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

January 31, 2008

"Love Big"

Whole Life Times, and others

Whole Life Times is one of a chain of several good-looking monthly magazines about New Age, "conscious living," and health-food topics that are distributed free in health-food stores and similar outlets. Articles are shared within the chain — so the edition in your city may already have this fine piece that introduces ethical polyamory to readers who may not have heard of it.

For a growing number of sexual adventurers, commitment doesn’t equal exclusivity, and the possibility for meaningful connection is only as limited as your capacity to love.

By Andy Isaacson

Hallmark doesn’t make Valentine’s Day cards for triads. Nor does it for quads, or vees, which may best describe the geometry of Jeffrey, Meredith and John’s relationship.

Meredith is a 33-year-old teacher in Seattle; Jeffrey, a 35-year-old software engineer, is her husband. They’ve been married five years, have a baby son, and as Jeffrey puts it, imagine “holding hands and walking around parks together at eighty.” John is Meredith’s new boyfriend.

...The “desire for sexual variety” is a hard-wired temptation. For men, notes evolutionary psychologist David Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, the payoff is greater reproductive success, but nonmonogamy has also historically offered women access to more diverse genes and the additional resources that men tend to give the women they have sex with....

Monogamous relationships are precariously bound by a contract to resist this primal urge. We agree to sexual fidelity with our partners because the thought of them with someone else would break our hearts. But that fragile construct is routinely broken: Nearly half of respondents in an MSNBC.com poll last year admitted they had been unfaithful at some point in their lives. One in five adults in monogamous relationships have cheated on their current partner.

One result of the poll, however — that 40 percent fooled around with a friend and 35 percent with a co-worker — gets to the philosophical heart of polyamory, which distinguishes itself from other forms of nonmonogamy by its emphasis on forming loving connections. “In swinging,” explains Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol, author of Polyamory: The New Love Without Limit, “they have sex first, and maybe they become friends later. In polyamory, people become friends first, and maybe they have sex later.” Such distinctions are simplistic, Anapol concedes — the spectrum of nonmonogamy is various shades of gray — but have served to legitimize the practice, to some extent, as a more principled way to be nonmonogamous. “Polyamory tends to present [itself] as the modern, pragmatic, grown-up version of free love,” notes the blog Freaksexual.

Although relationships that look something like polyamory have long existed... coinage of the term in the early 90s gave polyamory a new cultural voice.... Having a language and a support network “makes the whole experience intelligible,” says Lara, a 34-year-old grad student in Chicago who has an open relationship with her partner of 10 years, Jon. “The emotional highs and lows, the anxieties, fear or jealousy — I can make sense of it all, because I know that other people have gone through it.”

...“Polyamory was a seductive ideal,” says David, a 33-year-old therapist in Berkeley, who for a time explored multiple partners with his girlfriend Raina. “There’s a thrill-seeking edge. It’s evocative. It does break up the idea of ‘you belong to me,’ which is a suffocating model for a relationship, and exposes you to limitless possibilities. It’s also very dramatic, since you never know what’s going to happen. But there’s so much emotional material that gets activated, it can also be nonstop processing with your partner. Ultimately, I just didn’t want to be in that energy all the time.”

...If a relationship doesn’t have a solid foundation, the outcome of opening it up to other partners can be disastrous. But on the other hand, it can yield great returns. Multiple relationships, says Dr. Anapol, offer “more opportunities to have both your strengths and weaknesses reflected. You can bring together the polarities of security and freedom, depth and variety.”...

Adding another sexual partner takes work, “But is that any different from adding a child, or for that matter, your ailing grandparent?” asks Dossie Easton.... “If we put this in a nonsexual context we get some idea of our abilities and capacities.” Polyamory, she adds, can even be a way of building extended families in an era when couples tend to live away from their own. “We don’t tend to have the grandmothers and cousins and uncles available to help out with the work of child rearing these days. Many people have built their poly relationship to serve exactly those needs.”

Read the whole article.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article has better reporting than a lot of the sloppy reporting in the "serious" news media. Good show.

Although my respect for the magazine dropped when I read another article in it against fluoridated water, which was just long-discredited conspiracy mongering. Same tired made-up stuff as used to come from the John Birch Society (as satirized in Dr. Strangelove, which was made in the early 1960s!).

Which gets to my beef with New Age culture in general: it's so brilliant about values and ideals, and then cripples itself tragically by being so awful about facts and evidence.

February 04, 2008 11:59 AM  

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