in German-language media.

See also Liste der deutschsprachigen polyamoren Treffen.

Also: planetpoly.org/deutsch.

Also: polyamor.blog.de, and see the section "Poly in den Medien" (right-hand column, scroll down).

Also on the same site: Presseschnipsel.


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November 1, 2007

Dear Margo weighs in

Many newspapers

"Dear Margo" (Margo Howard, daughter of the late Ann Landers) is one of the top newspaper advice columnists. Today she put out this:

Kind of Like Unofficial Polygamy

DEAR MARGO: I am a very happily married woman with a problem: well-intentioned friends and family. My husband and I are polyamorous and not ashamed of it. We have wonderful girlfriends who are special and a part of our family. The problem is that people assume we are on the verge of divorce, etc. Other than an indelicate "Butt out," is there any way to get them to see that we are really happy and stable? We've been married for five years.


(For square readers like me who might need a trip to the dictionary, I will save you some time. "Polyamorous" is the name for multiple sexual relationships within marriage — in this case involving both spouses.)

DEAR HAP: You may not be ashamed of it, but you have to know that this arrangement would strike most people as being somewhere between odd and morally wrong, it being quite far from the norm. I am not sure why you felt the need to breeze it around that you and your husband have "wonderful girlfriends."

Because you have, however, essentially invited people to "butt in," you are a little bit stuck in terms of asking them to butt out. I guess the only way to prove yourselves happy and stable is for you two to continue to thrive with your, uh, wonderful girlfriends.


Here's where to write to Margo. But before flaming off, think about what Kit has to say in the discussion now boiling at the LiveJournal Polyamory site: although Margo needs some catching up on what polyamory is (it's not only for married people, and qualifiers like "ethical" and "with full knowledge and agreement of all concerned" need to be in there), the woman who wrote in is inevitably going to get reactions from people close to her if she's out about having an unusual life, so Margo's answer may be on target.

In any case, please write in such a way as to increase respect for us rather than diminish it. "Be a credit to your kink."

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