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

November 1, 2016

What the world is hearing now for "Poly 101": a boatload of samples

Media old and new are telling people how to try polyamory successfully, as I mentioned last week. Gone are the days when actual poly people were the only ones giving such advice.

It's especially crucial that we keep doing it, so we don't lose control of our own narrative! The media mostly repeat things we say, and I think we've done a good job of setting the lead. So keep your blogs and websites stocked and publicized. They shape what journalists do when the boss says "This thing is trending, go write something."

A fine example appeared at the end of that glowing quad article a few weeks ago in the UK's usually-awful Daily Mirror. Good work, guys.

Here's a smorgasbord of Poly 101 items I've recently collected, published both by us and by them.

● A great one to start with, and to bookmark, is this poly network's Poly 101 for friends and the public, on Medium.com: The Coffee Break Polyamory Primer (Feb. 28, 2016). The excerpts below are mostly section and paragraph headings. If you follow just one link here, this is it.

Demonstrating astronaut moves to a 1920s audience. (Joseba Elorza) 

By Adam Powers [with "tremendous thanks to Amanda, Bridget, Kara, and Mari for the edits, advice, and support that made this article possible."]

The author and their community run meetups and discussion groups for the non-monogamous, and we’ve identified the need for a simple guide to bring folks up to speed. This is our best attempt to compile such a guide....

We’re assuming you don’t have all day. ... Your author compiled this primer as a friendly (but opinionated) overview with jumping-off points, curated for your convenience.

...Polyamory (“many loves”) means intimate connection with more than one person, ethically and with consent from all involved. That’s it, really....

What poly is not: A license to cheat.... A way to avoid commitment.... Polygamy.... Swinging.... All about sex....

What poly can be:. A master course in working on your shit.... Emotionally and sexually liberating.... Politically subversive: modern polyamory has the potential to move the needle on how people live in groups, raise children, and consume goods and services.

Important concepts:
   – Honesty. With yourself, and with everyone else....
   – Autonomy. Your body, mind, and life are yours alone, regardless of who you choose to share them with. This freedom comes with the responsibility to respect the autonomy of others....
   – Communication. Regularly and gratuitously.... If honesty is the heart of things, communication is the nervous system....
   – Compassion. Putting empathy into action when it’s needed the most....
   – Vulnerability. Being willing to share your true self, including your needs and desires, and overcoming the fears of rejection, of criticism, and of pain that arise whenever we wish to be bare before others....
   – Consent. Asking, rather than taking; offering and listening, rather than going with assumption....

Types of non-monogamy: Hierarchical polyamory.... Egalitarian polyamory.... Solo polyamory.... Relationship anarchy.... Open relationship....

Relationshapes: This list is not even remotely comprehensive. Triads and quads.... Vees.... Polyfidelity....

The relationship escalator....

Scarcity and abundance....


Jealousy: In the poly worldview, jealousy is not considered a single emotion, nor a fixed personality attribute (“I’m just a jealous person”), but an amalgam composed of baser emotions, like fear — of loneliness, of abandonment, of inattention — as well as situational reactions to instability caused by mistrust or mistreatment. Addressing jealousy is thus seen as the ultimate self-improvement exercise: learning to integrate a deeply-felt sense of your own intrinsic worth, showing up to your relationships with mindful awareness, and loving yourself enough to break away from the ones that are doing you a disservice....

Compersion: A feeling which could be described as splash-zone happiness: joy felt at your partner intimately connecting with another, for no reason other than seeing them happy....

New Relationship Energy....

Couple privilege:

Unicorns and unicorn hunting....

The ugly: An honest discussion of open relating would be incomplete without even a brief look at some of the problems that currently exist in the community and among its practitioners. A diversity issue.... An exercise of privilege.... Selective hearing. Some new practitioners of poly are fully on board with the “seeing multiple people” and “working on jealousy” thing, without catching all the other stuff about respecting vulnerability and garnering consent....

Final thoughts: ...If you take one thing away, it should be that every single person is different — and that’s something that should be both reckoned with, and wholeheartedly celebrated. If you take one more thing away, we recommend: be gentle with yourself.

● This one's been reprinted various places in the past month after appearing on Thought Catalog: 7 Signs You Are Not ‘Bad At Relationships’ – You’re Polyamorous, by Valentina Rayas (Sept. 22, 2016).

I love love. I always have. ... I always wanted to commit to the person I was with – I really, genuinely did – but something about doing so never felt quite right. ...

Here are a few signs that you, too, may be polyamorous – rather than simply bad at relationships.

1. You love love, but feel trapped inside monogamous relationships.
2. You have always felt as though you’re capable of loving more than one person at once.
3. The thought of being tied down to just one person for the rest of your life gives you serious anxiety.
4. You have a varied set of needs and desires, which you’re not sure just one person could ever fulfill.
5. You have a plethora of different things to offer potential partners.
6. You are okay with the thought of your partner being with other people – in fact, it may even turn you on a little.
7. You are able to maintain deep personal connections with multiple people simultaneously.

● The glossy men's mags sometimes take a, let's say, male-centric approach to the subject, but even they can be coached into getting some things right. On Esquire's UK site: Polyamory, Open Relationships And 'Hall Passes': A Guide To Non-Monogamy (Oct. 3, 2016)

...If you're tempted to examine and discard your monogamous leanings, the first thing to realise is that you have to ditch your assumptions along with them.... In a polyamorous relationship, you can never assume – you need to establish with your partners what you all want, and constantly communicate to make sure everyone's happy.

● On the other side of the gender binary, Everyday Feminism has run about 20 consistently good poly articles in the last two-plus years. Browse the titles and descriptions.

● One of polydom's dedicated community activists and thought leaders uses the name MusicalRose for her blog Our Better Natures. She goes deeper than the usual Poly 101 stuff in Hard Polyamorous Truths (Aug. 7, 2016).

1) Polyamory will change you, and it will change the people you are close to.

...Even if you ultimately decide polyamory isn’t for you, a person that you are in love with may decide it is very much for them.

...It is a rare person or couple who can come to polyamory and walk away for any reason without having learned something new about themselves and/or their partner(s) that they can’t unsee.

2) If you enter polyamory in a relationship, even if the two of you intend to be primaries and lifemates, you are not safe from having that relationship change or end, even if neither of you does anything wrong.

...The harsher version of this harsh truth: You should mistrust people making promises to you about “always” or “never.” They might be right, and they might be able to hold to those promises, but those promises can easily become something toxic, especially if they were made in a different mindset than the one a person is currently in. ... If someone says, “I’ll never want to have children with anyone but you,” it is likely going to feel like a betrayal if they meet someone amazing and suddenly have a strong desire to have children with that person.

...Humans are generally really bad at predicting themselves, their feelings, and their future behavior. This effect will multiply with added people. Make space for that.

3) You will likely experience more heartbreak, and it can even happen in more than one relationship at once.

Polyamory will not fix insecurities, fulfill empty places in your heart, or do anything to fix an otherwise broken or toxic relationship. Polyamory is relationships on advanced mode. ... One of the quickest lessons many people who are new to poly learn is that you are ultimately learning how to have a good relationship with yourself. Learning how to self-soothe is important, especially when we take the risk of having our heart broken in more than one place at once.

4) Polyamorous people are not all enlightened relationship experts. There are still predators, otherwise toxic people, and holier-than-thou judgmental individuals in every community.

In my experience, many poly people and communities spend a lot of time thinking about relationships, how they relate to one another, and finding ways to do it all better. To an outsider coming into a community or interacting with other poly people for the first time, it can feel like you’ve stumbled into a nest of insight and enlightenment.

However, it is good to remember that everybody grows in different areas at different paces. Someone who is incredibly enlightened and emotionally mature in one area can regress to a frustrating and childlike immaturity and irrationality in another.

Because of this, you will need to do your own work as well as learning from the work of others. ...

5) I’ve missed some pitfalls here.

...This is a large, still-somewhat-uncharted territory. New philosophy about love and relationships is springing out of the polyamory world every day. Old philosophy that didn’t catch on right away, or only caught on in isolated communities, is just now finding its way to the mainstream and social media world. Not all of the mistakes have been made.

Also from her: Some Common Polyamorous Rookie Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) (Feb. 26, 2016).

● Not that there's anything wrong with the standard basic newbie stuff; it's the result of vast experience. For instance, What I Learned from a Decade of Polyamory, by Erin Kennedy on Thrillist, (Apr. 29, 2016).

Polyamory may sound sexy on Saturday night. But on Tuesday morning, you still have multiple relationships to maintain with multiple humans with multiple real-life feelings. Polyamorous relationships can be astonishingly fulfilling, exciting, and fun. But... I've learned a lot [that] would have made a big difference if I'd known them when I was still a poly newbie.

There's no "right" way to be polyamorous.

...People who are new to polyamory often want to know what the rules are. They want to feel secure that they are doing it "right."

The truth? The only steadfast rules of poly are the same rules that apply to any relationship.... Ethical polyamory includes transparent communication, authenticity of self, and an openness to others' wants and needs. Beyond that, polyamory is completely customizable according to your comfort and experience. The key is to share your needs and fears with your partners, and be honest about your intentions and behavior. ...

Google Calendars will save you.

...Splitting time between multiple partners can be like keeping several plates spinning at once. Google Calendars can be shared with multiple people and help everyone communicate and stay on the same page. ...

Polyamory will not fix relationship issues.

If you're having difficulty being ethical in your monogamous relationships, polyamory is not the solution to your romantic woes. ... Likewise, adding a partner to the mix is not likely to "spice up" your relationship if someone isn't getting their needs met. People are not need-filling machines. It takes a lot of communication, self-reflection, and emotional maturity to maintain romantic and sexual relationships with multiple partners.

We don't always choose metamours.

It's really a wonderful situation when everyone can hang out and play Cards Against Humanity together. You may not be attracted to your partner's metamour, but accepting him or her as your partner's partner and maintaining a cordial -- if not friendly -- relationship makes everything a lot less sticky.

I love being friendly with metamours, but there have been a couple of times in my experience when I had to ask myself, "How can someone I love, love someone like her? We’re so different!"

Polyamorous partners are not immune to jealousy....

Raising kids in a polyamorous family is complicated.

The benefit of polyamorous parenting is that children get more one-on-one time with parents, which aids in healthy emotional and social development. And according to some recent studies, children in polyamorous families spend less time in daycare, and have a wider variety of interests and hobbies just from having more people in the household.

The drawback is obviously the occasionally fluid nature of relationships in polyamory. Children can feel some negative emotions when a polycule breaks up and certain parental figures are no longer around. Of course, this also happens in monogamous relationships....

Love is unlimited. Resources are not.

After looking at the cost/benefit analysis of all your romantic entanglements, you might find in the end that fewer is better.

Compersion is possible.

...It happens suddenly. The first time it happened to me, I watched my boyfriend kiss my girlfriend, and the look of peace and contentment on their faces brought me to tears.

I was so thrilled that the people I love loved each other that I couldn't contain my own joy. I haven't felt that emotion in every polyamorous relationship I've been in, but the times I have felt compersion make it all worth it, and then some.

● Here's a long article on LastSummerWeekend.com: 8 Lessons of Polyamory (Oct. 4, 2016). The section heads:

1. What is love? And what it isn't
2. Jealousy is not part of love
3. There is no such thing as a soul mate
4. Don’t try to change your partner
6. There is no mind-reading
7. Relationship roles, life scripts are the death of love
8. No dating rules and relationship games in polyamory

● Lifehacker.com fields a reader question: Lovehacker: My Girlfriend Wants Us To Be Poly (Sept. 22, 2016).

...Is it about sleeping with other people, casually dating, or having committed relationships with others? If she does want to explore other relationships, that opens up a whole new series of questions and poly possibilities. Here are just a few:

Separate poly relationships: you aren't involved in her other relationships and vice versa.
Hierarchical: despite other relationships there is still a primary partner who takes precedence over the others.
Poly triads or quads: you're all involved romantically with each other.
Open poly relationship: where you can have lovers outside of the group.
Closed or monogamous: There are no sexual or romantic partners outside of the group.

...Some people who identify as poly prefer fluidity over labels. In your case being as specific as possible will be beneficial, particularly if you're considering it to be a deal breaker. Honest communication is imperative; you need to know what you both want and where you stand.

...You should also ask yourself where you saw the relationship going before she dropped the p-bomb....

● "Poly coach" Laurie Ellington presents much good Poly 101 stuff throughout her site; for instance.

● Fifteen years ago something like this in pop media was unheard of. Now it's unremarkable: 9 Lessons Non-Monogamy Has Taught Me About Jealousy, by Emma Kaywinn (Aug. 16, 2016).

...If you’re going to live this way, you have to figure out how you’re going to meet this strong emotion out in the open. Here’s what I’ve learned from my personal experiences.

1. Almost Everyone Gets Jealous — And That's OK

2. Jealousy Often Has Deep Psychological Roots

...Researchers have found that underlying causes include possessiveness, shame, insecurity, paranoia, and humiliation. Being able to recognize these in yourself can help you work through feelings of jealousy when they do arise. Open relationship counselor Kathy Labriola's The Jealousy Workbook and Love in Abundance are particularly good guides for this.

3. Compersion Is Real

4. You Can Work Toward Feeling Compersion

So how do we get from jealousy to compersion? Incrementally, with lots of self-work, self-care, and communication with your partners. The self-work is about identifying why you feel jealous. What are the root causes? What triggers you the most? Once you identify the reasons, you can work on them to stop them from taking you over with such power.

Self-care is about being able to protect yourself and love yourself. This can include things you can ask your lover(s) to do for you....

Finally, communication: No one’s a mindreader, and they might otherwise not know that they are making you feel jealous!

5. You Can't Just Will Away Your Emotions

6. You Might Go Through Jealousy And Compersion Cycles

7. Even Illogical Feelings Are Valid

8. Communication Is Jealousy's Kryptonite

Remember that perhaps the most critical tool in your communication toolbox is listening, actively and openly, without interrupting or jumping down the other person’s throat to get your next angry retaliation in.

9. It's OK To Need Help Managing Jealousy

Here's lots more on Bustle.

● And lastly, again on Bustle, some too-true humor: 15 Things You Should Never Say To Poly Couples (May 17, 2016). Section heads and a few bits of the text:

By Kathleen Burdo

...Here are 15 things that people actually say to poly couples that I'd love to never hear again.

1. “Can I join you guys?”

2. "Can I _____ with your partner?"

3. "Oh, I get it...I'm 'poly' too. Just don't tell my partner!"

4. "I believe that if you're happy in a relationship, you don't have space in your heart for somebody else."

5. “Is it because your partner is bad in bed?”
Uh, no. Because poly isn't actually about sex. Remember: poly = many, amory = love, and asexuals exist.

6. “Oh, I know about that, I watch Sister Wives!”

7. "I could never do that!"
     Thanks for sharing? I didn't realize I'd suggested you should.

8. "Why did you get married if you’re just going to cheat on each other?”

9. “Aren't you worried your partner is going to leave you for someone else?”

     Not anymore than I would be if I were mono, and actually, less so — my partner doesn't have to leave me to pursue their new interest.

10. “Don’t you get jealous?”

11. "What about kids?"

     What about them? I'd much rather raise them as part of a poly network than with just two parents, because I'm totally "it takes a village."

12. "You guys must have a lot of threesomes/orgies!"

13. "I’d never let my partner do that."
     I don't let my partners do anything, because they're not children and I'm not their parent, I don't own them, and I have no right to control their body.

14. "Oh, so you're available then!"

15. "But wait, I thought you loved X?"

That's all for now, folks. More to come.




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