Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 30, 2015

"At Home With Polyamory": a profile of an Oregon quad with a teen

KOPB (Portland, OR)

Oregon Public Broadcasting puts up a 3-minute piece on its website talking with a two-couple quad and their geeky teen daughter about their poly life:

Does anyone know whether this appeared on radio or TV in addition to the website?

I have mixed opinions about representing poly to the media if you need your faces blurred out. These people pull it off, helped by all their laughter and by the happy little ukelele backgrounds the producers added. But viewers are used to blurred faces suggesting something shameful. Opinions?

This is part of KOPB's "At Home" series, "conversations inside homes across Oregon."

On a Monday night in late January, Liam and Tracie are cooking dinner for their daughter Emily. It’s her 16th birthday, and they’re having nachos and birthday cake.

As Liam and Tracie prepare dinner in the kitchen, Emily is on the couch in the living room talking with Melissa and Matthew.

Liam and Tracie are a married couple, and so are Matthew and Melissa. But they are also polyamorous. Liam and Melissa are paramours, which means they share an intimate relationship with each other. Matthew has a paramour outside the group, and Tracie currently is not in another relationship.

“Right now I’m invested in my own individual exploration,” she says. “I have a couple of projects that I want to work on now and am not really looking for another romantic attachment.”

Liam and Tracie decided to open up their marriage after Tracie had an affair with a friend.

“I made the mistake of not talking with Liam before I went ahead with it,” Tracie says. “But we decided to see what this could add to our marriage instead of taking away from it.”

Tracie and Liam met Melissa and Matthew through an online dating site a couple of years ago in Missouri. Liam and Melissa immediately hit it off, and got permission from their spouses to begin dating. After two years of the couples living separately in Missouri, they decided they were ready for their next adventure. They found an apartment in Rock Creek, a Portland suburb, and moved in together. They’ve been here for five months.

The couples asked that we not use their last names or show their faces because some of them have still not told family and friends about their choice to be polyamorous.

“A lot of people think polyamory means promiscuousness or being false with your partner, and some of that exists in our families,” Tracie says. “And right now we’re not willing to put our family or our happiness on the line just because someone has a closed mind.”

...“Trying to find time for Melissa is sometimes a struggle for Liam,” Tracie says about her husband. “And every once in a while, I’ll find that I’m jealous of the time that he’s spending with her.”

The solution? A strategy they call “over-communication,” which the foursome says is the most important rule of the house.

...Included in most of the family talks is Liam and Tracie’s daughter Emily, a self-professed “geek” who spent her birthday at Portland Comic Con. For some teenage girls, polyamorous parents might seem like too much to handle. But Liam and Tracie thought differently.

“Emily has always taken a really mature approach to it,” Tracie says. “We’ve tried to give her as much information as we felt she was ready for.”

“I was actually fine with it,” Emily says. “I expected them to understand and respect things I was going through, and I in turn would do the same for them.”...

Her's the whole article, at the original video site. (Jan. 30, 2015).


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January 29, 2015

After CNN Money piece, tech leader Chris Messina declares a big future for non-monogamy

CNN Money online

You'll remember that Chris Messina, instigator of the Twitter hashtag and a leader in things open-source and open-web, was featured on Sunday's CNN Money report on Silicon Valley thought leaders embracing polyamory. He took a bit of ridicule, and maybe as a result of that, he's out with a powerful apologia published on the CNN Money site this morning.

A correction on my part: I originally called him an "early adopter" of poly, but he says he was introduced to the concept in 2013.

Why I choose non-monogamy

Like most of my generation, I grew up spoon fed monogamist fairy tales that pushed "happily ever after" endings as though achieving one was preordained.

...But as a child of divorce and an aspiring designer-entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I was suspicious of marriage. Out here, we're data-positive and solution-oriented and if your product (i.e. marriage) is failing for 50% of your customers, then you need to fix it or offer something better. So when I discovered polyamory and non-monogamy as I headed to Burning Man in 2013, I realized I'd stumbled onto another way.

Let's get our terms straight. Polyamory means "many loves." It often applies to one or more people who are romantically involved with (wait for it) one or more partners. Non-monogamy, meanwhile, applies to everything that isn't monogamy -- including polyamory -- but you can be non-monogamous and not polyamorous. Here, I'll draw you a Venn diagram.

Personally, I'm in a monogamish relationship. We're committed to each other, but have a porous boundary around our relationship, meaning we've agreed that it's OK for either of us to express romantic feelings toward other people or to be physically intimate with other people, so long as we're honest and transparent about our intentions with one another.

These things don't diminish the integrity of our relationship. Rather, they deepen our understanding of each other's wants and desires, and give us the space to grow independently, without growing apart.

So why non-monogamy now?

Well, people haven't changed much, but their environment has....

He goes on to discuss how we no longer live in the circumstances of the ancient societies that invented monogamy. He also discusses the arrival of Big Dating, which "unbundles monogamy and sex. It offers to maximize episodes of intimacy while minimizing the risk of rejection or FOMO."

Today's most interesting apps (Snapchat, Secret, et al.) are designed to support Big Dating, offering discreet, asynchronous, anonymish, non-exclusive communications. Multiplied against algorithms that optimize the pool of potential partners for connection,... romantic partners are now more fungible than ever. Scary! Exciting!

As such, Big Dating precipitates the rising ambivalence toward commitment, as most millennials put off marriage indefinitely. In place of monogamous pairings, hookup culture flourishes and "open relationships" are commonplace. These are merely rational economic responses to excess inventory and changing expectations of romance....

...Similar to computers in 1990, non-monogamy is niche, with its cultural center in the Bay Area. Its potential is clear to many of us out here, especially in light of the challenges and opportunities raised by Big Dating.

Sure, it could be a decade or more before its relevance is obvious to the population at large, but had Steve Jobs told people that they'd be carrying around super computers in their pockets by 2015, they'd think he was nuts. Non-monogamy demands a similar kind of radical rethinking -- in how we approach our romantic relationships.

Read the whole article (Jan. 29, 2015).

Here he is talking about the hashtag idea that made Twitter take hold.

Drawing on the Messina's manifesto, Yahoo Health put up an article about growing interest in non-monogamous arrangements: Should We All Be In 'Monogamish' Relationships? (Feb. 2, 2015).


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January 27, 2015

San Francisco Magazine: "Poly Love" and a look at the local scene

The February issue of the glossy, upscale San Francisco Magazine presents a nearly 4000-word feature on people in the local poly scene. The story is also online:

Poly Love

The high highs, low lows, and endless trade-offs of the group relationship.

Clockwise from left: William Winters, Julie Barr, Joe Barr, Anna Hirsch, Shannyn DeBlaauw, Nini Banks, James Starke. (Photo by Brett Walker)

By Julia Scott

“So are you guys in an equilateral triangle, or are you more of a V?”

A dark-haired woman leans over to an eager-looking young coupled seated next to her and holds up her thumb and forefinger. Each of the V signifies a person; the fleshy connective tissue between them stands for the partner to whom they're both sexually connected. Her hand gesture is intended as an icebreaker, but the couple pause awkwardly, as if they don't know exactly how to answer.

In polyamorous relationships, knowing where you stand is crucial, but often hard to figure out. Whether you have 2 partners or 10, managing multiple liaisons can feel like walking a tightrope — which is perhaps why the perplexed couple have come to this unmarked warehouse on Mission Street that houses the Center for Sex and Culture. Tonight’s Open Relationship Discussion Group is exploring “Threesomes and Moresomes.” The attendees — a total of 22 men and women, a commendable turnout for a Monday night in November — sit in a neat circle, jittering with the same blend of excitement and anxiety that you might find in a roomful of people training for their first parachute jump....

When Marcia Baczynski, a relationship coach and tonight’s discussion leader, asks how many people are new to the group, nearly half raise their hands. Some of them are new to poly altogether, including one smartly dressed woman who met the love of her life — a married man — on OkCupid six months ago. With his wife’s consent, she and the man started a passionate affair. Little by little, the two women grew to care for each other as well, to the point that the three of them now sleep in the same bed.

“If I hadn’t fallen in love with him,” the woman says, “I wouldn’t have been able to develop feelings for her. They’ve been together 17 years, and sometimes I see them as the same person.” She gestures toward the man on her left, who smiles and takes her hand. Then her face falls: The wife, who is not present tonight, is pregnant. “There’s this other large need that I have,” the woman confesses, “to get married and have kids. There’s a huge guilt in me for wanting to date other men. I’m afraid I’ll hurt him if I do.” She starts to cry. The room is silent until the man speaks up: “I’ve told her that the last time I loved someone this much, I married her. I don’t know what to do with this.”

Someone asks whether the two of them have talked about having a child together. They have, and they may. “But that’s the hard part for me,” the woman says. “It’s so not what my parents wanted for me. It’s not the social norm.” Everyone nods.


“Jealousy, time management, and lack of clarity around what you’re doing.” Baczynski ticks off the three most common pitfalls that beset practitioners of poly. We’re seated close together on a lipstick-red velvet chaise at Wicked Grounds, a kink-friendly café on Eighth Street where you can purchasee hand-carved rosewood butt paddles with your peppermint tea. Curly-headed and bright-eyed, Baczynski exudes friendliness that inspires a tangible intimacy. A decade ago, she gained fame in the alt-sex community as the coinventor of cuddle parties, which began in 2004 with clothed strangers caressing each other in her Manhattan apartment and have spread to thousands of living rooms across the United States and Canada. Now she's one of the Bay Area's most sought-after relationship coaches in the poly sphere, thanks in part to the prominence of her online curriculum, Successful Nonmonogamy, which helps couples open up their relationships without imploding them.


...The concepts behind these words are constantly being hashed out in homes throughout the Bay Area, long known as polyamory’s petri dish. New additions to the vocabulary often bubble up here before filtering out to polyamorists in the rest of the country. “Compersion,” for example, defined as taking pleasure in your partner’s pleasure with another person (the opposite of jealousy), emerged in the Kerista Commune, a Haight-Ashbury “polyfidelitous” social experiment that used a rotating schedule to assign bed partners.

Dossie Easton, a Bay Area therapist who wrote the landmark poly bible, The Ethical Slut, in 1997, gets emotional when she talks about how far the poly world has come since her arrival here as a sexual revolutionary in 1967. “I see people who start out where I fought for years and years to get to. They think that they should be able to come out to their families, that their parents should accept them and welcome all their various partners and their various partners’ children for Thanksgiving.”

This isn’t the polyamory of your imagination, filled with ’70s swinger parties and spouse swapping in the hot tub. In fact, the reality of polyamory is much more muted, cerebral, and, well, unsexy. Generally speaking, self-identified poly types aren’t looking for free love; they’re in search of the expensive kind, paid for with generous allotments of time and emotional energy invested in their various partners — and their partners’ children and families. All of that entails a lot of heavy lifting, and a lot of time-consuming sharing....

If it all sounds inordinately complicated, that’s because it is. What do you do when your partner vetoes a potential lover? How do you handle it when your spouse starts dating your ex? To cope with jealousy and the thorny subject of sexual boundaries, the poly community relies on an excess of communication — hence, discussion groups like tonight’s. The community calendar offers nonstop opportunities for support, conversation, and debate, including potlucks, workshops, coffeehouse socials, political discussions, and book readings. As one woman tells me, people here like to geek out on relationship philosophy as much as they like to geek out on software (and, in fact, the polyamory world has considerable overlap with the tech community)....

Then we get several profiles of people and intimate groups, with their complex joys and concerns. Among them are William Winters and Anna Hirsch. You may remember her as the author of the webcomic The New PolyAnna.

Strip #1 of The New PolyAnna, by Anna Hirsh
Anna Hirsch thought that William Winters was going to be her first one-night stand. She ended up marrying him. When they met in Baton Rouge, their relationship styles — his casual connections, her commitment to monogamy — seemed as mismatched as their temperaments. Then they discovered poly, which squared their deep, if idiosyncratic, love with their desire to avoid the mistakes of relationships past. They agreed to experiment, and when Hirsch left town for several weeks, Winters slept with someone else. He didn’t tell Hirsch until she got back.

“She cried for two consecutive weeks,” recalls Winters. “It was totally fucking horrible. I remember saying, ‘Anna, if it is this hard, we do not have to do this.’ It was she who said, ‘No. There is something in this for me. I’m choosing this. But we cannot do it your way.’”

Eight years later, Hirsch, a writer and editor, and Winters, a progressive activist and organizer, are one of the most socially conspicuous poly couples in the Bay Area. In honor of the poly potlucks that they organized for a time, the Chronicle went so far as to dub Winters the “de facto king of the East Bay poly scene” — if you ask, he’ll show you a playing card, designed by his friends as a joke, that depicts him as the king of hearts.

Hirsch and Winters live in the Oakland Hills, in a studio apartment attached to a house occupied by several other poly couples. These days, Winters hosts private play parties and enjoys mingling with women. Hirsch is in a four-year relationship with a married couple (she’s more serious with the husband than with the wife) and has a boyfriend as well. Doing things Hirsch’s way means that Winters has the freedom he needs to play, while she puts down roots with the people she loves. Although she’s legally married to Winters, she likes to “propose” to her partners as a way of acknowledging their importance to her. When she mock-married a platonic friend back in Baton Rouge, Winters was her date to the wedding. “I have this whimsical image of myself old on a porch somewhere, someday,” Hirsch says. “And I would like William to be on that porch. And I think it would be amazing if there were other people on that porch, too.” This process—fitting together relationships without elevating them or putting them in special categories — is described by the couple as “integrating.”...

Read the whole article (online Jan. 26, 2015).

There's also an 18-minute audio interview with the author, Julia Scott, about what she thinks of the subject. She was impressed at the relationship skills of these people, but thought she saw through claims to have have mastered jealousy, and she says she wouldn't have the stamina for such a life herself:

Part of the audio interview (7:39) went up on the website of KALW, a National Public Radio station in San Francisco.

Update March 23rd: The article was just reprinted on SFGate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.



January 25, 2015

CNN Money: Silicon Valley creatives are going poly, life-hacking love

The CNN Money site just put up a 6-minute webvideo report about poly becoming a big thing among Silicon Valley techies and entrepreneurs, the people who shape innovations in our culture:

Four partners, one love: It’s polyamory

Imagine being in a serious relationship with your husband, a boyfriend, a girlfriend and dating around on the side — that's polyamory. It's not new, but it’s infiltrating tech culture:

Here's the video's original location on the CNN Money site, where it's part of a series on innovative approaches to sex (as in poly) and drugs (LSD and smart drugs) among Silicon Valley creatives.

For instance I didn't know that Chris Messina, best known for inventing the Twitter hashtag, was a polyamory advocate. He says, regarding traditional marriage,

We're a very data-driven culture, so if you're trying to build a product — to draw an analogy — and it's failing 50% of the time, you might want to consider the design and think about ways of improving it.

Says Miju Han, a female engineer for a large tech company,

Han: People in Silicon Valley are always looking for ways to change norms that might be better for people... It's just more okay to be out about it in tech.

Interviewer: We've seen Silicon Valley hack transportation, and companies like Uber come out of that. Can you hack love, and the way traditional relationships work?

Han: In many ways we are hacking love. Polyamory is a form of optimization, in the sense that you make tradeoffs and take risks. In technology people have higher appetites for risk. Opening up your relationship is really risky, kind of in the way that starting a company is really risky.

The report also features Helen Fisher, one of the pioneer romantic-love researchers, scoffing at the whole poly concept because Theory of Human Nature. I posted the very first comment on the YouTube version, calling her out for putting theory over observation. Go join in.

The YouTube version of the video seems off to a slow start — I was viewer #24 when I posted my comment — but I see that local CNN stations are now adding the CNN version to their own websites.

Just up now: text article with the video (Jan. 25, 2015).

Jan. 26: The story and quotes from it are reported on the "Silicon Beat" blog of the San Jose Mercury News.

Jan. 27: The video has been picked up by MSN.com.

Jay Barmann, a writer for The SFist, takes a jaundiced view: CNN Explores The Druggy, Trippy, And Poly Side Of Silicon Valley Geekdom: "The Bay Area gets to let its freak flag fly really high for a national audience once again in this series, but this time with a twist: CNN's Laurie Segall isn't just talking to the usual suspects of San Francisco bohemia here...."


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Poly in a dozen college newspapers

Get Real
(Cambridge University, U.K.)
The Evergreen Daily (Washington State University, WA)
Klipsun (Western Washington University)
Bull (University of Sydney)
The Kaimin (University of Montana)
The Vanguard (Portland State University)
The Concordian (Concordia University, Montreal)
The Manitoban (University of Manitoba)
KaLeo (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa)
Daily Emerald (University of Oregon)
The Horn (University of Texas/ Austin)
TEDx (University of Texas/ Arlington)
Puget Sound Trail (University of Puget Sound)

When Diana Adams issued her famous challenge at a Loving More conference six and a half years ago — "That every college student in America will know the word 'polyamory' and what it means within five years" — few students did, and I saw no clear path to that goal. But by the five-year mark it was well on its way to happening, and more so since. To watch Buzzfeed or read reddit/r/polyamory (25,000 members), for instance, you'd think poly was all about millennials.

Here's my latest roundup of college-newspaper treatments of poly, no doubt incomplete. The quick takeaway: they're basically getting it right.

● At Cambridge University in England, in the student LGBTQ magazine Get Real:

5 Reasons Everyone Should Try Polyamory

Robert Ashworth
By Katt Parkins

...There are many ways in which this philosophy is beneficial and here are just five of them.


Writings on polyamory usually describe the following scenario: If you’ve got a friend you really like to play basketball with, and a friend who absolutely loves quirky German cinema, why force one of them to do both?...


Most people are forced into this stifling web of repression because of how they are told marriages or relationships “should work”.... In the poly world, a new kind of fidelity emerges – the idea that emotional commitment and faithfulness transcends exclusivity.


In most stories, films, TV drama (and so on) eventually a character has to choose. And only one of these can be “real love”. What if they’re both real love? ...If everyone communicates, and works through this together, this kind of life is indeed possible.


...All logical arguments aside, [compersion is] an intensely beautiful feeling.... And isn’t the idea of owning someone a projection of materialist ideals anyway?


Just like we accept that gender is an often-fluid and equivocal concept, and sexuality is not in polarised form, we should accept that relationships could be just as varied and complex.

...Only recently have transgender people began to gain the terminology, pronouns and general language needed to express themselves. Polyamory is at a similar stage, dancing playfully on the peripheries, questioning assumptions, and finding joy and authenticity along the paths that many dare not wander.

Read it all (Dec. 19, 2014).

● At Evergreen State College in Washington state, The Evergreen Daily got hold of Polyamory Leadership Network members Michael Rios and Bhramari Devi Dasi:

Poly want a partner

By Abby Student | Evergreen sex and relationship columnist

...Polyamory directly translates to ‘many loves,’ and is defined as a romantic relationship between more than two consenting adults in which all parties are knowledgeable of one another. Also known as ethical non-monogamy, these relationships vary from person to person and do not always contain a sexual component.

...Michael Rios, poly-educator and webmaster of polyinfo.org, said he has been polyamorous his whole life. Rios founded a polyamorous commune while still in high school in the mid-1960s. He currently has two nesting partners. They live together in side-by-side group housing units. Rios also has two long-distance lovers who he sees every so often. He maintains regular contact with his co-parent of three children even though they haven’t been sexual for many years.

“We got an official divorce in the late ‘90s, but we talk on the phone every day,” Rios said.

...Monogamous people often translate polyamorous to total disregard for monogamous commitments, which is not the case for most poly individuals.

“I will not date someone who is dating someone who is cheating,” Devi Dasi said. “If their relationship world isn’t honest and open, I won’t go near it.”

She acknowledges that, as with all groups of people, there are obviously exceptions; not all moral compasses point quite as due north as hers.

Devi Dasi implements this principle not only for ethical reasons, but to ensure the health of everyone involved.

“When it comes to sexual health issues, it’s not only about the person who I’m being sexually intimate with. It’s about the people that they’re sexually intimate with and so on,” she said. “When someone is cheating, you can’t have that conversation.”

Devi Dasi said it’s a [poly] cultural norm to have these conversations. Sexually active poly people should be open to having what she calls a ‘sexual health and practice’ conversation....

Read on (Dec. 5, 2014).

● In Klipsun, a student magazine at Western Washington University:

Redefining Relationships

Photo illustration by Evan Abell
By Demi Cavanaugh

...As foreign and confusing as it may seem to some, for people like Gray Newlin, it just makes sense.

“Love isn’t finite,” Newlin says. “You can’t really stop yourself from loving other people while you’re in a relationship.”

Newlin’s hair is messily piled atop her head, with only her short choppy bangs, which frame her wide navy blue eyes and flushed cheeks, escaping the elastic band that secures the rest of her mane.

Newlin has been in open relationships since she was 14 years old, even before she knew what polyamory meant.

...Those who understand it will say polyamory is as much about setting limits as it is about removing them.

Robin Trask, executive director of Loving More, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing support for polyamorous relationships, says these relationships are defined as being, “ethical, non-monogamous relationships done with consent.”

...“Polyamorous couples in a healthy relationship would talk about which behaviors they are and are not comfortable with and determine what their relationships are going to look like,” says [Chalaina] Connors, a poly-friendly licensed professional counselor in Portland.

...Polyamory can go wrong in a number of ways; one is when people identify themselves as polyamorous, but only as an excuse to sleep around with multiple partners, which does not represent the values of open and honest communication that polyamory emphasizes, Newlin says....

...With a practically endless number of relationship combinations and no real societal guideline in place dictating how they should function, polyamorous individuals are forging their own paths and determining their own set of relationship standards that work for them.

“There are limits,” Trask says. “But you decide what they are.”

The whole article (Oct. 25, 2014).

● In the magazine Bull at the University of Sydney, Australia:

I love you, but I think we should love other people

By Natasha Gillezeau

...I have been in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend – who I love – since November 2013. But I have never felt less free.

...Brigitte, 23, has been in a polyamorous relationship with her boyfriend Chris for four and a half years. They constantly negotiate the openness of their relationship, and have periods of hooking up with whomever, and periods resembling monogamy. “You guys live together. How does it work?” I asked.... “How would you two deal with the other person having sex?”

“We’ll talk about what happened. Then I feel less anxious. The fear of the unknown is the worst, but when I find out it’s like ‘that’s exactly what I thought, it’s better having heard it from you’.”

...No longer Christian, Philluhp identifies as queer, polyamorous and asexual....

...After breaking up with her last monogamous boyfriend in 2011, Clo, 20, knew she was looking for something like polyamory, but didn’t know the term. “I was using all different words for it, like ‘casual relationship’, which is kind of bullshit. Just because a relationship is non-monogamous doesn’t mean that it’s casual.” Clo began seeing a guy who told her he identified as polyamorous, and after her initial trepidation, felt a sense of relief.... She tells me polyamory allows relationships to form organically, and according to their own rules.... “It’s just such an unusual thing. But it couldn’t happen within the bounds of monogamy, because there is so much expectation on what sexual relationships mean, and how they happen. All of these different growths would be completely stifled.”...

The whole article, worth the full read (PDF file; go to page 13) (July 2014).

● In the Montana Kaimin at the University of Montana in Missoula:

Missoula models don’t always let people eat sushi off their naked bodies, but when they do, it’s at Polytana Sushi Social.

The event celebrates relationship diversity, clinical sexologist Lindsey Doe said. This includes monogamy and all things non-monogamous.

Polyamory is the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at a time, but with all parties aware and consenting.

The Polytana Sushi Socials helps spread awareness and understanding to the community, she said.

University of Montana student Ellen Kuehl is modeling at the event this year. She modeled for more than 200 people at the last Polytana Sushi Social, she said.
Her body was painted, positioned and artfully decorated with sushi....

The whole article (Oct. 16, 2014).

● At Portland State University:

The Atomic Spectra of Love

Illustration by Rachael Bentz
By Brandon Staley

Years ago, Tamela Clover watched an educational video about prairie voles. The video divided the voles into two groups: monogamous and non-monogamous. The narrator went on to explain how, by altering the chemistry of the brain, the non-monogamous voles could be made to act monogamous.

Clover, the creator of the Portland State Polyamory Club, looks back on that video in horror....

Clover, a senior studying psychology, said she decided to form a support group focusing on polyamory after transferring to the university and attending Viking Days, an event aimed at acquainting incoming students with the school.

She met with representatives from the Women’s Resource Center, Queer Resource Center, and Student Activities and Leadership Programs but couldn’t find a student group that dealt specifically with polyamory.

...Several months later, the PSU Polyamory Club acts as a safe place for members to discuss anything from work frustrations and communication problems in relationships, to more delicate topics like the pros and cons of coming out in various areas of life.

...“It’s not uncommon for monogamous people to be in relationships with polyamorous people,” Clover said. “In that case, it could be a really good resource for a monogamous person, because they come and get support that they might not be getting elsewhere.”

Mapping Love

When Aubrey Limburg got word that her application to join the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program—a research program that prepares first generation, low income undergraduates for graduate and Ph.D. programs—had been approved, she knew she had to find the perfect topic....

Limburg had been reading the book Wannabes, Goths, and Christians: The Boundaries of Sex, Style, and Status by Amy Wilkins. The book discusses goth women harnessing sexual independence through their identification with polyamory, which caught Limburg’s eye.

“I said, ‘What the hell is polyamory?’”

...While seeking out participants for her study, Limburg expressed frustration at the lack of men willing to talk. Benjamin Baker, a senior studying economics at Reed College, said because of the sometimes tenuous and complex position of men in the polyamory community, speaking honestly about one’s orientation can be difficult.

“There are a somewhat equal number of men, but we don’t really know how to define and express what we are doing and why,” Baker said. “We don’t want to be seen as studs, and we are always trying to find our place in a more feminist and egalitarian social structure.”...

The whole article (July 15, 2014).

● In The Concordian (Montreal):

Love and sex can be more than just a game for two

By Jocelyn

...Hopefully this helps clear up some of the public misconceptions about those of us who subscribe to the “more the merrier” mantra.

Serial monogamy is fine as a choice, with relatively short commitments to partners and the liberty to come and go as one pleases.... Polyamory though, tends to be shrouded in hearsay and misinformation, often generalized as being “a sex thing,” or just about getting it on with more folks than one can count. But the reality of the situation is quite different. Polyamory isn’t just about the sex — although that certainly is a part of it — but about multiple committed relationships between consenting individuals. No secrets, no jealousy....

Read on (Oct. 7, 2014).

● At the University of Manitoba, a two parter:

Open to Openness

By Jodie Layne

Dear Jodie,

My husband and I just agreed to an open relationship and I’m such a newbie....

Dear reader,

There are so many things to consider when making a change in relationship structure, especially when you’re moving from the most normative to a stigmatized and often misunderstood relationship structure that doesn’t offer many visible, healthy models or examples in popular culture.

It’s important to go slow and ensure that you’re mindfully setting parameters... You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t sit right with you.... A great guide and a resource that helps you explore all kinds of non-monogamous relationship structures is Opening Up by Tristan Taormino....

Can you have sex with people that you both know? Should they only be strangers? Are you going to talk to each other about your encounters or are you going to remain more or less in the dark? What do you need personally to feel loved and desired? What health concerns do you have?...

Getting out as many guidelines and ideas as possible before you start actually sleeping with other people — as well as committing to honest and open discussion about things you haven’t thought about as they come up — will help....

As for finding people,

Open to Openness, Part Two

...Remember: it’s still possible to cheat in an open relationship, so check in with your boo to make sure that you’re not violating any guidelines and/or trust. All that aside, here are some places you might want to start.

Poly Winnipeg: While it’s not necessarily advertised as a place to find people to hook up with, it’s probably a good idea to meet some members of the poly community in Winnipeg anyways! They can help you figure this new thing out while also “outing” you as poly.

Bathhouses: If you’re just looking for sex... Aquarius bathhouse is now co-ed!...

Online: ...there are plenty of ways for you to explore possibilities no matter what you’re looking for. This is how a majority of people seem to be finding partners right now.

In real damn life: ...Telling a few trusted and nonjudgmental friends can help get the word out in a discreet way and can sort of be like a bat signal, attracting interested potential partners....

Part 1, Part 2 (March 10 and June 9, 2014).

● At the University of Hawai‘i/ Manoa:

...Americans are still strongly opposed to the idea of romance between more than two people. Here are a few guidelines on experimenting with ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory.


...While sex is generally a natural part of romance, polyamory is more than just hooking up with various people.

...Love isn't scarce like natural resources and doesn't diminish as people are added to a relationship. Each relationship is unique and can have many or few rules, depending on the people involved.... Regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases after new partners enter the relationship is important and free in the state of Hawai‘i.

...While there is nothing wrong with traditional monogamy, it's historically been presented as the only option in life. In reality, there exists a diverse spectrum of relationship possibilities to explore.


The most important aspect of polyamorous relationships is honesty between partners. Jealousy can be a destructive force in all relationships, romantic or otherwise, stemming from fear of the unknown – fear that a lover may leave, or that one is insufficient.

Open and frank discussion about topics like goals, desires and sexual boundaries can solve serious problems before they start by reassuring participants that their needs are being met and that everyone is comfortable.

Polyamory doesn't permit the ability to “cheat” on a partner at any time, as cheating implies deceit or dishonesty. If anyone involved isn't fully informed of and consenting to the existence of the other participants, then it's not truly a polyamorous relationship.

...This is a unique time in human history where love is consensual, marriage is not arranged, and basic human rights are written into law – where real people can continue to explore the uncharted boundaries of love.

The whole article (Oct. 1, 2014).

● In the Oregon Daily Emerald:

Just because you don’t want an open relationship doesn’t make it wrong

Taylor Wilder / Emerald
By Dahlia Bazzaz

...While the past decade has seen some major improvement in terms of accepting alternative sexual identities, some practices, including non-monogamy, remain (relatively) taboo.

...Robin Ewing, a senior dance major, says that his decision between whether or not to initiate an open relationship with his partner is largely based on his levels of spiritual, emotional and sexual fulfillment. While in a long-distance relationship during his freshman year, Ewing proposed an open relationship with his girlfriend at the time.

But Ewing acknowledges that even open relationships have boundaries — especially when jealousy gets in the way. It’s an arrangement that can be rewarding with excellent communication and clear expectations, but it does not come without hard work.

“You have to be really comfortable with yourself. You can’t own the other person,” Ewing said.

...The scenarios are endless, but the key to understanding non-monogamy is consent....

The whole article (May 4, 2014).

● At the University of Texas/ Austin, a writer for The Horn reviews More Than Two at some length:

By Dana Sayre

More Than Two is a new, comprehensive guide to polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. For years, Veaux has blogged about polyamory on http://www.morethantwo.com/, and the book is an outgrowth of that work.

...After answering the question, “What is polyamory?” (forming multiple, committed, romantic and/or sexual relationships at the same time with the full consent of those involved) the book moves on to discussing communication tools, boundary-setting, and how to create empowered relationships and agreements (not rules) with multiple partners.

...In addition to relationship advice and definitions of terms, each chapter contains stories based on the personal experiences of the authors or other real-life poly individuals. I was impressed by the honesty, vulnerability, and bravery necessary to speak openly about past relationship mishaps and the short-sighted actions which led to the end of past relationships.

...Any time we try to create relationships outside of traditional cultural scripts, we can expect to face problems we are unprepared to solve. But what I really appreciated about More Than Two is the authors' insistence that all the tools necessary to be successful at poly are actually just relationship tools more generally.

...What people most worry about when considering polyamory is how to combat feelings of jealousy. But as Veaux and Rickert explain, jealousy most often stems from insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of trust. It is only by learning to value our own self-worth and to trust in the love and care our partners have for us that we can combat the fear and insecurity which feed jealousy.

To do that work takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable. But it's worth it – again, whether or not you choose to be monogamous or polyamorous.

...Perhaps my only complaint about the book is its length, but I have mixed feelings about seeing that as a negative.... I worry it would be too intimidating to someone just starting to think about exploring polyamory.

...It's hard to un-learn all the cultural scripting of monogamy, especially since it's so deep-seated and taken for granted in our culture. It's important to remember the polyamory is a process, not a destination. It's something that we do, that we work towards, that we build together with those we love.

...The book was also somewhat heteronormative, which I suppose makes some sense. People in the LGBTQ community have been building non-traditional relationships for years without necessarily calling themselves polyamorous. Now, however, I do know many queer people who embrace the term.

The book touches on the fear some men have in letting their female partners have other boyfriends, but overall, there wasn't the focus on alternative sexuality I would have liked to have seen from such a comprehensive guide. I feel there could have been a section dedicated to queerness, and another to BDSM, instead of just slight references to each sprinkled throughout....

Read the whole review (Sept. 17, 2014).

● Also from Texas, a student's TEDx talk at UT Arlington is currently going around: Polyamory and emotional literacy, and the benefits they can bring to the wider society, by Kel Walters (5:36):

● In The Puget Sound Trail at the University of Puget Sound:

Polygamy and polyamory examined

By Gregory Gropage

...What may be the most central tenant [sic] of polyamory, however, is the belief that love is not finite. Monogamous culture often suggests that a person has only so much romantic love to give, and by giving it to more than one person, it diminishes the amount you can give to another. Polyamorous culture argues, however, that giving love to one person can actually increase the amount you can give to another.

The whole article (Dec. 16, 2014).



January 22, 2015

"To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This"

New York Times

I post this because, even though it's not about polyamory as such, it fits right into our community's ideas about the wide applicability of romantic love, its multi-possibilities, and our ability to shape and direct it.

Someone could make a powerful workshop exercise out of this.

Eye-gazing.  (Brian Rea / NY Times)
To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This

By Mandy Len Catron

More than 20 years ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. Last summer, I applied his technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.

...I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said....

I Googled Dr. Aron’s questions; there are 36. We spent the next two hours passing my iPhone across the table, alternately posing each question.

They began innocuously: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”

But they quickly became probing.

In response to the prompt, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” he looked at me and said, “I think we’re both interested in each other.”

I grinned and gulped my beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged stories about the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.

The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.

...We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives.... But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner, a total of five items” (Question 22), and “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

...Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

...I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder....

...I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive. Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

Read the whole article (Jan. 9, 2015). Thanks to Terry of Vermont Poly Woodchucks for the tip.

Here is Arthur Aron's study: The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings (15-page PDF). The procedure and the list of questions are near the end.

I've been a believer in eye-gazing ever since Sarah Taub of Network for a New Culture introduced me to it. Ditto with sharing appreciations as a deliberate exercise.


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January 15, 2015

Suit filed to decriminalize unofficial marriage ceremonies in Michigan

Rev. Neal Patrick Carrick
Neil Patrick Carrick — a poly-friendly family mediator and liberal evangelical minister who believes gay and poly families should have the right to marry — sued the state of Michigan on Monday, seeking to decriminalize ceremonies for unions that do not qualify for a marriage license.

From the Detroit News:

A Detroit minister has sued Michigan in federal court, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages.

..."Churches should have the right to marry who they want to marry," Carrick, 49, said Tuesday. "I've been told by others that 'we would love to marry (gays and lesbians) but we can't because we would be breaking the law.'"

Carrick added: "The state of Michigan does not have the right to tell us what to do in our church."

In his lawsuit, Carrick says the state engages in "the disparate treatment" of gays, lesbians and "plural relationships."

Carrick, a former pastor with the United Church of Christ, says he has declined requests from same-sex couples to marry them because he would have been breaking the law. Under Michigan law, it is a crime punishable by up to a $500 fine for someone who "knowingly" performs a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples.

The whole article (Jan. 13, 2015).

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, on his blog at the Washington Post, had this commentary:

Crime to conduct same-sex or polygamous marriage ceremony?

...I think the Free Speech Clause protects people’s right to conduct same-sex or polygamous marriage ceremonies. A state might well be able to say that such a ceremony has no legal effect.... But if people want to engage in such a verbal ceremony, whether for religious reasons or other personal reasons, that ceremony is generally as constitutionally protected as other verbal ceremonies.

...Now if courts read the statutory phrase “joins any persons in marriage ceremony” as limited to situations in which the officiant purports to create a legal union, for instance by signing a marriage certificate that he understands will be submitted to a government official with the hope that the official will be deceived into accepting it, such a narrowly read statute might be constitutional. But the statute seems broader than that, and a similar Utah statute was read as covering even purely conducting a ceremony, absent any attempt to dupe the government or anyone else....

So I think Rev. Carrick should indeed prevail. Ministers — and others — should be free to conduct verbal ceremonies, even ones that the state may deprive of any legal effect.

The whole article (Jan. 14, 2015).

Carrick has been seeking religious Michigan polyfamilies to join the suit. Facebook page. Here's his press release:

Pastor files Lawsuit against Michigan Governor and Attorney General over the right to perform marriage ceremonies for same sex couples and others that do not meet the qualifications for marriages licenses in the state of Michigan.

Detroit Michigan, January 12, 2015: Lawsuit filed in support of Religious Freedom, and Marriage Equality in Michigan during the week that marks the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. The lawsuit is primary being initiated as a result of the criminalization of wedding ceremonies, and the religious lives of individuals who the state forbids to marry.

Rev. Neil Carrick is the plaintiff in a lawsuit that accuses the state of Michigan of discrimination, criminalizing and stigmatizing families that do not meet the states requirements for marriage including a ban on same sex marriage and plural religious marriages.

The Lawsuit filing in the Michigan Federal Eastern District Court in Detroit and names Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette as Defendants.

Rev. Carrick seeks by this lawsuit to end the state sanctioned criminalization of families who wish to participate in a religious ceremony, live in a religious covenant and be known as a family. Believing that no family should be stigmatized as a result of laws that invade the sacred rites, sacraments, and traditions of their respective Houses of Worship.

Current Michigan law prohibits a minister from performing a Marriage Ceremony unless the individuals meet the statutory requirements. A clergyman can be fined or jailed up to a year for performing a marriage ceremony for individuals not meeting the requirements for a Michigan Marriage License.

Michigan law forbids same sex marriage, plural marriage and other relationships as a result of its marriage laws. This includes a religious ceremonies related to marriage that do not meet the Marriage statues.

Here's his filing.

By a fluke of fate, the judge assigned to hear the case has been open about the fact she is a lesbian with three children. Ironically, this could make the case harder.



January 12, 2015

More articles on what poly culture offers everyone

A couple months ago I posted about a slew of articles that portray poly as leading the way to a better future for relationships generally. More keep showing up.

● MeetMindfulness claims to be "the first online dating site to serve the mindful lifestyle." In its articles section, a poly love coach writes:

Navigating Open Relationships, Polyamory & Non-Monogamy

Elisabeth D’Orcy
By Laurie Ellington

Have you ever considered what would it be like to live in a world where everyone could be in love with everyone else (including yourself) without jealousy, fear and insecurity?

Imagine a world where every relationship you have, whether it be sexual, non-sexual, short/long term, whatever…. where every relationship you have feels just right, at home, full-on in alignment with your deepest desires and your longing for intimacy, connection, playfulness and love.

What would it take to cultivate relationships such as these?

...I believe whether you practice monogamy or polyamory (or anything else), the practice is more about... how we stay true and honoring of ourselves while staying in connection with those around us. The following is brief summary of some of the key things I have found to be essential in sustaining healthy, poly/open/non-traditional relationships.

1) Those involved with poly/open/non-traditional relationships have a genuine sense of love, care and support for one another.... without necessarily attaching sex to the outcome.

2) Agreements/boundaries are clear, respected, and honored.

...Communication is incredibly important here in order for everyone to know where they stand, what the agreements are, what they are saying “yes” to and what are their bottom lines....

3) It is imperative that everyone supports each other in being the best at who they are... and strives to create positive and healthy experiences for everyone involved.

This is where connection and responsibility come into play. I’m finding that the more present I am with my experiences and the more I share with others, the more awake and alive I feel in my connection to what is really true for me.

...As I see it, open relationships allow for all participants to make choices in open and transparent ways — with consent of all involved, which for me seems like a pretty sweet guarantee for personal empowerment; we can experience expression, self-care and connection with others.

...I have a friend who said he wanted the kind of communication and relating that comes with polyamory without having to be poly/open. The bottom line? Anything is possible.

The whole article (Dec. 1, 2014).


● More enthusiasm at BlogHer:

6 Reasons Why Sharing Your Boyfriend Will Boost Your Self-Esteem​

By Te-Erika Patterson

...You are with someone who is honest.

...This level of honesty definitely strengthens the bond between you both and allows you to look yourself in the mirror with love, knowing all of the cards on the table and you are making a decision to be with him with your blinders off.

You are with someone who knows how to treat women well....

You are part of an unconventional team.

...Being a part of an unconventional relationship will cause you to have to stand together against personal attacks from those who lash out in fear of the unknown. Being in a team like this one will bring you closer, knowing that you all are brave enough to create the type of relationship that sincerely satisfies you....

You know you are loved by choice....

You can focus on your goals without having to meet every need expressed by your partner.

Growth happens as a result of loss, desire and exposure to new ideas. When you share your boyfriend you allow him to be exposed to someone who could inspire him to grow in ways that you cannot. You also have the relief of letting go of the responsibility of being his ‘everything’. This frees you to focus on your own growth and you will love yourself more when you do.

You learn what true love is.

True love isn’t about sacrifice, really. True love is being genuinely happy that the person you love is happy, even if you aren’t the source. This type of love is the opposite of jealousy and it is called compersion....

If only it were all like that more often. Read the whole article (Dec. 23, 2014).


● At Mic.com:

This Is the Explanation for Polyamory That Everyone Needs to Hear

By Amanda Chatel


Polyamory has existed for centuries, but it's only recently — as society warms to formerly unconventional romantic setups — that polyamory has landed on the mainstream radar.

That doesn't mean the majority of Americans understand it. Even as more polyamorous partners come to the fore (one study found 4% to 5% of the U.S. population identifies as poly), most people still have one big question about polyamory:

"How do you not get jealous?"

...The answer, it turns out, is the key to having a healthy polyamory relationship — and it's something people in monogamous relationships could probably learn to do better.

It's all about being happy for each other. "It's called 'compersion,'" Becky Koski told Mic. The 30-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, has been in polyamorous relationships for over a decade. "It's kind of the opposite of schadenfreude, meaning you derive happiness from your partner's happiness. Instead of getting upset or jealous, when you see your partner getting involved with someone new, you are excited for them and excited vicariously through them."

Steve Dean, founder of online dating consultancy Dateworking, has been in non-monogamous relationships for three years. "Compersion is basically happiness at someone else's happiness," he told Mic, comparing it to a parent's genuine happiness at seeing his or her child happy. It's an unselfish attitude that comes from viewing an experience through another person's eyes.

Koski admits this doesn't mean poly relationships are all jealousy-free; after all, envy and grudges are components of even healthy monogamous partnerships. But for many poly partners, said Koski, jealousy is "just another emotion or issue to work through, as opposed to this end-all, be-all problem that can't be surmounted."...

Converting jealousy into happiness comes from talking. Lots of talking. "Instead of just caving to [jealousy] when it appears," Koski said, "you talk to your partner or partners about ways to deal with it."

...Poly partners provide a model for anyone dealing with jealousy....

"I think the No. 1 biggest misconception is that polyamorous people just have sex all the time," Dean said. "But I'd say the best way to describe polyamorous people is that they communicate all the time....

It's exactly the way any healthy relationship should operate.

Read the whole article (Jan. 6, 2015).


● From The Unlaced Librarian/ Leandra Vane:

Ten Ways an Open Relationship Improves My Marriage

...A lot of people have asked me how being sexual with people besides my husband could possibly help my marriage. I attest that having an open relationship has done nothing but improve our marriage.

1. I know we want to be together because we love, like, and respect each other, not because we swore an oath of “no matter what”....

2. He respects all women.... I like that I know he will be respectful to those he dates and those he doesn’t.

3. I don’t feel ashamed about aspects of my sexuality that include having crushes on others, writing erotica, or fantasizing because I now know they are normal and unlike the societal stereotype, they do not crumble a relationship from the inside.

4. I deal with jealousy in all aspects of my life. After you’ve dealt with jealously in such an intense form as with your lifemate, the other situations don’t seem as urgent....

5. ...We have respect for each other’s desires instead of being offended, hurt, or irritated by them.

6. We are constantly growing and being challenged. Sometimes those changes and growth spurts are painful, but the strength we gain is worth it and combats the dangers of becoming bored or complacent with each other.

7. I won’t find a woman’s phone number hidden in his pocket because we put the numbers we get on the refrigerator.

8. I now first see another woman as being a potential friend rather than a potential enemy....

9. Each time we engage in a new experience, the trust in our relationship builds. That valuable investment makes it even more important that we stay together.

10. When we first started discussing an open relationship I was terrified: of what people would think, of infidelity, of insecurity, and a million other things. But I filled that fear with knowledge and have learned more than I could have ever imagined....

The whole article (July 14, 2014).


● A TEDx talk at the University of Texas at Arlington: "Polyamory and emotional literacy," by student Kel Walters (5:36)

Polyamory, emotional literacy and the benefits they can bring to society. Having multiple romantic and sexual relationships at the same time with all partners' full knowledge and consent. Build your emotional literacy and your ability to deal with it.

Kel Walters is a junior at UT Arlington studying political science and psychology with a minor in Arabic.... She also writes the column Real Talk for a student-run webzine called BackRow Mag. She has been involved in the polyamorous community for several years, helping others build and maintain their relationships. (Oct. 21, 2014)

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.


P. S.: Poly movie campaign seeks backers: "as the Freak takes you". Pepper Mint, San Francisco community organizer and a longtime member of the Polyamory Leadership Network, knows folks in this ambitious independent film project and urges you to chip in to their IndieGoGo campaign.


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January 1, 2015

Calendar of poly events for 2015

For New Year's, here's my list (freshly updated) of all 22 polyamory conferences, retreats, campouts and other sizable gatherings scheduled for 2015 — in North America and, when I know about them, elsewhere.

I maintain this list continuously at Alan's List of Polyamory Events. If I've missed any, or if you have corrections, please post to the comments or email me directly: alan7388 (at) gmail.com.

Here's to good things!

Winter Poly Wonderland
January 16–20, 2015
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

“Endless Poly Summer [in August 2014] went so well, we're planning a whole year of poly retreats!” write Michael Rios and Sarah Taub, of Network for a New Culture, on their Polyamory for All Seasons Facebook page. Endless Poly Summer 2014 had about 60 people, Fall Into Poly somewhat fewer; these events are scalable to work well building intimacy and community at any size. Michael, Sarah, and friends have set a big goal for each event: to build, over five days, an enduring network of like-minded people who don't fall out of touch as happens after most events. “The point is building tribe,” says Michael.

I've gone to their (mostly poly) Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East for the last five years, and can attest that New Culture's practices for community creation and interpersonal-skills development are ideal for this ambitious project. 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 Winter Poly Wonderland Facebook page: “Here is where you can meet other poly people at a deeper level, spend 5 days immersed in an all-poly environment, learn the skills needed to handle your relationships, and become a part of a supportive network of people who share your relationship values.” Sounds like a good place to get your hygge on.

International Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Nonmonogamy
February 13–15, 2015
Berkeley, CA

Now in its third year (the fourth counting an earlier conference in Europe), this conference is organized by Dr. Dave Doleshal, longtime West Coast poly and sex-positive organizer. This year it will have seven sessions, described as follows:
The Friday night session (Feb. 13) is geared towards Psychology/Social workers/Therapist types and medical professionals, but anyone is welcome to attend.

The main academic sessions are on Saturday, Feb. 14. This is the core of the event. Most of these presentations will be standard types of psychological and sociological studies, but we are trying to attract presentations from as a wide variety of disciplines as possible. Student presentations are also very welcome!

This year we are also having a session for presentations related to Folklore/Mythology/Media studies, and another session devoted to historical/humanities studies as well.

There will also be an Art Exhibition on Friday afternoon, Feb. 13, consisting of art objects related to the theme of consensual nonmonogamy. If you have created such a work of work and wish to display it, please contact us. If you know other artists who create art with such themes, please pass this information along.

The political conclave and sessions related to poly-activism are all happening on Sunday (Feb. 15). The Political session is being run as a distinct event through a separate website and has a separate registration fee, but it happens nearby on the same weekend. We are still recruiting presenters for this section.

In previous years, a variety of impromptu poly-related meetings, parties, and other events were instigated at places nearby the conference site to take advantage of the presence of the influx of a couple hundred people interested in consensual nonmonogamy who happen to be in town for the few days before, during and after the formal conference. The trend seems to be accelerating.
The call for papers.

February 12–15, 2015
Atlanta, GA

A new hotel poly conference in Atlanta that I hadn't heard of is appearing this year, "to discuss and celebrate romantic love in all its configurations. Learn skills for navigating through the challenges unique to non-monogamy. Connect with your loves and other like minded people. Enjoy our 'Fun' track for dancing, social time, and good old fashioned relaxation. InfinityCon! Because love is infinite." This event is adults only, unlike Atlanta Poly Weekend in June, which is family-friendly and has a kids' track.

The organizers, LoveInfinity LLC (Sunshine Davidson, director), are planning both poly and kink tracks. They have lined up some big-name presenters. Less than two months out their website says they expect to host 500 to 2000 people, which seems wildly unrealistic unless maybe this is a branch-out from an established swing thing? (Not to be confused with Infinity Con, a comic and pop-culture con in Florida.) The Facebook page.

Poly Living East (Philadelphia)
February 20–22, 2015
Philadelphia, PA

Poly Living is put on each year by the Loving More nonprofit group, in an excellent large hotel near the Philadelphia airport and a rail stop. This will be Poly Living's 10th year (the 8th under Loving More's management). The keynote speaker is Franklin Veaux of More Than Two. For the last two years (2013, 2014) Poly Living East has drawn about 200 people. Here was the 2014 workshop list, to give you a sense of what goes on. Here's an outside reporter's long article at Nerve.com about her impressions of the 2014 conference.

my writeup of the first Poly Living I attended (2006). In 2012 I gave the keynote speech. I'll be back again this time. Hope to meet you there!

Loving More, "supporting polyamory and relationship choice since 1985," is the original poly organization of the modern era and played a central role in getting the whole movement going.

Rocky Mountain Poly Living (Denver)
May 8–10, 2015
Ramada Plaza Denver North, Northglenn, CO

This will be Rocky Mountain Poly Living's second year, after drawing about 150 people for a very successful first time in 2014. It's run by Loving More, which also does Poly Living East in Philadelphia every February.

Poly Big Fun
Spring 2015, date to be decided
Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, TX

Glimmer Blazeflower writes, "Poly Big Fun is hosted every year by the Austin Poly group. It is the absolute cheapest weekend retreat you kind find anywhere. The weekend includes all meals and a place to sleep for $75 or less [as of 2014] depending on when you register. It is an amazing event that usually has between 80 and 120 people attend every year."

From the website: "Poly Big Fun, or PBF, is a time for us to come together as a community and celebrate. We hold multiple workshops on various relationship-building topics such as effective communication, time management and relationships, multifamily households, community parenting, and more."

Poly Spring Fever
May 15–19, 2015
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

“Endless Poly Summer [in August 2014] went so well, we're planning a whole year of poly retreats!” write Michael Rios and Sarah Taub of Network for a New Culture. Check the Polyamory for All Seasons Facebook page for updates.

Endless Poly Summer 2014 was the first of this series of four seasonal events. About it I wrote: “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. ‘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 ideal 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! We invite top-notch presenters, and live, work, learn and play together for up to 5 days or more.”

OpenCon Catalonia
May 29
–31, 2015
Galliners, Catalonia, Spain.

2015 will be OpenCon Catalonia's fourth year. It's modeled on the U.K. OpenCon with a self-generated "unconference" program. "A weekend-long international event in the Catalan countryside, open to anyone who knows that happy and honest relationships don’t have to be monogamous. Discussions, workshops and socialising to give you a chance to meet like-minded people, to build our community, and to celebrate its diversity." In 2012, 2013, and 2014 there were about 40 people, a full house; here's more on what happened. The working language is English.

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2015
June 5–7, 2015
Northern perimeter of Atlanta, GA

This high-energy hotel conference began in 2011. It's a three-day weekend of talks and discussions on poly relationships and making them work plus whatever other topics people propose; comedy, dance, and games; community building and socializing. Here was the schedule for 2014. Kid-friendly; families encouraged: a "Kids Con" track runs all weekend (parents are asked to volunteer two hours per day per kid they bring). I came to the first APW in 2011, was back again for 2012 (see my big writeup) and gave the closing keynote talk in 2013. Total attendance was 113 people the first year, 151 the second, and about 200 in 2013 and 2014.

Großen Polytreffen, Early Summer (Germany)
June 4–7, 2015
Truckenthal, Germany

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." Previous ones have sold out.

Poly All Ages Camp BC
Date to be announced
Goldstream Provincial Park Campgrounds, north of Victoria, BC

Formerly named PolyFamilyCampBC. This is a kid-friendly polycamp with programs for grownups too. "A weekend of camping and activities with people who share a common philosophy of abundant love, honest and open communications on beautiful Vancouver Island.... Children from [poly] homes gain a sense of community from attending events like this one where other children from similar homes are in attendance," Zoe Duff writes. "Activities and workshops for all ages are simultaneously held, and the facilities are comfortably supportive of a community atmosphere." Here's the website.

Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East
July 10–19, 2015
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mount Storm, WV

I've attended this interesting, rich, ten-day event for five years now. Network for a New Culture explores building intimate sustainable community through practices of curiosity, transparency, self-exploration, and self-responsibility. The days are structured around ZEGG Forum, various self-improvement and human-potential presenters offering their stuff (to a sometimes skeptical audience), and sharing life, work, and fun in the West Virginia mountain woods.

New Culture East is largely the work of the much-respected poly activists Sarah Taub and Michael Rios. “While not exclusively a poly event,” says Michael, “Summer Camp East is about 70% polyfolk, and 100% poly-friendly.”

Summer Camp East is one of the few New Agey type things that I find to have real intellectual integrity. Here are my impressions from my first year. Here's a bit more from my fourth (last two paragraphs).

About 80 people attend. Vegetarian group meals; campsites in the woods (no vehicle hookups); bathhouse with sinks and hot showers. Some indoor accommodations are available onsite. Conditions are rustic, but a camp-owned motel is 3 miles away. Kids welcome; inquire about kids' program.

West Coast Polyamory Gathering
July 2015; dates to be announced
Los Gatos, CA

Organizer Dave Doleshal of Saturnia Regna wrote for 2014: "This summer’s California polyamory gathering happens in a lovely clothing-optional resort in Northern California called Lupin Lodge. The event is intended to be primarily educational, social, and experiential. It will focus on the exploration and deepening of skills such as clarification and expression of desires, jealousy management, expansion and deepening of intimacy and multi-partner relating. It will also address other practical concerns related to polyamory, such as vital communication skills and negotiation tools." Workshops are experiential rather than lecture-style. Lupin Lodge is a private naturist resort in rural surroundings. 2015 will be the third year for this event at this location.

Rocky Mountain Polyamory Family Campout
Dates to be announced
Aspen, CO

Robyn Trask of Loving More and her family hold this informal campout nearly every year. About last year's event (2014): "This will be the 14th year. Join us for a weekend of hiking, playing, and just hanging out with other poly families from the Rocky Mountain Region. This is the one thing each year where the kids get to join in. My kids love the campouts as much if not more than I do. It is wonderful to enjoy the beauty of the Colorado Mountains and spend time with wonderful poly people." 

Endless Poly Summer II
August 1418, 2015
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

“[The first] Endless Poly Summer [in August 2014] went so well, we're planning a whole year of poly retreats!” wrote Michael Rios and Sarah Taub of Network for a New Culture. The dates and name for this one are tentative as of late August 2014; check the Polyamory for All Seasons Facebook page for updates.

Endless Poly Summer 2014, the first of these seasonal events, had about 60 people. About these events I wrote: “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 ideal 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! We invite top-notch presenters, and live, work, learn and play together for up to 5 days or more.”

At Burning Man
Aug. 31 – Sept. 7, 2015
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 17th year in 2015. Since 2012 it has been awarded prime central locations on the A or B rings. 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 include Heart of Now, Poly High Tea, the famous Human Carcass Wash, the Hiney Hygiene Station, Mind Melt, Revolutionary Honesty, and a poly mixer. Two years ago Benevolent Dictator Scotto wrote, "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
Late summer, 2015
Olympia, WA area

This big, multi-day, kid- and family-friendly campout, now in its 14th year, is 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. It has been getting 150 to 200 people. Adults-only workshops take place in their own separate area. 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 2015 (weekend to be decided)
Easton Mountain Retreat Center, north of Albany, NY

A smallish rural gathering for 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. I've come to this many times 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.

OpenCon 2015
Fall 2015; date to be decided.
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 sixth year. "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." These events have been selling out; attendance in recent years has typically been about 80ish.

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."

Großen Polytreffen, Fall (Germany)
October 7–11, 2015
Gut Frohnberg, Germany

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." Previous ones have sold out.

Fall Into Poly
October 16–20, 2015
Abrams Creek Retreat Center, Mt. Storm, WV

Another in the quarterly Polyamory for All Seasons series of intensive retreats in the mountains west of Washington DC. "The point is building tribe," says co-organizer Michael Rios of Network for a New Culture. 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! We invite top-notch presenters, and live, work, learn and play together for up to 5 days or more.”

Beyond the Love
Fall 2015; date to be decided
Columbus, Ohio.

This hotel conference had a very successful first two years, with about 200 people attending in 2013 and 2014. I was there in 2014. I was impressed by how imaginatively the organizing triad and the volunteer staff had planned everything to make it lively and fun. They write, "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 were the 2014 schedule and workshop presenters, a fine selection. There were also attendee-generated unconference sessions, poly speed dating, yoga, and a masquerade ball. Over 18 only. Facebook page.

Playground 2015
Fall 2015; date to be decided
Toronto, Canada.

In 2014 this event drew some 250 people despite happening on the same weekend as Beyond the Love in Ohio. As it enters its fifth 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."

To add an event (of wide geographic interest, please) email it to me at alan7388 {at} gmail.com.

Find LOCAL poly groups
and their get-togethers!

For socials, potlucks, discussions, etc. near you, find and join your local poly group(s). You can:

● Try googling polyamory [your state or city].
Check Meetup.com with keyword polyamory; enter your zip code or city.
Search Facebook for polyamory [your state or city].
● Look up your location in
Modern Poly's Local Group Registry, with state-by-state list and interactive map. Zoom in on the map to resolve separate pins in a single city. This list is currently the most informative and possibly the best maintained. If you're in a functioning local group that's not listed, please add it!

Here are other poly group lists, but they may not be well maintained:

Tristan Taormino's big list, on the website of her book Opening Up. (Send additions, corrections, and changes to raymond (at) puckerup.com )

Expansive Loving list. (Requires Yahoo Groups sign-in. Send additions, corrections, and changes to tara.shaktima (at) gmail.com )

Can't find a local group near you? Maybe that's the universe saying you should start it! Here's an article suggesting how, by Serolynne (written before Meetup.com became big).

And here is Bhramari Devi Dasi's story of how she started a thriving local poly group in the middle of nowhere, now with about 25 regulars. (Among other things she put this notice in the free events listing of the regional newspaper; okay to copy and re-use.)

And here are Joreth's many thoughts on the kinds of poly community events that might work in your area. She's been an organizer for a long time and has pretty much done it all.

Prefer audio? From the Polyamory Weekly podcast: Episode #181, How to attend or organize your first poly munch, and the more recent Episode #365, Building your poly community with meetups.


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