A little more insight than usual, in the Irish Times
Serious mainstream media pay attention to polyamory often enough now that you can usually guess how it'll go — they get the basics right, thankfully, but may have an outsider's tin ear to subtleties. The feature story in this morning's Irish Times, a leading daily in Ireland, strikes me as a little more perceptive than usual, once it gets rolling.
Its jumping-off point is Jenny Yuen's recent book Polyamorous, part autobiography and partly a professional newspaperwoman's report on poly in Canada and elsewhere.
The piece is by a writer on women's "life & style" topics, hence the headline.
Polyamory: The women in love with more than one person
"Jenny Yuen lives with her husband and nesting partner, Charlie, and her other partner, Adam, who is 31 years her senior, lives up the street."
...It is difficult to definitively say whether polyamory is more common than it used to be or simply more visible, but it is certainly the latter.
...A reporter for the Toronto Sun, [Jenny Yuen] writes frankly in the book about her relationships and her route to motherhood. ... It helps, she says, that she has an excellent support system. ... Yuen describes their relationship as a V – she and Adam are romantically involved, as are she and Charlie, but Adam and Charlie don’t share a romantic relationship, though they are close and the three operate as a family unit.
People ask Yuen how her daughter will be raised in a poly family – “I want people to know that she’s going to have more support. My partner lives up the street. My husband’s at work right now; my partner was able to spend some time with me this afternoon and also take care of the baby. That’s a benefit and a luxury that not everyone has and that we are lucky to have . . . thanks to polyamory.”
...All of the emotionally laden conversations and interactions that characterise a serious monogamous relationship feature in polyamory. Quite literally everything is a conversation. If you live with multiple partners, the tedium of asking who takes out the bins has to be performed with more than one person; ditto where the new sofa is going. Even if you live alone but have multiple partners, there are conversations about who you are having dinner with when, and where partners should leave their things at your home. Does everyone get a sock drawer? Poly people are and must be skilled, emotionally sensitive and enthusiastic communicators.
Lea, a bisexual poly student from Cork, who has a long-distance relationship with a male anchor partner (the term primary partner is frowned upon, because it suggests a hierarchy), chuckles when I mention that some people consider polyamory a vehicle which enables male promiscuity. If anything, she says, it encourages men to improve their communication skills in relating how they feel.
It seems clear that polyamory is too much work for anyone who is just in the mood to sleep with a stranger without strings attached; there are apps for that. Lea describes polyamory as empowering for women, just as it is for men, because it prioritises clear communication of one’s needs and regularly checking in with how partners are feeling.
...There can be issues unique to polyamory, however. Some poly women face being fetishised or commodified as “thirds” by married couples – termed unicorn hunters – who seek someone (normally a bisexual woman) to be brought in as a third without being allowed to form her own outside relationships. Of course, some women enjoy this, but it seems that most don’t and demand for such thirds far outweighs supply.
Erica from Louth describes herself as a 35-year-old cisgendered bisexual woman who works in tech. ... She has found that some men who don’t understand what polyamory is can make presumptions: “Men I know who would be in relationships have hit on me once they find out I’m polyamorous or want me to help them cheat, and that’s just not what it’s about.”
This is a subversion of what is considered “good” poly practice, which suggests that everyone’s needs must be equally recognised and respected. Of course, as in monogamy, this is a delicate balancing act which may be desired more than it is observed.
...If polyamory had a dirty secret that unsettles the monogamous norm, it would be that it is qualitatively like monogamy, except that the emotional work of relationships is multiplied by the number of partners.
While many people unfamiliar with the mechanics of polyamory are hand wringing over the idea of orgies, the reality of polyamory seems to be seeking out the same deep connection that monogamy instantiates, but more of it. This idea is offensive to some who consider such connection possible only with one person at a given time. However, that really seems like a determination each of us can only make for ourselves.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of polyamory is that it is counter-cultural, which could easily be – and has been – mistaken for being controversial. ...
The whole article (February 23, 2019).
Also from Ireland:
● In the Irish Examiner, Is fidelity old school as – it appears – open relationships become more common? (Jan. 9, 2019)
...Polyamory in all its ethical-non monogamy shouldn’t be confused with having an open relationship. In the latter, sex with others is part of the package. Falling in love is not.
Polyamory makes sense. Expecting a lifetime of willing or enforced monogamy often leads to disappointment, betrayal and heartbreak, and that’s just among the ones who discover they’ve been deceived. ...
● In RSVP Live ("the modern Irish woman’s destination of choice for news, information and entertainment"): Irish people reveal what it's like to be in an open relationship (July 2, 2018):
...Sarah from Mayo said they initially wanted to be in an open relationship to help them deal with their insecurities.
"I recognised in myself that having a desire to see someone other than my partner didn't negate my love for them, and I want to try to unlearn the feeling in myself of insecurity that I think we are socialised to feel when someone we are in a relationship with is interested in someone else," they said.
...Jamie, who lives in Ireland but is originally from the US, also said that honesty is paramount.
"I'm seeing a bunch of people non-hierarchically, so since I am the only constant my only rules are to be extremely honest with everyone pretty much from the get-go....
"I find that I'm only jealous when I'm with someone else that is also jealous, which doesn't come up as much when poly stuff is set as the norm from the start." ...
● All the poly in Ireland's media on this site since 2006 (including this post; scroll down).