Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 30, 2014

"We don’t have the language to reflect the diversity of connections we experience."

New Statesman

Following my last post, this morning another example popped up of how poly ideas and culture are catching attention as, sometimes, useful ways for other people to think about things too.

The New Statesman is a British weekly magazine of politics and culture that goes back 100 years. Originating in the Fabian Society, it has always been left of center.

Isn’t it time we admitted we’re all a bit polyamorous?

Monogamy is rare, no matter what we might tell ourselves. We need a new currency of commitment.

"We don’t have the language to reflect the diversity of connections we experience." (Photo: Getty)
By Rosie Wilby

...Human connections are the lifeblood and oxygen that aid our emotional survival. Even the most fleeting kindnesses and flirtations with strangers enhance our wellbeing. These brief moments of love feed our key relationships. Three and a half years in, my girlfriend and I might not always find it easy to generate huge sexual energy in a vacuum on our own. But if we go off into the world and connect, communicate, flirt with and enjoy other people, become energised by them and then come back together, our passion can still burn strongly. Other people act as our kindling. Love breeds love. It isn’t a finite resource that we need to hide away in the attic.

...It struck me that we don’t have the language to reflect the diversity and breadth of connections we experience. Why is sex the thing we tend to define a relationship by, when in fact it can be simple casual fun without a deep emotional transaction? Why do we say “just friends” when, for some of us, a friendship goes deeper? Can we define a new currency of commitment that celebrates and values this? Instead of having multiple confusing interpretations of the same word, could we have different words? What if we viewed our relationships as a pyramid structure with our primary partner at the top and a host of lovers, friends, spiritual soul mates, colleagues and acquaintances beneath that?

This isn’t a million miles away from the central ideas of polyamory – consensual multiple loving connections, some sexual, some not, in a myriad of combinations and hierarchies. It was a new word and world to me, yet when I interviewed a few polyamorous women (meetings had to be scheduled months ahead due to their ridiculously hectic romantic and social diaries) it struck me that they weren’t behaving so differently to anyone else I knew. Yet instead of shrouding some of their most intimate connections in secrecy as many of my “monogamous” friends have to, boundaries and priorities were honestly negotiated and declared.

Perhaps holding our hands up and owning the fact that we are all indeed a bit poly would be a solution to the growing problem of serial monogamy.... So, what if instead of serial relationships one after the other we had parallel ones running alongside one another? Would this improve the odds of some of our key partnerships lasting?...

Read the whole article (July 30, 2014).

Update August 1: The article was just reprinted in America on The New Republic's website, under the title You're More Polyamorous Than You Think.



July 28, 2014

"What I learned from dating someone in an open marriage"


More good press from the mono side of the fence. Let's give a big thank-you to Charles in the story and the other polyfolks who made such a good impression on the author. Acceptance and recognition will come by us earning this kind of respect from the people around us.

What I learned from dating someone in an open marriage

I ended up choosing monogamy, but my time on the poly fringes gave me a healthy new perspective on love and sex.

By Nicola Jane

Discpicture / Shutterstock
“When they leave me, it’s usually for The One,” my lover, Charles, said. I was gushing about the new man in my life, and Charles was adjusting admirably to the news. But then, he had to. That’s the deal for a man in a polyamorous, open marriage who dates multiple partners.

It came as no surprise to me, either, that I met The One while I was involved with Charles. Despite the doom-mongering from friends and family about dating a married man, I knew I was more open to falling in love than I had ever been. I can’t count the number of times I heard “You’re wasting your time” or “You’ll never meet anyone else.” But buoyed by the confidence and happiness that comes from a healthy relationship, I was more able to recognize and accept the right guy when he came along. And my experiences on the periphery of non-monogamy taught me a lot about relationships, lessons I’m applying in my new, monogamous relationship.

1. You will be attracted to people outside your relationship.

...Acknowledging this inevitability means my boyfriend and I can deal with it from within our relationship instead of pretending we’ll only ever have eyes (and maybe hands and lips and everything else) for each other.

2. Trust is more than just monogamy.

...Small children who regularly see their parents going out and returning are more secure than those who aren’t used to being left alone....

3. The only way to have complete trust is to talk about everything....

4. The biggest threat to a relationship is you, not other people.

Happily partnered people don’t leave for someone else....

5. Your partner is not enough....

6. Your partner needs to know how important they are to you....

7. It’s not a competition.

...Dating Charles meant I had to reconcile myself to being one of many, but I also discovered that did nothing to lessen my appeal. I stopped resenting other women or seeing them as competition, because I wasn’t going to lose what I had if he was with them, too. As a result, I’m much more at ease with other women than I was before, which is a good thing for every aspect of my life....

8. Expectations are everything.

When I first got involved with Charles, he outlined the small print. He would never leave his wife. He would only stay over by pre-arrangement.... With my expectations managed, I didn’t run into brick walls trying to make the relationship something it wasn’t. I was free to enjoy all the things it did provide....

9. The end isn’t The End.

Poly relationships have more ebb and flow and more overlap. Things are more likely to develop into something else than to end. Charles is friends with all his previous lovers. I’ve always hated mine in the end or, at the very minimum, felt a lack of interest bordering on hate. But Charles and I haven’t had any breakup drama to go through – merely an adjustment. And he’s as delighted for me as I am grateful to him for clearing my head of the bad relationship habits monogamy led me into....

That’s quite a lot of lessons learned from some “wasted time.”

Read the whole article (July 27, 2014).


July 25, 2014

Upcoming poly events for the next four months

Not many of you seem to know about Alan's List of Polyamory Events. There I describe all 20 major poly conferences and gatherings for the next 12 months. Nine are coming up in just the next four months. Here they are:

Endless Poly Summer
August 20–24, 2014
Abrams Creek Campground and Conference Center, Mount Storm, WV

Michael Rios, Sarah Taub, and friends, who organize the Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East each July, are starting an ambitious new project. Endless Poly Summer aims to build, over five days, an enduring network of like-minded people who don't fall out of touch as happens after most events. (That's the "endless" part.) "The point is building tribe," says Michael. I've gone to their (mostly poly) Summer Camp for the last five years, and can attest that New Culture's practices for community creation and interpersonal-skills development are exactly right for this. Michael and Sarah have a vision of "turning Abrams Creek into a place where tribe is created" around any number of interests and commonalities. "If you can start creating overlapping tribes all over the place, you can have a very strong social impact."

From the website: "Here is where you can meet other poly people at a deeper level, learn the skills needed to handle your relationships, and become a part of a supportive network of people who share your relationship values.... Spend up to 5 days in a rustic woods-and-water setting, hang out around a bonfire, enjoy a song circle, cuddle up at a snuggle party, learn to take your relationships to the next level, and build connections with others that last all year long! At Endless Poly Summer, we invite top-notch presenters, and live, work, learn and play together for up to 5 days or more."

At Burning Man
Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 2014
Nevada desert
(Note: You cannot get into Burning Man without a ticket that's legitimate by Burning Man's anti-scalper rules. Beware of ticket scams.

Poly Paradise theme camp.
Poly Paradise will be in its 16th year in 2014. Since 2012 it has been awarded prime central locations on the A or B rings; in 2014 it will be on the B ring at azimuth 4:15. This is a large theme camp; in 2012 it was 200 x 600 feet and had 170 campers. In 2013 it had 183, almost half of them new. Workshops and events will include Heart of Now, Poly High Tea, the famous Human Carcass Wash, the Hiney Hygiene Station, Mind Melt, Revolutionary Honesty, and a poly mixer. Benevolent Dictator Scotto writes, "PolyParadise 2013 was the truly the best Theme Camp iteration we have ever created. Each year there are many challenges and together we overcome, together we build an amazing space within the gates of BRC, a place to really call home in the desert."

Polycamp Northwest
Aug. 29 – Sept. 1, 2014
Olympia, WA area

This big, multi-day, kid- and family-friendly campout is now in its 13th year, held in a reserved area of cabins and common buildings in a state park. Workshops, hikes, canoeing, singing, dance, games from Calvinball to frisbee golf. Adults-only workshops/discussions take place in their own separate area. Polycamp NW has been getting 150 to 200 people. Facebook page (which is more active than the website). See newspaper article about Polycamp by Dan Savage from 2010.

Organizer Quintus writes, "We also do three other events each year:
— Post Polycamp Party
— Room Party at Norwescon (sci-fi convention)
— Polystrip (fundraiser for Polycamp; burlesque by members of the poly community)

Loving More Retreat
September 5–7, 2014
Easton Mountain Retreat Center, north of Albany, NY

A smallish rural gathering of fellowship and workshops. Navigating poly life both for beginners and long-timers; building intimate community. Beautiful rural setting, hot tubbing, pool, fun, stars. Clothing optional (though not many go bare except around the hot tub, sauna, and pool). Intimate crowd, newbie-friendly, typical attendance 30 or so. Here's a FAQ. See last year's schedule. I've come to this since 2005. Loving More, "supporting polyamory and relationship choice since 1985," is the oldest poly organization of the modern era and played a central role in getting the whole movement going.

Großen Polytreffen, Autumn (Germany)
October 8–11, 2014
"Im Seminarhotel Gut Frohberg"

Since 2008 the German organization PolyAmores Netzwerk (PAN) e.V., at Polyamory.de, has organized local meetings and, in the spring and fall, "Grand Poly Meetings" that draw 50 to 120 people — "for contacts, networking, and planning the organization of activities. At the large meetings, up to 40 workshops, talks and other events are self-organized by participants." In 2013 the fall meeting sold out.

Poly Palooza
October 9–13, 2014 (Columbus Day weekend)
Desert Hot Springs, CA

This will be the second year for this event (under this name). It will be held at the same resort hotel in Desert Hot Springs as in 2013. Kamala Devi and other members of the San Diego poly/tantra community invite you to "a 4-day groundbreaking retreat where you will experience intimate connections with families that have vast experience successfully navigating complex polyamorous relationships. We are offering radical tools and transformative practices to access your full erotic expression within an immersive community where we dance, play, soak, study, work, eat, sleep and awaken together! You will develop deep friendships that will inspire and support you for a lifetime.

"Why? We are co-creating an experience of paradise to role-model revolutionary new expressions of unconditional love and sexual liberation. By exploring these paradigm shifts we intend to transform our own lives as well as the future of humanity."

OpenCon 2014
October 10–12, 2014
Dorset, U.K.

OpenCon in the U.K. is a participant-created convention on the
unconference model, which means the people who show up organize the content. This will be its fifth year. The first four sold out; attendance in 2012 was 87. "A 3-day event in the English countryside for everyone who knows that happy and honest relationships don't have to be monogamous. OpenCon combines discussions, workshops and socialising to give you a chance to meet like-minded people, to build our community and to celebrate its diversity."

The team putting it together in 2013 told us, "This year we're not running a gender balancing policy as they did last year, but our explicitly feminist ethos, and actions to increase accessibility of the event, (which you can read more about on dedicated Ethos and Access pages on the website) have resulted in our current attendees' gender profile being very well balanced."

Here are the self-generated schedule boards from 2011:
1, 2, 3, 4. This is how an unconference works. "We had 33 workshops run, only 5 of which had been arranged in advance."

Playground 2014
November 7–9, 2014
Toronto, Canada.

Entering its fourth year, poly and nonmonogamy author Samantha Fraser's Playground conference "will bring together the brightest minds in sexuality education, activism and media to examine the ways in which the sexual and erotic play a part in our everyday lives. Everyone is invited to attend from those looking to educate to those looking to get educated. And most importantly, for everyone looking to have FUN! Over the 3 days, workshops and presentations will touch on kink, non-monogamy, dating, sexual/relationship fulfillment and more. Playground is an all-inclusive event for every community to take part in and celebrate diversity."

Beyond the Love
November 7–9, 2014
Columbus, Ohio.

This new hotel conference had a very successful start in November 2013, with a reported 200 people attending. "Beyond The Love’s mission is to provide an opportunity for the polyamorous community to come together in an educational and social forum. At Beyond the Love you will find a wealth of classes, workshops and mini events to learn tools, techniques and communication skills to enhance our poly relationships. We provide a safe environment for meeting with other like-minded people in a supportive and inclusive community. We are passionate about recognizing poly as a relationship choice and sharing common experiences on our many different paths."

Here are some workshop presenters so far. I'll be there running a session called "Poly Awareness Activism: Strategies and Tactics." There will be other attendee-generated unconference sessions, poly matchmaking, a Midwest poly leadership summit, massage, yoga, and a masquerade ball. Over 18 only. Facebook page.

To be continued. Please spread this page.


P.S.: Here's how to do a thorough search for your local poly group(s) and their get-togethers.



July 24, 2014

Xtra review of More Than Two

Daily Xtra (Canada)

At Canada's national gay news site, Niko Bell reviews Franklin Veaux's and Eve Rickert's forthcoming book More Than Two:

More Than Two challenges accepted polyamory pacts

By Niko Bell

Part of cover illustration for Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert's book More Than Two
French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre is perhaps the most prolific non-monogamist of the last century. His life-long open relationship with philosopher and feminist (and bisexual) Simone de Beauvoir, with whom he shared a belief in authentic personal freedom, is legendary. He was not, however, entirely ethical.... Perfect authentic freedom, in Sartre’s case, was licence to be a dick.

Modern polyamory, as with Sartre, often expresses itself as a desire for freedom: freedom from tradition, monogamy, boredom or sex-negativity. Traditional relationship rules are replaced with self-tailored agreements, anything being acceptable as long as it is agreed to. Unfortunately, as with Sartre, it is quite possible to keep agreements and still be a pain in the ass.

Eve editing hardcopy of the book.
Writers Franklin Veaux, from Portland, and Eve Rickert, from Vancouver, take a stab at this problem in their new book More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory.

Veaux and Rickert argue that, while there may be no perfect way to be non-monogamous, there are certainly some very bad ones....

More Than Two is less like Sartre and more like his sterner predecessor, German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant, who reportedly died a virgin and never left his home town by more than ten miles, defined a moral action as one that treats people as ends, not means, and respects individual agency. Veaux and Rickert riff off Kant to create their own axioms: "don’t treat relationships as more important than people," and "don’t treat people like things."

...There is barely a mention of gay male relationships in the book, and no wonder — non-monogamy, as the authors point out, is intensely divided by sexuality. Straight polyamory, they write, still struggles with homophobia, while some gay people accuse polyamory of undermining gay societal acceptance. Some bisexual and trans people, the authors even suggest, flee to polyamory to escape gay and lesbian cultures that view them with suspicion.

This is the sort of tough problem with which the largely straight, cisgendered polyamorous world will have to grapple one day. To do so, they need a new normal of relationship theory, with its own rules, codes and ethics. More Than Two is a tentative step in that direction: a little more Kant, and a little less Sartre.

Read the whole review, with mixed opinions of the book overall (July 23, 2014).


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July 23, 2014

A poly home, just without the sex

The Atlantic

Not the street with the home described,
but a similar one nearby. (NCinDC / Flickr)
My post yesterday about the big poly article at The Atlantic led me to an Atlantic piece published ten days earlier. It's an example of how groups of friends are building tight-knit households that are the next thing to polyamorous, in order to beat the isolation and resource overstretch that increasingly bedevil harried nuclear families.

In fact, the "normal" household of Mom and Dad with no other adults is a recent historical aberration. Humans have lived in larger extended families and tribes for almost always. We're born to it. This is why a nuclear family can instinctively feel so diminished, lonely, and incomplete without you knowing why.

Setups like the one below qualify, to me, as the generalization of polyfamilies: they're based on friendship rather than romantic interconnections, but otherwise quite similar. Think "intentional community."

Two Couples, One Mortgage

Why my partner and I decided to buy a house with our friends, share our space and our lives, and all make a family together.

By Ari Weisbard

Last December, my partner Rebecca and I bought a rowhouse with another couple. Our wedding was this May. Next month, we’re expecting a baby — the other couple’s baby.

For most of our adult lives, Rebecca and I lived in houses full of roommates and loved it. Before our most recent move, we rented a rambling five-bedroom house with four friends. When we started talking about getting married, we realized our biggest fear was that we’d leave these important kinds of friendships behind and end up living in what she jokingly called a “love/torture cave of nuclear family loneliness.” Neither of us wanted that.

It turned out two of our closest friends... felt similarly, and we decided to do something different and move in all together....

Yes, all four of us are on the deed and, yes, we share the 30-year mortgage and food and maintenance expenses. No, there’s no division of the house into separate sections. And no, all four of us are not all having sex with each other. (Why do many people assume that if adults are willing to share a kitchen, they probably also want to share a bed?) We are just two couples who plan to live together and raise children in one household, hopefully for decades....

Many nights, when one of us stumbles home from work exhausted from a hard day, someone else has already done the shopping and cooked a great homemade dinner. When a pipe burst this February, we all took turns bailing out the basement. Once the baby arrives, we look forward to being crucial reinforcements for each other during those first several nearly sleepless months and trading off so each couple can have date nights. Living together with another couple also has made it easier to identify and counteract some of the sexist patterns that emerge in many households. Because we discuss chores as a group and work consciously together to establish our household norms and individual responsibilities, there’s less opportunity for traditional gender roles to establish themselves surreptitiously.

Living together seems to be a great financial move so far. With four adults splitting the mortgage and other costs, it is easier for each of us to save more of our income, which will give us the financial freedom to pay for childcare or reduce our work hours later, when we need more time and money for our families....

For many people, their romantic partner is the one person with whom they feel comfortable showing their struggles or weaknesses. While Rebecca and I certainly support each other in that way, it has actually been great for our relationship that we don’t try to be each other’s only source of support and amateur therapy....

Sounds poly to me. Read the whole article (July 11, 2014).

Here's a similar story about another platonic-quad household. Here's one about six adults, several of them divorced from one another and remarried to others, who all moved in together along with their kids and find it great.

I'll be posting more here about such all-but-poly households. The media are spotting a trend toward them "not seen since the 1970s," driven in part by the changing economy.

As I've written before, we can expect this way of life to increase in the coming century as resources become scarcer and more poorly distributed. People with good poly housemate skills will have an early advantage.


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July 22, 2014

The Atlantic: "Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy"

A Summer Camp drum circle.
I just arrived home, bedazzled and in community love, from the Center For a New Culture's annual Summer Camp East. It's put on in the West Virginia mountains every July by poly activists Sarah Taub, Michael Rios, and other New Culture folks in and around the Chrysalis household near DC. I only wish I could go back four weeks from now, when they'll be putting on Endless Poly Summer: a new, five-day tribe-building intensive at the same site. (Schedule). They are damn good at this.

Then back home I turn on the computer and what do I see but Sarah, Michael, and Jonica, another Summer Camp organizer and a member of their intimate network, leading off a major feature article in The Atlantic online — one of the country's most prestigious news and public affairs outlets. The article is long, 5600 words. It has stayed #1 on the site's most-read list for two days now.


Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy

Polyamorous people still face plenty of stigmas, but some studies suggest they handle certain relationship challenges better than monogamous people do.

Graphic: poly triad on bicycle built for 3
Jackie Lay

By Olga Khazan

When I met Jonica Hunter, Sarah Taub, and Michael Rios on a typical weekday afternoon in their tidy duplex in Northern Virginia, a very small part of me worried they might try to convert me.

All three live there together, but they aren’t roommates — they’re lovers.

Or rather, Jonica and Michael are. And Sarah and Michael are. And so are Sarah and whomever she happens to bring home some weekends. And Michael and whomever he might be courting. They’re polyamorous.

Michael is 65, and he has a chinstrap beard that makes him look like he just walked off an Amish homestead. Jonica is 27, with close-cropped hair, a pointed chin, and a quiet air. Sarah is 46 and has an Earth Motherly demeanor that put me at relative ease.

Together, they form a polyamorous “triad” — one of the many formations that’s possible in this jellyfish of a sexual preference. “There’s no one way to do polyamory” is a common refrain in “the community.” Polyamory — which literally means “many loves” — can involve any number of people, either cohabiting or not, sometimes all having sex with each other, and sometimes just in couples within the larger group.

What this misses is their particular relationship: it's a form of Relationship Anarchy, in that they proudly tell the world they have no terms or agreements, not even for safe sex; each is responsible for handling their own precautions and everything else in life.

Sarah and Michael met 15 years ago when they were both folk singers and active in the polyamorous community. Both of them say they knew from a young age that there was something different about their sexuality. “Growing up, I never understood why loving someone meant putting restrictions on relationships,” Michael said.

“What I love about polyamory is that everything is up for modification,” Sarah says. “There are no ‘shoulds.’ You don’t have to draw a line between who is a lover and who is a friend. It’s about what is the path of my heart in this moment.”

They’ve been “nesting partners” for 12 years, but they’ve both had other relationships throughout that time. Jonica moved in three years ago after meeting Michael on OkCupid. She describes the arrangement’s appeal as “more intimacy, less rules. I don’t have to limit my relationship with other partners.”

The house is, as they describe, an “intentional community” — a type of resource-sharing collectivist household. They each have their own room and own bed. Sarah is a night owl, so she and Michael spend time together alone late at night. Jonica sees him alone in the early morning. They all hang out together throughout the day. The house occasionally plays host to a rotating cast of outside characters, as well — be they friends of the triad or potential love interests.

The triad works together, too, running a consulting nonprofit that puts on events “that teach skills for living together peacefully, such as clear communication, boundaries, what to do when you get upset,” Sarah said [think New Culture]. An added bonus of the living arrangement is that it cuts down on commuting time.

I initially expected the polyamorous people I met to tell me that there were times their relationships made them sick with envy. After all, how could someone listen to his significant other’s stories of tragedy and conquest in the dating world, as Michael regularly does for Sarah, and not feel possessive? But it became clear to me that for “polys,” as they’re sometimes known, jealousy is more of an internal, negligible feeling than a partner-induced, important one. To them, it’s more like a passing head cold than a tumor spreading through the relationship....


...Increasingly, polyamorous people — not to be confused with the prairie-dress-clad fundamentalist polygamists — are all around us. By some estimates, there are now roughly a half-million polyamorous relationships in the U.S., though underreporting is common. Some sex researchers put the number even higher, at 4 to 5 percent of all adults, or 10 to 12 million people. More often than not, they’re just office workers who find standard picket-fence partnerships dull. Or, like Sarah, they’re bisexuals trying to fulfill both halves of their sexual identities.

Says Sarah: "The one thing in the article I really wish I could correct is being portrayed as wanting to be poly because like many bisexuals, I'm 'trying to fulfill both halves of my sexual identity.' It’s such an old tired stereotype that bisexuals need 'one of each,' or have 'halves' of our identities, and it’s so unrelated to my reasons for being poly!"

...Polys differentiate themselves from swingers because they are emotionally, not just sexually, involved with the other partners they date. And polyamorous arrangements are not quite the same as “open relationships” because in polyamory, the third or fourth or fifth partner is just as integral to the relationship as the first two are.

Jackie Lay
...Despite lingering disapproval, there’s some evidence that Americans are growing increasingly accepting of open relationships. To be sure, the sanctity of two-person marriage still looms large: For decades now, most Americans — 90 percent, give or take — have told Gallup that having an affair is unacceptable.... However, an April study asked 1,280 heterosexuals how willing they would be, on a scale from one to seven, to commit various non-monogamous acts, such as swinging or adding a third party to the relationship. Depending on the scenario, up to 16 percent of women and up to 31 percent of men chose a four or higher on the scale when asked whether they’d willing, while still with their partners, to do things like have a third person join the relationship, or have “casual sex with whomever, no questions asked.”


...Bill and Erin don’t hide their outside relationships from Erin’s 17-year-old daughter. One day, the couple was watching the television show Sister Wives, which documents a polygamous family in Utah, when the daughter remarked that it was an interesting system.

Jackie Lay
“She was talking about Sister Wives, and I said, ‘What about brother husbands?’” Bill asked her. “I said, ‘Your mom and I date a guy.’ And she was like, ‘Cool.’”

...Cassie and Josh said their son, who is now 10, has grown up around his parents’ girlfriends, so he doesn’t find it unusual. He calls the women the couple dates “Ms. ‘Anne,’” and refers to them as “my dad’s [or sometimes mom’s] girlfriend” to others.

“We have friends who are poly, mono, gay, and lesbian,” Cassie said. “He doesn’t understand why people have a problem with people caring for and loving each other.”


...There’s a paucity of any sort of research on consensual, Western non-monogamy.... The nascent research that does exist suggests these modern polyamorous relationships can be just as functional — and sometimes even more so — than traditional monogamous pairings.

...Terri Conley, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan who studies polyamory, has analyzed a sample of 1,700 monogamous individuals, 150 swingers, 170 people in open relationships, and 300 polyamorous individuals for a forthcoming study. She said that while people in “open relationships” tend to have lower sexual satisfaction than their monogamous peers, people who described themselves as “polyamorous” tended to have equal or higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

What’s more, polyamorous people don’t seem to be plagued by monogamous-style romantic envy. Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont has found that polyamorous people tend to experience less overall jealousy, even in situations that would drive monogamous couples to Othello-levels of suspicion. "It turns out that, hey, people are not reacting with jealousy when their partner is flirting with someone else," Holmes told LiveScience.

Conley found that jealousy is “much higher” among monogamous pairs than non-monogamous ones. Polyamorous people also seemed to trust each other more. “For a long time I’ve been interested in whether monogamous relationships are all they’re cracked up to be,” Conley said.

Her findings, like Holmes’ and Sheff’s, are preliminary and limited. But if they hold up, it could mean that at least in some ways, polyamory is a more humane way to love....

Olga Khazan is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

Read the whole, much longer article (July 21, 2014).

It's getting a lot of public notice. Sarah in the story says, "This is my first time having so much about myself shared online, and I'm feeling exposed.... some of the comments are pretty fierce, and if folks are willing to comment, I would be grateful. The biggest bugaboo seems to be the age spread among Michael, Jonica, and me, and what it must certainly mean about why we are in this relationships configuration."

In fact, as I noticed during those ten days with them and 80 others, their age differences mean little when each is a free agent with their own life goals, other interests, and no strings. But many readers only know the polygamy stereotype.

Diana Adams, the lead character in The Atlantic's last big feature on poly, remarks that this one is "written in a bit of a scattered way, with a tone that poly people are 'the other' and seeming mystified by motivations of poly people." I'd agree.

More from Sarah: "Although there were some factual errors about our lives (apparently we live in a 'tidy duplex'), I'm reasonably OK with how I was portrayed and quoted, especially on working with jealousy."

Barry Smiler of BmorePoly (in whose home most of the interviews took place) says of the story, "While the writer definitely got some things wrong, from a big-picture perspective I think she did an okay job. It's great to see mainstream reporting on polyamory that's fact-based and not sensationalistic. As Pete Seeger used to sing, 'inch by inch, row by row...' "


A writer for the Time magazine website takes brief note:

The Atlantic argues that polyamorous people handle certain relationship struggles better than monogamous people do. “Bill says watching his wife have sex with another man induces compersion — basking in the joy of a partner’s success.” (I’m pretty happy when my wife gets retweeted.)



July 21, 2014

Ozy: "The Rise of Polyamory"

Ozy magazine, which calls itself "the go-to daily news and culture site for the Change Generation" (164,000 daily subscribers), presents a Poly 101 article and 6-minute video.

The article seems kinda thrown together, but it gets the concept out. I'm amazed at how many people still haven't heard of it.

The Rise of Polyamory

By Melissa Pandika

Why you should care: Because polyamory’s growth in popularity could shake up the dating world.

Jen Day and her boyfriend of 11 years, Pepper Mint (yes, that’s his real name), live together with their cat in a whitewashed house on a narrow, leafy street in Berkeley, Calif. They kiss and nuzzle and have date nights, like any other couple.

Just not always with each other.

...Large-scale studies tracking the number of polyamorous (aka “poly”) individuals don’t exist, but evidence from polyamory groups, relationship therapists and dating websites suggests that figure is rising fast. University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley estimates that 5 percent of Americans are involved in consensual non-monogamous relationships....

“There’s a shaken belief [in monogamy]” leading to “more openness to seeing what works rather than believing in some tradition,” says San Francisco clinical psychologist Deborah Anapol. And, in general, people have grown more open to alternative lifestyles.

Poly triad graphicOf course, it’s also possible that interest in polyamory has remained stable — but people just have more opportunity to take part. Thanks, Internet!

Still, the poly-curious should think hard before making the leap. Polyamory might sound like free love, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Maintaining multiple healthy relationships takes McKinseyian time-management skills and grace dealing with jealousy. Skeptics worry about the welfare of children in polyamorous families. The stigma hasn’t quite worn off, either.

“A lot of people get into this relationship style and don’t really have the tools to do it ethically, so people get hurt,” says Michael (last name not given), who organizes polyamory events in the San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay Area, Calif. “People are like, ‘I dated this guy who was poly and was a sleazebag.’ It gives the lifestyle a bad name.”

...“If you ask one person what their definition of polyamory is, it will be totally different from somebody else’s,” says Maryland-based sex and kink educator Cassie Fuller.

To wit: Fuller and her husband practice polyfidelity, in which all members are considered equal partners who remain faithful to one another. Mint and Day form intimate networks, labeling their lovers as “primary,” “secondary” and “tertiary” depending on the level of commitment. Michael and Yi-Ling (last name not given) practice relationship anarchy, participating in open relationships without ranking partners....

...Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests an upswing. Local poly organizations have experienced a surge in membership, while sex and relationship therapists have noticed a rise in poly clients.

“All signs point to an upward trend,” says Niko Antallfy, a sociology lecturer at Macquarie University.

The real trend is toward more tolerance and acceptance of diversity....

Oh but the critics! There are many. Some, predictably, consider polyamory amoral. Others blame a shift toward a “me-me” culture....

Read the whole article (July 17, 2014).

Update October 22, 2015: Ozy has just reprinted the article today, and it as also shown up in other places, such as today's Ukraine Business Online.


July 15, 2014

"Jealous of what? Solving polyamory’s jealousy problem"


Quite an interesting societal perspective here. A social-science researcher living in a long-term MFM triad describes her situation. She contends that poly that breaks away from the individualism of mainstream culture tends to be more secure and jealousy-free.

Jealous of what? Solving polyamory’s jealousy problem

Everyone asks my polyamorous family how we handle the jealousy. It's easy, because that's not how it works.

By Elizabeth Stern [Pseudonym]

The first question people ask my polyamorous family is “How do you handle the jealousy?” Befuddled, we answer, “What jealousy?”

I am lucky; I live with the two loves of my life. I am smitten with my husband of 16 years, and adore my partner of four. The three of us depend upon and nurture each other; we are a family. When my partner and I hadn’t had a date in a while, my husband encouraged us to take a holiday at the art museum, knowing how the visual connects us. When my husband and I hit an emotional snag in discussing our issues, my partner helped us to sort it out and come together. And when I was picking out Christmas presents, I gave the foodies in my life some bonding time over a Japanese small-plates cooking class.

The existing polyamory advice literature pushes individualistic solutions to jealousy. Polyamory gurus such as Dossie Easton (“The Ethical Slut”), Deborah Anapol (“Love Without Limits”) and, more recently, Franklin Veaux (“More Than Two”) advocate personal responsibility as the solution to insecurity. You must “work through” your jealousy, making sure to not “control” your partner, all the while viewing the experience of jealousy through a lens of personal growth. My family has never needed to rely on these individualistic methods because jealousy is a social problem, not an individual one, and so are the solutions.

Prescribing of individualistic methods for management of jealousy is nothing new.... Polyamory advice on jealousy is not radical when held up to this light; it is simply part of the larger 20th century context....

I think back on my life of four years ago as we first formed our polyamorous family. My new boyfriend was surprised that he felt no jealousy of my 14-year relationship with my husband. He felt supported and welcomed into our lives, and longed to make a commitment to us, but the absence of jealousy was perplexing to him. Doesn’t jealousy naturally emerge from a partner having another partner, he wondered? He waited for over a year before he made a commitment, just in case jealousy would emerge. He was waiting for Godot.


Eric Widmer, a sociologist at the University of Geneva shows that trust in any dyadic (two-person) relationship is influenced by the density of the larger social configuration in which it is embedded. Research indicates that people feel more comfortable when those persons they are close to are also close to one another, which is termed transitivity. This leads over time to dense networks, where the number of actual connections between members comes close to or equals the number of potential connections.

In my polyamory family there were three potential dyadic relationships and all have been realized either through a love relationship (my partners and I) or a close friendship (between my partners). A dense, socially cohesive network allows for a greater degree of trust between any two members. [Emphasis mine –Ed.] My family’s wider social network of friends and family varies in its transitivity with us. But the cohesiveness within our immediate family alone begins to account for the seemingly surprising lack of jealousy....

Most of the polyamory advice literature does not advocate for dense interdependent networks over a lifetime anyway. Their brand of polyamory is individual freedom rooted in personal responsibility and self-actualization, which fits much better into our current neoliberal opportunity structure.... As one polyamory advice website states succinctly, “polyamory encourages, allows, and almost demands that you be an individual first and foremost.”

...My hypothesis is that the more shifts that occur within a polyamory network, the more jealousy that occurs, which then requires higher degrees of individualistic emotion management. In other words, individual freedom in relationships has an evil twin of individual constraint of emotion.


...The common denominator is social rather than personal responsibility. Seeing ourselves as part of a larger system (whether of three or 300 people) leads to taking social responsibility for the health of that system. Can we solve polyamory’s jealousy problem? Perhaps, perhaps not. But what we can do is stop pretending that we don’t know where jealousy comes from.

Elizabeth Stern is the pseudonym of a PhD social scientist and freelance writer living on the East Coast.

The whole article (July 13, 2014) is well worth a read.

As it happens, I am typing this in the lodge during the Network for a New Culture's annual Summer Camp East — which is all about creating an intimate, transitive-network culture in a modern context. We find it a better way to live.

And maybe Stern's article explains why, of the 80 people here, at least half are actively poly and yet there's practically no drama about it at all. Jealousy sometimes, hurt sometimes, but handled in a spirit of "empathetic conflict." The ethos here is an interesting blend of radical self-responsibility/ individualism, something utterly modern and Western, leading to radical tribal communitarianism.

Eve Rickert says that she and Franklin Veaux are preparing a rebuttal to the Salon piece. Expect a hum-dinger.


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July 10, 2014

*The Week*: "Why Facebook should embrace polyamory"

For years polyfolks have been agitating for Facebook to let users choose "polyamorous" as their relationship status, rather than having to pick from a list of statuses that are not really correct. Recently a Change.org petition got off the ground asking Facebook "to allow poly people to list who they love":

Facebook currently allows people to name one person they're in a relationship with despite the growing numbers of polyamorous and non-monogamous members. Some people identify as loving more than one person or as being "many loving." We appreciate and thank Facebook for their recent change in allowing all people to put their own gender identities. We ask that they have the same respect for people of all relationship types. They deserve the basic right to be honest about who they care about. Please sign this petition to allow those in open relationships to name their partners truthfully as everybody else does.

This long-simmering discontent bubbled out into mainstream attention this morning, with an opinion piece in The Week — a prestigious newsmagazine with a print circulation of 560,000 and 1.3 million web visits per week. Its readers, it tells advertisers, are "affluent, powerful opinion leaders" with a median household income of $160,000. Its claimed mission: "By analyzing and curating thousands of media sources from around the globe, The Week distills a worldly and balanced, concise view of the issues that matter most."

With that buildup, read on:

Why Facebook should embrace polyamory

The social network can go further than its 49 gender identities

By Cathy Reisenwitz

Facebook relationship statuses

Facebook raised eyebrows earlier this year by unveiling 49 new gender options for users. Hopefully that's just the start of the ubiquitous social network's social boundary-pushing ways.

The next frontier? Unconventional relationship options. Instead of multiple options for relationships with just one other user, Facebook should allow users to be in relationships with multiple users. There's even a Change.org petition demanding as much....

Now let's face it: Facebook is unlikely to make this change anytime soon. But it should.

American social mores are changing. Support for gay marriage is rocketing upwards. Also increasing is our acceptance of trans-identified individuals.

But society's approval of multi-partner relationships is still low.... For the vast majority of Americans, there are two options: monogamy, or cheating.

But many people are living out a third option, such as polyamorous writer Lauren Rumpler: ethical non-monogamy. "People assume that to be faithful, you have to be monogamous," Rumpler explained in a recent interview with me. "To be faithful, you have to be honest....

...Polyamory, a subset of ethical non-monogamy, refers to multiple concurrent sexual relationships, and is generally differentiated from open relationships by long-term, emotionally involved, and/or committed "secondary" relationships. Some poly relationships involve hierarchy, with primary, secondary, (and so on) relationships. And some are non-hierarchical, with no partner being more important than the other. In some poly relationships, "metamours," as partners of partners call each other, have romantic relationships. In others, partners either don't know about each other (Don't Ask; Don't Tell) or remain friendly but not romantically involved.

And woohoo! I'm in it:

The site Polyamory in the News documents the growing coverage this "alternative lifestyle" has received in recent years....

...In the end, the main benefit of ethical non-monogamy is that it helps people who feel unsuited to monogamy enjoy their relationships. It also accepts that no one person is capable of meeting all of your needs. Acceptance of and education around ethical non-monogamy is important because too many people end up in monogamous relationships not because they enjoy monogamy, but because it's the default position, and they never consider other options.

This is where Facebook comes in. Of course, Facebook doesn't exactly grant rights or set policy. But can you imagine how many more people would consider and accept polyamory as a viable and ethical life choice if Facebook gave polyamory its imprimatur?

Cathy Reisenwitz is an editor at Young Voices and a D.C.-based writer and political commentator. She is editor-in-chief of Sex and the State, a columnist at Townhall.com, and a writer for Bitcoin Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, and The Daily Beast, and she has appeared on Fox News and Al Jazeera America. She serves on the Board of Advisors for the Center for a Stateless Society.

Read the whole article (July 10, 2014). It's getting picked up and remarked upon by various other sites.



July 8, 2014

HuffPost Live video show this afternoon (July 8)

Update: Well so HuffPost Live ran a different poly segment in this time slot — featuring Leon Feingold, Robyn Trask, and Eli Sheff instead. They did an excellent job as spokespeople — watch how they do it — but I wonder what happened to the three who were supposed to be scheduled?

Answer: Franklin just posted, "Well, hmm. Apparently I won't be on HuffPo Live today after all. Received an email from the producer about a family crisis, and that's it."

But HuffPo Live rounded up three other people on short notice. Watch here:


Earlier: This in from Angi Becker Stevens:

"Just a heads up, I'm doing a segment on poly on HuffPost Live tomorrow [Tuesday July 8th] at 5:40 [eastern time], hope a lot of you can tune in!"

And from Franklin Veaux: "I've just been invited to participate, and I'm in a small town in Alaska where Internet access is a bit iffy. I'm trying to figure out how to make it happen."

And from Anita Wagner: "I'm in, too."


July 7, 2014

Elisabeth Sheff on her monogamous "poly-affective" life, final installment

Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff published her book The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families last November. A month ago I posted a pointer to the first two installments of her personal story ("Why I am not polyamorous, but you might want to be") at her ongoing blog at Psychology Today magazine's site.

She just posted the tale's final installment. She's the inventor of the term "polyaffective" for relationships that are nonsexual but something more than friendships.

...Together for almost three years, Kira and I have rarely availed ourselves of our relationship flexibility.... We have rarely tested the boundaries of our agreement and are waiting to see how things evolve. So far, making relationship decisions in response to shifting circumstances is working great for us, in sharp contrast to the endless discussions I had with Rick making rules for imagined situations that turned out completely differently in real life.

...Polyaffective relationships are connected by emotional intimacy but not sexuality, either because they have never been sexually engaged or because the sexual portion of the relationship has waned and they remain emotionally intimate.... One common polyaffective configuration is a woman with two male partners who are emotionally close but not lovers. A quieter version of poly identity, polyaffectivity can be more durable and flexible than its romantic counterpart — often able to supersede, coexist with, and outlast sexual interaction.

While Rick and I are no longer in a romantic relationship, we are still in each other’s lives because we co-parent our children. “Splitting up” romantically helped to lessen some of our tension, and over the last eight years that we have been separated I have come to like him a lot better again. Things have not always been smooth, and during several rough patches we have argued over what happened in the past and sometimes money – much like other couples who split up. A big difference for us is that we followed the poly breakup method that entailed lots of communication and trying diligently to work out our problems.... Now we can have a congenial dinner together, chat about the kids, and share holidays together. Rick and Kira get along great, and the kids have three adults in two households who love them, and whom they can count on....

Read the whole piece (July 6, 2014).


Also: here's a real-time online discussion with Sheff that was sponsored last April by the science-geek site io9 (slogan: "We come from the future". The longtime editor-in-chief of io9, Annalee Newitz, wrote an important popular article about polyamory in New Scientist magazine back in 2006 before the current wave of public interest took hold.)



July 6, 2014

No Season 3 of "Polyamory: Married & Dating"

For those who've been asking, Showtime is not doing a Season 3 of its series Polyamory: Married & Dating.

Director Natalia Garcia writes, "We are thrilled that Showtime supported this series for as long as they did. And thanks to the fans who tuned in every week and those of you who supported me throughout this journey."

From Kamala Devi, a central figure in both seasons: "Thank you fans and friends who supported us through this controversial and groundbreaking project, and special thanks to Creator/Director Natalia Garcia for showing the world that monogamy is not the only option. Having two solid seasons on a well-known cable network like Showtime is a HUGE win for humanity."

Here's the San Diego family's continuing Facebook page with news from Kamala and others.

If you're a Showtime subscriber, you can still watch any episodes on demand or on a computer or other device.

My coverage of Season 1 and Season 2, with detailed episode recaps.

And here's an interview with director Natalia Garcia last fall by Heather McGuire of Mindchaotica. Two bits:

What were your motivations and goals for making the show?

I wanted to do something that was sex positive and empowered women sexually – it’s ok for women to be sexually active if they’re ethical about it. Men tend to be the “studs” and women are viewed as whores if they sleep with multiple people. Anyone who does any research or reading knows that women are more sexual than men and I wanted to turn the tables around and show the women as “studs.” Also, the catalyst for me wanting to make this show was when Prop 8 was upheld in California in 2009, it was and is very upsetting to me that the government thinks they can define what our family looks like and tell my gay brothers and sisters that it’s wrong for them to love each other.... So Polyamory: Married & Dating was my answer to both those issues. I wanted to make a show that addressed women’s freedom of choice in relationships and love styles.


Do you feel the show accurately represents the Polyamorous community and lifestyle?

Well, yes and no. There are a million ways to do poly, just like there are a million ways to be gay, to raise kids, or to eat spaghetti. Really. These are the families who put their lives on display so on that level, yes, this is a good representation for people who had no idea about Polyamory. I think my series is an excellent introduction to people who had no exposure to alternative love styles. I didn’t make this show for the poly community, they know what poly is. I made this show for monogamous, mainstream, people who are in traditional relationships and didn’t know they had options aside from cheating or breaking up/divorce.



July 3, 2014

Nerve.com covers a Loving More conference: "A Surprising Weekend Inside the Touchy-Feely World of Polyamory"

For several years I've gone to Loving More's annual Poly Living East conference in Philadelphia. Among the 200 people there last February was a young writer named Alex Mar. She was introduced to the crowd as a journalist covering the event, and she followed Loving More's rules for journalists about non-intrusiveness and respecting confidentiality. I talked to her a bit. And that was all I heard of it.

This morning, five months later, her article finally appeared — at Nerve.com, an edgy online magazine about sex and relationships. The piece is huge, 6,700 words. I'm in it! "...gives the impression of an even skinnier Mister Rogers" — okay, I guess that's about right. But "polished and politic"?

If you wonder what Loving More conferences are like, the article presents a fairly correct picture — if you allow for the writer's much-stated distaste for the idea of processing and "talking everything out" in romance. Which are things you do need to be good at when multi-relationships turn complicated.


A Surprising Weekend Inside the Touchy-Feely World of Polyamory

Polyamory artwork
Allison Pottasch

By Alex Mar

...I figure out where the registration table is.... The sign-in-sheet lady, a perky, voluptuous fortysomething with shaggy blonde hair, wears a flouncy summer dress even though it’s February. She hands me my plastic bag of conference materials and makes sure I peruse the behavior guidelines. “The one thing is: no nudity in the lobby,” she says. “But that should be easy enough!”

Without looking up from her laptop, another volunteer chimes in: “Oh, you’d be surprised.”

...Polys are into talking about feelings, and openness, and contractual agreements. As the Loving More pamphlet reads: “Polyamory requires a commitment to honesty, to sexual safety, to facing one’s own insecurities, to making difficult sacrifices when necessary, and a willingness to be with a partner through some very strong emotions.” Commitment, honesty, sacrifices — not “free” love at all. But some believe it’s worth it: “Despite good hearts and good intentions,” many “repeatedly fail at monogamy, or live miserable lives if they do manage to stay romantically exclusive.” This is why Loving More is sounding a clarion call for poly awareness. “In this way vast numbers of failed relationships might be avoided — and for some, new options for love, joy, and wonder will open.”

...In the evening, everyone gathers in the ballroom for a rah-rah keynote address. Predictably, the aging-hippie set is here in spades; as well as the “practical moms,” in professional slacks and running shoes, many of whom will turn out to be therapists, and the guys who will turn out to be computer programmers. The crowd is dotted with zippered sweaters and blouses with batik patterns, and countless pairs of Tevas with socks. There are tees and khakis and khaki shorts with sneakers; long denim skirts; hair cut in a practical bob or uncut for twenty years; lots of gray hair on the women, regardless of age. (As Loving More director Robyn Trask had told me over the phone, talking about their conference attendees: “Poly people tend to not get plastic surgery. Or wear a lot of makeup. Or color their hair. Or wear clothes that aren’t comfortable.”) I’m surprised by the mix of ages and races: while maybe half the attendees are over-50 and white, there are also a lot more Latinos in the crowd than I would have expected — I’m half-Latin myself, and we skew Catholic and maritally-inclined — plus a strong contingent of grad-student types in their late 20s and early 30s....

Chuy hands the floor over to Robyn and a man by the name of “Alan M.” Alan, who gives the impression of an even skinnier Mister Rogers, runs a poly news blog. He reminds us of the keynote’s topic — “Polyamory Is Here to Stay! Why We’re Excited, and Why You Should Be Too” — and is determined to drive this message home. “Certainly, this is the greatest time in the history of the polyamory movement — and it’s only going to get better!”

Here follows talk of how the poly community is “all about choice” (applause), and how the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned (more applause), as was Utah’s anti-polygamy cohabitation law (even louder now). This feels more like a rally than a lifestyle convention. At the same time, Alan, polished and politic, throws the normals a bone. “We should not let people put out the idea that we are against monogamy, or that we think monogamists are, well, limited, or primitive, or any of those things that people used to say.”

Eventually, as with any decent stump speech, it’s time for the Moving Personal Anecdote: the story of Robyn’s own poly awakening. Robyn was a 20-year-old college student in Texas, engaged to be married, when she soon found herself in love with another man at the same time....

...“I don’t want it to be okay to be polyamorous,” Robyn corrects herself. “I want it to be celebrated — that I can stand up with three partners and make a commitment and have it be just as celebrated as a couple getting married.”

Polyamory artwork
Allison Pottasch

...The reception has a familial air, and not just because entire packs of people here are dating one another: many have come to Loving More conferences five, six, even 10 times.... I speak to a couple, likely in their late 50s, who live on a five-acre lot in small-town New Jersey. She wears a “career woman” sweater and delicate gold necklace, her hair in a neat bob; he’s fit, in a checkered shirt that shouts “casual Friday.” Though they’ve been coming to the Loving More conferences for years, he wasn’t a huge fan of the politics of tonight’s talk. He’s experienced the cost of public polyamory firsthand: not long ago, his girlfriend was involuntarily outed to her family, which led to death threats from her Irish Catholic father. “Things finally seem to be quieting down a bit,” he says, though there’ll be no trips to Ireland in the immediate future....

Saturday morning, in the “tropical” atrium, I eat an omelette — a high-protein breakfast before poly boot camp — and eavesdrop on the table beside me: an L.L. Bean-clad couple with thick gold wedding bands. They’re choosing what sessions to attend, and planning the night ahead.

“John’s parties are more orgy-like,” she says.

“Peter’s parties have orgies all the time,” he says.

I hustle to workshop number one.

Chuy and Robyn’s session [of the three in the time slot] seems the best place for a newbie like myself to start: “Negotiating Boundaries and Polyamorous Relationship Agreements.” I find a seat, packed in with about fifty people (the workshops will all be about this size). Chuy and Robyn, I now learn, are a long-term couple; following an established pattern, he’s a computer guy, and she’s a counselor, specializing in polys and their families.

“When people come to me for counseling, I warn them that I’m not here to keep their marriage together,” she says, “but to help them live in a way that’s true to themselves.”...


...On a simpler level, but with just as much nuclear capacity, is the issue of PDA: who gets to make displays of affection, and when and where? A fiftysomething woman in an elegant shawl and Grace Kelly ‘do says, “For the wife to do that in front of me was okay, but she couldn’t see me do that with her husband.” Another middle-aged woman, this one in an elf-cartoon tee, points out, “For some people, PDAs are the opposite: it’s a way of showing that you’re not cheating.”

Robyn can relate to fear of PDA: she remembers, long ago, visiting a new boyfriend’s house and finding his girlfriend in the living room with her boyfriend, and all four of them just standing there, uncertain of where, politically, they should sit down on the two love seats. “So” — no surprise here — “we created a support group to figure that kind of thing out.”

As silly as it sounds to create a support group to navigate such burning issues as seating arrangements, I have to admit that all this frank talk — nothing’s too small, too trivial, too personal — reminds me of how often people censor their real desires, poly or no. And for women, as I’ve experienced, this can come from a dread of being seen as hysterical or needy or high-maintenance. In poly, however, both men and women seem a little more patient with these piddling negotiations because everyone wins: stomaching some extreme honesty gains you access to things previously unimaginable in a committed relationship.

Then things become even more explicit, as the question arises of when it’s okay to — for me, the gross-out term of the weekend — “fluid-bond.”

Robyn was once in a fluid-bonded relationship with five people, in that her partners and their partners were all strung together through group-consensual unprotected sex. That said, she “would never fluid-bond in the throes of NRE”— a statement you will only hear at a polyamory conference....

Happy hour at the hotel bar tonight is dominated, of course, by the non-monogamous. Not that you could tell: this looks like a cross-section of Americans you’d find at any of our finer airport hotels — if slightly giddier-looking, in clusters, leaning into each other more closely, asking for consent more explicitly....

That's enough — go read the whole article (July 3, 2014).


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July 2, 2014

“Dan turned to me and whispered, ‘I have a good feeling about this one.’ ”


It's standard poly advice: don't even think of trying to fix your marriage by bringing in a third. But there's no standard poly advice that some people somewhere don't successfully ignore. In particular, couples who are otherwise happy solve sexual incompatibility problems this way often enough to notice.

British Telecom (supplying TV and internet to 18 million U.K. customers and operating in 170 countries) runs a tabloidy website that today presented such a story. The people are in Maryland.

Real-life story: My husband let my boyfriend move in

Being in a polyamorous relationship means Dan is happy to share his wife Holly with her boyfriend Tom.

Married for seven years, but incompatible in bed, Holly Ritchey asked her husband if he’d mind her dating other people.

So, with his blessing, the mum-of-three from Maryland, US, set about finding another lover.

And, last month, Dan – who doesn’t want to date anyone else – gave permission for his wife’s boyfriend to move in with them.

“Walking up the aisle in March 2006, there was no doubt in my mind Dan was the only man I’d spend my life with,” Holly, 36, says.

“In my long white dress and tiara, it was all pretty traditional. Now we’re anything but!”

...In 2013, she came across polyamory online. It means having loving relationships with more than one person.

Nervous, she broached it with Dan, but he actually thought it was a great idea. “He told me his goal in life was to make me happy,” Holly says....


...“As the three of us chatted, Dan turned to me and whispered, ‘I have a good feeling about this one,’” Holly recalls. Soon after, Tom stayed over....

...All their friends and family are fully supportive, and the trio couldn’t be happier with their little family....

Read the whole long article (July 2, 2014).

Hey you three, if you're reading this, is there anything you'd like to say about how the article turned out, and how it came to be? And if you're in Maryland, by any chance was it Bmore Poly that got you together?



July 1, 2014

*More Than Two* reviews, and getting it into libraries

Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert made a smart bet, I believe, by delaying publication of More Than Two — their big, much-awaited poly guidebook — until September 2nd. They did it so they could try playing real ball in the pros' league: with a major distributor, professional publicity, getting advance reviews into the trade press, pulling the right levers to get bookstore and library placement, and so on.

That meant learning the book industry's odd rules, matching its schedules, and fronting scary money for a publicist. The reason I think they made a good bet is because the book is great (OK, disclosure, I edited it) and because the time for it is right. I think it could grow legs. It might reach markets that Opening Up, The Ethical Slut, and the other 36 nonfiction books of the modern polyamory movement have never quite cracked.

Why? Because this is the poly book just right for the "second wave" of people now flooding into the subject: the ones following after the "first wave" of us visionaries and social radicals. The second wave includes many more mainstream folks, who've learned about the poly possibility without much alt-culture context by way of newspapers and TV.

Franklin, through his website and blogs, sees these new people blundering into tar pits in record numbers. The guideposts that the book sets up around known problem areas are more insightful than the ones you often see. (And I learned of some brand new tar pits!) The book uses very personal stories to illustrate its points. It details the practices that the poly community, in 30 years of hard trial and error, has discovered to be the most often successful. And it unifies all of these issues with a foundation of specific moral values — again a combination of the obvious and the subtle — from which the best practices arise naturally.

That's why it's nearly 500 pages.


As part of their marketing buildup, Eve and Franklin are calling on you to go online and ask your local library to buy a copy:

More Than Two is now available for pre-order through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, two major book databases. That means libraries and bookstores can start ordering the book — but first, they need to know about it! And for that, we need your help.

Nearly all libraries allow patrons to suggest a purchase. If you’d like to see our book in your local library, please take a moment to let them know. Here’s how....

...They may ask you to tell them why they should buy it. Here are some key selling points....

Read on.

Three reasons to do this:

1) Early library sales will help them promote the book around its publication date.

2) If there's a single book on polyamory that your library should have for inquiring newbies to find, this is it.

3) If you're broke, this is how you can read it yourself for free.


Huffington Post poly writer Louisa Leontiades recently wrote about one aspect of the book in what she calls the first of a "review series":

Romantic Friendship in the Modern Era

...Some [concepts] like consent and communication are the cornerstones to polyamory as we know it; they’ve been hashed, cartoonified, sliced and diced from every angle and in every forum. But More Than Two explores other ideas in depth for the first time. Like so many reviewers, who have been invested in supporting this book to fruition, I intended to pay homage to it with a thorough evaluation, and yet with so many themes covered it’s difficult to write one post to examine them all.

Welcome to the More Than Two Review Series....

Read on (June 12, 2014).


David S. Hall's review of the book in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality (June 11, 2014).


Review by polyactivist Ginny of Philadelphia: More Than Two: The poly book we need right now (July 3, 2014). Excerpt:

...Ultimately, the thing I value most about the book is how honest it is about the hard stuff. The personal stories tell about big mistakes, big hurt, big betrayals. It does not flinch from talking about the losses and changes that can happen as a result of poly. We in the poly community have been working hard to convince the world (and sometimes our own voices of self-doubt) that polyamory can be a healthy, happy, fulfilling way to live, and as a result we tend to downplay the agonizing choices, shattering mistakes, and relentless parade of “learning experiences” that come with the territory. Then, when things do go badly, we tend to feel alone and ashamed, like we’re the screwups who are letting the entire poly community down by having actual serious problems and making actual serious mistakes. (Did I say “we”? Obviously I’m talking about myself here, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.) More Than Two makes it clear that actual serious problems and actual serious mistakes are part of everybody’s poly experience. That the hard times are survivable, and that what matters is facing up to them with honesty, courage, and compassion.


And by Wes Fenza of Living Within Reason: More Than Two: This is the one we've been waiting for (July 6, 2014). Excerpts:

I often get asked “how can I learn about polyamory?” Until now, I haven’t really had a good answer. Now I do: read More Than Two, the new book by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, available September 2.

More Than Two, in a nod to the roots of the poly movement, starts with a foreward by Janet Hardy, one of the authors of The Ethical Slut, the 1997 book often touted as the poly Bible. More Than Two, however, quickly departs from its roots by tackling a subject previously avoided by almost all writing on polyamory: ethics. From pg. 36:

One of the things you’ll hear a lot from poly people is that “there’s no one right way to do poly.” This is true. There are many ways to “do poly” (live polyamorously) that give you a decent chance of having joyful, fulfilling, meaningful relationships with low conflict. But when people say “There’s no one right way,” it sometimes seems they mean there are no bad ways to do poly. We disagree.

And herein lies the need for this book. Too often, the polyamory community, skittish from the insufferable moralizing that’s been directed at us, is averse to anything resembling criticism of our lifestyle. More Than Two is full of such criticism. The book takes a humble, but firm stance. If there is a coherent theme to the book, it would be this: learn from our mistakes....

Part 2 may have been my favorite. It is filled with useful, practical advice for anyone in any kind of relationship. Advice ranges from philosophical (nurture a view that relationships are abundant) to the practical (don’t expect someone to do anything unless they’ve agreed). One of my favorites, from pg. 80: “We would like to suggest the radical notion that being uncomfortable is not, by itself, a reason not to do something, nor to forbid someone else from doing something.” There are so many gems in this section that I was afraid my highlighter would run out of ink....

...Part 2 is mostly about developing the skills required to be polyamorous. In the words of Veaux and Rickert, from pp. 51-52:

We keep hearing that polyamory is hard work. We don’t agree-at least, not for the reasons that people say. But developing the skills to be successful in poly relationships? That’s a different story. Learning to understand and express your needs, learning to take responsibility for your emotions… that’s hard work. Once you’ve developed those skills, poly relationships aren’t hard.

Part 2 gives advice on how to develop the skills necessary for successful poly relationships. It includes advice on emotional management, learning new skills, dealing with jealousy, and two full chapters on communication. Communication, as we all know, if the cornerstone of successful relationships, and the topic is covered extensively. Especially noteworthy are the discussions regarding the differences between communication and coercion, and how to foster good communication from our partners.

Part 2 may have been my favorite. It is filled with useful, practical advice for anyone in any kind of relationship. Advice ranges from philosophical (nurture a view that relationships are abundant) to the practical (don’t expect someone to do anything unless they’ve agreed). One of my favorites, from pg. 80: “We would like to suggest the radical notion that being uncomfortable is not, by itself, a reason not to do something, nor to forbid someone else from doing something.” There are so many gems in this section that I was afraid my highlighter would run out of ink.

...One of my disappointments, however, was in the framing of rules vs. agreements. The authors chose a somewhat arbitrary distinction by which “rules” could be condemned and “agreements” could be acceptable.... The problem with this approach is that many of their criticisms of rules (i.e. they judge people’s character on the basis of adherence to the rules; they have an inverse relationship to trust; they transfer risk onto others; they’re susceptible to creeping concessions) are applicable to agreements as well....


P.S.: Beware of fake-download scams. Scammers have added More Than Two and its cover art to the bait on their hooks. I guess that means it's trending. Take the bait and you get malwared.

Here's where to order it for real.


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