Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 30, 2013

"Polyamory: the next step for free love?"


A free paper you pick up from a stack at public transit stations worldwide prints a quick interview with Zoe Duff. It must have been prompted by her fine interview in Vice magazine a few days before (the media copy each other). I have no idea how many Metro editions it appeared in — at least New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and some in Canada.

By Kieron Monks, Metro World

Polyamory: the next step for free love?

Polygamy might be OK, but only one person gets to have the fun. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association is spreading the gospel of no limits, and has fought a court battle to protect the rights of partners to have multiple other relationships.

Director Zoe Duff, who lives with two partners and dates others, explained how it works.

Metro: Is this mainly for free spirits?

Duff: It’s for anyone anywhere, although certain personalities are more suited and have a better time. A lot of people who come to our events are well-educated, computer literate, like role-playing games and are not afraid to stand out.

Your parties sound like a lot of fun.

Yes. At our first Polycon, in celebration of the judge’s decision to protect our rights, we had an all-polyamorous band and there was certainly a fair bit of socializing....

...Doesn’t everyone have a favorite?

No. But you have to sit down and talk, even about what terms to use. It’s not impossible to love different people the same amount. Some choose to have primary, secondary, and tertiary but it’s not popular. Most people want equal partners. With my partners we are all co-partners – I prefer different ones at different moments, depending on whether we are hiking, cooking etc.

Does the liberalization of gay marriage laws give you hope this type of relationship will gain acceptance?

I have great faith that we’re all going to relax and let people love the way they want to. I think most people understand it’s not going to impact other lives and we can have healthy kids.

Read the whole article (Aug. 29, 2013).


August 29, 2013

Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 2: How to communicate, and not.

When Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating opened this season, we saw two seemingly happy, capable poly families. In Episode 2 last Thursday, we started witnessing an instructive divergence. I hope viewers were astute enough to recognize the contrast being displayed for them.

Episode 3, airing tonight, will surely pursue this further.

Episode 2, "Triggers," opened with the Hollywood-based trio of entrepreneurs waking up in bed. Leigh Ann has to rush off to teach an early class at her pole-dancing studio; she is short-staffed. Chris and young Megan (below), who have businesses of their own but less rigorous schedules, wheedle her to stay and cuddle. No she can't, she's already late. Leigh Ann explains to the camera: "I don't really have the luxury of not going to work." Yet she is also feeling wibbly and resentful of the others' greater alone time together, and shows it. Chris responds, "We aren't the ones who are not available."

At the pole-dancing class, Leigh Ann misses a move and takes a fall. After the class she unburdens to a good friend that the morning's stress with the two at home threw her off. "They spend all their time together because I'm here all day," she says. "She gets to have sex with him all alone, and I don't. Chris and I never get alone time. It sucks."

And yet, when the friend suggests talking it out with them, she says "I'm really bad at confronting, like, the hard stuff. I get overwhelmed by the emotional conversations and I want to run away."

She also bemoans to the friend that she can't find advice about her situation anywhere, "because no one else is doing this!"

Um, yes they are. A huge body of hard-earned poly-community wisdom has accumulated in the last 30 years, often by bitter trial and error, and it's there waiting to be tapped. But that means finding the community, and these three seem to have no contact with it. They assume their thing is just about them.

Meanwhile down the freeway, things are going better with the San Diego pod of four-plus. At a restaurant, Michael is having a mature and practiced conversation with Jason, his wife Kamala's new lover-to-be, about how he's fine with them moving forward into sex and with them spending more time together. (A developing theme here is that in the poly world, time can be a scarcer resource than sex, and therefore its allocation can be more jealousy-inducing.) This is Jason's first experience with polyamory, and Michael is gentle and helpful about putting him at ease.

A moment of TV fame.
Back home among their pod of four, Michael shares with Kamala: "I have some concern that Jason is new to polyamory, and that he's a serial monogamist and may break your heart down the road." Abruptly, partner Jen ducks out — because, she tells the camera, "It started to feel like it might turn into a processing conversation, and I know I'm about to have one with Tahl and Jesse, so I'm outta here." Hm.

Back in Hollywood, we see Chris at the gym he owns, training a young fighter. Cut to him talking to the camera about Leigh Ann: "It's so difficult because obviously I understand career, and travel, and wanting to make a name for yourself and wanting your business to be successful.... Maybe she's feeling like we're doing our own thing [in bed without her].... Maybe I really need to, like, make an effort to be more with her for a while."

He buys flowers for her on his way home, leaves them on the bed, and invites her in. She is thrilled. They discuss the problem of that morning and seem to work through it to a happy resolution, and they begin getting intimate. In walks Megan, chirping "Am I interrupting something?"

Instead of saying yes, which she clearly is, they invite her to join them and soon are again in a three-way. (Yes, the sex is a little more explicit than in Season 1.) In the midst of it Megan ducks out, ostensibly to refill her wine glass. Chris and Leigh Ann are left uneasy, the mood dampened. They all end in an argument. Chris: "It just felt like you bailed on the whole thing." Later to the camera he says, "There are times when the strength of mine and Leigh Ann's connection is somewhat threatening." Leigh Ann to the camera: "It seems like it makes her insecure. And that seems like it makes it wrong to love my husband — and that's just wrong."

In the argument we saw Megan starting to turn shrill and show her youth (she's now 24). Folks, if you partner up with someone much younger than you, understand that they may be emotionally younger too. Chris to the camera: "This is the first time I've really seen this kind of discord" in their three years of living together. "If we don't find a way to really resolve it quickly, it's the kind that could really fester."

Did viewers notice that each of them has been speaking to the camera with the insights and thoughtfulness that they are not expressing to each other? Think about why. I wanted to step through the screen and hand them this.

Back in a San Diego restaurant, Tahl, Jen, and Jen's new, besotted young boyfriend Jesse (below) are having a model discussion. Tahl asks Jesse about the rules that he is putting on Jen, such as about Jen not kissing any other guy on the lips except Tahl (who's her husband). Jesse is handling things well, looking into himself and explaining himself with some insight, and not being shy about how new and strange to him this feels, and that he can't yet say how far down the poly road he will end up wanting to go. Young people can also be mature and reflective.

The three end up working out a time-sharing agreement they're all happy with: Jen will spend three nights a week with Jesse, three with Tahl, and one night a week they'll all do things together, until further discussion if need be.

Tahl to the camera: "In our experience, it's always more difficult when monogamous people come into the picture. They kind of want the lover all to themself, and there's no sense of sharing."

Jesse to the camera: "A lot of it is really still just kind of getting comfortable with it.... Getting to know everyone in the pod, and all her different friends, naturally is where I think that comfort will come."

Tahl, sympathetically: "Jesse's new to this world. It's gotta be just fucking weird for him. I mean he's talking to his girlfriend's husband. He is taking these steps, though. I do see it. I just hope he keeps on taking those steps."

Last July, when I spent ten days with Kamala Devi and Michael at the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East, someone in a big group discussion asked Kamala what her number-one piece of advice would be for making polyamory work. Her instant response:

"You need a tribe. You need a community. It's so much better than trying to do this alone."


Here's Mindchaotica's recap of Episode 2.

Here are previews of tonight's Episode 3 (in which, says the promo, "Leigh Ann drops a bomb on Chris and Megan, and Michael asks Kamala for a threesome with his new lover"):

Each episode in the eight-week season airs on Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings). Episodes can also be watched on demand after they first air (click On Demand), or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime if you're a Showtime subscriber.

Showtime’s website for the series.

All trailers and video clips from Season 2 so far.

All video clips from Season 1.

To keep up with doings of the San Diego family, see their Facebook Fanpage.

Here's my own stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.

My stuff about Season 2 so far (including this post; scroll down).


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August 27, 2013

"For those who aren’t aware of what polyamory is, it’s kind of like an open relationship but better."


The sprawling, international, millennial-gen magazine Vice ran an interview yesterday with Canadian poly organizer Zoe Duff. It appears in Vice's American, Canadian, U.K., and Australian editions online, and maybe in other languages for all I know.

We couldn't ask for a better spokesperson. And I'm delighted to see that Zoe's book Love Alternatively Expressed will soon be out.

Ignore the article's title; it's meant to catch the eye of snarky hipsters:

Polyamory Is a Good Way to Be Slutty Without Hurting Anyone

By Gabe Gilker

Polyamory supporters in a San Francisco Pride Parade.
...I can’t tell whether it’s because I always develop a wandering eye after a few months, or if I just start to feel suffocated and trapped like a tiger in a cage, but monogamy always gives me that same old feeling of jamming a puzzle piece into the wrong place. I thought people in committed relationships were huge suckers. Then I had a friend sit me down and explain polyamory.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what polyamory is, it’s kind of like an open relationship but better. It’s based on the belief of loving multiple partners, so you can have many lovers, yet still forge deep and involved emotional relationships. The ideal polyamorous relationships are egalitarian, communicative, and honest. It sounds a little complicated at first, but once you get into the swing of things it’s can be a pretty great way of living if you’ve struggled with the idea of “till death do us part”....

I called up Zoe Duff, the director of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, one of the organizers of “Claiming Our Right To Love,” the first ever Poly Convention in British Columbia, and author of Love Alternatively Expressed which is due out this fall, to dispel some misunderstandings of polyamory and maybe help me sort out why I generally feel less than human when it comes to traditional relationships.

VICE: Some of my friends who are presently in polyamorous relationships talk about the "rules" of being poly. What are some of these rules?

Zoe Duff: Polyamory has the knowledge and consent of all partners as a key component. Fundamental to the philosophy is open honest communication and moving into new relationships with more than just consent, but the support of all partners. The rules of any poly relationship are negotiated by the people in that relationship and modified as new people are added.... Moving at the pace of the slowest partner is one that comes to mind. You don't push your partner into accepting a new partner however enthralled you are with him/her. You slow it down and negotiate as your partner is comfortable. Getting ongoing feedback from your partners to ensure that they all are getting a fair share of your time and energy is another.

Can you quickly explain to me some of the pros of being in a polyamorous relationship?

There are more minds on [any given] problem, more incomes on the bills, more hands to take care of the housework, and more loving parents/grandparents to take care of the kids. Partners share different interests with you and so there is someone to dance with, someone to laugh with, someone to fix your computer, lots of snuggles, and schedule permitting, lots of great sex.

What are some of the down sides of a polyamorous relationship?

Poly is a lot of work. If more monogamous people worked this hard on communication, compromise, and inclusivity there would be a much lower divorce rate. Things like jealousy and safer sex are obvious issues that come up more often in poly relationships — but in general, poly people learn to negotiate honestly and find solutions. Sometimes this is very hard work. You can't get away with hiding information or bad behaviour.

How do you avoid jealousy? It’s so human.

The trick is to keep the feedback continuous and be alert to the first signs of jealousy. It is a perfectly natural reaction to needs not being met. It is important to openly discuss it and find the true source. There are desensitizing exercises that are terrific in Deborah Anapol's book [Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits]. You should not feel like you are "not poly enough" because you are experiencing jealousy, and it is essential that your partners work with you and support you working through it. There is always a period of adjustment when new people are added to the relationship, and if everyone works together with compromise and consideration the balance is restored and the relationship shared by all is enhanced.

...How do you go about choosing a new partner to add to your already existing relationship?

Generally that is a process that you agree upon with your other partners. Everyone has a different amount of discussion required in being comfortable with adding new partners. In our family, we most often meet someone through an online dating site or a poly community event. If it’s online, we meet for coffee first and then date the person with the understanding that we are in a poly family and any long term relationship would involve getting to know other family members.... In my experience it is important for the same-gender partners or "metamours" to have a good solid friendship for poly households to be happily successful.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen from people who have attempted a poly relationship?

It never ceases to amaze me how someone who has struggled with discrimination will in turn be critical of someone else's choices because they differ from theirs. This happens in the poly community because we are reinventing relationship forms and living on the growing edge of personal development. “You don't do poly the way I do, so you're wrong” — that’s very counterproductive to community building and always hurtful....

Read on (August 26, 2013).


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August 25, 2013

BBC poly documentary sets off global hubbub

BBC radio sure has a big reach. On Monday August 19, BBC's Radio 4 aired a strikingly good half-hour piece on polyamory, titled "Monogamy and the Rules of Love." It suggested that ethical non-monogamy will be widely accepted in just 10 years. This prompted all kinds of reaction in Great Britain and around the world. The program description:

Does monogamy still have a place in a society where choice is everything? Jo Fidgen asks why people are still so wedded to the ideal, if not always the practice. Does true love really demand sexual fidelity, and what happens when people choose to open up their relationships?

You can listen to it here (28 minutes) until 3 p.m. EDT Monday August 26th.

The BBC put up a written companion story on its News Magazine site the previous evening. It became the News Magazine's most-read story for the week.

How does a polyamorous relationship between four people work?

Imagine one house, with four people, but five couples. How does it work, asks Jo Fidgen.

From top left, clockwise: Sarah, Chris, Charlie and Tom.

Charlie is talking excitedly about a first date she went on the night before.

Next to her on the sofa is her husband of six years, Tom. And on the other side of him is Sarah, who's been in a relationship with Tom for the last five years. Sarah's fiance, Chris, is in the kitchen making a cup of tea.

The two women are also in a full-blown relationship, while the two men are just good friends. Together, they make a polyamorous family and share a house in Sheffield.

"We're planning to grow old together," says Charlie.

Polyamory is the practice of having simultaneous intimate relationships with more than one person at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all partners. The term entered the Oxford English Dictionary only in 2006, and such relationships are rare enough that Tom finds himself having to account for his personal situation time and time again.

"The number of conversations I've had with peers where I've started to explain it and they've got as far as, 'so, you all cheat on each other' and not been able to get past that. I've said no, everybody's cool with it, everybody knows what's happening, no one's deceiving each other."

If any of the four want to get involved with someone else, they have to run it by the others - all of whom have a veto.

"We can't use a veto for something as silly as, say, personal taste," says Sarah. "If you were dating somebody and I could not understand why you found them attractive, that would not be sufficient reason for me to say, no, you can't see this person."

The word entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, where it is defined as:

"The fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, esp. in regard to matters of sexual fidelity; the custom or practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned."

What counts as infidelity, then?

"Lying," they chorus.

"For example," explains Charlie, "before I went on this first date yesterday, I sat down with each of my three partners and checked with them individually that I was okay to go on this date. Cheating would have been me sneaking off and saying I was meeting Friend X and not say that it was a potential romantic partner."

The rules and boundaries of their relationships are carefully negotiated.

When they had been a couple for just two weeks, Tom suggested to Charlie that they be non-monogamous.

"It was a light bulb moment for me," she says. 'I had been scared of commitment because I had never met anyone I felt I could fall completely and exclusively in love with. The idea of this not being a monogamous relationship allowed me to fall as deeply in love with Tom as I wanted to without fear that I would break his heart by falling in love with somebody else as well."

But how did she feel when, a year into their marriage, Tom fell in love with another woman?

"Well, Sarah's lovely," says Charlie. "I was just so happy that Tom was happy with her."

Sarah's partner, Chris, was less comfortable with the situation at first. They had agreed that they could have other sexual partners, but forming an emotional attachment with someone else was a different matter.

So when Sarah fell for Tom, she agonised over how to tell Chris.

"We sat down and talked about what it meant to be in love with more than one person, and did that mean I loved him less. Well, of course it didn't.

"It's not like there's only so much love I have to give and I have to give all of it to one person. I can love as many people as I can fit in my heart and it turns out that's quite a few."

In interviews, people in open marriages say that although it is not for everyone, it is absolutely possible for adults to be in committed, emotionally satisfying relationships with more than one person at a time.

Chris and Tom bonded over video games and became firm friends. Before long, Chris had fallen in love with Tom's wife, Charlie.

"It had never crossed Chris's mind not to be monogamous - now he says he could never go back," says Sarah.

This quandary over how to manage relationships is something that couples counsellor, Esther Perel, sees people struggling with all the time.

"You can live in a monogamous institution and you can negotiate monotony, or you can live in a non-monogamous choice and negotiate jealousy. Pick your evil.

"If you are opening it up you have to contend with the fact that you're not the only one, and if you are not opening it up then you have to contend with the fact that your partner is the only one."

So how do Charlie, Sarah and Tom handle jealousy?

Not a problem, they insist, and point to a word invented in polyamorous circles to indicate the opposite feeling.

"Compersion," explains Tom, "is the little warm glow that you get when you see somebody you really care about loving somebody else and being loved."

"There's always a small amount of insecurity," reflects Sarah, recalling how she felt when her fiance fell in love with Charlie. "But compare my small amount of discomfort with the huge amount of love that I could see in both of them, and honestly, I'd feel like a really mean person if I said my discomfort was more important than their happiness."

Jealousy has to be handled differently in a polyamorous relationship, adds Charlie.

"In a two-person, monogamous relationship, it's not necessary but it is possible to say, we just need to cut out all of the people who are causing jealousy and then everything will be fine.

"Whereas when you are committed to a multi-partner relationship, you can't just take that shortcut. You have to look at the reasons behind the jealousy."

If an issue does arise, the four may stay up all night talking it over.

"We do so much more talking than sex," laughs Charlie.

But some argue that it is natural for people to bond in pairs.....

Our desire for monogamy has deep roots, says Marian O'Connor, a psychosexual therapist at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships in London.

"As children we need someone who loves us best of all in order to thrive. There's normally one main care giver, usually the mother, who will look after the infant.

"The thing about a monogamous relationship, it can give you some sense of certainty and surety, somewhere you can feel safe and at home."

Sarah, Tom and Charlie agree that a safe base is important, but see no reason why only monogamy can provide one.

"I feel safe and secure, with the ability to trust and grow, with Tom, Sarah and Chris," says Charlie. "It is from the base and security of the three of them that I face the world and the challenges the day brings."

"The way I see it, it's only a problem if I feel like one of my partners is spending more time with all their other partners than with me," says Sarah. "It just leads to people feeling hurt."

A shared Google calendar is the answer.

"We mostly use it for keeping track of date nights," says Charlie. "The couple who is on a date gets first pick of what film goes on the TV and it helps keep track of who's in what bedroom."

Sarah chips in. "So, for example, I have a weekly date night with Charlie. It's us snuggling up, us with the TV, us going to bed together and all that kind of business."

Perel sees polyamory as "the next frontier" - a way of avoiding having to choose between monotony and jealousy.

"We have a generation of people coming up who are saying, we also want stability and committed relationships and safety and security, but we also want individual fulfilment. Let us see if we can negotiate monogamy or non-monogamy in a consensual way that prevents a lot of the destructions and pains of infidelity."

But it's not an easy option....

Tom is cautiously optimistic that polyamory will become "average and everyday".

"Anyone who is expecting some massive social change overnight is terribly mistaken, but it will happen."

...They all agree managing a multi-partner relationship can be exhausting.

"But we don't have a choice. We're in love with each other," they chime.

Read the original (Aug. 18, 2013).

The show prompted this column in The Guardian:

Being polyamorous shows there's no 'traditional' way to live

Polyamory is not a euphemism for sleeping around. It's just another way of organising life, love and who does the dishes.

By Laurie Penny

...This week the BBC Radio 4 documentary "Monogamy and the Rules of Love" tapped into a growing curiosity about polyamory, the formal practice of having multiple romantic partners at one time. For many people, though, polyamory isn't curious at all – it's just another way of organising life, love and whose turn it is to make the tea.

It may be hard for the conservative old guard to fathom, but for a long time lots of people have quietly been getting on with non-monogamous relationships. During the recent debates around the legalisation of gay marriage, Tory critics warned that the next, unthinkable step would be multiple marriage. I can't be the only one who wondered if that'd be such a bad idea. Some of the sweetest couples I know, including many with healthy, happy children, are not couples at all, but triples or even quadruples – but the public conversation about open non-monogamy is still stuck on horrified confusion. An article in the Independent about the BBC programme confused polyamory with "wife-swapping", which makes the women involved sound like unwanted Saturdays CDs.

...I've been in various polyamorous relationships, some delightful, some less so, particularly with people who confuse structured non-monogamy with simple sleeping around. From a distance, they look similar, but only the former has the tedious syncing-up of calendars and household chores.... Once you've got past the initial thrill of being allowed to fall in love and fool around with multiple people at once, you tend to find that polyamory replaces one set of problems – suspicion, frustration, guilt at lusting after people you shouldn't – with an exciting new set of problems. Problems like how to make sure you're spending enough time with each of your partners, or what precisely you're supposed to call your girlfriend's other boyfriend who you may or may not also be dating (answer: your "metamor"). Problems like how to balance the time you spend talking discussing your feelings honestly with various lovers with other important things like eating dinner and going to work....

The fact that doing polyamory properly requires a lot of time and energy is one of the reasons that many participants in the "poly scene" – although by no means all – are urban, middle-class professionals. These tend to be the people with the hours and energy to devote to maintaining multiple partnerships in a time when even monogamous love is a struggle for working people....

...Radio 4 predicted that monogamy would lose its "moral monopoly" within 10 years. Bring it on, I say.

Read the whole article (Aug. 20).

The Independent was less sympathetic:

Monogamy is outdated, according to controversial BBC investigation

'Polyamorous' relationships, involving multiple partners, could become the new normal

By Adam Sherwin

Monogamy and the Rules of Love, a Radio 4 documentary broadcast on Monday, features a pair of co-habiting couples, living together in Sheffield, who use a Google calendar to plan when they have sex with each other.

The programme argues that the “taboo” around sharing lovers between an unlimited number of sexual partners could disappear within a decade.

Presenter Jo Fidgen interviews experts and meets British couples who have rejected monogamy. “Could monogamy really lose its moral monopoly inside ten years?,” she asks.

She meets Charlie, a woman who has been married to Tom for six years. Before their marriage, Tom met and fell in love with Sarah, with Charlie's approval.

Subsequently, Sarah and Charlie also began a relationship. Then Sarah got engaged to a man called Chris. “And somewhere along the line I fell in love with Chris and now we're all planning to grow old together,” Charlie tells the programme.

...Ms Fidgen speaks to Esther Perel, a Belgian sex therapist with a radical approach to relationships, who predicts that the “power” of monogamy is subsiding.

Perel agrees that “multi-partner relationships are coming on the radar” and suggests that they will become common within 30 years, if not ten.

“Monogamy has shown remarkable endurance. These relationship pioneers are revising the rules of love to promote sexual honesty over exclusivity,” Ms Fidgen said. “If they persuade people there's a viable model, then monogamy becomes a choice rather than the default.”

She asks: “Does true love really mean forsaking all other lovers? Most of us assume a conventional serious relationship depends on sexual fidelity. What happens when we open our minds and our relationships?”

The programme quotes a British social attitudes survey which found that 80% still believe that it's wrong to stray. But Ms Fidgen speaks to Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, a Norwegian sex expert with a radical approach to relationships, who predicts that the “power” of monogamy is subsiding.

Pirelli agrees that “multi-partner relationships are coming on the radar” and suggests that they will become common within 30 years, if not ten....

Read the whole article (Aug. 18).

The London Evening Standard sniffed, Partners are best sampled one at a time (Aug. 22):

Monogamy is on the way out, apparently. According to a recent Radio 4 documentary, Monogamy and the Rules of Love, having a one and only may soon be passé. In the next 10 years, it was claimed, polyamory — having multiple partners — could become the norm.

...By way of example, the Beeb gave us a foursome who loved in a square (well, a square minus one side: the two men weren’t horizontally tangoing). They didn’t make this multi-loving malarkey sound fun, they made it sound like a logistical nightmare, tougher to negotiate than the Northern Ireland peace process.

...You have to find a way to organise the shindig so that no one feels left out. That means a libido-extinguisher more potent than chronic halitosis: a timetable. And who wants to be a slave to spreadsheets in their relationships, or to be held captive by Google calendar?

...I’m not suggesting that the only path to happiness includes a trip to H Samuel. It’s just that, given the alternative, monogamy doesn’t sound so bad.

• Elsewhere around the world, brief reaction in The Times of India: Monogamy on way out with Polyamory coming in! (Aug. 19).

• The same item appeared in The Business Standard, "India's leading business daily," and probably elsewhere.

• In the health section of MSN New Zealand: Has monogamy become outdated? (Aug. 21).

• A tech site picked up on the Google Calendar angle: Poly Couples Using Google Calendar to Schedule All Their Awesome Sex Stuff.

• Appearing later in The Guardian, an idiot woman fails to get it; conflates everything with patriarchal polygamy. To which a polyamory activist in South Africa, where traditional polygamy is legal and common, writes a scathing reply drawing the distinction.

Polyfolks were thrilled with the BBC report. For instance, longterm poly pair Anna and Alan (not me; another Alan) write at their website The Ordinary Extraordinary,

...The BBC delivered an absolutely sparkling primer on what polyamory is and what it isn’t. In the profiled quad, each man has a loving relationship with each woman and the women also have a loving relationship — four people, five couples. They all live together and are, through frequent quotation, lovely spokespeople for polyamory.... Share it with others!

While writers at big conservative journals were seriously grumped out. At National Review Online, If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Need Google Calendar (Aug. 21):

By Kathryn Jean Lopez

“We have a generation of people coming up who are saying, we also want stability and committed relationships and safety and security, but we also want individual fulfillment. Let us see if we can negotiate monogamy or non-monogamy in a consensual way that prevents a lot of the destructions and pains of infidelity,” a British “couples counselor” Esther Perel explains in that BBC piece on making polyamory work.

“Manag[ing] relationships” is something she says she “sees people struggling with all the time.” The choices, as she views it, are: “You can live in a monogamous institution and you can negotiate monotony, or you can live in a non-monogamous choice and negotiate jealousy. Pick your evil.”

Marriage as we knew it is evil, and then there is “love” on the other hand....

Love and marriage and the baby carriage might be boring in comparison, but it’s not doomed if the Google server crashes. It’s also not all about adults, but is open to higher expections and a commitment to rise to responsibilities and challenges together, toward good and actually away from evil.

At The American Conservative, columnist Rod Dreher bemoans that such positive coverage appears in mainstream media: Those Wacky Polyamorists! (Aug. 21):

The BBC brings us a somewhat chirpy look at polyamory in the UK....

Is this a flash in the pan, or a sign of things to come?

Polyamory seems so strange, but is it really that much stranger in 2013 than legalized same-sex marriage sounded in 1983? The logic justifying them both is the same. I think there is really no way to overstate the power of the mass media in conditioning the public to accept things like this. [Yay! –Ed.] The propaganda campaign for gay marriage has been overwhelming. We’re starting to see it on transgender stuff now.... What is important to note about these things is not that the media report on them, but the way in which the media report on them....

...While polyamory may or may not be the wave of the future, adoring coverage of it probably will be, at least if the SSM story is any guide.

The Christian Institute wasn't a bit chirpy: Bring on multi-partner marriage, says writer (Aug. 22).

In conservative responses like those last few, I'm seeing less shocked outrage as time goes on and more grumpy resignation about being on what looks to become the losing end of yet another social issue.


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August 22, 2013

"More Than Two": Crowdfunding launches for Franklin Veaux's forthcoming book

Since 2006 I've been bugging Franklin Veaux to write his damn poly book.

Franklin is a prolific online essayist and commentator on all sorts of topics, from the future of sex toys to rape tolerance among BDSMers to malware-design strategies in Bulgarian organized crime. He also runs one of the oldest, most intelligent (IMO) and most widely linked-to poly advice and information sites on the web. It's now named More Than Two. That's also the title of his forthcoming book. Yes, he is finally doing it.

Eve (photo by Michael Petrachenko)
Franklin has lived a notably successful poly life for about 20 years and has been writing about it for 15. The people in his intimate network that I've met are unusually brilliant and interesting. A crowd of them gathered from around the world in Portland, Oregon, not long ago for his marriage to Zaiah. Now his sweetie Eve Rickert, the mastermind of Talk Science to Me Inc., seems to be the sparkplug making the book happen, with a deadline this fall. She was planning a poly book of her own, is a professional editor, and knows the book-publishing business from the inside. They've joined forces to co-author More Than Two.

Franklin writes on the book's blog and elsewhere,

It's going to be a monster -- it's looking to shape up as a 500-page hands-on guide for folks who want to explore polyamory, chock full of problem-solving ideas, hints and tips.

...More Than Two, the book, will be a very different animal than More Than Two, the website: more detailed, more personal, more concrete, and with a wider range.

They have further ambitions. After Franklin's experiences with publishers who wanted a book of his personal memoirs rather than the book he wanted to write, he and Eve have decided to self-publish it and, perhaps, set up a publishing company that can produce and market others' books as well under Eve's and Franklin's imprint. Update: They've gone and incorporated it, under the name Thorntree Press.

Toward these goals they launched an Indiegogo campaign today, August 22. Their goal is $19,800. The amount is budgeted to allow them sufficient time off from their jobs to complete the book and to produce, manufacture, and seriously market it. There will be both ebook and paper editions. They intend to print enough paper copies at the outset to be able to sell it at a good price.

To get this off to a running start, Ken Haslam has put up $5,000 and I have put up another $1,000, both outside the Indiegogo campaign, to match the first $6,000 that people make to the campaign. So get in early, and we'll match your donation. By doing this outside the campaign we brought their Indiegogo goal down under the $20,000 mark.

Here's the donation link, with more info about the project and a broken-down budget.

They're also having an Indiegogo launch party in Portland this evening:

The party will begin at 8 p.m. at Ringlers Pub, 1332 West Burnside. So we know how many to reserve for, if you plan to attend please sign up at our Eventbrite event page.

I wish I could be there and raise a glass.


Meanwhile, here's a recent interview with Franklin on MultipleMatch.com:

Conversations with Franklin Veaux: An Uncommon Dialogue

By Louloria

In the online poly world there are a few figures that come to the fore. Most of those – unsurprisingly – have websites. Others have written books (or are about to!). I caught up with Franklin Veaux of More Than Two fame to talk about jealousy, gamechanging relationships…and more.

Many people believe that polyamory is a choice – a conscious choice – as is monogamy. Others believe it’s an inclination – but you believe it’s both. Is this a deduction, a belief or empirical evidence?

...I’ve heard a lot of folks compare polyamory to sexual orientation. I think the comparison is apt; inclinations toward monogamous or polyamorous relationships aren’t simple, just like sexual orientation isn’t simple.

A lot of people talk about homosexuality being genetic. It certainly seems quite likely that it is, but that doesn’t mean there is a “gay gene” and if you have it, you’re gay. Genetics is complicated. For example, one of my partners raises standard poodles. Poodles have nine genes that control what color their coat is. Nine genes! So it seems unlikely that there is just a single gene that controls human sexual behavior; on and you’re gay, off and you’re straight. Sexual orientation is way more complex than that....

It seems likely that this behavior is both genetic and environmental.... People on the extreme ends of the spectrum are probably less likely to be affected by environmental factors and less likely to be able to arbitrarily choose an orientation than folks somewhere in the great expanse between.

I suspect it’s the same for monogamy or non-monogamy. It’s important to consider that polyamory is not the only form of non-monogamy, too....
won’t necessarily end up being married, people who are “born non-monogamous” won’t necessarily end up in poly relationships!

You’ve written a lot about polyamory, especially jealousy, and I’ve followed your advice myself. What prompted your wealth of writing?

...Even as a kid, monogamy made no sense to me. When I first started dating, I didn’t have the language to describe what I wanted, and I didn’t have a community of people like me. So, as you might guess, I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know there were other people who also wanted non-monogamous relationships, I had no models for what those relationships could look like…hell, I didn’t even know what words to use! I made mistakes and I hurt people I loved because of it.

In the 1990s, when the word “polyamory” started being used and people started forming poly communities, I had an incredible “aha” moment.... Suddenly, I wasn’t alone.

...So I wrote the things I wish the younger version of me had known. In a sense, I was writing for myself ten years earlier – the me who made mistakes, who didn’t have a model of what non-monogamous relationships could look like, who didn’t know there were other polyamorous people out there.

...One of the tenets of eradicating jealousy is to examine the underlying assumptions held to see whether they hold water. For example, insecurity caused simply by the fear of being alone is a common human sentiment, some say driven by biology designed for our protection. What purpose does it serve to overcome such a mechanism? Fear is useful... but fear of being alone can be paralyzing. Nobody likes the thought of being alone, but if you’re driven by fear of it – if you’re so afraid of being alone that you think losing your partner will destroy you – it’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship.

If we’re held hostage by our fear, it becomes almost impossible to feel empowered in our relationships.... It’s okay to not want to be alone, but when we believe we can't be alone, things can run off the rails.

...Have you even seen a relationship ‘downgraded’ and have it survive romantically?

I have! In fact, I’ve had a relationship with someone I love very much change to become less entwined and we are still life partners.

This is, I think, a part of good expectation management skills. Feelings on my part are not obligations on someone else’s. If I love someone, the fact that I love her doesn’t obligate her to love me back, or to do what I want her to do. People aren’t need-fulfilment machines.

There is a social trope that says ex-partners are never supposed to like each other, as though once you’re in a relationship, you either remain in that relationship or become bitterly detested enemies. I actually find it a little bizarre....

And now you’re writing a book on polyamory too. How is it different to the existing literature?

Polyamory is receiving a lot of mainstream attention right now. Quite a few poly books have been released in the last few years, some of them quite good. Where More Than Two is different is it’s not intended to be a personal memoir or an overview of different poly relationships. Instead, what we’re creating is a practical, hands-on guidebook to making poly relationships work: problems you may encounter, tools that work to help overcome those problems, relationship skills-building for managing more than one romantic relationship.

We want our book to be pragmatic and useful, filled with tips and tricks for building healthy, happy polyamorous relationships.

A lot has changed in the poly community in the years since I first started working on my poly website. The book isn’t a repackaging of the website; it’s entirely new, with all kinds of good stuff in it. One of our goals in this book is to keep our conversations away from abstract “poly theorizing” and firmly grounded in real-world relationships. For example, we’re using only real-life examples to illustrate the ideas we present....

Read the whole interview (August 9, 2013).

More on what's in the book.


Franklin is particularly known for his advocacy of egalitarian freedom in relationships, as opposed to the "illusion" that veto power and detailed rules can protect a primary partnership's security. That's behind his compare-and-contrast grid here: Polyamory, Monogamy, and Ownership Paradigms.

To which Wes Fenza, another notably smart poly guy, presents this rejoinder: Poly Isn’t Necessarily Egalitarian, but Egalitarian is Necessarily Open.

Franklin's poly sayings show up in the weirdest places.


P.S.: A reminder: Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating, Episode 2, also happens Thursday night, at 11 p.m. ET/PT. I'm told that Polyamory in the News will make an appearance onscreen. Unfortunately I'll be in the Maine woods away from TV and the internet until Sunday. Here's what I wrote about last week's episode.



August 17, 2013

Gawker reviews Showtime's Polyamory. "There’s something wonderfully relaxed and unperturbable about these people."

From the next episode: Tahl, Jen, and Jesse (at right) discuss.

Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating bagged a publicity plum hours before this season's first episode aired. (See my post about what happened on that episode.) Rich Juswiak at Gawker.com published a long, serious, bedazzled review of Season 2. He's the guy who wrote the most consequential review during Season 1: Showtime's Polyamory Is Trashy, Profound and the Best Reality Show on TV. Since then he's had personal experience with poly and comes now with deeper, more connected understandings of it.

He apparently has had a look at all of the Season 2 episodes.

More, Merrier: Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating Is Back

So much new love and sex is thriving in the four-person, two-couple pod profiled on Showtime’s reality series Polyamory: Married & Dating. Tonight’s Season 2 premiere is something of a cram session to catch us up: Kamala is dating her business partner Jason, who is 10 years her junior. Michael, Kamala’s husband, has been dating Rachel for a few months. This is his first lover outside of the pod, and Kamala is “pretty thrilled” about that. Their lovers, Jen and her husband Tahl, have been living with Michael and Kamala for about a year, nearly as long as Jen's been dating Jesse. Tahl’s new girlfriend is named Tziporah, whom Tahl describes as “my little Spanish gypsy, she’s just cute.” Tahl is also out this season as bisexual. “This is who I am. I’m a bisexual poly man,” he beams.

Like most reality television shows, Polyamory documents (ostensibly self-directed) stories woven out of interpersonal relationships. As always, certain personality types serve as perpetual plot generators. The collective capacity of Polyamory's core four to explore the depths of their polyamorous configuration, while remaining committed to each other, is as infinite as a Real Housewife’s ability to find haters, circumstances to be offended by, and meals to spoil.

But on Polyamory, the results are largely of joy and self-discovery, not turmoil and drama. Sure, jealousy tiptoes into the bedroom, boundaries are trampled, and certain sexual encounters turn out to be awkward stumbles. But for the most part, these people are having a great time. And why shouldn’t they? They get home from work and there’s a party waiting for them.

As in last season, the sex within (and without) the group is portrayed in a frequently cut, split-screen, and softcore Real Sex-esque manner. It's as potentially giggle-provoking as the phrase "making love" — a favorite euphemism on the show. But... you don't watch Polyamory for the sex scenes. You watch it for the conversations....

There's a particular exhilaration when it comes to polyamory because there's no normative model, nor could there be. The complex interplay of feelings and comfort levels expands and alters as more people are added to the mix. A new consensus dictates new rules. And even as you determine how everything fits in the first place, you find yourself relating to society hand-in-hand-in-hand — a different way of presenting all together. My own limited but intense experiences with polyamory since the last season of this show aired made me feel like a virgin. Everything was new — worth exploring, discussing, and examining. Everything was fascinating. To consume love in such quantities is to remind yourself of how capable you are as a human of generating seemingly infinite joy.

There’s always the threat, of course, of being consumed, of getting so caught up that you slip out of sync with the fellow wheels of your great love expedition. More fraught than the quad-pod is the almost impossibly attractive trio joining the show this season—mixed-martial arts-studio owner Chris, his wife and pole-dancing school owner Leigh Ann, and their girlfriend of three years, Megan. (Last season’s similarly structured “triad” of Anthony, Lindsey and Vanessa are nowhere to be found.) “I feel like an outsider in my own marriage,” laments Leigh Ann, whose studio work regularly pulls her out of the group. While the foursome is a lot looser about extra-pod play, this trio has stricter rules and is much less forgiving about breaking them. There’s no right way to conduct a polyamorous relationship, but the there are a lot of wrong ways.

And yet, joy persists....

...There’s something wonderfully relaxed and unperturbable about these people, especially the pod. They giggle along with the rest of us, allowing America into their bedrooms and hearts with the glee of exhibitionists and the fearlessness of pioneers....

"What is polyamory supposedly about?” says Chris at an emotional high point later in the season. “What is the first most important thing? Rigorous honesty." And at the very least, that's exactly how the show feels. If these people weren’t explaining themselves to a camera, they would be to each other.

Read the whole review (August 15, 2013).


Here's a clip from next Thursday's Episode 2 — which I won't see for a while, since I'll be away and not posting next week.

Another clip (I can't get the Flash version to embed here).


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August 16, 2013

Season opener of Showtime's "Polyamory: Married & Dating":
What happened.

The first new episode of Showtime's Polyamory reality series, which aired last night, had a lot of catching up to do from last season, and new groundwork to lay.

We meet a new family, seen in the video clip above. Chris is a beefy, chiseled mixed-martial-arts fight champion with, apparently, a kind and thoughtful heart. He now owns and runs the gym Legends, where he coaches up-and-coming MMA fighters. His wife Leigh Ann owns and runs a pole-dancing school, "making a better world one sexy woman at a time," she jokes. Their younger mutual girlfriend Megan owns and runs a business of her own, a fashion line. Three busy entrepreneurs, who for three years have lived and loved together — in Hollywood, in a gorgeous California home with a pool. Yeah, this is Showtime. They tell of their happy life and intertwined relationship, and explain how they discuss and negotiate through unexplored territory. "When you find out that this is what love is for you," says Chris, "you're kind of flying by the seat of your pants."

And we see that they're gorgeous with their clothes off. They narrate, over an extended threesome sex scene, how they enable the group lovemaking among them to work right for everyone. They are blissful and delighted with one another and know each other very well... it appears.

So then, where's the story? We know turmoil and drama must be coming. Indeed, we are set up with what to look for: Leigh Ann cooks while the other two walk the dog, and she frets how she seems to be getting left alone a lot these days. Megan frets about how much Leigh Ann has to travel for her business and leave her alone. Are they really all going to be the good relationship managers they appear to be?

Down the freeway in San Diego, the poly pod of Kamala, Michael, Jen, and Tahl have been living together for a year since we witnessed their move-in and tribulations last season. They seem stronger and happier together now, and if complex networked intimacy is their thing, they've got heaps of it. Tahl has happily come out as bisexual and seems to be loving it as he dates around. Jen, the most tentative, most giving-in of the four last year, seems to have gained new confidence and strength. She has a new boyfriend, Jesse, a kid really, who's 10 years her junior. And he's mono. Oops.

In real life, the pod and (I gather) their extended San Diego network follow a practice that each person be fluid-bonded — not using a condom or other fluid barrier — with no more than one other person, usually a spouse. The pod has regular Monday family meetings that they look forward to, and we see them sitting together holding hands and going over various matters. Jen says she has decided to fluid-bond with Jesse, and husband Tahl will be the one to use a condom with her. The others ask Tahl, with concern, how he feels about this change. He says he's actually sort of delighted and finds the idea of Jesse ejaculating unprotected to be pretty exciting. But he is having a different problem: the amount of time that Jen is spending away from him with Jesse these days. And also, the rules that mono-oriented Jesse puts on her, like no kissing any other man but Tahl on the lips; these seem potentially creepy. And there's Jesse's unwillingness to come to parties and be part of the extended community. Tahl says that he and Jen need to schedule a further talk about his own needs here.

Jen is not happy about this turn of events. And at their talk, which goes rather stressfully in a restaurant, Tahl asks that all three of them meet over lunch so that he and Jesse can get to know each other and work out their understandings and needs. Oh, and by the way, he wants more alone time scheduled for himself to date a new guy.

We see Jen and Jesse making love, real love — this is not a porn scene — and at greater length than the lovemaking scenes we saw last season. Young Jesse is truly head over heels for her. He is overjoyed not to be using a condom now; this new bonding means the world to him. To him, condoms and safer sex feel like relationship diminishment. Uh oh.

He is scared about getting more involved with the poly tribe, Tahl in particular. He is sweet and open and... has mono attitudes written all over his very body language. It surprised me how sensitive to seeing this I've become.

It's too bad that Showtime turned down the director's request for hour-long shows this season. Considering the depth, complexity, and unusualness of what we're seeing, the pacing is very fast and it ends awfully soon.


See the long, bedazzled review of Season 2 at Gawker.com.

Here's Mindchaotica's review and recap of this first episode.

Next week's episode is titled "Triggers." Description: "Chris tries to mend his relationship. Jen is caught between Tahl and Jesse." A pic:

Incidentally, amid the deepening drama, in Episode 2 we'll see what came of my signing a release letting Showtime display this website on the air. Apparently one of the families had Polyamory in the News open while cameras were rolling. Maybe I'll be famous.


Here's the upcoming schedule. Note that each episode of the seven-week season will air several times on subsequent nights each week (on the left at the link, click On TV > All Airings).

Episodes can also be watched on demand after the first time they air (click On Demand), and on a computer or device if you're a Showtime subscriber via Showtime Anytime.

For official news and publicity see Showtime’s site for the series.

Here are all trailers and video clips for Season 2 so far.

Here are all the video clips for Season 1. If you didn't see it, they give a good idea of what it was about.

To keep up with doings of the San Diego family, see their Facebook Fanpage.

Here's my own stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.

And here's my stuff about Season 2.


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August 15, 2013

Tonight! Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating Season 2 begins

Showtime network

Tonight (Thursday August 15), the second season premieres of Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating. Watch it at 11 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.

They're airing this trailer:

In addition to the new triad family that the show will follow — see my earlier post — a lot has been happening in the San Diego pod who we saw in last year's series. Some of them have been branching further out. Kamala is pursuing a relationship with Jason, a business partner of Michael's and hers. I can see the reality-show drama stereotype: mix your work, an affair, and your husband while all working together? But if anyone has the skills and heart to pull it off well — or to transition down from the situation gently, if need be — I'd bet on at least two of those three. We'll see.

Michael, meanwhile, is looking to go to a deeper relationship with Rachel. He and Kamala ponder over this. Jen, for her part, has fallen for a monogamous man — who, we are told on the show's website, has problems coping with jealousy and with Jen's whole poly thing. Spare her the "date-your-own-species" lecture; Jen last year seemed like the most conventional person of the four, so maybe the new guy is not so different from her species. And anyway, storytelling is about drama, right?

Jen's husband Tahl is newly out as bisexual. He misses the amount of time that Jen is away with her new guy (those of you who remember the end of last season's series may see irony here). And he is "ready to have a male connection of his own and find a boyfriend." Just dishing here, but if I were interested in exploring a bisexual side and had already been spending threesome time in bed with the incredibly sweet and hunky Michael, who for all we know might have a little such inclination himself, I'm not sure I'd be casting around elsewhere. Was something like this proposed and was just not to be? If so, will we see it?

Here are two more video clips from tonight's show, by way of season introduction:


Here's the upcoming schedule. Note that each weekly episode of the seven-episode season will air several additional times on subsequent nights each week. (On the left at the link, click On TV > All Airings).

For official news see Showtime’s site for the series.

To keep up with personal doings of the San Diego family, see their Facebook Fanpage.

Here's where you can find all trailers and video clips for Season 2 as they go up.

Here are all the video clips for Season 1. If you didn't see it, they give a good idea of what it was about.

Showtime subscribers can currently watch all past episodes in full online anytime or on demand.

Here's my own stuff about Season 1, with plots, spoilers, commentary, and notices in other media.


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August 13, 2013

Bisexuals are the largest group of LGBTs, but they are strikingly closeted.

Pew Research issued a report in June on opinions and attitudes within the LGBT world. Pew Reports are the gold standard for social-survey research. Among the interesting findings: bisexuals, who don't get much public attention, make up the largest group under the L, G, B and T umbrella. But they are much less out to the people around them than lesbians and gays are.

Bisexuals account for the most self-identified LGBTs...
...but they are much less out than gays and lesbians.

This is significant to the poly world because roughly a third to a half of all self-identified polys say they are bi, and vice versa. That compares to just 3% of people in the general population who call themselves bisexual.

Here's the full Pew report: A Survey of LGBT Americans (June 13, 2013).

Most of it is about other topics. But here is a Los Angeles Times article, which came out more than a month later, about the study's bisexual findings:

Pew study: Majority of bisexuals still in the closet

At a time when gay rights have made stunning strides, and gays and lesbians have become far more willing to come out, the vast majority of bisexuals remains closeted, according to a Pew Research Center survey last month.

By Emily Alpert

LOS ANGELES — In the middle of the rainbowy revelers at the pride parade in West Hollywood, Jeremy Stacy was questioned: Are you really bisexual?

“One guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re really gay,’ ” said Stacy, who was standing under a sign reading, “Ask a Bisexual.”

“I told him I had a long line of ex-girlfriends who would vehemently disagree. And he said, ‘That doesn’t matter, because I know you’re gay.’ ”

Stacy had gotten the question before. From a friend who said anyone who had slept with men must be gay — even if he had also slept with women. From women who assumed he would cheat on them. From a boyfriend who insisted Stacy was really “bi now, gay later” — and dumped him when he countered he was “bi now, bi always.”

Such attitudes appear to have kept many bisexuals in the closet. At a time when gay rights have made stunning strides, and gays and lesbians have become far more willing to come out, the vast majority of bisexuals remains closeted, a Pew Research Center survey revealed last month.

Only 28 percent of bisexuals said most or all of the important people in their lives knew about their sexual orientation, compared to 71 percent of lesbians and 77 percent of gay men, Pew found. The numbers were especially small among bisexual men: Only 12 percent said they were out to that degree, compared to one-third of bisexual women who said the same.

Closeted bisexuals told the Los Angeles Times that they had avoided coming out because they didn’t want to deal with misconceptions that bisexuals were indecisive or incapable of monogamy — stereotypes that exist among straights, gays and lesbians alike.

The stereotypes make some reluctant to use the word, even after they come out. Laura McGinnis, communications director for the Trevor Project, an LGBT-youth suicide-prevention group, said she was 29 or 30 before she would readily share that she was bisexual or actively correct someone who thought otherwise.

“I hated the label because the assumption is that you’re sleeping around,” said McGinnis, now raising a child with her wife....

....“Bisexuals are thought to be confused, opportunistic and unable to make commitments — and those aren’t the kinds of things you want to see in an employee,” said Denise Penn, vice president of the American Institute of Bisexuality, a nonprofit that funds research.

LGBT community reacts

Inside the gay community, bisexual people are often seen as more privileged than gays and lesbians, able to duck discrimination by entering into straight relationships.

Far more bisexuals are in relationships with people of the opposite sex than the same sex, Pew found. They are less likely than gay men and lesbians to have weathered slurs or attacks, been rejected by friends or family or treated unfairly at work, its survey showed....

...A Kent State University study of bisexual women found that they were more likely than straight or lesbian women to harm themselves or endure suicidal thoughts. Other studies have also cited higher risks for bisexual men.

“I think these problems are coming from two places,” said Northwestern University human sexuality researcher Allen Rosenthal. “The absence of a bisexual community and the psychological stress of being in the closet.”

Activists say bisexuals have two closets — a straight and a gay one....

Read on (July 21, 2013).


Edge magazine now explores why:

"If there’s no strong bisexual community and culture to be supported by, it’s hard to come out," said Kyle Schickner, a filmmaker and outspoken bisexual activist of 20 years. "If you’re a gay teenager and you move to a metropolitan area, it becomes easier to come out because there are so many of you - you have less to lose. Some bisexuals might be in a relationship with the same gender and just find it easier to say they’re gay."...

Whole article (August 8, 2013).


While we're on the subject: here are Autostraddle's 37 Books By, For, or About Bisexual or Otherwise Non-Monosexual People, with 202 comments from readers about these selections and others.

Update: White House to Hold Roundtable on Bisexual Issues on September 23. This is certainly a first. The invitation to LGBT people for this was dated August 16th. I wonder if someone in the White House noticed the Pew report and realized there were voters being unreached?


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August 12, 2013

"I see us as a unit, and I wish the world could see us as a unit"

WYSO Radio

The NPR News affiliate for southwest Ohio (based at Antioch College) just broadcast a 7-minute report on an adorable-sounding triad who run a local poly group. Two of them are getting legally married and the third is over the moon about it; she'll be part of their private three-way wedding.

Listen here (7 minutes). Transcript excerpts below:

Southwest Ohio Young & Poly

By Nicole Richter

A new way of thinking about relationships is growing in the US. Polyamory is the ability to have romantic love for more than one person at a time. Dayton is home to a growing polyamorous community. Dayton is known for being a city of innovation and now that innovation affects relationships as well. A local group called Southwest Ohio Young and Poly was formed in response. Community Voices Producer Nicole Richter has the story.

This is not a story about swingers, religion or cheating. This is a story about love. At the Southwest Ohio Young and Poly monthly potluck, children run around, folks have conversations, and there is lots of food on the table. Here families and friends join together in a celebration of community.

Since the group was formed a year and a half ago it has grown to over 150 members. Jason, Brianna, and Keely run Southwest Ohio Young and Poly. Together they form a triad.

Keely explains: “I live in a household with two other partners; Brianna and Jason. We live in a triad, which means we all have fully developed romantic relationships with each other.”

This is just one of several relationship structures in polyamory.....

“We are a whole,” Jason explains. “When I’m thinking about making a choice or taking an action I don’t think about is this good or bad for Keely or is this good or bad for Bri. I think, ‘Is this good or bad for the triad, for our family?’ I see us as a unit, and I wish the world could see us as a unit.”

When first hearing about polyamory many people wonder about jealousy. The triad explained to me that jealousy is an emotion often based in fear. In order to be successful in polyamory you have to be willing to confront your own insecurities.

“The three principles of successful, ethical non-monogamy, especially polyamory, are communicate, communicate, communicate,” Jason says. “If you are open and honest with your wants and needs, open and honest and willing to listen to the wants and needs of your partners, you will be successful. If you can’t put them before yourself then you probably won’t be successful. But you probably won’t be successful at monogamy, either.”

Jason and Brianna have been dating for three and half years. Keely met Jason and Brianna at her first potluck and the triad has been happily dating for a year. Together they have four children between the three of them.

“I am by nature polyamorous,” Brianna says. “I believe that in my core more than one partner is the best path for my happiness. Because I believe I shouldn’t count on one person to fulfill all my needs and that’s why I have partners who are different who fulfill different aspects of what my soul needs.”

Jason adds, “We are energized by the love we all share and it inspires us to find adventures, follow whimsy and go on road trips and end up stuck in Indianapolis in the middle of a blizzard because we didn’t pay attention to the weather at Christmas time. Things like that. It inspires us because we are so genuinely happy and comfortable together.”...

“There’s a lot of fringe benefits and not the ones that people would expect,” he says. “It’s the great peace of the three of us curling up together and watching the shows we all enjoy and having one of them on each side of me holding my hand while we watch TV. And it allows us to build this home together, to build a family. Family is very important to me and feeling like somewhere is home.”

...Keely went with Jason to pick out the ring for Brianna. “Keely kept pointing at different rings and then the woman who sold it to them said well, don’t you want to try it on? And Keely said, ‘No, it’s not for me.’ And I can only imagine the look that woman must have had at that moment but I feel completely surrounded by love,” Brianna says.

...“There will always be members of society who don’t accept anything that is outside of their definition of normal,” Brianna says. “There will always be people who stand against me, but I also understand that there are more and more people who stand behind me every day.”

See the whole transcript, with link to the audio (August 12, 2013).



August 10, 2013

How Stuff Works gets it right

I've sometimes worried that the term "polyamory," as it moves from a niche subculture into mainstream use, might become just a trendy word for old-fashioned cheating or dogging around.

I'm less concerned these days. Polyamory's meaning as an honest, ethical, transparent version of non-monogamy — based on ideals of love, respect, and concern for everyone all around, with at least "the full knowledge and consent of all concerned" — is becoming entrenched in popular usage. That's thanks to a lot of accurate media treatment and in particular, examples being set by you readers.

For example, here's the very long, basically accurate explanation on the popular site Howstuffworks (owned by Discovery Communications, best known for The Discovery Channel):

How Polyamory Works

Could you handle two romantic
relationships at the same time?
By Molly Edmonds

...After all, we place rather tall orders with our soul mates -- we expect them to like the same types of movies, be compatible sexually and have the right words to say to us no matter what happens. There are some people who would argue that one person can't fulfill all those needs, and that it's foolish to make one person try. These people practice polyamory, or the practice of having multiple romantic relationships. But they claim they're not cheating or running around; rather, a central tenet of polyamory is garnering your partner's consent to date and fall in love with multiple people.

...First, a few things about what polyamory is not. It's not about sex with a bunch of random people; while polyamorists certainly do have sex with multiple partners, they usually have emotional relationships with them. And it's distinct from polygamy, which we tend to associate with Fundamentalist Mormons who practice plural marriage. In those communities, men marry multiple women, while in polyamory, both genders have the opportunity to explore connections with other people....

Examples of Polyamorous Relationships

It's impossible to know how many people practice polyamory.... However, awareness of polyamory has grown tremendously because of the Internet, and according to current estimates, based on Web usage and online polls, as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population self-identifies as polyamorous [sources: Doheny, Gerard] [Ed. note: I don't believe it.] According to a 2002 survey conducted by polyamory awareness site Loving More, 40 percent of polyamorous people had a graduate degree (compared to 8 percent of the general population).... Many people who practice polyamory also identify as bisexual [sources: Gerard, Miller].

There is no one way to practice polyamory, but let's consider a few hypothetical set-ups....

Logistics of Polyamory

Polyamory involves a lot of talking -- so much so that "communicate, communicate, communicate" is considered one of the core tenets....

Sex also comes with a lot of guidelines, so that everyone avoids sexually transmitted diseases....

Along with communication skills, good scheduling abilities are also essential to the polyamory lifestyle. Shared online calendars, such as the one provided by Google, can be vital to remembering which girlfriend has a work event and which one needs to be at her son's school. It might be disappointing for someone if their boyfriend can't come to dinner on a night when he's already scheduled to be with another partner, but again, talking about these kinds of issues and feelings is expected -- especially when the feeling at hand is jealousy....

Does this seem like a lot of work? It can be. So why choose this lifestyle? We'll explore some of the benefits [and drawbacks] of polyamory on the next page[s]....

Read on, including the references. This article seems to have been put up in early 2011.


Another example, at Raw Attraction ("the world's leading dating advice magazine"):

The Truth About Polyamory

Dayne is an alternative model, and an erstwhile anthropologist. She lives in Denmark with her husband of one year.... We spoke to Dayne about polyamory. Polyamory is the practice, desire or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamorous arrangements are varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals involved.

Sex is not necessarily a primary focus in polyamorous relationships, which commonly consist of people seeking to build long-term relationships with more than one person on mutually agreeable grounds, with sex as only one aspect of their relationships.

Let’s get started…

Q: Do you really know how many other partners your husband has? Does it matter to you? Does he know how many you have?

A: I always know, and he always knows. It hasn't been an issue. We like to meet each other’s partners and also try to make time for them on our own.

Q: What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

A: The hardest thing is time management, but you have to accept the other person doesn't exist entirely for you and to fulfill your needs when you are bored. You are born alone, and you die alone, and everything else that you get with other people is a bonus. Treat it like a bonus so you appreciate it properly....

Read on (April 23, 2013).