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

July 22, 2011

Advice columns, mainstream and alt

The Guardian (UK)

The Guardian is one of Britain's (and the world's) leading daily newspapers, known for its liberal voice and best known lately for breaking the Rupert Murdoch "hackgate" story.

Every Friday in a back section it prints a reader's love-and-life question, with the best answers that other readers have provided for it online. Below is the question it published today, July 22nd (paper issue only).

Interesting that our problems are being treated so normally these days.

Should I tell my parents about my polyamory?

My husband and I are polyamorous; we are both in multiple sexual relationships. My family (apart from my siblings, who are bemused and fascinated) are unaware of our arrangement. Given that it has been a feature of our relationship from the start, and isn't going to change any time soon, I would like to tell them. My parents are fundamentalist Christians and will not understand. I want to be honest about the way I live and the people that I love, but I know that telling them will be upsetting, and that they may cut off contact for a while, possibly for ever. My mother will also blame herself, despite the fact that my polyamory is as innate as my bisexuality. Should I bite the bullet, or stay quiet for the sake of family harmony? My husband's family know about our other relationships, as do some of the families of our other loves.

Here's the original query, with all 70 reader responses. I wonder which the editors chose to print? Can someone in the UK let us know? (Look in the G2 section.)

Update next morning: That was quick; a reader has sent us the five excellent replies the Guardian printed. See the comments at the end of this post.


Elsewhere in advice columns... Atlanta's alt paper Creative Loafing recently offered this less-than-inspired item:

Does feeling poly mean marriage has failed?

by Michael Alvear

My husband and I have been married for four years and we have two children younger than 2! Within the last year, we've begun exploring an open relationship. I am bi-sexual. Recently, I've found myself seriously falling for a woman I'm seeing. It has been a struggle to determine if A) My feelings are just part of the excitement, B) It is a symptom of something larger in my relationship with my husband, or C) Maybe I should just be single and give the marriage thing a rest. Thoughts? Suggestions? How many poly couples have you seen that survive in the long run? I guess I'm just questioning the nature of our choices and whether it is truly freedom or rather a patch for underlying issues. Or if I'm just overthinking it and should revel in the fact that I can have my cake and eat it, too.

— Bi-fuddled

Dear Bi-fuddled,

OK, a woman walks into Van Cleef & Arpels and falls in love with a diamond necklace. It's expensive: $400,000. She tells the jeweler, "I know how I can buy this at your full price, but I need you to play along....

...My point, and I do have one, is that sometimes a wife needs a lover to get what she really wants. In your case, the "jewelry" is sexual and emotional fulfillment. And the only way you're going to get that is through your husband and your girlfriend.

If you're in a mutually agreed-upon open relationship, I'm not exactly sure why you're writing. Seems to me you're feeling a little guilty that you put the keys into that shiny new Vulva and drove it off the lot, leaving your husband wondering what the hell happened.

I think you have a bigger concern than deciding between your husband and your girlfriend: Your kids. Your guiding principle should be to maintain a stable home. It doesn't matter whether you do it in a hetero, homo or bi relationship — or whether you do it in a monogamous, nonmonogamous or poly setting. Your sexual and emotional fulfillment should not come at the cost of a stable home for the kids.

That said, my first question is whether everybody involved knows who's involved. It's worth remembering what "polyamorous" means: having more than one intimate relationship at the same time with the full knowledge and consent of all parties.

Can poly couples survive? Yes, if they adhere to the defining characteristics that mark long-term viability: ethics, honesty and transparency.

I have a feeling you've not been totally honest with either your husband or your girlfriend. You need to take each of them (separately!) to a sexy cool restaurant like Buckhead's Tantra and have a sensible convo to get the poly ball rolling....

Why "separately!" I ask? So you can tell each of them something different? Preventing this likelihood — and preventing the suspicion of it — is exactly why to have discussions as a group. The whole difference between polyamory and just having affairs is in closing the loop!

Read the original (July 18, 2011). It's not too late to leave a comment (and remember, late comments are important because they stay visible longer).




Blogger Alan said...

A UK reader sends us the five responses that the Guardian printed:


There's a middle ground

Do not deliberately conceal anything, but do not volunteer any information about your love life. Answer any questions honestly, but not with the whole truth, unless directly asked (eg "I spent Saturday night at John's" rather than "John and I had sex on Saturday night"). If asked directly about your polyamory, reply: "Do you really want to know?" If they say they do, then tell them.



Tell the truth

I'm in a loving, same-sex, polyamorous relationship. I told my family. I felt they deserved to know, and it was much easier afterwards to have a relevant conversation about my life. If you feel that they should know, let them know why.

If they react badly then stay calm, give them space, and wait for them to come around. Don't be ashamed of who you are.



Introduce them

If you and your husband are in a serious emotional relationship, but repeatedly sleep with other people on a short-term basis, then it is really not your parents' business. If you are in a stable relationship with your husband but you both have other long(ish)-term partners with whom you have a similar emotional connection as to each other, you might want your parents to know that.

This probably won't go down well initially, but perhaps you could introduce them as people. Leading with: "These are the people I love and I am happy" is always more likely to get a better response than: "I am different and I am expecting
you to judge me".



Respect their privacy

I think the potential pain and confusion they will feel about what is essentially a private matter should override your need to be honest. It is quite possible to be who you are and live the way you want to without hurting anyone, simply by keeping your love life between yourself and your partners.



They won't understand

I've had two "husbands" for nearly 20 years. None of the three of us has ever had any urge to share any information with our families. I spend half my time with one and half with the other.

Your parents absolutely won't understand. Your lifestyle runs counter to everything their church teaches them about sexual relations. They are either going to be furiously angry with you, and quite possibly not speak to you again, or they will react with heartbroken horror.


July 23, 2011 7:46 AM  
Blogger Full Marriage Equality said...

Polyamory is getting more attention, which is good.

July 23, 2011 8:03 PM  

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