Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 31, 2014

All 42 nonfiction books on modern polyamory

The covers of 16 polyamory books
Sixteen of 'em.

Last updated June 25, 2015.

Here is a descriptive list of every nonfiction book on polyamory published since the movement took shape in the mid-1980s (a few years before the word was coined in 1990 and 1992).

The criteria for inclusion are:

"Nonfiction books entirely or substantially about polyamory as it's understood by today's movement, published since 1984, in English, in a printed edition."

Too many to choose from? I've highlighted my top general-interest recommendations with green bullets.

The titles link to my own reviews and roundups for ten of them, otherwise directly to Amazon or the publisher. The descriptions are mine except as quoted.

This is a much-updated repost of the booklist I created a few years ago. I plan to keep this list up to date forever (now with this same URL).

Interesting statistic: Of all the authors and co-authors, 33 are women, 11 are men, and 1 is FtM trans. That's nearly a 3-to-1 ratio of women to men.

In reverse date order:

The Game Changer: A memoir of disruptive love, by Franklin Veaux (Thorntree Press, September 2015). This is the author's poly relationship autobiography, describing the people and experiences that led him, over the course of his life, to develop the philosophy and principles of ethics that led him to become the world's most-recommended polyamory blogger and co-author of the latest "poly bible," More Than Two. From the publisher's description: " 'I have a question,' Amber would say. And what came next would send a wrecking ball through Franklin and Celeste's comforting illusions. Amber was the first of Franklin’s polyamorous secondary partners to insist on being treated like a person, and the first to peel back the layers of insecurity and fear that surrounded their relationship. Amber was a game changer.

This book is the true story of a game-changing relationship that changed not only Franklin and Celeste’s lives, but the face of the modern polyamory movement."

Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere (Sexuality Studies Series), by Nathan Rambukkana (University of Washington Press, June 2015). From the publisher's description: "Non-monogamy is everywhere: in popular culture, in the news, and before the courts. In Fraught Intimacies, Nathan Rambukkana delves into how polygamy, adultery, and polyamory are represented in the public sphere. His intricate analysis reveals how some forms of non-monogamy are tacitly accepted, even glamourized, while others are vilified and reviled. By questioning what this says about intimacy, power, and privilege, this book offers an innovative framework for understanding the status of non-monogamies in Western society." This is an expensive book from an academic press; get your university library to do the buying.

The Husband Swap: A true story of unconventional love, second edition, by Louisa Leontiades (Thorntree Press, May 2015). Louisa Leontiades — born in Cyprus, raised in England, and living in Sweden — is a passionate, prolific, articulate writer on the poly internet. This is her novelistic memoir of the tumultous, intimate, but ultimately failed quad that launched her and her husband on their current poly trajectory. A reviewer comments, "For my solo poly lifestyle, I find the story aching with couple- and poly-normativity, but really, this can be forgiven since this is a memoir and it's highly unlikely that anyone entering into polyamory for the first time wouldn't try it this way." This is Thorntree Press's edited, faster-paced condensation of the first edition, which was published in 2012.

Love's Refraction: Jealousy and Compersion in Queer Women's Polyamorous Relationships, by Jillian Deri (University of Toronto Press, March 2015). Publisher's description: "In Love’s Refraction, Jillian Deri explores the distinctive question of how and why polyamorists – people who practice consensual non-monogamy – manage jealousy. Her focus is on the polyamorist concept of “compersion” – taking pleasure in a lover’s other romantic and sexual encounters. By discussing the experiences of queer, lesbian, and bisexual polyamorous women, Deri highlights the social and structural context that surrounds jealousy. Her analysis, making use of the sociology of emotion and feminist intersectionality theory, shows how polyamory challenges traditional emotional and sexual norms. Clear and concise, Love’s Refraction speaks to both the academic and the polyamorous community. Deri lets her interviewees speak for themselves, linking academic theory and personal experiences in a sophisticated, engaging, and accessible way." 155 pages.

More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert (Thorntree Press, September 2014). For more than 15 years Franklin Veaux has run one of the world's most read and linked-to poly advice websites (now named More Than Two). But the material in the book is new. This is the first practical guide aimed directly at what Franklin calls the "second wave" of the poly movement: the growing influx of people since about 2010 who have been learning of poly not through alternative cultures but through more mainstream channels, and who are therefore blundering into every stereotypical mistake. (He gets mail. Lots of mail.)

More Than Two is a firmly grounded presentation of the poly-community wisdom that has evolved, through bitter trial and error, about what works and doesn't. And especially, why. Short version: Self-knowledge, communication, and high ethics (defined largely as respect for other people's agency) are not nice extras, they are nearly mandatory for walking the multidimensional tightropes of poly webs without crashing. At 496 pages, the book delves deeply into many topics and strategies based on the authors' experiences and mistakes (which they tell in lots of interspersed stories). These experiences, and those of many other people, led them to derive their foundational philosophy for good relationships of any kind, monogamous included. See the book's website. Disclosure: I'm biased; I edited the book.

Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up), by Cunning Minx (Do The Work, July 2014). Cunning Minx is the creator and hard-working host of the popular Polyamory Weekly podcast, which she began in 2005; it's about to hit its 400th episode. She presents workshops and seminars on ethical non-monogamy at poly conferences and other sex-positive venues, and has counseled thousands of people on the air and in person. One of her most popular classes is "Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up)," about lessons learned in her first years of it. She expanded the notes of the talk into an e-book, then self-published it as this 84-page paperback.

It's snappily written, covers a lot of poly wisdom fast and efficiently, and flows as smoothly as her podcast sounds. Topics include “poly as a custom job,” “write your user manual” (with a template for doing so), “Minx's hot communication tips”, “emotional ownership”, “make guidelines not rules”, “NRE is fun”, and “you don't have to do it alone.” Here's a review by poly author Louisa Leontiades. The printed edition's internal design bears the common stigmata of self-published books (smallish type, too-wide margins, etc.).

Love Alternatively Expressed: The Scoop on Practicing Polyamory in Canada, by Zoe Hawksworth Duff (Filidh Publishing, March 2014). This is the self-published "story of a woman who, along with her partners, has been a Canadian public face for the cause of legal recognition for the loving poly families who raise healthy children in homes where many adults share one love. Her affidavit along with members of four other Canadian families was presented to the BC Supreme Court in the 2010 reference case on Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the Polygamy law). She shares her experiences and wisdom in an entertaining and informative read" (publisher's description). Contains much on the 2010–11 legal saga establishing that informal polyamory (unlike polygamy) is legal in Canada. The design has the common problems of self-published books (small type, too-wide margins, etc.).

The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, by Elisabeth Sheff (Rowman & Littlefield, Nov. 2013). In this long-awaited book, sociologist Elisabeth Sheff presents her conclusions and insights from 15 years of studying poly people and households, and especially their children. While the subjects of her book sometimes show their flaws and awkwardnesses in the clarity of word-for-word-transcripts, overall she finds the adults of her study to be highly capable and mature and their children to be at least as thriving and robust as the average, probably more so. Here's more.

The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and insights for managing open relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, Sept. 2013). The poly movement has long outgrown its early utopian idea that good polys don't get jealous. Today the community universally teaches that jealousy is normal, and what matters is how everyone understands and handles it. The conventional wisdom is that breakthroughs can come from examining and analyzing it: sometimes by rooting up your own fears and insecurities to analyze under bright light — and sometimes as a valuable early-warning signal that some real problem exists external to you, sensed by the gut before your conscious mind sees it.

Kathy Labriola has professionally counseled hundreds of poly individuals and groups in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. Drawing on this long practice, she has compiled a big (8½ by 11 inch) open-relationship jealousy workbook. It presents 42 practical exercises. They are embedded in chapters on figuring out whether an open relationship is right for you, understanding your jealousy and its roots, determining its triggers, determining whether it may be rational for the situation at hand, and intervention strategies both for managing jealousy and for addressing common external problems. The book includes chapters on best-practice communication skills for polyfolks, and jealousy tips and techniques from other professionals with expertise in open relationships.

Not Your Mother's Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships, by Samantha Fraser (Creative Junction, May 2013). Samantha Fraser is an outspoken poly activist in Toronto, organizer of Toronto's annual Playground conference, and keynote speaker at Canada's first PolyCon. She and her husband proudly represent the swinger/poly interface. This book presents her many insights on the practicalities of making open relationships work, drawn from her abundant personal experience. If you don't like small print, get the Kindle or ebook edition.

Polyamory and Pregnancy, by Jessica Burde (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 2013). Burde is the mother of three children born into polyamorous relationships, has lived in polyfamilies for much of the last 10 years, and has seen a great deal of the good and the bad. She discusses many  considerations you may not have thought of, starting before conception and continuing through birth. Burde runs the thoughtful Polyamory on Purpose blog of practical information and advice. The book is the first in a series of Polyamory on Purpose Guides that she plans to publish. Future titles, she says, include The Poly Home, Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous, and Raising Children in Polyamory.

Rewriting the Rules: An Integrative Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships, by Meg Barker (Routledge, September 2012). This is an insightful self-help guide to digging out unexamined social assumptions that govern your relationship life, looking at them directly, and deciding which to keep and which to remake. Barker has long been a poly activist as well as an academic and relationship therapist. The mono-or-poly choice is only one of seven relationship topics that she presents for readers to examine, but all of them are important for poly living. Review by Louisa Leontiades.

The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on Guide to Open Sexual Relationships, by Françoise Simpère (Skyhorse Publishing, February 2011). Simpère is a widely published and quoted open-relationship advocate in France. This is a translation of her Aimer Plusieurs Hommes (2003). Writes Franklin Veaux: "Describes the author's process of coming to her own polyamorous arrangement, and talks about the rules and ideas that keep her relationships healthy and happy. It's written from a very specific perspective (long-term couples who want lovers on the side), and as such describes only one particular kind of polyamory."

Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic by Raven Kaldera (Alfred Press, December 2010). From the publisher's description: "Power Circuits is an alliance between two alternative lifestyles: polyamory... and power dynamics: relationships that choose to be consciously and deliberately unequal in power, such as dominant/submissive or master/slave.... Navigates the waters of effective polyamory and power exchanges, with many essays from the brave practitioners who swim there."

Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships, by Kathy Labriola (Greenery Press, October 2010). Labriola is a nurse and counselor in the San Francisco Bay Area who has professionally advised hundreds of poly families and groups and observed the poly scene for more than 20 years. She offers distilled practical advice for poly problems from this long experience. See review by The Unlaced Librarian/ Leandra Vine (Jan. 5, 2015).

What Does Polyamory Look Like? Polydiverse Patterns of Loving and Living in Modern Polyamorous Relationships, by Mim Chapman (iUniverse, August 2010). When people say "I'm poly," they may mean very different things. This is a lighthearted but serious guide to navigating among five major styles of polyamory widely practiced in the community today.

Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships, by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik (Findhorn Press, August 2010). A relationship coach in the Netherlands who specializes in multipartner counseling describes the commonest recurring patterns and problems among her clients, and means to their resolution. She devotes 12 chapters to 12 composite case histories, with very different people and situations.

Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah Anapol (Rowman & Littlefield, July 2010). One of the founding mothers of the modern polyamory movement in the 1980s and 1990s takes a careful, sociologist's look at the state of the movement she helped to create.

Border Families, Border Sexualities in Schools, by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2010). A health and social-development professor in Australia "explores the experiences of bisexual students, mixed sexual orientation families, and polyamorous families in schools."

Understanding Non-Monogamies, edited by Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge (Routledge, 2010; in paperback 2013). An academic collection of 25 papers and essays on styles of open relationships in various cultural contexts, especially in different parts of today's poly culture.

Beyond Monogamy: Lessons from Long-Term Male Couples In Non-Monogamous Relationships, by Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears (free ebook February 2010; issued in paperback March 2012). This is a comprehensive report on the authors' famous Couples Study of gay couples and their approaches to nonmonogamy. A small number were living in triads or other poly families, and a larger number had considered such arrangements. The authors' description: "Although non-monogamy is prevalent in the gay community, information about how couples navigate this terrain is surprisingly lacking. As a long-term couple (36 years) we had experienced ups and downs and an on-going evolution in our approach to living in a non-monogamous relationship. We were curious about the experience of others and assumed many long-term couples might offer valuable perspectives and hard-earned lessons. The study summarizes data from the 86 couples we interviewed and provides many verbatim quotes illustrating themes, issues and things to consider."

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century, by Curtis R. Bergstrand and Jennifer Blevins Sinski (Praeger, November 2009). The first 40% of this book is a study of the swinger subculture and the people in it. The second 60% is a critique of monogamous ideology in Western society, and this, Bergstrand has told poly conferences, he considers to be the most important part of the book.

Many Hearts, Many Loves, Many Possibilities: The Polyamory Relationship Workbook, by Christina Parker (Alfred Press, 2009). From the publisher's description: "This book provides a tool for everyone seeking to look beyond their fears, fantasies, and stereotypes and step into the reality of polyamory relationships.... A combination of information, insight, and detailed questionnaire, it is designed to help people get a clear understanding of who they are, what they want, and what they need in order to maintain a fulfilling relationship of any kind."

Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet, by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (North Atlantic Books, September 2009). This ethereal, philosophical polemic for multiple love as an opening to saving the world spends much of its time diverted into embarrassing New Age HIV denialism.

The Ethical Slut, Second Edition; A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy (Ten Speed Press, March 2009). Expanded by 30% and now aiming for a wider audience, this is a new edition of the 1997 word-of-mouth classic published by Greenery Press (for which Hardy used the pseudonym "Catherine A. Liszt"). It is still the most popular book on the networked or "free agent" model of poly — though it now includes an added chapter on opening an existing couple relationship.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino (Cleis Press, May 2008). If The Ethical Slut was the bible of free-agent "single" poly, Opening Up became the top choice for couples looking to open an existing committed relationship — of whatever sort. Tristan Taormino, a brassy star among America's sexerati, did exhaustive work interviewing more than 100 people and couples in a dizzying variety of open and poly arrangements successful and not. Learn from them.

Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, by Jenny Block (Seal Press, May 2008). With a husband, daughter, and long-term girlfriend, Dallas writer Jenny Block fearlessly puts herself out as an exemplar of successful open marriage and bold Texas feminism.

The Polyamory Handbook: A User's Guide, by Peter J. Benson (Author House, March 2008). A longtime poly-community stalwart and activist compiles a big, workmanlike guide to every Poly 101 and 201 issue you can think of.

Open Fidelity: An A-Z Guide, by Anna Sharman (Purple Sofa Publications, September 2006). A small book (36 pages) from England. From the cover description: "A brief introduction to most of the important issues around monogamy and non-monogamy, honesty and fidelity. It covers all the plus points of honest open relationships and many of the potential problems, from jealousy and time management to telling your kids – in a simple alphabetical format, with cross-references for easy navigation and quotes from those with lived experience of Open Fidelity." (Now available free online.)

Polyamory Many Loves: The Poly-Tantric Lovestyle: A Personal Account, by Janet Kira Lessin (Author House, 2006). The controversial creator of the New Agey "World Polyamory Association" publishes many of her internet pieces in book form.

Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts, by Raven Kaldera (Llewellyn Publications, 2005). Publisher's description: "Relating polyamory to astrology and the elements (air, fire, water, earth, and spirit), the author addresses all aspects of the polyamorous life, including family life, sexual ethics, emotional issues, proper etiquette, relationship boundaries, and the pros of cons of this lifestyle. Kaldera discusses polyamory as a path of spiritual transformation and shares spells, rituals, and ceremonies." Pete Benson comments, "There is also plenty of good wisdom here about polyamory in general, so if Paganism is not your spiritual path, do not be turned off."

Plural Loves: Designs For Bi And Poly Living, edited by Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio (The Haworth Press, January 2005). A collection of 18 substantial academic and general-audience essays that, according to the introduction, "point to the effervescence in current bisexuality and polyamory discourse and the benefits of having them resonate with each other."

Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful, by Anthony Ravenscroft (Fenris Brothers/ Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2004). This book is idea-rich, opinionated, idiosyncratic, and resolutely hard-headed — bordering on cynical — but it needed an editor; it's wordy and overwritten. Contains food for thought if you can work past its annoyances. (The bibliography, with commentary, includes books important to the development of poly thought earlier than this present list, from James Ramey back to Joan and Larry Constantine to Robert Rimmer to Wilhelm Reich to Judge Ben Lindsey to... Niccolo Machiavelli??)

The Sex and Love Handbook: Polyamory! Bisexuality! Swingers! Spirituality! (and even) Monogamy! A Practical Optimistic Relationship Guide, By Kris A. Heinlein and Rozz M. Heinlein, no relations to science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (Do Things Records and Publishing, 2004). I haven't seen this; others call it lightweight and carelessly edited. Publisher's description: "Explores the most sensual sexual organ: the human brain. Explore the emotions, philosophies, risks and rewards of reaching toward your next sexual level. Nothing is out of bounds except dishonesty and hypocrisy." Swinger oriented.

Poly Communication Survival Kit: The Essential Tools for Building and Enhancing Relationships, by Robert McGarey (Human Potential Center, 2004, 2001, 1999). "The goal of this book: to provide in brief and usable form all the basic tools you need in order to communicate well, even in difficult circumstances." McGarey helped to spread learnable methods for excellent communication that the poly culture now widely holds as ideals. Currently available in a new printing (2013) and as an e-book. Says poly coach Dawn Davidson, "It's still good solid information."

Spiritual Polyamory, by Mystic Life (iUniverse, 2003). A small collection of the author's essays and musings to "help you to open your mind and heart to a fresh approach to intimacy."

Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships, by Wendy-O Matik (Defiant Times Press, 2002). An important early poly book among punk, anarchist, and radical street cultures, especially in the Bay Area, where Matic remains active today inspiring and guiding people in alternative relationships. Presents thoughtful guidelines for do-it-yourself relationship structures. Says Franklin Veaux: "Explores the realities of day-in, day-out nonmonogamy, particularly as a conscious political and social act."

The New Intimacy: Open-Ended Marriage and Alternative Lifestyles, by Ronald Mazur (iUniverse, 2000). From the publisher's description: "Now is an opportune and urgent time to give voice to the intimacies of alternative lifestyles, including open marriage.... It is to non-traditionalists, to those ready for new life and love affirmations, that this book is offered with joy. The evolution of human consciousness prepares the way for the unfolding of our universal polyamorous potential. Let the pioneers be unafraid to move beyond the ancient limits of relationships to the new intimacy of responsible erotic freedom."

The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex, edited by Marcia Munson and Judith Stelboum (The Haworth Press, 1999). From the publisher's description: "If your own lesbian relationship lies outside the traditional monogamous couple model, you're definitely not alone. You'll find successful models of relationship styles from cover to cover.... Calls upon a broad scope of writers, professional women and academics.... Focuses on the social implications of this love phenomenon, bringing it into a more inclusive circle of discussion for lesbians, educators, and students of sociology and sexology."

Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide For All Women Whose Hearts are Open to Multiple Sexualoves, or, How to Keep Nonmonogamy Safe, Sane, Honest and Laughing, You Rogue!, by Celeste West (Booklegger Publishing, 1996). Comments Sex Geek blogger Andrea Zanin: "Upbeat, quirky, explicitly feminist, and sprawling in scope, this one’s a mishmash of advice columns, conceptual musings, practical advice and personal insights. A bit essentialist but full of yummy ideas nonetheless."

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits: Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships, by Deborah Anapol (IntiNet Resource Center, 1997; a revision and expansion of her original Love Without Limits: The Quest for Sustainable Intimate Relationships: Responsible Nonmonogamy, 1992). Deborah Anapol's book was the bible of the early modern poly movement and for some time was practically its only book. She takes a spiritual approach to love and sex that continues to resonate with some people and not others. Introduced seminal insights on jealousy and how to handle it.

Breaking the Barriers to Desire: Polyamory, Polyfidelity and Non-Monogamy – New Approaches To Multiple Relationships, edited by Kevin Lano and Claire Parry (Five Leaves Publications [Nottingham, UK], 1995). From the introduction: "This book will aim to show that 'responsible non-monogamy' can be both a positive choice at a personal level and a radicalising current in society, providing a true alternative to the dependence and exclusion of traditional monogamy and the lack of responsibility and honesty in covert non-monogamy." Writes a reviewer: "There are personal stories, some chunky theoretical pieces, a history of non-monogamy, an article about the life of a non-monogamous woman in the early 1800s, and an exploration of Christian theological justifications for monogamy and polygyny... all in 137 pages."

Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer, 3rd edition, by Ryam Nearing (PEP Publishing, 1992, 1989, 1984). If there was one central instigator of the modern polyamory movement, Ryam Nearing would be it. Focusing especially on closed polyfidelity, she was the sparkplug who built Loving More magazine and its conferences, the movement's central nexus before the internet. Her early how-to manual The Polyfidelity Primer went through several editions and is now a hard-to-find collector's item.


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August 28, 2014

Polygamy and polyamory decriminalization becomes law in Utah

Kody Brown poses with his wives (from left) Janelle, Christine, Meri and Robyn in a promotional photo for TLC's reality TV show Sister Wives.

The victory that the polygamous Kody Brown family won in federal court last December became final with a judge's ruling yesterday (August 27th) — unless the state of Utah succeeds in overturning it on a possible appeal.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last December 13th that Utah cannot continue to outlaw cohabitation with another person while married, nor can it outlaw people calling each other "husbands" and "wives" informally as long as they do not purport to have more than one official marriage. Yesterday, Judge Waddoups additionally ruled that the Browns are entitled to attorneys' fees, settling the last count in the case. It is now legal for three or more people to live together as partners in Utah.

At least for now. The state has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

The Browns are members of a small Mormon sect, but legally they are identical to a secular polyamorous group. They claim only one legal marriage among them (between Kody and his first wife); the others file their taxes as single and do not otherwise claim marriage benefits. Attempting to have two marriage licenses active at once remains against the law.

A National Public Radio story, with links:

Federal Judge Strikes Down Part Of Utah's Polygamy Ban

...The case is high profile partly because the suit was brought forth by the Brown family, the stars of the TLC show Sister Wives. It's also important because as it works its way through the appeals process, it has the potential to become a landmark.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reads the decision, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups says the part of the law that prohibits cohabitation between adults to whom they are not legally married violates both the First and 14th Amendments.

The paper adds:

"Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

"Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

"In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns' constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns' rights to free speech, religion and equal protection."

...In a blog post, the Brown family's lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said he hopes that the AG will not appeal the case. He said that Americans should not fear prosecution solely because of the structure of their family.

"Neither the Attorney General nor the state of Utah should fight a ruling that reaffirmed freedom of religion and equal protection," Turley wrote. "Utah is a state that was founded by citizens seeking those very rights against government abuse. Utah is a better place because of the courageous decision of Judge Waddoups and the commitment of the Brown family in defense of our Constitution."

See the original (Aug. 28, 2014).

The judge's ruling.

Good backgrounder from Buzzfeed, with more links: Polygamy Is Legal In Utah, For Now.

From an Associated Press story:

"This was a historic ruling that I believe will stand the test of time," [the Browns' lawyer Jonathan] Turley said. He said the family would continue the legal battle to an appeals court or even the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The Browns said they were forced to leave Utah for Las Vegas in 2011 in fear of prosecution. Turley said Wednesday he didn't know if the Brown family would return in the wake of the ruling.

"The important thing is that they now can move back to Utah," Turley said, adding that the family has missed the state. "They now have the choice."

Fundamentalist Mormon polygamists believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The mainstream Mormon church strictly prohibits the practice.

Utah governor Gary Herbert is urging his attorney general to appeal. From thenewcivilrightsmovement.com: "Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is fighting to retain his position in the November election, will likely appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Reyes has also mounted an expensive full-frontal attempt to defend Utah's same-sex marriage ban."

New York magazine notes,

Antiquated anti-cohabitation laws are apparently still on the books in three states: Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi. And of course, plenty of non-Mormons cohabit with multiple partners as well. They just call it polyamory.


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August 25, 2014

Review of the play MMF, and other poly theater pieces

MMF play logo
Remember my announcement about MMF, a new play in New York about a poly breakup?

Well, some of you went, and here's a review. A key excerpt:

By Allan Hunter

...Within the first 4 minutes of the lights going up, Dean states that he's missing someone he is "not supposed to miss", which both introduces [his] reminiscences and sets the emotional tone of the threesome's knotted tangle of unspoken rules and undefined obligations.

Mike Mizwicki, Courtney Alana Ward and Andrew Rincón gave a compellingly stark and believable portrayal of anguished individuals in interaction. Their respective characters, Dean, Jane and Michael, exuded a most infectious frustration that quickly made me want to backhand each of them in turn. Polyamory is a lifestyle choice that requires communication and emotional patience and honesty, a point illustrated in MMF by displaying the outcome of their absence. At no point did any of the trio attempt to discuss with the others what it was that they were doing and how they ought to go about doing it. Not once was the word "polyamory" mentioned, nor was there any sign at any time that they'd noticed that there exists a polyamorous community or that polyamorous people have issues that might be of concern to them. It was not obvious whether they'd ever discussed whether they would opt for sexual exclusivity among the three of them... but we see both Dean and Michael becoming upset when two of the members of the trio have sex in the absence of the third and again when one has sex with an outside person.

We observe them flying blindly in the fog, trying to relate to each other without definitions.... All three are immature and insecure; they badger each other, deliberately inflicting guilt or trying to evoke a sense of obligation as they pry at each other for reassurances that they then cannot believe....

MMF is a well-wrought drama rendered by the three actors in evocatively unsettling tones and phrases and punctuated with awkward pauses. The material is solidly and believably human, the characters three-dimensionally real. But, as my partner Anais remarked, "I'd hate for people to see this and think that this is what polyamory is like!" (I replied, "Yes, that would be as bad as seeing Romeo and Juliet and thinking, 'Oh, so that's what dating is like!'")...

Go read his whole review (Aug. 22, 2014).

Theater buff Mischa Lin of Open Love NY notes,

The play was pretty good, well-acted and one of the more realistic portrayals of a poly situation. I wish it had a little more awareness of polyamory, but this was a scenario where people just fall into it without the education and support of a community. From that perspective, The Three of Us, the winning play in my playwright competition [link], was a far superior play because at least one of the characters actually understood what polyamory is and acted with intention. Those are the stories that will be far more interesting than the accidental threesome stories we’ve seen so far in the vast majority of drama.


Another, more aware piece of theater is Lust & Marriage, a one-woman performance that played earlier this year in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Seattle and Portland. From the show's description:

Eleanor O’Brien
Dance Naked Productions Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien explores the search for love, lust and life partners in this candid look at modern marriage. Does hot monogamy exist? Can polyamory save the happily ever after? #WWDSD? (“What Would Dan Savage Do?”) In this revealing solo performance, O’Brien examines cultural beliefs around monogamy, monotony, jealousy and polyamory from a highly personal perspective. With heaps of humor...

Two-minute trailer.

Here's a review by Ron Richardson; you know him from Cunning Minx's Polyamory Weekly (June 8, 2014).

review by SeattlePolyChick (June 7, 2014).

And another, in Willamette Week (Jan. 14, 2014).

Interested in more poly theater? Here are all my posts tagged "plays" (including this one; scroll down).



August 23, 2014

Stories from the Polycule and Game Changer: two more books coming from Thorntree Press

When Franklin Veaux first tried to interest publishers in the book that would become More Than Two, they told him they weren't interested in a how-to poly book; they wanted his personal memoir. So he and his sweetie Eve Rickert, who knew the writing and publishing business, founded their own imprint, Thorntree Press, to bring out More Than Two, which they ended up writing together.

The book launches in 10 days. A few hundred are already in circulation, drawing great reviews. Amazon starts shipping it then, and Eve and Franklin will begin their West Coast book tour.

They hoped from the outset that this would work well enough for them to keep the company going and publish more alt-relationship nonfiction. Now they have two additional books in the works for 2015, and they're looking for more. One is Franklin's memoir, to be titled Game Changer, which he's currently writing. (If mainstream publishers thought it would sell, it's probably a good bet.) The other will be Elisabeth Sheff's Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families, which she's had brewing since last winter.

Elisabeth is the sociologist who published The Polyamorists Next Door nearly a year ago. Much of that book is about her years of work researching polyfamilies and their kids. Stories from the Polycule will be, according to Thorntree,

an anthology of work from people living in polyamorous families. Editor Elisabeth Sheff is currently seeking submissions for the anthology. Are you a member of a poly family and willing to share your story (anonymously) with the world? Consider writing a brief entry.

Submissions are due by October 15.

Submissions can:

-- Range in length from a few sentences to 3,000 words long, depending on your age, the format you select, and how much you have to say.

-- Take the form of essays, short stories, poetry, drawings, photographs, or whatever else you create that can be depicted in a two-dimensional format.

-- Use pseudonyms or real names — be as anonymous or out as you wish.

-- Come from anyone who identifies as a member of a polyamorous family composed of all adults, adults and kids, or some other mix of folks who identify as family.

To submit a contribution to Stories from the Polycule, please email them to drelisheff {at} gmail.com by October 15, 2014.

Topics you might consider include (but are not limited to)....

Read on.



August 20, 2014

Offbeat Bride: "Angi & Bret's polyamorous backyard wedding"

Offbeat Bride features another poly wedding story with lots of pictures. This one's by activist Angi Becker Stevens, who unofficially married her boyfriend while still married to her husband, who assisted at the wedding. She wrote about their plans nearly a year ago in Salon and more recently in another story in Offbeat Bride. It all happened as planned.

Angi & Bret's polyamorous backyard wedding

Poly V and daughter
New husband Bret, Angi, daughter, legal husband Kory. (Photo: Josh Barnhart) 

As a polyamorous couple having a non-legal ceremony, our wedding was inherently pretty offbeat. We had a very small budget, and a primary goal of having a celebration that really felt like a reflection of our personalities and our relationship. We DIYed practically everything, from the invitations to the 400 paper flowers for the bouquets and the centerpieces to the iTunes reception playlist to the ceremony itself. My other partner, Kory (who I've been legally married to for 12 years), cooked the amazing food (a vegetarian burrito bar!) for our reception....

Our ceremony took place in an amphitheater in a gorgeous park that has a lot of personal significance for us.... We created the ceremony from scratch, with the help of Offbeat Bride's tremendously helpful Ceremony 101 article....

...Sometime during the reception when we were drinking and dancing, my other partner, Kory, said excitedly to me, "We did it! We made a wedding!" He was really happy with how smoothly the catering went and felt very satisfied after the immense amounts of work he had put into it....

Read on, with lotsa pix (Aug. 20, 2014).

And here's a previous poly wedding featured at Offbeat Bride, with links to more.



August 19, 2014

Times of India: "Polyamorous relationships are a reality. Are you game?" And, a seed in a remote village.

The world's largest-circulation English-language newspaper prints this today in its Bangalore edition:

Polyamorous relationships are a reality. Are you game?

By Parinatha Sampath & Dhwani Desai

In a world in which variety is the spice of life, more and more people are now opening up to the idea of being polyamorous, i.e., being in more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved....

Polyamorous is about being honest

"Being polyamorous doesn't mean that you are cheating on your partner," clarifies Santosh Srinivas, a city-based consultant. A polyamorous person is honest and open with his/her partner about their desire to be in a relationship with them and other people at the same time, and also seeks their approval.... Vasanth R, a consultant, who has been polyamourous for three years, also emphasizes on the need for honestly. "It is very important to be honest with your partner. Such relationships are only possible if all partners are absolutely open. Everyone involved should also like each other, or it will never work."

Free of complications

But does being in several relationships tend to get complicated? "Not at all. Issues only tend to crop up if one partner gets clingy. A lot of it has to do with maturity. Sure, there's jealousy, but one needs to weigh their options and see what is more important — jealousy or living a life based on certain principles. I'm sure betrayal does take place even in polyamorous relationships, but that is the case with any relationship. It shouldn't stop you from looking for new relationships. Everything must be talked about and reasoned out," says Vasanth.

It's not all about sex....

Monogamy is overrated

Priya Suresh, a homemaker, has been married for nine years and says that she would like to explore polyamory since she thinks that monogamy is unnatural.... Also, I feel that such relationships will change the way men think about women. Men tend to have the upper hand in relationships and when both partners are open to seeing others, the woman will not be taken for granted."

Read the whole article (Aug. 19, 2014).

Also, in The Times of India last month: a short description of the open-marriage option for those looking for alternatives to traditional marriage (July 7, 2014):

This one is probably one of the hardest relationship trends and is mostly misunderstood by couples. An open marriage or an open relationship is being together but having an understanding that if you wish to [step] out of the relationship, you are free to do that without being questioned or emotionally targeted by the other person.

And a while back, at least one edition ran an interview with the U.K's Meg Barker, poly researcher and author of the then-recently-published book Rewriting the Rules.


In other poly news from India, remember the independent movie 3 on a Bed? Its starry-eyed fimmakers, Rajdeep Paul and Sarmistha Maiti, went on to write the story as a novella and publish it as part of a book by the same name.

"3 in a bed" polyamory movie poster from India

From Rajdeep Paul's Facebook page for the book and movie:

By destiny’s design a film was made and a book written by our hands by the name of “3 on a Bed,” but its reach went so far beyond our wildest dreams that it keeps cropping up surprises on us each passing day. From being embraced by the polyamorous community in Australia, to a website being made by admirers in free, to being termed as “post postmodern” by a bunch of sociologists in Hyderabad University....

.... but what happened today takes the cream. At around 5 pm, I get a call from a boy who says he has read the book and wants to talk to me. The boy heralds from a small village in Panshkura, Medinipur, West Bengal called Narayan Murailpur, where there is no electricity and mobile signal is so weak that the phone disconnected 8 times within a 10 minute conversation. AND this particular boy, Shankha Chakravorty, has read the book recommended by a theater worker from Panshkura, and he is completely overwhelmed by the story “3 on a Bed.” Not only he, but a few others in their village have read it despite their difficulty with English…. He has even narrated the story to his mother and sister and they have connected with it too!!!... In his words… “You could have made it titillating and raunchy if you wanted to… but what you have done instead is a beautifully touching love story… there is nothing dirty, nothing ugly (kono noshtami nei, kono nongrami nei)… how can one not connect with it….” His only request to me, “Please write something for us in Bengali…” What more can a creator want?

Here are all my posts tagged India/South Asia (including this one; scroll down).



August 17, 2014

Is this story awful for polys, or exactly our point?

Your Tango

Here's one that some people will see as confirming the worst stereotypes about the danger of open relationships ("This never ends well." "Totally playing with fire." "Reeks of 1970s narcissism."). And others, if they read the full text to the end, may see it as exactly what can turn out great about what we're doing.

It just appeared in the popular online women's magazine Your Tango, "Your Best Love Life."

Asking For An Open Marriage Made Me A Better Wife And Mom

monogamy or polyamory?
By Emelie Archer Pickett

The wild calls to us like a far-off wolf pack and most of us have forgotten how to answer.

We are scared of the dark forests, of our own depressions and ecstasies, of anyplace untamed and free … and yet we ache for freedom....

After a decade of being saddled by picket fences, a fine marriage, taut physique, moderate career success, and an enviable collection of high-end shoes, my body and heart yearned for real unleashing.

Then, four years ago, I heard my desires howling.

Not knowing how to be wild, I headed to amazon.com for ideas in book form, eventually landing on a topic light years away from my good-girl tendencies: open marriage. Intrigued and intimacy starved, I followed my curiosity into what would become one of the most surprising experiences in my life.

After devouring books about polyamory, open relating, and primordial urges, I sat my husband down to have the talk....

He, also being slightly unsatisfied, eventually agreed to opening our relationship....

For a little while, the theory of openness played out like the books said it would: I felt immense gratitude and newfound attraction for my husband for trusting me enough to set me free, even as he struggled to make any connections beyond ours. One morning after waking from an encounter, I was absolutely flooded with emotion; not toward the man in my bed, but toward my own husband.

It seemed to be working. I looked like I had light beams pouring from my body. I was purified by my own discomfort, by the permission I gave myself to explore, by the ruthless honesty of terribly uncomfortable conversations I could no longer avoid.

And then, one day a few months later, this new wild life began to unravel.

It started with a profile photo from an online dating site that I joined as a joke.

His face appeared in my inbox and a lightning bolt shivered down my spine. I immediately knew I was in trouble.

I said yes anyway....


...So, I leapt, extracting myself as gracefully as possible from a marriage I never intended to leave.

...My tiger man moved to Peru, following a lifelong dream to live and work in the Amazonian jungle. I moved into a small artistic apartment and started rebuilding a life of my own. My practice husband lost his job, moved in with his dad, and we worked through how to lovingly co-parent our son amidst chaos and upheaval [yes there's a kid in this –Ed.].

...My Tiger and I eventually married (three times, just for good measure), laying down roots in a new home together after his stint in Peru.

We are expecting a child together. Big brother (and his dad) are genuinely excited for us.

...Together we have built a golden life out of the ashes of what came before.

My open marriage gifted me with so much: I learned how to tell the truth, to stand up for my hunger, to be brave. Those few precious months were the doorway to my forbidden life: the life I couldn't have dared to believe in....

Read the whole story (Aug. 15, 2014).

The very first commenter writes,

Soooooo grateful for the telling of your story, Emelie... for now I realize that I am not alone in what occurred in my own marriage. I entered into my marriage deeply in love and fully intending that it would last 'forever'. Yet as the years went on and our personal growth and changes occurred, along with extremely different parenting styles not known before we had children... we both began to recognize that a change was occurring that we could not control. We still loved each other as close friends... but what was apparent is that we were not compatible as lovers and life intimate partners any longer... and trying to force it was making us both miserable, which was spilling out onto our sons. Yet we didn't believe in the usual love/hate, married/divorce models. We didn't hate each other. We were close committed friends. We also didn't want to cause the psychological schisms in our kids' lives the divorces we saw happening around us did to theirs. So we sought another way.

For a time we chose to open our relationship. And then, over time we each chose new intimate partners... and continued to live on the same property in separate houses, gifting our sons, their friends, and our community with a new way of love and family in the world. One that doesn't pretend that love does not change when we grow. Or pretend that now the one we once loved, we now hate and thus take them for all we can. Our sons now in their 20s have thanked us repeatedly for choosing this way. And many in our community have come forward to tell how us deeply touched and inspired they are by experiencing a 'new way' of living family into a community that flourishes from a ground of love.

The "game-changer relationship" is a tough issue that Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert address head on in their book More Than Two. As they stress, you cannot wish this risk away or successfully rule it away. I don't know if they invented the term "game changer," but I'm seeing it enter the poly vocabulary even before the book's official publication date.


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August 15, 2014

Dan Savage apologizes to polyfolks

Dan Savage once had a rocky time with polys, starting with an ignorant little snark. Later it got better. Now he publishes a reader's letter and admits that yeah, he was an asshole back then.

Letter of the Day: Happy Anniversary

As a long time reader of yours, I've been gleefully awaiting this day for three years. You see, I am the unicorn part of a poly triad, and today marks the three year anniversary for myself, my husband, and my wife — we aren't legally married, of course, but our commitment ceremony was beautiful nonetheless....

So, Dan, it's with a certain degree of smugness that I ask: will you wish us a happy three year anniversary?

—Totally Reached It, Ability Doubter


You're doubtless referencing this asshole remark of mine [and here he quotes me! –Ed.]:

Savage, a long-partnered gay man who coined the word "monogamish" for his somewhat open relationship, used to snark at polys. He famously remarked that he'd been to poly multi-marriage ceremonies but never to a poly third-anniversary party. That prompted many long-term polyfamilies to speak up as counterexamples, jumping up and down to try to catch his attention.

You're not the first poly triad to let me know that they've made it to their leather anniversary, TRIAD, but I'm thrilled to hear from you nonetheless. Congrats and best wishes to you, your wife, and your husband.... But... technically speaking... my snark still stands, TRIAD: I have been to a few poly weddings but I've never been to a poly third-anniversary party. Still. I know they happen — yours is happening — but somehow I never seem to rate an invitation. Was it something I said?

Read the whole piece (Aug. 14, 2014).

A commenter comments, "I've never been to anyone's third anniversary party. Who the hell has third anniversary parties?"



August 12, 2014

More Than Two, latest news & reviews

More than Two poly book cat picture
The shameless cat-picture sales tactic. Send them yours (see Aug. 13)

Three weeks before the official release date, here's more of the buzz that Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert's book More Than Two is stirring up.

● First off, they just announced their planned West Coast fall book tour, with 18 events scheduled so far. The book's Facebook page.

● Long review of the book by Aggie on her Solopoly blog. Excerpts:

Much-needed focus on the ethics of polyamory

By aggiesez

...If you read most books on polyamory, they tend to concern structure and feelings more than ethics.

That’s a problem.... Ethics guide you on how and why you wish to behave, rather than merely acting on impulse or reflex. Ethics nudge you to consider what kind of person/partner you really are, or would like to be. Because ultimately, your most important relationship is your relationship with yourself.

Most people, even poly people, don’t think very deeply or often about relationship ethics, since doing so inevitably gets uncomfortable. That’s why it’s common for people to “wing it” with polyamory (just try stuff and see what happens), or conversely, to start from a heavily rules/rank-based approach....

In my experience, getting a grip on your own values and ethics is the most effective path to nurturing happy, stable, mutually fulfilling intimate relationships. If you want to explore poly/open relationships, I think the best way to achieve this is to grab a copy of the new primer More Than Two (You can preorder it now on Amazon.com).

...I received my review copy of More Than Two a few months ago and was immediately impressed. First of all, unlike most books about poly/open relationships, it’s not at all couple-centric. It explores poly/open relationships as something that people do, rather than something couples may indulge in. That alone makes this book fairly unique and very refreshing. (Although I think the title does make the book sound a bit couple-centric, which is a problem.)

...Chapter 3, “Ethical Polyamory,” is where the real meat of this book kicks in. Everything from here forward is premised on the authors’ two key ethical axioms:

“The people in a relationship are more important than the relationship.”
“Don’t treat people as things.”

This neat one-two punch knocks out most of the biggest mistakes and worst behavior I’ve witnessed (and occasionally perpetrated) in poly/open relationships. Problems born of trying to prevent change, or at least too much change. Of presumptions of status, or assumptions rooted in deep-seated insecurity. Of failures of compassion and empathy. Of ignorance and lack of skill or practice. Of blatant disrespect and inconsideration. Of power, control, weakness and cowardice. And of abuse.

…Personally, I would have worded “Don’t treat people as things” differently, since I think it’s likely to be misunderstood at first glance by readers who aren’t already in the “poly bubble.” The phrase “treating people as things” might on first glance be easily misinterpreted as referring to sexual fetishes, sex work or strictly casual relationships (none of which are inherently ethically problematic, BTW).... Instead, I probably would have said: “Do treat other people as if they matter as much as you or your primary/existing partners” — as in, everyone’s feelings, needs, goals, lives, and experience counts. As in, we’re all human beings, worthy of full consideration and respect.

....If you do get this book (and you should!), here's the approach I recommend:

New to poly/open relationships, or just curious? Start with chapters 1 and 2, “Starting the journey” and “The many forms of love.”

Got some significant poly/open experience? Start with chapter 3, “Ethical polyamory.”

Essential reading for everyone: Most of part 2, “Poly Toolkit” — beginning with chapter 4, “Tending your self.” Everyone can definitely benefit from chapters 4-7, which covers basic principles and issues in communication and negotiation, all grounded in ethics.

From there, skip straight to chapter 13, “Empowered relationships” — probably the most compelling chapter in the book, since it describes a flexible model of polyamory rooted in individuals who are secure in themselves and compassionate with others. (I really, really wish that model was as widely known as rules-based hierarchies.)

The last two essential-for-everyone chapters are 22 (“Relationship transitions”) and 23 (on metamour relationships) — two areas that the standard social relationship escalator model actively discourages people from developing constructive attitudes and useful skills. We’ve all absorbed social conditioning; we can all use these reminders.

As for the rest of the book, proceed with whichever chapters seem most interesting or relevant to you and your relationships (as my honey did with the hierarchy chapter)....

Read her whole article (Aug. 11, 2014).


● From Noel Figart's review at her long-running Polyamorous Misanthrope site:

I hope that my faithful Facebook followers have gathered from my incredibly subtle comments that I approve of the book....

The authors take the time to explain the whys and wherefores of polyamory very well. They’re grounded in the real and the proveable. They explain the principles behind their thoughts. Then they do a great thing. At the end of each chapter are several questions to ask yourself and think about. I love this part the best. Sure, sure, you can read the book and get a great deal out of it without these questions, but if you really want to examine yourself, your relationships and truly understand what you’re about and what you want in relationships, this is an amazing guide to do so....

Polyamory tends to value honesty, and I’m pleased to say that like any really great polyamory book, the authors don’t spare themselves. They talk about their screwups, what they learned from them and discuss their struggles as well as their triumphs.

...More Than Two is on my re-read and annotate the heck out of list. I already have about twenty-odd notes and thoughts about the text that I’m still in the process of analyzing. Friends, this one makes you think....

The whole review (Aug. 5).


● Louisa Leontiades on her site Multiple Match, which is mirrored on Huffington Post U.K.:

Romantic Friendship in the Modern Era ~ More Than Two #1

How Passive Communication Kills A Relationship ~ More Than Two #2

...For non-Brits out there, asking if anyone wants the last biscuit means that the person asking wants it but isn’t, according to the terms of social etiquette, allowed to say it. Even more confusing, the ‘someone’ who took the last biscuit would be considered rude by taking it because the asker has the implicit prior claim (since he asked).

If you ever find yourself in a last-biscuit conundrum and want nothing more than to not be invited back, you can commit the cardinal sin in asking the asker if their question implied that they wanted the last biscuit.

Understand this: overtly stating your wants and needs in my version of middle class Britain is considered selfish, uncouth and downright rude....

Communication strategies take central stage in More Than Two, Franklin & Eve’s new book on practical polyamory, and rightly so. Whilst communication strategies are the subject of whole books, More Than Two explores some aspects which are the downfall of many relationships. Passive communication is one of them.

It’s 7 years now since our first quad relationship crumbled due to many factors, one of which being that I — a quintessentially British woman socialized in middle class etiquette — was unable to state my needs. I had a high tolerance for unacceptable behaviour. I was trained in it. So I inadvertently allowed the three members of my quad to cross my boundaries again and again; I didn’t assert myself, I couldn’t express my feelings and I allowed my grievances to grow and repressed them until they built up to such a fever pitch that no resolution was possible....

I was a passive communicator. Conversely my sisterwife was a direct communicator and yes, I considered her selfish, uncouth and rude at the time, just as I had been taught.

...Direct [communication] starts from the premise that if your partner wants something, she will ask for it. You need to resist the impulse to infer a judgment, desire or need that’s not explicitly stated. You need to assume that if your partner does not bring up an issue, she has no issue and is not just being polite. Conversely if she brings up an issue she’s not doing it to be confrontational or impolite, but to discuss it. [More Than Two]

The most distinct advantage of direct communication is that it forces you to practise your ‘no’:

When you are accustomed to using passive communication or unable to set boundaries or when you feel you don’t have the ability to say no to something, then it’s very hard for your partners to have confidence in your yes.

And the most distinct consequence of not being able to say no means that the relationship and your life becomes coercive. Non-consensual....

Techniques to Develop Assertive Communication

More Than Two covers a variety of skills and exercises you can use to learn assertive communication.

– Using declarative statements rather than leading questions: ‘I would like to go out tonight’ rather than ‘Would you like to go out tonight?’

– Using plain language in the active voice rather than the passive voice: ‘I need you to take out the garbage’ rather than ‘Taking care of this problem with the garbage was supposed to be your responsibility’

– ...Leave room for your partner to choose how to meet your needs: ‘I need to feel supported by you, rather than ‘I need you to do things with me you will never do with anyone else.’

– And be ok if the answer to your request is ‘no.’ (If you’re not okay with hearing a no, then you are demanding not asking)....

– Talk about the reasons why you want or need the things you want or need. It’s scary because it leaves us vulnerable and open to questioning (this is where compassion comes in).

– Be curious; set aside pre-judgments (and the intense feelings connected with them) and ask questions. Not barely veiled accusations; genuine requests for information.

– Talk about things that bother you whilst they are still small. Express what you want early and often....

Okay, so far all of these (and previous) rave reviews come from within the poly community. It will be interesting to see, once the book is out in the big wide world, what mainstream-media reviewers with no prior interest in the subject may say.


● Wes Fenza wrote a rebuttal to the book's strong admonishments that rules (as opposed to stated boundaries) are inherently ineffective:

No rule can prevent someone who is determined from doing harm. However... there is good psychological research to suggest that the act of committing to follow a rule will actually make a person more motivated to follow it.

Wes, incidentally, identifies as a Relationship Anarchist, which in principle is the totally anti-rules stance.

Franklin was moved to post a response, and Wes did a followup essay.


● Lastly, Badass McProblemsolver is back (or won't go away).



August 10, 2014

"MMF," a play about poly breakup, opens in New York tonight

Theater buffs: a new play titled MMF opens this evening at New York's Kraine Theater, for the first of five performances through August 23rd. Does some poly theater person in NYC wanna go review it?

From Playbill:

David L. Kimple's MMF, New Play About a Polyamorous Relationship, Will Premiere in NYC

By Michael Gioia

David L. Kimple's MMF, a new play that explores a polyamorous relationship, will premiere at the 18th Annual NY International Fringe Festival Aug. 10-23 at Venue #10: The Kraine Theater.

Directed by Kimple, MMF stars Courtney Alana Ward, Michael Mizwicki and Andrew Rincón.

Poly triad in David Kimple's play MMF
Mike Mizwicki, Courtney Alana Ward, and Andrew
Rincón in David L. Kimple's 
MMF at FringeNYC.
Performances will be offered Aug. 10 at 6:45 PM, Aug. 12 at 3:45 PM, Aug. 17 at 4 PM, Aug. 22 at 8 PM and Aug. 23 at 3:30 PM.

Here is how it is billed: “When Dean, Jane and Michael's polyamorous relationship comes to an end, the trio is forced to deal with the consequences of love in a nontraditional relationship. MMF explores the realities of love, need, want and people who don't know the difference."

MMF, which has received readings from Gold Lame' Inc. (at The Barrow Group) and ArtEffects Theatre Company — as well as workshops directed by Giselle Ty in Cambridge, MA, and NYC — will be presented by Goldfish Memory Productions....

The Kraine Theater is located at 85 E. 4th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). For tickets, visit FringeNYC.org. For more information, visit GoldfishMemoryProductions.com.

The article (July 25, 2014).

A brief recommendation at TheaterMania:

7 Shows You Should See at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival

...2. MMF

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you have to do it with more than one person. David L. Kimple's MMF (as in male-male-female) imagines the dissolution of Dean, Michael, and Jane's polyamorous relationship. With same-sex unions becoming positively unremarkable, throuples (committed relationships of three individuals) are just now peeking out of the closet, ready to scandalize your small-minded aunt in new and exciting ways. Go see this show so you have something interesting to talk about over Thanksgiving dinner this year.


While we're on fiction: The new novel Polyamorous Love Song by Jacob Wren is not about polyamory, in case you were wondering. (A newspaper review.)


On a different note: if Polyamory in the News goes down with a message from Google Blogger that this site is unavailable, write me right away at alan7388 (at) gmail.com. It's happened twice now, and I can bring it back up just by logging in to the Google Blogger editor and looking at it there. Anyone know what's going on? (And yes I have backups.)



August 9, 2014

Sexplanations sex-ed site does poly video segment

Clinical sexologist Lindsey Doe, who does the popular sex-ed vlog Sexplanations, put up an enthusiastic, fast paced Poly 101 video two days ago. Already it has 25,000 views. She mentions hosting poly potlucks and socials in Montana that have drawn close to 200 people.

At the video's YouTube page you can click on the transcript icon for a machine transcript of the text.

Looks to me like she took on-camera lessons from Laci Green, a fellow sex-ed vlogger who has almost a million subscribers. Green has done even better poly segments IMO on her own channel (335,000 views since 2011) and on Discovery News (135,000 views since 2013).

Here's a video interview with Dr. Doe about sex education and what it's like doing it on YouTube.

A YouTube search on polyamory turns up about 17,600 videos and 1,300 playlists (collections). Know any particularly good ones to recommend?


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August 6, 2014

Mainstream pundit confuses poly and cheating

The Week

A howler popped up this morning in the major newsmagazine The Week online. A senior contributor wrote about the reported rise of polyamory, and opined that it will never catch on because 90% of Americans still disapprove of cheating on your spouse. Sigh.

Is monogamy on the way out?

Polyamorists believe their time has come. But the fact is that Americans continue to see infidelity as an evil.

Monogamy or polyamory?
By Damon Linker

When the fight for gay marriage began to gain traction back in the early years of the last decade, social conservative critics usually went beyond denying that marriage could be redefined to include same-sex couples. Many of them argued that homosexuals were much less inclined than heterosexuals to valorize the ideal of monogamy. Allowing gays and lesbians to marry would therefore introduce a polyamorous option into the institution, and adultery would come to be viewed as an acceptable option for all marriages.

A spate of recent articles explicitly making the case for polyamory would seem to vindicate those conservative predictions and worries.

The latest example appeared a few days ago in The New Republic (reprinted from the New Statesman)....

...There's just one problem: There is not one shred of evidence to support that prediction.

Consider: In a poll conducted just last year, Gallup found that 91 percent of Americans disapprove of marital infidelity.

That's right. In a highly sexualized age awash in technological temptations and dominated by a nonjudgmental sexual ethic that increasingly encourages men and women to do whatever feels good, nine out of 10 Americans judge cheating to be wrong....

What to make of the disjunct between what our principles would seem to permit or encourage and what we clearly believe to be right and wrong?

One possibility is that people's attitudes haven't caught up to the implications of their moral ideals. Once they do, the rate of disapproval will fall far and fast.

I suppose it could happen. But since there's currently no evidence for it — not even a modest downward trend — buying into the theory would seem to be ill-advised.

That's why I prefer another explanation — not of why Americans disapprove so strongly of adultery, but of why advocates of polyamory, no less than their social conservative antagonists, get the trend lines wrong.

Those who promote polyamory often end up making a very basic error in moral reasoning by presuming that one can extrapolate moral ideals from people's behavior. If people cheat and are increasingly tempted to cheat, their professed attachment to the principle of monogamy must be (as Wilby puts it) "pretend."...

Read the whole article (Aug. 6, 2014).

I got right on and posted one of the first comments:

If someone gets to be a "senior correspondent" for a serious journal like The Week, you'd think he would at least spend a minute checking Google or Wikipedia before making a fool of himself in public.

Polyamory is not about cheating, fer chrissakes. It's all about *not* cheating -- sharing love all around with openness, mutual concern for everyone's well-being, honesty, and respect. My experience is that if you polled polyfolks on their opinions of cheaters, you'd get an even higher disapproval rate than the 90% of the general public.

Others are piling in. Go add your own.

This is the third article about poly in The Week this year. The first two were better.