Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

December 30, 2007

"El poliamor, uno para todos, y todos para uno" (with translation)

Público (Spain)

Público, a new daily newspaper in Spain with a left/progressive orientation, has just presented a first-rate introduction to polyamory and its enthusiastic advocates in Spain. Juliette Siegfried of Barcelona, whose triad is is profiled in the article, is known on English-language poly discussion sites as Ktylove. Here is her translation of the article:

Polyamory: One for all and all for one

by ANTONIO GONZÁLEZ — Madrid — Dec. 26, 2007

A new emotional concept suggests the possibility of romantic, long term, honest relationships with various people, but without getting married.

Roland has been married to Juliette for more than 10 years. At the same time, he has maintained a romantic — and sexual — relationship for some months with Laurel, with the complete knowledge and approval of his wife, who gets along very well with her husband’s new girlfriend.

Both women can also have other relationships and Roland, apparently, doesn’t mind. No one would say that American Juliette Siegfried, 40, Britisher Roland Combes of the same age, and American Laurel Avery, 32, form a typical family (as they themselves affirm), but instead they are an ideal example of polyamory.

This concept, born in California in the 1960’s, describes an emotional relationship between various people, and is based on honesty and mutual sincerity, and in which jealousy, they say, has no place. Polyamorists are clear that their relationships are not merely sexual, as happens with swingers (partner-swapping), but instead involves relationships with an emotional connection.

The three have decided to go public in Público to help make this lifestyle known, which is quite the minority in Spain, where those confirmed to be polyamorous number around 500 but are expanding.

Juliette, who runs an internet polyamory group, has lived in Spain with her husband for almost five years, and she proudly confirms that in Barcelona, where they have lived since June, more and more people attend the monthly group meetings. However, Roland sees Spaniards as reticent about this new lifestyle and notes that “For many, the main obstacle is jealousy.”

No Secrets

Roland says that there is no “approval process” for someone to enter into a polyamorous relationship with them. “If Juliette falls in love with someone, that person will usually begin coming to our meetings or going out to eat with us. I will never say to my wife “I don’t like him,” because we have a natural confidence that we’re not going to choose inappropriate people or people that will be very bad for us,” Roland explains.

For Juliette it’s essential that there are no secrets, although she notes that in her case, she doesn’t want to know every detail of every encounter. Other polyamorists are interested in that kind of detail, and there is no standard model of a polyamorous relationship. Along the same lines, there are groups in which all the members are sexually involved with each other, particularly if there are bisexuals, and other groups in which all members are not physically involved, as in the case of Juliette and Laurel.

Juliette says that “There are no limits” to the number of people in a polyamorous relationship, but that it is impossible “to have time for many people,” particularly, notes Roland, “if you want to have a stable, loving, quality relationship.” “The fundamental concept is honestly, and the rest is very open,” says Roland, and he concludes by saying that he believes the government should support this type of union.

Along with the emotional aspects, polyamorists have to confront the consequences in terms of daily life and sexual health, of having multiple partners at the same time. Polyamorists maintain that the risk of suffering a sexually transmitted disease may be less than that of a monogamous couple, since, in their case, they have more frequent STD tests. In addition, all the partners know about the other partners, which doesn’t usually happen in traditional relationships.

“We are tested regularly, much more often than monogamous people,” says Laurel, who believes that in Spain, many women are not surprised about the possibility that their partners are being unfaithful. In any case, Juliette says that it’s “fundamental” to always use condoms or appropriate barriers with partners outside the primary couple, to avoid problems. Her husband Roland affirms “honesty protects us better than the hidden sex experienced in many monogamous relationships.”

In terms of children, Roland, Juliette and Laurel don’t have any, although they know polyamorous families that do. “We love the idea of raising children in households of more than two adults, in fact we don’t want to do it with only two, because it’s too much work. Family groups with children do very well,” says Juliette.

The Battle Against Prejudice

The majority of Spanish polyamorists only fully share and develop their way of life among those who think similarly. They keep it secret from their families and work environments, for fear of the possible consequences.

“There is a lot of sexual hypocrisy. If you know it will upset your parents or that they’ll criticize you at work, you keep quiet. We’re not trying to upset anyone or damage our professional credibility,” explains Ana (a false name), a 42-year-old physician from Madrid, who believes that there are “many more polyamorists than it seems.”

Ana has been married for 21 years to Juan, a 40-year-old graphic designer who also did not want to share his real identity, and who confirms that in the majority of monogamous couples, “they lie; they don’t tell the other what they are doing.”

For her part, Patricia, a 25-year-old bisexual sociologist who also prefers to give a false name, believes that all structures can be valid in polyamory. “There are trios, quads, and all can be involved with each other. However there are other groups that are more like a network based on one primary couple,” she explains.

Juan wants to be clear that polyamory is not some sort of sect, particularly since “there are no fixed norms” other than “honesty above all.” Regardless, he says, “jealousy can arise, but this also happens with monogamous couples.”

“Love without Limits”

For model Lilian Kimberly Jeronimo, from the Canary Islands, who has no problem revealing her identity for the cause, polyamory is “love without limits.” Lilian has a primary partner, with whom she has a 4-year relationship, and a secondary partner, a monogamous man with whom she’s been for a year, since they began living polyamorously.

At the same time, she has relationships with two special friends, with whom she maintains a friendship that is “deep and sincere, and can go beyond friendship.” Her dream is to build a “polyamorous family in the future,” and she doesn’t rule out having children.

Lilian Kimberly, who is also an animal rights activist, believes that polyamory in Spain could develop similarly to the gay movement, and she is willing to fight for it. The model, who recognizes that before becoming polyamorous she was “rather possessive,” concludes that when there is excellent communication between partners, jealousy disappears.

See the original article. Spanish speakers, join in the comments there!

Juliette in the article invites people to check out her Spanish-language polyamory site:

A few years ago I started a Yahoogroup in Spanish [Poliamor]. It has grown to include a couple hundred members, although not all in Spain — Central and South America are represented as well.

It's gone well enough that I am working on a new website in Spanish: www.poliamor.net. There is currently a HUGE demand for information in Spain, so I'm hoping it will be a valuable resource to offer.

She asks for volunteers to help with the sites.



There's also an active Spanish-language Yahoo group Poliamor en Mexico.



Following Ktylove's example, antidote73 posted:

I would like to leave here some links and info pertinent for all poly-people or poly-interested living in Portugal or in portuguese speaking countries or who would like to share and discuss in portuguese:

Poliamor (http://www.poliamor.pt.to/): main portal, in portuguese, spanish and english, redirects to all other information resources.

Poly Portugal Yahoo group.

We are trying now to make a very concentrated effort to bring most of the polyamorous people living currently in Portugal in the mailing list so that organisation and information of parties, discussions, meetings, dinners gets easier and more convenient.

Labels: , ,

December 26, 2007

The "Symbol Over Substance mistake"

The Stranger (Seattle)

More thoughtful advice from Seattle alt-advice columnist Mistress Matisse:

There are rules in polyamory that are like training wheels. They're helpful when you're starting out, but once you have the hang of multiple love relationships, they create problems rather than solve them. Consider what I call the Symbol Over Substance mistake....

Read the whole article (Dec. 26, 2007).


December 23, 2007

Swinging in the news

Newsweek and elsewhere

The tension between polys and swingers is legendary. The stereotype on the poly side is that swingers are superficial players, shockingly careless about safer sex, more burdened with mainstream baggage than they imagine, and sometimes not too bright. The swinger stereotype about polys is that we're all talk and no action, deep into angsty processing, and elitist. There are kernels of truth on both sides, but of course most people don't fit these molds.

The fact is, there's a lot of crossover. Many people have happily settled in somewhere between the ends of the spectrum: "swollies." Couples who swing sometimes develop a deep (even exclusive) life relationship with another couple. Some were looking for polyamory without knowing it and just found the swing world first because it's so much bigger and better organized. And on the other side, some polys have nothing against a bit of friendly NSA (no-strings-attached) sex with near-strangers at a monthly party.

Swinging has been a part of American life since the 1950s; it supposedly began among military families in postwar California. The public often associates swingers with the 1970s: shag rugs, disco balls, polyester. But in recent years, swinging has grown in numbers and organization.

And it is getting a new uptick in mainstream notice. This is sure to increase when the CBS drama "Swingtown", about suburban-Chicago swingers in the 1970's, debuts on mainstream broadcast TV. (The show was scheduled to premier in January, but the Hollywood writers' strike has delayed it probably until late spring or summer.)

Newsweek just published a long feature article about a swing club in a private home near Dallas that was recently busted after complaints about noise and traffic. Party-site shutdowns like this happen all the time nationwide; see the media updates by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSF. But they don't usually get featured in a national newsmagazine:

Suburban swingers

By Gretel C. Kovach

Jim Trulock and Julie Norris look like an average suburban Dallas couple. He's a graying middle-aged divorcé pushing 60. She's 30 years younger but partial to frumpy floral dresses. But on weekends their late-'70s split-level house in the southwestern Dallas suburb of Duncanville is transformed into "The Cherry Pit." Tubs of whipped cream are laid out with the chips and dip on the yellow Formica countertop. A garland of thong panties adorns a kitchen wall. After a game of Naked Twister or a turn under the disco ball, Jim and Julie and their most intimate friends might pile into their steamy oversize hot tub. And for the, ahem, climax of the night? A semiprivate romp in a side bedroom or a more gregarious encounter on white sheets in "the pit": a half-dozen beds pushed together in front of the fireplace.

Jim and Julie are swingers — couples who socialize sexually with other couples or singles living "the lifestyle," as they call it. Surprisingly, the Cherry Pit parties held in the Texan notch of the Bible Belt went relatively unnoticed for years, despite attendance of sometimes 100 or more invited guests....

...One common misconception about swingers, [Norris] says, is that they have troubled relationships. "Many people who are swingers believe that it saved their marriage. Now it's part of their marriage and part of who they are. But it has to be something you need or are interested in."

...No one knows how many swingers there are, but there is a growing number of Web sites, clubs and resorts that cater to the swinging lifestyle. Robert McGinley, founder and president of NASCA (informally known as the North America Swing Club Association)... now 74, became an activist for the swinging lifestyle almost 40 years ago with his wife. Today there are swinger clubs operating as public businesses or gatherings in private homes in almost every major city in America, he says....

Read the whole article (Dec. 14, 2007).

Another article, from the Chicago Tribune last August:

Swingers' Sexploits

by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

Were it not for the hard-core porn flickering continuously on the TV, you might have thought it a regular house party. A DJ was spinning hip-hop. Guests chatted casually over a buffet of fried turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and bundt cake.

But the one-year anniversary bash this month for Tha Sex Kittens — a Chicago "adult social group" that includes couples, bisexual women and some single men....

Though swingers play behind closed doors, the lifestyle is alive and well in the U.S. — and growing, thanks to the Internet. On weekend nights in the Chicago area, the sexually uninhibited can find parties where partner-sharing is the norm.

On the second floor, two "invitation-only" rooms with neatly made beds awaited couples seeking company for their sexual escapades. A separate "ladies only" room beckoned women with bisexual tendencies.

...The annual Lifestyles Convention in Las Vegas this month drew some 2,200 people for a full weekend of swinging.

"All you have to do is look at the prevalence of adultery," said James Fleckenstein, president and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Relationships, the Herndon, Va.-based foundation for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. "Some people are willing to come to terms with this natural tendency and say, 'Is there something we can do that will strengthen our relationship and not destroy it?'"

While there's no official number, an estimated 2 million to 4 million people in the U.S. participate in swinging....

Read the whole article (Aug. 24, 2007).

A Reuters business report about the financial side:

Swingers are growth business for U.S. firms

By Adam Tanner

LAS VEGAS, Aug 20, 2007 (Reuters) — Matt Virtue, who works as a consultant at a Washington law firm, says he spends more than $10,000 a year to attend conventions, hotels and clubs where he and his girlfriend can have sex with other partners.

"Any other hobby that I was into at 40 years old is going to cost me $10,000," he said from a hot tub he was sharing with his girlfriend and a couple with whom they had been intimate the night before. "Dude, I'm addicted to it, there is no doubt about it."

Such enthusiasm has turned what were once private passions into a multimillion dollar business. Lifestyles Organization, the nation's largest swinger services company, has annual sales of about $15 million.

Swingers also bring in millions of dollars to specialty clubs and hotels in the United States as well as Jamaica, Mexico, France and elsewhere.

...Conventions bring Lifestyles $4 million in annual sales; their travel business booking swinging guests into resorts such as Hedonism II in Jamaica or Desire in Mexico bring in another $10 million to $12 million a year, McGinley said.

"We relax our already liberal rules to accommodate the Lifestyles Organization and make the entire resort clothing-optional," explained Richard Bourke, general manager of Hedonism II. He said Lifestyles Organization books $2 million of rooms a year over six contracted weeks....

Several hundred clubs nationwide also cater to swingers. Jeff James, who works for Club Freedom Acres in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, said 225 to 260 couples visit on a typical Saturday night, paying $85 each, with a similar number on Fridays paying $65. "It's doubled in daily attendance in the last three years," he said....

Read the whole article.

And here's an ABC-TV Nightline report from a year ago highlighting the recently opened Desire resort (Dec. 15, 2006).

Here are my entries from the last two years that involve swinging in the news.


December 10, 2007

"The Case For Open Relationships"

Huffington Post

Rachel Kramer Bussel, a widely published erotica author, wrestles with questions of nonmonogamy in her Huffington Post column. She does a nice job discussing various forms of poly and semi-poly, their possibilities and perils.

[Being faithful is] something I've thought a good deal about, so I decided to look not at monogamy as a goal, but as a social construct. First let me say that if you are in a monogamous relationship, I encourage you to stay within the rules of your relationship, or speak to your partner, rather than simply cheat. But I do believe that monogamy has become fetishized as the only answer to a large degree, with the result being that many people are either locked into relationships they aren't happy with, or are conducting affairs on the side and feeling guilty about it (or not).

This was all brought home to me last week, when I had one of the strangest dinner conversations I've ever had....

...Another friend, Tess, is in an open marriage; she doesn't have sex with her husband anymore, but takes outside lovers. He's free to as well, but as far as she knows, he doesn't.... I know a married couple where they're allowed to make out with other people, and take advantage of this rule. I know a triad (one man and two women) who live together quite happily, and are raising children together. One friend described her multiple committed relationships as being "like Big Love, without the patriarchy."

Many who've struggled with monogamy's constraints have concluded that, for various reasons, it's just not for them.... What really seems important to me in relationships these days, is not choosing monogamy, but choosing openness, authenticity, trust and communication.

...Please note that open relationships aren't for everyone. It's not as simple and easy as it may look from the outside. The polyamorous people I know put a lot of time and effort into all of their relationships to make sure everyone's on the same page. Lastly, this is not an either/or choice you must make now and stick with forever. Some couples drift in and out of monogamy depending on what works best for them at any given time. And polyamory is not a panacea; if you think you'll cure any and all sexual longings or be free of jealousy simply by taking on new partners, you're probably in for a rude awakening. I can't say whether monogamy's right for you or not, only that monogamy clearly isn't right for everyone, or we wouldn't have the levels of cheating and divorce that we do.

Read the whole article (Dec. 10, 2007). And join in the comments.

The article was picked up by AlterNet (Dec. 15, 2007), where a new set of comments is collecting.

"Rachel Kramer Bussel is probably the best contemporary writer of erotica," says a commenter. "Her acute psychological insights make her the Henry James of the genre."


December 8, 2007

Poly Boston gets reviewed

The Bostonist

Poly Boston is a big, disorganized crowd of people and FOAFs (friends-of-a-friend) with only occasional signs of structure. It caught the attention of The Joiner, a weekly columnist for The Bostonist (an about-your-city blogsite with branches covering many cities).

Every two weeks, The Joiner joins a local organization or scene that you probably never knew existed, and writes about it. His review of Poly Boston was diligent and on target. (I'm a member of it myself.)

There is no sign or banner, but it is easy to find the Tuesday meeting of Poly Boston at Somerville's Diesel Cafe. Just look for the people who are hugging each other.

"Poly people are openly affectionate," admitted Jonathan Woodward, an outgoing polyamorous professional. "But not more so than a monogamous couple might be."

Diesel is a terrible place to hold a meeting. Last night, Poly Boston members crowded in clusters around three or four tables in the back of the coffeehouse, which is cavernous and loud. There is no demarcation between Poly Boston's meeting space and the rest of the cafe, which, if Yelp.com is to be believed, causes some anxiety among certain other patrons.

But, for a group that stresses the normality of its lifestyle choices, it's a fitting way to meet....

Polyamory is not the only interest that members of Poly Boston share. Many are active in science fiction fandom, for example. And, since they are overwhelmingly tech professionals (with a massage therapist here and a social worker there), members might spend more time talking about life behind a desk than life with multiple partners.

"It's really a good chance to socialize with likeminded people. We're all operating outside the mainstream in certain ways, and we can just sort of be comfortable with each other," said a ten-year Poly Boston member....

...Overwhelmingly, Poly Boston serves as a forum to discuss shared interests that aren't polyamory. Science fiction novels were scattered across the tables at Diesel last night. ("Are you actually reading that? That's the novel that almost made me not like Iain Banks," quipped one member.) Topics like "compersion," which Jonathan Woodward defined as "the feeling of happiness you get when you watch your loved one being happy with someone else," are simply the norm. Polyamory is the background for everything else...."

Read the whole article (Dec, 5, 2007).

By the way, if you're in the Boston area, just showing up at the Diesel is not a good way to break in. There is no host. If no one knows you, no one will pay attention to you, and if you try, you may get cold-shouldered as a possible weird horny cruiser. Instead, join the announcement and chat lists, introduce yourself and start a conversation on the latter, and see if you can find someone who will meet you and introduce you around.

Much more welcoming are the separate monthly dinners, held near the Alewife T Station, where newbies are invited and warmly accepted, and the occasional dim sums and brunches in Chinatown and elsewhere.