Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

April 28, 2016

"Meet the People In 'Quads' "


Something I notice: the larger the relationship structure, the less often it occurs. In the poly world you see more vees than full triads (whether sexual all around or not), more triads than quads, more quads than quints. Extend the trend the other way, and this is why I think most people will always just form couples, even in the fully poly-aware and poly-accepting future that's coming.

This larger-is-rarer rule breaks down when relationships spread out to become a larger poly network: a tribe or community. Big "extended family" networks with indistinct edges are common, but they usually contains nodes of core couples or threes.

I haven't seen quads getting much attention lately. Usually formed by two couples, they have a reputation in some quarters as more stable than triads and in others as more trouble-prone, as in the snarky formula (dating to Deborah Anapol in the early 1990s) "2+2 —> 3+1."

This piece about quads just appeared on Connections.Mic:

Meet the People In 'Quads,' or Foursome Relationships

By Sophie Saint Thomas

We've heard of throuples, or couples who invite a third party into their relationship. But is there such thing as a couple that dates another couple? In the poly community, there is, although it's relatively uncommon: When two couples are in a relationship, it's known as a "quad."

What is a quad? One fairly successful quad is Jill*, 42; her husband and primary (a term used to describe her primary relationship partner) Eric, 48; Amanda, 38; and Amanda's primary Mark, 39.

The four are the founders of the app The Poly Life, which they created as a way to organize details such as sleeping and dating schedules. They live under one roof with a combined total of seven children, whom they parent collectively.

"In layman's terms, [a quad] means we are four people and in our relationship, we happen to be two committed couples and some of us have outside lovers. [In our quad] the couples date each other, both women are bisexual and sleep with each other, and the men can play (like a threesome with two men, one woman) but are not sexual with each other. The men identify as straight," Jill explained in an email last week.

..."I've seen occasional instances where everyone is sexually involved with everyone else, but that's quite rare," [Franklin] Veaux said in a Skype interview last week....

To establish a successful quad, all parties must communicate to ensure they are on the same page.

...Jill and Eric worked through the jealousy issues, and they now have identified as polyamorous for seven years. They met their current partners, Amanda and Mark, at a church function, of all places. "We live in a Christian, conservative neighborhood. We started out as friends, and it was a great surprise when we both had feelings for them," Jill said.

They've been in a relationship with Amanda and Mark for 3 1/2 years. "We still have hard days, but they're far between," Jill said.

...The key to their success, as is the case in all relationships, has been communicating openly and honestly with each other about the challenges of being in a quad. "Listening and not reacting takes practice, and with such busy lives, we can get triggered and communication can break down," Jill said. "Communication, ego-checks and scheduling is crucial to making us work."

The four of them co-parent their collective seven children, being honest with them about their bedroom schedule, which they say has led to good-natured jokes from the children. "We have a schedule of who sleeps with [whom] in what bed," Eric said. "It's become something a few of our kids now joke about when we deviate from the schedule like, 'Oh, Jill's fighting with Eric because Mark is in the guest room,' (and Jill is sleeping with Amanda)."

..."What I tend to see happen many times [says Veaux] is that you'll have two couples that will start dating in a quad because they believe that's a way to avoid dealing with jealousy or insecurity [by having the same number of partners]. Like if I've got two partners, and my wife has two partners, then we both have two partners so nobody is going to feel jealous. When you try to deal with jealousy by creating structure instead of dealing with insecurity, it tends not to work."

Entering into a quad for the wrong reasons typically leads to chaos and hurt feelings. Often, the partners will just break up for each other. "What they'll end up doing is swapping couples and then breaking up," Veaux said. "That happens so often it's almost a trope."

Bottom line: "Don't look to being in a quad to solve problems where somebody is not getting what they want. It might work, it might not," Veaux warned.

But if two couples enter a quad because they have feelings for each other, rather than trying to fix a hole within their own relationship, the benefits can be enormous — for the entire family.

"We raise all the children as if they are our own," Jill said. "If one of us can't be at one of our kids' events, we cover each other. The other benefits, for us, are companionship, emotional and financial support. Sharing our finances with each other and working towards bigger goals has been extraordinary: Because the money pot is bigger when you have four people contributing, our goals are becoming real. We're one big-ass happy family!"...

Read the whole article (April 26, 2016).



April 24, 2016

"Building the Poly Movement": My keynote speech at Rocky Mountain Poly Living

Loving More puts on two Poly Living conventions each year, in Philadelphia and Denver. I went to my first Rocky Mountain Poly Living April 15–17 and gave the keynote talk starting things off Friday evening. People asked me to put it online. Here it is.

You may recognize some of my central themes.


Building the Poly Future

When Robyn [Trask] asked me to do this talk I knew what I wanted to say. Three things to say, actually — to lay out a larger perspective on what we’re doing here this weekend.

First: It’s a great time to be a relationship revolutionary.

We’re incredibly lucky to live in a time when ideas like ours can be noticed, take root, and thrive. Think what we’re doing. We are confronting the world with deep new relationship values, new modes of formerly forbidden loving intimacy, new family structures, and new demands for self-determination — all with high ideals of ethics, honesty, and communication. The world is noticing, and the world is fascinated. The wind is with us.

Now a whole lot of things in the world today look like they’re getting worse. But it warms me no end to see that public understanding of the possibility of multiple love and group relationships, and acceptance of relationship choice, is one thing that looks like it’s just going to get better and better in the coming years. And we right here have been a big part of making that happen. Loving More was there when this movement was barely a movement. . . . (Do fundraising plug for Loving More.)

One thing I’ve been doing is running a website called Polyamory in the News. In the last 11 years it’s reported on over 2,000 newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV broadcasts, and new-media stories of all kinds, during the decade when the poly movement really came onto the world’s radar. And most of the trends I’ve seen happening are really good. I’m doing a workshop on that tomorrow.

And by the way, if you might like to go on TV or radio representing for polyamory, you probably can. The demand for articulate, out polys willing to do media exceeds the supply. Talk to Robyn about that. She can help train you up with some basic tips, and send you good media inquiries that Loving More gets. She’s particularly looking to get a wider diversity of people than you usually see representing us on TV.

This wider exposure of our ideas is beginning to change the wider culture. The media exposure we’ve been getting is pretty darn good, by and large – partly because this movement is blessed with so many fine people who set good examples, and partly because we’ve been emphasizing things like how much polyfolks care for each other, and work to try to make their relationships good for everyone involved, and how this requires efforts to develop communication and relationship skills that monogamous people can learn from too. But most of all, healthy polyamorous relationships are just gradually becoming more familiar. Normalized.

The world is learning the word. The idea that happy multi-love relationships really exist, are actually happening, that they can be a rich, successful way of life for certain people – is much more out there than it used to be. There’s been an especially big rush of this in just the last 8 or 9 months. It’s growing and it will keep growing. The world is increasingly ready to hear us, and see us, and consider our examples. To realize the existence of what Elisabeth Sheff-Stefanik calls the polyamorous possibility.

There will continue to be a lot of pain and discrimination. There will continue to be trouble from your birth families, and from hostile judges in child-custody cases, and from bosses who may fire you and landlords who may evict you. But gradually less with time.

In the last 5 or 10 years we’ve successfully defined ourselves to the public as what we know ourselves to be: ethical people who care deeply about good relationships — smart, interesting, friendly people — nonthreatening and respectful of all well-considered relationship choices, monogamy included — and by and large just kind of adorable. The longer we keep doing this, the firmer a defense we’re building against any future backlashes or moral panics.

It is going to get easier. It's going to get easier to be out. And when that happens, the dam will really burst.

Remember, the dam broke on gay issues when a flood of gay people finally got sick of the closet and came out all over the place in just a few years in the mid-1980s. We’re not quite there yet. But it’s going to happen.


Now the second message. And maybe you’ve heard this from me before.

You see in social movements throughout history, that the people who push for years to get a bandwagon rolling are often unprepared for what to do when the bandwagon finally starts to move.

No longer is it all about a few devoted people grunting and straining from behind to make the bandwagon’s wheels move half an inch. When the effort begins to succeed, the bandwagon starts rolling on its own, faster and faster.

And unless the people with the original vision stop just shoving the rear bumper and run up and grab the steering wheel, pretty soon the bandwagon outruns them and leaves them behind. And their elation turns to horror as they watch it careen downhill out of control, in disastrous unintended directions. And then it wrecks itself spectacularly in a ditch. Survivors loot the wreckage and disappear, and onlookers nod their heads knowingly and say they saw it coming all along.

I say this as a veteran of the 1960s. Think what happened to the psychedelic drug movement back then, for instance. Think what happened when psychedelic experimentation grew from a thing a few philosophers and intellectuals were doing, picked up speed, and rolled downmarket.

Could something like that happen to our movement?

I keep hearing disturbing ways that the word “polyamory,” as it spreads, is becoming used out there as just a hip-sounding new term for old-style screwing around without regard for other people. Without our defining values of communication, honesty, respect. And love, the great clarifier of values.

This is from Louisa Leontiades, a poly-community activist in Europe and author of The Husband Swap, in an article she titled “The Mass Exodus of Polyamorous People Towards Relationship Anarchy”:

Despite the fact that the polyamorous community says it over and over again — polyamory is ‘not just about sex’ — the perception and focus on sex as the principal driver of polyamorous relationships is not only incorrect, but it has damaged the real meaning of polyamory to such an extent that I don’t know whether we can recover the word.

And, this was posted by someone on the reddit/r/polyamory group (with 34,000 members) a couple weeks ago, in a discussion called “Is poly losing the amory?”

I've stopped using the label for myself, after attending events, and meeting hundreds of people who call themselves polyamorous [this sounds like the Poly Cocktails events that have been set up in various cities] but seem to have very little concept of love, or concept of relationships being things that are worth working at, but somehow expect them to appear by magic because you meet someone who embraces the same label.

I urge you to speak up and jump on that kind of misuse of the word polyamory whenever you see or hear it. It’s actually amazing how far the social influence of one forthright person speaking up can spread.

If we are to save our defining word from a loss of meaning – the term by which we can find each other and identify ourselves – and guide this bandwagon in good directions as it gains momentum – we should, in my opinion, be taking every opportunity to do several things:

1. Keep stressing that successful polyamory requires high standards of communication, ethics, integrity, generosity, and concern for every person affected;

2. Emphasize that poly is not for everyone, and that monogamy is right and best for many. Relationship choice is the mantra we want to repeat.

3. Insist on the part of the definition that stresses respect for everyone, and the "full knowledge and consent of all involved";

4. Expand that to not just "knowledge and consent," but well-wishing and good intention for all involved. The defining aspect of polyamory, I'm convinced — the thing that sets it apart and makes it powerful and radical and transformative — is in seeing one's metamours not as rivals to be resented, or even as neutral figures to be tolerated, but as, at minimum, reasonable friends or extended family even — for whom you genuinely wish good things. (And beyond that, of course, there's no limit to how close you can become.) This is what differentiates poly from merely having affairs: a sense that at least to some degree, “We’re all in this together.” When this happens poly becomes a generalization of the particular magic of romantic love — into something wider, more widely applicable, than the dominant paradigm of a couple carefully walling away their particular love from anything to do with the rest of humanity.

5. Warn people that, while poly can open extraordinary new worlds of joy and wonder and may help to humanize the world, its benefits must be earned: through courage, hard relationship-honesty work, self-examination, tough personal growth, and a quick readiness to (as they say in the Marines) "choose the difficult right over the easy wrong."

And I also think we have an opportunity here, with this new identity we’ve been creating, to cut across some of the divides between cultures and races and classes and other identifications that are all around us. These societal things are huge and daunting and a lot bigger than us. But by gathering diverse people who share an interesting new way of thought, a new type of identity, we have a chance to intersect through a lot of those other identities, to the strengthening of everyone. We’ll be weaker if we fail to do this.

So please — with the bandwagon now starting to roll fast on its own momentum, let's not let it run away from us in the coming years to the point that "polyamory" goes mass-market as something careless or trivial, or in any way less than what we know it to be.


Okay, third and last message. And this is going to be a little far out.

I want to look ahead farther into the future, where a lot of things in the world may get grim.

Barry Smiler, who runs the BMore Poly network out of Baltimore, has said,

I'm more than half convinced that in the future when historians look back on the poly movement, we'll be remembered not so much for multiple partners, but rather as the cauldron in which was developed some powerful tools and frameworks for discussing and negotiating win-win in relationship situations.

In other words, we’re among the people developing powerful tools and frameworks for getting along intimately in close, complex social structures. Maybe you see where this is going.

150 or 200 years from now, as I sometimes guess, I see surviving cultures spreading out and recolonizing over the climate-changed, resource-overshot wreckage of the 21st and 22nd centuries.

Getting to a sustainable world on the other side of whatever’s coming — “sustainable” meaning a world that is both good and able to lastwill not happen without the emergence of genuinely attractive life alternatives to high material consumption.

A sustainable world will surely require more people sharing homes, kitchens, child-rearing, goods and resources of all kinds. Life in more crowded quarters, in a low-consumption economy of resource-sharing, is generally a worse way to live in the present culture. People strive hard all their lives to move in the opposite direction: to get bigger, emptier homes farther apart. Closer living, using less material goods, will truly attract people only in a new culture of unusually high interpersonal and group-living skills by today’s standards.

Forget sex and romance for a moment. I see today’s polyamory community gardening up sprouts of these next-level interpersonal and group-interaction skills – the practices, and ideology, and value system of a new culture. I really want these ideas and practices to take root well enough to survive through ugly times, if that’s what’s coming, and be there to seed the ground on the other side.

Back to sex and romance. A sustainable world is going to require attractive ways to pursue and acquire richness and purpose and meaning in life that do not involve Getting More Stuff. The ways that people find richness and value and meaning will need to have low resource costs. Which means, finding these things in each other. As the bumpersticker says: “The best things in life aren’t things.”

A culture offering wide possibilities for romance and sexual intimacy, or even just deeply intimate socialization throughout life, can offer abundant richness and purpose. A materially simple life need not be simple in any other way.

I think that the polyamory paradigm will help to humanize societies. Thus helping to provide ways to lead rich, rewarding, meaning-filled lives without the Earth-killing pursuit of Ever More Stuff.

Also: Sexual repression in a culture is an accurate predictor (as the CIA is said to be quite aware) of a culture’s tendency toward war hysterias, religious fanaticism, submission to authoritarian rule, and pathologies of denialism toward reality-based ways of thought. So, a safer world will have to be freer of it. And we’re on the intellectual cutting edge against sexual repression.

So then: Is this really the great future that the poly movement has ahead for us?

Well, as the computer pioneer Alan Kay said long ago:

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Thank you.


Update: Anton of polyamory.progressor.ru has translated this into Russian. He comments, "The first part of the speech is quite tied to American conditions, though public interest in non-monogamous relationships is present in the Russian-speaking world. The third part is a little too alarmist for my taste. The second part, in my opinion, is universal and important for the Russian-speaking community."

Update: Now it's in German too: Die Zukunft der Polyamorie Bewegung.


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April 22, 2016

"It’s even harder than you think. Google can help."

Portland Monthly

An upscale city magazine in one of America's poly seedbeds offers some good basic guidance to newbies. Here's another example of media no longer just spotlighting human-interest stories ("Lookit the weirdos!") but meeting a perceived demand for how-to information as a public service.

In its entirety:

How to Do Polyamory, Successfully

It’s even harder than you think. Google can help.

By Marty Patail

Russell and Gina have been married since 2011. Both have other romantic partners also in polyamorous marriages. And those partners have other relationships. And so on. (It’s harder than you think!)

1. There’s no such thing as TMI. It’s all about communication. Not only do Gina and Russell make time for daily conversations, check-ins, and tell-alls, they are in constant contact via text or phone whenever they spend time with their other partners. Explains Russell: “It helps defuse things like jealousy and envy. It helps set expectations — when I’ll be leaving, when I’ll be coming back. It provides transparency.”

2. Become a planner — or else. For Gina and Russell, every date, activity, or evening on the couch requires coordination among as many as eight people (since each of their other partners is also in polyamorous relationship). The one indispensable tool: a shared Google calendar, where everyone can log and view plans, dates, and vacations up to a year in advance. “Time is the most valuable resource within a poly relationship,” Gina says. That’s a big part of my partner selection: can someone be consistent and not flaky with their time?”

3. Be prepared to grow. Russell and Gina stress that polyamory frequently puts them in difficult situations, in which they are forced to analyze their own feelings and behavior. “There’s a growth opportunity in being able to see your partner in love with someone else,” says Russell by way of example. “In polyamory we call that ‘compersion.’ It just means the flip side of jealousy. It’s an opportunity for growth, for overcoming jealousy.”

4. Get to know your lovers’ lovers. Poly couples [sic] still get jealous. According to Gina, they deal with it by getting to know the other people in their partner’s lives. “The tendency is to build things up in your head. ‘I haven’t met you, so you must be way cuter, younger, smarter, sexier.’ It helps alleviate a lot of concerns if you get face to face.”

5. Never force it. Some think polyamory is a lifestyle; others think it’s a sexual orientation. (Russell is in the former camp, Gina in the latter.) Either way, Gina says, building a monogamous relationship with a someone who you hope will be open to polyamory later is a bad idea. “Having someone change who they are for you is not a good way to go.”

This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of Portland Monthly.

The original (April 22, 2016). It's part of a six-part feature on love and dating in Stumptown. Portland Magazine claims to sell more than twice as many copies in Oregon as any other magazine.


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April 20, 2016

You Me Her: News, reviews & recaps halfway through Season 1

You Me Her, the Audience Network's "polyromantic comedy" series that began on March 22, last night aired Episode 5 of its ten-episode first season. You can watch the show Tuesday nights at 9 ET on DirecTV or AT&T's U-verse, or anytime online if you have a DirecTV account. Episodes run one hour. Director John Scott Shepherd is already saying Season 2 will be "wild."

The concept in case you missed it: A stale married couple fall in love with a wild girl (a grad student and sex worker) and vice versa. Awkward triad dramedy goes round and round, as the relationship slowly grows more serious among all three.

Here's a promo video in which Shepherd describes the show's goals (2:40):

Billy Holder, a longtime polyfamily member, activist, and the creator of Atlanta Poly Weekend, is posting weekly recaps on his blogsite. Short version: he's impressed. The show isn't perfect, he says, but it treats the subject and the characters with respect, and it builds on some genuine, all-too-common situations among polyamory newbies.

Brief excerpts from his posts:

Episode 1:

...Sitting there watching this story, I almost forgot that it was a fictional portrayal. I seriously felt as if I was watching my neighbors, or myself. They did a great job with researching the topic, and the producers really found a way to make this seem real....

At one point Emma (Rachel Blanchard) says to husband Jack (Greg Poelher), “I want to know everything that happened.” I said out loud, “No you really don't. It won't help.” Why? Because I have lived this moment, early on in our explorations into polyamory and open relationships....

Episode 2:

A few things to highlight that I thought were good examples of responsible nonmonogamy behaviors....

[A stormy scene] shows a healthy respect for the relationship they have with each other. Even though emotionally passionate, people are discussing, being open, transparent and sharing emotions. Additionally, showing that it is OK to seek a mental health provider to be a go-between, mediator, to help sort stuff out.

...From a polyamorist’s perspective, this episode was fun and realistic. I commend the show’s creators for accurately depicting a couple falling into a poly relationship. Clumsily like so many do. [The characters] haven’t read any books, they haven’t searched any websites or gone to meetups. They are learning the hard way. Like so many of us have. It isn’t always pretty and fun. It is scary, hard, emotional, and challenges us to be our best self. I think this show has shown that.

Episode 3:

[In] several minutes of stumbling conversation, obviously all people in this are very nervous.... Jack and Emma are shown as almost joined at the hip, standing as one, a couple, a unit. While Izzy is shown alone, moving around a lot, much like a free spirit, single. Emma mentions she hasn’t done anything like this since college… then says, “Omg I just used that line.” In noticing how nervous she sounds in her own head, Izzy asks, “Is my voice as shaky out loud?”

...[Later] as they are smoking [weed] and getting high, they begin to talk about their actions in regards to each other. Emma and Jack talk about their masturbation sessions at work. Then realizing how they may sound creepy, Emma stops and asks if Izzy is freaked out. (Awww, checking on the emotional reaction.) Izzy: “I’m way too self-conscious to be upset. I am flattered that anyone would jack off to me.” Laughs all around…. Then a look of terror strikes Emma as she is faced with the reality that feelings are growing, as she sees something in the way Jack looked at Izzy....

Emma and Jack begin to discuss how, what and when things will happen with Izzy. However, they never ask Izzy what she wants. Izzy even calls them out for it at one point, saying "Thanks for remembering I’m in the room and a human being!”

Have you ever heard the term “couple privilege”? This scene was a FANTASTIC example. Izzy has been unicorned. She is the perfect fit for this couple and the perfect HBB (hot bi babe) that can fill their void.

A conversation about Izzy’s wants, needs, and expectations still was not had on camera.

...Emma and Izzy are in heavy NRE [new-relationship energy] and make very common mistakes of NRE.... Emma fesses up and tells the truth about what happened. I'm here to tell you that is never easy. But it is a requirement.... Honesty is where trust is built.

Again I think the show is doing a really good job of telling the story in a realistic way.

Episode 4:

Another good one. Really insightful into what happens to poly people when their mono friends find out that they are having relationships beyond the “approved societal standards.” All three characters end up in conversations with their friends and neighbors, in which they're told how “this” is going to ruin their marriage, or in the case of Izzy, end up with “someone getting hurt, most likely you.”

The episode opens with Jack and Emma having some pretty incredible sex. They actually talk about what is and isn’t working, what positions feel the best and not so good. Really good sex-positive example. Then Emma asks, “What got into you? We were damn sexy!” Then, “What if it is all Izzy?”

[Later: Jack goes to Izzy's apartment and announces the whole relationship is over, including between Izzy and Emma.] Izzy throws a salute and says, “Oh, says the misogynistic dickface. I am going to consider this evening's appointment [with you] cancelled and whatever the rest of us consenting adults decide to do is up to us.” Yay Izzy standing up for herself and her relationship with Emma!.... [Of course, in about one minute Jack and Izzy are right back to screwing hotter than ever.]

● Here's an interview with producer Shepherd, on Wheretowatch.com: We Chat With the Creator of TV’s First Polyromantic Comedy (April 15, 2016).

By Bryan Abrams

After watching a couple of episodes of You Me Her, you realize that a lot of the story-beats you were waiting for haven't arrived, and the show is moving to its own peculiar, beguiling rhythm. In fact, you realize you've never seen TV quite like it, and that perhaps it really is television's first "polyromantic comedy," as the show's been billed. Neither dark and twisted or goofy and unrealistic, You Me Her is a look at what might actually happen to a married couple if they both had real feelings for the same woman....

Let's start with the casting, which is always crucial, and especially so here, considering we spend almost all our time with the three leads.

The casting philosophy was that these are real people in the real world. A lot of extramarital shows get sort of un-relatable, you know, like pretend frogs in real gardens, with no consequences or stakes — they seem to exist in a vacuum. The whole idea of You Me Her was, what if? What if this was happening to me in main street, Portland. That idea drove us....

...The premise of a polyromantic relationship has been explored before, but not quite in a true rom-com fashion. What intrigued you about doing it this way?

All these assumptions about our happiness, relationship wise, what works for us, the idea that everyone’s happiness works the same — that’s not the case.... The idea of approaching polyamory as a polyromantic comedy, that’s not about dire circumstances and damaged people hurting each other, appealed to me. What if this is right for these three?... The hardest part of rom-coms is finding a real reason to pull the two lovers apart. Also, to make it the guy who's struggling.... Instead of him being the one that's the happiest with the arrangement, he’s the one with most at stake, he’s the most wary of it, he’s the most concerned that he may end up the odd man out....

Deadline Hollywood: Audience Network’s ‘Kingdom’ And ‘You Me Her’ Push Boundaries (April 10):

...Meanwhile, You Me Her seeks to introduce the word “polyamory” into the national vocabulary. Created by John Scott Shepherd and inspired by a Playboy magazine article [allegedly, but maybe not really –Ed.], the story examines the love affair between two women and a man.

Appearing on the [April 10 "Contenders" Emmys] panel with cast members Rachel Blanchard and Priscilla Faia, Shepherd said the show attempts to show such a relationship from a realistic perspective, showing ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. He said the audience should be able to imagine themselves caught in such a dilemma.

He called the series part of a trend toward the “prestige half hour” in television. Shepherd also noted that while the series seeks to be naturalistic, “Season 2 is wild.”

● Priscilla Faia, who plays Izzy, had this to say during an interview on Untitled TV (April 12):

Q: Polyamorous relationships are still a foreign concept to most of us. Through the course of filming did you learn anything about them that made you think differently about them?

To be honest, polyamory was a totally new concept for me. I hadn’t heard much about it before in a real context. I think a lot of people have a false impression that polyamory is like swinging. Swinging is described as sex oriented. Polyamory is based around creating deep relationships with more than one person. I thought that was interesting. I’m a huge advocate for people expressing themselves however they see fit. So I was down....

● Faia also gave an interview to GoldDerby (April 6), with video:

"I think people are going to be very surprised," declares Priscilla Faia as we chat via webcam about her new DirecTV's series You Me Her. "...The show’s not about sex, it’s about connection and relationships."

As she explains, “You see this guy, who’s married, who is possibly maybe having a threesome with these two women, but it is so different from that. It’s totally told from a unique perspective. It’s about the average joe, this suburban couple that are really falling for this girl and she is falling for them.... We’re moving into an era where we have all these shows that are really uncomfortably honest, but that’s why they’re so funny, because everyone that watches it says, 'Oh god, I know exactly what that’s like.' It’s relatable.”

Rather than being apprehensive about the subject matter, she was keen to shine a light on people and relationships that do not neatly fit the stereotypes we normally see on television. "I really loved the possibility of being part of something that would stir up some conversation.... What if the life that you want to live is nothing like you thought it was going to be. Would you risk it all to live it? That’s the big message of our show.”

● Meanwhile, Dan Gainor of the wingnutty Media Research Center declares on talk radio that You Me Her is "putting a nuclear weapon under the nuclear family and destroying it" (as reported by Right Wing Watch, a project of the liberal People for the American Way; April 18).

● My previous posts about the show, which include some video clips:

March 23: A poly review of You Me Her

March 22: You Me Her, DirecTV's "polyromantic comedy," debuts tonight

March 9: You Me Her: a "polyromantic comedy" debuts March 22 on Audience Network


Update, May 4: A longer, deeper interview with the show's two main actresses, at Paste magazine: Rachel Blanchard and Priscilla Faia Talk Polyamory and You Me Her (May 4).



April 19, 2016

"Polyamorous women aren’t just ‘pleasing their man’ – it’s a choice"

The Guardian

Author Laura Smith, writing from a feminist viewpoint in today's Guardian, defends polyamory against some classic criticisms from the clueless.

With an emphasis on the most-famous-ever feminist open couple.

Polyamorous women aren’t just ‘pleasing their man’ — it’s a choice

The open relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre is frequently and wrongly written off. Such arrangements have women-friendly roots.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were together for 51 years, until Sartre’s death in 1980. (STF/AFP)

By Laura Smith

“People have had open marriages for ever … But they never end up working long-term.”

That statement by the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher must have been news to Simone de Beauvoir, the famously non-monogamous French feminist existentialist.

Fisher’s pronouncement, quoted in the New York Times recently, would also be questioned by the numerous celebrities said to have “arrangements”, and the half million or so of Fisher’s fellow Americans giving polyamory a try.

De Beauvoir considered her open relationship with Sartre the “one undoubted success in my life”. In terms of longevity, they had about half of us beat: their relationship, which allowed for affairs while they remained essential partners, lasted 51 years until Sartre’s death in 1980. Now, 30 years after De Beauvoir’s death, many of the criticisms of polyamory are rooted in the same stifling beliefs about female sexuality that she strove to dismantle in her day.

Take for example, the bias that “women only open up their relationships to please variety-seeking men”, which Anna North admitted was often assumed to be the case in an article on why we should be less “freaked out” by polyamory.... At the core of the assumption that non-monogamous women are doing what men want – not what they want – is a more pervasive assumption about female sexuality: it is men who have complex sexual needs, not women.

But as Libby Copeland argued, polyamory has woman-friendly roots: “Free love rejected the tyranny of conventional marriage, and particularly how it limited women’s lives to child-bearing, household drudgery, legal powerlessness, and, often enough, loveless sex.”

In an article on straight poly-relationships in Seattle, Jessica Bennett writes that, “the community has a decidedly feminist bent: women have been central to its creation, and ‘gender equality’ is a publicly recognised tenet of the practice”.

The actress Mo’Nique says that her open relationship was her idea. Simone de Beauvoir didn’t see herself as a tag-along polyamorist either. Attracted to both men and women, her open relationship meant that she didn’t have to choose between them. She felt the “urge to embrace all experience”, saw the ability to act on desire as essential to liberating oneself from male sovereignty, and was seeking to answer the question that we still grapple with today: “Is there any possible reconciliation between fidelity and freedom?” Polyamory, according to Copeland, was not just about sex, but about “remaking one’s own little corner of the world”, a terrifying prospect to those who want the world to remain the same, especially when it comes to established gender roles....

Read the whole article (April 19, 2016).


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April 13, 2016

"Are Young People Really More Open to Polyamory or Do We Just Like to Cheat?"

Sigh. A staff writer for Vice who thinks "polyamory" just means, you know, dating, and who's fixated on cheating and jealousy, interviews Jillian Deri, author of Love's Refraction: Jealousy and Compersion in Queer Women's Polyamorous Relationships. Does he even hear her?

At least she gets plenty of space to explain things to those who do.

Are Young People Really More Open to Polyamory or Do We Just Like to Cheat?

By Jake Kivanç

...My generation's defining romantic issue is simple: we all hate to be heartbroken, yet we're all probably breaking somebody else's heart in the process.

This age of youth — the blasted millennials — have been tagged by the media as "polyamorous": a compulsion for sleeping with and/or dating multiple people. Some people swear by it.... Others think it's just an excuse to cheat, a byproduct of a generation too gung-ho on fucking on the first date.

...What isn't totally accepted yet, however, is how to deal with the jealousy that comes along with that rabid desire for multiple partners, or how that carries over into an actual relationship.

VICE reached out to Jillian Deri, a sex sociologist and professor at Simon Fraser University. Deri authored a book called Love's Refraction, which focuses on how polyamorous couples deal with jealousy and learn to love their partner loving other people. We talked about why my peers seem so compelled to cheat, and whether whippersnappers like myself are truly ready to take the plunge into open relationships.

VICE: How would you describe what polyamory is?

Jillian Deri: It's useful to distinguish between a poly relationship and a non-monogamous relationship. People who are poly tend to have emotional connections to more than one person, as opposed to people who are just dating around. People who are generally monogamous in their heart and are just dating around until they settle down are not necessarily poly, because poly people tend to want friendships, deep connections, or potentially love with multiple people.

Is there any evidence that shows there are people who are able to turn off their jealousy alarms off and have open relationships without the conflicting emotions we associate with monogamy?

Jillian Deri
Definitely, there's lots of people who've done so, we just don't have any studies to really back it up. In my [research], jealousy can range from a slight tinge of uneasiness to full on emotional upset. The theory that I particularly honed in was a word called "compersion," a word coined by polyamorous people to mean the opposite of jealousy. It's when a partner actually feels pleasure by their partner's other love. It's interesting that the English dictionary doesn't have an official word for this. The only potential outcome that we know of in Western society of you being with somebody else is jealous.... I studied how poly people make compersion possible in relationships.

This idea of compersion: Is it something that is learned or are some people more prone to have less jealous personalities?

Who knows? It could be based upon individual relationships and how secure you feel. You might be with somebody who makes you fiery with jealousy, and another person who just makes you feel secure. Often it has to do with the power dynamic and where the relationship is going or if there's potential for growth.... At the start of a relationship or at the end of relationship, we tend to be more jealous because we wonder how the other person feels or if they've lost interest.

...Almost everybody I know that's tried an open relationship has failed because somebody starts getting jealous of how many people their partner is hooking up with compared to them. Is that a common trend in poly relationships?

Not necessarily, it's something that requires planning and maturity....

Read the whole article (April 11, 2016).

● On another note, remember that nice little Newsy video that was going all around the media's nooks and crannies last week? Newsy has since put out five more. They're all from the same sitting, where a friendly interviewer talks about various poly issues with three happy and articulate millennials (one genderqueer) who are raising kids in a vee triad. Yay for great representation! I've updated my post with links to all six videos.



April 12, 2016

Polygamous living, cohabitation recriminalized in Utah with federal court ruling

The polygamy and polyamory rights movement lost a round yesterday, when a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Utah judge's 2013 ruling against the state's ban on a married person living with another in marriage-like cohabitation or claiming to be married to more than one person, even informally.

The court did not rule on the merits of the case, but instead declared the case moot (i.e. not an issue) because the Kody Brown "Sister Wives" family, who brought suit against Utah, are not in danger of being prosecuted. State prosecutors have said they will only move against polygamists when there's evidence of additional crimes, such as abuse or financial fraud.

Kody Brown, center, poses with his wives, from left, Janelle, Christine, Meri, and Robyn in a promotional photo for ”Sister Wives.” (TLC)

The Browns' lawyer, constitutional expert Jonathan Turley, says they will appeal. The case may reach the Supreme Court.

US News gives a succinct report. Notice that they begin the story with the polyamory angle, not polygamy. Times have changed:

Polygamous Living Recriminalized in Utah With Federal Court Ruling

Cohabitators are outlaws again, but Utah says it won't go fishing.

A three-judge federal appeals court panel on Monday handed a setback to the burgeoning polyamorous rights movement, reversing a lower court ruling that decriminalized polygamous cohabitation in Utah.

The case was brought by the five-spouse Brown family of "Sister Wives" reality-TV fame after local authorities openly investigated them for violating a state law against multispouse living arrangements. The family intends to appeal the latest ruling, their attorney Jonathan Turley said in a statement.

The Browns are fundamentalist Mormons who argue the U.S. Constitution allows them to live according to the teachings of their faith. They fled Lehi, Utah, in January 2011 after a deputy Utah County attorney quipped the family "made it easier for us by admitting to felonies on national TV."

In 2013, the family won a first-of-its-kind ruling from U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, who ruled the First Amendment protected the Browns from such a ban and that – in light of the 2003 Supreme Court decision shielding consensual same-sex sodomy from state laws – such a prohibition also violates the Constitution's Due Process Clause.

The law challenged by the Browns says "a person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person." Waddoups ordered "or cohabits with another person" be deleted and narrowed the meaning of "purports to marry" but allowed a ban on multiple marriage licenses.

Like most other polygamists, Kody Brown only is legally married to his first wife, Meri, though he has children and lives with each of the four women. The family currently lives in Nevada.

On appeal, state officials argued the Browns had no right to sue, as the Utah County Attorney's Office had adopted a policy mooting the case in 2012, after the lawsuit was filed but before Waddoup's ruling. The prosecutor's office policy allows for prosecution of bigamy only under two conditions: when someone remarries without dissolving their first marriage or when bigamous couples or unwedded cohabitators are "also engaged in some type of abuse, violence or fraud."

Though Waddoups dismissed the policy as an attempt to avoid a ruling on the Browns' claims, the appeals court judges found the policy did moot the case and overturned Waddoups' ruling without consideration of the consitutional issues.

"Of course a future county attorney could change the UCAO Policy, but that possibility does not breathe life into an otherwise moot case," the 10th Circuit appeals panel ruled.

Utah federal solicitor Parker Douglas, who defended the state law. says the Utah County policy is, to the best of his knowledge, maintained by every county in the state as well as by the state attorney general's office. He doubts a sudden boom in prosecutions.

The Monday ruling, he says, "means that the law is what the law was before the lawsuit was ever filed. It is a crime under the Utah bigamy statute for someone who is legally married to one person to cohabitate with others who are not their legal spouse, or purport to be married to them."...

Douglas says it's important that the law remain on the books because there's often an evidentiary problem against polygamy-practicing groups that engage in secretive practices such as child marriage and rape.

"To think it's just a matter of consenting adults is ignorant and naive as to how polygamy is sometimes practiced in Utah," he says....

And then the story quotes our own Robyn Trask, director of the Loving More nonprofit, representing the much broader modern, secular polyamory movement:

"We really have to separate the issues of polygamy form the issues of abuse," counters Robyn Trask, executive director of the Colorado-based polyamorist advocacy group Loving More.

"It's actually the abuse that's the problem," says Trask, who lives with her husband but has two other long-term partners. "Abuses don't just happen in polygamy, they happen in monogamy as well."

Polyamory practitioners motivated by religion, like the Browns, or by secular reasons, like Trask, generally don't mix, though they have a clear overlapping interest in decriminalizing cohabitation, which Trask notes also is banned by towns around the country through laws intended to keep homes from being packed to the brim with immigrants or rowdy college students.

Trask is hosting a conference with dozens of polyamorous people later this month [That's Rocky Mountain Poly Living in Denver this weekend, April 15–17, where I'm giving the keynote talk. It's been drawing 100 to 150 people. –Ed.] but says she's not sure anyone from next-door Utah is coming.

The socially ascendant secular polyamorous movement generally has more liberal views of the role of women in relationships, a more open stance toward same-sex relations, and an embrace of more fluid relationship statuses.


Douglas says he disagrees that the legal trajectory for polyamory will mirror with a decade or so lag the gay rights cases that decriminalized sexual relations in 2003 and allowed for same-sex marriage last year.

"We're not talking about private sexual conduct," he says about comparisons of the Brown case to the 2003 sodomy ruling.

Brushing off a potential analogy to the push for same-sex marriage, he adds: "There just aren't allegations and actual cases where you can say abuse happens at a higher rate in same-sex marriage situations as you can in polygamist and bigamist settings. We have a historical record that's completely different. The issue isn't one of the social institution of marriage, it's one of safe living conditions."

Turley, the Browns' lawyer and a George Washington University law professor, said in a post on his blog the family is considering its next step.

"This has been a long struggle for the Brown family but they have never wavered in their commitment to defending the important principles of religious freedom in this case," he said. "The decision today only deepens their resolve to fight for those same rights."

If the Brown family ultimately prevails, "marriage equality" for polyamorous couples likely will remain a distant objective that some practitioners don't even embrace as an end goal. Parental rights and other complicated matters makes a fight for legal marriage less than straightforward.

The whole article, with more pix (April 11, 2016).

Turley's statement (with links to the court ruling and the previous one). Excerpt:

...We respectfully disagree with the decision, which in our view departs from prior rulings on standing and mootness. We have the option of seeking the review of the entire Tenth Circuit or filing directly with the Supreme Court. We also have the ability to seek a rehearing from the panel. We will be exploring those options in the coming days. However, it is our intention to appeal the decision of the panel....

This case will now go forward as both sides anticipated. The underlying rights of religious freedom and free speech are certainly too great to abandon after prevailing below in this case....

● This morning's Washington Post provides some more background and analysis: Utah’s polygamy ban restored in big defeat for ‘Sister Wives’ (April 12, 2016).

● Loving More has just issued a press release with its statement on the ruling. If you want to direct media anywhere, Robyn there is always an excellent spokesperson for us.


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April 8, 2016

Super-cool little Poly 101 video being distributed to the world's media

Yesterday this popped up all over: a living-together vee family with kids happily describing their life to a friendly interviewer. No, you can't click it; watch here: Is Polyamory Just About Having More Sex? (6 minutes) (April 7, 2016).

You can see it on the sites of the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, the Coastal Courier in Georgia, Today's Farmer magazine in Canada, the Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisconsin; KPAX-TV in Montana, WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Canoe.com . . . .

Why? The video is made and distributed by Newsy, which markets videos to media worldwide — to enliven newspaper websites, for instance, or for TV news to cut and splice into their own reports, or to make life easier for every shlub who gets the order, "The consultant says our site needs more video."

Know anybody in the media? If they could ever use a fine little Poly 101 bit, point them to this.

Updates: Five more videos appear in this series.

On Tuesday Newsy put up a peppy 4-minute intro to poly vocabulary (dated April 5), made with the same three people and interviewer in the same sitting.

And now we see the same group doing a more serious piece, How Do Friends And Family React To Polyamory? (April 8).

And a fourth: Do Your Kids Know You're Polyamorous? (April 8). Their kids are 1 and 6.

And a fifth: How Do You Find Others Interested In Polyamory?  (April 12). Answers: poly meetups, the big Poly Cocktails the three operate in their local area, and of course OKCupid.

A sixth: Is Polyamory a Feminist Idea? (April 13). This ends with what seems to be the wrap-up for the series.

On the page of each is a transcript. Here's the transcript for the first described above:

Asking For A Friend: Is Polyamory Just About Having More Sex?

Polyamory can come with many partners and many misconceptions. Newsy's Cody LaGrow asks a polyamorous unit what it's really all about.

By Cody LaGrow | April 7, 2016

Caroline is married to Josie. Caroline is also in a committed relationship with Adam. They share one house and two kids, and they all call the shots under the same roof. This is a polyamorous relationship.

Polyamory, the philosophy or state of being emotionally and sexually involved with more than one person at the same time, comes with many misconceptions. Caroline, Josie and Adam cleared up questions many may have about polyamory.

Newsy's Cody LaGrow: Do you think monogamy is unrealistic?

Caroline: "I hate the idea of polyamory and monogamy being pitted against each other. Obviously, one thing that makes polyamory different than monogamy is, in theory, you are having sex with multiple partners. But it's not just about sex. You are loving multiple partners. And this is really what polyamory is about. It's about love. And that expression of love usually leads to sex."

Cody: How often do you hear that you're having your cake and eating it, too?

Josie: "You hear it ... and that it's just different. I think a lot of people view us as the weirdos on the fringes of society, but to us, it feels weird to not have a choice. And just sort of default to monogamy."

Adam: "I found that monogamy, sort of, constrained my ideas about love. Like, I needed to find the one person for me. That is a huge thing to go about doing."

Caroline: "What do we in society call 'the one'? The one romantic person in your life, the one sexual person in your life, your best friend, the one person who is going to give you financial security, the one person who is going to give you family security, who you're going to have children with, who you're going to build all of these things with. And I think in a lot of societies and cultures, we rely on more than one person to do that."

Cody: How do you know if you're polyamorous?

Adam: "Poly is about the commitment of actually being with someone. There's a different commitment here, and there's a different commitment there. That's also the glorious thing about it because you get to decide that."

Cody: What kind of things should you expect to take on in a polyamorous relationship that are different than a conventional relationship?

Adam: "A Google calendar."

Caroline: "I think the primary thing is learning how to be very communicative. Learning how to communicate things that are often hard to communicate when you're in a typical relationship."

Cody: How do you manage jealousy?

Josie: "When they first started dating, I realized I was sort of having a night, and I'm jealous, and this is a little hard, and I learned what I needed to do. ... At the end of the day, it's not their job to make me not jealous. It's mine."

Cody: When did you first realize you wanted to be polyamorous?

Josie: "It varies a lot from one person to another. Caroline and I started talking about it. We were monogamous for years, and we started talking about it five years ago."

Cody: What's the biggest change you have noticed now that you're polyamorous?

Caroline: "The number one thing I learned when I became polyamorous was there is a great deal of self discovery that comes with it. You learn all about what makes you insecure. You learn all about what makes you insecure in a relationship. All about what makes you jealous in a relationship. All that makes you angry."

Cody: Do you think being in a polyamorous relationship makes you communicate more?

Group: "Yes."

Cody: Do you think it makes you identify boundaries more?

Group: "Yes."

Cody: Do you think that’s more helpful in a relationship?

Group: "Yes."

Cody: So we all should be polyamorous?

Group: "No! No! No!"

Adam: "That's a trainwreck."

Josie: "When we were monogamous, we definitely could've benefited from the communication skills, the self-reflection skills, really all of the things we've learned since becoming poly. Any relationship can benefit from that. Being poly just sort of forces it on you. In a way, that monogamy doesn't have to often."

Cody: What do you want someone to take away from this?

Josie: "I would say, that it's not about sex. I mean sex can be a part of it. It doesn't have to be. ... It's about allowing the freedom of our relationships to become whatever it is they want to be."

Caroline: "It's about love. I think, for me, it's been very important in my life to allow love to flourish and take the forms that it should, or want to, and to not limit it or constrain it for what 'you're supposed to do.' It's been very rewarding."

Adam: "It's very complicated. And for people who don't commit themselves to knowing their own feelings and being honest and being open about the whole process, it's going to be tough."

Cody: Why do you think people have such a hard time grasping the concept of polyamory?

Caroline: "I don't think that they do. I think they just don't put it in the context of romantic relationships. You can have one child, and introducing another child in no way pulls love from that first child."

Josie: "Everyone understands that you can be in love with a partner and want to sleep with somebody else. People cheat all the freaking time. It's amazing the people who have less of a problem with cheating than they do with polyamory. We are doing the same thing; we are just being honest about it. Isn't that better?"

Caroline: "It's somehow scary or threatening, but I think people completely understand the idea but only apply it to one particular kind of relationship."

Cody: So, you're telling me you guys are normal?

Josie: "Our daily struggles have very little to do with me and Adam competing with each other over Caroline's time or anything like that. More like, how are we getting dinner on the table tonight?"

Caroline: "Who did the grocery shopping? Who's going to pick up the car?"

Adam: "How exactly to do the dishes?"



April 7, 2016

"Polyamory commands intimacy, not just a fling." And, how to steer our bandwagon?

I'm writing my keynote speech that will kick off the Rocky Mountain Poly Living convention in Denver a week from tomorrow, on April 15. It will be about where the poly movement is heading, now that large swaths of the public are hearing about the concept favorably and many seem eager to try it. Perhaps too eager, knowing too little and bringing wrong assumptions.

The multi-love bandwagon that we worked for years to barely budge is gaining speed and beginning to outrun us. Is it rolling where we intended? Where, and how, should we try to steer it? I'm wrestling with the talk and I'd like your thoughts.

Please don't wade into the definition-of-polyamory swamp. What course corrections do you think the movement needs? Post in the comments below or write me at alan7388 (at) gmail.com. Tell me if it's OK to quote you by name in the talk, which will go online.


Here's one person with strong thoughts that I mostly agree with, writing at Luna Luna magazine a couple days ago:

Polyamory commands intimacy, not just a fling

Elias Goldensky, 'Portrait of Three Women,' ca. 1915
By Ghia Vitale

...And suddenly, the mainstream dating world knows about polyamory.

...One of my biggest hang-ups about poly dating is the same issue other experienced poly people struggle with: the risk of becoming collateral damage in someone else’s quest for self-discovery, novelty, freedom, and most importantly, love. A recent spike in popularity has saturated the poly community with widespread interest.... Many newbies embark upon their poly journey with pure intentions; others mistake our permanent lifestyle for whatever they wish would fulfill their temporary and misguided desires.

How do I know their desires are misguided? I know because I’ve been directly implicated in these personal quests for self-fulfillment that end in nothing except breakups.

...While people are more than happy to enjoy my company as a fling, the idea of having multiple significant others that are actually significant is beyond most people’s comprehension, and it seeps through their behavior. Once I let them know there’s zero chance of a monogamous future happening (or even a monogamish one), the tone of our interaction changes drastically. All of the sudden, our relationship is no longer headed in any kind of committal direction and I lose my viability as a “serious” partner.... Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about free love and I believe each relationship being a unique expression of love. But even though we’ll both claim we want poly relationships, I’m the only person who means it. What they actually mean is that they want to indulge in multiple relationships at once without strings attached. That’s fine, but that’s not polyamory.

It’s always different variations of the same scenario: I meet someone who claims to be poly-curious, poly-friendly, or “open to being with a poly partner.” Then they realize they’re not as poly as they thought they were, that they just wanted to date around and explore before meeting a monogamous partner. Whether or not I consented to [that] never mattered, so I’ve learned how to recognize [early] the unique smell of this trainwreck smoke....

Even educating these people about poly doesn’t seem to make them go back into the hookup culture that better suits their yearnings.

Polyamory is about maintaining multiple relationships, not just the freedom to have as many flings. Too many people enter polyamory with the “playing the field” mindset.... They only see polyamory as a situational means to their temporary ends. Yes, polyamory absolves you from having to choose 1 person over another, but there’s so much more to it than that. Polyamory is far more about building and maintaining connections than it is about drive-by romances and hooking up....

The whole article (April 4, 2016).

My thoughts? You can certainly be poly and be looking for flings. But polyamory is not the word for Tinder swipes or old-fashioned dating around, as too much of the wider world is assuming. It's not even the same as open relationships, though there's a lot of overlap. Polyamory involves something more: loving relationships (-amory) that encompass more than two people where there's at least an assumption of respect and concern for everyone all around. Even if some of you have never met, or maybe even dislike each other. "Polyamory" implies a recognition that "We're all in this together."

That feeling may be enthusiastic or minimalist, but it's there. The broader categories of "open relationships" or "consensual non-monogamy" or "dating around" do not carry that implication.

Why does this matter? Because if, as the word goes more public, polyamory comes to mean random hookup culture or ordinary dating the field and this goes unchallenged, we will no longer have a word for our great concept, or even a way to find each other.


The Poly Living conferences are run by the Loving More nonprofit, the closest thing this sprawling movement has to a central organization. Ideas at these conventions matter. Come help steer the bandwagon.


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April 5, 2016

"Can Polyamorous Relationships Actually Look Normal On TV?" The season finale of *Shameless*

Is the start of a poly relationship becoming an end-of-season TV cliffhanger device? First House of Cards, now Shameless on Showtime.

Spoilers ahead. From Refinery29:

Can Polyamorous Relationships Actually Look "Normal" On TV?

By Molly Horan

V and Svetlana

There was a lot going on in last night's season finale of Shameless, everyone's favorite comedy... about a loving family that continuously ekes out just a little happiness for themselves before circumstances kick them in the face. And with all the (spoiler alert) expulsion, death threats, actual ordered hits, and drug addiction exposed last night, you might have missed a new, very unconventional relationship fading into near-normalcy. Kevin and V, longtime couple and parents to twin girls, are now in a polyamorous relationship with their star bartender, Svetlana. And while their relationship is definitely played for (desperately needed) comic relief throughout the bleak episode, the show seems to be setting it up to become just a normal set piece in this family drama.

Kev (Steve Howey) and V (Shanola Hampton) were introduced in the show's first season as the Gallaghers' kind, and incredibly sex-positive, neighbors.... Their very, very active sex life is often used as comic relief, but is also always shown as an extension of their loving relationship... the writers are never kink-shaming them. So it makes sense that what started out as a green-card marriage and evolved into a sex-based three-way, could further evolve into an everyday marriage — among three people.

V originally married Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter) so she wouldn't be deported, partially out of necessity (she's the best employee at the bar V and Kevin run), and partly out of guilt (Kev was the one who outed her to an undercover INS agent). Kev is jealous over the marriage, mostly because it's something he and V couldn't have (due to a previous marriage he never got legally nullified), but he gives V and Svetlana time to "bond," which ends up involving a lot of NSFW activities on a pool table. When V confesses she and Svetlana aren't platonic gal-pals, her husband (in spirit, if not by law) is upset. But it makes sense when he quickly jumps on board with an arrangement that allows him to date his wife and his wife's wife.

The first snapshot we get of the new threesome in the finale is both extremely sexual and very domestic. The three wake up in bed together, gradually peeling a collection of condoms and dildos from the sheets. The next Kev-V-Svetlana scene seems even more like a wholesome family cereal ad, with brief kisses exchanged and the newspaper read....

Shameless is a drama at heart, and the current domestic bliss enjoyed by the show's resident polyamorous couple could just be setting the stage for even more drama to explode.... But it seems just as likely that these three characters — who respect each other, who enjoy each other's company, who have leaned on each other to balance their child-care needs, and who have never cared what society thinks of their sex habits, could have finally found a long-term relationship that suits them perfectly.

The original (April 4, 2016). Refinery 29 says its mission is "to be the #1 new-media brand for smart, creative and stylish women everywhere."

● This article at AfterEllen, with more pix, was prompted by the previous, next-to-last episode of Season 6: “Shameless” delves into polyamory with Svetlana becoming V and Kevin’s third (March 29):

Whenever I write about Shameless, I profess it to be one of the queerest and most progressive television shows on right now....

Svetlana and V have interacted sexually before, as have Svetlana and Kevin.... But she wasn’t a part of their relationship, romantically, until now....

Kevin is hurt, but also intrigued. Mostly he’s confused, because he’s turned on but also unsure about how this polyamorous relationship could work. (The end of the episode has the three of them sitting and creating a schedule for them all, and gleefully he finds he’ll get nights alone with Svetlana, too.)

Kevin and V have been one of the strongest couples on Shameless.... They always reconcile, fully invested in a future together and with a highly palpable sexual chemistry....

Outside of shows like Sister Wives or Big Love, polyamorous relationships are rarely explored on television. (It’s worth noting the new DirecTV series You Me Her is about a similar set-up. Review forthcoming....)

With the season finale next week, it’s hard to say how this relationship will be wrapped up, or if it will be something we’ll continue to see play out in Season 7. But on a show where sexuality is multi-layered and treated as a fact of life, much like issues of class and race, I remain hopeful that the ballad of V and Lana won’t end with one of them dying or subverting to some kind of heterosexual normative like Svetlana secretly trying to steal Kevin for her own.

More TV news: In a response to my post about the new poly-comedy series You Me Her, which airs its third episode tonight, I'm told "There was also a mention of poly a couple weeks ago in the SyFy series The Magicians. The parents of one of the main characters came out as having a 'polyamorous triad sort of relationship' with a mutual friend."



April 2, 2016

"Has Polyamory Hit The Tipping Point?"

When enough people call it a trend, it's a trend. In Harlot magazine yesterday:

Has Polyamory Hit The Tipping Point?

Stereotyped polyamory stock photo
By Kitty Stryker

Polyamory is totally in right now.

It’s been covered in all the best and brightest digital media, from the Atlantic to ELLE to Forbes. Everyone wants to weigh in on the relationship dynamic. Even the Daily Mail, of all places, seems to have a hot take on polyamory – and they don’t seem to hate it.

The time has come to ask: has polyamory hit the tipping point?

There was a time where monogamy was the go-to default, where you had to create polycules in your personal Tumblr headcanon. Now it’s getting airtime at SXSW, on House of Cards, even being discussed in relationship to that thunderdome of red roses, The Bachelor. Have we reached a place in society where the perfect couple isn’t a couple anymore?

More to the point… do we want that?

If polyamory becomes normalized, what will happen to our daytime television?... Well, at least until networks hire more creative writers....

Read on (April 1, 2016). "Kitty Stryker is porn's riot grrl, striving to bring consent culture and feminism to the forefront of her work as a performer and producer... and has written for Buzzfeed, Fleshbot, the Guardian, the Daily Dot, and more. She blogs at KittyStryker.com" (NSFW).

For the record, the first article in this (ahem) massive archive* about polyamory reaching its tipping point was this one in Wired, dated February 29, 2008.

Full search of "tipping point" on this site.

* You're reading post number 1,213.


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