Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 31, 2011

Poly wins media notice in Portugal

Daniel Cardoso, a journalism teacher and polyactivist in Portugal, sends several poly-in-the-media items from a country that, like neighboring Spain, has successfully outgrown Fascist rule.

● An informative, 5½-page article titled "Love Cubed" appeared a couple weeks ago in Notícias Magazine, "a supplement magazine of one of the main Portuguese daily newspapers," Cardoso writes. It features him and his partners. From the table of contents (translated):

What is polyamory?

There are different ways of doing love relationships. Some people don't fit the traditional model and seek out new ways. Polyamory is one of them. To live in this manner requires a "great maturity", according to adherents of this model, who explain their way of life on page 32....

The article begins as follows:

Ines began what would become her first love relationship at age 21. Daniel Cardoso, [then] 24, was already dating when he met her. They became friends — and it was Daniel, a researcher and teacher of media and journalism, who introduced the concept of loving and dating however many people one wanted, in an honest and responsible manner. In other words, everyone involved would know "what was up with who."

"My first reaction was to think that was an intellectually interesting idea: to love many people, regardless of gender, allowing these people to have the same freedom to love whomever they wanted and be happy," says Ines. "At the time I said, 'It's an interesting new twist but not for me. I'm selfish and want someone just for myself.'"

Over months of conversations, however, the preconceived notion that polyamory was not a good fit for her gave way to curiosity. "I knew people in polyamorous relationships and saw how it worked, until one day the idea took hold as a genuinely possible alternative — one that suited my values of freedom and respect and would not force me to follow the herd, something I have never identified with doing."...

Read the complete article (Jan. 16, 2011). The link brings up the magazine pages; click to enlarge, then click on the right- or left-margin arrows to flip the pages. (The brief "history of polyamory" mentions Stranger in a Strange Land.)

● A national TV news channel in Portugal aired this report on polyamory (2:44), highlighting the same triad and explaining the basic concepts. The segment appeared on TVI's "Jornal Nacional" for October 25, 2010.

● In the GLBT magazine Com'Out:

Polyamory: A horizon of possibilities

...and a relationship model in which one can love more than one person at a time. We hardly see in monogamy an ideal of happiness. Being polyamorous does not require that relationships are maintained simultaneously, just that the option is left open.

Read the whole original (July-Sept. 2010). Again, you get magazine pages to flip. You don't need a translator for " 'Comunicar, comunicar, comunicar' seja um dos slogans do poliamor."

● The Portuguese edition of the newsweekly magazine Focus (based in Germany) ran a long story on the supposedly polyamorous future of Western society, translated from the article in the German edition last May. That was the one with the Rubens-esque nude puppy pile on the cover. The Portuguese edition includes a small amount of local material swapped in.

How we shall love — and if we love, with how many?

Several partners at the same time. Sexual potency into old age. The end of romanticism. Researchers describe how emotions, sex and our relationships will change in the future.

David, Ana, and Maria (not their real names) love in three dimensions. They love polyamorously — in which you have multiple partners, for head, heart and body. In 2030, Ana will be 45, Maria 52 and David 56. And maybe they will smile a bit about the fact that they had already anticipated the future in 2010....

Can we imagine a future of multi-dimensional love? And so, also, a future of other emotions in 3-D, as it were? For philosopher and writer Sven Hillenkamp, the lifestyle of David, Ana and Maria is a realistic possibility in the world of 2030. "Networks of people living polyamorously are renewing the idea of open relationship," he says. "These people believe that they can do both long-term: be in a partnership and have unlimited possibilities."

Read the whole article (June 15, 2010).

For more em Português, see the PolyPortugal website: polyportugal.blogspot.com.

And here are all my posts with the Português tag (including this one; scroll down).


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January 21, 2011

Communication Catastrophe in Mainstream Monogamy

Science Daily, USA Today, and elsewhere

If you don't think relationship culture in America is screwed up, here's some news. Among young couples who had discussed whether they would be sexually exclusive with each other, 40 percent had an opposite understanding from their partner about whether or not they had agreed to be exclusive.

That's just short of the 50 percent you would expect if each person's guess at what they'd agreed was totally random — a coin-flip independent of anything that they'd actually, like, communicated. And also, as if there weren't even a cultural standard that you could guess at with better than random success. [However, note the skewed sample of the survey as pointed out by commenter #5 below.]

Come on people, talk! This isn't a poly issue — but poly-community culture sure has a lot to teach the world about honest, fearless, accurate, verified communication between lovers. A lot of us don't always get it right either — but Jesus, at least we know we ought to.

If you think sex education in America is screwed up, don't get me started about love education.

In Science Daily:

Young Couples Can't Agree on Whether They Have Agreed to Be Monogamous

While monogamy is often touted as a way to protect against disease, young couples who say they have discussed monogamy can't seem to agree on what they decided. And a significant percentage of those couples who at least agreed that they would be monogamous, weren't.

A new study1 of 434 young heterosexual couples ages 18–25 found that, in 40 percent of couples, only one partner says the couple agreed to be sexually exclusive. The other partner said there was no agreement.

Public health researchers Jocelyn Warren and Marie Harvey of Oregon State University looked at data from the PARTNERS Project, a Center for Disease Control-funded study conducted by Harvey.... The results are in a forthcoming article1 published online in the Journal of Sex Research.

"Other studies have looked at perceptions related to monogamy, but this is really the first one that explores the discussions that heterosexual couples are — or aren't — having about monogamy," Warren said. "Miscommunication and misunderstandings about sexual exclusivity appear to be common."

And note the following:

Even among those who agreed they had an explicit agreement to be monogamous, almost 30 percent had broken the agreement, with at least one partner having had sex outside the relationship.

Harvey, a leading researcher in the field of sexual and reproductive health, said this study adds to a growing body of research on safer sex communication.

"Couples have a hard time talking about these sorts of issues, and I would imagine for young people it's even more difficult," she said. "Monogamy comes up quite a bit as a way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases. But you can see that agreement on whether one is monogamous or not is fraught with issues."

The couples surveyed included both married and non-married couples. Interestingly, couples with children were less likely to have a monogamy agreement in place. Married couples were no more likely to have an explicit monogamy agreement in place than other couples....

Read the whole article (Jan. 18, 2011).

See how the news was covered in USA Today (Jan. 22, 2011), Time magazine's website (Feb. 1, 2011), and elsewhere.

P.S.: If you'd like some ideas on tuning up your communication skills — always a good idea for anybody — here's some suggested reading:

Communication can be tougher than you think, by Franklin Veaux (aka tacit)
Recommended books courtesy Anita Wagner.
Recommended books courtesy Cascade Cook and Zhahai Stewart.

Other recommendations?


1. Here's the abstract of the research report:

One Love: Explicit Monogamy Agreements among Heterosexual Young Adult Couples at Increased Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Jocelyn T. Warren; S. Marie Harvey; Christopher R. Agnew


HIV prevention strategies among couples include condom use, mutual monogamy, and HIV testing. Research suggests that condom use is more likely with new or casual partners, and tends to decline as relationships become steady over time. Little is known, however, about explicit mutual monogamy agreements and HIV testing within heterosexual couples. This study used data from 434 young heterosexual couples at increased risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to assess (a) couple concordance on perceptions of a monogamy agreement, sustained monogamy, and HIV testing; and (b) the associations of relationship and demographic factors with monogamy agreement, sustained monogamy, and HIV testing. Results indicated only slight to fair agreement within couples on measures of monogamy agreement and sustained monogamy. Overall, 227 couples (52%) concurred that they had an explicit agreement to be monogamous; of those, 162 (71%) had sustained the agreement. Couples with greater health protective communication and commitment were more likely to have a monogamy agreement. Couples of Latino and Hispanic ethnicity and those with children were less likely to have a monogamy agreement. Only commitment was related to sustained monogamy. Having children, greater health protective communication, and perceived vulnerability to HIV and STIs were associated with HIV testing within the couple.

The reference:
Journal of Sex Research, 2010; : 1 DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2010.541952



January 18, 2011

Kind hearts, cruel results?

Many alternative newspapers

Love shouldn't make you self-centered, should it? "Love is the great clarifier of values," right? In this week's Savage Love, alt-columnist Dan Savage smacks around (his term) a nice-sounding couple who seem not to share themselves with others in a considerate manner.

...My boyfriend and I have had a wonderful relationship for six years. We have had "girlfriends" in the past who were involved with both of us simultaneously. He recently met a girl and they instantly clicked... and she seems infatuated with him. She is aware that he lives with me/ we are together, but I've yet to meet her. I am fine with them dating, but I have a few questions:

1. My guy and I share everything. He's shown me her texts and told me about her life. We both feel slightly uncomfortable with me knowing such personal things about her without meeting her, but we don't want to limit the intensely open communication we have earned with each other.... How much am I entitled to know about her/them, and how can he tell me about her without being disrespectful?

2. Can I meet her? Under what circumstances?

3. Can this end well for her? Every girl we've dated has ended up hurt because our relationship with each other is always more important than she is. I worry this girl will be devastated when he doesn't leave me for her.... Things always end badly for the other girl, and I don't want to hurt her.

Curious And Respectful

...1. Your guy needs to tell this girl that he shares absofuckinlutely everything with you. He needs to tell her that he's in a successful open relationship — successful for you two, anyway — and that he has no intention of limiting the "intensely open communication" that has made your relationship work. She needs to know that you're hearing about their dates and the details of her life, reading every text, etc.

2. Sure, you can meet her — you absofuckinlutely should meet her.... How about under coffee circumstances? Or drinks circumstances? Or dinner circumstances?

3. Um... gee. If every girl you two have ever "dated" has wound up hurt, CAR, then a reasonable person might conclude that YOU'RE DOING THIS OPEN-RELATIONSHIP SHIT ALL WRONG. Your "wonderful" open relationship may be working for you, but if it's not working for them, CAR, then it's not working.

So... Dan Savage is ordering you to refrain from inviting anyone else into your "wonderful" relationship until you get a handle on what's so un-fucking-wonderful about it for your thirds....

Read the whole column (Jan. 13, 2011).

Too harsh? Here's a favorite Heinlein quote of mine for the last 43 years, always relevant for polys: "Goodness is not enough, goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good."


Elsewhere in advice columns, a local sex therapist has good things to say in Colorado's Boulder Weekly:

Beyond the margins of monogamy

By Dr. Jenni Skyler

Dear Dr. Jenni,

I’ve tried monogamous relationships my entire life, and try as I may, I just don’t find monogamy to be spiritually fulfilling. In fact, I find it boring. I’d like to try polyamory, but I’m not sure how to introduce the subject to my girlfriend, or any girl in the future for that matter. How can one discuss polyamory with a significant other without coming off like a complete jerk?

—Perplexed by Procedure

Dear PBP,

Polyamory is one of society’s top taboos. There is an old adage that says, “Nature loves diversity, society hates it.” However, polyamory is about love, commitment, transparency and trust … with more than one person. Unlike swinging, where interactions are based more on recreational sex, polyamory is a lifestyle of intimate relationships practiced with or without sex. Also called responsible non-monogamy, the lifestyle requires the consent of all who are involved.

...That said, polyamory is not necessarily the answer to the monotony of monogamy....

...Making the switch mid-relationship to a polyamorous lifestyle can be a difficult process. The relationship must have enough trust and honesty that letting your partner be with another person doesn’t feel threatening.... It’s normal to bump up against boundaries where you feel threatened in any relationship, exclusive or not. In polyamory, though, you must be fully willing to continuously process how all parties are feeling.

Before you suggest polyamory to your future partner, it’s wise for you to first get acquainted with the lifestyle. Keep in mind, casually dating numerous people is not considered polyamory. Do your research, read some books, go to some meet-up groups, and get involved with the community. Most likely, it will be easier to date those with similar values in the community.

If you are in an exclusive, monogamous relationship, and you don’t want your partner to consider you a “complete jerk,” start by having conversations that are less taboo.... Build up your ability to share sexual content together. Once you feel comfortable vocalizing all your needs, wants and desires, then you know the relationship can withstand a deeper level of authenticity, and broaching the topic of opening the relationship will feel safer.

For all you know, your radical honesty with one another may make you fall in love with your partner in a new way.

Read the whole article (Jan. 6, 2011).



January 5, 2011

Poly on TV where a world was reborn

XIP/TV (Catalonia, Spain)

I don't believe in New Age ideas of synchronicity. But when a subject gets your attention, it attunes you to notice all sorts of related things that you otherwise wouldn't, and these flower into an emergent network of associations and connections richer than the sum of the parts. So much so, that credulous people can think something paranormal is going on.

And so, as I was nearing the end of the Spanish novel The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, which my daughter gave me for Christmas — a lush, spook-ridden tragedy of sexual repression, Catholic conservatism, and fascist horrors in Barcelona from 1919 to 1955 — up pops this in my inbox, from people right near the novel's very setting:

"Here's the best video so far on our family," wrote Juliette Siegfried, "shot last spring but not aired until December. It was on Catalan TV. The first half is in Spanish, but the images are great to watch. Then Laurel starts speaking in English (and they put Catalan subtitles) for most of the rest. I think people will enjoy it."

Watch it here (10 minutes). It's from a happy, family-oriented TV show called "Each home is a world."

As I watched this when nearing the climax of the frightful novel — fallen women imprisoned, lives ruined by jealous obsession, a haunted mansion on the Avenida del Tibidabo, massive sexual ignorance among ruling family dons with no clue where to turn — I was almost as fascinated by the background shots of today's free and modern Barcelona suburbs as by Juliette and her family, a happy, tightly bonded triad of three adults and their toddler.

Yes, the world improves.

From the show:

Laurel: It was great with Roland because I got both a partner and a best friend in Juliette—

Juliette: And her too—

Laurel: —She's always been supportive of my relationship with Roland and just a great person to pal around with. We went out the other night in Barcelona and had a lovely evening, while Roland was home with the baby. It was great.

Toddler: Mama!

Laurel: She's getting "Mama" down pretty well.

Juliette: I think she's starting to distinguish.

Laurel: I think we're both going to be "Mama" for a while.

Juliette: I think so.

More coincidence: Christopher Ryan, the author of Sex at Dawn whom I met at Loving More's Poly Living West conference, also lives in Barcelona. He just posted that next month, the city will unveil a monument to the gay, lesbian, and transgendered martyrs of its repressive past, a fictional example of whom lives in the book. The location for the monument has not been finalized, but a proposed site is by Gaudi's Sagrada Familia basilica, Barcelona's surreal Catholic icon known the world over.

And another: After I watched that wonderful piece of television, I came upon, at Seattle's alternative newspaper The Stranger, Mistress Matisse with her "what's in and what's out" column for the new year:

Polyamorous people: What's out? Exposing yourself (and polyamorists in general) to public examination and ridicule on TV. Most people have figured this out, but producers still try to woo the unwary. Don't do it. Unless you have significant experience with public speaking, talk-show hosts will gut you and feed you to the shark-pool studio audience. Reality-TV editors will arrange footage of you into sequences that would embarrass Danny Bonaduce. The 15 minutes of fame/infamy isn't worth it, so engage in education and activism in settings where you have some control.

Read the whole article (Dec. 28, 2010).

In reality, as readers here know, the past few years of polyamory TV reports have mostly been been positive, accurate, and respectful. TV is still the toughest medium to do. To prevent bad outcomes you have to research the TV show's agenda, be ready to say no, and get your basic training in how to present yourself and your message well on camera and control how your contributions will be used. This kind of research and training are available to you for free from the volunteer Polyamory Media Association (a project of the Polyamory Leadership Network), from Loving More's media-experienced director Robyn Trask (phoning is best), and/or from Susan Wright at the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

If something about a TV-show offer seems iffy to you, poly sex educator Reid Mihalko says he's ready to field the hardest cases. He's a TV-industry professional, a first-rate presenter, and can handle anything he chooses to get into.

My own suggested New Year's resolution for the poly community? "Out and proud... with care."



January 3, 2011

Trendspotters at work

In Tampa, a writer for the Daily Loaf (website of the alternative paper Creative Loafing) presents her "Top 7 alternative lifestyles for 2011," including...

By Rebecca Ammon

...4 – Free Love: Free Love was once thought of as a movement that rejected the constraints of marriage. Today it is experienced as polyamory. Open relationships that involve the love and compassion for another have been growing in popularity for years. 2011 will prove to be the year this type of lifestyle will blossom.

Whole article (Dec. 29, 2010).

Elsewhere, the commercial online women's site TrèsSugar offered as a trend of last year:

Polyamory: Maybe it's just part of the '70s revival, but with extramarital dating sites popping up and a book touting the benefits of cheating, open relationships gained traction as a feasible option this year.

Comments needed about that, say I.