On the Today Show, impressive polyfamilies hit a home run
DAMN, THAT WAS GOOD! On NBC's Today Show this morning, Megyn Kelly devoted her whole 9–10 a.m. hour to exploring consensual non-monogamy, including two long, very impressive segments showcasing happy polyfamilies. The high point, in my opinion, was the 10½ minutes devoted to the quad I've been posting about recently.
|Top: Ixi and Joe. Bottom: Blake and Zaeli|
The four segments of the one-hour show are below. Leading off were Terri Conley, a top researcher of consensual non-monogamy, and author and therapist Stephen Snyder, both presenting solid background information and excellent perspectives:
The enthusiastic quad of Zaeli Kane (who's been in touch with Polyamory in the News for the last couple weeks and whose writings you've read here), Blake Wilson, Joe Spurr, and Ixi Kirkilis were spot-on: warm, lively, intelligent, displaying easy body language, and acting like people you'd want as friends. They inserted talking point after talking point in a completely natural manner. These folks have a real future as poly spokespeople; I hope they pursue it.
In the past I haven't had much good to say about how Adam Lyons presents with his partners Brooke Shedd and Jane Shalakhova, but here they acquitted themselves very well:
The show's website just put up a page about them: Three's company? How 1 dad, 2 moms and their kids make a family.
The fourth segment was with Robin Rinaldi, author of The Wild Oats Project. The book is a memoir of the year that she and her husband allowed each other an open marriage. It didn't end happily; she admits they did it wrong, and as a result they wound up divorcing. But even she came off as altogether poly-positive and relatable.
• One of the guests, Stephen Snyder — whom Today may have recruited to voice a religious counterpoint — has published on YourTango a glowing article about the show, his fellow guests, and the polyamory option:
Monogamy Vs. Non-Monogamy: Is A Polyamorous Relationship Right For You?
How to know what's best for you and your partner.
By Stephen Snyder MD
When the email from NBC Today arrived last week, I knew this was going to be an interesting ride.
NBC Host Megyn Kelly was planning an episode about “consensual non-monogamy” — something I’ve discussed at length, most recently on Health.com, in a piece titled “How Do You Know Whether You’re Ready For a Three-some?” — and I'd been invited to join the discussion.
Why in the world would a traditionally religious sex therapist like myself be talking about non-monogamy? ... The reality is, more couples now are looking at alternatives to traditional monogamy.
And I believe we traditionalists should engage fully in the discussion — since we bring a somewhat different point of view.
...One, we’re now more accepting of the fact that people are sexually diverse. Once you accept the reality that some individuals just happen to be gay, bisexual, kinky, or whatever, it’s not a big jump to accepting that some folks just don’t seem to be cut out for traditional monogamy.
Still, does non-monogamy work?
Current psychological research suggests that, for some couples, indeed it can.
...[Terri Conley finds] in particular that people in what’s known as “polyamorous” relationships (more on that below) actually report less jealousy than people in strictly monogamous relationships.
On the negative side, Dr. Conley’s research clearly shows that non-monogamy is still among the most highly stigmatized things a person can do — at least in the US.
The show ended up featuring several non-traditional couples who appear to be doing quite well. And for balance, they invited journalist Robin Rinaldi ... During the year in question, Rinaldi had extra-marital relations with ten men and two women, and ended up divorcing her husband and finding happiness with one of the men she met while non-monogamous.
I was pleased to see Rinaldi featured together with these happily non-traditional couples on the show, because the contrast indicates what’s probably the most important principle for anyone considering non-monogamy:
Don’t choose non-monogomy to cure an unhappy relationship.
...According to most experts, the most enlightened approach to non-monogamy, if that’s what you feel called to do, is what’s called “polyamory.”
On the show, Dr. Conley defines polyamory as having permission to experience both sex and love outside the relationship. This distinguishes polyamory from “swinging” and “open marriage,” where usually the expectation is that you’ll only go outside your primary relationship for sex — not for love.
I prefer an alternate definition of polyamory — one that I learned from polyamorists Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. According to this alternative analysis, swinging and open relationships are really “monogamy-plus.” Like traditional monogamous relationships, they serve to privilege and protect the primary couple. The primary couples sets the rules, and the stability of their relationship is considered paramount.
Polyamorous couples tend to rely less on rules, and more on the real needs of the various people involved. These “others” are seen less as need-satisfying objects, and more as full individuals whose needs, feelings, and conflicts are given equal weight.
That involves substantially more risk, and a lot more negotiation. But the enterprise takes on a whole new ethical dimension.
I was impressed that the non-monogamous individuals who appeared on the show seemed to have crossed this ethical threshold. They took their responsibilities to each other seriously, and they seemed to act with integrity and concern for the needs of all parties involved.
...For religious people like myself, it's not an option at all. But I was impressed by the commitment of the non-traditional couples I heard from on the show, and thought we traditional folks could learn a lot from them about good communication and honestly negotiating for what we need in a relationship.
The whole article (Feb. 28, 2018).
Folks, we bowled him over. Let's never underestimate the persuasive power of good character, thoughtfulness, personal lived experience, and good hearts. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "All the world loves a lover."
P.S. April 2: Blake writes, "Zaeli and I had fun making a video replying to kinda the worst-of-the-worst YouTube comments. Thought you'd enjoy!" Zaeli Loves Her Haters (March 30).