Giving us more love – poly in the news this Valentine's Day
Every Val's Day, media looking for an angle give polyamory some extra attention. Here's a representative scattering of what they said and showed about us this time.
● New York magazine put up a touching, excellently produced 23-minute video exploring the concept and people who live it. Featured are Sophie Lucido Johnson, author-illustrator of the recent memoir Many Love (with scenes from their wedding), alt-relationship coach Effy Blue, and a young Latinx couple pushing through relationship problems to hold to their poly ideals. Recommended. (Feb. 14):
● In the Chicago Tribune's arts & entertainment weekly RedEye: No ordinary love: Polyamorous couples celebrate Valentine's Day their way (Feb. 12):
They used a still from the She's Gotta Have It series.
By Demetria Mosley
...“Polyamory isn’t for everybody and that’s OK,” said Topaz Steele, a Chicago native who has identified as poly for about 10 years. “I’m not here to say that everyone should try to be nonmonogamous or that everyone is capable of loving people in this way. I do know that being polyamorous works for me and my lifestyle and I wouldn’t push anyone to do it just because.”
Steele spent last Valentine’s Day out on a date with her two boyfriends. While out, the trio grabbed a bite to eat and spent time discussing their favorite videos games and anime shows. Throughout the date, she casually made a point to hold both of her boyfriends’ hands, either separately or at the same time. She said she couldn’t care less what people think of seeing the three of them out together on a date.
“If people are looking at us, I’m not looking back at them. I’m paying attention to the people I’m with,” she said.
...For the past 15 years, Jennifer Nicole has practiced solo polyamory, which to her, means having no desire to ever live with or share finances with any of her partners.
Nicole, who is an active member of Chicago Poly Info and MeetUps on Facebook, is currently dating four people. She said she loves the freedom that her relationships allow her to have.
...Last year, one of her long-distance partners sent her small gifts in the mail every day for a week to celebrate the holiday. Another partner took her out to dinner to celebrate.
“Every one of my partners warms my heart in a different way and I express that to each of them differently,” she said. “There’s no copying and pasting the same message to everyone. They are all so different and I would never do that.” ...
(A correction to the article posted by Elisabeth Sheff: It "erroneously credits me with research [by] a team led by Dr. Teri Conley at the University of Michigan. It was Dr. Conley and her team that produced the statistics on the number of people in the US who are in consensually non-monogamous relationships.")
● In Men's Health magazine, Why Polyamory May Be The Future of Love (Feb. 14):
By Richard Godwin
...If you were expecting a hedonistic free-for-all, you’ve come to the wrong party. Open relationships are complicated. They won’t spare you emotional conversations or banish awkward concepts such as guilt, cheating and unloading the dishwasher. (Rather, imagine splitting these things three or four ways.) Polyamory, the practice of having multiple consensual partners, involves hard work, and almost certainly more of it than the relationship you’re in now.
“A lot of people go into open relationships – and particularly open marriages – thinking it’s going to fix things,” says Laurie Penny, a 31-year-old writer and activist who has been an “ethical non-monogamist” for the past decade. “There are rare occasions when one partner says to the other: ‘Have you thought about trying this?’ and the other says, ‘Wow! I’m so glad you asked!’ But mostly it doesn’t happen like that.”
Initially, she says, you’ll spend longer talking about all of the ramifications than doing it – discussing consent, desire, fantasy, society and how it’s not about a lack of rules but about working out what the unwritten rules are, and whether there might be better ones. Later, you might find yourself borrowing cutlery from your partner’s partner, as Penny did the other day, or attending their wedding. “All of their partners did. She has two boyfriends, and he also sees other people.”
● Good advice for anyone in Gay Star News: Polyamorous people reveal how they celebrate Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
Eunice (center), Charlotte (right), and Conaire in the UK
'Not every monogamous couple celebrates the same way, so you can imagine the variety for polyamorous people!'
By Charlie Mathers
"I think anyone who isn’t in a long term, monogamous, allosexual, cishet relationship feels the pressure of society on us a bit around this time,’ Eunice explains.
She is an organizer behind Poly Speed Dating, a regular event in London for polyamorous people to meet like-minded others.
...Eunice’s partner is Charlotte. They’re both also mutually dating Conaire.
...Eunice realized she was polyamorous just over a decade ago now. She met people who mentioned the concept to her – One of these people would go on to later become her metamour (the term for your partner’s other partner).
From there, she took a year out of dating to research the idea of polyamory. She spoke to other who had more experience and spent time thinking ‘deeply about what being ethically in relationships meant to me.’
...While her partner Charlotte also hasn’t face stigma, she adds: ‘My main issue is that I’m queer and all the cards with actual figures on are gendered. ... Cute sparkly owls do not need gendering.’
...[Eunice] said: ‘Some might spend [V-Day] with one partner, and the next night with another, and so on. Some might decide to do big (or small) group celebrations,’ she said.
‘Some take a whole week. A few I know choose to make it a day to celebrate and connect with their metamours, instead of their partners. Some people choose not to celebrate at all.’
Eunice says the most loving way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a partner is always in the ‘the way that makes them feel most loved. So sometimes, that’s cooking someone dinner. Taking them to a show that they love but you’re not that interested in.’
‘Giving them a new teapot/lingerie/book/dildo for their collection. Cuddling up on the sofa under a duvet sharing cool music videos with each other.
‘Making them a beautiful piece of art. Going to swingers or kink parties together.
‘Or maybe, it’s sending them funny “I love you” memes/gifs and amusing articles all day.’
Charlotte echoed this idea polyam people celebrate Valentine’s Day ‘in as many ways as non – polyam people celebrate the holiday. We’re a pretty diverse bunch.’
She added added it is ‘probably more popular’ to celebrate on a day that isn’t the 14th.
...She continues: ‘Do it your way, the way that makes you feel loved, because that’s really the whole point of the day.
...The most important thing however is that you talk with your partner about how they wish to celebrate the day, if it all – ‘Talk about it before setting up a huge party with a hundred guests for your introverted poly network, because on the day is too late.’
...Charlotte’s advice? ‘Communication, communication, communication. Talk about scheduling, who wants what, who wants to celebrate on the day and who would rather wait to have more time at the weekend. As usual communication and compromise win the day.’
● At Binghamton University in upstate New York, in the Sex Issue of the student newspaper Pipe Dream, Researchers believe sexual habits are changing among BU students (Feb. 14):
Polyamorous, open relationships see increased acceptance, survey indicates more [BU students] are participating in group sex
By Amy Donovan
According to Ann Merriwether, a BU lecturer of psychology who conducts research on causal sex and relationships, there have been changes in the sexual habits of BU students since she began her research in 2011. Merriwether said her team has seen an increase in women engaging in casual sex and a decrease in sex. They’ve also seen more students expressing varying sexual orientations, with many beginning to describe themselves as “mostly heterosexual” as opposed to “exclusively heterosexual.”
...One polyamorous student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he defines being polyamorous as engaging in emotional and physical relationships other than his primary partner.
“I’m still very new to this type of relationship and figuring out my boundaries and my partners boundaries with it,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a little, and while there are surprises and obstacles it’s generally what I thought it would be on my end.”
He also said he has found a surprising number of polyamorous students at the University, most of whom are open about their experiences.
“A lot of people I know here are in polyamory relationships, a surprising amount if I’m being honest,” he said. “And while it’s not a community in that same way the queer community is a community, my [polyamorous] friends are always willing to talk about their experiences and help me with my new experiences.”
● In another college paper, The Northern Light of the University of Alaska, Anchorage: Consider Polyamory (Feb. 11).
By Ben Edwards
...This Valentine’s Day, couples should recognize the full breadth of romantic options that they have.
Adopting polyamory depends on the enthusiastic consent and trust of both partners. Additionally, it requires clear communication on what the terms are for the new polyamorous agreement. Even the word itself is subject to interpretation. It could imply multiple romantic connections or strictly sexual diversification. At its semantic foundation, polyamory can be thought of as “multiple love.” How couples define that is up to them. What couples should not do, however, is continue to suffocate within the arbitrary confines of monogamy. If the current arrangement makes both partners truly happy, then there is no need to change. But if there is mutual dissatisfaction, then they should not feel guilty or scared of trying something new. ...
● Another college paper, The Martlet at the University of Victoria in BC, Canada: A Crash Course in Polyamory (Feb. 14):
Polyamory is magical in that it allows us to explore our insecurities and rise above them; to love freely, without fear or the desire to confine one another.
By Kierra Moseman
...I like to define polyamory as engaging in romantic relationships with more than one person at a time, with the consent of all involved. Polyamory is also associated with concepts such as ethical non-monogamy, relationship anarchy, and the open relationship. The key difference is that polyamory promotes the idea of love and romance between multiple people, while other types of non-monogamy may only allow for sexual freedoms. ...
...Polyamory can look however the participants need it to look. As long as the consent of every person is established, you’re practicing correctly. ... What most people don’t realize about polyamory is the amount of difficult, personal work that an individual must do to be happy in such a radical form of loving. ...
● Also in the Victoria BC area, in a chain of local papers: Valentine’s Day can be ‘tricky’ for those in polyamorous relationships (Feb. 14)
By Nick Murray
“Valentine’s Day can be a tricky one for polyamorous relationships,” says Cora Bilsker, the owner of Nested Heart Counselling.
“It can be celebrated with single or with multiple partners. Some people like separate celebrations and others like to celebrate together. I have spent it with three or four people before, and it has been really sweet.”
Polyamory is the practice, desire or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all partners.
...Bilska says that most of her clients are between the ages of 20 and 40, and the lifestyle is growing “leaps and bounds,” especially in Greater Victoria, as it becomes better understood.
...The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) says that behaviours associated with the movement – and in its view are central to it – are gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust, and equal respect among all partners.
...But while polyamory edges closer towards the mainstream and becomes better understood, Valentine’s Day can present challenges for polyamorous partners.
“It can be an emotionally loaded time, but it does depend on the relationship,” Bilska explains.
More generally, she has advice for people embarking on a polyamorous relationship.
“Making it work, you need a strong sense of self. It’s a journey that will challenge your insecurities and it’s a journey to give you what you need, not relying on just a partner to help you learn about yourself.”
● In the Hartford Courant, the daily paper of the capitol of Connecticut, This comedian wants you to hear his story of polyamory (Feb. 14):
Brett Johnson's "Poly-Theist" standup show is at the Elbow Room Feb. 22.
By Christopher Arnott
...“I grew up religious, Evangelical. I married at 21, straight out of Christian school,” Johnson says.
But a few years later, he was “no longer Evangelical, no longer monogamous” and began to explore polyamory, which allows for multiple romantic partners in trusting relationships simultaneously.
Johnson, who lives in Boston and is no longer married, has turned this life transformation into a one-man show titled “Poly-Theist”.... The show follows events in his life up to “just a few months ago,” including — “Spoiler alert,” he says, laughing, a current relationship in which he is again exploring monogamy.
Johnson started performing the hourlong “Poly-theist” in December, and it’s become his main gig. In coming weeks, Johnson will do the show in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Portland, Maine, and various cities throughout Massachusetts. This summer, he’ll be bringing it to the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
...“I didn’t grow up even thinking this was a thing.
...The reaction to “Poly-theist” has been positive, even from Johnson’s ex-wife, who she says hasn’t seen the show but helped him title it.
Here's Brett's the Poly-theist tour schedule for the next few months, around New England and points farther afield.
● The news site of Australia's national broadcasting network offered Five Sydney couples share their relationship secrets on Valentine's Day (Feb. 13). The first couple is poly and genderqueer.
By Mridula Amin
Eme and Jen are polyamorous, which means they are committed to each other but can have intimate relationships with multiple people.
"We didn't just wake up one day and say 'Oh yeah let's be open'," says Jen.
"We got to that through six years of communication and then last year we opened it."
..."We'd both migrated from the Philippines, we were into the same obscure films," says Eme. ... "We were like everyone else is a bit boring, let's go outside and have a cigarette on Glebe Point Road and talk."
Years later, it's the same thing they did to talk about Eme transitioning to gender non-binary.
..."The trust to give each other freedom has been a highlight, just to be able to be at this stage in our relationship that we're still growing — that's what I love."
● Also in Australia, sexuality educator Siren Vandoll posted How I Manage Being Polyamorous on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 9), with a list of commonsense advice.
● From India, a long feature article in the Times of India: Polyamory is a reality in Kolkata! (Feb. 13). With a poly-talk glossary. India has had a lot of polyamory in its news in the last few years that I haven't gathered into a post yet.
● And Elle publishes a Valentine's feature on Emma Goldman, that beloved anarcha-feminist from the turn of the 20th century: What Happened When the Mother of Non-Monogamy Fell Head Over Heels in Love (Feb. 13).
● Also, in Elle's UK edition, What is a Relationship? The New Rules of Attraction for 2019 (Feb. 14).
From debates around consent to the redefinition of romantic relationships, the entire dating landscape is in flux. Welcome to a brave new world.
...Newer concepts such as non-monogamy, as well as polyamory (a recent survey found that a fifth of Brits identify as ‘poly’), as well as relationship anarchy (an anti-hierarchical approach to relationships, where everything from friendships to romantic love are given equal weighting), are changing what relationships look like – and what we want from them.
My own situation is a case in point.
For almost two years, I have been in an ethically non-monogamous relationship.
In Australia it's summer on Valentine's Day. (Getty.)
... Anyone who knows anything about poly life will know that it is not a free-for-all; there are rules and boundaries and colour-coded Google calendars. The truth is I feel a thrill at this facet of our relationship. It seems to me a radical act of compassion to accept that my partner may feel attracted to someone else, like we all are from time to time.
If you’re thinking, ‘Nice idea, but I could never do it. The jealousy! The paranoia! The sharing!’, I get what you’re saying, but I’ve also seen how poly life has started to influence the dating experiences of my most monogamously minded friends. ...