Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

March 28, 2008

"Open Relationships: What the World Already Has"

The Huffington Post

Jenny Block, whose book Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage will be published on June 1st, got a column into the influential news-blog site The Huffington Post (March 27, 2008). She talks about one of the commonest reactions people have to polyamory, one that drives polys up the wall.

Sex and love make people crazy. Not by experiencing them. By talking about them. And right now, a lot of people are talking about open marriage and polyamory....

...It seems to me that having the illusion of monogamy is what people are truly interested in. Otherwise, they wouldn't stray while giving lip service to the party line.... So as far as open relationships or polyamory being in any way deviant or even unusual for that matter, I don't see how that's possible. Unless you consider honesty deviant and unusual.

I'm polyamorous. I'm in an open marriage. And I'm honest about it. The stronger people's reactions to that honesty are, the clearer it becomes that their reactions have little to nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. If one is cheating, the thought of being honest is a scary proposition.... My question is this — Why is it that deceitful, don't-ask-don't-tell non-monogamy is socially acceptable (don't kid yourself, it is), and honest non-monogamy is not?

....The reason is simple. If I can be polyamorous, tell the truth about it, and be successful in my relationship, then the implication is that it could work for others too. And there is nothing more terrifying than feeling like you're not strong enough to go out on a limb and attempt something that might actually improve your life. Better to yell, "Freak!" at those who are trying. And then everyone doing the yelling — unhappy, cheating, or just plain judgmental — feel themselves in the "right" and thus in the clear.

As for those people with no reaction to my choice, or those who simply say "It's not my thing. But good for you," it seems readily apparent that they are the ones for whom the choice to be monogamous really does work....

Read the whole article (March 27, 2008), and leave a comment. You can also leave a rating at the Yahoo News reprint of the article.

Block says there will be more of these columns. She has posted to public sites,

I'll be writing regularly for Huffington Post on the subject of polyamory, and I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions the group might have about what I should write about there.


March 26, 2008

"How Many's a Crowd?"

The Diamondback
(University of Maryland)

A student newspaper features polyamory on campus with a big graphic on the top of its front page today:

March 26, 2008

...A growing relationship type among university students, polyamory is the practice of intimately and openly dating several people at once. Different from an open relationship, polyamory is not just about sex, nor is it about playing the field, say students involved in the practice. Instead, it’s about caring for several people at the same time — just in different ways.

“We are just trying to be open and honest about our ability to love more than one person at a time,” Marly Davidson, an event organizer for the Chesapeake Polyamory Network, said.

...“I’m so busy,” Rock said. “I kind of feel bad not giving the person enough attention as they deserve. In polyamory, it’s easier for the person to get the attention they need when I can’t provide it.”

...“I pretty much can do what I’m used to doing,” Moser said. “If I meet someone, I don’t have to be like ‘Oh my God, will my boyfriend not like me talking to this guy?’ I am able to not have to worry about the jealousy factor.”

Read the whole article. It was followed in a few days by this letter to the editor:

...What truly baffled me was that some of the statements made in the article do not promote polyamory, but instead take a critical stab at those of us who find a monogamous relationship completely satisfying.

Marly Davidson, an event organizer for a local polyamory network, is quoted as saying, "The whole idea of one person meeting all of their needs for the rest of their lives is very silly. It's not realistic." I personally found this assumption to be very silly and unrealistic, as it ultimately considers all people in a monogamous relationship to be secretly unhappy or in denial of their unfulfilled needs....

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March 25, 2008

"Married, with several relationships on the side"

Staten Island Advance

New York City's "forgotten borough" has an old and venerable daily newspaper, and this morning it profiles New York poly activist Rose Fox and her husband Josh:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's difficult for Rose Fox to watch romance movies. At the end, she is always disappointed when the protagonist is forced to decide between two love interests. She wonders: Why not choose both?

Ms. Fox, 29, is polyamorous. She lives with her husband in Manhattan, speaks weekly to her long-distance girlfriend in Portland, Ore., and currently is "feeling out" another love prospect. Her spouse, Josh, 36 — who requested only his first name be used — recently has fallen for a younger woman, who herself has a fiancee.

"They're stupidly in love; they are so cute together," Ms. Fox says about Josh and his semi-new flame.

...As "primaries," Ms. Fox and her husband "come first in each other's eyes," but have an agreement in which they can develop relationships outside the marriage.

Their only rules include, says Ms Fox: "Don't get anyone sick or pregnant and don't damage the relationship." Everything else is pretty much fair game.

What makes the situation work, she notes, is a lot of trust, openness, loyalty and negotiation.

According to Ms. Fox, polyamorous relationships are very fluid, and it is really up to those involved to define the dynamics.

"There are a lot of different configurations," she explains. "Triads work; quads work, but are hard to do."

...She and her husband regularly get tested for STDs, and are careful about protecting themselves during sex.

There is one thing polyamorists cannot protect themselves against: The heartbreak of getting dumped. Because breakups in polyamorous relationships are very personal, they sting even more, says Ms. Fox.

It's not like they're breaking up because there is "someone else" — polys are encouraged to date other people — so the reason really has to do with you.

Ms. Fox recalls how painful it was when one partner broke up with her.

"I am sorry. I don't know how this happened, but I am not in love with you anymore," she recalls him as saying.


For a while, it was weird, she says. But, at least she had her husband's shoulder to cry on.

Read the whole article. Here's the print-friendly text in one piece without the clutter. And send a letter to the editor.

Fox has run Polyamory 101 workshops, and she wrote up some of what she says in them under the name A Garden in Riotous Bloom:

...Getting into a poly relationship is easy... someone says "How about it?" and someone else says "Sure" and there you are. Being in a poly relationship, and keeping it running, is hard.

...Here's the top-five list that I've developed over many years of difficult experience:

Know yourself. Look at yourself from the outside. Observe your own behavior. Listen to the warning voice in your head and learn when to pay attention to it and when to tell it to quit fearmongering. This is key in any relationship, but in a poly setup it is absolutely essential. If you're jealous, why are you jealous, and what makes it better or worse?.... Make sure you update your self-knowledge regularly; people change, and we can get so attached to our images of ourselves that it's hard to admit or even notice when they get outdated.... Know yourself.

Speak up for yourself. This is why knowing what you really want and what your real priorities are is so important: you must be your own advocate and you must know which fights are worth fighting. It's not about not trusting your partner; of course you should trust your partner to keep your best interests in mind whenever possible. However, people's memories are short and poor and often out of date.... Habits are strong. Exceptions are hard to remember. Be thorough and explicit and state your needs early and often. Speak up for yourself.

Be patient and kind. ...Understand that more energy in the system means more chaos. Understand that your partner cannot keep six people's schedules and preferences in his head. Work to find coping mechanisms for perennial problems.... Learn the value of compromise. Scratch their backs and they'll scratch yours. Enjoy the buzz of being nice to other people.... Be patient and kind.

Don't let emotions make you stupid. Love making you stupid might mean, for example, that you end up having unprotected sex.... Similarly, it might mean getting involved with someone who's in a bad situation and feeling that you have to ride in on your white horse... or it might mean falling for someone who's just plain psycho.... When you have other partners, and you go off and play in the mud, when you come home you get them all muddy too and it turns into a great big mess.... Love isn't the only distracting emotion, either: getting caught up in pain or grief or righteous wrath will necessarily distract you from your partners.... Don't let emotions make you stupid.

Reach out to your extended network. ...Stay connected with your existing friends; if you have lots of romantic involvements, it's easy to get so overscheduled that you don't make room for platonic friendships.... Take a moment to think about what would happen in an emergency. If your partner is at her boyfriend's house and she falls down the stairs and hits her head, you want her boyfriend to call you on the way to the hospital, right? So at the very least, make up an emergency contact list with everyone's number on it and distribute it.... Beyond that basic level, it's nice to form connections with others who have something very important in common with you... and if you become close friends, they can be there for mutually supportive bitchfests ("Does he leave his socks in your living room too?" "Oh my God, does he ever!").... Reach out to your extended network.

Read the whole thing. This is one to bookmark and pass along.

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March 23, 2008

"Sharing the Love"

Cherrie (Australia)

A glossy queer-women's magazine in Australia has a sweet, earnest introduction to polyamory in its February issue, written by a practitioner:

By Nikó Antalffy

...Many lesbians, queer and bi women have discovered this ethical non-monogamy for themselves and are benefiting from it. For some it’s a fresh alternative to more common forms of non-consensual monogamy, such as cheating or overlapping serial monogamy — scenarios that indicate frustrations with the limitations of traditional ways of forming relationships.

For Kittie, a 40-year-old Sydneysider, poly comes out of bisexuality. “If you like both genders it’s difficult to confine yourself to just one person,” she says. “It has to be a process of negotiation of compatibility. In poly relationships things may be more complicated but I end up being less resentful. It also gives me a good conceptual underpinning for my identity.”

Many think of poly as a truly progressive ethical alternative — a kind of ‘open source’ love for the 21st century that brings new forms, expressions and patterns of love, sex and relationships. Some want to reclaim ‘sluthood’ while others are just drawn by the possibility of free self-expression in sexuality, lifestyle and intimacy.

Poly is an honest alternative to the restrictions of monogamy. “Mono people tend to live a lie,” says Huntress, a bisexual poly mistress in Adelaide. “They have affairs and breach each other’s trust; poly is a more honest kind of relationship.” She and her male primary partner live together, but she also has poly girlfriends sometimes and plays with girls at parties. She finds that lesbian circles are less accepting of poly than the BDSM community she normally mixes with, but being honest and upfront about her open relationships helps and she believes poly is gradually becoming more accepted in general. “When poly works it’s wonderful, but you have to be open and honest and have to work on possible jealousy issues,” Huntress says. “It’s a mono-centric world but we need to have more choices in the future. Gender is already becoming less relevant, and as straight and gay become less clear-cut concepts, perhaps monogamy will go the same way.”

We poly folk love the abundance of intimacy and sexual freedom our lifestyle offers yet are mindful that this requires open and honest negotiation of relationships rules and a thorough expression of personal needs between partners and lovers. The very idea of poly embraces sexual diversity and poly folk revel in the reality of multiple genders, sexual orientations and sexual expressions — all the more to have fun with! Yet there is awareness that this dream has to be worked on: it takes strength, insight and perseverence to form strong and honest relationships and queer poly tribes that foster diverse sexual pathways in life.

...We learn to negotiate full consent, set personal relationship rules or guidelines, work on communication, articulate values and needs, and learn to deal with jealousy. These aren’t always easy and poly isn’t for everyone, yet a poly lifestyle can be a deeply satisfying and fulfilling choice for many people.

Lisa, a 43-year-old lesbian in Brisbane finds poly rich and liberating. “I want to live with liberty and freedom,” she says. “Poly for me overcomes the heterosexist patriarchal limitations of monogamy, which is based on the lie of the happily ever after. I have a life-long female partner, have long-term girlfriends and casual relationships. I have a 16-year-old daughter and enjoy the support of a strong women’s community. The GLBT community needs to realise that poly is the new queer. It’s not scary, it’s a beautiful subversive movement that has a lot to offer for the future.”

Read the complete article.

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March 20, 2008

Minx vs. talk jocks

Q101 radio (Chicago)

After she appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times article day before yesterday, Cunning Minx, who produces the wonderful Polyamory Weekly podcast out of Chicago, got a few minutes this morning to explain poly on a local radio station. She held her own against a couple of morning DJs who can't believe that male bisexuality exists (though gal-on-gal is hot). Listen here, and educate the idiot jocks here.

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March 18, 2008

"Wedded to Variety"

Chicago Sun-Times

Prompted by the Tilda Swinton news, one of Chicago's two daily papers (the more sensationalist one) has a good article in today's issue explaining polyamory:

BY PAIGE WISER | March 18, 2008

When Tilda Swinton won the best supporting actress Oscar for "Michael Clayton," there wasn't too much talk about what designer she was wearing.

But people were curious about her date.... Both men know about each other. And both are OK with it.

You might call the arrangement "awfully messy." Or you might call it by its proper name: polyamory. That's the practice of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

...It's not a higher love, says Cunning Minx, an Oak Park polyamorist who hosts a weekly podcast at http://polyweekly.libsyn.com/. Poly people get jealous just like everyone else. "It's not more evolved, it's just a little more complicated," she says. "People do this because it's an orientation. For some, it's a lifestyle choice."

Like most polyamorists, Minx uses a pseudonym because there's no legally protected status. In the poly community, especially in Chicago, people try to keep things quiet.

"You can be fired for it, and your kids can be taken away," Minx says. "We have a saying: In a divorce hearing, the first person to call the other person 'poly' gets the kids."

..."Chicago is probably the least well-organized of the major cities in terms of having an active and well-organized polyamory community," [activist Anita] Wagner says. "This doesn't mean that poly people don't exist, though."

There's a PolyChi Yahoo! group with more than 1,000 members, who meet once or twice a month. Sidekicks on Montrose, and the Center on Halsted, are common poly gathering places. "The Fox Valley area is very active for meet-ups and potlucks," Minx says.

She was initiated into the lifestyle when she fell in love with a polyamorist, Gray Dancer, who was engaged and later married. Without any rules to follow, the threesome sometimes had a hard time working things out. Her podcast started out as a way to ask questions and find others like her.

"The amount of communication and calendar shuffling involved can be daunting," Minx says.

...A few other famous "responsible non-monogamists":

– Diego Rivera tolerated wife Frida Kahlo's relationships with other men and women (including Leon Trotsky).

– Amelia Earhart had a prenuptial agreement that "I shall not hold you to any midaevil [sic] code of faithfulness." [Read her letter, in the Purdue University archives, to her future husband George Putnam.]

– Billionaire Warren Buffett was happily married to his wife until she died in 2004. He also had a long-term relationship with mistress Astrid Menks. They sent out Christmas cards signed, "Warren, Susie and Astrid."

– After Jada Pinkett Smith was interviewed by Britain's Daily Mail, polyamorists rallied behind her marriage. "In our marriage vows, we didn't say 'forsaking all others,'" said Smith in the interview. "The vow that we made was that you will never hear that I did something after the fact.

...Don't be shocked until you examine your own history, Minx says. "Think back. Was there ever an 'aunt' or an 'uncle' who visited your grandparents all the time? Or a couple they spent a lot of time with, or a 'good friend of the family?' "

Welcome to the club.

Read the whole article.

The article is fairly superficial, and there's a backstory to this. The writer sought, and got, a lot of help in trying to find more local people to talk to. No one would. Writes Anita Wagner, about the shortage of willing interviewees:

Here's an example of the situation as it stands today. A couple of we community organizers have been working with a journalist from the Chicago Sun-Times who has a green light from her editor for an article on polyamory. She's seeking a married poly couple in the Chicago area willing to be interviewed.... Despite having put out more than one call/invitation on the 1,000+ member Chicago poly list, all we've gotten back are crickets chirping.

Wagner has more to say about this "chicken-and-egg problem" on her Practical Polyamory blog.

Local organizer David Rodemaker (a doctoral student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and an intern at the GLBT Center on Halsted mentioned in the article) posted elsewhere about the reasons why Chicago people stayed hidden. Copied with his permission:

I made a point of bringing [this reluctance] up in my "Many Loves" seminar this weekend at the Center on Halsted. There was some interesting discussion around the issue.

1– That it was the Sun-Times as opposed to the Tribune (an unfortunate but real factor in some people's minds).

2– That it was asking for a "poly couple," which was sort of missing the point for a number of the people there — and which provoked reactions from the bemused to the annoyed.

3– That the person wasn't looking very hard, given the Many Loves seminars at the Center on Halsted, plus a recent brown-bag discussion on Polyamory at UIC; it's not like it's *that* hard to actually find somebody who could at least act as a local gatekeeper. Add in three somewhat active polyamory groups/listservs in the area, and it became even more of a "head scratcher" for some people.

4– And yes, the stated issue of fear of being outed. This is less of an issue for some people and more for others — but all of the above issues really seemed to make people wonder how positive or sensitive the article/interviewer would actually be.

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March 14, 2008

"When One Lover Is Not Enough"

The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand)

Earlier this month a newspaper in New Zealand printed an article on area polys that, while positive, was a second-rate bit of journalism. Now another kiwi paper, this time in Wellington, does a better job.

By EMILY WATTS | Saturday, 15 March 2008

"Honeys, I'm home," calls Zachary as he walks through the door. Three kisses for his partner Mary, sitting curled on the couch — one, two, three.

Moving to the other end of the couch, he deposits three kisses on Anna's lips, one, two, three — and then a fourth.

Back to Mary, another kiss to even it up — and then another. And so on. "Sometimes Zachary spends a good 10 minutes going from one to the other," laughs Mary.

...Zachary and Mary were married for about six years when they met Anna and invited her to move in. They have been together for a year.

Both women are bisexual; the relationship is known as a triad.

"You really have to have your shit sorted to do this," says Zachary.

"But if it works, the advantages are just incredible, and I'm not just talking about the sex. It's just this is an interesting household."

..."Many people are torn between deceptive adultery and unsatisfying monogamous relationships. This is the best of both worlds, I guess," said Carl Turney, a researcher on the subject.

...[Turney] says the poly lifestyle is more common and varied than you might think. Many are discreet about their lifestyles, living as singles or couples, and chances are you wouldn't know.

...Mr Turney advises Polyamory Wellington, a monthly support group where about a dozen people meet to discuss issues and support each other. He says the lifestyle is often run by women.

..."When I have had romantic involvements with other women, it has also made me appreciate my wife more," says Wellington IT consultant Hamish, aged in his 30s, who has an open relationship with his wife.

They say it is an ideal arena in which to raise kids. With the growth of step-families, many children have more than two parents, but in this case, they all love each other.

The scope for jealousy is huge. Everyone who spoke to The Dominion Post admitted jealousy or insecurities had to be worked through....

Of course, there is no guarantee that your partner will not fall in love with someone else and leave you. Relationships break up, just as they do for other people.

But polys are also aware of what they call NRE, new relationship energy.

Hamish says with any new relationship, "there's a natural release of serotonin and other chemicals, similar to cocaine". In other words, you're high on love.

"Once you understand that, it's just a case of being aware and not doing anything significant," Hamish says.

"No changes in your world that involve mortgages, suitcases or airline tickets. A real relationship doesn't start until NRE wears off."

...Hamish thinks [the public attitude] will open up as the lifestyle becomes better known.

"There's an opening in society for non-traditional relationships. It's honestly the logical next step."

To learn more about polyamory, go to the NZ website or phone 04 9702487. The polyamory group meets once a month. The next meeting is tomorrow....

Read the whole article.

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March 12, 2008

"The new rules of polyamory"

Daily Metro (U.K.)

Today some 1.7 million Brits are getting a positive, lighthearted introduction to polyamory as they ride their subways and buses to work, courtesy of the Daily Metro, a tabloid paper that's distributed free on public transport systems.

Peter lives with his girlfriend, Joanne. He also has a boyfriend, Tom, who lives with Lucy, who also goes out with Peter. And Joanne goes out with all three. Keeping up?

...Peter, 36, met Tom, 40, and Lucy, 47, (already a couple) at a bisexual convention 11 years ago. 'All three of us were in a relationship until 2002, when we met Joanne. She then joined us.'

...How did they decide who lives with who? 'It just worked out that way,' says Peter. 'Tom and Lucy have always lived together and I live well with Jo. I often wonder what the neighbours make of us when we go back and forth all the time with food and the tumble dryer.' Erm, the tumble dryer?

'There's only one between us — actually it's Tom and Lucy's,' Peter laughs. 'And we're all quite affectionate in public so that probably confuses them, too.'

Aside from the odd twitching curtain, Peter says life is bliss and wonders why more people aren't doing the same. 'In the TV show, Lost, everyone's always asking if Kate will choose Jack or Sawyer. Why does she have to make a choice? Why can't they come to some sort of an arrangement?'

...Minx (her nickname) had a turbulent start to her new lifestyle [in the Chicago area]. 'I fell in love with a guy who is poly, so I had the choice of either adopting his lifestyle, which I always thought was a great idea — I just didn't have a word for it — or not dating him at all. I took the plunge. I made a lot of mistakes. We all did; him, his wife and me.'

The 39-year-old public speaker has recently reunited with another former boyfriend who now has two other partners. She says the green-eyed monster does tend to rear its head now and again. 'Some polys will choose to give a partner “veto power”, which means that partner has the right to reject a new partner,' Minx explains. 'But normally, if an incoming person causes ripples, the existing partners will talk. It's easier to deal with issues such as “I'm worried because she's prettier than me” or “I'm threatened because he has more money than me” than the ultimatum of “him or me”.'

The biggest downside is time; sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day to give all your love to lots of other people. 'Love is infinite — time isn't,' says Minx. 'Most of us quickly find our “polysaturation point” — when we no longer have the time, attention or focus for new partners.'...

Read the whole article (March 12, 2008), and leave a comment there.

The world is gradually paying more attention to what we are up to. And despite the fears of many early polys, the results are mostly turning out to be good: more public understanding, acceptance, and even sympathy, rather than fear and persecution. We really had nowhere to go but up in this regard... so far... knock on wood.


March 3, 2008

"Love: a four-letter, four-partner word"

The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Regulars on poly discussion sites know some longtime voices from New Zealand. Here, a local newspaper profiles a few.

By GILES BROWN – The Press | 3 March 2008

Polyamory is a word that means many loves.

Put simply, it is about couples who enjoy intimacy with a third or more partners, including sex.

(Only about couples? Urk.)

And it is thriving in Christchurch.

But those who take part say there is only one problem — jealousy.

(Only one problem?!! Eyeroll.)

...Sue, 42, and her male partner are part of Christchurch's polyamorist community — a group larger than most would think.... Sue and her 48-year-old partner set up an internet chat forum for other Christchurch and New Zealand polyamorists in August last year, which has since grown to over 100 members.

Sue and her partner have five children under 12 and run a business in the city. The difference between them and other families is that they have a long-term relationship with another couple.

"There isn't a sexual focus," Sue said. "This is about an extended family."...

Read the article (which seems to be cut off partway through).

Never mind the reporter's errors. The important thing is that articles like this put the concept out there. A few readers will have a shock of recognition and will start googling the word, and it may change their lives forever. For the rest, such articles shows polys being good, careful, ethical people rather than the scummy creeps that many assume we must be. Articles like this are gradually making it easier to be out.