Eleven years ago when the polyamory movement was beginning to get serious mainstream attention, Pepper Mint posted a widely noted essay, "The Strange Credibility of Polyamory
." Compared to other non-mainstream sex and relationship practices, why was poly going un-demonized?
Pepper offered several ideas (and so did I
): polyfolks' obsession with ethics, our often privileged social and educational backgrounds, our gender equality, the focus on love and relationships more than sex, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, "All the world loves a lover."
The trend continues. In the last four years I've posted dozens of articles that bubble about how useful the poly community's messages are for anyone, the wisdom that monogamous couples can draw from us, and how poly values transformed someone's life for the better. See my roundups number 5
, and 1
, in reverse chronological order (with no claim of completeness).
Last week I wrote about the new Time
magazine article online What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships
and promised a new roundup.
So, enjoy! What do you think these pieces get right, and where might they overstep? Remember, poly isn't for everyone. But relationship choice is.
● Could Open Marriages Save Monogamy?
This came out a few days ago in the online parenting magazine Fatherly
(September 2, 2018)
A group of cutting edge researchers, advocates, and writers believes that consensual non-monogamy should be a more considered option for couples.
By Adam Bulger
...As Beth and her husband’s sex lives grew to involve more people, a funny thing happened to the two of them: Free of any fear or worry about potential cheating, they treated each other with newfound trust and openness. Beth even helped her metamour, the term for her husband’s girlfriend, get a job at her company. Beyond having to explain to co-workers why her husband kissed two women when he visited the workplace, the stress drained out of their relationship.
“It saved our marriage,” Beth said. “But that’s probably only because there was something to save.”
An open marriage isn’t for everybody, but as Beth’s story shows, it can work very well for certain people. A growing number of Americans are reconsidering whether monogamy is a necessary part of a relationship, and consensual non-monogamy (CNM), has become more accepted and widespread. ... A group of cutting edge researchers, advocates, and writers believes CNM should be a more considered option and might even define the future of American marriage.
...In 2017, influential social psychologist Eli Finkel urged members of book clubs across America to question their preconceptions about CNM. ... In his best-selling book The All or Nothing Marriage, Finkel explored the historical evolution of marriage and found that today’s most successful marriages are far more fulfilling than those that came before. ...
...“We see relationship-structure diversity as the next wave of where we hope [psychology] goes in terms of raising our collective consciousness about the way this population is being stigmatized,” says [Heath] Schechinger [behavioral health psychologist at UC Berkeley]. ...
For their recent study “Harmful and Helpful Therapy Practices with Consensually Non-monogamous Clients,” published in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, [Amy] Moors and Schechinger asked hundreds of CNM couples about their experiences with therapy. ...
Currently, Moors and Schechinger are looking for volunteers to join the Task Force for Consensual Non-Monogamy they’re organizing for the American Psychological Association’s Division 44, which specializes in the psychology of sexual orientation and gender. With the Task Force, they hope to create new research and resources and advocate to include CNM relationships in psychological research and education. In addition, they’ve persuaded the American Psychological Association to include searchable term of consensual non-monogamy in the APA’s therapist locator system in hopes of connecting CNM couples with therapists attuned to their needs. ...
“So if you want to find a therapist who specialized, or at least had working knowledge [of CNM], you can go into that space without worrying about being belittled having to do a lot of explaining to a therapist,” Moors said. “Instead you can find a therapist with working knowledge.” ...
● 12 Principles Of Polyamory That Can Totally Benefit Monogamous Marriages Too
, in Your Tango
(May 4, 2017)
By Dr. Jeana Jorgensen
A friend recently shared "The 12 Pillars of Polyamory" (by Kenneth R. Haslam, MD) with me, and I thought, gosh, these ideas are just too good to keep to myself. No matter what kind of relationship(s) you’re in, you will benefit from pondering these principles and figuring out how they apply to your life.
1. Authenticity. ... Knowing who you are and what your needs and desires are. ... If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with anyone else?
2. Choice. ...If you approach your relationships with choice in mind (“I choose to be here” rather than “I have to be here”), how might that change your outlook?
3. Transparency. ...
4. Trust. ...
5. Gender Equality. ...
6. Honesty. ...
7. Open Communication. ...
8. Non-Possessiveness. ...
9. Consensual. ...
10. Accepting of Self-Determination. ...
11. Sex Positive. ...
12. Compersion. ...
● 13 Ways Non-Monogamy Has Made Me a Better Partner (and Person)
, in The Greatist
(Sept. 26, 2016)
By Maya M
...The problem with the concept of “the one” is that it undermines each and every human’s capacity to love many different people in many different ways.
After I decided to try out non-monogamy with a former girlfriend, I realized how the standard concept of monogamy erases the complexities of sexuality, passion, and romance. Though I still loved her as deeply as ever after opening up the relationship, I also learned to love another person on a completely different level. With my girlfriend, the love was deep, full of history, and adventurous; with my second partner, the love was fiery and playful.
... What I've been most grateful for is how non-monogamy has made me a much better partner and person. Here's what I mean.
1. I’m not as jealous. When someone hits on my girlfriend or when I see her express interest in someone else, I actually get excited for all the potential thrill and adventure that relationship could bring. ... And when I do feel jealous, I handle it better than I used to. ... If you’re someone trying out an open or non-monogamous relationship for the first time, know that it’s totally normal and OK to get a little envious. I like to sit down with my partner the moment I start feeling this way and ask some questions: Where is this coming from? Is it a little irrational? How can we work together to fix the problem now and avoid it in the future?
2. I see partners as humans — not people I can control. People in monogamous relationships often say things like “that’s my girl” or “you can’t talk to my man.” This reduces your partner to property....
3. I’ve completely stopped slut-shaming. As I've come to understand that my partner’s body does not belong to me, I’ve become opposed to policing others' bodies. ...
4. I find joy in others' happiness. ...Compersion can cause an immediate surge of endorphins and arousal in sexual situations, but I’ve learned to translate the feeling into non-romantic and non-sexual situations as well. By embracing other people’s joy, I’m able to feel genuine excitement for their accomplishments (instead of jealousy) and happiness for their successes (instead of bitterness).
5. My sex life is way richer because I'm more open-minded. ...
6. I can connect with diverse groups of people. As a queer, non-monogamous woman of color, it’s sometimes hard to stumble upon communities who share all my identities and can intimately relate to my trials and triumphs. But when I do, the feeling is magical. ...
7. I don't take my relationship for granted. ... When I opened up my relationship, I treated all the time we spent together like a gift and not necessarily an expectation. Despite what people may think, we didn’t spend significantly less time together. But on the nights she would be on a date with another person, I would have time to reflect on how much I loved her (and missed her!), so I was better able to cherish the time we spent together.
8. I’m a lot better at talking about my relationship. ...
9. I’m not quick to judge others. ...
10. I understand my own sexuality (and others') better. ... When I was 17, I came out as a lesbian and understood my sexuality to be strictly one that aggressively favored women. But as I opened up my relationships and started sleeping with men, I found that though I still prefered women over men in every way, there was definitely room for men (both cis and gender non-conforming) and people who don’t identify within the binary. I started identifying as queer and learned that my own sexuality can be very fluid. Understanding my own sexuality helps me talk to my partners about theirs and ultimately helps me create safe spaces for friends and family to discuss the issue with me as well.
11. I take better care of my physical and reproductive health. ...
12. Saying “no” — without hurting someone's feelings — has become much easier. Since I go on a lot more dates, I’ve become much better at sensing when I’m not compatible with someone. Because of this, it’s easier for me to tell people that things won't work out, which spares a lot of hurt feelings.
13. I’ve become more loving and open-minded overall. ...People who are non-monogamous often seek to better their relationships with their primary partner and lead more understanding, open lives.
● Out last Tuesday: Is The Poly Life More Honest?
on IntoMore.com by Jamie Windust, nonbinary activist and editor of Fruitcake
magazine. Although, what they describe is more precisely called Relationship Anarchy.
...After meeting a fellow non-binary person who, in an incredibly millennial manner, slid into my DMs on Instagram, I opened my eyes, brain, and emotions to the concept of romantic and sexual polyamory, and I’m never looking back.
At its core, the concept means not putting romantic and/or sexual relationships on a pedestal or giving them a hierarchy, and seeing them all on an even playing field. It’s being honest with yourself, and with the people around you, and realizing that though you may have different levels of relations with certain people, each relationship you have with each person doesn’t negate the other, no matter how intimate, sexual or emotional it is. The pressure to know what’s happening between two people in terms of labels is eradicated, and the actual significant connection between the two people is what matters. ...
● What You Can Learn from Polyamory
, in Greater Good,
the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (Feb. 13, 2017. Reprinted
magazine the next day.)
A 20-year study of consensually non-monogamous adults reveals seven lessons for anyone who wants to keep love alive.
By Elisabeth Sheff
...I studied polyamorous families with children for a period of 20 years, and I discovered their relationships can be intense, complicated — and fulfilling.
I also found that polyamorists have developed a set of relationship practices that can serve as lessons to people in monogamous relationships. Divorced parents and others in blended families may find them especially relevant, because they offer insights into dealing with challenging family communication among multiple adults and co-parents. ...
1. Spread needs around. Expecting one person to meet all of your needs — companionship, support, co-parent, best friend, lover, therapist, housekeeper, paycheck, whatever — puts a tremendous amount of pressure on that relationship. ...
2. Don’t leave too soon. In serious relationships, giving up without trying hard to work things out can mean prematurely ending a good relationship that is simply having a difficult period. ... Polyamorous relationship require even more of this kind of work, because of their complexity. My participants report developing the skill to stay with a difficult conversation, even if it is uncomfortable. ... People in polyamorous relationships are also more likely to seek support from others, something that could benefit and sustain serial monogamous relationships as well. When things get rocky, we’re prone to hide the trouble from friends and family. Polyamorists suggest an alternative: reach out to friends and community members for sympathy, support, and advice. ...
3. Don’t stay too long. In what can be a delicate balancing act, polyamorous people find that it is important not to drag things out until the bitter end. ... From this perspective, gracefully ending or transitioning to a different kind of relationship can be a celebration of a new phase instead of a catastrophe.
4. Be flexible and allow for change. Polyamorous people sustain their relationships through these changes in part by being willing to try new things. ... This can mean shifting expectations and letting go of former patterns, which can be both invigorating and frightening. ...
5. Support personal growth. Polyamory is emotionally challenging, no question. Jealousy, insecurity, and other negative emotions are all a part of any romantic relationship. Instead of trying to avoid painful emotions, however, polyamorists try to face them head on. ...
6. De-emphasize sexuality. ...Emotional attachment is the glue that holds families together anyway, and while sex is good and helps people feel connected, it is not enough by itself to sustain a long-term relationship. Polyamory emphasizes that the end of sex does not have to mean end of relationship.
7. Communicate honestly and often. ...Gentle honesty may break well-established monogamous rules about hiding things from a spouse, but the outcomes of greater trust and intimacy can be well worth it!
● Polyamory could revolutionize the way we look at relationships
, in ThePlaidZebra.com (May 5, 2017)
By Elijah Bassett
...The fact that polyamory has become this much more visible probably says something about how we’re currently relating to mainstream notions of how romance and intimacy ought to look. While monogamy tends to come with an implicit set of restrictions that don’t need to be explained because of how culturally ingrained they are, polyamory and its growing acceptance may speak to an interest in more individually determined relationship models rather than one that carries historical and ideological baggage.
● One benefit that's rarely spoken aloud, offered by Poly.Land
blogger and book author Page Turner: The Scariest Thing About Polyamory Is Also One of the Best
(Feb. 8, 2018)
...“It’s about something I’ve never really heard anybody talk about in relation to polyamory,” she says.
I wait for her to finish.
“Polyamory has a way of demonstrating who you should really be with,” she says. “And it’s not always who you think you should be with, going in.”
I nod. “We’ve both been in poly circles for a long time. Seen so many relationships open up to new partners. And you never know, for sure, whether any one couple will make it. ... We all have this big fear of the game changer relationship. The partner who comes into our life and turns everything upside down. But it’s funny. When it happens, it’s usually for the better.”
“It is,” she says. “At least in the long run. ... Maybe you should write about that. How the scariest thing about polyamory is also the best: It has a way of shedding light on compatibility.”
● What Monogamists Can Learn From Polyamorists
, by the founder of the online couples' magazine Together
By Erik Newton
...I tried polyamory once and made a complete hash of it. It’s just not for me, but I do have great respect for the polyamorous. ... The polyamorous are on the cutting edge of [sexual] self-expression, and of relationship development.
...We monogamists have a lot to learn from the polyamorous. They have exponentially more relationship dynamics to deal with than we do, as they are responsible not only to their own partners, but to the partners of their partners, and so on. The quality of communication necessary to keep this structure operating is extraordinary.
...So when they talk about relationships, I listen. Here’s what I’ve learned:
– Tell the truth. ...
– Don’t sacrifice your individuality. ...
– Experiment. ...
– Admit that our partner is already free and that you are ultimately alone. ...
– Take part in community. ...
– Get a little friendlier with jealousy. ...
– Remember that love is an infinite resource, but time is finite. ...
● Also in Together: How [a mono can] Love a Polyamorist
By Ghia Vitals
... As a polyamorous person, I’ve seen up close how a monogamist handles such a situation. I dated someone who had a monogamous wife. She was easily one of the best metamours I’ve ever had.
A monogamist in a relationship with a poly person must come to terms with the following realities....
– Polyamory is about your partner’s individuality, not you. ...
– Don’t bother investing any effort in trying to fix something that isn’t broken. ...
– You will never be their one and only, and that’s okay. ...
– Your poly partner’s love for someone else doesn’t negate their love for you.
mostly for monogamous couples and run by "a reformed divorce lawyer," has many other articles
touching on poly.
● A long first-person story in Good Housekeeping,
the magazine your grandmother always read: "Polyamory has made me a better woman."
(Jan. 20, 2017).
By Audra Williams
I'm in a Relationship With 3 Men — And It Makes Me Feel Healthier
...I initially felt worried that my partners' other relationships would lead to my being alone, but eventually I realized that I feel more secure in knowing that we're all collaborating in a community of relationships. ... It makes sense that each relationship helps me heal from different parts of the trauma I've carried around for decades. We are different parts of ourselves with different people, and each new relationship has the potential to shake something to the surface.
● What [The] Polyamorous Can Teach You About Your Own Love
, in Entity
magazine (for "Woman That Do". Undated.)
...As you can probably imagine, polyamory can get increasingly complex. This is why transparency plays an important role in such complicated relationships. In the same way that monogamous relationships have certain expectations and agreements, poly folk talk to their partners about what they can and can’t do. Who is everyone allowed to have sex with? Is one of your partners a regular sex partner while another one is someone you live with? And most importantly: What is everyone comfortable with?
In polyamorous relationships, the traditional rules and boundaries of monogamous intimacy get thrown out of the window. Because of this, each set of relationships need to establish separate expectations.
In an article on Bustle, Emma McGowan interviews 36 polyamorous people for relationship advice for their poly friends, as well as things that “monogamous people could learn from polyamorous people in order to make relationshipping just a little bit easier.”
Here are some things people have said:
J: Sacrifice brings you all towards the lowest common denominator. Honest communication and negotiation bring you all closer to optimal happiness.
Mogli: Work to find the solution where everybody wins.
Judah: ... A more acute awareness of managing finite resources (time, attention) versus non-finite resources (love). More focus on the notion of no individual having to be the end all/be all with their partner, avoiding the trope of the “one true love that completes me.”
Nicole: Communication skills especially regarding what you both feel and want. How to love a person without feeling the need to be possessive of that person.
Maxwell: Jealousy is a natural human emotion regardless if you are poly or not. It’s what you do with those feelings and how you communicate them that defines your experience in the relationship.
● 4 Things Polyamory Taught Me About Love I Wish I Had Known When I Was Monogamous
, on Kinkly
(Nov. 29, 2016). She then talks about 6 things:
By Anabelle Bernard Fournier
...There are many things that being polyamorous forced me to face that I wouldn't have faced in a typical monogamous relationship; and those things have challenged me to rethink a lot of my assumptions about how to relate to others....
– Friendship Is the Best Foundation. ...
– Healthy Relationships Don't Just Happen. ...
– Love Is Just One Part of a Functioning Relationship. ...
– Your Partner Isn't a Mind Reader. ...
– Sex Is Just Another Form of Intimacy. ...
– Love Is Work. ...
● 8 Ways Polyamory Helped Shape My Monogamous Relationship
, also on Kinkly (Sept. 20, 2016).
Okay, that's thirteen, enough for one post. More to come.
Labels: open marriage, research, Show Your Parents