Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

September 29, 2013

Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 7 recap: "Coming Around"

This coming Thursday (October 3) we'll see the final episode of this season's Polyamory: Married & Dating.

But first, it's recap time for last Thursday's Episode 7, "Coming Around," now in late-night re-airings.

We start with the troubled trio in Hollywood. Cheating Leigh Ann has sent her formerly hidden boyfriend back to Chicago and declares that it's over. She wants to reconcile with husband Chris and their third, Megan. The show opens with Megan wondering (and perhaps calculating) where her place will be depending on whether or not Chris takes Leigh Ann back, and whether or not she wants her back herself.

Megan finally meets Leigh Ann for the first time since the latter was kicked out:

Megan has been been intrusive about letting Chris and Leigh Ann spend much time alone together (even after three years of all living together?!). Megan semi-required Leigh Ann to meet with her before Leigh Ann spends a night with her husband again, and now Leigh Ann objects to this dynamic:

"The truth is Chris and I need time alone right now, to reconnect. And I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to exclude you, but you came into this relationship with a couple. I was with him for seven years before we met you, just him and I. And that was my rock. My foundation. And I need to have that security. I don't want too make him choose between you and me. But I still need to stand for my marriage and making it the most important thing to me."

Megan: "I don't know what that means for our relationship. If that means me taking a step back and not being a primary anymore, when you brought me in fully. We have to talk about that. I fell in love with you both, and I love both of you. But what does my role look like going forward?"

Leigh Ann: "For the last couple of years, we let things get really out of control."

Megan: "Does that mean you want me to take a back seat?"

Leigh Ann: "I just want to be his wife again."

Couple-privilege... I won't rant. Because although Leigh Ann would lose points for pulling rank here, I don't think that's what she's doing. Megan has been subtly keeping them apart all along. In seven episodes now I've had little sense of who Megan really is. Other commenters about the show have said she is trying to get Chris all to herself and become "the wife." I'm beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to that. I have a hunch there's more calculation going on in Megan's head than she's letting either her partners or the cameras know. I do not sense the natural transparency everyone needs for poly relationships to flow free and easy.


In San Diego, Jennifer and her young boyfriend Jesse are having Kamala do some formal conversation-development coaching for them. Kamala is good at this; in real life she does it professionally. Jen asked for her to help her and Jesse rebuild their communication surrounding his jealousy issues — in particular, over her attraction to Jason, Kamala's boyfriend. Watch carefully how Kamala models this work:

It ends all too quick for me. A half-hour show has to compress everything, but at a good moment Jen says "I've had enough," and they hug and end the session. Jen to the camera: "Processing isn't fun for either of us." Which she has indicated before. But, "Jesse and I need to have more of these conversations, even if they're painful, so we can grow as a couple."


Back in Hollywood, Leigh Ann and Chris finally meet alone. To see if they can "move forward again." There's an awkward heaviness between them, but both seem to be feeling their way toward a reconciliation. Although, here comes another dominance move by Chris: "I need to ask you, have you spoken to [boyfriend] since he left?"

"No, I haven't."

Chris to the camera: "I want to hear from her that she has put that relationship behind her and it's not something that I'm going to have to hear about again." Way to cork down communication, dude.

Leigh Ann: "I don't think we can be in a polyamorous relationship if we're not committed to taking care of our marriage, and that's what we didn't do with Megan. I don't think that we can proceed unless our marriage becomes a priority. So how do we do that without breaking her heart?... I never stood up for our marriage, and I really regret that."

As the conversation goes on, Leigh Ann finally spells something out: "All three of us have communication issues. Megan struggles to put things into words. You overbearingly communicate." And she has told how she herself is afraid to talk about difficult things until they become a crisis and then it comes out all the wrong way.

Chris: "I will work hard on not making you feel so terrified. I want you to feel safe. I'm going to try hard to keep my temper in check." But, "I'm a little terrified right now about the idea of being caught between you and Megan."

They end up making up and spending the night together. "It gives me hope that he really wants to be with me."


Among the San Diego crowd, it's Ladies' Night Out and Guys' Night Out. Jen explains: "Whenever we're all around each other we're all sort of latched onto our new lovers, so us going out separately is a way for the ladies to stick together, and the guys to get to know each other."

At a crowded, noisy bar, Jen and Kamala meet Rachel and Tziporah. Kamala explains: "It's really important for the four of us to connect, because if we can't get along, if we don't love each other, then there's going to be so much pain or emotion or conflict."

Over the background noise, Jen expresses to Rachel that it feels weird to her that Rachel sought them out as a fan of the show's Season 1, and "Michael had a deep relationship right away and it kind of made me nervous — because I thought you were kind of a fan. I have to admit I've kind of had a wall up with you, or my guard up."

Rachel: "Yeah, I felt your apprehension. I want you to know that my interest in Michael is completely authentic, and I love Michael so much." In fact, she plans to move down the coast to San Diego: "I realize I have to be closer to you all, I need to be here, I want to deepen my relationship with Michael and deepen my relationship with the community." They all cheer and clink glasses. Transparency and honesty — yes, it's that easy.

And then Kamala and Rachel agree they'd like to try a do-over of their failed group sex scene that Michael herded them into a few episodes ago.


In another noisy bar, it's the guys' night. Michael to Jason, his mono metamour, who is looking a little intimidated: "I've been super impressed with you. We had a threesome, and it was great. I have to say I had some concern that you might be too monogamous, have not enough kind of poly experience, and you just did awesome in that environment." Jason says its was a first for him as they clink glasses. Michael to the camera: "I like Jason's attitude about polyamory. He's taking some big strides and he's very open to the ideas. I feel really good about his deep connection with Kamala."

Worlds and world apart from the Hollywood bunch. We are being shown this contrast deliberately.

Then Jesse shows up. Jen's jealous Jesse. This is a big step for him. Tahl, who sounds like he's had a drink or two, raves to him about how Jennifer "has been so much less bitchy since she started dating you. Like her and my relationship is getting better, and better, and that, Jesse, is thanks to your cock. You're a good man, Jesse."

Michael to Jason: "It's the same thing with me and Kamala. She comes back from being around Jason, and she's totally charged up, and our relationship's better because of it."

Jesse and Jason say how weird it is for them not to be in competition with the other men. Michael explains to Jason: "We can really get our needs met more if we're not in competition but in cooperation with the other men. That's why we're here! I want you to know that I'm not in competition with you. That I've got your back."


And then Tahl and Christian head home for some serious sex between them at last. Christian is leaving the next day. Jennifer gave Tahl the green light earlier in the evening. The house is empty. They kiss, both gentle and rough. Christian pins smaller Tahl's arms behind his back. Quietly: "You like that?" And picks him up in his arms and drops him on Jen and Tahl's bed. Where they wrestle. They strip each other, and events proceed, sometimes on top of the big purple duvet, sometimes under it. Tahl: "All of a sudden Christian gets like, really tense and he's staring deeply into my eyes. It's just really beautiful. He's a very passionate man."

Natalia Garcia, the show's director/producer, says this marks the first time that genuine gay lovemaking, as opposed to actors simulating it, has appeared on mainstream network television. And lovemaking is what it is. Get the porn you may have seen elsewhere out of your head; we see here something different, and real. Yes, they were hot and horny for this chance at each other, but the intertwinings of sex and love are not easily dissected. It was a bold and moving scene.


Here are previews from this Thursday's final episode, "The Road Ahead". In which, we're told, "Chris, Leigh Ann and Megan finally come face to face."


Not sold out yet: It's less than 10 days to the San Diego pod's four-day, "heart opening" Poly Palooza, which they and their network are holding at a resort in Desert Hot Springs over Columbus Day weekend, October 10–14. Spaces are still available. "Immerse yourself in a sex-positive celebration of liberated love: learn from top love experts, express yourself in group, experiment at play parties, soak in healing waters, and create lifelong relationships with a worldwide tribe of love leaders."

Formal sessions include Free Love vs. Agreements, Into the Heart of Jealousy, and Visioning the Future of Polyamory. ZEGG Forum after breakfast, music and parties in the evening. Workshop presenters include Diana Adams and Reid Mihalko. I wish I could be there.


Viewing party. The San Diego cast is holding another, season-finale viewing party (of episodes 6, 7, and 8) on October 26 in the Victory Theater, followed by a Q&A with the show's director, Natalia Garcia. Full info.


Each episode airs Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).

If you're a Showtime subscriber, you can watch any episode on demand (click On Demand) or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after it first airs.

Showtime’s Facebook page and website for the series.

All video clips from Season 2.

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). There are eight episodes this season.


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September 28, 2013

More Than Two project update with videos, cats, and a guest spot on Greta Christina

With eight days left, the Indiegogo campaign for Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert's More Than Two book project is $14,203 of the way to its $19,800 goal, outside of the matching grants that Ken Haslam and I put up.

Eve and Franklin have now gone ahead and incorporated a publishing company, Thorntree Press, and they have plans beyond this one book.

Franklin, as I wrote last month, has for more than a decade run possibly the best (IMO) and most widely linked-to poly guidance site. He renamed it More Than Two to match the book title.

Yesterday they scored a surprise. Greta Christina is a big deal in the atheist/ skeptic/ freethought movement. She turned over her blogsite for a guest article by Franklin — on creating well-grounded ethical lives outside of rules-based moral boxes, whether by atheists or by people in unconventional relationships. With of course plugs for the book project.

From what he writes here, I think the book will become a milestone for the poly movement. He also tells about the next book that he and Eve are planning.

Greta Christina
More Than Two: Guest Post on Ethical Polyamory from Franklin Veaux

“Without God, there is no morality.”

Anyone involved in skeptical, atheist, or freethought communities has probably encountered this trope; and if you’ve been around for awhile, you’ve probably run into it quite a number of times.

Any alternative community that’s poorly understood by mainstream society probably has an equivalent — some common objection that gets trotted out whenever a discussion of that community comes up. In polyamorous circles, the trope is “rules and hierarchies (often, by implication, the rules and hierarchies of monogamy) are the only things that keep relationships from descending into unbounded, anything-goes chaos.”

The atheist community has an answer to this trope in books like Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. Whether we find their arguments compelling or not, at least there’s an effort to address it.

In the polyamorous community, though, that book doesn’t seem to exist…at least not yet. Our goal is to change that.

What’s largely missing... is a book on the tools and strategies to create and maintain successful, healthy polyamorous relationships, and that’s what More Than Two is.

It’s difficult to talk about polyamory without hearing the expression “ethical non-monogamy.”... We rarely talk about the definition of “ethical,” beyond the obvious “don’t lie to your partners.” That’s a good start, sure, but it’s not enough to construct an entire foundation of relationship ethics on....

Where do we turn for ethics? What distinguishes an ethical relationship from a non-ethical one? Are ethical relationships egalitarian, and if so, how does that align with BDSM relationships deliberately constructed along the lines of power exchange? If two people make an agreement and then present that agreement unilaterally to a third person, who is given few options other than accept the agreement as-is or walk away, is that ethical? What happens when people make relationship agreements, and then their needs change?... How do we even define “ethics” without resorting to religious or social conventions?

...We have an ambitious goal. We are trying to set out a rational basis for ethical relationships. Our focus is on polyamory, naturally, though the same ethical principles could apply to any romantic relationship.... Everything else we write about follows from the core ethical foundation we are seeking to create.

Read on (Sept. 27, 2013).

Their next book? "It turns out that constructing a robust and consistent ethical framework that doesn’t rely on external authority is a nontrivial undertaking; in fact, when we have finished More Than Two, we plan a second book entirely dedicated to the ethics of interpersonal relationships."


Lightening up, here are more videos they've made for the campaign. In the deadpan humor I see the mark of writer Edward Martin III.

On the origin and meaning of bunny ears in their extended romantic network. Warning, Badass McProblemsolver returns, buffered by kittens:

If you've ever wanted to see Aggie Sez, Anita Wagner Illig, Noel Figart, Pepper Mint, and Megh and Kiki from Victoria in real life making endorsements, here they are:

The whole book project team are introduced, Eve's cat eats grass, and more newbie problems are McSolved:

Their proposed stretch-goal book tour route, and a poodle comes out of a tube:

They've also been posting lots of notable new stuff on their More Than Two Book Blog, more than I'm going to list here. Go see. And don't forget to donate.


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September 27, 2013

"We Are What We Love: How Polyamory Can Change the World for the Better"

Elephant Journal

A Buddhist online magazine "dedicated to the mindful life" runs Krystal Baugher's latest poly piece, following her “How More Sex with More People was Good, Then Bad, Then Ugly.”

We Are What We Love: How Polyamory Can Change the World for the Better

By Krystal Baugher

I’ve had lovers tell me I’m too rational about love.

...For the longest time I’ve been attempting to figure out what love is, why people think they feel it, do they really feel it, what is it supposed to feel like, what people are supposed to do with it, etc.

I’ve read Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, William Wordsworth, Junot Diaz....

As Diane Ackerman says in A Natural History of Love:

“Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one can agree on what it is.”...

For the longest time I’ve been grappling between the theory and the reality of polyamory, which is the idea of being in multiple intimate relationships. I remember the moment when I felt I could dive into the polyamorous lifestyle and I would come out okay in the end. I was watching the movie Adaptation:....

Donald: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn’t have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.

Charlie: But she thought you were pathetic.

Donald: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.

Something opened up for me in that concept of “you are what you love.”... It gave a sort of permission to love fearlessly. To understand that even if a relationship ended, if there was love, that love never went away, it existed somewhere in the universe forever.

Enter bell hooks, social critic, intellectual, author, feminist....


...Let me do an analogy here. Our current basic living situations for a majority of the population consists of compartmentalized space, so either a one-family home or apartment separated from neighbors by thick walls, where life becomes individualized.

People literally shut each other out.

Now it has been a psychologically proven fact that people who are well connected to communities are happier[, healthier, and live longer].

So it would come as a logical solution to start tearing down the walls....

Read on (Sept. 24, 2013).

Also at Elephant Journal not long ago was Freya Watson's Polyamorous Monogamy:

...We were shooting the breeze as usual, a group of university friends nursing coffees and arguing the toss about open relationships. I was trying — and failing once again — to find a way of reconciling my head and my heart. My head agreed with the logic of open relationships, but my heart was none too sure and I couldn’t quite figure out why.

...Like many readers and writers here, my spiritual journey has been about keeping the heart open. It has been about finding ways of allowing a greater love to flow through me, and about dealing with all the ways in which my very human self will kick and scream at times in resistance to that. So when I first heard the term polyamory, my initial reaction was: Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do — to love everyone? Do we really need a label for it?

...The term polyamory, however, seems to describe an attitude rather than a set of behaviors, and for that reason I have found that I’m comfortable with it. It emphasizes the way an individual thinks and feels rather than a prescribed way of behaving, allowing the freedom for each to find their own way of expressing the love that they feel. It allows for individual freedom which, strangely, the term ‘open relationship’ with its unspoken expectation that everyone had to have multiple partners, didn’t seem to....

Elephant Journal has had many other poly-related articles and mentions.

More Buddhism-and-poly stuff:

YouTube of a talk on the topic by Soto Zen priest Ingen Breen.

• A Leunig cartoon in Elephant Journal.

• My past posts tagged "Buddhist" (including this one; scroll down).

If someone says that "compersion" is the only word available for the opposite of jealousy, you can refer them to mudita.



September 24, 2013

Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 6 recap: "Serious Affairs"

Coming up this Thursday (September 26) is the next-to-last episode of this season's Polyamory: Married & Dating. And it will contain what producer/director Natalia Garcia tells us is a network television first:

Christian and Tahl

"I am beaming with pride to be [creator of] the first network television series to show two real men making love; they are not actors playing gay characters, like Queer is Folk; these are real people. I am humbled by Tahl and Christian's fearless bravery to allow the cameras to witness their intimacy, and I'm so so incredibly proud of this moment — both personally for Tahl and for LGBT rights. Many folks like to criticize this series from afar but few are willing to walk their talk and allow the cameras witness the good, the bad, and the ugly — like these families have done. Thursday's moment between Tahl and Christian is groundbreaking, beautiful, a first for "Docu-Reality" — and I am honored to be associated with this moment.

"And a massive thank you to Showtime for supporting this moment — and this series — in its authenticity 100%. Networks like to "change the story" and manipulate storylines for whatever reason — but not Showtime. They truly are the best network in town."


But first, it's recap time for last week's Episode 6, "Serious Affairs." It aired September 19 and is now in late-night re-airings.

We start with the ongoing drama of Megan, Chris, their cheating and kicked-out wife Leigh Ann, and her boyfriend Chicago Chris. Leigh Ann has agreed to her husband's ultimatum that boyfriend be put on a plane back to Chicago early.

Leigh Ann has been texting Husband Chris and Megan, asking them to meet him before he goes. Husband and Megan, out jogging, discuss this.

Chris: "I'm considering doing this simply because I feel like we will then have the ability to say, 'Now you've got to sit down with us and, you know, really face reality.'"

Megan still doesn't like it: "I feel like the relationship between you, Leigh Ann and I has been so dysfunctional. There hasn't been that much love there. We've been just fucking dragging each other along, in the mud. And I don't know if I can continue to do it anymore."...

Chris says, while texting: "Look, I'm going to go. And I hope that you will come with me."

We see Leigh Ann and Chicago Chris receiving the text. Leigh Ann: "I'm excited and terrified, all in one foul swoop [sic]."


Down the freeway, Jennifer of the San Diego pod is unburdening to her husband Tahl about her mono boyfriend Jesse's jealousy problem. Jesse has always accepted that Jen is married and he seems fine with Tahl himself. But he has imposed rules that she can't even kiss additional guys, and their motorcycle excursion in the last episode was spoiled by his obsessing about the goodbye hug she gave Kamala's boyfriend Jason back home.

Jen to Tahl: "The hug didn't feel like that big of a deal to me. [But] you know how jealousy is."

In the front room of the house, Michael's brother Christian is down on the rug building block structures with Michael and Kamala's son Devin, 6. It's the first time we've seen Devin this season. I was beginning to think his parents had decided he stays off camera. I got to know Devin in real life this summer, and he's an impressive kid: smart, confident, verbal, outgoing, proud of his thoughts and ideas. In July I spent ten days with Michael, Kamala Devi, and Devin at the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East in West Virginia. Michael and Kamala doted on him and spent a great deal of time away from the main events helping to run the kids' program.

As Devin and Christian are building blocks on the rug, Michael's girlfriend Rachel arrives with a couple of potted plants in hand. She introduces herself to them. Kamala and Michael come in, and she and Kamala hug easily. Michael: "Rachel is definitely making an effort to hang out with the family and get to know Kamala better. I really want her to know what she's getting into, if she's going to be more involved with us."

What a pointed contrast with jealous Jesse.

Kamala: "Have you ever dated somebody with kids?"

Rachel: "Yes, and I grew up with four brothers and four sisters. So I was like a big-sister mom."

Kamala to us: "Devin is such a huge part of Michael's life, so she's going to have to make really good friends with Devin as well."

Michael: "I'm happy with how Rachel is responding to Devin, how she's interacting with him. Devin comes first, and I need a lover who's going to be responsive to that."

In walk Tahl and Jen, and we see something interesting: for the first time, the show becomes self-referential. Jen tells the camera, "Rachel seems like a nice girl, but I haven't warmed up to her yet because, I'm a little uncomfortable with kind of how we met her. Since we've done the show, a lot more people are coming to our poly events, so she's a fan. And while I don't feel it's wrong to be friends with fans, having sex with them right away seems a little bit too fast for me."


Tahl (who is out as bi) and Christian (gay) arrange a hot tubbing date. Jen gets boyfriend Jesse's okay for them to use his hot tub. Tahl suggests it's time to have the safe-sex and boundaries talk. The three of them go off to another room. Jen to the camera: "I Like Christian, and I know Tahl's been wanting to connect with guys lately, so that's really cool, but as always, I just need to talk to whomever Tahl's having sex with."

To Christian, she says: "Basically I know everybody's safe-sex practices in the pod — it's something we talk about at all the time — but since I don't know you, I really don't know what yours are?"

Christian: "Well, I do have safe sex. That means wearing a condom. I am HIV-negative." I suspect there was more to this conversation, but we don't see it. (I like Reid Mihalko's safer-sex elevator speech guidelines. Watch the YouTube version.) Jen goes on to ask that, out of politeness to Jesse, they not have sex in his hot tub. Or, she apparently goes on to ask, anywhere else yet. Tahl clarifies: "So we can play a little bit? Just not sex yet?"



Kamala is taking Jen out on their just-the-two-of-them weekly date. The destination is a surprise: Kamala ushers her into a an empty theater space with a beautifully draped, colorfully lit stage. With bright red couch. Jen laughs with delight: "It looks like something Elvira would do." Kamala says, "We don't always get to do something for just you and me that's really special. And so I wanted to make that for you."

Jen and Kamala

Kamala gets adventurous. Sex toys, a collar for Jen, BDSM toys. Kamala tells us: "For people who are not used to bondage, it seems scary. The ropes are confining you and then you have no control, and of course, Jen is Miss Control. So this is edge for her."

And yet it doesn't take. Jen is not really into it and it becomes painful to watch. Jen: "I'm so weighed down by this argument with Jesse that I just can't get into it. Another day I might have had more fun, today is just not that day." And so they end up cuddling on the couch on the stage. Jen to Kamala: "He's holding a little resentment, I have a little bit of resentment, I was wondering if you could give us some help there? I don't want to talk to him about it because I feel like I'll make it worse? I know you're busy—"

"I'm always for making time for you. I'll set it up." Kamala is a professional relationship coach (and, I observed last July, a skilled ZEGG Forum facilitator) and is thrilled that Jen has asked her.


The split-apart Hollywood family, plus Chicago Chris, all meet in Griffith Park at a picnic table under trees. Talk about tense. Chicago Chris, the polite one, offers to shake hands. Megan refuses. So does Husband Chris, who then dusts off his own hands to the side.

Come on people, at Yalta Roosevelt shook hands with Stalin.

Leigh Ann to the rest: "I guess we wanted to meet and apologize and make amends, and move forward with clarity between everybody, and understanding. That's what my hope was."

And then it comes out: Leigh Ann had told Chicago Chris nothing about the rest of her life "until a bit late on the trail," he says. By then "I'd already met a girl who needed somebody to pay a little attention to her." Husband Chris sighs in disgust. "Look, in my opinion a real man would have said, 'I can't continue doing this, until you get your shit straightened out.'"

Leigh Ann: "But I wasn't honest, and I wasn't real with him, so I didn't give him the chance to be as noble as he could have been."

And on it goes. Megan and Leigh Ann seem to be having things out between them more honestly than they've known before. Really? Husband Chris steps in with another of his boss-man ultimatums, to Chicago Chris: "You understand that you will never, ever, be her boyfriend again." Leigh Ann nods yes. Chicago Chris, the gentleman here, keeps his peace. They depart. The final word comes later from Megan: "I'm not sure if it's fixable."


It's night at Jesse's house. Tahl and Christian arrive, Jesse shows them the hot tub and heads out; they're alone. They strip and climb into the tub, chat, admire each other — "Christian and I start kissing and playing around a bit, it's kind of foreplay, kind of rowdy." But horseplay is as far as they've agreed to go tonight... and so we see two really built guys romping and splashing, kissing and cuddling.

And I guess more will happen this Thursday.


Previews from this Thursday's Episode 7, "Coming Around," the next to last. In which, we're told, "Chris and Leigh Ann are apprehensive on their first date alone." (What? In the whole three years Megan has been with them?!)


It's less than three weeks to the San Diego pod's four-day Poly Palooza, which will take over a resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs for Columbus Day weekend, October 10 – 14. "Immerse yourself in a sex-positive celebration of liberated love: learn from top love experts, express yourself in group, experiment at play parties, soak in healing waters, and create life long relationships with a worldwide tribe of love leaders."

Here are pix from their public TV viewing and Q&A party in a theater September 7th.


Each episode airs Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).

If you're a Showtime subscriber, you can watch any episode on demand (click On Demand) or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after it first airs.

Showtime’s Facebook page and 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). There are eight episodes this season.


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"How Not To Be A Dick To To Your Polyamorous Friend"


Remember Rebecca Hiles? Last May she had an article in xoJane, It Happened To Me: I'm In A Happy Polyamorous Relationship. XoJane is a hip online women's magazine that claims 2 million monthly readers. Hiles "is the Sexual Health and Wellness Education Coordinator for Lotus Blooms in Old Town Alexandria [Virginia]," a sex toy and education shop that hosts frequent talks and seminars. "She lives a happy, mostly carefree existence with her poly family."

Now she has a new article just up in xoJane. It's gotten 200 comments in its first five hours.

How Not to Be a Dick to your Polyamorous Friend

By Rebecca Hiles

...While the vast majority of my friends and family were incredibly understanding when I came out as polyamorous, some had questions and criticisms. Even now, after about four years of being publically polyamorous, I know quite a few people who just “don’t get” polyamory.

While discussing relationship structures which may be unfamiliar to you can be a bit awkward, and lead to misunderstandings, it is important to ask questions rather than passing judgments or making blind assumptions.

Most [poly] people will understand that you mean well and are simply curious. However... here are some guidelines:

1. Treat your friend and their relationships with respect.

2. Don’t ask a question that you wouldn’t want someone to ask you.

It was only when I came out as polyamorous that I experienced someone asking me if I had sex with more than one partner at one time! What a personal question! ...Asking “Do you all have sex together?” can be as intrusive and jarring as asking “What position do you usually have sex with your partner in?”...

3. Just because they came out does not mean they want to be your “polyamory ambassador.”

...An excellent way to gauge how your friend would react to questions about their lifestyle is to simply ask “I have some questions, but they are rather personal. Would you mind answering them, or could you direct me to a resource that could?”

4. On polyamory and parenting.

...When discussing my life, many people feel the need to tell me that they hope for my future children’s sake, that I stop my polyamorous ways before I have kids.... Unless you see signs of abuse and neglect, the well-meaning concern that you are raising over a child that may be happy and well-adjusted is the same kind of concern that people have raised about same-sex and interracial parents. If you trust and love your friend, have faith that they are taking care of their child to the best of their ability.

5. Polyamory =/= cheating....

6. Don’t assume that polyamorous friends are interested in dating you or your partner....

7. Orientation is not an indication of relationship status.

Do not assume that just because someone is bisexual, or pansexual, that they are going to be polyamorous.... Do not assume that just because someone appears to be in a monogamous relationship or single that they are no longer polyamorous.... You should not make assumptions about your friend’s relationship or orientation based on the outward appearance of their relationship.

8. Do not make assumptions about someone’s sexual behavior based on their relationship status....

9. Don’t question the reasons behind their relationships....

10. There is no one way to have a relationship....

...Non-monogamy and polyamory work in very different ways for many different people....

Read the whole article (Sept. 24, 2013), and join the comments. They're good reading this time, and the author is active in them.



September 23, 2013

The Monday Morning Joy Posts on reddit/r/polyamory

The largest poly discussion site on the web these days (outside of Fetlife) is, as far as I know, reddit's polyamory subreddit, now with 15,300 subscribers. The population is mostly young, like the rest of reddit.

Every Monday morning, vertexoflife has been starting a Monday Morning Joy Post thread inviting people to "tell us about your past week(end) with your loved ones." Today's went up five hours ago, and it already has 12 stories.

Here's the whole collection of threads since she began them. All the Happy Poly Moments you might want.

Plenty of sturm und drang moments are in other threads, along with lots of (surprisingly, considering reddit's reputation) thoughtful advice and comments.


September 21, 2013

"We started off with baby steps, and a contract."

Nashville Scene

An unusually good, first-person Poly 101 article appears in Nashville's news-and-entertainment weekly. Worth saving and passing on.

Can you love more than one person at a time?

Poly Primer

By Molly Bordo

"I'd like to see you with another woman."

My husband and I had just spent an exhilarating and sweaty hour tangled in the bedsheets when I first brought up the idea.

I'll never forget the look on his face: His eyes widened, his lips opened a little. The smile that crept across his face could have just as easily been fear as excitement. He's a shy guy, a gentleman....


...But what if that story were a big, fat lie? What if there is no One True Love in the world for you? What if there were many loves, each as distinct from one another as the shoes in your closet? What if you could love them all differently and to various depths, the way parents love their children all differently but equally?

A growing number of polyamorists claim just that. They argue that tending to more than one loving relationship actually improves every facet of their lives. And not just in the bedroom, though they clearly benefit there as well.

For over a year now, my husband and I have been practicing what is known as ethical non-monogamy. The stress is on the ethics. We only have relationships with people who understand this brand of love, and we're completely open with each other when it comes to our affairs. Everyone involved is as open as we are; we meet each other's lovers and their partners. We are truly a group of friends. With benefits.

We've learned that our particular brand of open marriage is as individualized as our monogamous relationship of 15 years had been before. In fact, there's an entire spectrum of polyamorous people out there in the world. This spectrum has more to do with emotional trust than sexual freedom.

While all couples in non-monogamous relationships champion sexual freedom, the differences lie in how much of their own hearts they trust with others outside their marriage, or their primary partnership....


We started off with baby steps, and a contract. (I'm not kidding.)... We made a list of no-nos: No sex in our bed with others, no overnights, no oral sex. And absolutely no falling in love. The list was long, and in making it, we learned what made our relationship tick. The rules were like training wheels, and when we faced a situation where our rules limited us, we took them off, one by one.

I, for one, lost my shit over Spotify.... Sure, they'd been having a sexual relationship for months, but I drew the line at musical intimacy.

He lost his mind over a fancy restaurant. When my boyfriend treated me to a dinner with a price tag over $400, my husband hit the roof. We'd struggled most of our lives to be able to afford little luxuries like nice soap and organic bananas, and he couldn't stomach another man treating me to expensive cabernet and ceviche.

How would we have ever known about these tender spots in our hearts if not by stepping on them? I didn't even realize I had such a strong attachment to those sweaty afternoons spent in abject poverty listening to "Honky Cat" with him. He certainly didn't expect to balk at someone else picking up a hefty tab.

But a year into our experiment, we've come to a profound realization: We still choose each other. Every single day. Even when we don't have to.

He has a serious girlfriend who is 10 years younger than me, one who is 10 years older, and a host of casual buddies with awesome benefits. I'm not jealous of the time they spend with him at all. In fact, I have them to thank for his incredible moves in the bedroom, the swagger in his walk, and his unstoppable confidence at work....

Likewise, my own lovers have expanded my horizons. One is an author and my link to the best new books on the shelves, another strategizes business mergers with me, and a third, an E.R. doctor, talks politics, religion and world affairs in the fertile darkness of his room between shifts. I've learned to be different shades of my same self with each of them, to try on those parts of myself like kid gloves and admire them.

I love feeling the freedom to explore these parts of my personality.

I have my husband to thank for this, of course.... I love him more now, I can say with surety, than I ever did before I started sleeping around.

Molly Bordo is a pseudonym.

Here's the whole article (Sept. 19, 2013).


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September 20, 2013

"Love the Ones You're With"

iAfrica (South Africa)

I adored Stephen Still's tune Love the One You're With when it came out in 1970, and it's had staying power.

Enough that this morning, 43 years later, the South African news-and-features portal iAfrica used its name to title a Poly 101 article.

The piece draws heavily on longtime Cape Town poly organizer Melanie:

Love the ones you're with

By Bryony Whitehead

Could you be in a relationship with more than one person at the same time? It's a question that a small percentage of people can answer in the affirmative because they've tried it, openly and honestly.

They know that having successful romantic relationships with two or more people is about hard work, honest communication and transparency – just as it is with one person.

..."It has added to my life significantly and takes the stress off one person to interact with all my needs and desires," says Melanie, a South African polyamorist.

The official term for it is polyamory and it's one that is often met with derision and distaste by those who are monogamous. While many reject the idea for religious or cultural reasons, there are those who believe that loving two or more people at a time is not only possible, but a fulfilling and wonderful experience.

"More love is the greatest part of it, my love for others and their love me has really helped me grow and feel secure," Melanie adds.

"I have never been a natural monogamist, but the very idea of cheating is anathema to me."

...Coming from a liberal family, Melanie and her partners are able to live fairly openly, but she is aware that many in the polyamorist community in South Africa don’t have this privilege. She hopes that through careful education polyamorists could one day become more widely accepted.

When asked if she thinks polyamory could become more popular, Melanie says: “There will always be […] those who will continue to disapprove but I think that as long as everyone remembers that this is our choice and we do not impose it on others, it will grow."...

Learn more at www.polyamory.co.za

Read the whole article (Sept. 20, 2013).

There's been other poly in the South African media in the last few months. (Click on "media" at the link. The list, compiled by Greenfizzpops, goes back to 2003.)


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September 18, 2013

"My Five Wives": Another Utah polygamous family on reality TV


First Big Love, then Sister Wives, then Joe Darger and family, and now Brady Williams and his five wives. Utah Mormon polygamists — or in this case ex-Mormons — have certainly become a Thing on TV.

Brady Williams poses with his wives outside their home in a polygamous community near Salt Lake City. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer).

My theory: These shows tap a growing fascination with multi-relationships while keeping them far enough from modern American life not to threaten viewers or scare advertisers.

Only one group-relationship series to date, Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating, dares to be about contemporary secular people who might live next door.

Brady Williams and his family were the subject of an hour-long TLC special, "My Five Wives," that aired on Sunday and Monday, September 15 and 16. TLC says the show "could turn into a full series depending on ratings."

A new Utah polygamous family on reality TV

By Brady McCombs (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Brady Williams has five wives, 24 children but no organized religion.

The newest polygamous family from Utah on reality TV considers itself progressive and independent. Williams and his wives slowly withdrew from the fundamentalist Mormon church in their rural community outside of Salt Lake City during the mid-2000s after re-evaluating their core beliefs.

The family no longer teaches the tenets of fundamental Mormonism to their children at home, opting instead to take from other teachings such as Buddhism to instill good, moral values in their two dozen children, who range in age from 2-20.

"Since we have left the religion, it's now about love and it's about commitment, and it's about happiness as a family," said Brady Williams, 43, a project manager in his brother's construction business. "It's not about the fear of hell or the promise of heaven."

...Rosemary Williams, the third wife, said the fear of prosecution is always in the back of their minds, though they feel there is more acceptance for polygamous today than when the Browns came out. Brady Williams said the increasing social and legal acceptance of gay marriage has helped society open up toward plural marriage. But he's still concerned, which is why the show isn't saying exactly where they live for the family's safety....

Read the whole AP article (Sept. 16, 2013).

A press release from TLC.

Videos, stills, and bios on the show's official website.

HuffPost article: TLC's Newest Polygamous Family Favors Buddhism.

Much more news coverage from the last few days.

An entertainment writer's recap of the Sunday-Monday show.



September 16, 2013

Showtime's Polyamory, Episode 5 recap: "Boundaries"

Next Thursday (September 19) Showtime begins airing Episode 6 of Polyamory: Married & Dating. Here's my recap of Episode 5, "Boundaries."

Jennifer of the San Diego pod is looking good to me these days: happy, confident, outspoken compared to a year ago, not afraid to say what she wants and doesn't want. Episode 5 opens with her and her young boyfriend Jesse heading off on their motorcycles; he taught her to ride about six months ago. They say goodbye to Kamala and her date Jason, who are cancelling their beach plans in favor of what looks like some serious makeout time at home. Jen gives Jason a big hug, and out they go.

We switch to Hollywood, where Leigh Ann is staying in a friend's empty house, alone, after being kicked out by husband Chris — and, implicitly, their live-in partner Megan — for carrying on a cheating affair outside the home and lying about it.

Her paramour, "Chicago Chris," arrives from the airport for a visit. They run into each others' arms. Leigh Ann to the camera: "I'm excited to see him, but I really do want to work it out with my husband, so I've decided to honor his request for my boyfriend to leave early. It's so hard because I know I have to give the bad news to him that he's going to have to leave sooner that he thought."

But no, she hasn't told him yet... even though he has rearranged his schedule to be here for a week and is going to get socked with last minute plane-ticket charges on top of a broken heart.

He asks Leigh Ann for a straight answer about how her family breakup happened. "Like what exactly did you tell them? Because we've been so vague with each other, I think we should really have this talk."

"I told them that I wasn't upfront with you, in the beginning," she says. "Basically, Megan is really angry and like doesn't want to talk to me. And Chris is really angry at you, because he says you shouldn't have been involved with a married woman."

"You never wore a ring. You never talked about anybody. But you seemed way too awesomely put together to be just floating around as randomly as you were leading me to believe. I felt guilty. For a minute. It's not the way I would have chosen to go."

So then, he wasn't quite the self-centered cheating enabler I first assumed. And my opinion of Leigh Ann now descends further. I've happily told sweet people in snuggle piles who notice my wedding ring, "Oh yes, it'll come off my cold dead finger in a funeral home."

They start making out on the couch. "I've always been so afraid of like taking advantage of him. And it sucks. Because he's been really good to me. And I don't want to be bad to him in return." But she still hasn't broken the news that he's gotta get on a plane back home.


Jen and Jesse are suiting up in their riding gear. Jesse, you will remember, is a mono guy with jealousy issues who's antsy about being romantically attached to the edge of a poly crowd. "I meant to ask you, it seemed like that hug you gave Jason seemed a bit much. Like are you guys getting close or something?"

"Yeah, he's at the house all the time, he's dating Kamala, and I think he's really cute." Jesse takes on a sad-puppy look.


Jen's husband Tahl, meanwhile, is driving with podmate Michael to the airport to pick up Michael's brother Christian coming in from Paris. Who is gay. Both Christian and Tahl (who came out as bi in an earlier episode) have expressed interest in seeing if they might get something going.

On the way back in the car, Tahl and Christian fish each other out a bit awkwardly, with Michael dropping a helpful comment from time to time. Michael tells how he and Kamala have an agreement that she will tell him before she and the new boyfriend Jason have sex. Christian: "Everyone has new girlfriends and boyfriends except me. I feel left out." Tahl: "We'll see what we can do about that."


Out on the highway, Jesse stops his bike at an overlook above San Diego. Jen joins him. He says, "I can't stop thinking about what you said about Jason this morning."

"What'd I say?"

"Just that you're like attracted to him, my mind just gets stuck on that, like what does that mean. It seemed like more than a hug this morning, you were looking in each other's eyes."

"I do find him attractive. But I've never given him anything more than a sweet hug."

"Do you want to?"

"I mean I would, if it was okay with you."

"Yeah, I don't think I could do that."

She takes a moment. "You know, I'm just realizing that I really miss going to sex parties, and snuggle parties, and just being with my pod, Tahl and everybody. It would just be more fun, more inclusive, if we could all go together, and I know that they want you around too. It's — hard on me, because I feel pressure from my family to spend time with them—"

"Which is like being all sexual. I dunno. It doesn't sound good."

"Well you knew I was poly when you met me."

"I wasn't looking for that. You know, I met you, and fell in love with you."

"I'm just trying to have us grow a little teeny bit? What would be nice is if we could go to a party and it's possible I could kiss another guy? Just kiss? It seems like that would be a natural progression."

"How does that seem natural? 'I'll come home to you, but I'll go have fun with somebody else'? That's how it feels to me—"

"No no no! I don't want to do any of it without you there. You're getting the wrong impression. I absolutely don't want to do—"

"I can't even talk about this any more. It's too much for me. Let's just go home."


Up north in Hollywood, Leigh Ann is admitting to the camera, "What's so special about Chicago Chris is he is really enthusiastic, and really sweet and attentive. I'm not the best communicator especially about the hard stuff. So, he tries to make me more comfortable." She still hasn't told him he has to go back to Chicago early.

They go out to a taco truck. That's where she breaks the news: Husband Chris "said you could come out here to say goodbye."

"Say goodbye? Come on... I'm speechless." Eventually, "I want you to work it out with your husband. I don't believe that me leaving early is going to help you work it out with your husband, though."

Leigh Ann: "That's why I was hoping that if you guys met, maybe we could all be friends."

She has been texting Chris and Megan asking them to meet him. They have not responded.


Chris and Megan, meanwhile, are at home in an emptier house than they've known. A longtime friend of all three comes visiting, and she and Megan have a heart-to-heart. Megan: "She keeps texting us asking us to meet her boyfriend she's been having the affair with.... I hate saying this but I feel like she's threatened by Chris-and-I's bond. But cheating on us isn't okay. Fucking lying to me—"

"So lying is the problem," the friend observes. "It's not the other guy."


"Then why don't you just meet him?"

"I don't know...."


Back in San Diego, Kamala's day with Jason has turned juicy. "We're taking it slow physically because he hasn't been in a poly relationship, and I have to remember that it's all new to him."

Kamala asks him for details about a date he was on the night before. "Well, we kept our clothes on. We just made out and, dry humped?" Giggling.

Kamala to the camera: "He's able to communicate with me the way I need him to. And that gives me the big green light to go deeper with him."

Which they proceed to do. As Michael, Tahl, and Christian arrive home from the airport and walk in on them. Whoops.

Michael: "I walk in, and I'm confronted with Kamala giving a blow job to Jason, and I'm like hold on, our agreement obviously has been broken." He sits down with them. "Our agreement was to not have sex without letting me know."

Kamala: "Yeah, um,"

Michael, "You heard and understood, right?"

"Yeah. I — we weren't having sex, yet. Yeah. It was oral sex. And so,"

"Oral sex is sex."

"We hadn't really defined what, what you meant by sex." The Bill Clinton defense! From Kamala Devi?! "We just moved too fast and didn't check in—"

"I'm kind of shocked because it's kind of exactly what I was hoping wouldn't happen."

"I'm sorry honey, I'm really sorry."

Michael: "By the way, Jason, I'm totally fine with you guys having sex. But the agreement was that she'd let me know before. And include me if that was in the works."

The mood is shifting. Michael says to Jason, as Kamala bites her lip: "She's been bad. Very bad. Do you, know what I mean?" To the camera: "Do I want to be the angry guy who's not getting laid? Or do I want to be the angry guy who's converted that into sexual energy, and love?"

He catches Jason's eye. "I think we need to punish her." Kamala giggling: "I can accept my punishment!" Jason holds her arms while Michael starts spanking her rear. Laughter, shrieks. And, "can I continue doing what I was doing to Jason?"

Michael: "I think that you should, actually. Yes."

Things advance from there. Bonobo conflict resolution in action. Kamala: "Michael really got off on the idea of punishing me. Jason is like all lit up; this is the first time we're having sex, and it's in a threeway. And then it's this whole discipline thing. Which is pretty hot because I felt real guilt, and then I felt real arousal." Pause. The scene actually "relieved me from my guilt."

After, as they lie nude on the bed, from Jason: "Thanks for sharing, Michael."

Michael: "Thank you. It was beautiful."

Kamala, laughing: "I'm going to weep. You guys are so beautiful."


Christian and Tahl
On the other side of the house Christian is settling in, with Tahl's help. They start chatting it up: "How do you say 'I'm really happy you're here' in French?" Tahl speaking to the camera: "I'm totally getting my flirt on with Christian. He's adorable, intelligent, witty." They get closer and cuddly. They kiss, long and deep.

So much for the criticism of the show that it lacks gender-relationship diversity.

Tahl draws back. He tells Christian, "I'm really turned on right now. And I also know I need to talk to my wife Jennifer, and just kind of clear it with her."

Christian: "Yes, I respect that."

Tahl: "Thank you."

He's growing up.


Megan and Chris are also getting kinky, now that they're on their own. By candlelight we see Chris "taking the reins," as Megan puts it, and some paddling, and hot-wax play. (So that's why she lit so many candles.) I'm reluctantly agreeing with the criticism of the show that sex scenes are becoming gratuitous.

Afterward, naked amid cold candle wax and whatnot, Chris checks his phone. Leigh Ann is texting them again. "Again asking if we would come meet her little boy," he says. "It seems really absurd to me."

To Megan: "How am I going to sit in the same room, and not fucking kill this kid? What positive really comes out of it?" And yet, he says, "I am really conflicted as to whether or not I should agree to this meeting. I don't believe it would be helpful to us fixing things. But, I also, don't know everything.... Maybe it's time that we gave her what she's asking for."

Told you so! Stay tuned.


Here are previews of this Thursday's Episode 6, "Serious Affairs." In which, we're told, "Chris and Megan come face to face with Leigh Ann and her boyfriend."


Discussions continue among poly movers-and-shakers about whether this series adds up to a Good Thing or a Bad Thing for us. I quoted some critics at the bottom of my last post. Here are a couple of rejoinders to them. (All quotes are by permission.)

From Anita Wagner Illig, longtime poly educator, advocate, and speaker-to-media:

I have come to be much less worried about the polyamory-equals-sex imaging that our community has historically done a lot of hand-wringing about. Today I'm grateful for the balance that has been established via other highly visible media events. Obviously people who see the Showtime series may not see anything else and may come away with a skewed image of what polyamory is. Still... in exchange for a LOT of visibility, I feel like it's worth putting up with the negative aspects.

...We've seen a few instances on the Showtime series where people haven't treated each other lovingly — and they are no different than how I see a fair number of poly people treat each other. There are many more examples in the show where the love is apparent, even when mixed with the hot sex scenes, even if presented with a fair amount of dramatizing. I have a feeling that this mirrors what many poly people experience fairly well. I have to hand it to Kamala and Michael specifically, their love for each other and their partners consistently shines through.

Whether we like it or don't like it, the series exists. It has happened, and making our concerns known to Natalia has also happened.... I think we have to continue to tell our story whenever and wherever we have the opportunity to tell it, with the belief that the trend toward awareness of polyamory can only continue. I've been correcting misconceptions about it practically since the day I began to be an advocate, and I don't see that changing, ever.

Michael Rios, a builder of the Network for a New Culture and a creator of poly communities since 1964, writes:

Shows like Natalia’s go a long way toward normalizing polyamory. It becomes just another thing that some people do or are, like being gay (Ellen), or Black (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), or Jewish (The Goldbergs/Seinfeld), or single-and-sexually-active/aggressive women (Sex and the City). All of these were startling when they first hit the airwaves, but they helped normalize and familiarize their context to millions of Americans. The specific plots of these shows were not taken as defining [all] people who shared their prime characteristic.

...There should be no expectation that every character is practicing polyamory perfectly at every moment, or even that the group is doing a good job as a whole.... The show is probably a lot more accurate than I would have expected. Go watch an episode of Seinfeld, or any other sitcom/drama — how much like real life are *any* of those?

...With the show out there, at least people are aware, and will have questions to ask. Previously, most talks on polyamory to general audiences spent most of their time [trying to convince the audience] that such a thing actually existed.


And in real life, it's three weeks to the San Diego pod's four-day Poly Palooza, taking over a resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs October 10 – 14. Space remains available. Wish I could be there.

Here are pix from their big public TV viewing and Q&A party in a theater September 7th.


Each episode airs Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).

If you're a Showtime subscriber, you can watch any episode on demand (click On Demand) or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after it first airs.

Showtime’s Facebook page and 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). There will be eight episodes this season.


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September 14, 2013

Elisabeth Sheff launches "Polyamorists Next Door" website for book

Psychology Today blogs

Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff has a much-awaited book coming out November 16th: The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families. It will present her observations and conclusions from 15 years of studying poly people and families and especially their children.

In preparation, she has started a blog by the same name on the Psychology Today site, "Introducing a form of ethical non-monogamy rapidly gaining popularity in the US." Her first post went up a few days ago:

What Polyamory IS, and What It Is NOT

Polyamory is the practice of maintaining consensual, openly conducted, multiple-partner relationships in which both men and women have negotiated access to additional partners outside of the traditional committed couple. Ironically, it is easier to begin with what polyamory is not, and then explain what it is.

Polyamory is not…

For everyone. It can be a complex and intense relationship style that takes time and devotion to maintain. Many people might prefer the simplicity, security, and exclusivity of monogamy.

Cheating. Because (ideally) everyone is aware of the other partners—the relationships have been negotiated with rules to structure scheduling and safer-sex agreements.



Polyamory IS a form of nonmonogamy in which women and men establish emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationships with multiple people at the same time. The partners all know about each other, and are often friends or chosen family members (though sometimes they don’t like each other, which can cause problems). While occasionally it translates as group sex, most often poly people interact sexually in pairs and save the group thing for socializing.

...In most groups some members have sex with each other and others do not, though those in platonic relationships can establish enduring emotional relationships I term polyaffective.

...The information in this and the blogs that will follow is based on my 15-year study of people in polyamorous relationships, and poly families with children.

Read the article (Sept. 9, 2013).

The Polyamorists Next Door is being published by Rowman & Littlefield. Academic publishers are notorious for high book prices, with their captive markets of students and university libraries. Amazon's discount is slight. However, notes Sheff on her personal website, you can get a 20% discount by buying from the publisher directly:

If you order directly through Rowman & Littlefield at

you can get a 20% discount on The Polyamorists Next Door. Use promotion code 4M14SHEFF at checkout. This promotion is valid until December 31, 2014. This offer excludes eBooks, and cannot be combined with any other promo or discount offers.

Sheff and her media mentions have appeared here many times before.



September 11, 2013

Showtime's Polyamory, episode 4 recap: "Truth and Consequences"

Tomorrow (Thursday September 12) Showtime begins airing Episode 5 of Polyamory: Married & Dating. Here's a recap of Episode 4, "Truth & Consequences."

We begin in the one-third-empty Hollywood household, with Chris and Megan waking up alone in bed now that Chris has — temporarily? — told their cheating wife Leigh Ann, either you move out or I move out. She left.

Chris narrating in the background: "Megan and I found out that Leigh Ann has been lying to us. She's been carrying on an affair with another man who we don't know, and telling us she's been on business trips. In a moment of anger and hurt I told her that she had to leave the house."

Megan: "I thought I could trust her with my heart. I'm questioning who I've been spending spent the last three years of my life with.... I believe in loyalty and honesty and being truthful to people.... I'm fucking devastated, my heart's broken. I don't want to see her, I don't want to talk to her, I can't be in a relationship with her."

Meanwhile, things are a lot happier among the San Diego poly pod. Kamala, Michael, and his new love Rachel are meeting in a restaurant to discuss Kamala's wish for Rachel to become more a part of the family — and in particular Michael's eager wish to have a threesome to help this along. Kamala has now bought into this idea. They win Rachel over:

Back to Hollywood. Leigh Ann is staying at a friend's empty house. It's the first time in almost ten years that she's been on her own; "I don't even know how to shop for just one person," she comments. "I'm basically living out of a suitcase right now."

We learn that her other guy is also named Chris. "I like to call him Chicago Chris to differentiate between the two of them." With a breaking voice: "I left my life that I built with very very little, and that's hard. Chicago Chris has been there for me any time I need a sympathetic ear, and that's really really comforting. He always tells me 'Don't worry, it's going to all be okay.' And whether or not it's going to be okay, just hearing that feels better."

We see them skyping. Chicago Chris turns out to be a young kid, all moo-eyed for her. I dislike him right off. I don't like cheating-enablers any more than cheaters. But, he says, "I mean I guess I just didn't realize how coy you were being, in your real life as opposed to your talking to me. I didn't — now that I know that I was entirely hidden behind, I kind of get why they're so mad."

And the two of them are planning for him to come visit. Leigh Ann to the camera: "It's probably not a very good idea for him to come, but I'm lonely and I need comfort and love, the whole reason why I needed him in the first place. And now I need it even more that I did before."

Across town, old Chris is having a heart-to-heart with one of the fighters he's trained, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson. "He's known Leigh Ann as long as I have, and he's one of the least judgmental people I've ever known." Jackson: "I'm your friend, I'm not picking sides here, but — that kind of lifestyle you live, the polyamorous style — the girl, she's not allowed too?"

Chris: "If she's said to me like, 'Could I try having another boyfriend?', I'd have loved to say no problem. And that's what's messed up. She didn't give me the chance.... Lying for a long period of time? I could forgive the sex. I don't know how to ever trust her again."

Jackson's advice: "There's nothing wrong with swallowing your pride and calling her to see if she's okay. She's your wife for God's sake."

Chris is persuaded. "Now I have to tell Megan. And I don't know how she's going to react."


Back in San Diego, Tahl is having a date with his new friend Tziporah. "And tonight we have the whole house to ourselves." They make love in Tahl and Jen's room on the big bed. He grins, "Condom comes off, new condom comes on, we're not paying attention to anything except for each other."

They're back in the kitchen having coffee, and home comes Jen, just back from a date with Jesse. To find her bed a wet mess. They have a rule about this. "I come home, I go to set my things down," Jen tells the camera, "and it's a fucking disaster. There are condoms on the floor, then I look at the bed and it's a disaster with wet I-don't-know-what — Tahl knows we have a rule about leaving the bed how you found it.... Fuckin' Tahl, it never stops."

She walks in on a blow job now in progress in the kitchen. "Did you see how you left the fucking room? Like used condoms on the floor? It's so, fucking, rude. After we've had this conversation ten times." To Tziporah: "Has he not told you?" (No.) To Tahl: "It's really not fair to her that I'm going to get pissed in front of her because you can't remember to clean up the room like any decent normal person would."

She realizes this is putting Tziporah in a bad spot and calms down. Tahl and Tziporah agree to be more diligent in changing the sheets and cleaning up. The two women hug. Jen: "Thank you, I love you Tziporah, I'm sorry for being such a turd." Laughter. Tahl tries to join in. Jen puts him off: "I'm not ready for you yet Tahl, I'm hugging your girlfriend."


Chris is breaking the news to Megan that he's going to see Leigh Ann. "It's the right thing to do."

Megan isn't ready to see her. Megan to camera: "I don't think Chris will ever leave Leigh Ann. I think he's too loyal, and I think he still loves her and wants to find a way to work that out. And if I can't be in a relationship with her, then it means that I have to go find my own path. And" — starting to cry — "if I'm at the end of the road there with them, then I will just have to accept that. And move on. And it's scary."


Michael and Kamala are driving to Rachel's. Kamala: "Michael, Rachel and I have all established that we want to explore our chemistry. The whole day is foreplay. Whether it's the talk about it, getting undressed, it's all part of the anticipation." They mingle, kissing, on Rachel's bed. Michael and Rachel are getting more wrapped up in each other and Kamala moves into observing. Narrating again: "When Michael was connecting with Rachel, I got really clear that this is — really real for Michael. They are awesome together physically, and I didn't know where I fit into that. It's hard for me to jump from zero to 60 with her, and I'm conflicted."

In the scene, Kamala remarks to Rachel: "You know, sexually, it's different for me to watch Michael with someone that he has such deep feelings with."

Rachel: "Are you okay?"

Kamala: "Yeah." And so on they go. Kamala, narrating: "Just because I'm polyamorous does not mean that I'm promiscuous. I have a lot of lovers, and I really love them. It's hard for me to open my legs if my heart's not safe and comfortable."

To the other two: "Maybe we could just slow down and hold for a moment? This is really new between us. And I just feel I need more time to connect between you and I. Before diving in."

Michael to the camera, sympathetically: "When Kamala says she's not connecting emotionally, I'm not surprised at all. She's a very deeply emotional woman." To her in the scene: "You okay, sweetie?" Kamala: "Yeah, I'm just a little bit embarrassed." She explains to the camera: "I'm the sex and relationship coach, I should be taking initiative and making this all work, and so it was kind of like humiliating. But, I'm not willing to just have recreational sex with her. Like swinging. I want it to be real between us."

Michael: "Shall we just cuddle? I'd love that."

Kamala to the camera: "Michael's big plan of having this hot three-way, to deepen the relationship, failed. So, if Rachel and I are going to have our own relationship, we're going to have to get to know each other."

The scene closes with the three just lying together spoon fashion and holding each other, relaxed. "(Sigh.) That's better."


Ominous music as Chris drives up at night to the house where Leigh Ann is staying. They kiss. As they sit in the backyard, he says, "I do want to apologize for just throwing you out of the house like that. But, I didn't know what else to do."

Leigh Ann: "I get that. The sin. I fucked up, I lied, and I really heart you. And I'm sorry. You know, I felt abandoned. And you weren't emotionally available for me. And so I went and got it somewhere else. The only thing I can say in my defense is I was starting to feel like she was your wife and not me."

Chris apologizes for not giving her the love and attention she needs. "I'm willing to take accountability for not working harder to protect our marriage."

Leigh Ann: "One of the other things that I feel like led to this, is that, when we brought Megan in, it got very closed. And I realized that I really wanted to open it up and bring in other men. And I felt like you weren't open to it."

Chris turns defensive at this. "I think that's a cop-out, Leigh Ann. Bringing Megan into the relationship allowed us not to deal with our issues. You were avoiding the problems at home because you didn't want to deal with them."

Leigh Ann: "Well that's what we're doing right now."

He sighs. The discussion continues, and it looks like they are ready to reconcile.

Then he adds, "I just have to be clear. The relationship you that you've started now is not acceptable to me. The first thing that I need to happen if we're going to come back together at all is, you need to end that relationship."

Leigh Ann: "Well, he's coming to visit me here." For a week. "You know, I want you and Megan to meet him. And then maybe everyone sitting face to face, like maybe we'll be able to work it out."

Chris: "Let me be really clear. I have absolutely no interest in meeting this guy. If I did meet him, all I would do is put him through a wall. This was an illicit affair. What kind of a fucking dirtbag does this anyway? He is not coming here for a week. Leigh Ann, if you want to save this marriage, when he gets here, you tell him, it's over. And you put him back on a plane, and send him back. Those are the only circumstances under which I am willing to sit down and really work things out with you. And I want to know from you that you're agreeing to this."

An ultimatum. A hypothetical threat of violence. Massive control. The interesting thing to me is that this is exactly any old-paradigm couple's infidelity fight, just with three people in the couple instead of two. I wonder how it will turn out? I'll keep doing these recaps. We're halfway through the season.


Dawn Davidson, longtime poly educator and activist, discusses the mixed effects she sees this series having on the poly community — and on polyfolks' attempts to explain themselves to friends and family — at her Love Outside the Box blog: Is Polyamory All About the Sex? (Or, Reality TV vs Reality):

...I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress. But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.... I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV” than about “reality.”

Tara Shakti-Ma, a polyactivist who runs local meetups and the Expansive Loving Yahoo group, has a stronger reaction:

My honest takeaway is that I remain... completely horrified. I feel they are showing a nauseating amount of processing, a great deal of emotional immaturity and an absolute excess of sexual scenes. I feel this portrayal "cheapens" polyamory's image, and does us a terrible disservice. I know others feel "at least we're getting some press," but quite frankly I don't always think that "bad press is better than no press at all."

I honestly felt nothing but embarrassment. The idea that the best way to get to know a new metamour and — apparently — help your partner deepen their relationship with his paramour — is for all three to hop in bed and get sexual? Huh? What? How about just hanging out and getting to know each other that way?

To which Jessica Karels, creator of Modern Poly, responds,

I liken this to when 50 Shades of Gray became all hyped up — there was a lot of public curiosity and interest in kink/BDSM, and a lot of horror stories coming out as well. Various educators/leaders capitalized on this — with blog posts and educating others about various aspects of kink. Sex-positive stores leveraged the increased awareness as a way to get people to attend workshops, and I think local communities did the same (at least mine did). Various leaders and educators — both for-profit and not-for-profit — rolled up their sleeves and focused on educating the newly curious and interested.

I feel that the show's impact is that it created "work" for those who were looking to be teachers, mentors, and leaders.


Here are previews of tomorrow's Episode 5, "Boundaries." In which, says a promo, "Leigh Ann is faced with an ultimatum. Kamala breaks one of Michael's rules."


Heads up, San Diego people: The San Diego pod hosts another party this Friday the 13th, in Encinitas — with discussion groups, community-building exercises, music and dancing, performance art, snuggle party, and Zegg Forum: "Poly takes work. We make it fun. Come learn from San Diego's most experienced Poly players at this wild and wonderful 10-hour poly party in North County." $15 donation requested for costs.

Coming up in a month is their four-day Poly Palooza taking over a resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs.


Each episode airs on Thursdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, then again several times during the week; see schedule (on the left there, click On TV > All Airings).

If you're a Showtime subscriber you can watch episodes on demand (click On Demand), or on a computer or device via Showtime Anytime, after they first air.

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). There will be 8 episodes this season.


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