Deborah Anapol's Return
Deborah Taj Anapol was one of the founders of today's polyamory movement back in the 1980s. She advocated widely and enthusiastically for multiple love and sacred sexuality, made early use of the internet to gather and organize like-minded people, and co-founded Loving More magazine and its conferences.1 She wrote one of our earliest books, Love Without Limits (1992; expanded and reissued as Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits in 1997).2
In later years, Anapol turned toward larger topics of New Age philosophy and the application of wider models of love to humanity's survival and future. She moved to Hawaii, raised coffee, continued to lead occasional personal-development retreats, and published the small book The Seven Natural Laws of Love (2005).
Now Anapol is returning to polyactivity, with a long view. She has a new book coming out in late June or early July: Polyamory in the 21st Century. She's doing public appearances and last Thursday began writing a column for the website of Psychology Today, called "Love Without Limits: Reports from the Relationship Frontier":
What Is Polyamory Really All About?
My position on polyamory has always been pro-choice rather than anti-monogamy, but after thirty years as a participant-observer in this strange new world it's more the case than ever that I really have no position on whether people should be monogamous or not. The truth is that it's extremely rare to find anyone who has only one sexual partner for their entire life. In fact, it's unusual to find anyone who has only one "significant other" throughout their life. So the question is not so much whether to love more than one, but whether it works better to have multiple partners sequentially or at the same time. There are definitely some people who are far better off taking it one at a time, and there are some situations which call out for other possibilities. I'm continually amazed both by the ingenuity, courage, and vulnerability of people who have made their own bodies and hearts the center for an inquiry into the true nature of love, and by the persistent self-deception, lack of integrity, and callousness others justify by calling what they are doing polyamory.
While many people define polyamory as the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with everyone's full knowledge and consent, I see it differently. To me polyamory is a philosophy of loving that asks us to surrender to love. Polyamory leads us to ask, "What is the most loving and authentic way I can be present with these people and with myself at this time?"
The answer to this question may not always be obvious....
Read the whole column (May 6, 2010).
In the most recent issue of her personal newsletter, she writes that she is still wrestling with the question, "Can some combination of free love, polyamory, and polysexual expression really make a contribution to saving the planet?" To her credit, she does not fall back on any easy answer.3
And the book? I've read it and can recommend it without reservation. This is from a blurb I wrote for the publisher:
Deborah Anapol has produced a level-headed, insightful examination of the growing polyamory movement and the people in it — their ideals, motivations, backgrounds, and practices, and the increasing body of hard-won wisdom they are accumulating about what makes multiple-relationship structures fail or succeed. Anapol draws on her nearly 30 years at the heart of the movement, including her experience counseling thousands of poly and would-be-poly clients and her many discussions with the movement's movers and shakers. She also examines how poly people and families deal with such issues as jealousy, time management, child rearing, and how closeted or out to be in a sometimes hostile world.
Anapol provides a straightforward examination of polyamory's costs and benefits, as well as the personality traits and good-relationship practices that have proven most likely to lead to a successful poly life. And she looks ahead to where the movement may be going, and to the benefits that this wider paradigm of loving may have for the future of humanity.
Recommended... both for scholars of the polyamory movement and for would-be polys seeking a good look at what they hope to join.
Anapol herself describes the book as follows:
[Polyamory in the 21st Century provides an] overview of the whole range of intimate relationships that don't conform to our culture's monogamous ideal but endeavor to be honest, ethical, and consensual. It addresses the practical, the utopian, and the shadow sides of this intriguing, yet often challenging lifestyle while shedding light on the reasons people choose polyamory and how their lives have changed as a result. Drawing on recent findings from many disciplines, Polyamory in the 21st Century helps the reader comprehend the dynamics of long-term open marriages as well as more tribal and fluid intimate networks and everything in between.
1 Read more in the overview of Loving More's history that I wrote for Loving More's website.
2 Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits is almost out of print but is being retyped by volunteer Tara Shakti-Ma and should soon be available online.
3 My own tentative answer, after pondering on this for 40 years in my rationalist-scientific, anti-woowoo way, is "probably yes." In the absence of certainty, anyway, keep the faith.