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
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).
Labels: Poly 101