Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 27, 2009

"Yes we get jealous"

Creative Loafing (Tampa)

Creative Loafing is a chain of alternative newspapers mostly in the South. (Their slogan: "Shelter from the mainstream," with a fallout-shelter symbol.) On the website of the Tampa Bay paper, columnist Camile has put up another how-we-do-poly article. It addresses a basic question that always gets asked.

Yes, jealousy occurs in poly relationships. We’re no more excluded from it than a monogamous couple. The form it takes depends on the situation and people involved. Examples I’ve personally witnessed range from the traditional “I’m afraid you’ll find someone better and leave me,” to “I’m not jealous. I just don’t like that person and don’t want you to date them.” The most common form of jealousy revolves around Partner A being so wrapped up in New Relationship Energy (aka “shiny new person” or “honeymoon” phase) that Partner B feels neglected.

The Puppy and I have run into our share of jealousy. On more than one occasion, what we each thought was jealousy turned out to be a case of, “the idea of this person and sex makes me nauseous. The idea of them fucking you makes me so nauseous that I reach for the Pepto.”...

...There’s no blanket solution. A combination of sources usually helps me work things out on my end. The first time it happened to me, I ran a Google search for “polyamory jealousy,” and bookmarked the really good sites (links provided below)....

Read the whole article.



August 16, 2009

Mainstreaming in Dear Margo

A leading advice columnist handles a poly reader's query — about a triad looking for a fourth — seriously and matter-of-factly:

When Three Is Not a Crowd

Dear Margo: I've been in a long-term polyamorous MFM triad with two really wonderful guys for the last four years, one of whom I've been seeing for almost seven. We have a lower-than-average drama quotient than even most dyadic (two person couple) relationships, and are all very happy with each other and our lives. We had always talked about seeking another female mate, but our non-relationship life stuff hadn't really been such that we could devote much time to the endeavor. Now, our lives have finally settled down for the most part, and we've come to realize that none of us can think of a way to approach someone with this. We've tried online and our local poly community as places to look for dates, to no avail. I realize that it will be difficult to find someone who is compatible with all of us, but we need a way to politely put ourselves out there first. Could you give three shy nerds an opener or some advice?

— Wannabe Quad

Dear Wan: You are making this sound like rounding up a fourth for bridge. Although I am not an old hand at figuring out how to be of assistance to the polyamorous, I would recommend that you let life happen. This seems to be the way to go, since you haven't had any luck with what you call your local poly community or online advertising. And it may be that you "three shy nerds" are doing fine as a threesome. I would also like to advise people who disapprove of your lifestyle not to write asking why I didn't tell you this is not "normal" or "moral." I only and always deal with the question asked.

— Margo, non-judgmentally

Read the original (dated July 31, 2009. It got by me when it came out; thanks to GreenFizzpops for the tip.)


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August 15, 2009

Spreading poly awareness in Latin America (updated)

Revista Semana (Colombia)
El Ciudadano (Chile)
Radio Tandil (Argentina)
El Argentino
El País (Uruguay)

How well does the poly movement, built and shaped mostly in the U.S., carry over into different cultures?

The idea is certainly enticing — and as we know too well, it practically begs for misperception and misuse to rationalize bad behavior among people who don't get it.

So, could it turn into another piece of American cultural imperialism, wreaking havoc in cultures that don't handle it well? Call me paranoid, but I'm always expecting unintended consequences....

In Latin America, at least, the core concepts and values are getting communicated to at least some audiences very accurately, judging by media coverage there.

In Colombia, the weekly magazine Revista Semana published a long article that went up on its website last weekend. Translated:

Love one another

TRENDS -- The belief that it's possible to love two people at once is the basis of poliamor, a growing trend in several countries. In the United States it already has over half a million followers. [That number, BTW, is lifted from last month's Newsweek online article. I've yet to learn where the Newsweek writer got it.] Terisa Green is a 41-year-old filmmaker and actress who started a relationship with Scott 12 years ago. Then Scott met Larry and invited him to join the couple....

According to the Polyamory Society, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, United States [which actually seems to exist only as someone's website], "Polyamory is a nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice that emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with." The website Poliamoría.com defines it as intimate relationships between several people at once, with each of those involved giving full consent to what is happening.

Although love among several people is not something many do these days, since the late-60s boom touted by the free-love hippies, the topic has been formalized and some have defined polyamory as the new romanticism. On Facebook there are 136 groups registered with this word, and there are movements in countries with strong Catholic influences such as Spain and Mexico.

Unlike swinging, where the relationship is based solely on sexual satisfaction, polyamory is based on deeper emotional commitments....

...Polyamory covers a wide range of relationship forms: some people are married and live with another without all sleeping together; others have occasional outside partners whom the other member of the couple may not see but knows about the relationship's existence. There are also groups where all members have sex at once, and others where sex is restricted to specific members of the group.

Criticisms of this model have not been lacking.... For Ernesto Martín, an expert in clinical family psychology at the Universidad de la Sabana, "Blurring love between several people can be ambiguous, and what happens is that it gets confused with feelings such as custom or friendship." Others think that having more than one partner decreases love.

However, for Yves-Alexandre Thalmann, psychologist and author of the book Las Virtudes del Poliamor, "Love cannot be conceived as a quantity, but as a quality of being human. A mother who has several children does not love one more than another." So too thinks Janet Hardy, coauthor of the book The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory. She compares love to "a muscle that the more you use, the stronger and more flexible it becomes." To Nancy Prada, a philosopher with a master's degree in gender, love is not a cake to be divided into several pieces; she says that on the contrary, what we have is an "expansion of the capacity to love."

Nancy Prada is perhaps the person who has done the most to spread polyamory in this country, through her blog Sexo de Sofía [on the site of the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo]. More than two years ago she decided to explore different forms of relationship. She currently has a relationship with someone she met in Europe. "I was unhappy in monogamous relationships and decided to seek other alternatives. In addition, I had an academic preoccupation to explore the issue."

According to Juan Luis Álvarez-Gayou, director of the Mexican Institute of Sexology, the interesting thing with this type of phenomenon is that it puts the crisis in the current couple-model out on the table. "Monogamy has a reason that's economic in nature," he says. "There is the concern to create a home, have children, and ensure a legacy. But the emancipation of women has allowed them to decide on their romantic relationships, to propose more equitable unions, where the woman no longer depends on the man."...

Psychologist and sexologist José Manuel González believes that it's still early to catalog polyamory as the ideal model. "This is not to say that one model is better than another. The interesting thing is that there is a new option, that the idea of marriage is evolving and is attacking the culture of machismo."...

Read the whole article (Aug. 15, 2009).

In Chile, meanwhile, a blogger for Santiago's lefty El Ciudadano ("The Citizen") muses at poetic length on poly's wider personal and political meanings:

Points for considering Polyamory in our lives

By Diana Neri Marina Arriaga

...Surely this is a unique opportunity, to love and live in the honesty of non-monogamy — a clear alternative to the emotional conflicts of couples living in a realm that has absorbed the heterosexist fruits of marriage — with implications for family and everything that comprises the institution of love.

...Love is not just appropriate to the private sphere.... Are we able to start a complex process of redefining our cultural schemes, deconstructing and questioning each item that we carry in the controversial concept of human nature?

...If we look at the various possibilities and probabilities and start rethinking the way we love, we would, for example, address the social fallacies that create a trap for our fears....

...if I've translated that right. She includes a poem by Borges. Read the whole article.

Update August 24: Another one just popped up. In Argentina, Radio Tandil (LU22, 1140 on the AM dial) just posted a glowing article on its website, though with an incendiary headline:

Polyamory threatens to extinguish monogamy and the infidelity taboo

By Brenda Focas

A movement born in the United States and spreading to several countries is increasingly militant about this way of life. In Argentina it is still sheltering in Internet forums, but it's proudly claiming honesty, respect and love involving more than one relationship with the consent of the parties involved. It members say that monogamy is hypocritical or an [unrealistic] ideal, and in many cases, that polyamory has helped them strengthen their couple relationships.

"I am poliamorosa. My husband and I believe you can have more than one romantic relationship at a time, with love and honesty among all. We do not want casual sex, or groups, or swinging," says Juliet. She calls herself adept at this practice, based on assumptions that today could be thought of as almost existential: love, fidelity (with established commitments), honesty and respect toward each of the members. The point, ultimately, is to maintain a lasting, loving relationship with several people simultaneously, with full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

In Argentina, although there are no activist groups as in the U.S., Britain or Spain, many people take it as a way of life, compared to what they consider the "hypocrisy" of monogamy.

..."For me it is much easier to live my day to day life with the freedom to form relationships, and to share everything with my husband. The last time I was with a woman his eyes shone, and it felt good for him to talk to me of that special moment," says Marina naturally....

...The poliamantes even tend to raise children as a community, to learn the values of free love, and they often belong to the financial elite or artistic, cultural or intellectual vanguard....

The article goes on to quote several approving academics and authors. Read the whole article.

Update August 27: And another, this time in El Argentino (Buenos Aires). This one is a Spanish translation of the July 29th Newsweek online article. You can read it here (Aug. 26, 2009). As of this moment there are no comments yet! Be the first.

Update September 7: Some tongue-in-cheek commentary from El País in Montevideo, Uruguay, which apparently ran the article that was reprinted at Radio Tandil:

The rise of polyamory

In the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Spain there exist today — increasing year by year for the last twenty — groups of highly evolved people disposed to eliminate from the marital dictionary two words that only serve, in their conviction, to destabilize the relationship between marriage partners, as well as practitioners of concubinage: hypocrisy and infidelity....

Here's the whole article (Sept. 9, 2009).


Here are all my entries tagged Latin America. There must be many more items I've missed. Links, anyone?


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August 12, 2009

"I write to you not with ink, but with blood from a mother’s heart."

Jewish Daily Forward

New York's venerable Jewish Daily Forward (now weekly in its print edition) has an advice columnist who, like many, seems to be coming around:

Help! My Daughter Is Seeking an 'Open' Marriage

By Lenore Skenazy

Dear Bintel Brief: In 1995 one of my six daughters married for the first time. We thought she was truly getting married, and I liked her young man. For maybe a dozen years she had been leading an unconventional, “new-age” lifestyle in the San Francisco Bay Area, perhaps in rebellion against her conventional, Midwestern upbringing....

Some time later, the two of them confided in me and my wife of 50 years that she and M___ were in an “open” marriage.... In private discussions between us, my wife and I... agreed that this so-called “open” marriage was nothing more than a holding pattern until one or the other of them found in a lover someone more pleasing than their spouse. And so it has turned out; the husband jumped ship.

...Curiously, she continues to socialize and spend holidays with, apparently without rancor, M___ and his new wife.

...I have on more than one occasion gently (I hope) suggested that she seek out a more conventional relationship. The last time I did so, she reacted with some heat.... She defended her “open” marriage, declaring that statistics show that an “open” marriage are no more prone to end in divorce than conventional marriages, in which the which the taking of lovers is often carried out in secret and is truly a betrayal.

So here, finally, are my questions for Bintel Brief: 1) Is my daughter’s claim about statistics about “open” indeed true? And 2) If I should ever raise this matter again with my daughter, is there anything else of a non-moralistic nature that I could adduce to the benefit of a conventional marriage?

—Concerned Tatele

P.S. My mother, of blessed memory, used to quote in Yiddish... “Dear Worthy Editor, I write to you not with ink, but with blood from a mother’s heart.”

Dear Tatele:

...The one advantage to open marriage, you’d think, is that at least a couple can stay together forever: Why divorce the cow when you can get the milk from all the other cows, too?

But that’s just the problem, says Hara Marano, author of a book all about young people falling apart, “A Nation of Wimps” (Broadway, 2008). When you keep consorting with everyone else, one of you is liable to fall in love. And even if this doesn’t lead to divorce, it usually leads to jealousy, which is about one millimeter away on the misery continuum....

Except that your daughter seems to have emerged unmiserable and unjealous enough to still like her ex and the replacement wife and want to try it all again. So maybe an open marriage can make sense, at least for her.

Having written that line with zero conviction (if you’re Tevye, I’m Golde), I called Richard Woods, an author who lectures about open marriage — including his own. First off, he said, there are no statistics to give your daughter, because there are no hard numbers to base them on. Open marriage isn’t something you check off on your census.

Moreover, he said, the reason it’s not on the census is that open marriage “is the new gay.” Like homosexuality just a generation or two ago, most of the people practicing it don’t talk about it for fear of public censure....

And even if it that kind of arrangement doesn’t make sense to you, Tevye, in the end it’s not up to you anyway. It’s up to your daughter. And maybe the sweep of history.

Read the whole article (July 13, 2009). Thanks to Reb Yankl for the tip.

(Is the daughter, by any chance, reading this?)


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August 10, 2009

A Revelation for Christians

The Christian Post, and elsewhere

The July 29th Newsweek online article about the growth of poly continues to spawn good things. Into this category I put a critical piece that appeared this morning in, among other places, The Christian Post, a large online magazine spanning many conservative denominations. The article is by R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Of course he's totally opposed. However, he describes polyamory and the people doing it accurately and level-headedly and quotes the Newsweek description at length. As I've said before, this kind of coverage informs millions of people whom we're unlikely to reach that a happy, workable poly life is actually possible. And that normal people are doing it not only successfully, but ethically by secular standards. Such a possibility never used to be even imagined.

Mohler's readers will remember this article if multiple love ever enters their own lives.

Polyamory: The Perfectly Plural Postmodern Condition

By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Once a sexual revolution is set loose, it inevitably runs its course through the culture. While the current flashpoints of cultural conflict are focused on same-sex marriage and gender issues, others are biding their time. As Newsweek magazine makes clear, some new flashpoints are getting restless.

Polyamory, reports Newsweek, is having a "coming-out-party." Polyamory is the current "term of art" applied to "families" or "clusters" comprised of multiple sexual partners.... Advocates of polyamory... define their movement in terms of the moral principle of "ethical nonmonogamy," defined as "engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person — based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."

...The article in Newsweek, written by Jessica Bennett, presents polyamory as a growing movement that now involves persons in the cultural mainstream. As the magazine reports: "Researchers are just beginning to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving contingents in nearly every major city."...

...Bennett quotes Allena Gabosch, director of an organization known as the "Center for Sex Positive Culture," suggesting that polyamory sounds scary to people because "it shakes up their worldview." But, she insists, polyamory might well be "more natural than we think."

...The ultimate sign of our moral confusion becomes evident when virtually no one appears ready to condemn polyamory as immoral. The only arguments mustered against this new movement focus on matters of practicality. Polyamory is certainly not new, but this new movement is yet another reminder that virtually all the fences are now down when it comes to sex and sexual relationships. What comes next?

Read the whole article (Aug. 10, 2009).



August 9, 2009

Loving More magazine now online

The modern polyamory movement has had one publication all its own since the mists of history back in 1991. Before the internet took over, Loving More magazine was the central means of communicating, organizing, and spreading the word. But since 2003 turnovers in its ownership and management, as well as the great shift to online communications, left it in financial straits and with only intermittent publication.

Current director Robyn Trask and her partner Jesus V. Garcia have kept the Loving More organization going. They've changed it from a private business to a nonprofit educational organization, and most of all, they've continued and expanded its annual series of polyamory conferences and retreats (such as the one coming up September 11-13 in upstate New York).

Now they're got the magazine up and running again — as a digital publication. They've released the first online issue, number 39. It has the same turn-the-pages look and feel as a paper magazine, except it's on your screen and the pictures in it sometimes move and talk as in Harry Potter. Cool software they got.

Browse it here. You can view it without registering for a little while longer; after that you'll need to register for free as a "community member."

But honestly, they need you as a paid member too. Robyn and Jesus do this unpaid and have put too much of their own money into Loving More's projects when gaps have had to be covered. They've been an unseen force behind many of the educational and media successes we've had in recent years, and they've kept the conferences going through good times and bad. Show your support.

They're also looking for good writing for the next issue. Have something interesting to say?

They still plan to publish a paper issue of the magazine once a year, a "best of" collection from the online edition.


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