Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 28, 2019

"Are we moving towards a society where everyone is polyamorous or in open relationships?"

That headline leads a long article in yesterday's Metro UK  online, part of a feature series called "The Future of Everything." Previous articles dealt with topics like quantum computing, uses of graphene, the world's growing clean-water shortage, and sex with robots.

The answer, in my definite opinion, is no. Many people are genuinely monogamous. And even in a future society that's fully poly-aware and poly-accepting, I think 80% or 90% of partnered people will be in functional monogamy at any given time if only because it's structurally simpler.1

But we will have a society where most people grow up knowing of the polyamorous possibility, and where there will be ever fewer hostiles simply due to familiarity with the concept and people practicing it. An open/poly 10% or 20% of the population would mean others encounter a lot more of them in everyday life than, for instance, LGBTs. And we're moving toward that awareness faster than I expected.


Are we moving towards a society where everyone is polyamorous or in open relationships?

By Laura Abernethy

...Polyamorous relationships are built on a principle of being open and honest with all your partners and building something that works for you.

...For a society where monogamy is the most common type of relationship, having more than one partner may seem ‘wrong’ but Janet Hardy, author of The Ethical Slut, argues that having one sexual partner is not necessarily natural. ‘I don’t think humans are biologically inclined toward monogamy,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘No other primate is monogamous, and monogamy is very rare in nature. Many creatures who have long been thought to be monogamous, like swans, are in fact biologically inclined to be pair-bonded – but sexual monogamy is not usually part of of that bond.

‘This does not mean, of course, that monogamy is not a good choice for many humans – it obviously is, for a great many people. But I don’t think that humans raised in a culture which values all consensual choices equally would tend toward lifelong monogamy.’

...Could we be moving away from monogamy towards a future where everyone is polyamorous?

John, Katie and Rachel
Rachel, 34, has been in a polyamorous throuple for six months with Katie and John, both 35.

‘Our methods for courting and dating have changed drastically with the rise of Tinder, Grinder, Bumble etc,’ she says. ‘Sex and connection are more easily accessible.

‘There’s a perception that you can’t trust your partner or you must keep on eye on them to prevent them cheating, emotionally or otherwise, because they are not fulfilled by monogamy and unable to express that. I think polyamory is one solution that many people will discover as it becomes more openly represented and less taboo.’

The triad met on a swinging site when Rachel was with her ex-husband, but when that relationship broke down, Katie and John reconnected with Rachel and asked her to join their relationship.

...John, Katie and Rachel are very open about their love for each other. They have found that attitudes are starting to change in some way, particularly as polyamorous people are using social media to improve visibility. ... ‘While representation hasn’t improved much in media, I have discovered a whole community through Instagram that makes me hopeful,’ Rachel says. ‘There are others just like me bucking social norms for what makes them happy.’

...John says: ‘Katie and I both quickly realised that neither one of us were interested in a conventional monogamous relationship again.

...Relationship coach Sarah Louise Ryan thinks that in the modern age, polyamory is becoming a much more viable option for many people: ‘I do feel that we live in a modern dating world where we are slowly but surely, and I believe unfortunately, moving away from the idea of monogamy,’ she says.

...For John, Katie and Rachel, polyamory means a stable relationship, just with an extra person, and they are all equally committed to each other.

Others have many more partners and their polyamory is much more flexible, and often not all the partners in a relationship are connected. Sally, 33, from London, has been in poly relationships for 10 months. ... ‘It is only recently that I have begun to feel like I have a handle on how this all works and how to manage my relationships.

‘It takes so much energy in listening and being honest with yourself and others to make things work. Now I have two major partners I love as well as three casual partners, I understand much more about polyamory.

‘There is a vast difference between seeing multiple people casually and being honest about it and that being ok, and feeling deep and full relationship feelings including love for more than one person at the same time. It’s taken a while to get my head around, but I’ve never been happier. ...

‘It’s a big leap from mono to poly and it takes a certain kind of outlook on life to be comfortable in a poly situation.

‘...Poly does have an advantage in that you can set up your relationship landscape exactly the way that works for you with people that fit with you, so there are so many options to not be monogamous. With that freedom it seems likely that poly will be on the rise but I don’t think monogamy will disappear entirely.’

Says sociologist Dr Ryan Scoats, of the Centre For Social Care and Health Related Research at Birmingham City University, ‘I am not sure if we would ever get to a point where those who were polyamorous out-numbered those who were monogamous. Just as monogamy is not right for everyone, nor is consensual non-monogamy (CNM).’ ... He does think it will grow massively in popularity. ... ‘but it is impossible to say whether it would ever become the dominant relationship style.’

Part of that acceptance might come from building a family with children. ... The first three-parent babies have been born, where DNA from three people is mixed. It’s only being used to prevent inherited diseases now, but technology could be developed further. ...

Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk
So what will relationships look like in the future?

‘If/when the world is genuinely nonjudgmental about any form of consensual relationship – which I don’t expect to see in my lifetime – many people will still choose monogamy,’ Janet Hardy says.

‘Not everybody wants the amount of stimulus, effort and communication that poly requires; many people prefer the consistency and ease of monogamy.’

But with visibility and acceptance of polyamory, in the future we could see more people more willing to incorporate it into their lives. ‘My best guess is that in such a world, many people will flow back and forth among different relationship agreements as their lives take different shapes,’ Janet says.

‘One pattern could be perhaps solo poly in their late teens and early twenties as they explore; monogamy during the years of having children and building a career, which require more attention than poly can accommodate [though it's generally easier in polyfamilies that cohabit and share child-rearing. –Ed.]; poly in midlife and, as they age, back to monogamy or celibacy, depending on the flux of libido and the amount of attention they have available for relationships.’

Read the whole long article (May 27, 2019).


1. In the poly world, the more complicated the relationship structure the less often it "occurs in nature." There are more vees than full triads, more triads than quads, and more quads than quints. Extrapolate this trend back in the other direction, and there will always be more couples than multiples.

The exception to this is the even larger intimate network, which is probably the most common style that develops in cities and communities that are rich in polyfolks. But within a network, the trend for primary-style householding is still the larger the rarer, with pairs predominating.


May 26, 2019

"Ask Amy" tangles with polyamory again, and other advice columns

Old-school newspaper advice columnists usually take readers' polyamory questions seriously now, though they're sometimes skeptical of the concept. This even includes Ask Amy (Amy Dickinson), who once was openly hostile and dismissive. Her latest appears in many papers this week:

Ask Amy: My husband gets nervous about our loving threesome (among other titles, which are written by each newspaper)

Amy Dickinson
My husband "Thomas" and I, both 67-year-old retirees, have been together for 39 years and married for four (we're in a same-sex marriage).

About three years ago, Thomas met "Ray," who is 13 years younger and in a fulfilling and demanding career with irregular hours.

After a couple of years of one-on-one dates, through mutual agreement a year ago, the three of us now spend a couple evenings together each week. We have all come to have a deep love for one another.

...When a day or more passes without a text from Ray, Thomas becomes more apprehensive that Ray is pulling out of the relationship. By the third day, Thomas is beside himself, and his fears begin to undermine my equilibrium.

This has happened several times, and each ends undramatically when Ray texts that he's been overwhelmed with work and that he does indeed love us.

Could you advise me on ways to help Thomas cope with Ray's occasional silences with more equanimity?

—Sometimes a Teenager

I infer that you two are in an “open marriage,” and now a polyamorous relationship with “Ray.” One hazard of allowing a third person into your marriage is that you have created a triangle, and relationship triangles are notoriously unstable. [Nothing in the letter suggests this problem here. –Ed.]

People are seldom exactly the same when it comes to managing anxiety. ... Your job is not to manage your partner’s feelings or reactions, but to manage your own. How do you feel when your husband expresses such an extreme reaction? You should be honest with him about the impact of his behavior on you.

Otherwise, you could point to patterns to help your husband recognize and perhaps better manage his own fears: “Every time Ray behaves this way, you are sent into a tailspin. Can you look at this pattern and trust the process so that you might not always be put through the wringer?”

Riding the emotional roller coaster is potentially damaging to his health, as well as being destructive to your relationship with each other.

One original of many (week of May 23, 2019).

This is better than four years ago when Amy was saying flat out, "Open marriages don’t work, because the 'openness' more or less negates the 'marriage.' " A few months before that she had merely ridiculed a different question asker. Quite a few of you bombarded her with letters after those, prompting her to respond to me and my "little newsletter" that "I am tickled to have pissed-off the pollies."

But a year later, she was at least giving a straight answer to a broken-poly question rather than an "I told you so." So perhaps you made her a little more circumspect.

Here's a sample of other mainstream advice columnists fielding poly questions nowadays:

● Dear Prudence (Mallory Ortberg, now Daniel Mallory Ortberg), hosted at Slate: a polyamorous neighbor.

Reading my next-door neighbor’s blog, I learned that, while married to one man, she is also polyamorous. She told me that her live-in boyfriend is their nanny, but her blog paints a different picture. Does it make me intolerant if I do not agree with raising children in this lifestyle?

—That’s No Nanny

You can disagree with it as much as you like. You are not obligated to approve of your neighbor’s choices. This won’t change their situation one whit, of course, but you are free to disagree and to raise your own children however you see fit in the privacy of your own home. I would recommend that you no longer read her blog, as it will only continue to provoke you, but I know how hard it is to resist the temptation of reading about someone else’s business, especially when it’s accompanied by the thrill of disapproval.

● From Alaska, My best friend and her husband are in an open relationship – and it’s making me question some things.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

My husband and I do almost everything with our best friends, also a married couple. I am extremely close to the wife – I would consider her my best friend. And my husband is close to her spouse as well. I thought I pretty much knew all about them and their marriage but it turns out, I didn't; she recently told me she and her husband have an open marriage.

She said they have ground rules and so far it has really livened up their marriage and made them both happier. They are allowed to separately be with other people, or sometimes they jointly "see" someone.

I didn't even know what to say. ... The fact that they are having bisexual experiences through threesomes makes me incredibly nervous. Could her husband be interested in me or my husband? Could she?

My husband could tell something was up so I told him everything. His reaction was not what I expected. He doesn't seem freaked out at all. If anything, he's fascinated ... now he keeps bringing it up, cracking jokes about it, calling his buddy "lucky."

I feel very strange about us even hanging out with them, like will it be a matter of time before they suggest a foursome? And to add to that, now I'm afraid my husband is going to want to do this too. What can I do?

(From Wanda:) First, you can take a deep breath and relax. Just because your friends sleep with other people doesn't mean they want to or are trying to sleep with you – or your husband, for that matter. ... It means a lot that she trusted and confided in you, so rather than slamming the door on her, perhaps try to understand their situation.

(From Wayne:) ...And your husband? Oh, he's harmless. This is how bros typically react when they can't handle a topic — sex being one of the most complicated. Instead of having a grown-up talk about it, they joke and make fun to deflect their embarrassment/ fear/ insecurities. He's talking a big game to you, but he sure as heck won't make jokes about it in front of your friends. ...

● In Canada, My wife wants to sleep with multiple people but I only want her, what do I do?: Ask Ellie.

My wife of 12 years recently said that she wants to pursue a polyamorous lifestyle – i.e. a desire for multiple concurrent relationships.

We’ve been in a monogamous union, except for her brief affair nine years ago.

It left me with distrust and resentment that took years to move beyond.

... I’m now grappling with my emotional maturity. ... I’m unsure whether I can live with the likely resultant jealousy and loneliness involved if I stay in my marriage. ...

She says she wants me to be her primary partner (we have two children, ages 17 and 12), with freedom to come and go with these other satellite partners she wants to cultivate. ...

–Unsure Primary Partner

Despite my anticipating a rush of readers’ feedback emails explaining the benefits of multiple-partner relationships, I’m cutting to the chase regarding your personal dilemma with it.

Past jealousy and anticipated new “trauma” make it clear: Polyamory is not for you.

Your wife’s desire in that direction is part of who she is and how she wants to live. That’s her reality, not a judgment.

But your feelings cannot be labelled as “emotional immaturity.” Your maturity means knowing who you are, what you can accept for yourself, and choosing to live accordingly.

If you need to think this through more, go for counselling – individually and together, too.

But I’m betting the final answer for you is obvious: You want, and are only comfortable with, sharing love and intimacy with one person who loves you and wants that same kind of relationship with you.

● Also by the same columnist, Polyamory can be an alternative to cheating: Ellie.

I’d like to present an option to cheating: polyamory — having more than one romantic relationship with the full knowledge of all involved.

I’ve been married for 10 years to a wonderful woman. We have two kids and have been polyamorous for five years.

The idea that one person can fill all the needs of another is one that I find ludicrous.

My wife had wants and needs that I can’t and don’t want to fulfill.

She gets those needs fulfilled by her boyfriend. I get some things from my girlfriend that my wife can’t or is unwilling to provide. Everyone’s happy!

–Happy Solution

I believe that you’re happy. And it may well be that your wife, her boyfriend, and your girlfriend are all happy too.

You didn’t ask for advice, but you clearly seek a reaction.

To me, polyamory requires even more skill than a one-couple relationship. ...

● Not bad for the UK's awful Mirror: Dear Coleen: I want a polyamorous relationship – how do I reassure my partner?

I’ve been thinking a more polyamorous lifestyle would suit me better. My partner and I have both considered it, but I’m concerned she might be moving too fast.

We’ve both agreed that it’s something we would like to introduce into our relationship, but I suppose I’m worried she might have reservations she can’t quite voice. ... How can I reassure and encourage her to find out how she feels about us forming relationships with other people?

My first bit of advice is, while you have any questions hanging over it or any concerns at all, don’t even go there.

You have to be 100% sure that this polyamorous lifestyle is something you both want and that your partner isn’t going along with it because it’s what you want and she doesn’t want to risk losing you. ...

Do some reading online – there are polyamorous organisations and societies, as well as books and articles. Discuss what you’ve read.



May 24, 2019

Are polyfamily food trucks becoming a thing?

Another of these popped up in the news. This one is in Venice, Florida, reviewed in Sarasota Magazine: Hashtag Pizza, a New Food Truck, Wants to Be Trending Among Your Friends (May 22, 2019).

It’s not surprising that with a name like Hashtag Pizza, the owners of Venice’s newest food truck want be trending in their customers’ minds.

“We love our Venice locals,” says Hashtag Pizza co-owner Jennifer Stevens. “We’re mobile, but our mission is to turn Hashtag Pizza into a destination, the same as a brick-and-mortar.”

Stevens owns Hashtag Pizza with Alexis Armstrong and Jessica Robison, and the trio’s not just a business team — they are lesbians and polyamorous, as well. Starting Hashtag Pizza had been a longtime goal for the women, who started working on the business by paying $10,000 for a used church bus last year. Armstrong, a former welder, was able to pull the bus apart, turning it into a fully operational food truck, complete with a stove oven. ...


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May 17, 2019

"Wish you were in an open relationship? So do many Canadians"

How many people would like to be in a consensually non-monogamous relationship if they could?

For statistics like that, Canadians had to extrapolate from surveys in the US, but now they've got their own — from a new study based on a nationally representative sample of 2,003 adults.

And yes, the numbers from the two countries match up.

This caught the attention of major Canadian media. The study's lead author published a summing-up piece on The Conversation, a Creative Commons site for academic journalism, which was then reprinted by outlets including the Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun,  National Post, and the Canadian Chinese-language site 51 News.

Wish you were in an open relationship? So do many Canadians

More than one in 10 Canadians would like to be in an open relationship, according to our recent study of 2,003 Canadian adults.

By Nichole Fairbrother

...Open relationships can include polyamory, swinging and a myriad of other individualized relationship agreements.

In U.S. studies, anywhere from 2% to 4% of adults report being in an open relationship.

The study I conducted with Trevor Hart (department of psychology, Ryerson University) and Malcolm Fairbrother (department of sociology, Umeå University) is the first to provide a reliable report on how common open relationships are outside of the U.S. We found that 2.4% of all Canadians, and 4% of those who are romantically attached, report being in an open relationship.

Twenty percent of participants reported prior engagement in an open relationship, and 12% reported open as their ideal relationship type. [So three times as many partnered people want to be in one as are! –Ed.]

Men were no more likely than women to say they are currently in an open relationship. However, significantly more men (25%) said that they had been in an open relationship at some point in their life, compared with women (15%).

And, whereas 18% of men listed open as their ideal relationship type, only 6% of women did.

...Individuals in open relationships were younger than those in other types of relationships. Participants who reported that open is their ideal relationship type were also younger....

When it comes to relationship satisfaction, participants in open relationships are no more or less satisfied than those in monogamous relationships.

...What was maybe most interesting is that having a match between one’s actual relationship type and one’s preferred relationship type was associated with the highest levels of satisfaction — for both open and monogamous relationships. ...

...One of the questions people often ask about open relationships is: “Can they last?” There is some evidence that the length of open relationships with primary partners may in fact be greater than that of monogamous relationships.

More research into the length and health of open relationships could go a long way to reducing the stigma that often surrounds these kinds of relationships.

The findings also have clinical implications for mental health providers. Given that a significant minority of the sample preferred open relationships, it may be useful for clinicians to consider and investigate ways to make it easier for couples to talk about their relationship preferences in therapy.

The whole article (April 30, 2019).

Here's their study itself, online April 1 (all but the abstract is paywalled). They hired Ipsos to do the expensive scientific polling.

Chatelaine ("Canada’s leading women’s media brand") published an interview with Fairbrother: Do Many Of Us Really Just Want An Open Relationship?! A New Study Says Yes (April 29).

I hope that the research we conduct on open relationships will also benefit people in monogamous relationships. In our culture I think many people believe that if they truly love someone they won’t experience attraction to anyone else. Perhaps, if our research makes it easier to accept that attraction outside one’s couple can happen, it may make it easier for couples to talk about it when it does. Hopefully our research will help to make conversations about open relationships and attraction outside one’s couple easier to have.


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May 14, 2019

420Nurses on your TV news: "Polyamorous Sweethearts Discuss Unconventional Romance"

The British tabloids do have reach. This TV profile of a group-marrying California triad, produced by Daily Mail TV, popped up on my hometown NBC affiliate in Boston.

The description: "A California man proposed to his two girlfriends, and these polyamorous sweethearts discuss their unconventional relationship." Watch it here (May 10, 2019).

ChaCha's summary of what makes it work: "Listen to your partners. Love is the key. And patience is a virtue." They plan a civil ceremony in the Netherlands, where unions of more than two are legally recognized.

Jimmy offered his proposal last year on 4/20, because the three run 420Nurses.com, because weed. (It's about female modeling and weed stuff, not nursing, and if that seems weird, well, weed.)

If you recognize ChaCha, Jimmy and Summer it may be from this in the Daily Mail last September.

Remember my last post, about the article "Why Do We Think Polyamory Is Only for the Rich, White and Privileged?" Before you roll your eyes at how polyfamilies look in the tabloids (where they abound; scroll down), note that polyfamilies in the tabs generally come across as more or less everyday working class.


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May 10, 2019

"Why Do We Think Polyamory Is Only for the Rich, White and Privileged?"

Here's a diligent examination of a stereotype, with good facts and figures, but think of it as an introduction. It's thin on the voices of the people it says ought to be heard, though quite a few of them are out there speaking up.

The article appeared in the online magazine Mel, which says it's about "men's lifestyle topics" where "there’s no playbook for how to be a guy." Mel was acquired by Unilever to sell the company's razors and other men's personal care products. Not where you might expect to find a politically hot, 2,500-word, link-filled article about intersectionality in a controversial subculture. The author couldn't have had much time; she cranks out about 10 long articles for Mel a month.


Why Do We Think Polyamory Is Only for the Rich, White and Privileged?

‘Those kinds of relationship have always existed amongst people of color and those of lower education and income, but they often don’t identify with the terms that whiter, more well-off people use to describe them.’

By Isabelle Kohn

...Today, roughly 20 percent of Americans say they’ve engaged in some form of a consensually non-monogamous relationship such as polyamory, swinging or opening up.

These types of relationships have existed since the dawn of humankind and continue to flourish in many cultures around the world, but ever since the book The Ethical Slut brought them to the Western mainstream in the 1990s, we’ve been fed the line that there’s a certain “type” of person who practices them. If TV and pop culture are to be believed, that person looks like this: educated, liberal, metropolitan, well-off and gainfully employed, a combination of privileges that affords them both the time and energy to embroil themselves.... Most often — though not always — they’re white, and frequently, they’re not entirely heterosexual. In other words, they’re Tilda Swinton.

...Shows like Broad City, Insecure, Unicornland, Wanderlust, Big Love and No Tomorrow do a pretty bang-up job showcasing the juicy, occasionally messy realities of non-monogamy, but they do so from an almost exclusively middle-to-upper class point-of-view. Hell, in House of Cards, even the POTUS himself has a bisexual, consensually non-monogamous relationship with his FLOTUS. ...

What we don’t hear about are stories of consensually non-monogamous people on Medicaid who split their time between double shifts at Boost Mobile and McDonald’s. We don’t see uneducated, rural couples trying to “open things up” or conservative Bible thumpers taking things down to the swinger’s club (though this story is an absorbing exception). Instead, all you get from poor, rural, under-educated and underemployed people are affirmations of monogamy and traditional relationships.

...To get at this question in depth, it’s helpful to look at a measure called “socioeconomic status” (SES), which refers to a combination of income, education level and occupation (you can also think about it as “class”). In most countries, SES is intrinsically linked to other demographic factors like race, religion, gender and political affiliation. ...

...In the research world, there’s no definitive consensus about who practices non-monogamy, and there have been some conflicting findings about whether SES and non-monogamous practices are actually related at all. One 2013 study by Christian Klesse of Manchester Metropolitan University, however, found that they are — the higher “class” someone is, he discovered, the more likely they are to have practiced polyamory (though his study didn’t mention other types of consensual non-monogamy, aka CNM).

“Research in the U.S. and many European countries draws a picture of polyamorous communities as predominantly white and middle class,” he writes via email. “Many research participants report a relatively high educational background and often find themselves in high income groups.” This finding has been mirrored by researcher Elisabeth Sheff and documented in research from polyamory communities themselves, such as the surveys conducted by Loving More magazine in [2000 and 2012].

There are a couple of reasons why that might be. ...

Throwing down money for events, parties, retreats and education that supports CNM communities isn’t a requirement for participating in alternative relationships, but as sex therapist and non-monogamy expert Gina Senarighi explains, many people do cough up the funds because it supports their desires and lifestyle.  ...[Miles] Klee says that you also need a flexible schedule if you’re trying to get romantic with several people, something most people who are stuck in the washing machine of survival or gig economies don’t always have the luxury of.

Another possibility, [Debby] Herbenick theorizes, is that the power and privilege that comes with having a better education and more money give you the moxie (or the gumption, to use another antiquated word) to take a risk and go after the kinds of sex and relationships you want.... Several studies have found a connection between higher SES and greater risk-taking behavior.

...As Klee explains, being openly non-monogamous triggers many hostilities and exclusions. “A secure socio-economic status certainly provides a certain buffer of protection for warding off the threat of exclusion,” he says. “Basic economic security is vital in order to face potential conflicts at the workplace, within families or wider social networks.”

...It’s common for lower SES people and people of color to take their non-monogamy elsewhere, into spheres mainstream media often overlook. As sex therapist and alternative relationships expert Jamila Dawson explains, that doesn’t mean CNM isn’t happening — it is and it always has — it’s just not necessarily called the same thing as it is in whiter, higher SES communities. For example, she recently had one black, lower-income client who was part of a triad-style relationship — she was a woman, who was seeing a man, who was also seeing another woman. Both women knew about each other and were totally cool with sharing. They even split up child-rearing duties for the man’s daughter.

However, none of them labeled themselves as “poly” or even as members of an “open relationship.” They didn’t call it anything, for that matter — they were just three people in a relationship that looked a bit different. “Those kinds of relationship have always existed amongst people of color and those of lower education and income, but they often don’t identify with the terms that whiter, more well-off people use to describe them,” Dawson explains.

Likewise, many indigenous cultures around the world practice varying forms of CNM with great success....


...The relationship between high SES and CNM may be a bit of an exaggeration. In fact, some experts and researchers feel the two aren’t actually related at all. For example, Herbenick’s own analysis found that there was no correlation between socioeconomic status or income on non-monogamous practices, and another study published in the Journal of Marital and Sex Therapy concluded that the only predictors of past experience with non-monogamy were someone’s gender and sexual orientation, not their SES, race or political affiliation (men were slightly more about it than women, and gay, bi and queer participants had more experience with some form of open relationships than straights).

Another paper from Rhonda Balzarini of University of Western Ontario supports those findings, but adds another confounding variable as well — of the 2,428 participants she and her team surveyed, the polyamorous couples actually tended to make less money per year than the monogamous ones, and only slightly more poly people were educated beyond the Bachelor’s level and identified as a Democrat.

[Senarighi says] “It’s a total myth that CNM folks are white from a higher SES.” Often, she says, that myth is informed by the stereotypes we hold about what non-monogamy looks like and our ignorance of how low SES people and POC might express non-monogamy in ways we’re not used to hearing about.

Likewise, Dawson tells me... “If you’re surveying mostly white college students — which is what the vast majority of researchers do — you’re going to get a different response than you would if you went around knocking on doors in, say, a largely black community,” she says. “Same story if you go to a poly conference to collect your data. ...”

...Strangely, Match.com’s 2014 Singles in America Survey gives a pretty bang-up final word on all this. There isn’t really a “type” of person who practices CNM, the survey’s researchers conclude. “Despite previous speculation that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships tend to be homogeneous in terms of education, socioeconomic status and ethnicity, this proportion remained roughly constant across age, education level, income status, religion, region, political affiliation and race.”

...“We all benefit when we have healthier communities and better support,” says Dawson. “Given that CNM still isn’t completely socially accepted, we need our communities to be as healthy, vibrant and truly inclusive as possible so we can create situations that are best for all of us.”

Read the whole long article (undated; appeared in mid-April 2019).

"Isabelle Kohn is an L.A.-based sex and relationships journalist, educator and consultant who has written for Playboy, Broadly, InStyle and Harper's Bazaar."


So if we don't hear much in the article from those nonwhite, non-middle-class voices — and they exist in articulate numbers — where do you find them?

I asked Kevin Patterson, creator of Poly Role Models and author of Love's Not Color Blind (2018) for some of his recommendations, and he immediately sent back:

Zach Budd

Diary of a polyamorous Black Girl, by Alicia Bunyan-Sampson

● Dirty Lola's Sex Ed A-Go-Go

Jimanekia Eborn


More suggestions, from Ruby Johnson of Poly Dallas (blacksexgeek.net): "Here are some much needed signal boosting educators:"

Aida Manduley (Sex Therapist and Educator; leading sex educator)

Ida Backoff (Sex Therapist and Educator)

Parnia Myx (Promotes for Solo Polyamory)

Ron Young (founder of Black and Poly)

Crystal Farmer (interviewed by NPR for her knowledge of polyamory)

Teresa Love (founder of Dallas Polyam and Black)

Evita Lavitaloca Sawyers (black and poly family were featured in a documentary)

Other recommendations, folks?


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May 5, 2019

Leonard's mom goes polyamorous on Big Bang Theory

Scene from last Thursday's episode. Sheldon eyes his Nobel competitor.

Posts Jason Snowden, "We are definitely entering Stage 3 Polyamory [what's that] when Leonard on The Big Bang Theory just casually throws out that his mom is now polyamorous."

The Big Bang Theory is America's most popular TV comedy, averaging 18 to 20 million viewers a week for the last seven seasons. This season is its last, and it's building to a crescendo with just two episodes to go. The third-from-last episode aired Thursday (May 2). In the bit of dialog below, Leonard and Penny are discussing whether to expose plagiarism by Sheldon's rival for the Nobel Prize. Sheldon thinks doing this would be fighting dirty.

Leonard: ...Can’t believe it. Sheldon loves telling on people when they break the rules.
Penny: Yeah, well, maybe, he’s changed.
Leonard: He hasn’t changed. Last week when the vending machine gave me two bags of chips, he called my mom.
Penny: Well, that didn’t ruin your life.
Leonard: Well, it ruined my day. And I had to talk to my mom, who by the way is polyamorous now. So that’s fun to think about.

Courtesy Fandom.com.

Backstory: Leonard has had a fraught relationship since infancy with his cold, over-intellectual, hyper-critical mother Beverly, an acclaimed neuroscientist. She discovered her sexuality very late in life in previous episodes, much to Leonard's mortified squick-out.

Some 20 million viewers are expected to understand mom's latest escalation with no explanation of the word.

Thanks to Jason for the tip.


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May 1, 2019

Pathetic "polyamory" in Harper's Bazaar

Here's a case study in the kind of stuff we're increasingly going to have to deal with and educate about. The high-fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar (for "women who are the first to buy the best") yesterday published an article misleadingly titled "Inside the Rise of Polyamory Relationships." It's mostly a first-person tale by a monogamous married woman dealing with an unwanted come-on by a slick pickup guy at a ski resort using "polyamory" as his cover excuse.

The May issue
It's a timely example of the polyamory movement's Stage 3 bearing down on us, as described in my post about Leanna Wolfe's recent talk at Rocky Mountain Poly Living. To recap: Leanna's Stage 1 was the Free Love movement up through the 1960s, generally male-dominated. Stage 2 is the modern poly movement, the feminist-oriented subculture of starry-eyed group lovers and big-hearted relationship radicals that took shape in the late 1980s (thank you, dear readers).

Stage 3 is the current absorption of poly concepts into the general population — where most people are not counter-cultural, are fine with how most things are, and have little experience in examining and deconstructing social constructs. Such folks tend to be unprepared for the depth and breadth of attitude-change it takes to do poly well for everyone involved. They generally don't want to become "weirdos," although living outside the mainstream is going to be weird by definition. Stage 3-ers often carry all kinds of unseen cultural baggage likely to end in screaming and tears.

Train wreck? As the Grateful Dead sang to Casey Jones, "Switchman's sleeping, Train Hundred-and-Two/ Is on the wrong track and headed for you."


Inside the Rise of Polyamory Relationships

By Alex Kuczynski

Frank Rothe/ Getty

My girlfriend Mary and I were listening to a band in the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum, Idaho. It was a starry February night and the crowd was enjoying a perfect après-ski evening. ...

She dug her nails into my arm.

“Oh, my God, it’s the hot guy I met at the dentist’s office,” she hissed. “And I’m not even wearing makeup. Crap.”

Her gaze turned, and a striking man walked directly toward us and asked if he could take one of the nearby empty seats. A ski instructor, he was tall, young, articulate, athletic, funny, with gorgeous unruly hair.

...I scrupulously avoided any flirtatious behavior or language, mentioned my husband, flashed my wedding ring, and assumed that would all project: This is not flirting. ... I’m skilled in this kind of deflection.

The next day I got a text.

“Hi. I’m proposing the ultimate day date: You. Me. Ski. Hard. All day. Hike out to hot springs. Change clothes. Stop for a drink by the fire. You are gorgeous. What do you think?”

I literally dropped my phone. Then carefully typed out: “Um. Didn’t I mention I was married?”

His response: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be presumptuous, but one of the best relationships I’ve had was with a married woman in a polyamorous marriage, and I was sort of hoping maybe that was your situation.”


Polyamory [means] long-term [not necessarily –Ed.] sexual [not necessarily] relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. It works like this: You are married to your husband, who is your Primary, and you want to have a lover, who will be your Secondary. You introduce your prospective Secondary to your Primary, and if he approves, you’re good to go. [Oh Christmas on a cross.]

...And certainly I keep hearing about it: from millennial friends, from married friends, and from a Lyft driver....

...Yet social scientists who study these new types of honest and open non-monogamous relationships believe that it might be time to challenge the way we think about jealousy and commitment, and that consensual non-monogamy may even influence monogamy for the better. People in open multipartner relationships appear to communicate better, for one — which all monogamous couples need to do. Polyamorists are also more likely to practice safe sex — using condoms, discussing sexual history, sterilizing sex toys — than your average cheating spouse, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. And when jealousy does occur, the partners discuss it and make changes to reconcile those feelings.

Still, something feels icky about polyamory, like it should be a sketch on Saturday Night Live. It also feels like an awkwardly puritan way to basically get laid on the side from time to time. “So much talking!” a French friend of mine said. “To cheat, you have to have a family meeting and all this conversation and details? Boring.”...

However, I did, carefully, become friends with the guy. ... Over a grapefruit-flavored beer, I asked him whatever happened to the relationship with the married woman. He said she eventually fell in love with him, and the husband got too jealous for the relationship to continue.

Then he told me something I have heard variations of from all kinds of people — monogamous people whose marriages have ground to a deadly stillness, from a couple in an open relationship who just couldn’t hack it anymore, from a gay man, from a couple who call themselves “monogamish”.... He looked into his pink beer and said, “It just ended in broken hearts.”

"Come round the bend, you know it's the end/ The fireman screams, and the engine just gleams."

The whole article (online April 30, 2019; in the May print issue).


Coincidentally, I'm reading the new book Dealing with Difficult Metamours by the wise and perceptive Page Turner of the  Poly.Land blog.  (Your metamour is a lover of your poly lover.) If you're new here and wondering what actually sets polyamory apart, let her take you to the root of it:

[Where polyamory] really seems to diverge is because of metamours. The fact that you have these people in your life who love the same people you love.

Metamour relations are a form of improv — sometimes hilarious, sometimes awkward, sometimes painful, sometimes glorious. But never dull.

It can be tricky navigating these friendships (and lots of them, if you’re well connected) that there simply is no script for.

Or is there?

...Being metamours with someone can be an awful lot like sharing a best friend. Sometimes you’ll run into cross-purposes when trying to make plans with your best friend. They’ll have made plans to go off and do something else with their other friend.

Sometimes, you’re welcome to come along too. But sometimes it isn’t something that can work out that way.

Just like a co-best friend, sometimes your metamour will become your best friend, too. But sometimes? It’s a regular friendship.

And in some cases, for whatever reason, you really don’t get along with them.

What makes polyamory so radical is its ethic that, to at least some degree, "We're all in this together." Every relationship is to be respected, and like in an extended family — whether everyone likes each other or not — everyone matters.

If that makes you weird, then learn to be weird. Even if some think it's icky.

This is not for everyone.


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