Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 29, 2017

The Poly 101s the world now sees

All kinds of media are now telling the public how to do polyamory right, or so they think. Gone are the days when most poly advice came from actual poly people.

So it's especially crucial for us to keep supplying our advice and insights, lest we lose control of our own narrative! The media still generally listen to and repeat what we say. So keep your blogs and websites stocked and publicized. They determine what journalists will write when the boss says, "This thing is trending. Go do a piece on it."


For example, Cunning Minx of the Polyamory Weekly podcast has been, for the last 12 years, one of our smartest and most indefatigable spokespeople. She recently posted this:

Minx’s "Ignite" talk on polyamory

Last week I did a brave thing and opted to speak to a large mainstream audience (about 800 people) about polyamory. My goals were to create awareness, bust some myths and help make the idea of polyamory more accessible to those considering it or with friends or relatives practicing it.

I’m not sure if I accomplished those goals, but it was a receptive audience and a fun time! So please watch. And if you find it helpful, please like, share or forward. (5:34)

The title, "8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory Before I Tried and Frakked It Up," is the title of Minx's short, clear, snappy book on the subject. I recommend it for anybody who wants the need-to-know Poly 101 basics in 94 pages, if you're not up for the deeper More Than Two at 490 pages.


In a similar vein, Dedeker Winston is another of our best public educators, podcasters (Multiamory), and book authors (The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory, just out four months ago). Here's the Multiamory trio's beginner's guide section of their website. Winston wrote the following piece for Bustle using a similar theme as Minx's talk and book: The First Mistakes You'll Probably Make If You Open Up Your Relationship (Nov. 2, 2016). Read the whole thing, it's worth it. But for skimming:

...You'll find countless articles on the ways in which millennials are creating a “new” monogamy that is characterized by, ironically, injecting non-monogamy into otherwise traditional-looking relationships and marriages. ...

I asked a number of people who have been in open relationships for years to share their early mistakes, so that you can learn from them without making them on your own.

1. Trying To Keep Everything The Same. ...
2. Attempting To Avoid Jealousy By Dating The Same Person At The Same Time. ...
3. Not Talking Enough. ...
4. Avoiding Your Partner’s Other Partners Like The Plague. ...
5. Thinking It Will Solve Your Problems. ...

Ultimately, your relationship will change, for better or worse. Michael, 30, offered this observation: “...My friends, partners, and I have found that as we explore romantic and sexual niches we didn't even know existed, we can no longer promise that a primary relationship is worth defending at all costs.” [But] “you get to learn more about yourself than you thought possible.”


Compare and contrast such examples with the Poly 101 advice that the wider media are telling the wider world. The good news is that yes, the media still tend to treat us as primary sources and broadcast what we say... more or less... usually.

Get ready for a long read. I'll give my own assessment at the end.

● For instance, this popped up in Metro UK, Great Britain's free paper for public-transit riders: Polyamory 101: Should you open your relationship? (Jan. 26, 2017):

By Rebecca Reid

It’s easy to assume that relationship means two people, but in fact, that’s just not true. Relationships can include just as many people as you like (a bit like families). And when it does, it’s called polyamory, or an open relationship, or ethical non-monogamy.

Take a seat, sharpen your pencils, welcome to polyamory 101.

...How does it work?

...Polyamory is a relationship with more than two people in it. It can work in all different combinations. Sometimes all the people in the poly are romantically involved with each other, sometimes they’re only involved with a few. Sometimes there’s no connect at all between some members of the group.

The only universal principle of polyamory is that it’s an honest and transparent relationship. Unlike an affair, everyone is acutely aware of what’s happening, and there’s no deception.

So you can sleep with anyone you want?

Sometimes, but not always. In some poly relationships, it’s perfectly legit to sleep with whoever you want. In others, it needs to be cleared first, and some poly relationships are [sexually exclusive] within themselves.

Isn’t that really complicated?

Yes and no. ... The major complaint you’ll hear in a poly will be about time and organisation.

"Whose night was it supposed to be?"

Don’t you get jealous?

It’s a complicated question (and the question that absolutely everyone will ask you). In short, yes, you do sometimes get jealous. ... The biggest problem is usually about time. While love has no limit, time does.

To make a poly relationship work you need to be committed to being open and honest about your emotional needs, and responsive to your partners when they tell you how they’re feeling.

Is everyone equal?

Again, kind of depends on the specific poly.

It’s common in a poly to have primary and secondary partners. For some people, the titles ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ denote who comes higher up the pecking order. In others, it’s just a reflection of how long you’ve been together.

There are lots of other systems too. Some polys don’t like to put labels on people or give anyone a higher rank than anyone else.

To make it even more complicated, there’s also a relationship structure called ‘relationship anarchy’ or ‘anarchamory’. ...

Why would anyone want to be a secondary partner?

For some people, the part-time nature works incredibly well. If you’re long distance, not a big fan of commitment, or have an extremely busy work life, it can work as a brilliant way. ...

...How do you make it work?

The most important thing is that your partner doesn’t think it’s because things are bad or wrong in your relationship. If your relationship isn’t in a strong and healthy place, then you’re not going to survive the transition.

Poly people are obsessed with communication. Communication isn’t just the number one rule, it’s rules one through 100.

Feeling jealous? Talk. Feeling nervous? Talk. Feeling happy? Talk. Polyamory might involve getting more sex, but trust me, if it’s going to work then you’re going to pay for that sex several times over in conversations about feelings.

Pretty good for a mass-market throwaway on the subway.

● I'm sometimes surprised that Playboy is still around. In its long Poly 101 a few months back, Open Relationships Are on the Rise. Is It Time to Open Up Yours? (Nov. 22, 2016), I actually couldn't find much to object to.

By Debra W. Soh

...First, learn the terminology. “Consensual non-monogamy” refers to relationships in which partners let each other have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other people. This includes polyamory (relationships that are mostly romantic), swinging (relationships that are mostly sexual) and open relationships (which are a mix of both)....

Polyamorists emphasize that their relationships are egalitarian and consensual. ...

Second, understand the psychology. ... Some research-backed benefits to polyamory include heightened emotional intimacy among partners, improved communication skills, and more financial, physical (like when it comes to getting housework done) and emotional resources to share than your typical two-person household.

Third, make a game plan. From a practical standpoint, you might want to start by asking yourself if you have the time. It’s a myth that poly relationships take less work, or are more casual, than monogamous ones. ...

Fourth, anticipate possible outcomes. Arguably, the biggest landmine of having an open relationship is jealousy. ... Poly relationships can help couples learn how to manage their feelings in ways that are healthy and don’t involve monitoring or restricting each other’s behavior.

...Most of us don’t want to picture our partners having sex with other people when we close our eyes, [but] some choose to instead feel vicarious happiness at the thought, which is known as compersion. And it works. For people in open relationships, compersion has been shown to predict greater relationship satisfaction. But like all decisions around sex, everything needs to be consensual. ...

It can take a good amount of trial and error to figure out what works. Negotiating (and renegotiating) boundaries and rules are necessary to succeed. For example, some couples agree they won’t hook up with new partners unless their primary partners have met them first. The good news is an increasing number of sex therapists are becoming enlightened about non-traditional relationships, and there are also helpful resources like The Ethical Slut and More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory to help you find your way.

Times when non-monogamy might not be the best idea? If you decide that this is what you need, but your partner ultimately wants to stay monogamous. ... Also, don’t pursue non-monogamy if it is being used as a last-ditch effort to salvage a relationship in the final stages of decay. I have yet to see this kind of arrangement work out. ... No matter the curiosity or motivation, a couple needs a strong foundation, with a commitment to honesty, complete transparency and trust, before opening up.

● In Glamour magazine, What It Really Means to Be Monogamish (May 9, 2016).

By Andrea Syrtash

I spoke with sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., who has worked with monogamish couples in his private practice in New York City. ... If you're thinking of having this kind of agreement, Kerner suggests outlining the top principles of what the agreement would be. ...

In some cases, one person in the partnership is curious to try being monogamish while their partner is more hesitant.... "Some people go along for the ride if they love their partner. The problem is when the road is unclear and the ride keeps changing, which often happens...."

In most cases, though, Kerner suggests that monogamish couples [should] have the same interest in having this arrangement.... "My experience is that this works infinitely better when two people are temperamentally suited for it and come into the relationship recognizing that non-monogamy is important to them."

● In another women's magazine, Shape: How to Have a Healthy Polyamorous Relationship (April 5, 2016).

By Samantha Lefave

...Read on to get the most important tips experts say everyone needs to know.

It's Not a "One Way or the Highway" Situation

"Polyamory is a state of open-heartedness and open-mindedness about having multiple simultaneous relationships," says Anya Trahan, relationship coach and author of Opening Love: Intentional Relationships & the Evolution of Consciousness. "Intimacy might mean sex and romantic connection, or it could mean a deep emotional or spiritual connection.

..."Many people across the globe are becoming wise to the [notion] that love is not bound by gender," says Trahan. When that happens, "we begin to question other things that are considered 'normal,' like the idea that the only way to have a healthy, intimate relationship is between only two people."

It's Not Just About Sex....

But Sex Does Come Into Play....

...Protection is also of the utmost importance for the polyamorous, says [Elisabeth] Sheff. "They take a lot of care with testing and knowing their status, being really on top of using [birth control] barriers, and coming up with fun and creative ways to make those barriers sexy and interesting." So protect your sexual health consciously by getting tested and asking your partners to do the same, then show each other your results. This should be done whenever a new partner is introduced for either person, says Sheff, as statuses can change without people being aware.

But Be Warned...

A common mistake people make when opening up their relationship to polyamory is thinking it will fix whatever problems you currently have with your partner. "If the relationship is broken, adding more people will not help," says Sheff. "It's important to know the difference between 'Here's an opportunity for growth and we can come out stronger and happier on the other side,' and 'This relationship is just f—cked and it's not going to get better.' It's hard, but it's something that needs to be done because polyamory rubs your face right in your issues."...

You May Want to Ease Yourself In

Because polyamory is usually an emotional investment, Sheff says it might be smart to instead define yourself more as monogam-ish when you first get started. ...

Some Best Practices

    – Figure out what kind of polyamorous relationship you want....
    – Get educated....
    – Set your boundaries....
    – Always be ready to renegotiate....

    – Be honest.... All the experts agree that constant, honest communication is necessary for a successful polyamorous relationship. "It's emotionally challenging, and it makes you face your issues," says Sheff. Whether you stick to polyamory or not, forming this habit means there's the potential to grow and have a much more honest, intimate relationship than before.

● Here is what people find on Wikihow, a widely-used source of how-to information. How to Practise Polyamory is just a few paragraphs at this point, but on the right track:

Understand that it is possible to love more than one person at a time....
Understand that polyamory is not always open....
Establish your own set of ethical guidelines....
Be honest and open with your partner(s)....
Respect your partner(s)....
Be aware of jealousy....
Understand that this is often frowned upon by society....
Be open about your lifestyle choice when socializing....
Learn to manage your time....

● On the women's blogsite SheKnows, How to Tell Your Partner You'd Like an Open Relationship (Jan. 17, 2017):

by Anabelle Bernard Fournier

...But what if there were another way? What if you could open up your relationship so both of you could indulge in your crushes and attractions without compromising your commitment to each other? A growing number of people are coming out nonmonogamous and changing the way we imagine healthy, respectful relationships.

What is ethical nonmonogamy?

An ethically nonmonogamous relationship is a relationship in which the two people agree to have relationships — sexual, romantic and otherwise — with other people. The conditions and rules for outside relationships may differ between couples, but the core ideas remain the same for all of them: honesty, openness and trust.

Ethical nonmonogamy can include relationship modes like swinging, hookups and polyamory.

Their common denominator? Everyone knows what’s going on....

Breaking the ice

For those with the courage, naming the topic directly is probably the best, most effective way to do so. Being direct about your desires and your need to open up the relationship will give your partner the possibility to have all the information they need to pursue the discussion further.

Are you ready for an open relationship?

A common error that many couples make in opening up is believing that it, alone, will solve problems they’re having with sex, communication and trust. To the already troubled couple, opening up will only compound the issues. ... As Franklin Veaux says, “ ‘Relationship Broken, Add More People’ almost never works.”

Think you’re ready to open up? Take a look at some of the books and plentiful resources online to get the discussion going between you and your partner.

● Similarly, in the women's beauty-and-fashion mag Nylon, Diary Of A Polyamorous Woman: Opening Up About Love (May 19, 2017):

By Almass Badat

...Do not get open relationships mixed up with multiple one-night stands or affairs. Open love requires time, care, consideration; it should make you feel uplifted, cared-for and seen — even if eventually shit hits the fan.

The dynamics of an open relationship are all about checking in, communicating, and constantly adapting. Inwardly, individual participants have to work on possession issues, jealousy, personal insecurities and come to terms with what their idea of ownership in intimacy looks like. ... Part of the balance is about finding a partner or partners who share or want to share a similar vision as you do, as well as recognizing your ability to value your partner’s or partners’ needs, too.

...You have friends that you like to go to bowling with, and you have friends you’d prefer to stay in and watch the latest episode of Atlanta with. You have friends you see once a year, and ones you see every day. Each connection houses its own space in your mental and emotional sphere, right? This perspective can be applied to romantic connections as well. ...

“When you are born in a world you don’t fit in, perhaps it’s because you were born to create a new one.”

● On the other side of the gender gap, at The Good Men Project, Is Poly For You? Probably Not. But Possibly, Maybe… (March 18, 2017):

If you can read all of this and still think it's not entirely out of the question, this mode of living could possibly be for you.

By Johnathan Bane

...No one model of relationship is the right fit for everyone. The things that seem perfectly fine with one relationship would not be allowed in another. I have found that ultimately, it’s not about finding the right relationship model, but finding someone whose idea of a relationship is compatible with yours.

...For the majority of people I know, polyamory is NOT for them.

...Do you believe in absolute trust and communication to your partner about EVERYTHING? The poly style of living is rooted in a deep love of honest communication. ... The reason being, you are going to run into problems. Jealousy can rear its ugly head, a specific image might not leave your mind, and it’s important to be able to have an honest and loving conversation about that, so that you can navigate any roadblocks. That being said, sharing everything is not necessary. It’s not necessary that you know the entire contents of the book, just that you have access to it if you need to.

Would you be able to know, intellectually, that your spouse/partner is having sex and having an intimate relationship with someone else and be alright with it? ...

Would you feel guilty for getting your emotional/sexual needs met by more than one person?...

Would you feel guilty for double dating (you dating your preferred member of another couple, while your spouse/partner did the same)? This is often the beginner’s way to ease into things. ...

...If you can read all of this and still think it’s not entirely out of the question, then congratulations. This mode of living could possibly be for you. What should follow is an analysis of your relationship on every level to see if it could survive the growing pains necessary to dip your toes in the water. ...

● On another men's site, Askmen.com: Everything You Need To Know About Polyamory (undated). Here's its partial outline:

The History Of Polyamory
How Common Is Polyamory Today?
What Are Some Misconceptions About Polyamory?
What Are The Benefits Of Polyamory?
    – Polyamory Decreases Cheating
    – More Needs Are Met
    – More Love Has Psychological Benefits
    – Polyamory Can Help You Both [sic] To Become Emotionally Stronger

What Should You Consider Before Trying Polyamory In Your Relationship?
    – What Would The Ramifications Be?
    – Is Your Relationship Ready For This?

How Do You Get Started?
    – Deal With Your Past Ghosts First
Being prepared means reflecting on your past relationships and asking yourself: ‘What have been some of my issues in the past?’ ‘Do I tend to crave a lot of time and attention from my partners, or do I prefer to keep things cool?’ ‘How emotionally invested do I tend to get?’ ‘How can I learn from my past relationships to prepare myself for a polyamorous one?’

    – Over-Communicate
    – Take It Slow
    – Agree On Boundaries
    – Enlist Help, When Needed

One hidden gem in this area is going to “pastoral counseling” with a Unitarian clergy member. Most of them are very open-minded, and can bring both psychological and spiritual elements into the discussion. Strange, but true!

● A click-seeky magazine site called Vix presents 5 Things You Need To Know About Polyamorous Relationships (undated):

...There are no secret partners.
There's no scoreboard.
It doesn't solve relationship issues.
Relating to your partner's other companions is key.
No matter how many partners are involved in a polyamorous relationship, everyone has to keep in mind that you are all in one relationship. When everyone gets along, life is pleasant.

Plan on being flexible.
Successful monogamous relationships require a great deal of compromise so, imagine having multiple ongoing relationships going on at once....

● On another magazine site, Romancegoals: Polyamory 101: Everything You Need to Know About Non-Monogamy (undated).

...There are plenty of people who live their lives in loving and fulfilling polyamorous relationships. Because polyamorous relationships exist primarily outside of the mainstream, they are something that many people don’t understand. Here are the basics....

There is no evidence that monogamous relationships are better.
This is true across the board, whether we’re talking about longevity, sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy or happiness in general. That being said, there is also no evidence that polyamory is better, either. The important thing is that you do what feels right for you and your partner(s).

The “right one” is a myth.
We are sold a bill of goods that says that there is one soulmate for everyone, just waiting to make you feel complete. ...

Polyamory isn’t only for people who don’t get jealous. ....

Polyamory is more common than you think. ...

Polyamory is not a constant orgy.
Polyamory can involve a range of relationships, from friendships to group sexual situations — and everything in between. ...

Polyamory is not cheating. ...

Children raised in polyamorous families do just as well as other children. ...
What seems to be most important is support, routine and modeling healthy modes of romantic love that features communication and responsibility, honesty and compromise.

Polyamory is not necessarily easy.
It takes emotional intelligence, respect, boundaries and excellent communication skills to make a polyamorous relationship work. However, it’s not necessarily more work than a traditional monogamous relationship.

No relationships complete you.
You are already complete. If you come into any relationship — polyamorous or monogamous — expecting it to make you whole, it will only let you down.

● In V.v Magazine, an online citylife mag in Toronto: Polyamory: What it is and How to Tell if it’s For You (Jan. 19. 2017).

By Jen Kirsch

...And so there [my dad and I] sat, watching the final dates Jojo had with the final two bachelors contestants [on Bachelorette];

“So wait, she’s kissing both of them?!” – my dad asked, confused and disoriented.

“So wait, she’s introducing both of them to her parents?” – my dad asked, in utter shock.

“So wait, she’s going to the fantasy suite with him, too?!” – my dad asked, deplorably disgusted.

“So wait, she’s in love with both of them?!” – my dad asked, genuinely confused, shocked and possibly even in awe.

Yes, yes, yes and yes, daddy-o. And she’s not the only one.

...We call this say-what? type of relationship polyamory.

...So why would someone want to do that?

Because for them, it comes naturally. They don’t see relationships in any other way. For them, non-monogomy is a way of being and way of life. It also gives the couple [sic] the certainty and comfort that they’re with their ultimate partner, but still allows them to experience other people and connections.

...Maybe this is for you. Maybe it isn’t. ...

● The idealistic-sounding, alt-dating app Feeld ("explore love beyond societal norms") was formerly called 3nder until Tinder sued it. Its website presents The Push for Polyamory: Why More Gen Z's Never Want to Settle Down (Nov. 19, 2016).

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the reigning authority over all monogamish relationships. Reserved for only the most secure, it enables folks to love freely, forming relationships (sexual, emotional or both) with a multitude of people. ... Instead of telling your partners what they can and can’t do (and vice versa) all parties involved are free agents. [Well, sometimes. What they're really talking about is RA, Relationship Anarchy. –Ed.]

In Morgan Potts’ essay “Polyamory as a Rejection of Capitalism” they suggest that “ethical non-monogamy” not only guarantees the “romantic and sexual autonomy of every person” but also emphasizes the importance of the individual over a pair or a group. To be polyamorous you have to first be secure with yourself. ...

Why Now?

...While millennials might have been the first generation to deal with the so-called divorce epidemic, today’s youth have been raised in an era where “till death do us part” is no longer realistic. Known for their optimism and go-getter attitudes, Gen Z’ers are the perfect people to lead the path to polyamory.

How Does Polyamory Work?

The key is to figure out the terms of your arrangement — if there are any. The most liberal poly folks might not have any limits on their relationships, while others stick to a few hard rules (e.g. the weekends are just for us). Some people use the guise of a monogamish relationship to do shitty things. ... Others are able to manage their jealousy.

Compersion: The Opposite of Jealousy....

Playing the Feeld

Apps like Feeld encourage people to be upfront about both their desires and expectations, and can be a good place to dabble in polyamory — so go play ;)

Whether you’re already monogamish or in the midst of building a designer relationship, make sure to keep checking in with number one: yourself. No one said dismantling centuries-old societal norms would be easy. ... Let go of the notion of people as property and we will all be a little more free.

● Farther afield, this appears on a large health-information site in India: Dos and don’ts of polyamorous relationships (Jan. 20, 2017).

By Bhakti Paun Sharma

...You make your own rules in every relationship, but there are some general rules you must keep in mind before you opt for polyamory.

Don’t treat it as competition....

Do have a say in the relationship. The rules need to be mutual, so if you don’t agree to a certain rule or clause, oppose, argue and communicate. The rules must apply to both [sic] partners equally.

Don’t criticize your partner or discuss personal details with others.
The two of you [sic] are committed in a unique relationship, respect that.

Do support each other in difficult situations.
Since you are committed to one partner [sic], you need to be there for them when they need you.

Don’t compare yourself with your partner’s partners. Just because your partner has gone bungee jumping with them doesn’t mean he/she has to do it with you.

Do express your feelings and needs.... Don’t go searching a new person for every small need....

Don’t use polyamory to fix your relationship. ... Fix your problems and then opt for other partners if you both agree and feel the need to.

Do respect your partner’s choices of people they hang out with. ... If you don’t like the other person, just practice basic courtesy, that’s it.

● Thrillist: How to Pull Off an Open Relationship, by Gigi Engle (Sept. 15, 2016). The section headings:

– Open relationships require thorough consideration and planning
– Communication is key
– Jealousy will happen
– You learn to get creative around "date night"
– New partners need to understand the primary dynamic
– Every emotion must be dealt with in open relationships
– Most people won't understand


Okay, my conclusion, if you haven't guessed it by now:

Although our message continues to get across pretty accurately, there's one clear difference: The wider world immediately thinks in terms of primary couples opening their relationship. The poly community often thinks farther, in terms of whole new paradigms of agency, romance, family, and society.

In other words: changing the rules of a marriage, versus embracing a broader new view of romantic love and intimate community.

And maybe this is strategically just fine. Michael Rios, activist in the Network for a New Culture, has long said, "This is how you get people to accept a new thing. You show them that it's just like this thing they already know, but with one new twist."



May 27, 2017

"Meet the Israeli spreading the gospel of polyamory"


Polyfolks need community in order to thrive and flourish, and I wonder if that's really happening here:

'I Know My Boyfriend’s Wife. We Go Out for Coffee Together'

Masha Halevy

Meet the Israeli spreading the gospel of polyamory

By Rotem Starkman and Ronny Linder-Ganz

Masha Halevi, a 44-year-old Israeli woman from Shoham, did her doctorate in geography on places sacred to Christianity. So it may be surprising that her status today, in total contradiction to the view of Christianity — or most other religions — is married + boyfriend....

Four and a half years ago, on her 40th birthday, a dramatic change took place in her life.... “I discovered that there’s such a thing as an open relationship. I told my husband that that was what I wanted.” Her husband’s initial reaction was firm opposition. But after two months of discussion and hesitation, he agreed to try. ... Today she has a husband and a boyfriend. ... “My boyfriend is married in an open marriage and he has a family, so that it’s balanced.” ...

She began telling her friends. Two and a half years ago she wrote a revealing post on Facebook, and very soon was being interviewed on television. [This show.]

It was after she had gone public that Halevi began to feel uneasy. “I felt that I had to prove that I was normal in other ways. For example, I needed my daughter’s hair to be combed and her ponytail in place, so people wouldn’t think that I was a mother who neglected her children while she's spending time with her boyfriend. I still didn’t know if the people around me knew. It was quiet.”

“At a school event I quietly asked one of the fathers, who was a friend... whether people knew about me. He told me that when I was interviewed by Amnon Levy on TV, within an hour, everyone in Shoham knew, there were WhatsApp messages and phone calls — 'Turn on the television quickly.' And then, next to the food table, one of the mothers said to me, 'You probably know what I think.’ But I didn’t know. There I was, standing there, waiting for her to hand down her judgment, while she was piling food on her plate. Finally, she told me, 'I really envy you.' But not everyone is envious, some of them judge me.”

When Halevi, who now runs a website called “From Monogamy to Open Relationships,” began to analyze [hostile comment] responses, she realized that what people were reflecting was “a shakeup of the most basic world order. If it’s possible to question something as axiomatic as monogamy — where does that leave us? ... Polyamory really is shaking up things, because it allows you to take apart everything that used to be included in a single package. ... For the government and the bureaucracy, that’s problematic. ... Monogamy is convenient for the bureaucracy and provides a wrapping of security, but it also destroys the relationship. Many people either cheat or feel that they’re missing out on something.”

The piece goes on to interview her directly, including these interesting bits:

Q: Some people say that polyamory is a capitalist consumer concept — sanctifying choice, taking what you need from each person - money, sex, family life, security.

A: “Monogamy is a consumer concept to the same degree. Both are strategies for fulfilling needs. Monogamy is a solution for needs such as security, certainly. Non-monogamous relationships are a solution for things like freedom, excitement, for some people sexuality.”

Q: Who usually initiates the opening of a marriage?

“Almost always the woman. I think it has an element of female empowerment, because throughout history, men were free to cheat or to marry additional women. ... Women didn’t have that freedom until the advent of financial independence and birth control.... So I think it’s a continuation of female empowerment, and it’s no coincidence that more women choose it.”

Read the whole article (May 25, 2017).

She is not the only out Israeli poly activist, and this is not the first treatment of the subject in Israeli media; here are the four that have crossed my very spotty foreign radar (including this one; scroll down). And as for community, I see there is a Polyamory Israel Meetup. Do any of you readers know if this the tip of an iceberg?



May 24, 2017

NPR: "It's Polyamorous Polysaturation — Unconventional Relationships Abound On TV"

We're not the only ones noticing. On NPR's "All Things Considered" this afternoon, with video clips:

It's Polyamorous Polysaturation — Unconventional Relationships Abound On TV

By Neda Ulaby / NPR News

Laura Ramadei (center) as Annie, who gets involved with a different couple in every episode of the web series Unicornland.

Let's look at some of the buzziest shows on television in the past year or so, shall we? What do House of Cards, Girls, I Love Dick, Orphan Black, Transparent and The Magicians have in common?

Every one of them has featured unconventional romantic or sexual relationships involving more than two people.

Exhibit A: the arrangement between the fictional president of the United States and First Lady on one of Netflix's most popular shows, House of Cards. The most powerful couple on Earth enjoyed a joint affair with one of their Secret Service protectors. The two also regularly pursue separate romantic interests.

Exhibit B: I Love Dick's entire premise rests on a couple's shared crush on a famous artist (named, of course, Dick). And the lead character in Girls gets pregnant after a fleeting relationship with a man in an open relationship. (It's also worth mentioning the failed threeway turned bonding experience between two of the main characters.)

On the other hand, Orphan Black's three-ways tend to feature evil clones. A university professor on Transparent insists on non-monogamy with her much younger girlfriend. In The Magicians, polyamorous marriage is literally magical. And a new show called You Me Her concerns a suburban married couple bringing a girlfriend into their relationship.

As for reality TV, surprise! It's not to be outdone. TLC's polygamous hit Sister Wives was briefly joined on its home channel by a special called Brother Husbands, both about unconventional marriages. The channel further upped the stakes by introducing a throuple — three people in a relationship — on its bridal gown shopping show, Say Yes To The Dress.

...Of course, pushing boundaries and titillating viewers is nothing new for television. ... [But] what's happening now [notes MTV Networks general manager Nusrat] Duranni, is that many of these open relationships currently shown on television are an ongoing part of storylines, key to driving plots and understanding major characters. They're not just stunts.

...The dramatic appeal of multi-partner relationships seems self-evident. But Lucy Gillespie takes them as seriously as other subjects she's investigated, such as Occupy Wall Street and Lee Atwater. The 32-year-old created an online-only series called Unicornland. It's about a young woman who hooks up with a different couple in every episode.

...Her main character learns about the pitfalls of venturing into other people's messy relationships: "I didn't get out of a bad marriage to join yours," she tells an insufferable husband who isn't listening to his wife.

Perhaps what we're seeing reflects a society where so many old rules about gender and sexuality are in flux.... Opening a relationship can feel like a fantasy, a fix or both. Gillespie likens it to a hack.... "We're all sort of trying to hack our lives and make our lives more interesting and optimal," she says.

That said, Gillespie's about to enter a monogamous marriage herself. Maybe, she says simply, there's not a better mousetrap. But Dan Savage points out that the stories about the mice that play accomplish what television, film, and literature have always done: push the envelope, make you think, provide vicarious experiences, and give you a chance to contemplate your choices.

Here's the whole article (May 24, 2017). Click the button at top left there to listen to this segment of the show (4:48).


Labels: ,

If we don't represent poly to the media, look who will.

Adam Lyons, the self-declared "luckiest man in the world" but not exactly our best face for poly, is doing another publicity blast. It's going all around the world wherever British tabloid content is marketed, courtesy of the News Dog Media agency. Here's the version in the UK's Daily Mail, for instance, which includes heaps of promo pictures and a video:

British man who lives with TWO girlfriends becomes a dad by BOTH women: 'The luckiest man alive' insists raising a child in a 'throuple' is the future of parenting

– Adam Lyons, from London is in a relationship with Jane and Brooke
– The 36-year-old now lives in Austin, Texas with his two girlfriends
– Threesome share a king size bed and are co-parenting Brooke's and Adam's son
– Now Jane is expecting and all three will raise baby boy together
– Adam says their unique arrangement actually makes life easier

...For Adam Lyons and his two girlfriends, it's three parents who are getting increasingly excited about their forthcoming bundle of joy.

Two years ago, Adam Lyons, 36, who is from East London, but now lives in Austin, Texas, was dubbed 'the luckiest man alive' because of his unusual living arrangements with his two girlfriends Brooke Shedd and Jane Shalakhova.

At the time, Adam and Brooke had son, Dante, two, together but now the 'throuple' are expecting again after Jane fell pregnant.

Brooke, Jane, and Adam (l. to r.), with Dante

The threesome — who share a super-kingsize bed — believe the new baby, due in July, will make their family even more complete.

Adam, 36, says: 'It's so sweet that we all get to parent and raise the kids together.

'We have talked about it at length and we all consider ourselves parents to the children.'

...Adam, who runs his own business consulting company Psychology Hacker, says: 'For us, three people works because it enables us to manage daily life so much better.' ...

The whole article (May 18, 2017). You can also see them on TV via the UK's Daily Mirror (video autoplays).

That Psychology Hacker company? It's the current iteration of Adams's dating-coach business. On its opening page is a pic of him smiling into the camera with the ladies on either side of him:


My family and I have been in the press recently, and a lot of people have started calling me “the luckiest man in the world”. But the has nothing to do with luck. I’m not in my relationship by accident, I don’t drive a Maserati by accident, I don’t have my 40 acre ranch by accident, I don’t have 2 homes by accident; none of this was by lucky accident.

The fact is that I followed some simple psychological hacks to get to where I am today, and I’ve created a way for you to learn each of these hacks as well!

You may remember our past reporting about media spotlighting him, Brooke, and Jane. Here's a reprint from what I posted after they appeared on The Steve Harvey Show last year:


Update the next morning: Uh-oh, there's more to this story! Green Fizzpops went poking further and comments,

If you go to the article about this interview on Adam's website, the video promising to teach you more -- seems very much like teaching pick up artist (PUA) techniques to unicorns hunters. [That link is now dead, but here is Adam's listing on PUAmore.com.]

I caution against supporting pua techniques.

Turns out Adam runs a dating-techniques-for-men business (along with Brooke and Jane). With an emphasis on manipulative, creepy-sounding techniques for unicorn hunting. This is from the front page of his website [the original one with the dead link:]

Adam Lyons is a well known dating coach. Not only has he been voted #1 in the world for his craft for multiple years, he has written articles for AskMen.com and featured in a number of documentaries such as “The Rules of Seduction” on Channel 4. He is widely regarded as a top expert in attraction and seduction.

...One of the biggest questions this throuple gets asked... is how polyamorous and monogamous couples can add another girl to their life. Even the most well intentioned and charming couple can make a few mistakes that trigger something known as the “creep alarm.” This prevents any type of wooing from happening and cuts the interaction short before it can actually develop.

That’s why Adam created this special video for you that answers this question and teaches you to…
  – Get past a girl’s creep alarm… 
  – Trigger the chemical that makes her fall in love… 
  – and get her inner voice working for you instead of against you…

Read the comments to that post. The JJ Roberts in the mudfest there is the author of Sex 3.0, used by a rival relationship-advice business. These men seem to know each other too well. Roberts goes on a rant about how unattractive Brooke is with her half-buzzcut (WTF?), and how can a guy who poses as an expert in attraction allow his woman to look like that (WTF?).

The batch of tabloid articles about the triad last April [2015] gives more of their backstory. I should have done more homework then.

If you've never heard of PUA training, here's the xkcd's comic's famous take. If you're not up to speed on how PUAs are regarded generally, a typical tale: I Dated An Ex-Pickup Artist.

More update: In a hot reddit thread after the show, Adam (AFCAdam) defends his position:

The PUA industry split in half.
Half moving towards aggressive tactics and manipulation (look at gunwitch method... Warning it's unpleasant)
The other moved towards self improvement and becoming attractive (look up the art of charm)
We've evolved and changed.
PUA fragmented.
I identify as a dating coach.
We get customers based on people wanting to get laid sure.
But then again...
So does tinder, Match.com etc.
The difference is we teach them that focusing on getting laid doesn't work.
You need to focus on empathy.
Being a real person.
Having goals. Encouraging your partner to have theirs.
I educate people in this.
Teach them these techniques.
I'm still evolving too.
Still learning more.
And continuing to teach and help others.
I've lost count of the amount of men if changed develop into actual caring people, who lead healthy communicative relationships.
As I said. The media gets this, my students and clients get this.
My girlfriends get this.
The only people who currently don't.
Are the polyamory communityX
That continues to judge and insult our family.


Well, for all I know, his self-positioning on the side of PUA angels may be correct. But a sour reaction to his current publicity wave just popped up from a very pro-poly editor of YourTango: Polyamorous Man With 2 Families Says Life Is Easy For Them — And I'm Calling BS (May 23):

By Rebecca Jane Stokes

Dude, come on!

...Adam's back in the news these days talking about how "EASY" and "GREAT" it is to raise children with two women helping him out.

...They don't talk about the insane amount of talking and communicating that has to go on to make these relationships work.

They don't talk about how hard it can be.

My boyfriend's girlfriend is due to give birth at the end of the summer, and I'm here to tell you that it's been hard on me. You know what's harder? Me not feeling like I can tell him just how hard it is too often, because I know what shitty position that puts him in.

In many ways, his girlfriend's pregnancy has been the thing that has glued us together, as I have written about before. Adam talks about sharing the responsibility in a way that sounds cultish to me. ... Don't confuse my trust and love for my boyfriend for some sort of poly mind control that has me convinced my life is perfect. It's not. It's hard. It's tough. There are hurt feelings. It's a lot like any other relationship in that respect.

And, where are the voices of the two women in all this? Yes, they get nice quotes in the publicity articles, and they do well on TV. But one gets the feeling that this enterprise is a one-man show.

What is to be done?

Not much. If we want to be represented better to the world than this, we need to get out there and do it ourselves.


Update: In case that listing for Adam Lyons on PUAmore.com goes away, here it is:

Adam Lyons, aka AFC Adam, born September 12th 1980, is a pickup artist first appearing in 2007, and voted as “the guy that will never have a girlfriend” in high-school. Having limited access to women until his mid-twenties, he was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. Like many other pickup artists, he was introduced by Neil Strauss’s bestseller “The Game”. Before his established presence at the pickup community scene, he worked as a PR manager for many companies.

Today, AFC Adam Lyons is affiliated with the “PUA Training” company and bravely continues to build his own personal reputation. Even though he tried to keep a low profile, rumors are that in 2007 he picked up Shabnam, a Big Brother celebrity, the same night she left the house. In 2009 he got married to Amanda Torres (now Lyons), after 2 years of dating. As a former student of Mystery’s, he uses a lot of his concepts, but pushes them to extreme limits.

Some of his method still rely on the social proof concept and pre-selection, but are somehow altered and upgraded. AFC Adam Lyons' so-called formulas start with building comfort, the stage where you befriend your target and establish the social proof. Then you continue towards the break rapport, where you take away your target, and continue towards building more value and make space for the girl to qualify. Only then you directly perform escalation to sex, resulting in instant attraction.
Some of his convictions are that a great part of being happy in life is being comfortable in your own skin, and that happiness comes from within. He defines “pre-selection” as a situation when you surround yourself with people that want you, making other people (you want) to feel attracted to you. As a person, AFC Adam Lyons does not find satisfaction in a simple lifestyle. It is not enough for him to have few stable friends, a dull job and joy of drinking in the pubs and clubs over the weekends. He teaches his students to get out of the routine and make themselves more interesting.

He is a published author of many books and trainer and coach at many courses. Some of his most popular products are: “Principles of Attraction”, “Beyond The Game, “The 21 Convention 2012 (North America)”, “Real Man Conference 2008 DVD”, “Spectrum Series: AFC Adam and Speer on Social Proof”, “Real Man Conference 2008”, “Ultimate Natural Game”, “The 21 Convention Event Footage (2007-2009)”, “Instant Attraction Training Course”, “AFC Adam VIP Monthly Training”, “Lifestyle Seduction”, “Attraction Explained VIP Membership”, “Secrets of Transitioning to Sex”, “Street Seduce”, “The Guru Black Book”, “Breaking Rapport”, “Understand Attraction”, “Valentine’s Day For Singles”, “Adam Lyons Qualification” and a lot more.

During his intense work experience, Adam won many prestigious awards among which “Thundercat’s Seduction Lair Top 10 Pick Up Artist List 2009”, “TheLSS.com 2007 to date”, “World PUA Summit 2007: Number 1 Ranking UK” and many more. He received approval and sincere respect from his colleagues dating coaches like David Wygant, Mr M (Jim Stark), Braddock and Vince Kelvin. He made notable appearances on D8.tv, Fox4, featured in the Channel 4 documentary “Rules of Seduction”, in Maxim Magazine, on NBC and CBS, Fox News, Kerrang, The Independent made a cover story on his background and many more appearances on television programs.

Source: http://puamore.com/dating-coaches/afc-adam-lyons/#ixzz4i1g3lLSR


May 23, 2017

More reaction to "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" – good, bad, and ugly

The enormous May 14th cover story of the New York Times Magazine, Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? (and its online followup 'We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want To') raised a fair amount of buzz. I posted about poly-community reaction calling out the article's limited viewpoints and its ethics-juggling: Representation, Or Not.

Here are some responses from the wider world.

● Sari Cooper, sex educator and therapist based in New York, wrote this on her Psychology Today site: What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn (May 15). It's worth quoting at length. And, keep the link to send to therapists who need to read this.

What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn

Sari Cooper
One of the differences in my practice today versus ten years ago, is the openness with which couples are entering therapy to discuss their desire to open up their monogamous relationships. They also contact my Center for Love and Sex to discuss their well-established open relationships and work on better communication skills, get advice around parenting, or discuss a renegotiation.
...The author was helpful in revealing that opening up or living within non-monogamous agreements are really for people who are interested in talking about their feelings.... But some other significant points were missed, in my opinion.

The article didn’t present the full spectrum of diversity in the non-monogamous communities, including those that come from various ethnicities, cultures and sexual practices. ...

While the author cited important historical sources like Open Marriage by Nena and George O’Neill from the 1970’s and The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, the article neglected to cite Opening Up by Tristan Taormino or Designer Relationships by Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, significant [and more recent] contributions handed down by people immersed in these communities. Johnson and Michaels point out that the couples portrayed in the article chose “nonmonogamy as a solution for marital problems, as opposed to something that people enthusiastically choose”.

Canadian polyfamily. (Galit Rodan / Globe & Mail)
One of the emotions the writer didn’t name explicitly in her article was that of compersion. ... This feeling is hard for committed monogamists to understand, and many therapists have difficulty trusting that this emotion is authentic since we have all been brought up in a world where jealousy seems the norm. It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way while also feeling compersion. So when a client of mine is expressing joy that his wife is experiencing a new kind of arousal with her boyfriend, most traditional therapists might look for some sort of pathology as to why this husband isn’t exclusively feeling jealous of his wife’s partner.

While the Times story included a therapist who told one of the couples they were likely heading for divorce, it didn’t articulate how this reflection showed the monogamous-centric attitude the therapist seemed to hold. The omission [was] a missed opportunity to reveal a professional blind spot in most general therapists’ toolkits. ...

Given that many couples therapists and sex therapists see many couples in crisis when an affair or infidelity has been discovered, it is curious that these same therapists have trouble treating a consensually non-monogamous couple with a different lens. Many therapists believe that those practicing a non-monogamous relationship structure are somehow damaged in their attachment styles.... And while there are those in the CNM (Consensual Non-Monogamous) community that break rules set up by their primary partner and lover, why would they be seen differently than supposed monogamous couples where one partner was unfaithful?

...The woman Elizabeth featured in the article was seeing a married man who wasn’t “out” with his wife about seeing another woman. So in fact, he was cheating on his wife with a woman who was being open with her husband. I agree with [Kevin] Patterson that this arrangement is unethical non-monogamy, since not all parties involved have chosen this arrangement, and not something that many communities accept given the lack of transparency for all involved.

...Many couples have come to my practice after seeing a general couples’ therapist who told them that they were heading for a divorce, or who tried to convince them their lifestyle itself was the source of their conflict. The couple ended the treatment having felt like their presenting issue was not addressed and that the therapist was not informed.

...If therapists are supposed to help clients in their romantic relationships, they need to be able to see past society’s and their own discipline’s history of negative views of non-monogamy. It would be critical for them to learn that recent research shows that non-consensual partners in partnerships/marriages (those cheating, or having affairs) are significantly less likely to use protective sexual behaviors with both their lovers and partners (leaving them both open to STIs), and less likely to participate in frequent STI testing, than consensually non-monogamous individuals.

When I presented at an AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) several years ago on the Clinical Implications when Working with Non-Monogamous Couples, the response was so overwhelming the organizers had to move us into the largest ballroom to accommodate the audience.

...My colleague Esther Perel, whose upcoming book The State of Affairs explores these issues... [says] therapists who are able to hold them through the emotional rollercoaster of recovery will learn about the private domains of their partners as much as the private domains they had avoided within themselves. It is this type of continual self and partner discovery that open, communicative monogamous and CNM partners can gain when they share their deep longings and fantasies in a non-judgmental context, whether they're at home or with a CNM-informed therapist who is willing to meet them where they are.

Jezebel addressed a well-known feminist angle: Are Women More Into Polyamory Than Men? (May 12):

By Aimée Lutkin

...In a very long and moving piece for the New York Times, Susan Dominus interviewed dozens of non-monogomous or “monogomish” couples in open marriages to see what additional people brought to their life, both good and bad.

...Dominus began to note in her interviews that the majority of the heterosexual couples opened up their relationships at the instigation of the women. Of the 25 couples, only 6 were opened up at the man’s suggestion, and even in cases where it was mutual, the woman were generally more sexually active outside the relationship.

...In his book [What Women Want, Daniel] Bergner cites research suggesting that women desire novelty as much as men.... and may desire variety at an even higher level to be truly excited about sex, but societal structures discourage women for reaching for what they want. In an open (but committed) relationship, many women are able to find that mix of stability and excitement they crave. It should be noted, however, that that need for stability is just as likely a construct taught to women as the myth of a low sex drive is.

At any rate, everyone Dominus spoke with seemed to say that their approach to non-monogamy had brought sexual energy back into their relationships with their primary partners, and also opened up channels of communication they’d never been able to tap into before....

● Susan Dominus herself held a reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") and answered a lot of reader questions about the article and her year of research for it (May 15).

Dominus is also interviewed on the Slate podcast DoubleX Gabfest, "Slate’s weekly women's roundtable" (May 18. It's not particularly revelatory.)

● Now from the serious to the shallow: Cosmopolitan summarized the story in 10 points with these lead sentences:

10 Things People in Open Marriages Want You to Know

By Laura Beck

In The New York Times Susan Dominus explores the concept of open marriages, something more and more people are doing, but don't necessarily feel comfortable talking about. Here are some of the misconceptions she breaks down in the course of her enlightening article.

1. Open relationships can mean many things, arrangement-wise....

3. Technology is making open marriages easier....

4. People in open marriages are still judged....

5. However, some people in open marriages are really, well, open about it....

6. Sometimes a third partner can even live with the couple....

7. People in open marriages prize keeping their marriages "normal."...

8. Open marriages make them more open, sexually....

9. Open marriage is an option for people who crave differences in their marriage, but still want to be married....

10. Like any relationship, there are pros and cons....

The article (May 13).

Here's another Cosmo article that appeared a few days ago: 12 Ways Being in an Open Relationship Changes Your Sex Life (May 17). It's not bad.

● And from the shallow to the skeptical: A New York Post columnist writes Sorry, infidelity will never be normal or harmless (May 23):

By Karol Markowicz

...In the last week, Vice, New York magazine and, for some reason, Bride magazine have all opened up on open relationships....

The Times piece focused mostly on a couple named Elizabeth and Daniel. He asked her to open their marriage; she said no. Years later, she became attracted to another man and decided she was into the open marriage thing after all. Without discussing it with Daniel, Elizabeth started a full-on affair. When Daniel expressed pain over the arrangement, she refused to end it.

Sounds amazing. Why aren’t more people into this?

...That’s really the issue — with the Times piece and with open marriages in general. The consent makes it seem like it’s a victimless crime, but there always seems to be someone on the margins who either doesn’t know or isn’t strong enough to resist the arrangement, and ends up getting predictably hurt.

● And from the skeptical to the hostile: Conservatives were riled, as best expressed in the National Review's headline: This Is How the Elite Poisons Our Culture (May 12):

By David French

...They thrill to new love and discover more about themselves. They embrace the benefits of security and liberty, keeping a home for the kids while reserving weekends away for their affairs. Isn’t this at least one valid path for consenting adults? Shouldn’t more couples consider this lifestyle? Are we still too trapped by tradition and our own petty jealousies to live what could truly be our best lives?...

Their stories are both revolting and pathetic.

National Review also reprinted an article from Acculturated, by Ashley E. McGuire, which cluelessly confuses the topic with 19th-century Mormon polygamy: ‘Polyamory’ Is a Modern Name for a Backwards Practice (May 13).

...Which was pulled to pieces by Slate Star Codex (aka Scott Alexander): Polyamory Is Not Polygyny (May 17).

Wrote Juila Duin at Get Religion, 'Open marriage?' The New York Times Magazine hopes, hopes, hopes that it's a trend (May 12).

By Ed Straker at American Thinker: Can people be happy in an 'open' marriage? (May 12). "It's even good for the kids! What more can you ask for? ... The article makes it seem that women are more willing to satisfy their husband's needs when their own needs are being satisfied by someone else." [Well, yeah?]

On Newsbusters, by Matt Philbin: NY Times Magazine Swings for Open Marriage (May 11). "Wanna sleep around, but scared of wrecking your comfy marriage? No worries."

Jessica Burke at The Federalist: ‘Open Marriage’ Is Just Another Term For Adultery, And Just As Selfish (May 15). "If every unhappy couple got to interpret marriage to fit their fancies, we would have eliminated the institution millennia ago. ... Open marriage is no marriage, and that's the point."


Labels: , ,

May 18, 2017

NYT: " ‘We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want to’: Readers share their open-marriage stories"

When the New York Times Sunday Magazine ran its 12,000-word "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" a few days ago, it asked readers to send in their own open-relationship stories for website publication. Today the Times posted a selection of them.

A number of you wrote to or phoned the author of the original article, Susan Dominus, to call out white-middle-class exclusivity. Or published about it online. I wonder if I hear a little defensiveness about that in the first line quoted in italics below.

‘We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want to’: Readers Share Their Open-Marriage Stories

"The subjects from our May 14 cover, from left: Blake Wilson; Wilson's girlfriend, Zaeli Kane; Kane's husband, Joe Spurr; Spurr's girlfriend, Alexandra Kirkilis." Credit: Holly Andres for The New York Times


...In many ways, Dominus assumed the position of the average New York Times reader and approached the topic with skeptical curiosity: “The more I spoke to people in open relationships,” she wrote, “the more I wanted to know how they crossed a line into territory that seemed so thorny to their peers.” ...

We asked people to share their stories of engaging in open marriages and relationships and received more than 300 submissions. ...


Several readers shared how they carefully and deliberately opened their relationships. Despite the challenges of an open marriage, the couples felt strengthened by the decision to engage in outside relationships.

...After a little over a year of being together, our sex life fizzled. It was becoming such an issue that both of us considered ending things, but we didn’t bring it up because our partnership in all other facets of life was so strong.

About two years ago, we were approached by a friend interested in sharing a night with both of us, and we went for it. That led us down a path of actual conversation about the matter, how exciting that night had been for both of us and how unhappy both of us were with the state of our sexual relationship. We gradually opened our relationship.

This was not always an easy process. ... There are times when one or both of us needs to feel completely supported, and during those times we will close the relationship because we are each other’s most important person and we recognize that there are times when being open doesn’t make sense.

The most important thing this has done for us is remind us that we shouldn’t take each other for granted. Instead, we choose each other over and over because we want to, not because we are simply on autopilot.  Crystal A.


My wife and I are 80 and have had an open marriage for 40 years. It started when I had a “secret” relationship and has evolved over the years. I told my wife about a later relationship and suggested that we have an open marriage, never imagining that she would agree. But she did.

I have had one-night stands and relationships that lasted for years. She had several relationships that were very satisfying. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, though. ... There have been jealousies, hurt feelings and times when one of us was in a relationship and the other was not. We told our children when they reached college age and they strongly disapproved. Still, I consider the decision to have an open marriage one of the best we have ever made.  Watson B.


A number of readers in open marriages came from religious backgrounds and had married young. As a result, they felt they had not been free to experiment sexually, and this feeling of deprivation led them to open their marriages.

My husband and I met when we were 17 and were both raised in strict evangelical homes. I had always known I was a little boy crazy. ... While I was deeply in love with the man soon to be my husband, I never stopped feeling attraction to others. We married at 21 and then slowly left the church.

I felt a part of my life had been stolen — the part where you explore your own sexuality with multiple people in your early 20s. My husband also knew he was bisexual, and that was something he had never followed through on....

...This first stage was a dizzying sexual adventure with many ups and downs, and we felt our primary connection was overwhelmingly strengthened by these other encounters. We learned to be more open with each other about our sexual needs, desires and kinks — something that our Christian background had always stifled within us.

While there have been problems, of course, and it is true that polyamorous lifestyles can sometimes require an exhausting degree of processing and communication, overall I feel like a more self-actualized and fulfilled person through the whole process, with so much love in my life. I guess in some ways I have the evangelical church to thank for all this.  Josie J.


I married my husband at 19. We have always had a successful marriage, working as a perfect team to build our adult lives together. Somewhere along the way, he confessed to me his desire for me to have sex or even flirt with other men....

Years later, at 27, I was a stay-at-home mom of two young children with no family in our state, few friends, a husband who worked out of town and crippling depression and anxiety. I loved my husband, but I had lost my spark. He once again suggested I date other people.... Then I met Joe and we fell in love.

Today, the three of us openly live together as a triad, raising our kids.... The combination has been interesting, challenging and beautiful.  Alicia W.


Other readers shared how opening up their heterosexual marriages finally allowed them to explore their bisexuality while remaining in a committed relationship.

As a young adult, I tried desperately to deny that I was gay. ... Coming out to my husband was the hardest thing I have ever done. ... He basically said: “I know you’re gay. I’m surprised it took you this long to admit it.”

...I ventured into the world of online dating, and he reconnected with an old girlfriend. That was four years ago, and we’re still going strong. Our marriage is solid, our kids are happy and we each have a romantic relationship outside our marriage that makes us happy. It’s an arrangement that works for us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The combination has been interesting, challenging and beautiful.  —Kim M.


...It was actually he who first offered the idea of opening the marriage so that I could see other people (women, in particular)... I am now with a girlfriend I’ve been seeing for 6 months. My husband also eventually found himself someone whom he sees very casually. We’ve had ups and downs and miscommunication, but it has also absolutely strengthened and deepened our relationship with each other and with the people we see.  Emily M.


Finally, a group of readers had attempted an open relationship and wanted to share their negative experiences in order to present a more balanced view. Some argued that they still believed open marriages could work under the right circumstances, but could also lead to disaster when both partners aren’t on the same page.

I was in an open relationship in the past, during the 1970s, when people began to experiment with open marriages. My ex-husband and I were close friends with another couple; he fell in love with the wife first and wanted to open the marriage and have sex with this woman. Her husband felt “obligated” to then pursue a romantic relationship with me (he later told me). I loved them both so much that I complied — but I was also in my early 20s and incredibly naïve.

The foursome became emotionally complicated. We were all in therapy. Both marriages finally fell apart, and we and the other couple divorced. In the end, I felt betrayed by everyone and lost my best girlfriend. In retrospect, I felt the whole experiment was an elaborate ploy so that my ex could have sex with my best friend within the confines of marriage....  —Marissa P.


...In my case, after more than 10 years of marriage and two kids, my wife fell for someone else, and I agreed to open up the marriage.

In retrospect, I never really had a choice, and this was the beginning of the end of the marriage. The issue wasn’t possessiveness on my part. I embraced what I saw as an opportunity for growth. The problem was a lack of consideration on the part of my wife. She was going to do things her way with a total lack of control or regard for my need for some kind of boundary around her activities.

I still think that nonmonogamy can work, but it requires deep care and consideration for each person involved (including any children) and extreme maturity. Running off and ignoring adult responsibilities doesn’t work if you want to stay married....

I did learn about myself that I am fundamentally not a jealous person and that I am committed to the happiness of all concerned in my relationships. I also learned that my wife was not the kind of person I wanted to be married to.  —Michael B.

Read their full stories (May 18, 2017).



May 14, 2017

Representation, or not, in the New York Times' "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?"

This morning the Sunday New York Times landed on hundred of thousands of doorsteps, with its Times Magazine cover story "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?", which I posted about three days ago when it went online. Already it has drawn a lot of attention, including from the right wing ("This Is How the Elite Poisons Our Culture", says the National Review). I'll get to that soon.

But first, some of the people in the story and close to it have important perspectives on its failings, especially its narrowness.

Among the couples who were photographed — mostly made to look all too serious and somber — were black activist Kevin Patterson of Poly Role Models and his wife Antoinette. They've posted a response on Huff Post. Excerpts:

How Representation Works...or Doesn’t

By Kevin Patterson and Antoinette Crumby Patterson

Love in abundance: The couple in a more representative photo. 

In the early afternoon of Thursday May 11th, I got an email from a colleague. ... She congratulated me on my appearance in the New York Times. ... But before I had a chance to even read that email, I received a second one from the same colleague: “Oh my gosh, Kevin! I just read the article. You must be upset. I’m so sorry!” ...It pretty much encapsulated how the whole day went.

...Unfortunately, any perspective I could add [to the article] ... is buried beneath a sad story of floundering marriages. The sad story of floundering marriages [is] both valid and valuable. My work definitely covers that as well. But it covers more than that...and therein lies the problem.

"Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" is predominantly the story of a married couple, Elizabeth and Daniel, who have grown dissatisfied in their lives together. ... Daniel researched ethical non-monogamy and discussed it with his wife. What followed was not ethical non-monogamy....

Elizabeth shot the idea down. Only to find romance with a new fellow anyway. First, behind her husband’s back, then to his face without his willful participation...despite his pain. The guy Elizabeth took up with? He was also unhappily married and cheating on his spouse. ... Look, I’m not judging. ... Partners that come to ethical non-monogamy by way of infidelity needs to be discussed. These are already being discussed. In fact, the idea that ethical and consensual non-monogamy are just the product of unhappy marriages is already the predominant narrative. We’ve heard these stories before. They get pushed out to mainstream media every few months and frankly it’s gotten boring.

It’s clear that [author] Susan Dominus has a specific story that she is trying to tell. But I question who that really serves. The non-monogamous newcomers who don’t fit this couple-centric view won’t find any love here. ... The stable and happy couples featured [in the photos] are virtually voiceless in this article. What little speech we’re given is limited to seemingly reluctant acceptance of the situation we’ve found ourselves in.

...Why were our names and faces used... only to ignore our observations?

...Now, I’m not flat out saying that my wife and I are only included as token people of color. I am challenging anyone to show me what the difference would be if we were. Our voices are mostly unused, but our faces are pretty prominent in a photo that shocked the people in our lives. One friend said it is the saddest they’ve ever seen either of us look. Another said that, without context, they would’ve believed all of the photos to be from a story about divorce. A visual storyline to match the narrative of non-exclusive but unsatisfying marriages.

...We don’t need to be made into a compelling story. We already are. The story isn’t how we exist, it’s that we exist. All we need to do is open our mouths to speak our own truths. When someone on the outside of us attempts to speak for us, regardless of the platform, they carry in their preconceived notions...and worse they carry their desire to shoehorn us into those notions. While I thank and appreciate the New York Times for trying, what they gave us was not nearly what was promised or expected or needed.

But, hey… I guess it could be worse. At least there weren’t any stock photos of three pairs of white feet sticking out from under a white duvet.

Kevin Patterson may be contacted at polyrolemodels@gmail.com

Go read his whole article (May 13, 2017).

● Their piece was hosted by Ruby Bouie Johnson, organizer of the PolyDallas Millennium conference. She posted her own response to the Times. Excerpts:

What the New York Times Neglected To See

Chase and Ruby Johnson

As a Black American therapist who serves clients that practice polyamory, and as someone who practices polyamory myself, I looked forward to the publication of the NY Times article, “Is an open marriage a happier marriage?” There is a common contrived narrative about consensual nonmonogamy that is pervasive in mass media representations, but I had high hopes that the article would disrupt the trend. I knew several colleagues and friends who do not fit the typical mold were interviewed for it.

...I instead discovered that the author presented a pigeonholed, whitewashed, homogeneous experience as the whole of polyamory. ... Within the professional and personal communities I belong to, there has been much discussion about these simplifications. When I refer to whitewashing, what I mean is that the representation of what is the norm for polyamory is 30-somethings, affluent, white, thin, triad. Most often two women and one guy. ...

White, cisgender, and heterosexual are far from the only demographic that are practicing open relationships. Research into polyamorous relationships and my own experience show a wide variety of diversity within the community. Those who practice polyamory are more likely to be sexually fluid, they often have children and strong co-parenting relationships with multiple people, they have all shapes and sizes of bodies, belong to every race. The media representation of open relationships ... is actually concealing more about the reality than it reveals....

There is a phenomenal depth of experience, an unimaginable range of stories, within polyamorous communities. I know quads that have been together for 40 years. I know people who prefer to live alone and spend time at various lovers’ and partners’ homes when they choose. The article did not offer any language that spoke of this diversity in the structure of relationships, from solo poly, to vees, triads, quads, tribes, families, polycules. All we saw was couples and friends with benefits.

...For African-American communities, the language is different. It’s about the village, it’s about the family. It’s about sexual fluidity that is celebrated and liberated. It is about decolonizing and reclaiming what was historically, traditionally, their culture, before it was stripped from them by the Middle Passage. ...

Go read her whole article (May 12, 2017).

Update May 15: The author of the NYT article, Susan Dominus, has put up a reddit page for questions and feedback about it.


Labels: ,