Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

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).




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