Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

April 30, 2017

Making a gig of telling your poly stories

On HuffPost, Jeff Leavell just published another piece about his gay triad family and its ongoing changes. He seems to have cracked the paying market (I hope?) for first-person stories about his life, especially his poly life. He's is a regular, for instance, in Vice and has written for the Washington Post's online section "Solo-ish."

Another guy who has made a go of this, writing from very similar circumstances, is Zachary Zane.

If they've made these gigs work, so can you.

Jeff (center) and family members.
How My Three-Way Polyamorous Relationship Works

“These men that I love, they are my family.”

By Jeff Leavell

We are told our whole lives that we can hate as many people as we want: whole nations, groups of people, ideologies and races, our bosses, our neighbors: we are allowed to hate freely and abundantly, but we only get to truly love one other person.

When my husband, Alex, and I met Jon, a handsome intellectual with blue eyes and the gait of an old man trapped in a young man’s body: sexy and endearingly awkward all at the same time, it was just supposed to be a hook up in a long line of sexual adventures. But then Jon came back again, and again and again. And then we were making plans to watch movies and eat pizza. We invited Jon to spend the night.

I knew the first time Jon came over and the three of us didn’t have sex that something important was happening: Jon was no longer a trick. We were falling in love. All three of us.

I had no idea what to do. I had no idea what was normal or not normal. I was like a crazy person: madly in love and jealous at the same time....


...Movie style happy endings don’t exist. People we love get sick. The circumstances of life make what had once seemed so easy, so perfect, suddenly impossible. We grow older. We fail almost as often as we succeed, sometimes more.

And yet, these men that I love, they are my family. Even as some of us drift apart. They are mine. And there is a beauty to that.

...None of this is easy. But as my father likes to remind me, nothing is. It’s just a matter of whether it was worth it or not.

Read the whole article (April 28, 2017).



April 19, 2017

New RelateCon poly convention gets a good newspaper writeup

Idaho's Boise Polyamory Network held its first-ever RelateCon convention three weekends ago. It drew 120 people, very successful for a first-time poly con, especially for a small city in a very red state.

A reporter for the local alternative weekly paper attended. Their long article went online today. Excerpts:

Along Came Poly

Ryan Johnson
A Boise convention brings polyamory out in the open

By Harrison Berry

...RelateCon brought into the open a community that has gained momentum online but, because of Idaho law and misrepresentation in the media and broader society, has been largely secretive.

"I just want people to not feel so alone in what they're doing," said [Jennifer] Hyde, president of the Boise Polyamory Network, a mostly online group of approximately 450 people. ... The purpose of the convention was for the group to meet openly, expose members to national resources, and discuss pressing issues related to what they call "ethical non-monogamy."

How to Find a Partner

Many of the presentations at RelateCon were lighthearted, with titles like "50 Shades of Real Life," "The Cuddle Puddle Project" and "Painless Poly Dating 101." One of two talks [Tyson] Downey hosted was about regaining passion in long-term relationships in the midst of "new relationship energy" from other partners.

...Another presenter, Masami Tadehara-Hinkle, offered attendees a "relationship shopping list" for identifying new partners and maintaining healthy relationships with existing partners. More than a checklist to be applied to others, however, Tadehara-Hinkle said it encourages people to be introspective, considering carefully what they want out of their new relationships.

"The idea is that it's more effective in terms of relationship structure to define the relationship in terms of individual needs, rather than having a set of rules," she said. [Amen to that, say I. –Ed.]

Tadehara-Hinkle's idea for a checklist came from the website morethantwo.com, which she described as "the poly bible." There, site curator Franklin Veaux has collected tutorials, tips, how-tos and common mistakes by newcomers to the practice. There's also a "relationship bill of rights" and advice on when and how to be openly polyamorous.

...Conference organizers said socializing was one of RelateCon's most important functions. Activities included poly bingo; a fancy dinner where polyamorous couples, triples and beyond could mingle; and meet-and-greet events at the hotel bar.

Because polyamorous groups are spread across the state, the informal events were some of the first times people who may have known each other online could meet in person.

Connecting to a National Conversation

The Boise polyamorous community started small. For the past three years, Hyde and the Boise Polyamory Network organized monthly potlucks at members' homes, sang karaoke and went bowling. Though they typically met in small groups, attendance at some events could reach 30 people. Most of their interactions took place online, but Boise Polyamory Network aimed higher — for a must-attend event that would bring the community together and connect it to the national polyamory movement.

"We're reaching and we hope to spread," said RelateCon organizer Heather Franck. "This is a national conference and we want reach across the nation."

Most RelateCon attendees were from Idaho and the Treasure Valley area, but many came from Utah, Oregon and farther afield—from the East Coast and even Canada. It also pulled nationally recognized speakers and organizers, including the Atlanta, GA.-based Relationship Equality Foundation. ... The group's mission is to offer education and resources to conferences on relationship structures and affiliated organizations. When Boise Polyamory Network asked REF for support, it sent four educators to the City of Trees.

"It's part of our mission to support new and up-and-coming organizations," said REF Vice President Billy Holder. "Relationship Equality Foundation is growing by leaps and bounds, and we're doing it by grassroots empowerment of organizations like RelateCon."

Beyond affiliating with national communities, REF collects data about polyamorous people through its legal survey, spotlights local events and organizations, and helps present large conventions like Atlanta Poly Weekend and the Chicago NonMonogamy Conference. It's also an awareness-raiser, spreading the word on ethical non-monogamy—a job that gets a little easier every year thanks to increased media attention given to the lifestyle. ...

Ethics, Children and Faith

Jennifer Hyde has seven children. Heather Franck is trying to conceive with her partner. Tyson Downey and Billy Holder are both fathers. Children are a fact of polyamory and a test of the ethics of the lifestyle.

"If you exclude any element of the family—a child, a partner, a husband, a mom—you're excluding the element of family," Holder said, describing the importance he places on being honest with his children.

Ethics was a central feature of RelateCon, encompassing nearly every aspect of polyamorous relationships, from intersections with the law, sex, introducing the practice to partners and discussing the lifestyle with children.

Conversations about the polyamorous lifestyle between parents and children can be uncomfortable. ... During one of these interactions, Hyde's then 5-year-old daughter called her a "cheater" for dating more than one man. When Hyde asked her where she learned about infidelity, the child told her she learned it from the Disney Channel. ...

...According to Franck, in right-to-work state Idaho, polyamorous people have lost their jobs because of the perceived ethical failings associated with "swinging."

Several RelateCon presentations sought to address these and other issues. Topics included identifying abusive relationships and how to help people in them, safe sex practices and BDSM, the roles of consent and honesty in the lifestyle, and legal issues related to polyamory. ...

Read the whole article (April 19, 2017).

● Also: Here's a writeup of the event by Kitty Chambliss, one of the presenters, at her Loving Without Boundaries site: All of the AWESOME at RelateCon 2017.

RelateCon is on again for 2018, but no dates yet.

Keep an eye on ALAN's LIST of POLYAMORY EVENTS. Right now it lists 32 conventions, campouts, retreats and other gatherings (with descriptions) worldwide for the next 12 months.


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April 12, 2017

CNN: "Rethinking Monogamy Today"

CNN just put up a nice article of basic advice, although it's very couple-centric — presumably in order to speak to what a mass audience wants to know. The story is getting reprinted on the sites of some local TV stations.

Rethinking monogamy today

By Ian Kerner, CNN

A nice safe picture for a mass audience
Could opening your relationship to others benefit you and your partner?

For many couples, monogamy -- staying sexually exclusive with one partner -- is expected and assumed. It's even included in many marriage vows. But as some people are increasingly realizing, monogamy isn't for everyone.

In fact, consensual non-monogamy can be a healthy option for some couples and, executed thoughtfully, can inject relationships with some much-needed novelty and excitement.

Story highlights:
● Consensual non-monogamy can be a healthy option for some couples
● Open relationships require increased communication and transparency

As a couples sex therapist, I've found that some may feel committed to each other yet still feel they have fundamental differences in sexual interests or desires. In the past, many of these couples might have chosen to break up, cheat or just "settle."

But these days, some are finding they want to challenge their notions about sexual exclusivity.

It's still unclear what's driving this new openness to, well, openness.

"We're just starting to ask these questions in research," sex researcher and educator Zhana Vrangalova said. "But there does seem to be a growing group of people who are open to exploring. Even if they ultimately decide that non-monogamy isn't for them, more couples are making that decision after an informed consideration, rather than just judging and rejecting it."...

Is non-monogamy is right for you?

So how do you know whether trying consensual non-monogamy -- which includes polyamory, the ability to have sexual and emotional relationships with others -- is worth exploring?

First, it helps to understand how you and your partner define sexual openness, as well as sexual exclusivity. ... For some couples, non-exclusivity might take the form of attending "play parties" together and swapping partners, watching other couples have sex, dating other people, or even entering into polyamorous relationships with multiple partners.

A less safe picture
Determine what's OK and what's not. These are important conversations to have even if you intend to remain monogamous, because they help set expectations and boundaries for your relationship.

Know that non-monogamy can't save a bad relationship. ... If you're struggling with major issues, differences or communication problems, opening up your relationship will probably worsen those challenges, not improve them.

On the other hand, non-monogamy can help a good relationship.... "It can actually remove the fear inherent in some monogamous relationships related to the potential for abandonment -- for example, if their partner were to meet someone else," explained [sex therapist Dulcinea] Pitagora. "For other people, there can be a deep sense of relief in not having to be the sole source of sexual satisfaction, and this can lead to greater opportunities for intimacy and bonding," she said. "Still others feel a sense of heightened sexual excitement hearing about their partners' other sexual relationships."

Vranglova agrees. ... "Couples say that consensual non-monogamy can improve their communication, because it requires a lot of talking, sharing and negotiating. ..."

Non-monogamy takes effort. If you're considering opening your relationship, it's important to remember that it requires just as much work as monogamy. That means educating yourselves about consensual non-monogamy through books (my personal favorite is Tristan Taormino's "Opening Up"), workshops, talking to other non-monogamous couples and perhaps working with a sex therapist or coach. ...

...There's a lot you can learn from this practice. Taking lessons about increased communication and transparency from non-monogamous couples can improve any relationship, without ever opening it up.

The whole article (April 12, 2017).



April 10, 2017

Says Vice: "TV Is Finally Starting to Get Polyamory Right"

They are referring to You Me Her, which is now 8 episodes into the 10 of its more serious Season 2. And also the independent webseries Unicornland, about which more to come.

The article just went up Monday evening:

TV Is Finally Starting to Get Polyamory Right

The You Me Her triad takes on the world.

By Ilana Novick

We chat with the creators of 'Unicornland' and 'You Me Her' about the importance of showing realistic depictions of polyamory.

Recently, New York Magazine reported that a 2016 study of two nationally representative groups of single Americans found 20% of respondents practiced some form of non-monogamy in their lifetime. YouGov found 31% of women and 38% of men surveyed said their ideal relationship would involve multiple partners at some point. Now, television is ready to explore what it's like to date — and even marry — outside the bounds of traditional monogamy.

Though this has popped up in a few television shows — Broad City's Ilana is vocal about open relationships, and No Tomorrow's Xavier explicitly brings up "ethical non-monogamy" — there are two recent series that are tackling the subject head-on. The web series Unicornland follows Annie (Laura Ramadei), a newly-divorced woman who explores her sexuality by dating couples. You Me Her, TV's "first polyromantic comedy" on Audience Network, is about a thirtysomething couple (Greg Poehler and Rachel Blanchard) who both fall in love with a grad student, grappling with what happens when polyamory comes out of the shadows and into the suburbs.

A few years ago, if Americans wanted to explore this interest on television, the options were limited. The choices included Big Love, its reality show alter-ego Sister Wives, and the kinds of documentaries that, as You Me Her creator John Scott Shepherd explained in a phone interview, made their subjects seem like "fringe members of the sexual society."

Unlike either the subjects of said documentaries, Jack and Emma are squarely within the mainstream of their community...

...Shepherd, however, is intent on puncturing those beautiful surfaces. The series really gets interesting when the music stops and Jack, Emma, and Izzy are forced to contend with whether their relationship is a real three-way commitment, or a way for each of them to avoid their individual and collective fears: of growing up, starting a family, and possibly having to live with making wrong decisions.

You Me Her is committed to showing the honest frustrations and realities about this non-traditional relationship. Izzy's concerns over whether she's an equal partner or just a plaything in Jack and Emma's marriage are entirely understandable, but it never seems to occur to her that perhaps it might be not only awkward, but life-changing, for the couple to welcome her openly into their lives. On the other hand, it also doesn't seem to occur to Jack and Emma that their desire to hide this relationship may be robbing Izzy of her own twenties.

That tension, according to Shepherd, was by design....

Unicornland's tensions, by contrast, are more internal. ... The series follows Annie, freshly divorced and exploring the sexuality she stifled during her marriage. Each short episode is centered around a date (or club encounter, or sex party) with a different couple, each couple and each situation a stepping stone for Annie on her sexual and emotional journey.

...She's awkward and tentative at first, rushing to the bathroom at the beginning of the series' first date and psyching herself up on the mirror: "You're beautiful. They're attracted to you. You're a young, grown up woman. You can do this." ...

Web series only have so much space, and it's tempting to wonder what the episodes would look like with more recurring characters, more room for emotional stakes and more time to let the stories play out further. It's fascinating to follow Annie's journey, but, possibly because of the short episodes, it sometimes feels like each moment of growth happens so quickly.

Still, the couples are diverse and it's a pleasure to watch Annie's comfort level increase as the series goes on. In the first couple of episodes she seems eager to please, to achieve like she's gunning for an A in dating. With time, her confidence builds: she heads to a club bathroom with a couple she's picked up on a dance floor or spends a lazy afternoon in bed with a college friend and her girlfriend. She finally has agency, and it's a cathartic viewing experience.

As creator Lucy Gillespie put it in a phone interview, "In the beginning especially, what Annie's doing is really just fucking around. As she continues, I think that anybody who does something for long enough is gonna look into what that is. If you play the piano long enough, you might start to think about music theory."

Both series creators report positive feedback from their non-monogamous viewers. Gillespie says, "We've been showered with support and love. The only negative stuff that I've heard is that it's another woman dating couples, but again, the series is sort of about my experience. As a creator, you get to choose what the series is about, so sorry, buddy. Write your own series."

Shepherd has even heard from poly recappers who review every episode. They seem to like it because "it's not a show about threesomes. It's a show about a romantic relationship between three people." Poly viewers appreciate that, as Shepherd continued, "they're not portrayed as sexually obsessed, or deviant ... They really respond to that. That makes me feel good."

The whole article (April 10, 2017).


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April 9, 2017

Polyamory en Español. And, help me gather the best poly sites and media lists in other languages!

"Poliamor," by Sonia R. Arjonilla

Alba C. in Bogotá, Colombia, who runs the Poliamor Bogotá Facebook page, points out that the "Español" tag on my site is woefully out of date! It's true — I stopped trying to keep up with polyamory in foreign-language media years ago, because it was just ballooning too fast.

Alba writes,

I publish articles in Spanish on all topics poly, researched from a variety of sources. I have also created a website for the purpose of categorising articles and translations: Poliamor Bogotá Website.

There are plenty of resources nowadays in Spanish, although not as many as in English. Some of my main sources are listed under the tab "Aliades" (meaning "Allies").

I am letting you know all of this since I noticed that your otherwise wonderful blog has the section in Spanish somewhat outdated. You might be interested in letting your readers know where they can find more information in Spanish.

And now two questions for you, dear readers:

What are the best poly sites in any given non-English language?

And, where are the lists of poly-in-the-media in those languages? I know people are keeping them — sometimes as an "articles" page on a general-purpose national poly site.

I would love to post and maintain a permanent meta-list of poly-in-the-media lists in Spanish, Polish, Japanese, Hindi, German, Swedish, Tagalog, and whatever. If this project takes off, it could be a great global resource and help poly activists communicate across cultures (yay Google Translate).

Help me out here. Email me at alan7388@gmail.com with any you know.


Alan M.


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April 4, 2017

Wired: "The Ins and Outs of Silicon Valley’s New Sexual Revolution," meaning polyamory

Wired again notes the extent to which polyamory has become embedded in the culture of America's tech capital.

The Ins and Outs of Silicon Valley’s New Sexual Revolution

Jochen Schievink
By Julian Sancton

In Silicon Valley, love’s many splendors often take the form of, well, many lovers. For certain millennials in tech — as well as, rumor has it, a few middle-aged CEOs — polyamory holds especial appeal. Perhaps that’s because making it work is as much an engineering challenge as an emotional one, requiring partners to navigate a complex web of negotiated arrangements. (There’s an app to keep track of that, obvs: The Poly Life.) Some enthusiasts even claim it’s the way of the future. “If life extension is possible, we might have to think about relationships differently,” says one Valley-based polyamorist. “It’s pretty hard to have an exclusive relationship with someone for 300 years.” True that — but balancing multiple LTRs takes just as much dedication and discipline (if not more).

Rules of Polyamory

1. Tap OkCupid

Good old OkCupid is where you’ll find a critical mass of polyamorous users. The app features questionnaires to help determine if the lifestyle is right for you, plus tools that make it easier to find other poly enthusiasts.

2. Study up

The gospel is Dossie Easton’s 1997 book, The Ethical Slut. But more compelling to STEM-y polyamorists might be Sex at Dawn, which draws on primate physiology to prove that monogamy is, like, totally a construct.

3. Join the club

Some workplaces (coughGooglecough) have quasi-official poly clubs; you can also find meetups online. Just know there are plenty of subsets within the community, especially in California, so be prepared to discuss neopagan liturgies with Nebula Moon-Ostrich.

4. Don’t be a letch

You shouldn’t go to a get-together hoping to hook up. These are not orgies. (Though tech-nerd orgies do get pret-ty wild, what with the color-coded bracelets signaling what you’re cool with doing/having done unto you.) And stick to your age bracket—restrictions are enforced to keep things comfortable.

5. Be honest (and avoid Manhattan)

Transparency is what separates polyamory from infidelity. It’s also what makes it difficult. Thankfully, this is one area where the Valley’s left-brained legions have an advantage. “Lying is unacceptable,” says Emily Witt, author of Future Sex. “In New York, playing people is much more normal.”

6. Don’t get jelly

No matter how rational you think you are, you’re hardwired for jealousy. But you can stifle that instinct through frank discussion. Some polyamorists even show their primary partner the romantic texts and emails they send to other ­people. Sound awkward? Hey, rela­tionships are work — and more relationships are more work.

The original (April 4, 2017). This also appears in the April print issue.


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