The poly movement gets wide cred for the insights it offers everyone: Article roundup, Part 2.
Part 1 of this article collection, which I finally got up two weeks ago, became the most-read post on Polyamory in the News in 2015. Thanks!
Here's Part 2, even larger. Click the titles for the full stories.
● Ten Lessons You Learn from Being Polyamorous, from SheWired (Aug. 1, 2015):
What multiple lovers can teach you
By Sasha Garwood
Much of my recent adult life has been spent in consensual non-monogamy.... Here are some life lessons I learned…
1. Not all relationships that matter are romantic or sexual ones
Ironically enough, one of my major takeaways from non-monogamy was how significant all the sustained and meaningful relationships in my life were, not just the sexual ones. When you’re receiving emotional support and sustenance from a network of different people and your friendships may or may not contain sexual elements, you start to realize that actually the important things are intimacy and trust and closeness and loyalty, however you best perceive or interpret those things....
2. Love is not a finite resource (although time, attention and money all are)
It’s a poly truism that ‘love is not a finite resource,’ and it’s often countered with ‘maybe not, but time is.’ I learned pretty early on that I couldn’t cope with dating more than 2 or 3 people on a regular basis.... Knowing what your finite resources are, what your feelings are and how to make the two fit together to maximise everyone’s happiness and sanity is really important.
3. Sex and meaning do not necessarily correlate
...Sex doesn’t mean feelings are there if they weren’t, or make feelings change, or mean you’re compatible in ways you weren’t before. If you’re poly, it’s much more difficult to convince yourself that you should be in a relationship with someone just because you’ve had sex. This is mostly a good thing.
4. Trust your instincts.
...If you’re dating other people – or know you could if you’d like to – you get pretty good at gauging not only whether people are interested in you, but whether you’re interested in them. It also makes it very difficult to hide when things aren’t working, because other partners and lovers are sort of dragged into the mix.
5. Very few things are not improved by direct and honest communication
...The end result is that I communicate like a motherfucker. Unsettled by something? Feeling neglected or insecure or stifled? I will not only tell you in a non-antagonistic way and explain why, but also suggest what might make me feel better.
6. Everyone makes mistakes – what matters is how you deal with them
...If one person in your network (or ‘polycule’) is being a jerkwad, the repercussions ripple outward like somebody dropping Stonehenge into a puddle. You just gotta own your shit. The difference between ‘I’m really sorry, I know I did x wrong, here are the steps I am taking to fix it’ and ‘OMG I’m in such pain somebody else please fix it’ is astronomical.
7. Know what you’re getting into
...Ask them about their other partners and/or their exes. If they’re cagey, rude, dismissive or cruel, walk away....
8. It will only work if EVERYBODY is into it (it’s not for everyone)...
9. G or ICal is a godsend (because scheduling matters)...
10. Nobody has all the answers (but you can figure out a bunch of stuff about yourself)...
None of this is necessarily easy. My own shift from polyamory back to monogamy was pretty tough, not just because of giving up lovers.... The point is, one of the best things about poly is that it brings you face to face with a lot of your needs and desires and vulnerabilities – and teaches you tools to deal with them. A toolkit is a good thing, and the poly toolkit is pretty multicontextual.
● She wrote a followup with further insightful stuff: 10 Reasons to Open Up Your Relationship (Sept. 1).
...‘Because you both want to’ is the best reason of all, and if either you or your partner are not really into the idea then you probably shouldn’t. But there are actually a whole bunch of advantages to poly and open relationships that aren’t obvious if you’ve never really been exposed to them....
1) You’re not asking one person to meet all of your emotional, sexual, intellectual and practical needs
2) It solves issues of personal, sexual and social difference...
3) It helps relationships last longer (or end if they need to)...
4) It can help you both retain a sense of individuality
Opening up often helps partners to see each other as separate people, with their own tastes in people and practices, and their own exciting ideas, rather than falling into thinking of each other as two halves of the same undifferentiated unit. Plus, if you’re happy for them to see other people but they keep returning to you for love and support, it reinforces the fact that you’re together because your relationship is good and you love one another, rather than sticking in it through inertia, lack of option, or fear.
5) Monogamy is pretty much at odds with how human beings grow and change
...Open or multiple relationships afford much greater space for each person to develop individually without being stymied by needing to fill a particular role in the relationship, and often require open discussion and negotiation that is very good for the relationship. Over time, individual changes may mean changes in the relationship, but are much less likely to mean ending it (see 3).
6) You’re less tempted to try and shoehorn anybody into being ’the One’ just because you’re having sex with them...
7) Amazing support networks dedicated to one another’s wellbeing
Provided everyone involved really wants to be there, poly and open relationship networks can be sterling sources of love, support and succour through thick and thin....
8) Threesomes (or moresomes) are great...
9) It’s easier to spot and deal with abusive relationships
If you have happy, healthy relationships for comparison, it’s more difficult for anyone to gaslight you or coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do – or at least, there are more people around to notice, offer you practical and emotional support and help you to leave.... [But see here. Ed.]
10) More different, varied experiences and opportunities for personal growth
...As an exploration of self and other, poly and open relationships are brilliant – and often involve lots of sex, plenty of hugs and much intelligent discussion as well.
Many thanks to Ryll, Evan, Helen, Sarah, Helen, Emma, Eunice, Psyche, Karen, Katryn, Trish and Jenni for distilled wisdom.
● One of the sanest takes I've ever read on whole subject: The Bigger Picture of Polyamory. It was recently put up by Jasna (Dec. 27) and is being widely linked to.
I love exploring the way friendships develop. When I meet someone new, I never quite know what form that friendship will take — in the beginning, the possibilities are limitless, and that’s simultaneously exhilarating and remarkably comforting. I love watching the shape of the friendship evolve and change and discover itself.
The great majority of the time, the friendship settles into a comfortable platonic companionship. We get along well, we laugh together, we care for each other, we form happy memories. We are friends.
Sometimes it settles into a space that doesn’t quite have a good name. I have friends whom I cuddle quietly with. Friends whose hand I like holding. Friends whom I hold in my arms when they are sad, and whose forehead I kiss to comfort them. It is still a friendship, but if I were in a monogamous relationship with someone, this type of friendship would begin to blur the lines of what’s okay....
I have found that when I remove expectations for what a friendship should and shouldn’t be, it slowly begins to take its natural form, and becomes something even more beautiful.
Sometimes, the form that it takes edges into the romantic.... Navigating romance outside the norm of a common constructed social narrative is tricky at best, and forces a lot of self-exploration and communication. It requires time and emotional energy. The times in my life when I have been able to provide these things and focus on multiple romantic relationships have been some of the happiest and most rewarding in my life. But truthfully, it’s rare to have the time and energy for it.
It’s not that I’m poly because I want to be in multiple relationships. It’s just that, as I go through my life and discover the friendships and connections that naturally arise, there just isn’t a place for monogamy to comfortably fit into.
...I just want my friendships to blossom and grow and settle into their own natural level.
Read the whole article, and pass it on. One of my favorite poly sayings is "Let your relationships be what they are."
● On Vivid & Brave, "A Community & Conversation for Creative Women": Accidental Polyamory Saved My Sanity (Sept. 2):
By Markie Jones
Growing up, I tried to adhere to strict Christian values. Remember those WWJD bracelets that were popular mid-90s? I had one in just about every color.... I wanted the prince charming, once-in-a-lifetime monogamous marriage. What I got was a divorce, a baby daddy, and I became accidentally polyamorous.
...Realizing I still loved my ex-husband while falling madly in love with another man drove me to near insanity.... It wasn’t until my new love mentioned polyamory that I ever gave it a consideration. Upon learning that he subscribed to poly principles, I began my research. I found a new outlook on life.... This knowledge has allowed me to open doors to a happy and healthy blended family.
...I am now able to balance multiple relationships by applying my knowledge to both my romantic and platonic friendships. I can love more than one person and still give someone my whole being. I don’t feel the guilt that I used to because I don’t have to choose one over the other. Each person plays a very important role in my life and the lives of my children. For me, it’s brought me deeper feelings towards people in general, because I’m allowed to feel everything towards them....
● From erotic-romance author Chloe Thurlow: Why a Polyamory Affair is Good for Your Health (Sept. 3)
If an affair makes you feel as if you’re walking the highwire (breathless, excited, close to death), a polyamory affair makes you feel like you’re flying.
A polyamory affair is one where couples [sic] treat sex as fun, recreational, a joy to be liberally shared; who take lovers and encourage their partner to does the same.... In a polyamory affair, couples aren’t looking for a quick fling, but as poly flings as each partner can handle. A polyamory affair is a life-style choice, a philosophy, a desire to live fully and abundantly without lies, arguments, jealousy, possessiveness, recrimination and feelings of rejection.
A polyamory affair [that is] free from stress, heartache and bitterness is healthy, fulfilling and likely to endure. Maybe forever. And here’s the weird thing: a polyamory affair doesn’t even have to be sexual. It usually is, obviously, but it is not a precondition.
My polyamory affair is now in its third year....
● The current issue of Marie Claire, an old-school women's magazine, waxes enthusiastic but misses a lot of the message: The Next Sexual Revolution? A Look at the Estimated Millions of People Exploring Open Marriages (January 2016 print issue, online Dec. 14, 2015). Actually, it's a brief profile of three very primary couples who have side options. The theme: "Many people practicing nonmonogamy see it as a way to preserve their relationship, not implode it, says Esther Perel, marriage therapist and author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence...."
The clueless author labels one pair "The Poly Partners" even though they say "We don't have romantic partners." (No word on how their secondaries may feel about that.) And hey, the term is polyamory; the definition is built in.
● A long piece in Dame Magazine by sex-pos writer and editor Rachel Kramer Bussell: Can an Open Marriage Be a Good Marriage? (Aug. 18):
Here’s how polyamory can open up your options, from the people who are making it work.
...I wanted to find out what makes open marriages work, especially since we live in a society that is highly skeptical of the prospect. Yes, sometimes open marriages end — but many not only survive, but thrive. In fact, those in open marriages often credit polyamory with strengthening the marriage and making each of them better spouses.
...The first thing to know about open marriages is that there’s no single way of conducting them.
...When she was about to get engaged, [Lola] reconnected with her first love, and realized she still had feelings for him. They began an affair. She brought up the idea of polyamory to her now-husband, but “he didn’t understand that me being in love with someone else didn’t mean I loved him less. He couldn’t wrap his head around it.”...
Eventually, when another couple was interested in a foursome with them, he agreed to it, and this was his moment of recognition that polyamory could work for them. For a time, they would only have sex with other people together. Now, he is involved in a long-term relationship with a married woman who has two kids — Lola considers them their “poly family.” Lola dates, but isn’t looking for anything serious.
Which is to say, through trial and error, they’ve found a way to make polyamory work for them....
How to start the conversation
...According to Inara de Luna, a relationship coach who has been in open relationships for over 20 years, “It’s important for both partners to go through an assessment process to see if this relationship style might be a good fit for them. Ideally, this process should take place before there is a new erotic/romantic outside interest in a particular person. Once another human being is involved, then objectivity flies out the window and the urgency to consent becomes a pressure of its own.”...
It’s crucial that you ask the right questions. According to de Luna, they include: “What are their motivations for opening their relationship? What do they expect out of such a relationship style? And what are their needs, limits, boundaries, and triggers?”...
...Check out some of the extensive resources at polyamory sites like Opening Up, Loving More and More Than Two to find books, organizations, message boards, counselors and more who are experienced in polyamory.
Are open marriages good for marriage?
Opening up your marriage isn’t going to automatically solve interpersonal issues between spouses, but it can be a way to safely explore attractions to others and aspects of your sexuality, learn about yourself and deepen your communication with your spouse by discussing fantasies and options you might not otherwise.
The women I spoke with told me they felt they are better wives not despite their polyamorous relationships, but because of them....
● Vice magazine interviews Brandon Wade, the entrepreneur behind the dating site OpenMinded.com, and titles it Having Sex with a Bunch of People Might Save the Institution of Marriage (June 30, 2015).
Q: So polyamory is unique because it's more about building a sort of community, rather than just each person having a series of relationships. But I feel that connectivity would bring so many issues.
A: Well, you'll be interested to know I'm working with my legal team on a pre-dating agreement. It's like a prenuptial agreement that we'll be making public, hopefully by the end of the year, so that people who are about to start dating each other can negotiate the conditions and terms and put them on a piece of paper. That way, when they do break up, things can be done in a cordial and organized manner.
● I bet this had some poly influence behind it: at Mic.com, Kate Hakala writes It's Time We Embrace the Taylor Swift Theory of [non-sexual] Friendship (June 10):
We no longer have best friends. Instead, we have five of them. Or six. Or hey, maybe even an entire squad.
...Welcome to the Taylor Swift theory of friendship, where best friendship is no longer monogamous, it's an umbrella term of intimacy. Swift changes the language of BFFs from a duality to a league.
● In The Georgia Straight, alternative weekly paper of Vancouver: What I learned from dating a polyamorous Tinder match for two weeks in Europe (Sept. 8)
As our Tinder conversations turned into full-blown dates and adventures around Greece for two weeks, I learned a lot about the poly community as well as what it means to be poly.
...I was most impressed with Miss Winston’s high level of intelligence and emotional maturity. As I got to know her better, I soon realized that her many relationships contributed to her growth as a person. From my interactions with her, I got a sketch of her other partners as well, and in a way, she took the best part of her experiences with each and absorbed it into her own identity....
● As a child, a writer in a U.K. online women's magazine says she was inspired by the movie Paint Your Wagon. She muses at length about Polyamorous Relationships: Are they ideal? (May 13).
|Gracie and husband|
Right now, my marriage is mostly closed. Our lives are tremendously time-challenged. We have four kids and busy careers. But having some openness is one of many ingredients that keep the erotic life active in our marriage....
It all started a year ago, when my husband and I decided to go on an adventure. I wanted to have sex with a woman, not having done so in many years. The whole idea both titillated my husband and scared him a bit....
Bonnie, like me, was married and bisexual....
● On the website Feminista Jones, in "the Gentleman's Corner," podcaster Desmond JaMaal writes Being Polyamorous Transformed Me (Feb. 2, 2015).
A few years back, I was like water vapor and so was my relationship with love. My emotions and thoughts were like particles that did not have a defined shape or volume. I struggled with mishandling relationships and partners. I learned about polyamory and thought it might be something that would fit me, my sexual and emotional appetites, and my desire to be truly attracted and connected to more than one person. I found myself nestled like a cloud in a forest, dense with thoughts and desires. I decided I was going to be poly and that is when I transformed.
I became liquid, like water. I had a definite volume composed of honest and open inclusivity relating to the status of my multiple relationships, but I had no defined shape. My relationships could be whatever I needed them to be in any configuration I chose. My partners knew I had additional partners and were aware of my desire to express my needs in many ways....
When it comes to sexuality and love, so many of us have been conditioned by a lifetime of programming from our families, media, religious institutions, our teachers.... Feeling safe enough with your partner to break free from this programming and to pursue a lifestyle that feels GOOD to you is an unrivaled gift.
As a bisexual non-monogamous woman, and as a psychologist who specializes in relationships and sexuality, I have personally and professionally witnessed so many people who have sought out that safe place but who have been fearful to express their authentic sexuality to their partner(s).
I certainly was one of those people, but my life has been transformed as I have been traveling on a magical, soul-baring, heart-exploding, crazy challenging and totally enchanted journey into polyamory.
This is my fourth roundup of articles talking about things the poly movement offers the wider culture. Here are the batch two weeks ago, the one before that (January 2015), and the one before that (November 2014).
Lest you be gritting your teeth by now at all this happy-clappy talk, coming in a few days will be some dashes of cold water about the poly movement's gaps and failings, and genuine dangers in this thing that do real damage.
Female factoid: If you have any doubt that the polyamory movement's thought leaders and spokespeople continue to be mainly women, I tallied the genders of the authors of all 33 articles in these four collections. Where the gender could be judged, there are 25 women authors and 5 men.
This 5-to-1 ratio even beats the 3-to-1 female ratio for the authors of the 42-plus nonfiction polyamory books — counting those that have been published in a printed edition, in English, since the movement took shape around 1984. Updating that list is on my to-do calendar!