Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

February 23, 2011

"Getting familiar with polyamory in Wisconsin"

Dane 101

An online magazine "for Madison and Dane County" interviews a Christian poly lady who explains the basics, as she sees them, and tells how people have reacted to her and her partners.

By Nathan J. Comp

If you think having one relationship is tough, imagine nurturing two or three or four all at once. But that’s how Kimberly Stenerson, 42, prefers it, explaining that monogamy isn’t for her. Instead, Stenerson, who performs with the Spring Green-based performance troupe Camp Burlesque, has for most of her life sought out fully committed relationships with multiple people simultaneously.

“I think I was always poly,” she says, referring to polyamory. “It’s like when people ask, ‘When did you know you were gay?’ It’s the same as knowing you’re monogamous and heterosexual. You just always knew.”

She cautions that, more than a lifestyle, polyamory is a state of being, and therefore isn’t for everybody. “It’s not just sex with other people,” stresses Stenerson, who lives in Spring Green with her daughters and partners. “It’s also love, trust and communication, like you’d have in any relationship.”

Stenerson spoke with Dane101 about the dynamics of poly relationships, how the lifestyle squares with her Christianity and how it differs from swinging.

What’s the difference between poly and open marriages?

Well, an open marriage tends to be sexually oriented. So you can swing. Sometimes they have arrangements where there’s certain level of sexual activity involved and other things that are not. Like, some people talk about doing a full swap, where you and another couple might get together and mess around but end up with your significant other. So it’s more sexually oriented, but not in a bad way. It’s very good for the marriage, for the folks that like it.

Poly is more emotional. You have multiple people that you love... people are committed to more than one person.

So, you’re a Christian. How does that square with the adultery thing?

Well, I don’t commit adultery, even when I’m poly. Adultery is cheating and cheating is lying. So I don’t lie.... For me, the definition of adultery is to betray one’s vow or promise.

What kinds of jealousy issues arise?

If the person has been poly their whole life, it’s completely different than for someone new to the lifestyle. Because the same way if you’re monogamous, you watch your parents deal with all the issues that come up in a relationship. If you grow up poly it’s easier to deal with the jealousy issues. I always suggest, if you’re taking on a new lifestyle, give yourself a year to learn and explore before you get into any heavy-duty commitments.

...You don’t love someone more; you love them differently than someone else.

What are the biggest misperceptions monogamous people have about poly?

...It depends on whom you talk to. Talk to a couple. It’s interesting; they’ll both act like it’s perfectly fine until you get them alone. You’re talking to them [together] and they’re, ‘Oh, that’s just fine. That’s wonderful. That’s interesting,’ until you get them alone and the guy says, ‘Hey baby, ya wanna swing?’ And the girl’s like, ‘How can you do that? What about your children?’...

Read on (Feb. 23, 2011), and perhaps leave a comment there.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great that some people "always knew" they were poly. But saying that is the way it IS as opposed to the way it CAN BE is exclusive and not helpful to the people who are considering opening themselves to the poly lifestyle. Unlike being gay, being poly is actually a CHOICE. It's not genetic. It's not predetermined. Anyone can choose to open their hearts and face their demons to love more and accept more love. Always good to see press, but this kind of statement tells people that if they haven't "always" felt called to poly that maybe it's not for them. That's just not true...

February 24, 2011 6:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

> Unlike being gay, being poly is actually a CHOICE.

I hear both sides of this. For me it *was* a deliberate choice; I can live happy monogamously when I choose. But some people describe convincingly how, in their cases, it really *is* an innate and unavoidable orientation like being gay.

February 24, 2011 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie, I have to respectfully disagree.

I think for SOME people it's a choice, but to say it's not genetic or predetermined when there are obviously many people (including myself) who strongly feel it is, invalidates me and others like me just as much as you were feeling invalidated by the interview above.

I think it is more accurate to say that for some polyamory is how they were born and for others it may be a choice.

I do wish that the article above had made that more clear also, so we absolutely agree there!

February 24, 2011 10:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Whether or not one feels attracted to more than one other person is NOT a choice. Whether you act on it or not IS just like whether or not one acts on his or his same-sex orientation is ultimately a choice. The book "Sex at Dawn" takes a look at the scientific research and anthropological studies which suggest humans are fundamentally wired to be "polyamorous" or "promiscuous" or however you want to label it. It's just our societal conformance to Roman Empire era monogamy that makes us think that's the way we are by nature. The high level of cheating on married partners and spouses should make it clear that we are suppressing something...and doing a rather poor job of it.

February 24, 2011 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... I tend to think it's a continuum.

I simply *am* poly-natured (although I didn't know there was a name for it, let alone a community, until just a few years ago.) My husband, on the other hand, never really thought about it as an option until he met me. He adjusted just fine when I made 'open' a condition for 'marriage' well over a decade ago, and his dating/relationships are about on a par with mine, but he would have been fine being committed to monogamy, too - something which I could not do. So he's closer to the midpoint on the spectrum than I am.

I do have something of an issue with her apparent assumption that married = not really poly, and 'open' marriage is synonymous with swinging. It's certainly not true for me, nor for any of the other married polyfolk of my acquaintance. (None of them is interested in or involved with closed poly-fi relationships, either, in case anyone is wondering.) ;P

I run into this anti-marriage prejudice more often than I would like, in various forms.

February 24, 2011 10:06 PM  
Blogger Daniel Cardoso said...

While it might be so that we have some genetic or physiological drive towards non-monogamy (stronger in some, weaker in others), polyamory is in itself a moral positioning, not an innate behavior.

Genetically coded behaviors are much 'simpler' (meaning that they point out general directions, or force very specific standardized behaviors), and polyamory, with its rules and positionings and whatnot is anything but simple.

So while it might be that we're to a point biologically inclined to non-monogamy, polyamory isn't just non-monogamy (as in, a pattern of sexual or emotional behaviors), nor is it mainly non-monogamy. So, to claim to have always been poly is confusing these several layers of influences.

Also, let's us all be reminded of one very specific danger: if it's genetic/physiological, then someone can always come and try to 'treat'/'cure' poly-folk. Conversion therapy, poly-style...

February 26, 2011 10:10 PM  

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