Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

April 28, 2010

Poly jewelry, clothing, and personal displays

Poly infinity-heart pinMessages that you wear or otherwise show off count as "media," right? I sometimes sport a nice little infinity-heart pin (at right) and keep a bunch of them to give to friends. My friend Ken Haslam printed a bumper sticker for his car: Try Polyamory, Release Your Inner Bonobo. You can get hats, buttons, T-shirts, thongs, neckties, coffee mugs, tote bags, throw pillows and other swag with poly mottos that range from the discreet ( I♥>1, or the Modern Poly emoticon infinity heart, <83) to the flagrant ("Bisexual, kinky, polyamorous, horny. And I'm still not sleeping with you").

And ever more nice jewelry.

That favorite infinity heart pin of mine is from speculative-fiction writer Vincent M. Wales, best known for his novel One Nation Under God and founder long ago of the Polyamory Awareness and Acceptance Ribbon Campaign. The pin, the size of a quarter, is colorful, high quality, and for $5 including shipping how can you go wrong? Update: Additional poly pins now available in other designs; same price.

Abzu Designs has a line of poly-themed jewelry in silver, gold, and less expensive metals.

• Tasteful, often understated jewelry from PolyCharms. "Mission: The purpose of PolyCharms is to give the polyamory and non-monogamy community a venue for expressing their individual style through symbolism, wrought in metal and stone."

• Poly dogtags.

• Greeting cards for poly occasions, from Zazzle and CafePress. Happy, sad, raunchy, Hallmark-y, or treacly.

• Loads of other poly stuff is available from Poly Tees and the big, general-interest purveyors Zazzle, CafePress, Spreadshirt, Printfection, and others. At most of these sites you can custom-order stuff with your own message or design, even in single copies.


• Here's an illustrated list of some fancy poly jewelry, courtesy of Joreth. Here's another. Joreth runs PolyTees.

Infinity-heart earrings: blue, black and red on white.

• Loads of cool Kimchi Cuddles comic merch (June 2013).

Love Infinitely jewelry by Stephan Moore, who deserves your support.

• Infinity-heart necklaces, earrings, keychains, bracelets from Shielasattic (Dec. 2013).

Poly pride T-shirts and others (Dec. 2013).

Another infinity-heart necklace, super-inexpensive (Jan. 2014).

• Poly designs on pins, shirts etc. etc. from LiveLoudGraphic (July 2014).


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April 21, 2010

Poly awakens in Ireland

Ireland in the last generation has modernized faster than any other Western country. Irish society has partly broken loose from its age-old domination by the Catholic Church (with help from widespread abuse scandals finally coming to light), and an economic boom created a young, confident, worldly new middle class (though the boom has since collapsed). Attitudes about sex and relationships, at least in some parts of society, have jumped from the 19th century to the 21st.

And modern polyamory is beginning to make itself known.

One person, Randy R. in Dublin, is responsible for much of Ireland's nascent poly awareness. After being active in the US poly world for many years, in 2002 he moved to Ireland and in 2008 set up Ireland's only poly organization, the Dublin Polyamory Discussion/Support Group. "We are now pushing 200 members, having started with 10 two years ago," he writes. He's busy on the internet, counsels poly and would-be poly people, puts together social events, and is "organizing the first-ever polyamory workshop in this country," to happen in Dublin on October 1-3 with Deborah Anapol. He recently joined the Polyamory Leadership Network (based mostly in the US) and says he believes that "letting love take the shape and form and flow it wants" will be key to healing the world.

One sign of the times is an article last Sunday in the Cork Student News at University College Cork:

Polyamory for Dummies

For those unfamiliar with the term, polyamory means ‘the loving of many’; it’s one of the least conventional, and most controversial, relationship setups around.

...Polyamory is properly looked at as a type of open relationship. Open relationships involve more or less any situation in which the partners mutually agree to be ok with the other partner’s non-fidelity, which is of course a misnomer, because non-fidelity isn’t really non-fidelity if there’s no breach of trust! What makes polyamory different from an open relationship, then? The answer is that polyamory is stable and long-term, whereby open-relationships (including threesomes) tend to be allowed one-off moments. Polyamory itself means loving a lot (‘poly’ means many, as in polyglot, someone who speaks a lot of languages, and ‘amory’ refers, of course to love). Polyamorists engage in long term committed relationships to more than one person. It’s not a long term open relationship, it’s something entirely different.

Many would quibble with a definition as restrictive as that, but never mind.

...The whole jealousy aspect, though, is moderated to a good degree by ground rules, which the couples often set before entering into any polyamorous relationship arrangement. Rights and obligations are carefully delineated so that – in keeping with the arrangement’s overall emphasis on transparency and truthfulness – neither party is under any illusions as to what the other party is doing or not doing. This, in turn, ensures peace of mind and makes jealousy easier to deal with.

...Polyamorists call their relationships liberating, empowering and fun, but few outside this small fold would agree that anything other than strict textbook monogamy can work in the long term.

If one thing’s certain, it’s that polyamory isn’t something for your average Joe. It’s ‘out there’, experimental, and certainly unconventional. But if you’re prepared to overcome the jealousy, learn to abide by boundaries, and get used to the idea of having two or more girlfriends, then, say polyamorists, the whole thing can be a lot of fun!

Read the whole article (April 18, 2010).


Other coverage in Ireland: Hot Press magazine, Ireland's version of Rolling Stone but perhaps with greater national influence, last fall offered this provocative headline and teaser:

Having Many Lovers is Wonderful

For sex, that is. But what about loving them? Or falling in love with more than one at a time? That’s where Polyamory can get tricky. But maybe it’s worth the effort — and the risk.

The full article, unfortunately, is available only by paid subscription (Nov. 27, 2009).

In 2006 I posted about a long article in Ireland's largest newspaper, the Independent, titled "Let's Face It, Monogamy is Getting a Tad Monotonous," which went on at some length about polyamory as a positive alternative:

I asked a group of women to tell me what they thought of the concept of monogamy.

One single 27-year-old emailed me: "Monogamy is an event where two people are co-incidentally bored with others."

Another divorced woman with children wrote: "Monogamy is another word for jealousy and possessiveness."

One engaged 30-year-old wrote: "Monogamy is a convenient construct of the civilised world."

And a single 28-year-old wrote: "Monogamy is the endless impossible they taught us about in religion class, I know nobody in a truly monogamous relationship, it's a fantasy dreamt up by fantasists."

Whilst there were some positive comments, an overwhelming majority of women saw monogamy as an ancient monolith of a bygone era. Words used to describe it included "unreal", "impossible", "old-fashioned catholic ideology", "over-romanticised and under-exercised", and "near-impossible".

Annie is 30 and lives with her boyfriend of four years, they have an open relationship with rules.

"We don't feel that we need to conform to anybody's ideas of where the boundaries for our relationship should be," she says. She and her boyfriend say they are allowed to be with other people and are open with one another about this. They also encourage one another to form emotional as well as sexual bonds with other people.

"We don't even need to discuss this or explain to one another, we know the boundaries of our own relationship, for instance if we are walking around town and I see a nice-looking man I might say 'God, he's gorgeous' and that won't cause insecurity, in fact it makes things better, we're open about what goes on in our minds."

...Those who have completely turned their backs on monogamy may well find themselves discovering the World Polyamory Association which is seeing its membership increase year on year. They describe polyamory as a philosophy of being involved with multiple, long-term intimate partners. They distance themselves from 'swingers' and emphasise that polyamory is not about sexual promiscuity but about creating emotional and sometimes sexual bonds in an open and respectful manner.

Such is the new nature of this type of relationship that an entire lexicon has evolved around it....

...One polyamorist described how comfortable she and her partner have become with their lifestyle, "sometimes we'll go for months when it's just the two of us. But if I just happen to be busy or not in the mood, then I'm not going to stop him. For example the other night I had lots of work to do, so when Simon brought a new girl home, I was in the bedroom while they took a bath, later I walked by and just said 'hi'."

She warns that as polyamory becomes increasingly popular and more widely accepted people should give serious consideration before jumping into such a relationship.

"If you can't manage one relationship healthily, you are not going to be able to manage two or more, relationships are like a consuming hobby, they take up a tremendous amount of time."

...Dr Meg Barker, a senior lecturer in psychology at London South Bank University and a practicing polyamorist, emphasised that it is about "the recognition of multiple important relationships" and she dispelled accusations that multiple partners meant a lack of commitment....


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April 8, 2010

The Pansexual, Polyamorous, BDSM Law School Application

Washington City Paper online

Out or closeted? How out, and to whom? Everyone with a queer, poly, or other non-mainstream identity faces these choices all the time.

On the website of the Washington [DC] City Paper, sex activist Martin Quinones describes his successful, go-for-broke decision to tell all on his law-school application.

The Pansexual, Polyamorous, BDSM Law School Application

...I was recently presented with the chance to come out in a way that was risky, honest, and productive. On law school applications, every school asks for a broad personal statement, using a prompt along the lines of “tell us something about yourself.” I decided to dump every egg at my disposal into one basket. Since December, the essay below has been read by my parents, most of my friends, and the admissions committees at thirteen top-ranked law schools:

...To come out fully, in my case, requires three separate disclosures, each as potentially confusing and alienating as the last. I share them now for reasons that are political as well as personal: I am pansexual. When I say this I mean that I seek physical and emotional partnerships with people of all genders, including men, women, and transgender individuals. I am polyamorous. By this I mean that I see monogamy as one among many stable ways in which people are capable of forming romantic and familial bonds. I mean also that I find joy in my partners’ joy, including when that joy comes through companions and lovers other than myself. Lastly, I am a member of the BDSM community. When I say this I mean that I find fulfillment in consensual relationships and sensations that are not always soft and fuzzy, but can indeed be painful and challenging. Taken together, these three facts mean that I have found love and fulfillment in a wide spectrum of relationships and with a variety of people, and that this diversity of partners figures importantly into my identity.

They mean also that I inhabit a small, overlapping sliver of three poorly understood, largely invisible, and utterly unprotected sexual minorities....

I have invested my energy in positively increasing the visibility of diverse sexual identities and normalizing the discussion of sexuality in my immediate environment.... [This] is why I am applying to law school....

The admissions committees, as expected, responded with months of stony, bureaucratic silence. Every school processed applications on a rolling basis.... As the waiting drew on from December into January into February, existential panic replaced the more reasonable anxiety of the wait, and each day felt like a confirmation that I had made a bad decision. I was sure I had reached too far, I had been too polarizing. I would have to settle for a school that I had no interest in, and that had no resources for someone interested in gender, let alone sexual freedom. My career was poisoned, and I hadn’t even found it yet.

Finally, agonizingly, the risk I took paid off, and I was accepted for admission at the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law. To date, this is the only school I have been admitted to, a fact more reflective of how many reach schools I applied to than how my essay was received. But even if I am rejected everywhere else, a superb legal education is in my future, along with a JD from one of the most respected schools in the country, thanks in part to my choice to come out.

Read the whole article (April 5, 2010).

Here's a video (17 minutes) of him telling about it at a KinkForAll meeting last February in Providence, Rhode Island.

P.S.: Coming out stories wanted! Polyactivist Bitsy is building a website of coming out stories and practical resources, OpenlyPoly.net . It should launch Real Soon Now, but she needs more stories. Send her yours at: stories(AT)openlypoly.net .



April 6, 2010

The poly alternative: word spreads on campus

More writers for college newspapers are discussing poly as a good, honest way of doing relationships, often drawing distinctions between poly and ordinary dating around. Bit by bit, word is spreading. Here are four interesting recent examples.

1. From the Cherwell at Oxford University in England:

The non-monogamy train

By Christopher Graham | 4 March 2010

“I think we should see other people.” “You breaking-up with me?” “I just think we should see other people.”

The open relationship. Non-monogamy. She's dating other men, and you're free to date other women. You can even sleep with these other people. In a way it's like any other relationship, two people joined together in the search for passion, inspiration and fulfillment. Only this time the backdrop is richly coloured, varied and nuanced... it's like the sun is shining just for you but from a thousand little lamps, blinking out across the city; an ocean of pleasure awaits.

Then you discover the pit of your stomach; explore it, feel it grow and tingle, constantly reminding that out of sight is not so easily out of mind. What do these other people have that you don't? How long must you keep up this experiment, which every day feels less and less like a mere (a safe) pretense? What if your partner meets someone they like better?

Thus we have a composite of experiences of, and expectations about, non-monogamy, drawn from conversations with over a dozen individuals and couples during the past eight months....

Alice and Paul have been living together for a few years, during which time both have taken several lovers. (Did you know there is an iPhone application that tracks a woman's menstrual cycle? Alice uses it to make her rendezvous doubly safe, it's one of their rules. The other is perfect honesty.) They tell each other all about their lovers, what sorts of feelings or emotions led to the attraction, and in the process learn a huge amount about each other. Alice and Paul are the most ‘in love' couple I have ever seen.

Alas, Alice and Paul are also amongst a very small minority of people with positive views of non-monogamy. Ask around Oxford (or even New York, my former home) and one is much more likely to encounter uncertainty, suspicion, even hostility.

"I think it makes sense in theory, but there's no way I would be comfortable with that."

"I could do it, but I know my partner wouldn't be able to handle it, so I've never raised the question." (How could you know this if you've never asked? "I just know.")...

Read the whole article.


2. From The Martlet at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada;

Tell your lovers about your lovers

Hazen Phoenix, Celine Adelle | March 25, 2010

Q:...I’ve been exploring my options and dating multiple people — both men and women. While the polyamoury thing has been really fun, I recently had an awkward situation arise.

I was out at Lucky Bar with a great girl who I’ve been seeing and this dude I’ve been seeing showed up.

He proceeded to try and break into our dancing and invade our table space, hitting on me and buying drinks for me while totally disregarding my date for the evening.

This was totally awkward. How do I keep this from happening in the future?

--One Date At A Time

A: Polyamoury can be tricky business, but honesty right from the outset is really the best policy in order to avoid awkward situations.

When this dude showed up, he probably didn’t clue in to what was really going on.

Have you told him that you’re seeing other people?

If you are seeing multiple people and letting them think they’re the only one, you’re not being polyamourous — you’re just being unethical.

To avoid these situations, you need to take the lead. Take the date intruder aside and let him know you’re out with someone else and that he needs to back off.

Repeat after me: “I am here with someone else. It was great seeing you, have fun tonight. Call me later.”

If you’re fairly new to the game and want some schooling, we suggest you check out Victoria Poly 101(victoriapoly101.blogspot.com).

...Another option is attending some workshops put on by Vancouver Island Polyamory Group, or reading The Ethical Slut....

Read the whole article.


3. From the Excalibur at York University, Ontario:

CHERRY ON TOP: All you need is (a lot of) love

By Michael Lyons | March 25, 2010

A woman raises her hand.

She explains that she lives with a female partner and this partner’s child. These two women have a non-sexual relationship. They even sleep in separate rooms but still consider each other partners, and the child refers to her as “auntie.” They both date and sleep with other people but always have each other to come home to.

Another man says he has been happily married to his wife for 10 years. With a great deal of communication, they have mutually opened up their relationship. His wife has a long-term female partner, and he sees and sleeps with other people as well. Because they’ve both consented to opening up their relationship, they’ve managed to make their marriage work and keep it a happy one.

...Our instructor, Kiki Christie, looks like an adorable, kindly librarian. She explains that she has four partners, two local and two long-distance. We are all at the Canadian University Queer Services Conference, and Christie is giving a workshop on “polyamorous” relationships. She asks if anyone else has had a poly-relationship or experience, and about half the class raises their hands. I raise my hand too, but with hesitation.

“Can you be poly-curious?” I ask, and everyone laughs benevolently. Christie assures me you can....

...I really think polyamory is a form of radical love that is slowly, but surely, replacing the outdated hetero-normative kind.... If we could all wrap our heads around this concept of love, I don’t think relationships would be such a crapshoot....

Read the whole article.


4. From the Bowdoin Orient in Maine:

The more the merrier

By Natalia Richey | Feb. 5, 2010

During Winter Break, I spent a significant amount of time traveling with one of my closest friends, who happens to be one of my go-to people for in-depth chats about relationships, hooking-up and of course, sex. That said, we started talking about the typical "hook-up" scene at college. You know, the whole "meet someone at a party, head back to bed, brunch the next day, and 'I'll see you around' type of thing."

...We came to the conclusion that colleges naturally foster "casual hook-ups" that are not only easy to achieve, but also desirable, especially given how explorative they can be.

Bowdoin students have been particularly critical of the all-too-common hook-ups, claiming that the College lacks a proper and wholesome dating scene....

Rather than focusing on the pros and cons of hooking up and the ways in which Bowdoin might develop a more traditional dating scene, I'd like to focus on the other end of this subject: polyamory, a world of non-monogamous relationships that isn't simply hooking up with lots of different people.

...Literally, polyamory translates to "loving many," but more generally refers to consensual, romantic love with more than one person.

In a recent Boston Globe article entitled "Love's New Frontier," Sandra A. Miller describes the polyamorous lifestyle that hundreds of people in Massachusetts are practicing, and thoroughly enjoying.

Not to be confused with the patriarchal man-with-many-wives polygamy, "polyamory has a decidedly feminist, free-spirited flavor, and these are real relationships with the full array of benefits and complexities," writes Miller....

...Many who never felt a natural inclination towards monogamy have found open, polyamorous relationships to be more fulfilling and suitable for themselves. And just to prove that "it works" for more serious families, several polyamorous couples featured in Miller's article have children who are aware of their biological parents' multiple partners and don't seem to mind.

For what's it worth, the lifestyle of polyamory is worth pondering especially since it highlights the fact that it is OK, and very human, to not always be totally satisfied — be it emotionally, physically, or sexually — by one person. Even if polyamory is not always applicable to college students, a style of relationship that is focused on awareness and being vocal about personal feelings and desires is certainly one that should be discussed more openly.

Read the whole article.

Here are all 17 student-newspaper stories collected on this site (including this post; scroll down).


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April 3, 2010

Conventional women over 40 "deciding to try polyamory"

More magazine

In its April issue, "Canada's magazine celebrating women over 40" presents a serious but rather tentative article on conventional couples who have tried exploring polyamory. It's positive overall but has a certain toe-in-the-water feel. For an old-style, home-and-family magazine aimed at older readers, however, this is quite a step.

The article is also on the magazine's website:

Polyamory: Inside an open marriage

Before you dismiss the idea of open marriage as aberrant, consider that polyamory is on the rise, especially among couples of a certain age.

By Anne Bokma

Deciding to try polyamory

When Jill Barrett's* close friend Marguerite Palmer* lost her husband after a lengthy illness, Jill was there to offer support in any way she could: going to the funeral, coming over to cook meals, and planning shopping trips as a diversion from the loneliness that had seized her friend. Jill's husband, Leonard*, was also there for Marguerite: helping to repair a dripping faucet, taking her out on the lake in his boat, holding her and letting her cry in his arms.

As the months passed, Marguerite and Leonard found themselves attracted to each other and longed to move beyond consoling hugs to sexual intimacy. But instead of starting an illicit affair — the discovery of which carried the risk of ruining both a solid marriage and a long-standing friendship — they talked openly about their feelings.

Leonard told his wife about his sexual desire for Marguerite. Marguerite told Jill she was lonely, had gone a year without sex and longed for the loving touch of a man she could trust. And Jill? She gave the pair her blessing to go forth and fornicate, to enter into a sexual relationship without any guilt, shame or fear of getting caught. "My own feelings surprised me," says Jill. "But the fact is, I trust my husband and I trust my friend. Life is short; why should I stop them from having this experience?"

...Open marriage the next sexual revolution?

Before you label this couple an anomaly, deluded or deviant, consider that the open marriage Jill and Leonard are practising is far more common than you might think.

"Ethical non-monogamy" or "polyamory" (literally translated as "many loves") means having loving, intimate relationships with more than one person with the full consent of everyone involved.

The phenomenon is on the rise in North America, including among midlife couples seeking new sexual adventures and emotional connections after being with the same partner for many years. Some believe this type of marriage has such broad appeal that over the next decade it will become accepted as a viable lifestyle choice. A recent Newsweek report, noting an estimated 500,000 Americans are practising polyamory, proposed that it could be "the next sexual revolution." And in Canada, there are online polyamory support groups in every province.

..."There's nothing unusual about people who choose open marriage, except perhaps that we opt to tell the truth to ourselves and to one another," says [author Jenny] Block, who believes there are legions of marriages that may seem traditional to outsiders, but are actually much more unconventional than they appear. "The majority of us may be in hiding, perhaps out of fear of being judged or misunderstood."

...Women in their forties and fifties — freed from the bonds of child rearing, flush with a sexual confidence they might not have had in their younger days and secure in their long-term marriages — may be especially ready to forge new intimate relationships at this stage of life.

Jill Barrett says age definitely had something to do with her willingness to try an open marriage. "I'm much more comfortable with the idea at 40 than I would have been at 30," she says. "As you get older, you're often more willing to experiment, go outside your comfort zone and maybe realize it's a lot wider than you thought."

As vast as that comfort zone might become, those who practise polyamory work hard at dealing with jealousy. They believe it's possible to not only tame the green gene, but actually experience its opposite — something called compersion — taking joy in the pleasure your partner receives from another person. "It's like the happiness you feel when a friend has something good happen to them," says Deri. "Buddhists talk about this concept all the time. It's the opposite of self-sacrificing — it's self-elevating." Author Taormino says jealousy is a learned behaviour, not an instinctual one, and that it can be overcome. "The first step to achieving compersion is to work on unlearning jealousy — letting go of feelings of insecurity, possessiveness and fear. You are striving for a shift in consciousness."

The difference between theory and practice

But does this type of clinical approach work when it comes to regulating matters of the heart? William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and a marriage and family therapist who wrote Take Back Your Marriage: Sticking Together in a World that Pulls Us Apart, doesn't think so. Women, he says, are especially vulnerable to emotionally attaching themselves to a new lover — and putting their marriage at risk. "A woman's heart tends to follow her body; men are more capable of sex without strong attachment." He's against the idea of open marriage primarily because of the risk of marital breakdown and the negative impact this has on children. "These people are putting their relationship in danger for something that's completely optional — a variety of sexual partners is not a core human need." Why then do we feel a biological desire for people we aren't married to? "Of course we are attracted to multiple people, but if we followed up on all of that, we'd be ruined," says Doherty. "We have impulses in other areas too — to lie, to cheat, to steal and kill. And we know those are wrong."

Certainly there are those who have experimented with polyamory and were unhappy with the results.... [example follows]

Yet there are also plenty of poly success stories.... [example follows]

Making polyamory work

One of the strategies couples in open marriages use to resist jealousy is to develop specific ground rules about how they will conduct their multiple relationships. These might include having veto power over whom your partner is intimate with (none of your friends, for example), deciding what types of sexual activities are acceptable, and how much contact you or your partner will have with lovers. Many polyamory websites even post sample "relationship contracts."

Jill Barrett says opening up her marriage brought her closer to her husband. "Some of my friends are in marriages that aren't happy and they aren't doing anything about it," she says. "It wouldn't even cross their minds to explore something like this, but I've come to see that this is a very mature approach to love and sex."

When polyamory has to end

That said, she recently asked Leonard to end his six-month sexual relationship with Marguerite because his time with her was starting to make Jill feel resentful. It wasn't jealousy, she insists, it was having her husband — a salesman who already travels three or four days a week — away from home one more day a week to make the two-hour trip to visit Marguerite. "Things at home weren't getting done and I was feeling a bit like a single parent.

I needed him here more," says Jill. "When all this started, it seemed like a fun experiment and I didn't think it would be a long-term thing." Although Jill admits the breakup has been difficult for Leonard ("He definitely felt torn"), it hasn't had any ill effects on her marriage or her friendship with Marguerite. "I haven't changed my views on open marriage — I think there are some people who can make it work and more power to them. I would never say it's a bad thing or that I regret anything."...

The article comes with a sidebar, "Find out if polyamory is right for you." Its suggestions are sensible as far as they go:

Opening wide? Polyamory might be for you, if...

...you trust your partner. "It sounds like a contradiction, but one of the most profound things I have learned from people in non-monogamous relationships is how confident and content they feel about the strength of their partnerships," says Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships.

...there is mutual consent....

...you aren't the jealous type....

...you have good communication skills....

...you have the time and energy to devote to other people....

...you know the risks....

To that I'd add, "if you're secure enough in yourself to violate social conventions fearlessly and guilt-free — and to, when the going gets rough, devise your own solutions rather than retreat to convention." Notice the great emphasis that this conventional magazine puts on justifying poly by how many people are doing it now, and by the fact that it's a growing trend rather than just "an anomaly" or "aberrant." (The teaser on the cover: "Open Marriage: Is this trend coming to your neighbourhood?")

Baaaaaad way to judge! If more people were shoplifting now, would it be okay to shoplift?

I know that a lot of mainstream people do poly well, but the fact is it's still pretty damn revolutionary, and to lead an alt life successfully you need a healthy indifference to what most people think.

Kinda by definition.

The first comment on the site is from Kitwench, a longtime poly internet chatter, who offers a penetrating criticism of two of the article's stories:

I wanted to like this article, but unfortunately it ignores the real feelings involved. Your partner's other partner isn't a golf habit or a book club that, when it starts to take up too much time, can easily be set aside.... Simply deciding unilaterally to say 'OK, fun over, end this now' and expecting everyone involved to be fine with simply walking away is naive and unrealistic.

Jill may think things are fine, but why didn't we hear from Leonard and Marguerite on how they feel? Polyamorous relationships are not about treating people as if they are disposable conveniences for your fun. It's about ETHICAL non-monogamy, and there is nothing ethical in acting as though you can easily set aside another human being's feelings and pretend all is well. The same applies to Samantha, who wasn't being honest with herself at all. She simply wanted her poly partner to be HER 'primary' and divorce his wife of 26 years - that's not polyamory, that's serial monogamy under false colors.

Read the whole article.


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April 1, 2010

Dear Margo prints another poly letter

Many newspapers

Margo Howard, leading newspaper advice columnist, prints a letter from someone arguing that polyamory should be recognized as an inescapable drive that certain people are born with. The letter is cogent, but he makes poly sound like his partner's unfortunate affliction. Margo responds somewhat unsympathetically.

A Question for the Ages

Dear Margo: I have some thoughts on monogamy. Some people are wired to funnel all their attention to one partner, but many are not. If I ask my partner to be true to me at the expense of being true to herself, I am setting myself up for inevitable heartbreak, and more importantly, I am insisting that she engage in unsustainable, self-destructive behavior.

I will concede that most people would struggle mightily to develop the communication and relationship management skills necessary to succeed in open or polyamorous relationships. Many people will fail in such attempts. Can it really be worse to acknowledge someone for who he is and what he needs than to pretend he’s something else entirely? I prefer to be my partner’s only partner, but I have no chance of knowing whether this can happen unless she is free to say she prefers something else without any risk of stigma.

When society stigmatized people who came out as gay, many gay people felt they had to pass for straight as long as possible. Current arrangements are no better for people who were not built to pour all their romantic attention into a single individual. A person’s sense of obligation or morality may overpower libido for weeks or months, but looking at years and decades has never been realistic and never will be. — Somewhere in the Heartland

Dear Some: Some people agree with you that fidelity is based on insincerity, if not pretense. Many others do not, and they choose to live monogamously. I will say this, however, about your analogy: I believe the gay community will clear all the cultural and societal hurdles and prejudices long before the open marriage or polyamory crowds. — Margo, psychically

Here's the original.

Soon as I post this, I'm gonna go weigh in to say that poly is not just about coping with a problem condition.

I have mixed opinions about the whole "I was born hard-wired poly" claim. It does seem to be true for some people. But others, who felt perfectly happy to live a monogamous life (like me), discovered poly by some fluky happenstance — an amazing person entering their lives, or seeing poly friends living well together, and/or by sitting down and making a deliberate philosophical choice for love's enlargement.

And, "I was born this way" can be an easy bullshitter's excuse for bad behavior. Of any kind.

Some of the reader comments on Margo's homepage are pretty good; go join in. You can also mail her directly at dearmargo@creators.com . She's been good about the topic in several past columns.

Here's my friend Anita Wagner's take, on her Practical Polyamory blog.


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