Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 28, 2018

TIME mag: "What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships"

This article makes my cut on several counts. Time magazine is a truly mass medium, it's important and influential, your friends and family might see this story, and it's good.

We'll soon find out whether it'll be in Time's next print issue, when 2 million copies go to subscribers and newsstands.

Essential parts:

What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships, According to Experts

Pakorn Kumruen / EyeEm—Getty Images

By Samantha Cooney

...Experts who have studied these kinds of consensual non-monogomous relationships say they have unique strengths that anyone can learn from.

Consensual non-monogamy can include polyamory, swinging and other forms of open relationships, according to Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who has studied consensual non-monogamy. While there aren’t comprehensive statistics about how many people in America have polyamorous relationships, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that one in five people in the U.S. engage in some form of consensual non-monogamy throughout their lives.

But these relationships can still be shrouded in stigma. And people in polyamorous relationships often keep them a secret from friends and family.

“Often they’re scared of losing their jobs, not getting a job, losing family or friends who won’t respect them anymore or scared that their children will be taken away,” says Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia and the author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be. ...

...Still, experts who study relationships say polyamorous relationships can provide useful lessons for monogamous couples. Here are a few areas where, researchers say, polyamorous couples are particularly successful:


Successful monogamous relationships require communication about desires, needs and problems, says  who studies monogamous relationships. And this is one area where polyamorous couples excel.

A May 2017 study published in PLOS One noted that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships communicate to “negotiate agreements, schedules, and boundaries, and to work through the kinds of problems that emerge when negotiating polyamory, amongst the typical relational problems that can emerge in any relationship.” ... According to Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at UCLA ... “Consensually non-monogamous couples might have a lot to teach everybody about negotiating desire and competing interests.”

Defining the relationship

Polyamorous partners often define boundaries and form agreements about what each relationship should look like, and Conley says these agreements can be beneficial to monogamous relationships, where partners might assume they’re on the same page about what monogamy means. When deciding to enter a relationship, “There might be a conversation beyond that about what that means: does it mean we’re monogamous? What does it mean to be monogamous?” Conley says. “For some people, even mere thoughts of attraction to someone else can be defined as cheating. For other people, anything but intercourse is OK.”

Polyamorous relationships can take many different forms. Sometimes, partners will know each other and form a family-like network sometimes called “kitchen table polyamory”, according to Kate Kincaid, a psychologist at Tucson Counseling Associates who works with polyamorous couples. Another style, known as “parallel polyamory,” means that all of the partners are aware of each other, but have little to no contact, Kincaid explains.

Kincaid says that she works with couples to figure out which model is best for them — though she often recommends kitchen table polyamory because it’s often more efficient for all parties to communicate directly. ...

Practicing safe sex

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to practice safe sex than those who cheat in monogamous relationships. ...

Kincaid says that she works with clients to fill out a questionnaire about what sexual acts they’d be comfortable with [partners] doing with other partners to make sure they’re on the same page. ...

Amy Moors, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University who conducted the 2012 study with Conley, says ... “They have to navigate the sexual health of a bunch of people. Implicit in that is that there’s very clear conversations about sexual health that are happening in consensual non-monogamous relationships that may not be happening in [supposedly] monogamous relationships.” ...

Managing jealousy

...A 2017 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science ... found that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, including those who engaged in polyamory and swinging, scored lower on jealousy and higher on trust than those in monogamous relationships.

“People in monogamous relationships were really off the charts high on jealousy. They were more likely to check their partners’ phones, go through their emails, their handbags,” Moors says. “But people in consensual non-monogamous relationships were really low on this.”

...Joanne Davila, a professor of clinical psychology at Stony Brook University, says, “they see what feelings arise and actively work to navigate them in a proactive way.”

Maintaining a sense of independence

Another area where polyamorous couples tend to excel, according to Kincaid, is allowing their partners to maintain a sense of independence outside of their relationship. ... “The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways — relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person,” Kincaid says. ...

Karney says that he could also see how having your needs met by others might strengthen consensual non-monogamous relationships.

“If we’re a married monogamous couple, we have to figure out what to do about our problems. We’re either going to avoid them, resolve them or break up,” Karney says. “But if I’m in a non-monogamous relationship and I have the same problem, I might not have to resolve it if I’m not getting all my needs met from you.” ...

Read the whole 1300-word article, with many links (online August 27, 2018).


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August 27, 2018

Poly values may reduce #MeToo incidents, says prestigious think mag.

With the polyamory concept percolating deeper into mainstream society, the topic crops up in the media so often now that I'm way more selective in what to highlight here. I'm focusing on high-influence articles in major media, anything substantial in mass media that your friends or family might be talking about, and other items that seem especially insightful or interesting. Keep those suggestions coming!

The Pacific Standard is a small but prestigious, foundation-supported magazine "for readers interested in working toward forward-looking changes to private behavior and public policy." This article goes into the "insightful or interesting" and "possibly influential" categories.

A condensation:

Will the Sexual Openness of the 'Hook-Up' Generation Confront the Concerns of #MeToo?

There's a chance the sexual culture being cultivated by Millennials can diminish the environment of harassment and assault that's plagued so many workplaces.

Andras Vas/Unsplash

By James McWilliams

...Most of the abusers identified by the #MeToo movement [are Baby Boomers who] came of age in an era of conflicting sexual norms. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s brought Americans greater access to birth control, and, in countercultural circles at least, experimentation with free love. At the same time, conventional marriage — heterosexual and monogamous — remained the sanctioned end goal of the mainstream. ...

Might the clash of these competing expectations — premarital freedom and marital monogamy — have fostered a dysfunctional sexual identity that's especially predisposed to abuse others?

...One way to start testing [this idea] might be to look at the emerging sexual habits and ideologies of Millennials (and Gen Z).

...[Today's] easy prevalence of sexual themes and content [porn especially] ... has not led to greater promiscuity among young adults. According to one study, American adults born in the 1980s and '90s had the same number of sexual partners as Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Contrary to the stereotype of a "hook-up generation," young adults are also waiting longer to have sex. And while greater sexual permissiveness has not coincided with greater promiscuity, it has emerged alongside a broader tolerance for multiple partners and open arrangements, skepticism of marriage and childrearing, and a radical openness to all gendered and sexual identities.

At the core of these expanding attitudes is a suspicion of monogamy. According to a 2016 study, nearly 20 percent of people who are under 30 and in a serious relationship have engaged in sex outside of their relationship with their partner's knowledge. Nearly half interviewed expressed some level of tolerance for consensual non-monogamy. ...

Tolerance of non-monogamy demands something the Boomers, half of whom are divorced, did not practice especially well themselves: constant communication. Non-monogamous seekers of multiple relationships are more obligated to discuss boundaries, needs, and desires than are monogamous couples (who can more easily go on auto-pilot). ... Bjarne Holmes, a [Champlain College] communications professor, explains how "People in these [non-monogamous] relationships really communicate.... They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships might be better off."

According to [Robyn] Trask, director of Loving More, a non-profit dedicated to fostering polyamorous arrangements, polyamory is increasingly popular with Millennials. Trask works closely with all age groups to support polyamorous relationships (which can be sexual or platonic or even alternate between both). But she notes that, while overall interest in polyamory is "on the rise," "this growth appears to be driven by the 20-something crowd."

And their approach, she suggests, is unusually tolerant and communicative. She says people in their 20s are "much more comfortable exploring polyamory" and that, in so doing, "they are constantly dealing with a need to communicate better" — about jealously, family, sexual health, wants and needs, and so on. ...

Polyamory isn't going mainstream anytime soon. But to the extent that its growing acceptance portends a larger cultural shift away from the demands of monogamy (both within marriage and not), and to the extent that this shift is complemented by healthy communication over sexual issues, the conflicting cultural norms that plagued those raised in the 1960s and '70s may yield to a sexual culture that, while more exposed to graphic sex, is nonetheless less repressed, no more promiscuous, better able to discuss sexual desire, and, no matter how powerful a person is, cognizant that we all have boundaries. ...

Read the whole article (August 23, 2018).


PS: Vote for a poly presentation at SXSW! Leon Fiengold writes, "My submission for a polyamory presentation at SXSW 2019 is in. I helped put together last year’s SXSW presentation on polyamory; this year I want to do my own presentation on helping people in all relationships use the skills polyamory teaches to find happiness in their own relationships. PLEASE sign in and vote for it! Takes just a minute, promotes polyamory awareness in a positive way on a national level. Deadline August 30."