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

April 1, 2015

For newbie couples, "Polyamory 101: What the Curious Need to Know"

The Stir

A Poly 101 intro for curious couples, hitting nearly all the right notes in my opinion, just appeared in a conventional online women's magazine. The Stir is full of fashion and celebrities and describes itself this way: "We like to imagine we’re sitting in a coffee shop with a bunch of our friends. Yes, we talk about our kids — but we also talk about life.... everything from personal stories to parenting advice to decorating tips.... We will make sure you are in-the-know at the next after school activity or cocktail party!"

How do the insider views of a weird subculture get carried into a venue like this intact? By the writer stumbling onto good people to ask. Good things can happen when you make yourself known.

Incidentally, I see that both of the women the writer talked to are writing new poly guidebooks that I hadn't heard about.

Noteworthy: the story doesn't define polyamory — it assumes that the readers already know about it.

Polyamory 101: What the Curious Need to Know

bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock
Another feet-from-the-sheets stock pic.
Photographers, can you shoot some sweeter poly-
themed pix for stock agencies?
There's a demand for them.

By Adriana Velez

"I am zero percent interested in my new relationship becoming strictly monogamous," my friend revealed to me recently. A decade after her divorce, a decade of healing, dating, disappointments, and soul-searching has brought her to a place where she feels open and excited about exploring polyamory....

I asked my friend, a mother of three teens, what had changed for her. She said she'd done a lot of internal work and had finally arrived at a place where she felt like she could take care of herself and make herself happy. She feels settled in herself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually....

She's also felt a shift in how she wants to relate with other people. "I just feel like I really love having intensely close relationships with people, and that's what I do in my work, and that's how I behave in my life, and I'm just now having the courage to say that's what I want."

I think it's crucial that my friend is in this very grounded state of mind. She has just begun a relationship with a like-minded man and is looking forward to their adventures. This got us wondering about long-married couples who are also interested in exploring polyamory. How do you get started, and how do you make it a positive element in your relationship?

We asked some experts for their advice. Here are their tips.

1. Make sure your relationship is in good health before you try anything.

...Dedeker Winston, a relationship coach, author of the forthcoming book The Thinking Woman's Guide to Polyamory and member of a polyamorous community, also says that this is an important first step. "Take inventory of your relationship. How well do the two of you communicate? Do you trust each other? Do both of you have a similar vision of what the ideal romantic or sexual life would look like? What excites you about the prospect of opening up your marriage and what terrifies you? What are your insecurities?"

2. Think about why you want to try polyamory.

"Be as honest and vulnerable as possible," Winston advises. "Be aware of whether you are making this choice to bring more love, affection, intimacy, and adventure to your lives, or if you are making this choice to fix something in the relationship."

3. Do some research.

Winston recommends looking for stories from people who are practicing polyamory in a healthy way. "There are plenty of communities online, as well as numerous useful books."...

4. Communicate clearly.

"Communication is important in any relationship, and especially so in a non-monogamous context," says Winston. "It is of utmost important to be honest and active in your communication. Be honest about your desires, fantasies, insecurities, and fears, even if you're blushing like mad the whole time. Embrace these moments of vulnerability as opportunities for you and your partner to grow and deepen your intimacy. It can also be helpful to study particular communication techniques, such as non-violent communication and active listening."

5. Make sure any rules come from a positive place, not from fear.

"Because polyamory can be daunting, confronting, and scary, many couples start out making a laundry list of rules that are based in fear," Winston says....

"Instead of restricting your partner's activities, try communicating to your partner things he can do to help you feel more loved or more special," Winston suggests. "Instead of feeling like you need to keep each other 'in line' with a set of rules, communicate frequently what your desires are, and give each other opportunities to be considerate and gracious within those desires." Winston recommends creating an environment that's flexible and love-oriented, rather than harsh and regimented.

6. Create a Statement of Purpose.

Patricia Johnson, co-author of Designer Relationships: a Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory and Optimistic Open Relationships, recommends writing a mission statement or mission of purpose. "Be clear, and try to be specific about your intentions and aspirations," she says. "Instead of thinking of this as a negotiation, think of it as an exchange of ideas, hopes, and desires for the future, while keeping in mind that you are seeking common ground, areas where your sense of purpose is shared or congruent." Consider it a work in progress, something you may change over time....

A glaring omission from this section, however, is that you plan how you will treat a third person just as caringly and respectfully, even if the situation starts to stress your marriage.

7. Cultivate a spirit of shared adventure....

8. Don't rush anything.

This is the most important general principle, according to Johnson. "It is far better to attend an event or a party and to go home thinking, 'Wow, there’s so much more I could have done' than it is to wake up the next morning feeling some emotional backlash, tension between you, or a sense that you’ve gone too far."...

Read the whole article (March 30, 2015). It's been reprinted a few other places.

I wonder: is conventional poly wisdom like this repeated so often because it really is the distillation of 30 years of community experience? Or just because people repeat each other?

Both, I think, with the former driving the latter. I count our blessings that this virtuous cycle seems to be firmly established. Things might not have worked out this way.

P.S.: Dedeker talks about her poly-awareness mission, and seeks women to interview for her book, in this reddit thread (April 2, 2015).




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overrated and someone in the circle is not completely comfortable with it and it tends to fail. The good is always shown in articles, but not the negative and its a lot of it. If you have a good woman/man keep him to yourself...I lost my husband trying to be poly because he wanted the other partner instead.

April 02, 2015 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - Sounds like your situation was painful and I'm sorry to hear that.

One thing that I had to accept in any of my relationships, whether monogamous or polyamorous, is ultimately I have no control over whether or not a partner will break up with me. There are no guarantees, even if you "do everything right".


April 03, 2015 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Generally, a marriage does not end BECAUSE the couple tries poly. The vast majority of times serious problems already existed in the relationship (whether each partner consciously recognized them or not). Possibly one mate may have said they wanted to try poly in order to 'test the waters' without being honest about their true motives. Cheating is cheating no matter how one tries to label it. However, that is NOT polyamory!

April 16, 2015 3:37 PM  

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