Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 31, 2013

"Canada’s ‘polyamory’ community to descend on Vancouver for convention"

The Province (Vancouver)

Canada's first PolyCon starts this evening (Friday) in Vancouver — and today, people walking by newsboxes and checkout counters all across British Columbia are probably doing double-takes at this family portrait of PolyCon organizer Zoe Duff and her two longterm guys.

Tickets for PolyCon were nearly sold out as of two days ago, says Zoe. I hope the organizers are requiring good boundary agreements from reporters who want to attend. The PostMedia newspaper chain sure is taking an interest. Its flagship paper, the National Post, published the previous two articles that I excerpted here. The Province is part of that chain.

The article itself seems factual and basically correct. The paper, though downmarket, seems to be old-school about separating news and editorializing.

The article's original headline when it went up on the paper's site last night was Three’s not a crowd: Canada’s ‘polyamory’ community to descend on Vancouver for convention. Under that headline it became the second most-read story on the site. This morning it was reposted online under the headline below.

Group seeks the 'right to love'

Vancouver convention focuses on culture of multi-partner relationships

By Ian Austin

Samantha Fraser calls herself a poly advocate.

That's short form for promoter of polyamory — an emerging trend of multi-partner relationships, or as Fraser likes to call it, "ethical non-monogamy."

But she doesn't pretend it's easy. The question is put to the 33-year-old — are there issues with jealousy?

"Absolutely!" she says without a moment's hesitation. "Being non-monogamous requires a lot of work. There are people who want to try it out without doing the work, and people end up getting hurt."

The Torontonian — originally from England, raised in Nova Scotia — isn't naive or dogmatic about her lifestyle choice, and freely dishes on the positives and pitfalls of having more than one partner.

"I know families of three, and families of six, and families of 10," says Fraser, who says she and her husband are free to entertain other partners.

"Sometimes we have serious relationships, sometimes we have casual relationships."

Her lifestyle candour will be on display this weekend in Vancouver at "Polycon — Claiming our Right to Love."

It's a convention organized by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, and Fraser's keynote speech is entitled Living Honestly and Creating Change....

The group has incorporated a "whatever-works" philosophy - as long as the participants aren't getting hurt, anything goes.

"We believe every adult should create their own relationships," reads the group's website — polyadvocacy.ca. "No loving, life-enhancing possibility is out of bounds.... "Our relationships are custom-made by those in them, without preset roles."...

There's a nice sidebar about Zoe:

Polyamory is tough

Zoe Duff knows a lot about love.

She has to — she has six children, two step-children, four grandkids, and two ex-husbands.

But it doesn't stop there — now she's living in a triad with her current partners, Jayson Hawksworth and Danny Weeds.

"Polyamory is hard work, but I think any type of relationship is hard work," says Duff, who's running this weekend's convention.

"It's wonderful, but it's definitely not for everybody. It works for those who are willing to work at it.... My experience with monogamy and polyamory are completely different. We're forced to communicate or it's not going to work. The honesty has to be two-way."...


Read the whole article (May 31, 2013). Here's a piccy...

...courtesy Samantha Fraser, in the pic.

Several hundred miles away, the article also appears today on the website of the chain's Calgary Herald.

A version also ran in the city of Victoria's Times-Colonist: Three isn’t a crowd when it’s a comfortable triangle.

Also, local polyactivist Kiki Christie and a partner were on Early Edition on CBC Vancouver Radio this morning. "That went well," she says. Listen here if the link works where you are; forward to 2:01:15.

PolyCon is being put on by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), which did such a great job of essentially winning the decriminalization of poly relationships in Canada in 2011.



May 29, 2013

"Will the bonobos in our midst make monkeys of us all?"

National Post (Canada)

A columnist in Canada's conservative National Post harrumphs that the country's polys will "make monkeys of us all" when they eventually seek group marriage — picking up on an organizer's remark in the paper's recent article about Polycon, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association's convention coming up this weekend in Vancouver.

Remember, if you don't want it quoted out of context, don't let it come out of your mouth. Speak to the media, in particular hostile media, using the sound bite formula, in which every bit you say can stand by itself. Another pro tip: don't answer the question that was asked, answer the question you wish was asked. Listen to politicians and corporate flacks and you'll hear them doing both these things; that's why they sound so good.

What would the bonobos do?

By Barbara Kay

The author...
Should we be surprised that “polyamorists” — mixed-sex threesomes or foursomes in open “relationships” — have come out of the closet, clamouring for their slice of the matrimonial pie?

This week, the new Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) will be discussing its claims for family legitimacy at its first conference in Vancouver. Zoe Duff, a director of CPAA, says: “As a long-term thing, I can see a desire to have the right to marry.”

...and her opponents.
The law against polygamy was upheld in 2011 by the Supreme Court of Canada, but the Court didn’t put the kibosh on informal sexual arrangements that fell outside its bounds. Now some polyamorists are looking for the glittering prize of legal validation.

I’m no Cassandra. But in 2006 I warned in a column: “Don’t panic … about polygamy … Save your panic for “polyamorous” marriage … Thanks to such ‘advances’ as the recent Supreme Court of Canada’s ‘swingers’ ruling [which legitimated group sex as a for-profit business that did no “harm”], polyamory is acquiring respectability, thus paving the way for public acceptance.”

...In 2010, at Toronto’s “Idea City” conference, I attended a presentation made by a married academic couple, Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan. They were billed as “monogamy mythbusters.” Their research specialty was the mating behaviour of bonobos. These creatures are sexually promiscuous, especially the females, who will couple anytime, anywhere, with any male bonobo except their sons (even primates have taboos, it seems). Bonobos do not pair bond. Sex for bonobos is a social activity, and all the bonobos seem happy.

The presenters made no attempt to disguise their underlying thesis that bonobos have lessons to teach human beings. Specifically: be promiscuous, be happy, be non-violent.

...No, they were not kidding. The presenters made no attempt to disguise their underlying thesis that bonobos have lessons to teach human beings. Specifically: be promiscuous, be happy, be non-violent.

...I admit that I look somewhat smugly forward to the rhetorical cirque de soleil of polyamorists’ eventual Supreme Court challenge. Will the bonobos in our midst make monkeys of us all?

Read the whole article (May 29, 2013), and join the comments.



May 27, 2013

" ‘I’m happier when I’m with several people’: Polyamorists prepare for B.C. convention"

National Post (Canada)

A nationwide newspaper in Canada, the conservative National Post, took note of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association's first PolyCon happening in Vancouver next weekend (May 31 - June 2), and used it as the hook for a Sunday article.

‘I’m happier when I’m with several people’: Polyamorists prepare for B.C. convention

By Joseph Brean

CPAA director Zoe Duff is in a “triad,” as she put it, living with two men for the past five years. They all date other people, but the triad is the core.

When fears about Mormon Fundamentalists taking child brides sparked the British Columbia government to ask for judicial clarity on Canada’s criminal law against polygamy, a group of people in unusually populous romantic relationships intervened in court on behalf of Canada’s polyamorists.

The law was upheld in 2011, but interpreted such that informal adult sexual arrangements fell outside its bounds, and the new Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association welcomed it as more or less a win.

This week in Vancouver, the CPAA hosts its first national conference, an effort to pivot from legal intervention to popular advocacy.

Sessions at Polycon, as it is billed, focus on legal issues, networking, managing jealousy, “poly-feminism,” and a report based on interviews with both new and more experienced attendees of a polyamorous “sauna night” at a Toronto home.

One session describes how to set up a “line family,” described by Richard Gilmore and Elon de Arcana as “a multi-generation poly family that adds new, generally younger, members as the older members pass on or members depart. In this way the family never ends and family investments, businesses and property holdings continue to increase in value. This provides a stable environment and good economic start for children and a secure retirement for older members of the family. While this concept was envisioned by the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, many of the techniques we discuss are used by the wealthy to grow and maintain dynastic family wealth.”

...But real-life advocacy on a topic so wrapped up in sexual identity politics, to say nothing of the domestic life of children, can be awkward to the point of toxic.

Like other niche communities, judgmentalism and moral superiority abounds among polyamorists, and minor differences are elevated to wedge issues.

That is the subject of one talk, by life coach Samantha Fraser, is how not to be a “Poly Elite Douchenozzle.”

...For example, the term “primary,” for your main relationship(s), is particularly divisive, for the stigma it places on the secondary partner(s).

...Polyamorous relationships are not caught by the law because they are not recognized as legal marriages or conjugal unions. The issue is divisive among polyamorists, however, and as Ms. Duff described it, some could not care less about official sanction, while others would like recognition for practical reasons like health insurance, and some have even held pagan ceremonies of their own.

...“We’ve got a long way to go before people are going to say, ‘Let them get married,’” Ms. Duff said. “I haven’t personally even thought about it, because it’s not an option… As a long term thing, I can see a desire to have the right to marry.”

Read the whole article (May 26, 2013).

Zoe says tickets are almost sold out for PolyCon.


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May 26, 2013

Advice columns, continued

As promised, here are more advice columnists fielding poly questions that I didn't get to a couple days ago.

Here's a really good one for a change — from dating and relationship coach Colette Kenney in Canada:

Colette Kenney
Dear Colette,

I've been married for 22 years to a wonderful man that loves and cherishes me. I care for him deeply but over the last five years I have noticed myself having a strong interest in other men. Recently, I met a man in an online forum on polyamorous relationships. I had heard about these kinds of relationships and I wanted to learn more. I have to admit I'm having very intense feelings for him. He is also married but is looking for a polyamorous girlfriend. He has no intentions of leaving his wife and family despite wanting another companion and lover. I would really like to get involved with him, but I have so many questions. I wonder: How do you make these kinds of relationships work, without anyone feeling left out or jealous? Is it possible?...

-- Miele

I will admit that because my readership is not necessarily the polyamorous type I was torn about whether or not I should answer your question. But when I reflected on how I would answer it, I realized there are actually some really great points that are good for all kinds of relationships -- poly or otherwise.

So let's begin.

Communication Is Key

For a polyamorous lifestyle to function well, you have to be able to voice your wants, needs and desires effectively to your husband -- about partners you would like to date -- and any future partners he might start dating. The only way for polyamorous partners to survive happily together is to have wide-open lines of communication. And to do this well, you will require an absolute, total, and complete understanding of yourself and why you want to engage in this kind of relationship. If this is news to your husband, he is not likely to be very receptive to the idea at first.

The onus will be on you to remain calm in the face of any possible attacks on you, your character, and your desires. You will need to be patient and understanding with him as he comes to terms with your request. You will need to check your ego at the door any time you enter into a discussion with him about this subject. And hopefully, for you he will come around and see the value that you see in entering into this kind of relationship. But, (and this is a big but) be prepared that he might not go along with it. Because if this happens, you'll have a very important decision to make.

Polyamorous or Otherwise -- Communication is Key

Checking your ego at the door when discussing tough topics is mandatory. Opening your heart and mind to having compassion about your partner's point of view is imperative... Affect labeling (the professional term for one of the MOST important skills two partners could ever have) is the quickest way to help your partner feel heard, understood, respected, and cared for....

Honesty Is Key

As I said above, knowing yourself incredibly well is key, not only in discussions that you have with your husband, but also in discussions with any future partners. With polyamorous relationships there are certain to be a number of rules that you and your partners will have about how to engage with each other, when, where, in the presence of whom, and how often. To avoid hurt feelings, bruised egos and the like, you will want to be sure that you think of all the possible scenarios that might come up, and what you will do to handle them.

For polyamory to work well it's best if you can get an emotional buy in (not just lip service) from all parties to all rules. And rules should be explicit, clear and well understood by everyone.

Polyamorous or Otherwise -- Honesty is Key

And to be 100 per cent honest, you have to be once again 100 per cent clear about yourself and your inner world....

Forgiveness is Key

Relationships are work when you have only one partner. Add additional partners to the mix and this work is multiplied. There is more chance for buttons to be pushed, triggers to be set off, and yes, egos to be bruised. To engage in this lifestyle happily, and to do it well, it will take a tremendous amount of forgiveness of yourself and every single one of your partners -- because it is as likely that you will do and say things you're not proud of -- as it is that one of your partners does and says something he or she is not proud of....

Polyamorous or Otherwise -- Forgiveness is Key....

I commend anyone who successfully navigates these kinds of relationships....

Here's the whole article, from Huffington Post/ Living/ Canada (July 17, 2012).


Ask Amy advises a soon-to-be daughter-in-law to butt out of saving her future in-laws' collapsing poly-mono marriage:

Amy Dickinson
DEAR AMY: My fiancee’s parents announced this weekend that they are separating. Or, as my fiancee puts it, her mother is leaving and breaking her father’s heart.

The husband’s philosophy is that he can’t limit himself to being with one person. He enjoys a polyamorous lifestyle where he has a steady wife and various girlfriends.

The husband talked the wife into accepting the poly lifestyle, and because she is a people-pleaser, she gave it a good-faith effort for several years.

The wife found the husband’s lifestyle increasingly difficult to cope with. She would like to return to a monogamous lifestyle where she doesn’t need to compete with other women or feel jealous of his time.... However, I don’t think she communicates this clearly to him....

—Concerned Fiance

DEAR CONCERNED: This couple’s “poly” lifestyle apparently has extended to you, and now me. Because here we are, sharing their private sexual history, interpreting their actions and contemplating choices that only this couple can make on their own behalf. Simply put: It is not your business to fix your future in-laws’ marriage.

If this husband comes to you, saying, “What can I do to get my wife back?” you should definitely tell him what you think. If your fiancee (or her mother) asks you to join them in a family meeting to discuss this situation, as a future family member, you should do so.

Otherwise, unless you are a trained marriage counselor and want to take them on as clients, you should let this family work it out. Offer emotional support to each family member, and do your best not to take sides.

Whole column (Dec. 14, 2012)


This may be the post where Salon's advice columnist Cary Tennis finally got onboard about poly relationships:

Cary Tennis
Dear Cary,

I am very happily married and I love my husband with every fiber of my being. He is the most loving, brilliant, courageous man I’ve ever known. We love to do things together and we always make our decisions with one another’s best interest at heart. When I am with him, I am always happy.

I don’t live with my husband. I live with my boyfriend.

My boyfriend is also incredibly wonderful.... We three have been happy living like this for quite a long time now, and we have a comfortable dynamic with lots of respect for one another. In fact, I can’t believe my luck, that I have such a good life surrounded by kind and wonderful people. However, this is going to end soon, and I’m really upset about it.

My boyfriend has a fiancée to whom he has been betrothed for nearly seven years. She lives in another country, and yet she manages to make my boyfriend’s life very difficult. She hacks his emails and changes all the passwords, she calls up his supervisors at work and complains about him, she is rude to his parents, and she is intensely jealous of other women spending time with him. She does not know that I live with him. She is also expecting to marry him later this year. My boyfriend is too afraid to break things off with her... and [he says] that he will probably divorce her. I am afraid that if he is too scared not to marry her, he will also be too scared to divorce her.

This is the real truth: If my boyfriend were going to get married to somebody who really loved him and treated him with kindness and respect, I would not be upset. However, I know that the minute he marries his fiancée, I will probably never be able to see him again, not even socially, and it is killing me inside.... He might be a coward, but he’s my coward. Not everyone can be a paragon of masculine bravery like my husband (who is constantly ranting that my boyfriend needs to “grow a pair” and get rid of his fiancée).

What should I do?....

—A Poly with a Big Heart

Dear Poly,

What I see is a group in which one person has a destructive attachment outside the group.

The simple, obvious solution to preserve the group is for him to sever that attachment. But he is unwilling to do that.... You are the only one of the three who only loses and does not gain anything.... It seems all the sadder because you seem to have waltzed into this perfect, uncanny balance. Plus, frankly, it seems like a stupid move for your boyfriend.

So perhaps there is more to it. Perhaps he is not telling you everything. Is it possible that he actually wants a monogamous relationship but has been afraid to say so, or has felt that his longing for a more traditional relationship represents a failure of his own vision or nerve?.... Perhaps his apparent passivity is not only spinelessness but also calculation....

...I suggest that you reach out to the polyamory community for support and guidance.... And also find a therapist experienced in relationships such as yours who can help you clarify your options as a group.

Read the whole column (Jan. 24, 2012).


And in the militantly hostile department, remember Dr. Karen Ruskin?

Karen Ruskin
No, the answer is NO – DO NOT, I repeat in capital letters: DO NOT have any additional partner/person in your marriage.

Threesomes, swinging, polyamory, any inclusion of any one in addition to your spouse as a sexual partner in your marriage–the answer is no, do not do it! Through my 18 years of providing couples counseling, with consistency couples who report they decided to have some form of open relationship rather than a monogamous relationship have ended up in an awful mental place and have destroyed their marriage.

Whole article (Oct. 7, 2011). Of course a couples counselor only sees couples in trouble. Duhh. Another dumb therapist who was gazing out the window in statistics class when they taught about sampling basis.

Goddess of Java, the decade-plus goddess of the Polyfamilies Yahoo Group, responded to her article,

Gosh, in my nearly 22 years of marriage we had some trouble, honest no kidding. We even considered breaking up.

Stopping the poly didn’t cure it. GROWING THE FUCK UP AND LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE sure as shit did.

We’re still poly, we’re happy, and we have a relationship that works and makes us happy. Sorry if that doesn’t work for you, but hey, we’re not dating you.

(Remember y’all — Be a credit to your kink if you’re gonna reply directly. You’re the Face of Poly.)


My third and last post in this series will be on actual poly advice columns, by people who live the lives they're talking about. Stay tuned.

"Can't Relate," from the always adorable Kimchi Cuddles (used by permission).



May 24, 2013

"It Happened To Me: I'm In A Happy Polyamorous Relationship"


Another writer I've never heard of explains her poly life to the world. This went up a few minutes ago at xoJane, a major online women's magazine that claims 2 million monthly readers. It's getting lots of nice comments.

It Happened To Me: I'm In A Happy Polyamorous Relationship

Our life is surprisingly boring, surprisingly simple, surprisingly normal.

By Rebecca Hiles

"Forgive them, they're starstruck." (Credit: xoJane)
Today someone asked if I still loved Jon, since I was with Winston all day, and was talking about my upcoming vacation with Kai. It was the silliest question I’ve gotten recently, though definitely not the first time I’ve heard it....

I know, I know. It seems SO DIFFERENT you guys. But it’s really not. I go to work, and Winston often takes the metro in when he wants to visit. Jon comes home and the three of us cook dinner and clean up together. We watch TV, or just talk, or just hang out. I skype with Kai on a regular basis, and visit him often.

Kai and I have been on and off in our relationship for 10 years. We have been best friends and lovers and partners. He’s amazing. And he fits in my life in such a way that I would literally feel as though I lost a piece of myself if I ever lost him.

Jon came into my life a bit later. We had an amazing love and relationship that was quite normative and monogamous for almost 3 years. Before we were engaged, we realized we were both poly, but we wanted to get some time with each other in our solo marriage before opening our relationship up.

That lasted about 6 months, before we both realized we were trying so hard to fit our idea on how to have a perfect marriage, that we were destroying our perfect marriage.

Winston is a newer relationship. He was in an open relationship with a long-time girlfriend. They have since split, and he’s still trying to figure himself out. I really care about him and I’m hoping that our relationship lasts for some time. Things with him are still new and exciting. I really love his company, and I can’t wait for him to meet Kai.

We fight. We have deep discussions. We feel jealous from time to time. We get annoyed from time to time, but we love each other. We are all free to see whomever we want, whenever we want, without prior approval from a panel of judges. Our relationships with other people are our own, the only rule is open honesty.

We have seen each other through depression and anxiety, through cancer, through health scares, through relationship drama and money issues. We aren’t all curled up at night in a giant poly pile, and often only share a bed if the spare bed is taken, which is rarely....

...I think it takes a specific type of person to do this whole poly thing....

For all the bickering, and the normal concerns about time and budget management, we are happy. We spend quality time with each other going to museums, the beach, the movies, bowling, or even just a nice dinner out. We make sure that we take time for ourselves in addition to spending time with our partners. I think that is really important.

It definitely takes a lot of work and energy to maintain more than one physical and emotional relationship. I feel that any relationships whether romantic, physical, familial, or platonic take a lot of work and energy to maintain. But I have never been happier or more at peace than I am with them.

The whole article (May 24, 2013), with comments.


May 23, 2013

Advice columnists field many poly questions

Do advice columnists influence the culture? Who knows? Millions read them every day. If that's your pleasure, sit back and settle in. Lots of columnists have been taking questions from polyfolks... for better or worse.

For instance, Dear Prudence (Emily Yoffe) just had this up at Slate and WashingtonPost.com:

Emily Yoffe  (Photo by Teresa Castracane)
Q. Polyamory: Out or Not?: My husband and I recently opened our marriage to be polyamorous (more deep bonds with other people than the "running around" some consider open marriage). I’ve told a couple of female friends and I've lost them as friends. My boyfriend and I have a wonderful relationship, and he gets along well with my husband and our children, so I can see a time where he may end up meeting my very Christian father.... He'd be seriously floored and averse. Losing friends was bad enough, I do not want to go through this with my father. Can I keep it that we are “friends” even if eyebrows start to raise?

A: Now that gay marriage has become so normalized... I expect polyamorists to start coming out of the closet. I understand polyamory is different from polygamy, and doesn't share the latter's rigid and noxious views that men run the show and are the only ones allowed multiple partners. I basically feel adults are entitled to make the personal arrangements that please them as long as that doesn't hurt others, but my concern is what it means to the children. I don't get the impression that you've seriously thought through the effect of this on them since you are so unsure about how to present yourself as a newly constituted family....

Letting your father in on your secret doesn't seem necessary or beneficial. I think you three adults need to do a lot more thinking about your arrangement and its effects on everyone involved, and right now I don't see the need to make your private lives public.

Read the whole column (May 13, 2013).


A few days earlier, in the UK's Guardian:

By Pamela Stephenson Connolly

My girlfriend of five months is into the fetish scene, has other partners and considers herself polysexual. Originally, I thought that this would be OK, but now I've fallen for her hard.... It tears my heart out to think of her with another man. How do I quell these jealous feelings?

Jealousy is a normal emotion that serves an important social purpose. Some people find ways to reframe it, but achieving emotional control in your situation is unlikely without a huge amount of work.

You are both torturing yourselves with what may be an impossible situation. The relationship you're attempting is one that requires extremely careful negotiation, enormous vigilance, and constant re-evaluation, plus an emotional and sexual sophistication that few people achieve. Even within the framework of an open relationship, limits and boundaries must be set.

You must both lower your expectations immediately, soberly recognise the difficulties inherent in achieving a relatively painless, consensual open relationship, and get back to basics: expressing feelings as they arise, listening to each other, and respecting each of your emotional challenges.

Can't say I disagree with the last parts, but someone please explain the "important social purpose" that is served by jealousy. See the whole column (May 5, 2013). It has more than 600 comments.


A few days before that, from a literal Miss Lonelyhearts in Canada:

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My new girlfriend wants me to try a polyamorous lifestyle. I admit I met her at the last fetish ball in town, but I had no idea she was that far along the track.... I am a pudgy nerd of a guy and it scares me (and would embarrass me) to get undressed to do anything sexual, except with my lady. But it is hard for me to find a girlfriend.

-- Scared Stiff

Dear Scared Stiff: Nerds can have boundaries. This is one of them. Tell your new girlfriend: like it or lump it. If she doesn't like it, then you are not going along on this experimental, just-about-anything-goes ride to please her. She may turf you but it'd be better than being dragged into sexual activities you don't understand or want.

Whole column (March 31, 2013).


The well-regarded Christian author John Shore ("Trying God's patience since 1958") gave some great pro-poly advice at Huffington Post:

My Sister Is in a Three-Person Relationship; What Should I Do?

Dear John,

...Here's the situation: My sister has come to me and told me that she has decided to be in a three-person relationship. My husband and I met the guy in the relationship last week (at the time she just told us he was her boyfriend). But now she has told us the truth, and is asking us to meet the woman this week. We are supposed to keep this a secret from our parents....

I don't want to meet her. My husband doesn't want to meet her.... I hate the way that I feel about this. I feel like I am spewing out the very same sort of hate and bigotry that I condemn. Yet on the same time I feel on a gut level that this is wrong. Mostly just wrong for her, but also wrong. And I can't sort out my feelings; I can't tell if they're a remnant from my upbringing, or if it's my conscience telling me to take responsibility for my kid sister (which I can't, of course; she's an adult)....

The first thing I'd recommend is to read this interview, which I did with a woman in a polyamorous (meaning more than two people) relationship: 1 Man, 2 Women in a Polyamorous Relationship. I can't imagine you not finding it helpful.

Secondly, it's touching that you care so much about your younger sister's well-being. Sometimes, though, older siblings tend to take a little more responsibility for the feelings of their younger siblings than is altogether healthy or helpful....

I don't understand why you and your husband are so against meeting the other woman. What do you have to lose? Meeting her means having a lot more information about what your sister's getting involved in. How could that be bad? At any rate, by refusing to meet her you pretty much forfeit your right to have an opinion about your sister's relationship with her.... Go meet the woman. Be honest with her about your concerns....

Here's the thing: Your sister is either going through a phase that will pass, or she's really in love with these two people, and they really love her, and the three of them are going to live happily ever after. Either way, your job remains the same: to love and support your sister....

...Love is a strange, wild animal. I tend to think people were designed to love, mate-for-life wise, only one other person. But who am I to say what romantic/committed love should or must look like? The woman I interviewed above seems perfectly content in her polyamorouos relationship; if anything, she seems more sane than most people. Since publishing that interview I've received a great many emails from people in polyamorous relationships, and to a person they've seemed sane, kind and... rather disappointingly normal. They're not freaks. They're not immoral. They don't have subpar values. They don't seem any less dedicated to either of their mates than I am to my wife. They're just... in love with two people.

Who am I to say that such a love indicates the presence of... faulty wiring, or whatever? As long as no one's getting hurt in such a relationship, who am I to say it's inherently wrong or harmful? For all I know polyamorous relationships are better than the regular kind. I mean, it's not like any of us are surrounded by nothing but happy normal marriages....

...Again: if no one's getting hurt, I can't find a hook to hang my caring hat on.... Of all the problems in the world, I can't see getting upset over the fact that someone is loving two people instead of one.

So I say relax. If your sister's polyamorous relationship is real, you'll know it. If it's not, she'll know it -- and then you'll know it. Either way, you'll still be sisters. And that's a love that should never change at all.

Read the whole article (Feb. 25, 2013), which is also on Shore's widely read blog.

In the article he references his interview last year with a women in a happy triad family living quietly in the Deep South. Definitely worth a read.

Shore took a lot of heat from Christian commenters for those posts. I wonder if that's why he chickened out and insultingly dismissed a sincere Christian who later wrote in about his feelings of poly agape for another woman:

Hi John,

I’ve been trained doctrinally as a teacher for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and am an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. About eight years ago I was introduced to the concept of polyamory, but the concept didn’t make complete sense to me until this past December.

Is it possible to love more than one woman fully at the same time? This concept keeps showing up in numerous news articles, and I’m just feeling like I’m crazy, as my wife and I have a common friend whom we both “love.” I’ve approached my wife with the possibility that polyamory exists, and I’ve also done a lot of research and digging into this concept, especially into scripture. My finding is that it is perfectly possible to love more than one woman at the same time, but culturally it is unacceptable.

My wife sees no positives in this situation, as we would lose our Christian witness. And I’m partial to agree with her that even though I know I am capable of loving more than one person completely and intimately, I should restrain myself out of my respect to fellow believers, so that they don’t stumble.

I care so deeply for this friend that it almost feels like it’s my first true case of feeling agape towards another person that is not a specific member of my family. I’m just so torn about this, knowing that living in a polyamorous relationship is possible but not likely to ever happen in my lifetime....

From Shore's response:

...My insight is that you should (children: avert your eyes) stop fondling your dick through your pants pocket. You've got a wife. Put your attention there. I think you're really just looking for a way to have an affair. Stop doing that.

The whole article (April 2, 2013).

Blogger Sarahlinwilde took Shore apart for this and for another flip dismissal, saying he's gone back to assumptions "based on the idea that monogamy is the only virtuous option, and that non-monogamy exists so men can get laid more frequently than the Little Wife would allow. And that strikes me as problematic. It’s based on all kinds of cultural constructs and false assumptions that Shore seems to take for granted – similar to the false assumptions that had to be questioned before gay rights could become a possibility." See her whole post (April 11, 2013).


Moving right along now...

Dear Abby disses the idea of opening a marriage as a way to save it. (The poly-community expression of this is, "Relationship in trouble? Add more people" with eyeroll.) Abby then follows her reply with a reader's sad commentary on the awful state of conventional marriage. Accident or design?

Sister in open marriage takes sharing too far

Dear Abby: My daughters are attractive young women, both doing well in their professional careers.... I was horrified to learn that Melanie allows her sister to occasionally have sex with [Melanie's husband] Sam.... When I asked her and Sam about it, he said it wasn’t his idea. My current husband says any man who would refuse this “setup” would be nuts.... I am distraught about this mess. Melanie says she wants to start a family soon. She says she loves Sam, who can “handle everything,” and she enjoys seeing “everyone happy.” She says [sister] Alicia won’t sleep around now [the cause of Alicia's past divorce] and, maybe, one day she’ll marry a handsome man like Sam who will “return the favor”!

I can’t believe these girls are my daughters....

—Heartbroken Mom in Florida

Dear Mom: Your daughters appear to be into the concept of open marriage. Clearly, they do not view marriage and relationships the same way you do.

Melanie is naive to think that encouraging Sam to have a sexual relationship with her sister will discourage him from seeking other partners. Far from it. And as for her wanting to start a family, has she considered what will happen if her husband impregnates Alicia at the same time — or first?

But back to your question: Are you right to protest? You certainly are. That’s what mothers are for — to inject a dose of sanity when everyone around her is losing theirs.

Dear Abby: The other day at work, my girlfriend overheard a group of people in the break room talking about what they’d do first if they won the lottery. Without exception, everyone in that room said the first thing they would do is get a divorce. My girlfriend was stunned....

The whole column (Feb. 13, 2013).


Dear Abby again, now ignoring the existence of poly relationships though she's been intrigued with them in the past:

DEAR ABBY: Is it possible for a man to be in love with two women at the same time? -- NAME WITHHELD IN VIRGINIA

DEAR NAME WITHHELD: Yes, I think so -- and it is usually for different reasons. The same holds true for women. However, for a lasting relationship, people have to choose the one partner who has more of the qualities they think are most important.

The original (Dec. 4, 2012).


On the other hand, a columnist for Toronto's news-and-arts weekly NOW knows about the subject and goes on goes on at interesting length:

Dear Sasha,

I am hopeful that you will respond to me, you being one of the world’s great proponents of polyamory.

I’ve been with my current girlfriend for nearly five years. She is amazing, and we are very much in love. The sex is really good, too....

However... I’ve had partners (two in particular) with whom I was naturally more in sync; it was with those women that I had mind-blowing sex. Those two encounters were more than one-night stands -- they lasted several months.... I have never cheated on my girlfriend; I don’t think it’s fair for me to do that to her.

Here’s the issue: I keep in contact with those two girls. I remain incredibly attracted to them and have a fondness for both of them, which, although it’s not love, is a strong feeling nonetheless.... My girlfriend... only has eyes for me. In fact, I think she takes it really hard that I don’t only have eyes for her. She finds it distressing. So if I decide that I want to be a polyamorist, how do I broach the subject with my girlfriend?

—Partners Aplenty

Dear Partners,

I am not one of the world’s greatest proponents of polyamory. I do believe, though, that given some very obvious facts, it’s something many of us should look into. I can assure you most of the time I actually believe that polyamory is insane and those who indulge in it, while clearly trying to embody admirable qualities, are out of their fucking minds. But this attitude extends to all relationship models, really. Getting involved with someone = crazy thing to do.

Polyamory strives to have one noteworthy quality across the board, however and with whomever you practise it, and that is honesty. So whether you are involved with two people on even terms and have a few lovers on the side, or you’re married to someone and have five other paramours, everyone is in the know. In other words, you don’t do things that benefit your naked areas and ego at the expense of other people’s feelings....

This openness is touted as the good thing about polyamory. But it is also the bad thing about polyamory. If you even so much as get close to one of these Gordian configurations, you will get dragged into it like an undertow. Just try having a casual thing with someone in a polyamorous relationship(s). Just try getting a hand job without having to hear all about the various arrangements this person has with each of their other lovers and the work they do in other aspects of their lives to facilitate open sexual dialogue. “I get it,” you will want to say, “You are an erotic renegade. Now will you wrap your rebel hand around my rigid dick?” No, they can’t, you see, because there needs to be an eight-day discussion with everyone else in the fuck tribe about it.

I am truly beginning to wonder, when it comes to relationships, if there is any such thing as honesty and not just varying degrees of misapprehension. We’re all just here flailing around trying to be good and bad at the same time, honest to ourselves and to our partners, riding that line between getting what we want and wanting what we get.

...Now, Partners, even if you have been buoyed by my inspirational words, you don’t strike me as a good candidate for this type of arrangement, not at the moment anyway.

Why? Well for one thing, you’re sneaky....

...There are some people who ostensibly do this shit with great success and have generously taken notes so that you can do it successfully as well. Look at Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up or Wendy-O Matik’s Redefining Our Relationships.

Here's the whole column, which ran under the helpful headline "Open Whore Policy" (Aug. 4, 2012).


Wow, this post is getting long! And there's more data-dumping to go. Taking a break here.

To Be Continued.




May 22, 2013

Poly and therapy: a roundup of stuff

In my last post I said knowledge of poly is spreading among therapists, and therapist-oriented material is increasingly available.

A couple of you asked what I meant. Here's a roundup of recent items:

1. At the website GoodTherapy.org ("Helping people find therapists & advocating for ethical therapy"), here's an article that deserves to be spread around for wider attention in the profession:

Polyamory in a Monogamist World

By Damon M. Constantinides, LCSW

...Many people have found that they flourish in a relationship structure that stretches beyond traditional monogamy. This can mean many different things for different people. Some terms used to describe alternative relationship structures are polyamory, open relationship, open marriage, nonmonogamy, and polygamy. Each of these structures is different, but they all share the concept of being romantically linked with more than one person at the same time.

I teach a human sexuality class at a college in Philadelphia.... Every semester, I have a guest speaker come in and talk about polyamory. He defines polyamory for the students as “the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” I enjoy the opportunity to learn from him and to see the reactions from students in my class. Some people respond with openness and curiosity; they want to know more about polyamory and what kinds of benefits and drawbacks come with it. Some students are defensive and incredulous; polyamory falls outside their value systems.

And almost all of them move quickly [to] either expressing their own shame or shaming others. How could you tell your friends and family? Wouldn’t you face a lot of discrimination? This semester, a student pointedly asked the speaker, “What do your parents think?” What strikes me about this is how quickly the students go from exploring their own wants and needs to anticipating hostility and rejection from friends and family. Instead of questioning what it might feel like to be in this kind of relationship and exploring the feelings of excitement and curiosity that come up in the room, the question being explored is how to live with a stigmatized identity. Practicing polyamory in our culture is a radical act.

This feeling of shame and navigating stigma has frequently been expressed by clients I have worked with who are in polyamorous relationships. With a polyamorous relationship come all of the challenges that accompany living with any identity that is not culturally sanctioned....

...In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, researcher Brené Brown talks about shame, the importance of vulnerability, and combating shame — something she calls “shame resilience.”...

...I’ve worked with clients who can’t figure out why they feel so guilty until they begin to recognize the messages that they are getting that invalidate their identity....

...Polyamory is a valid alternative relationship structure, and as with other alternative identities in our culture, people who practice polyamory may find themselves affected by oppression and discrimination. Recognizing and naming this experience as caused by an external force, instead of perceiving it as an internal failure, is one tool toward healthier relationships....

Read his whole article (April 2, 2013).


2. Also at GoodTherapy.org:

Five Myths About Polyamory and Monogamish Relationships
Exploring Alternative Lifestyles in Your Relationship
Being Open About Polyamory
Issues Treated in Therapy: Polyamory


3. An online conference for therapists will take place on July 19: Understanding Polyamory and Non-Monogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities, presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD. It offers CE credits. This description is also from GoodTherapy.com:

Web Conference Description

Consensual intimacy (sexual and otherwise) outside of a primary relationship is becoming an increasingly common relational agreement in our postmodern world. The term “polyamory” has been used as an umbrella term; however this concept covers a vast range of relational agreements, each determined by the individuals involved...

...Misunderstandings and pathologizing assumptions about these clients abound and contribute to a culture that often creates barriers to appropriate treatment for these individuals, even regarding other clinical issues. As responsible clinicians, we must challenge ourselves to confront our own values and stereotypes around sexual and relational diversity, becoming increasingly aware of the judgments we bring into the room. This continuing education event will attempt to share some of the collected findings regarding polyamory and non-monogamy, including a review of how these terms and types of relationships are often understood by their participants.

This web conference is designed to help clinicians:

1) Identify and describe multiple styles of non-monogamy polyamory, open marriage, polyfidelity, responsible non-monogamy, triads, etc;
2) Explain polyamories as one of a client’s multiple identities, in the spectrum of sexual and relational identities;
3) Identify frequently expressed relational concerns of polyamorous clients;
4) Describe ways to avoid pathologizing behavior with non-monogamous clients in therapy....

Read more.


4. What's been your experience with therapy as a poly person? A study is under way, with an online survey. Says longtime researcher Geri Weitzman, "Feel free to pass it along; they are trying to get a large study sample." From the front page:

All people age 18 and over, who identify as polyamorous, regardless of relationship status, gender, or sexual orientation, are welcome to participate. You will be asked questions about your personal and family history, experiences you may have had in therapy, views of therapy, and the qualities you see as valuable in a therapist. A reason we ask for information on personal and familial history is because without this information, damaging myths, biases, and stereotypes can arise about polyamorous people. We are interested in your input whether or not you have experience with therapy. We believe your contribution can directly benefit how therapists work with polyamorous people....

The information in the study will be kept anonymous, and you will not be asked for any identifying information....

If you have questions or suggestions please feel free to contact [students] Madeline Barger or Atala Mitchell at polyamorystudy2013 (AT) gmail.com), our advisor, Dr. Ferrinne Spector, or the Institutional Review Board at HPRB 1000 Edgewood College Drive Madison, WI 53711, email: HPRB (AT) edgewood.edu .

The study's organizers have received advice and an endorsement from the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS), says CARAS executive director Richard Sprott. Its endorsement is a sign that a research project or online poll is well enough designed and organized to be taken seriously.


5. Moving right along, gay therapist Gregory Cason appears on the Bravo network in the reality show L.A. Shrinks. He wrote recently about people's reactions to his own declared monogamish relationship:


In this society, our view of relationships is antiquated and rigid. I don't think that's a newsflash....

What... bothers me is that there's been such lurid interest in my own relationship since I mentioned on TV that my fiancé and I are "monogamish." Frankly, it strikes me as a little creepy. It's almost like having people clamor outside my bedroom window with a bowl of popcorn cradled in one arm, anticipating (and hoping) that something untoward will happen. (Of course, I recognize the irony of someone from a reality show complaining about people peering into his personal life.)

In any case, my use of the "monogamish" label for my relationship has lit a fire, and the spotlight is on me as I hold the smoldering match.

...Rigid rules usually lead to rowdy conflicts and icy stares. The rules that we thought would protect our coveted relationship can be the very thing that breaks it apart. So, for some couples, the flexibility they need most is in the communication department.... I'm so surprised that couples don't talk more in this day and age....

...L.A. Shrinks airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.

His whole article (March 4, 2013).


6. Back to the academic world. Ryan Witherspoon presented a poster paper, Polyamory as a Cultural Identity: Implications for Clinical Practice, at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit 2013, held last January 17–18 in Houston. He told the PolyResearchers group,

I was floored by the level of interest in my work and the positivity of the responses.... Clinicians told me how timely and necessary research on this topic is, and would relate stories of clients they or their clinic had, and how useful something like this poster would have been to them... and these aren't people from the Bay Area, they were from Utah, Indiana, etc.... I feel like the larger clinical/academic community is starting to catch on to this altsex/poly stuff.... I feel like we're riding the crest of a wave of interest.

Witherspoon also presented The New "Normal"? Polyamory and LGBT at the August 2012 American Psychological Association convention on Orlando.


7. Don't forget the booklet What Psychology Professionals Should Know about Polyamory, published under the auspices of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). The stock of printed copies was destroyed in NCSF's fire earlier this year, but it will be reprinted. The link above is to a high-quality, printable PDF file.

Also, of the 32 books on polyamory published since 1985, two are written by therapists for others and their clients: Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships by Kathy Labriola (2010), and Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik (2010).

Of a more academic orientation are Border Families, Border Sexualities in Schools by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (2010), and Understanding Non-Monogamies, edited by Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge (2010; in paperback 2013). Did I miss any?


8. Lastly: the Madison (Wisconsin) Area Polyamory Society holds regular discussion groups and posts notes from these on its Yahoo site. Here are conclusions from a discussion on poly therapy, written up by Kitchenkarma:

We discussed an article written by a poly-friendly therapist about 5 things that can help make polyamorous relationships work....

We  moved beyond the reading to talk about what poly folks should look for in a therapist. Some great suggestions were:

- Don't be afraid to interview your therapist and seek other options if:
    - there's bad rapport
    - stiff or cold body language
    - clear indication that there's discomfort
- Pay attention to a therapist's office. Scan the titles of the books on the shelf. Look for LGBT-friendly items and vice versa.
- Be blunt. Tell your therapist what you are looking for from them. Clarity helps *so* much.

We also talked about some good places to look for therapists (LGBT centers, word of mouth, online bios via in-network searches), when therapy should be sought (stigma shouldn't stand in the way, it's hard to look too soon but easy to look too late), and alternatives for those without insurance (ministers, spiritual directors, etc.). It was a great discussion with a lot of useful information and insights shared.

Want more? Here are my posts with the "therapists" tag in the last three years (including this one; scroll further down).



May 19, 2013

"The Latest Psychological Guide to Sexually Open Relationships "

More therapists are getting it about poly, or should. Knowledge of the subject is spreading, and therapist-oriented material is increasingly accessible — such as What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory (send this link to your shrink so you don't have to waste session time educating them), academic articles, and presentations at conferences (for instance).

Yesterday a pair of researchers and therapists in the UK and Finland posted a review of what they call "the latest psychological guide to sexually open relationships": the paper Clients in Sexually Open Relationships: Considerations for Therapists by Kevin Zimmerman in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy (vol. 24, issue 3, July-Sept. 2012).1 The 17-page paper is available only by payment or through an academic library, but Raj Persaud and Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm give a rundown of its contents:

Kevin Zimmerman from Iowa State University... marshals a host of scientific research which questions whether everyone was really meant to be monogamous, and whether a great deal of couples' unhappiness arises out of pre-supposing monogamy is the only option.

Zimmerman raises the question of whether we could be socialized to believe that to be devoted to a second person is to love the first less, even though this standard does not apply when discussing adoring more than one child, for example.

Zimmerman explains that open relationships are different from infidelity or cheating because partners agree on the sexual boundaries of the relationship, and there is no deception about sex. Successful open relationships typically involve those who privilege authenticity over conformity in their relationships. 'Open' relationships can be characterised by more honesty and better observation of boundaries.

...'Open' relationships are sometimes seen as raising the status of women, releasing them to be with whom they want, bestowing greater power over their own bodies. Some heterosexual feminist women prefer 'open' relationships, he points out, to avoid appearing dependent on men, or out of contempt for being 'submerged' into a couple.

Monogamy is also the exception to relationships throughout the animal kingdom... Zimmerman cites work contending that of 4,000 mammal species, only about 3%, have been found to be monogamous, plus of the world's roughly 400 species of primates, monogamy has been reported for only nine.

Zimmerman argues even the shape of the male penis, together with male thrusting, apparently facilitates removal of other males' semen from the vagina, according to previous research....

Of the 185 human societies investigated in one study, only 29 restricted their members to monogamy, in addition, 154 of the 185 societies allowed men to have multiple partners if they could afford them.

Zimmerman explains that 'Partnered non-monogamy' refers to a committed couple that allows for sex outside the central relationship. Swinging is non-monogamy in a social context, also referred to as "the lifestyle", 'Polyamory' allows for partners to have more than one relationship that is sexual, loving, and emotional....

Bisexual women appear numerous in polyamorous communities... the standing joke being that they can "have their Jake and Edith too". According to Zimmerman, research confirms homosexual couples are much more likely to allow extra-dyadic sex.... Zimmerman also cites surveys which confirm that heterosexual couples in open relationships can be happy, intimate, and well-adjusted.

In a society in which monogamy is the only acceptable way to be in a committed relationship, Zimmerman contends individuals who experience attraction for anyone else besides their primary partner often experience guilt, shame, and deceit. Being too invested in the idea of monogamy and marriage paradoxically makes it more likely that many find the only way to accommodate our non-monogamous biology, is to cheat.

These arguments and evidence suggest the stigma over open relationships could be changing, and in the future, this lifestyle might even become the norm. Zimmerman compares [it to] co-habitation before or instead of marriage, around which there was a similar strong taboo just a generation ago....

Read their whole post (May 18, 2013; Huffington Post/ Lifestyle/ UK).

Another article about the paper appeared on a blogsite with 13 therapists, "Analyzing Adultery — Why Do People Cheat?"

It’s only cheating if you’re supposed to be monogamous … right?

...Cheating can still occur in nonmonogamous – or open – relationships....

In an article aimed at therapists who may come across clients in open relationships, Kevin Zimmerman outlines the various types of nonmonogamous relationships:

● Partnered nonmonogamy – “a committed couple that allows for extradyadic sex”
● Swinging – “nonmonogamy in a social context”
● Polyamory – “partners have more than one relationship that is sexual, loving and emotional”
● Solo polyamory – “nonmonogamous individuals who do not want a primary partner”
● Polyfidelity – “three or more people who have made a commitment to be in a primary relationship together”
● Monogamous/nonmonogamous partnership – “one person is monogamous and the other is not”

The key to all of these open relationships is honesty and boundaries, according to Zimmerman. For partners to be successful in a nonmonogamous relationship, they must be honest with their partner about what they want and the actions they partake in outside of the primary relationship. There must also be clear boundaries set and continually negotiated between the partners to make sure neither is unhappy with the situation.

...So in open relationships, much like in traditional relationships, cheating is whatever deviates from the rules about the relationship set down by both partners. In monogamous relationships these rules can be unspoken and are understood based on societal ideas of monogamy. In open relationships they often need to be worked out in a more explicit fashion....

The whole post (Oct. 23, 2012).


1. Abstract: "Clients who are in or who wish to pursue a sexually open relationship may challenge therapists' heteronormative biases. Through this article the author provides an overview of open relationships and some research related to monogamous sexual behavior. Issues of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and SES pertaining to open relationships are considered. The author offers some guidelines for therapists, including topics to discuss with clients, comorbidity issues, and assessment and treatment approaches. The Intersystems approach to sex therapy is then presented which can frame therapists' understanding of open relationships, and the author concludes with some ideas for future research and attention."


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May 15, 2013

Dating: "How to come out as polyamorous"

RedEye (Chicago)

The Chicago Tribune puts out a free, supposedly hip daily tabloid paper for 18-to-34-year-olds, circulation 200,000. In this morning's issue, a dating columnist offers advice to poly people on the eternal question of when to break the news to a potential new interest.

Advice: How to come out as polyamorous

By Anna Pulley

Anna Pulley
I'm wondering when is the best time, and how, to tell a prospective dating person that you are in a polyamorous relationship. Obviously before any physicality, but in a more granular sense, when? Call, text, first date?

--Poly Wanna Answer

...There’s a delicate balance when you’re first dating someone of what to disclose and what not to. You want to be honest and upfront, but you also want to respect the “getting to know you” process, which can be upset by Big Conversations too early....

I’m a big fan of letting squishy topics come up organically, which they inevitably do when there’s a budding mutual attraction. Dropping a bomb on someone out of context tends to come off like a guilty confession, or something you’re ashamed of....

“So, are you dating anyone?” is a common question, and a perfect opportunity to let your prospective date know that you are dating other people, and not monogamously. If they want to know more, or have specific questions about it, then tell them. Don’t lie or evade the question if it comes up, since that will only serve to bite you in the ass later (and not in the way you are hoping).

I don’t think you’re obligated to come out as poly before anything physical happens, unless there’s been some kind of relationship talk, or if the person is under the assumption that you only have thighs for her. If the date in question seems more conservative or traditional, I’d disclose your poly status sooner than later. But if it’s more of a casual encounter, there’s no need to bog down your date with a treatise on the hierarchy of your relationship structure and long-term compatibility....

Read the whole column (May 15, 2013).

Well, a lot of us realize that many people assume that a real relationship with a good person will be monogamous, without anyone saying anything. You'll save them and yourself time and trouble by happily telling about your poly beliefs at the first reasonable opportunity. I like her idea of "So, are you dating anyone?" And, tell exactly what "poly" means to you, because interpretations and assumptions differ widely. The right person will be enthused or at least accepting. Many won't be, unless you have the sense to be dating in a poly-friendly pool to begin with, and the sooner you both find out the less time and energy you both waste.

When dating online, this filter belongs smack up front.

I've never heard a good reason to delay informing a potential new partner unless it's clearly just a one-night stand kind of thing. Name one! If you hope to bedazzle a possibly mono person and "convert" them after they're hooked, you're not just a dick, you're a fool.


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May 11, 2013

Mother's Day poly manifesto: "It takes a child to raise a village."

Strong Families

Speaking of poly women webcomic artists with kids (my last post)... Anna Hirsch, who draws The New PolyAnna, posts this article to the Strong Families Project1 for today's theme of Mother's Day:

It Takes a Child to Raise a Village

By Anna Hirsch

Anna with her friend's oldest child.

My Mama's Day story begins in a place that is unfamiliar to many: polyamory. If you don't know that word, that's probably because you've never known any way to have a romantic relationship other than with one other person, or with one person at a time. That's the way most people do relationships, and it may be the only way you've ever learned relationships can be. But the truth is that you have always had the power to choose how your relationships work. I didn’t know growing up that one day I would be married and have a boyfriend. But here I am with two loving and committed relationships. Plus, my husband and my boyfriend are friends.

...And it has transformed how I love myself and how I treat others in almost every way, including how I understand family and build community.

A year and a half ago, I leaned into my sister's cheek while she clutched my hand. Instead of telling her to breathe, I just breathed deeply myself, letting her hear my love in every calm inhale and every strong exhale. I couldn't do what she was doing. And neither I nor my sister could do what that little baby inside her was doing. But all of us somehow were working together to reveal the mystery of life.

I am so grateful for that first birth experience, watching my sister become a mama. Yet some of my dearest polyamorous friends are still surprised to hear me say that. You see, this woman is not my biological sister. She is my friend and someone whose camaraderie I have cherished. She is also one of my husband’s sweethearts.

After a year spent preparing for the birth of an adorable, smart, incredibly delightful baby, we adopted each other as sisters. We also adopted each other as sisters because we had decided — like many of my closest friends — that love is thicker than blood, and that love is abundant. It was love that gave me the courage to ask my friend to be her birthing companion. We were a team, in fact, with both of the potential fathers pitching in as well.

No, it was not the pregnancy that my husband and I had been hoping or planning for....

Read on (May 10, 2013).

Anna Hirsch, awesomeness whisperer, is an activist, artist, counselor, and runner who lives and loves in Oakland, CA, and invites you to visit her blog www.newpolyanna.com to learn more about polyamory, and to check out her portfolio at www.activisteditor.com to learn about hiring her for your editing/writing needs.

This blog post is part of the Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blog. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.


1. Description: "Strong Families is a home for the 4 out of 5 people living in the US who do not live behind the picket fence — whose lives fall outside outdated notions of family, with a mom at home and a dad at work. While that life has never been the reality for most of our families, too many of the policies that affect us are based on this fantasy. From a lack of affordable childcare and afterschool programs, to immigration policy and marriage equality, the way we make policy and allocate resources needs to catch up to the way we live.

"We see the trend of families defining themselves beyond the picket fence — across generation, race, gender, immigration status, and sexuality — as a powerful and promising development for the US, and we want to help policy makers catch up.

"Our vision is that every family have the rights, recognition and resources it needs to thrive. We are engaging hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals in our work to get there."


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May 10, 2013

Kimchi Cuddles: new poly comic

Kimchi Cuddles is a heartwarming new poly webcomic, just a couple weeks old. Artist Tikva has been doing two of them a day to build an archive fast. Examples:

She explains,

Most of the comics are based on my own experiences, but many are based on the experiences of friends of mine or from submissions from fans. See the “characters” section for bios of each main character.

My main goal for making this comic is to spread awareness about ethical nonmonogamy in a way that is hilarious. If you like what you see, check back often because I post 2 new comics a day! You can also follow me on Facebook for comics updates and interesting posts on similar subjects.

...None of the main characters are based one just one person. Most of them are a jumbled mix of people I’ve had romances with who have similar personalities to each other. Their appearances are also the result of me creepily Frankenstein-ing various lovers of mine together.

That doesn't count toddler Pumpkin, who's just one kid: "She’s that cute in real life too."


Lots more comics! For ages now I've been occasionally updating my collection of poly webcomics. What ones have I missed? Please add them to the comments.


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May 8, 2013

"In our progressive, forward-thinking college town it’s becoming almost a faux pas to be monogamous"

Valley Advocate (Western MA)

Ages ago in a previous century I worked at the Valley Advocate, the alternative news and arts weekly of the college-rich Amherst-Northampton "Happy Valley" area in western Massachusetts. The Advocate is still going. This week a columnist reminds today's poly-trending college generation why monogamy can actually be a fine choice too, so don't worry about being out of step with the crowd if that is what's right for you.

Dear readers in college towns, is this an exaggeration? (I'm assuming yes.)

It’s OK To Go Monogo

By Yana Tallon-Hicks

I’m a huge fan of “open” or “non-monogamous” relationships — when two or more people consensually agree not to be sexually and/or emotionally exclusive. Sometimes this looks like a couple being open to sleeping with others but maintaining their relationship as “primary,” and sometimes it looks like someone maintaining multiple relationships simultaneously (called polyamory).

Many have written compellingly about why humans are better suited to be non-monogamous and how to do it ethically (see Opening Up by Tristan Taormino and Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan). Non-monogamy can be challenging, rewarding and fun when done correctly.

In past columns I’ve written about how successful open relationships require honesty, complex boundary-establishing and a lot of scheduling and emotional processing. While cheating in a monogamous relationship may look like one member of the couple having sex with an outsider, cheating in an open relationship might look more like one member of a couple violating a relationship agreement (such as having unprotected sex with a non-primary partner). Despite assumptions, non-monogamy is more talk than sex.

But this isn’t a column about non-monogamy, it’s about monogamy.... In our progressive, forward-thinking college town it’s becoming almost a faux pas to be monogamous, especially if you’re under 30 and not heterosexual. Polyamory’s the new trend.

But monogamy isn’t that bad, is it?

No one gets castrated. Jealousy crops up in every relationship, but it’s a larger, more persistent beast within open relationships. Constantly processing your own value to your partner while she is out on dates with others can be emotionally draining.... Some can only manage their jealously by being monogamous. And if you know that about yourself, congratulations. Lock it down.

You get more focused free time.... Imagine how much yoga, gardening and sleep you could catch up on by having just the one partner....

It’s cost-effective. ...Having a weekly date night with three partners is downright pricey....

You take fewer trips to the clinic. I don’t believe that monogamous sex is inherently safer sex or that open relationships are “dirtier.” However, having one partner means there are fewer variables to consider in the safer-sex aspect of your life....

Instead of being up on our “evolved” non-monogamous hipster high horses, perhaps we need to look at both open and closed relationships as valid choices. There’s a difference between “de facto monogamy” and “chosen monogamy.” De facto monogamy happens because “it’s just the way things go”.... De facto monogamy doesn’t acknowledge the possibility of non-monogamy. It was built on social constructs and is supported by laws involving tax breaks and idiots fighting against gay marriage....

Alternatively, those who consciously choose monogamy have considered all of their options. They might... just prefer being exclusive with their one and only honey. And they’re probably well rested....

Read the whole article (May 7, 2013).

She gets the "de facto" vs. "chosen" monogamy bit right. I'm proud to have had a hand in how both Loving More and the Polyamory Leadership Network, the two main polyactivist groups, decided to make "relationship choice" central to each of their mission statements. "Relationship choice" means that everyone should have the ability — and the knowledge — to choose their preferred relationship style consciously and deliberately, whichever it may be.


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