Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 30, 2018

Cosmo's "Polyamory Diaries" goes on a trainwreck. Why you need poly community.

The lodge, seen from the creek
It's the end of January, and right now I'm sitting on a couch in the living room of the Center for a New Culture lodge at Abrams Creek in the mountains of West Virginia. It's snowing. Yesterday was the last day of the Winter Poly Wonderland retreat here. Some of the polyfolks who run this place, and some of the friendly drop-ins who orbit this remarkably enlightened little New Culture nest, are burbling happily around the kitchen table down the hall, and arranging for repairs and supply pickups on the phone in the office, and showering upstairs. In a half hour most of us will gather on the couches for a snuggle meeting and mutual check-in on our various states of being. My kind of meeting. Meanwhile I'm browsing the media for polyamory in the news.

And up on my screen pops a pathetic mess of ugliness posing as avant-guardism in Cosmopolitan UK.

It's Cosmo's new series "Polyamory Diaries," now in its second month. "Jack" chronicles the true story of him and his wife "Lucy" opening their marriage after she demanded it. This is supposed to save the marriage. She demanded that he date also, against his wishes, because it's "enlightened." Ugly dynamics are moving in the background, room elephants loom unspoken, and the crazy grows. Those poor people!

The January installment, the first, was titled Polyamory Diaries: “I want us to sleep with other people”. From Jack's narrative:

Louisa Parry

...We’d been through some hard times recently... which was why I was determined to make this evening special – flowers, champagne, her favourite food. ... But Lucy had some new ideas of her own. “Jack,” she said, turning to me. “Yes…” I replied, expectantly, thinking her next words would be, “Let’s go to bed and make everything alright.” “Jack… I think I’m polyamorous. I want to sleep with other people. But I want you to as well.”

...She went on to describe a lifestyle that, it turns out, she had been researching for the last six months. Polyamorous wasn’t a term I was familiar with, beyond it having vague connotations of sleeping around. Sometimes called ‘ethical non-monogamy’, polyamory is seen by its proponents as a more enlightened, modern way to conduct relationships. Sure, it means sleeping with whoever you like, but here’s the catch: as long as it’s agreed beforehand with your partner. In the unconventional future Lucy mapped out for us, our relationship and family life, centred around our three children, would still be our ‘primary’ – i.e., the most important part of our lives. However, we’d also be free to have ‘non-primary’ sexual relationships with others. ...


...The next morning as the hangover kicks in, my feelings of excitement are quickly replaced with ones of rejection and insecurity. At breakfast I ask Lucy if there is someone she has in mind who she wants to get together with, who sparked her interest in this whole new ‘poly’ lifestyle. She insists there isn’t and that she’s actually more interested in other women than men. (This isn’t a total surprise ... and, the truth is, another woman seems a lot less threatening than another man.)

“You know, polyamory doesn’t mean our lives have to change,” she says [Oh God. –Ed.], nuzzling my shoulder.

“Yeah, well, I don’t see why we have to change anything. I like how our lives are now. ... It’s not like we’re both going to suddenly set up Tinder profiles!”

A week later, I set up a Tinder profile.

Poly or divorce?

It takes a few days for the milestone realisation that ‘swiping right’ was going to be part of my life to set in. It’s hard to focus at work in the wake of Lucy’s first ‘indecent proposal’. Home life veers between talking in a thrilled way about how this new lifestyle might pan out, and having blazing rows that seem to escalate rapidly from the smallest issue.

...I fire off messages to a couple of exes and ‘ones that got away’ on Facebook, not revealing or suggesting anything, but simply to make new connections in my mind – the type of connection that, until very recently, seemed forbidden. ...

When, one night, I attempt to backtrack and suggest that maybe we should try more conventional ways to save our marriage – like counselling – Lucy becomes very negative. We had tried one session a few weeks before and she thinks it’s unlikely to help. In one heated moment she even says that we either give polyamory a go or get divorced. Given such a stark choice, the decision is pretty simple. Lucy is adamant she still loves me deeply and wants us to stay together as a family. I still love her too, so, really, there only seems to be one possible path…

When, that same week, I get news of two different couples I know well getting divorced, it feels like a sign. ... I realise that if this somehow works out, polyamory is surely better than divorce.

...Lucy hits me with another bombshell. Having previously stated that polyamory was just an idea at this stage, and something driven primarily by her sapphic side, she tells me that, in fact, she has got a man in mind. She met him at a party a few months ago, and if she wants to have sex with him, well, we are polyamorous now, so that should be fine with me.

I try to remain calm, although I am devastated. We draw up a written agreement setting out the parameters of our new relationship. ... It is the saddest point of our marriage to date. ... Part of me feels like I’m being forced into a life I never wanted. I thought I’d put all the hassles of dating behind me. I desperately want to go back to the safety of monogamy, where nothing can threaten our special bond.

But, with Lucy already planning her first date for 10 days’ time, trying to turn back the clock isn’t an option. ... I need a date, and fast, preferably next Wednesday, so I can be out when Lucy’s out and not be sitting at home agonising about what she might be up to. Only one method I’ve heard about promises to yield dates this fast… Tinder.

...Within 24 hours, I have a dozen matches and even a couple of phone numbers, though I don’t disclose my relationship status. I figure, let’s get chatting first, then I can tell them what’s going on once we build up a rapport. When I do reveal my ‘situation’, I am unceremoniously ‘dumped’ by one promising match. I feel raw and resentful of being forced into this position of rejection that I didn’t want. That night, Lucy and I have a huge argument and I go to bed hopelessly depressed.

The days until Lucy’s date are passing quickly and, just as I’m starting to give up hope of ever being out that same night, a profile makes my heart leap… Nell is a girl who is actually describing herself as polyamorous. ...

...Sometimes my conversation with Nell feels less like a date, more like a counselling session. I’m going to lose Lucy, aren’t I? What am I even doing here?

February's installment, much shorter, is just out: Polyamory Diaries: “Last night my wife had sex. Just not with me”.

...When she gets to the bit about her having sex with another man for the first time, I feel heartbroken. It leaves me wondering if our own sex life is really that unfulfilling. But Lucy has insisted that polyamory will strengthen our own bond. So now that I’m anxious to prove this, I focus on having sex with Lucy again as soon as possible.

The next day, I make my move in bed… and she brushes me off. She says she’s ‘had a long day’. I’m upset but try to remain calm. After all, we do at least kiss and, rather more crucially, share a bed for the first time since our daughter was born two years ago. ...

The next day is Friday, and I feel much happier. In my rush to embrace polyamory – and catch up with Lucy in the sex stakes – I have lined up a Tinder date (my second in three days). It is a disaster. She’s a rich lawyer – pretty, but also pretty self-centred. Still, she’s a good conversationalist, and I have vague hopes of some romance – until, after dinner, we talk about relationships. On her Tinder profile, she said she wasn’t up for anything serious. For my part, in our Tinder chat, I mentioned my wife, although didn’t spell out the polyamorous situation, thinking it was a non-issue in a casual relationship. I was wrong.

She is surprised to find out I’m still with my wife, having assumed we were separated. She thinks the whole polyamorous thing sounds bizarre. Despite her commitment-phobic profile, monogamy, for her, still seems an important endgame. At one point, she even describes Lucy as ‘selfish’, then lashes out at her, claiming that the guy Lucy slept with the other night didn’t seem to have much respect for her....

The fallout from the date is pretty destructive. I come home in a bad mood, secretly blaming Lucy for the awful time I’ve had. Lucy is, in turn, annoyed that she’s let me go out on a ‘hot’ date, and now I seem grumpy and ungrateful. All this is starting to pile on the pressure. ... If the idea of polyamory was to bring us closer together, it isn’t working.

By Sunday, the pressure has built even further. I buy flowers, champagne and cook Lucy’s favourite Chinese food. ... and the situation explodes into a huge argument, with screaming, slammed doors, tears and separate rooms. I swallow a minor, but deliberate, overdose of prescription sleeping pills. If this is poly, I want out.

No, it's not! What a terrible rep the Lucys of the world give us. PUP — Polyamory Under Pressure — is one sick puppy and its diarrhea fouls us all.

People seem so much more likely to blunder into poly catastrophe when they try it without consciously examining, and shedding, a whole raft of mainstream mono assumptions around ownership, control and codependency. And that's not just about the traditional orders forbidding someone to have new relationships; it's also about orders demanding they have new relationships! And assumptions that one of a couple shouldn't have relationship choice for themselves — including monogamy. Didn't she learn anything about boundaries and agency and respect in those six months of "researching"? Did she just read Cosmo and the tabloids? What about nonviolent communication, active listening, kindness, compassion, even the old bit to "Go as slow as the slowest partner"? And, "First get your existing relationship(s) into excellent shape"? And simple respect?

Me, I don't think I'll ever want to explore a deep relationship with someone who's not already skilled in poly/ New Culture/ mindful-relationship practices. Unless they're one of the blessed few who come by these things naturally.

How do you find such people? Be one of them. Gather with them. Community is what you need.


P.S. January 31: And still the tabloids can't get enough. The Daily Mail today features another happy-sounding poly family with happy pix, this one the absolute stereotype of the unicorn setup: Polyamorous couple plan to 'MARRY' the long-term girlfriend who shares their bed (and their two sons already call her 'mommy'). See how many embedded explosives you can count here. Excerpts:

The polyamorous couple, who share sons Dario, eight, and Anthony, three, (pictured together) met Courtney (far right) on a dating website.

By Emily Chan For Mailonline

...Courtney, 27, moved into their family home shortly after they met, with the trio now planning to commit to each other in a ceremony.

The couple's girlfriend, who has already changed her last name to Catano, hopes to legally adopt the couple's children, Dario, eight, and Anthony, three, who already call her 'mommy'.

Matthew, 32, insists that he loves both women equally, and says that they are not in an open relationship as many people believe.

Mortgage adviser Michelle, 31, said: 'We never considered adding someone to the mix until we were married. Our relationship has always been incredibly strong, but we thought that by adding someone else in to the mix it would be a fun new element.

'I was searching on a dating website and came across Courtney's profile, and Matthew and I couldn't believe how attractive she was.

'We got talking and we soon met up, and we both fell in love with her straight away.'

Courtney moved into the couple's home shortly after they met.... The trio's relationship has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Courtney even quit her job to become a full-time mom to Dario and Anthony — with both referring to her as 'mommy' as well.

Despite the unique situation, the trio claim that they all live harmoniously together, and that their children are happy and aware of the situation.

...'There's absolutely no jealousy whatsoever between us all, and we make sure to spend our one on one time together as well as individually.

'We'll explain to the children fully when they're older why they have two moms, but for now they just think they're the luckiest kids in the world to have three parents!'

The text-and-photos package came from one of the agencies (Caters News this time) that sell content to tabloids and clickbait sites.

There's no way to tell if these three people are really as hearts-and-flowers as they sound, or if they'll continue to be that way once Courtney grasps the implications of giving up her income and career to work as a free nanny to a couple who can dump her at any moment if something doesn't go their way. I hope they've all sat down and, with compassion and fearnessless, drawn up how Courtney will be paid for her labor and how to ensure equal freedom and agency all around.

For instance, what if her relationships with each of them don't continue to develop in perfect sync? The couple don't sound ready to "let your relationships be what they are" (quoting More Than Two). Can she have another partner if she chooses? No, says Matthew, they're "not in an open relationship." If she decides to marry another partner and set up a new household, will they put aside any regrets and come to her wedding with warm hearts for her happiness? Many polyfolks would, and do.

If you and your polyfamily decide to work with one of the tabloid agencies (they're beating the bushes to find you), please represent better.

How? Remember: You need community.


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January 24, 2018

More happy poly goodness, as packaged for tabloids

Again multiple tabloids are gushing over a happy polyfamily, and again it's by way of an agency's product package designed for tabloid news outlets — including text, lots of lovely pix, and a video. This time we're back in Barcroft Media's court; Barcroft and Triangle News are competing to supply this niche demand.

I suppose we shouldn't complain, other than to say that too many of these stories may give the impression that "polyamory" only consists of the family-formation type.

Excerpts from the version of the package on today's Daily Mail site:

'We are pretty much like a normal family': Polyamorous trio expecting their FIFTH child insist their setup is not that unusual — except there's an 'extra mother and lots of kids'

—Buddy and Rose Sullivan, both 33, of San Diego share life with Lauren King, 34.
—Lauren is expecting her second child who will be fifth boy to join the family.
—'Thruple' are dedicated to each other and not open to other relationships.
—Lauren and Rose are hoping to formally adopt each other's children.

By Siofra Brennan for Mailonline

...Seven members and counting, the Sullivan-Kings are larger than your average family. And with two mothers and one dad, they are also not the most conventional.

So far, Buddy, 33, Rose, 33 and Lauren, 34, who share a California king size bed in their San Diego home, have four children between them — all boys — with a fifth on the way, another boy.

'We are pretty much like a normal family expect there is an extra mother and we have a lot of kids,' Buddy said.

Buddy and Rose started dating in college, eventually got married and had two children, Owen, now seven, and James, five.

Settled in a monogamous relationship, the couple talked about bringing someone else into their bedroom to spice up their sex lives – but they didn't expect the rest of their lives to change so dramatically.

Rose, who identifies as bisexual, got back in touch with old girlfriend Lauren on social media.

She said: 'I looked up Lauren on Facebook just to see how she was doing and we met up and started hanging out as friends. She met the boys and she met Buddy and then it just like happened. We all just, got into a relationship.'

Lauren revealed the trio had instant chemistry ... 'The question is always "How's the sex?" and well you've seen pornos with threesomes and obviously it's great.

'We don't have a schedule, it's always spur of the moment and when we do it's always the three of us — it's never boring, it's definitely exciting.'

But their attraction wasn't just sexual: not only did Rose and Lauren fall in love all over again, Buddy and Lauren also realised they had a connection and the three now describe themselves as being in a committed triad.

Lauren said: 'None of us were looking for a relationship. It just turned into a relationship. [It] just worked out with all three of us being together.

And while none of them deliberately sought out to be in a polyamorous relationship, they now couldn't imagine any other dynamic working.

...'For us it's polyfidelity so we're just us. There's no open ends.'

Although a wedding ceremony between three people wouldn't be legally binding, the trio plan to marry and believe it will be a chance to declare their love for one another equally to friends and family.

Rose said: 'Being married I just think it means that we're all together — like we're in this forever, till the end and all in it as a family.

The thruple have begun landmark legal proceedings so that all three adults share equal legal responsibility for the children. Rose said: 'It's a very, very long process. We just filed the paperwork a while ago for Damien so now we're just waiting for the court day and all that.

The family will first apply for Rose to legally adopt Lauren and Buddy's biological son Damien; if successful they will then go through the process again for each child.

Rose said: 'This is like a test run in California because nobody else has done it. We're trying for a step parent adoption but it's gonna be a three parent adoption, which hasn't been done in California.1


Lauren said: 'Rose's family is pretty big in the church, and they are really nice — they all friend-requested me right away and wanted to know me and Buddy's family is Catholic and they were very open to that. So we haven't had any problems from their friends and family.

'The problem I did have was with my friends in the lesbian community. You would think they will be more accepting but they were the ones who were least accepting of it, they were the hardest to get through to and some of them I still don't talk to.'

Lauren said: 'When we are all together and even if we are holding hands or sitting at a coffee table and we are all touching hands, we get people walking by and do like a triple take because they don't expect to see three people being so close together.

For now the family are focused on the arrival of baby boy number five and bringing up their children.

Buddy said: 'We are just normal people. I know we have a unique situation that we are in. But our goal as a family is pretty much the same as everyone else's. We want to raise our children to be good people and do good and be successful in life and have their own families.' ...

The whole article (January 24, 2018).

The misconception that poly is only about living-together families is pretty benign — compared to the much worse misconception that polyamory is just a hip new word for old-style dating around with no deeper interconnections. Or, outright cheating. Those are misuses of the word that we need to call out and correct whenever we see them.

● BTW, Cheers go out to Bonita Applebum, advice columnist for Flagpole, the alternative weekly paper of Athens, Georgia. She made a point of including this paragraph in her reply today to a letter titled My Manager's Girlfriend Stole My Boyfriend (Jan. 24):

...Polyamory is a real relationship model that involves plenty of commitment and compromise, but your boss and her partner are terrible at it. Calling oneself “poly” isn’t an excuse to wreck homes and treat staff like a harem. Behavior like theirs is the reason people associate the polyamorous relationship model with selfishness and dishonesty. They shouldn’t use the label or involve others in their messy shit until they know how to be respectful and responsible to their potential partners.


1. Here in Massachusetts, friends of ours in a triad had no trouble at all, years ago, setting up a co-guardianship of three adults for their kids. Legal help. Your state may vary.


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January 20, 2018

"Discovering my true sexual self: why I embraced polyamory"

The Guardian, one of the world's major newspapers, profiles a wife and husband who opened their marriage. The story appears today in its Weekend magazine (UK print edition) and online worldwide.

‘Discovering my true sexual self’: why I embraced polyamory

My husband and I were together for 12 years and had two children – but while he was happy with one person, I needed more.

Anita Cassidy with her husband, Marc (right), and her partner, Andrea.
Photo: Laura Pannack / Guardian

By Anita Cassidy

It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to say to my husband, Marc. Three years ago, I sat down and told him: “The idea of having sex just with you for the next 40 years – I can’t do it any more.” But I had come to realise that my life was built around something I didn’t believe in: monogamy.

We had been together for 12 years and had two children, now nine and seven. I love being a mother and I set the bar high from the start – cloth nappies and cooking from scratch. But I needed something more in my emotional and sexual life.

Marc’s reaction was remarkable; he agreed to support me and open our marriage to other partners, although it wasn’t really what he wanted. We started counselling to try to identify the best of what we had, to save it and protect it. Sex is a big part of a relationship, but it is only a part. We didn’t want it to scupper us.

If that sounds difficult, it was. I don’t think we could have done it if we hadn’t spent most of our marriage reading, talking and exploring together.

...I became convinced that traditional relationships are like an air lock. You meet someone. It’s amazing and it’s rare, and then you lock it; you shut the windows and doors, and you try desperately to keep it all to yourselves. Then the air turns sour because there’s no oxygen.

...People who choose to be polyamorous often do so after delving deep into themselves and their desires, so it runs close to the kink scene, which was also something I wanted to explore. There’s a temptation to think that, had Marc and I explored these things together, our marriage might have worked without opening it up. I’m not sure that it would have, though, given that he wasn’t into it. It can seem quite intimidating, but I was so ready for it. The first time I went to a fetish club, I felt like I was at home – that I’d found my people.

I now have a partner of two years, Andrea. We work as a couple, but we also have sex with friends. He’s the only partner I have introduced to my children. I love Andrea and I’m very lucky to have him, but I don’t want to live with him – we both value our solitude too much. He and I can flirt with other people and ask for their number, but I still feel jealous sometimes. He went away with another woman and, yes, it was difficult.

Meanwhile, Marc and I realised we were no longer compatible. I had changed too much. We still share the family home and parent our children together. We still get on. We have counselling together, we spend Christmas together – we are still reading and learning as we used to. We wanted to keep all the bits that worked.

We have had to learn so much about communicating better, and I think the children have benefited from that. We have explained that Dad needs one person to be with and Mum needs more people to make her happy. The talk is ongoing; we won’t wait to sit them down when they are teenagers, expecting them suddenly to get it. Understanding polyamory is complicated, but monogamy is fraught with ambiguity, too.

...Monogamy, meanwhile, feels more like a competition where you need to bag someone before anyone else does. None of that applies in a poly setup, which is incredibly liberating. Think how strange it would be to have only one friend. You can’t get everything from one platonic relationship. Why would you try with one lover?

...Put it this way: I don’t see myself sitting on a park bench at 80 with one other person. I’d like to be part of a group of people, a community. ...

Husband Marc also gets his own say. He is supportive but sounds ambiguous about whether he's going to stick around for this forever. Read the whole article (January 20, 2018).


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January 19, 2018

"The Real Truth About Polyamory In The Black Community"

BET writer Damona Hoffman found good people to talk to about this: Crystal Farmer, Black & Poly magazine editor and community organizer; Alicia Bunyan-Sampson, filmmaker, lecturer, and author of the forthcoming No Filter: Diary of a polyamorous black girl; Kevin Patterson, curator of Poly Role Models and author of Love's Not Color Blind; and others.

The Real Truth About Polyamory In The Black Community

By Damona Hoffman

...For clarity, we are talking about emotional and physical intimacy here, not just sex.

“Polyamory, Swinging, Open Marriages, Open Relationships, Monogamish and more all fall under the umbrella of non-monogamy, but people who are polyamorous are more interested in the relationship and don’t just want to have sex with people,” [says Crystal Farmer]. “However, a lot of poly people have sexual relationships, while there are also people who don't have sexual relationships, who are asexual or don’t have a need for a sexual connection, but consider themselves polyamorous because they are in emotional relationships with other people.”

...The bottom line is that you don’t belong to just one person.

Crystal defines herself as "solo-poly." “I consider myself my primary partner,” she proclaims.

...Author and speaker Kevin Patterson ... and his wife, who have been together for 16 years, have both maintained relationships with girlfriends and boyfriends with complete trust and transparency.

“I don’t believe in rules. Rules are about trying to wall off an insecurity,” Kevin told me. “When I’m triggered, it inspires me to ask where the insecurity is coming from.” He feels that his partners should all have autonomy.

In his forthcoming book, Love Is Not Color Blind, Kevin discusses what it is like being a Black polyamorous man just as he has done in speaking engagements around the country for years. Borrowing Mahershala Ali’s quote on the Black American experience, “We move through the world playing defense, we don’t have the capacity to play offense,” Kevin says he feels like he’s always defending the legitimacy of his marriage and his decision to be polyamorous to family, the church, and the Black community.

Denika, a 41-year-old polyamorous woman, also felt ostracized from her family and community for choosing to live her life in this way until she discovered the Black polyamorous community online.

A quick search of Meetup.com in my own city of Los Angeles yielded 19 options of polyamory groups to join. But just how diverse are these groups? Crystal, who is based just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, says that the groups she attends are predominantly white.

She is open to dating someone of a different culture but she admits that she feels more comfortable when there are other people of color in her poly groups.

...Writer/director Alicia Bunyan-Sampson, 29, began using dating sites when she was new to the polyamory community but quickly found that her Blackness was exoticized among the couples on her polyamory dating site. She thought the first message she received, with the subject line “Ebony Seeking Ivory,” was an anomaly, but when her inbox filled up with 200 similar messages, she retreated from the world of polyamory.

Although she still feels she is polyamorous, Alicia says ... “white is the face of polyamory and has been for quite some time. It more than likely will remain that way. The face of the world is white – why wouldn’t the poly community be the same?”

Crystal sees there is more shame around polyamory in the African-American community because of our roots in Christianity and conservative values.

Denika recalls a time when her sister asked how her relationship with God played into her decision to be polyamorous. Denika sees intimacy and religion as two separate things yet that doesn’t stop her from noticing a look of disapproval when she tells people in the black community that she is polyamorous.

...Trust seems to be the highest priority among all the poly individuals I spoke to. Denika notes, “I need to be able to trust people. Sometimes it can be hurtful but I will be upfront with you so you’re not mislead in the end.” She clarifies that she doesn’t do hookups. “If all you want is sex then you need to be upfront with your intentions but don’t waste my time," Denika explains.

Is polyamory “right” for African-Americans? You will have to draw your own conclusion. What I can say is that the polyamorous people I spoke with all seemed happy with their decision to live life in this way. ...

Denika’s advice is to “know yourself, explore your sexuality, intimacy, sense of self and be open to something different.”

Read the whole article (January 17, 2018. An audio ad autoplays).



January 17, 2018

Poly leaders tell Self mag, "What It's Like to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship"

Self magazine ("wellness you can trust") a few months ago profiled some notable figures in the poly movement: Page Turner, Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Kitty Striker. First, some broader intros from me:

Page Turner (get it?) is an alternative-relationship coach and serious author who recently published Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory and A Geek's Guide to Unicorn Ranching, a little book of advice for clueless but well-meaning couples. Her third book, Dealing with Difficult Metamours, is due out this spring. She shows a professional writer's discipline in publishing, for two years now, an essay a day on her website Poly.Land, "your daily polyamory blog for navigating life, relationships, and more." At the Beyond The Love poly con last fall, I watched her and her husband Justin Case run a first-rate audience-participation workshop: "Boundary-Setting in Polyamory: First Degree, Second Degree, and Beyond." Expect to see a lot more from them at such events.

Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack run the popular Multiamory podcast. They started it following Dedeker's well-meaning debut as a public poly activist on Fox's Utopia reality show in 2014. The series turned out to be a cynical setup quite unsuited to her, and it died a quick death. Unbowed, the three set out to speak to the world on their own terms. Multiamory, now in its 153rd weekly episode, has become an important face of the poly movement. In 2017 Dedeker published The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory.

Kitty Stryker (NSFW site) says she's "a freelance writer, antifascist activist, and queer sex educator who has been working specifically in the realm of consent for 6+ years. I've got bylines at Buzzfeed, Vice, Wear Your Voice, Ravishly, the Frisky, the Guardian, and much more, as well as being published in a variety of books ranging in themes from fat activism to the inauguration protests to my experiences as a sex worker. I’m also helping some activist Juggalos by serving as a street medic.... I lead an interesting life." Including being a presenter at poly and BDSM conventions. Two months ago Thorntree Press published Ask: Building Consent Culture, an anthology of essays she assembled.

The Self article (which you probably missed when it was at the grocery checkout counter) captured only a bit of these characters, but it's a nice little 101:

By Anna Davies
What It's Like to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship

Meet my wife…and her boyfriend.

By Anna Davies

...[Poly] relationships, too, can vary. Some polyamorous individuals see all their partners as equal; others may have a “primary” partner who they may live with, split bills with, or consider their emotional anchor, and then have secondary people they date and commit to, according to terms laid out between the individual and his or her primary.

But one thing is consistent: Polyamory is all about respect, open communication, and the ability to live love on terms that work for the people involved in the relationship. Here, three polyamorous individuals explain how it works for them, and clear up some common misconceptions people may have about the lifestyle.

Kitty Stryker, 33
San Francisco

Married with a boyfriend

Since she was a teenager, Stryker identified as polyamorous — and has practiced it throughout various relationships. ... Now Stryker is married to a trans woman, whom she has been with for four years, and has had a boyfriend for one year. While her wife and her boyfriend are not partners, Stryker says that they are all friends. “It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s essential that everyone get along. It avoids a lot of clashing when everyone can directly communicate.”

Stryker jokes that polyamory is “a romantic relationship that works for people who like spreadsheets,” adding that there’s a lot of planning to make sure everyone is on the same page. “I’ll think of the week, and be like, OK, when do I want a sleepover with my boyfriend? It’s not necessarily spontaneous.” And Stryker admits it’s not for everyone. Stryker, the coeditor of Ask: Building Consent Culture, says that couples who may be intrigued try starting slow. “Even seeing your partner platonically cuddling someone else, what does that mean or bring up for you?” asks Stryker. “I think taking small steps to open up a relationship, and frequently checking in with each other, is key.”

Page Turner, 36

Married while dating other men and women

When Page Turner and her first husband decided to open their marriage over a decade ago, they had a frank heart-to-heart, realizing that the decision might cost them their marriage. Turns out, it did — but she doesn’t have any regrets. “When we opened up the marriage and began meeting other people, we realized the best thing for both of us was to let each other go,” says Turner, who remarried five years ago. Now, Turner ... actively dates other men and women but considers the relationship between herself and her second husband to be her “primary.” For her, that means the two live together, split household expenses and chores, and create the terms of what polyamory means to them.

“For us, there’s a huge difference between fidelity (being sexually exclusive to just one person) and loyalty (supporting and being honest to another person). And I think people outside the polyamorous community may not understand that the two aren’t necessarily the same thing.”

To maintain their emotional bond, Turner and her husband developed a system: The pair subscribed to a monthly wine club where they got four bottles of wine delivered to their door; they promised that, no matter what, they would drink the wine together by the end of every month. “Those are our emotional check-in times, when we talk about what’s working, what isn’t, and what we need from each other,” explains Turner....

Jase Lindgren and
Dedeker Winston
San Francisco

Together four years, dating other partners

Winston and Lindgren don’t use the term “primary” and feel that each of the relationships they maintain is unique, different, and just as committed as the one they have to each other. “To me, polyamory isn’t something practiced by a couple, but practiced by individuals,” says Lindgren. “Swinging and certain types of open relationships center around a couple. But in polyamory, it’s an individual committing to other individuals, allowing each relationship to naturally find it’s own depth and intimacy.”

Lindgren and Winston also want to dispel the myth that polyamory is in some way “selfish.” “Having multiple partners requires a lot of commitment — commitment to being the best possible partner, commitment to being honest and proactive in my communication, commitment to putting care and investment into each relationship,” says Winston. ...

As Lindgren explains it, a successful polyamorous relationship depends on all partners being on the same page. ... “In my experience, the most successful polyamorous relationships are the ones that have the fewest rules and limitations. That way the focus is on each person doing things to make their partner happy rather than focusing on 'not breaking rules.’ But that said, some ground rules, especially regarding sexual safety, are a smart strategy and relatively commonplace in polyamorous relationships.”

And at the end of the day, a polyamorous relationship has more similarities than differences to a monogamous relationship. “Any functioning relationship requires dedicated effort, time, and energy — no matter how many people are involved,” reminds Winston. ...

The whole article (online June 7, 2017).


● Many more profiles of poly movers-and-shakers!

If you've read this far you really want to browse Poly Role Models, Kevin Patterson's ongoing interviews with significant people in our movement. He's been building this collection for almost three years now. Also in the series are Poly Origin Stories and Cautionary Poly: Teachable Moments in Polyamorous Relationships. The site is definitely worth your time.


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January 9, 2018

Poly? Now the tabloids adore you!

Trashy tabloids used to treat poly relationships with pretend shock and smug moralizing, dwelling on misery and heartbreak to titillate their readers. Then suddenly about a decade ago, they pivoted to treat poly families as kooky but amazingly happy and successful. That's been pretty much the rule ever since.

My theory: Rupert Murdoch has never let his conservatism get in the way of using sex to sell, so his tabs decided they had the go-ahead to see if the happy-poly treatment titillated readers better. The other tabs saw what was happening and followed.

On Sunday, a lovely feature story about a cute young polyfamily appeared on the sites of three of Britain's competing bottom-feeders — the Mirror, the Sun, and the Daily Mail — and in Metro UK, given away free on public transit. Versions of the article are being reprinted in Australia, New Zealand, India, Italy, Albania, Turkey, Rwanda, by several papers in Indonesia, on a major Chinese-language site that's blocked by the Chinese government, and probably wherever else British tabloids resell their stuff.

All the versions offer abundant, happy pix of Joseph Freeney, Katie Aitchison, and Clare Verduyn, an equilateral triad of physics students at the University of Leeds, UK. They're presented as endearingly dorky medieval re-enactors with amusing housework challenges who are madly in love all around. For eight months they have lived and loved together and they sleep in a snuggle puddle under, yes, a white duvet, this one with stars and rainbows. They're given full rein to enthuse about their incredible poly happiness.

From the Daily Mail's version:

...The unconventional trio have now lived together for eight months as part of one of Britain's small number of polyamorous relationships.

Joe says, 'I love both of these women and they are in love with each other, so we're the perfect fit.

'I know a lot of people will see what we have as strange, but it works.

'It is actually the healthiest relationship I have been in as we all trust each other.

'There is something about the three-way dynamic that makes it even more passionate.'

...Clare says that far from feeling jealous about sharing her new boyfriend with another woman, the relationship has brought a level of happiness she has not experienced before — and she describes the sex as the best she's ever had.

'I won't lie, polyamory is a lot more work than monogamy,' she admits.

'There are more people's feelings to consider, more people's schedules to work around and way more time spent planning when you want to go anywhere.

...The 'throuple' — all physics students at the University of Leeds — not only share their bed, but they also go on romantic dates as a trio, take it in turns to cook and help each other with their uni work.

...The trio initially bonded after they all joined the same medieval reenactment group, dressing up as Normans and staging historically accurate battles from the 12th century.

This is their first polyamorous love affair and they all say it is the healthiest, happiest relationship they have been in.

The trio say they share a bed 'most nights' and are saving up to buy a king size bed to accommodate them.

Katie, 22, and Joe started seeing each other first, and they got to know Clare, 21, a few months later.

Joe, who is bisexual, and Katie, who identifies as pansexual, meaning she is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity, used to joke about how they both fancied Clare, especially in her tight-fitting chainmail during the re-enactment sessions.

They confessed their feelings for her one night and the threesome immediately hit it off, with bisexual Clare moving in not long after.

Says Claire, 'I was attracted to them as well but I felt I couldn't initiate it because they were together and I didn't want to intrude. But Joe and Katie obviously felt the same way so it all worked out.'

Katie and Clare go shopping together and even help each other get ready on nights out.

The trio aren't ashamed of their unusual love and will hold hands in public — if the pavements are wide enough.

But there is a downside as Katie leaves half empty drinks cans around the house, Clare snores and hogs the duvet and Christmas, birthdays and Valentine's Day can be an even more expensive time of year.

However they want to show that polyamory is a perfectly acceptable life choice, and are calling for their relationship to be recognised by law, believing they should even be able to enjoy a three-way marriage.

There are many legal and financial benefits to getting married, and Katie, Clare and Joe want to be awarded the same rights as those in traditional two-person couples.

Joe says: 'I'm not that interested in marriage from a sentimental point of view, but there are practical reasons to get married too, such as the financial benefits or if one of us was in an accident and we needed the right to make decisions.

...The trio have discussed having children, but think it's 'unfair' that they wouldn't all be considered a child's legal parents.

Katie said: 'If we wished to adopt a child there would be no way to do so without having one of us miss out on being legally considered a parent or guardian.

'It does seem unfair as we are all equal partners.'

And Clare says she gets bored of people seeing Joe as the stud — and says it's the girls that are actually the luckiest.

She said: 'Last year, during exam season we all went to study together in the library and we would just walk down the street all holding hands together, it was quite funny.

'Honestly, I don't really care what anybody else thinks, it is none of their business. I have got the best of both worlds.

'Everyone is saying that Joe must be some kind of legend but I'm there like ''Excuse you!'' I have got a hot girlfriend and an awesome boyfriend. What more could you want?'

The arrangement already has financial benefits too, as the trio split their bills three ways instead of two, saving them cash.

They say a lot of people question whether their love is real, but they insist their romance is just as genuine as any relationship between two people.

...Joe says: 'I have friends in other poly relationships where there are three guys, three girls, two guys and a girl — there is just as much variation as there is in a traditional relationship,' he insists.

They admit that their lifestyle is not for everyone but say it makes them very happy — and that they want to see poly relationships acknowledged in the media and pop culture, just like gay relationships are now.

...The triad say three is definitely not the limit and that they have considered adding a fourth person to their relationship.

...They also say their parents are trying hard to understand their lifestyle.

Joe says his mum has met both the girls and loves them, while Katie says her dad is now genuinely interested and understanding of the issues that polyamorous triads face.

Joe says: 'This is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in, and it is the one where I have felt the best about myself — the girls have said the same thing.

'There is a real level of trust in this relationship that I have never had before and I think it comes from the three-person dynamic.

'I want other people to know it can work for them too.'

Now their main hope is to finally be able to afford a king-size bed on their tight student budget.


...A spokesperson from Brook, a relationship and sex advice service for young adults, said: 'Just like monogamous relationships, non-monogamous relationships can be happy and satisfying, and last just as long.

'And just like monogamous relationships they can also be difficult and challenging. The important thing in any relationship is that once you agree your relationship rules, you stick to them.

'Breaking the rules, lying, cheating or not looking after each other's feelings will all put extra strain on your relationship whether you are in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship.'

It even comes with a sidebar box describing different versions of polyamory.

How did this glowing piece come about?
The photo credit, Triangle News, gives it away. Triangle is a UK publicity firm that "provides entertaining, reliable and shareable content for some of the world’s most popular media outlets." And it's also — in order to charge money in the opposite direction — a public relations firm that "creates eye-catching content for brands and businesses to help them stand out from the crowd." So: either the three students paid Triangle to work up a professional, global publicity campaign (totally unlikely considering what that must cost), or the company paid them to be profiled so it could sell the result to its clients.

This should not be confused with journalism, but it sure got us some good propaganda and probably earned the happy triad a nice royalty. Maybe enough for that king-size bed.


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January 7, 2018

"Why you might want to rethink monogamy in 2018"

The Conversation is a nonprofit international webmagazine meant to foster quality journalism (slogan: "academic rigor, journalistic flair"). In three years it has grown to six editions around the world, and with its free Creative Commons licensing, it claims 35 million readers for its content per month.

It just ran an article by a relationship researcher who says that a marriage's survival can depend on the couple discussing and agreeing on — early — what is fidelity and what is cheating. Is play flirting okay? Having lunch with a friend of the opposite sex? Kissing? And full consensual non-monogamy gets favorable treatment as a possible marriage strengthener.

By Lucia O'Sullivan (Professor of Psychology, University of New Brunswick)

...Research makes it clear that our best intentions are often worthless in the face of a compelling, and possibly unexpected, attraction to another person.... What’s more, an act of infidelity is often understood as the “dealbreaker” in relationships. And few people are abhorred more than those known to have “cheated.”

Despite all this, studies show that most people have in fact engaged in some type of infidelity in the past or have experienced a partner’s infidelity.

The question arises then: Is it time to ditch, or rethink, monogamy as a standard?

"Proponents of polyamory march at the 2017 Toronto Pride Parade." (Shutterstock)

...Interviews with newlyweds in the United States indicate that many people expect they and their partner will remain monogamous, despite admitting to having [themselves] experienced a range of extramarital thoughts and behaviours already, such as flirting with another or feeling aroused in the presence of another. ... Studies show that infidelity remains, year after year, the primary cause of relationship break-ups and divorce.

Now, if you factor in the distress, distrust and discord that infidelity causes to those relationships it does not destroy, you begin to understand the weight of its consequences.

...These questions are more poignant in light of research indicating that intimate relationships are becoming less rewarding over time even as our expectations of what they should deliver steadily increase.

In most Western countries, belief in the importance of monogamy is strong, yet relatively few individuals actually discuss with their partner what monogamy must entail.

...A series of studies by psychologist Ashley Thompson makes clear that we are notably inconsistent in the monogamy standards that we hold for ourselves versus those we hold for our partners. For example, we are far more lenient and tolerant in explaining our own versus our partner’s behaviour.

Those who endorse alternative approaches — such as “consensual non-monogamy” which allows for romantic or sexual relationships beyond the primary relationship, with the partner’s consent — argue that monogamous relationships are far less stable because people use jealousy, monitoring and suspicion as tools to hold their partners to this difficult standard.

Individuals in supposedly monogamous relationships are also less likely to practise safe sex when they cheat (putting their primary partner’s health at risk) than are those in consensually non-monogamous relationships.

...To discuss dealbreakers in one’s relationship, it is essential for a couple to define what constitutes a betrayal, violation of trust or act of dishonesty. If a couple can plan ahead of time for the possibility than one or both partners might have an intimate moment with another person at some point, this can reinforce the flexibility, tolerance and forgiveness required to adjust if that happens.

It all depends on the circumstances, of course, but accepting that another person might offer something that we or our partners need can leave couples better-positioned to move forward and adjust or negotiate if necessary, without an entire and irreversible relationship disintegration.

This is key: If we can admit to ourselves that a fleeting attraction, or more meaningful connection, with another partner might not irreparably harm our primary relationship — and indeed might supplement it — then our relationships might survive longer and better.

This is unlikely to be easy for most of us. ... But insisting upon a fairly unreasonable standard (lifelong exclusivity or else!) can in fact harbour the possibility of secrecy and betrayal.

The emphasis in relationships needs always to be on openness, caring and mutual consent.

This is not to say that you or your partner will ultimately connect intimately with another person in any way despite adopting a new viewpoint about exclusivity. It also does not mean you have to agree that “anything goes,” that your relationship becomes an open relationship in the broadest sense of that term, or that anyone at all can enter your private sphere.

It is wise to negotiate some guidelines with your partner — about who or what type of person might be invited to look in on that sphere, for a moment or longer, and what might be acceptable ways to connect with another person (e.g. lunch is okay, touch is out), should the need or want arise.

If you also discuss how best to talk about it, this approach can go far in keeping your relationship truthful, transparent and trusting — making the need for a dealbreaker that much less relevant altogether.

The whole article (January 1, 2018). The author has had lots to say on this over the years.

The article has been reprinted by Canada's National Post under the same title (Jan. 2); by the UK's lowbrow Daily Mail as Is monogamy bad for your mental health? Psychologist warns you should re-think fidelity for the sake of your relationship (Jan. 2); the UK's serious Independent as Why Monogamy May Not Be the Best Option for Your Relationship (Jan. 9); HuffPost Canada as Ditch The Fairy Tale Of Monogamy As The Standard For All Relationships (Jan. 3); Salon as Why you might want to rethink monogamy in 2018 (Jan. 6), and elsewhere.

O'Sullivan's advice to couples has been poly-movement doctrine from the beginning, and it may be the most important thing that we offer the wider public.


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January 1, 2018

"Pasta, parkas, polyamory: The new you in 2018"

Loving More's bold and optimistic New Year's greeting

Still we ride a wave of trendiness. When will it end? The Times in the UK this morning ranks poly in its list if four "Things that will be OK in 2018 that weren’t (necessarily) in 2017" — along with man buns, unisex loos, and anti-ageism:

Today is the day when we take stock, think about what we could have done better and what we’re determined to do differently. We’re not talking about resolutions so much as the do’s and don’ts of 2018, based on what we’ve learnt in the past 12 months.

Things that will be OK in 2018 that weren’t (necessarily) in 2017:

... ● Being polyamorous. This has been a thing for a while, apparently, but now it’s slowly edged into the normal — if you don’t mind getting screwed up and having anyone over 55 think you are deviant. Still not normal to have a doll for a girlfriend, by the way.

The whole article. (January 1, 2018. Registration wall.)

Forget the snark; the familiarization and normalization here are what matter. We're going from freaky weirdos to those cool, expert ninjas at earnest, ethical group-relationshipping. Now there's an image to resolve to live up to! Happy New Year.


Meanwhile In Style magazine, which is all about what women should wear and buy in order to conform for pete's sake, notes at year's end that "The topic of polyamory experienced a 130% increase in search frequency this year."


P. S.:  In 2017, Moose and I were proudly part of the Resistance. May 2018 be the year of The Resurgence! We're only two 300-millionths of America, but we're doing our bit with pride at what we can someday tell our grandkids. And, with a readiness for risks: "Life rewards people who move in the direction of greatest courage." One of my favorite Franklin Veaux quotes.

One of our goals for 2018: Seize back the American Flag as our symbol at every demonstration and Resurgence event.