"Polyamory in the Pacific Northwest"
Seattle has long been known as Poly Capital of the World, but Portland now holds the title according to locals quoted in a 5,000-word article that just appeared in Cascadia magazine (a non-profit "dedicated to telling the diverse stories found in the Pacific Northwest through quality journalism"). Others, however, would hold out for the San Francisco Bay Area.
|(The lead photo. Talk about couple-centric?)|
The Pacific Northwest offers rich material on the history and growth of the modern poly movement, back to Stranger in a Strange Land days and a founding nucleus in Seattle that that book inspired. But the Cascadia article, despite its length, doesn't pick up on this opportunity. It's mostly a Poly 101 for people new to the subject, centering on profiles of current practitioners. These tend to be couples and daters, not the kitchen-table communitarians from whom the scene arose. Still, it's an informative and well-done read.
Is non-monogamy becoming the new normal across Cascadia?
By Karin Jones
Brittany and Scott live in a cookie-cutter development on a hill above a small city north of Seattle. It’s the kind of suburban neighborhood that triggers both repulsion and envy in me. ...
I feel out of place here. ... This suburban neighborhood feels as though I ought to conform. Brittany and Scott appear to fit right in. On the surface at least.
...But one evening, over a quiet dinner, Scott mustered the courage to ask Brittany, “Does it ever make you sad that you’ve had your last first kiss?” Her reaction wasn’t anger or horror. Her reply was, “Yes.” ...
When people ask you about the prevalence of polyamory, keep this next paragraph from the story on hand to give them:
It’s estimated that over 21 percent of the US population has engaged in some form of Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM), defined as having two or more intimate partners at the same time with the knowledge and consent of all parties. Furthermore, around 5 percent of the population identify primarily as non-monogamous, cited in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, and is quite possibly an underestimation. CNM is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of relationships styles: including polyamory, swinging, and other non-exclusive intimacy (depending upon the degree to which those involved are seeking a sexual encounter or an emotional connection). It’s become a nationwide talking point, covered now in even the most mainstream publications like TIME magazine.
And there's this:
The most comprehensive list of CNM groups [This is debatable –Ed.] can be found on Facebook, where local chapters are listed by state and province, as well as countries outside the United States (US) and Canada. Though most US states now have CNM Facebook groups, there are a few, like Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, whose citizens have yet to create any. Meetup is also a good resource, listing 406 CNM groups worldwide. California far exceeds every other state in the number of groups organized around CNM. But when you look at Cascadia as a region, we’re not far behind.
And then we get into the profiles:
Charyn Pfeuffer, who writes extensively on all matters related to sex, dating, and relationships, is a self-proclaimed drum-beater for owning your own pleasure. ... In Seattle, Pfeuffer socializes with a wide variety of people who are consensually non-monogamous. She feels it’s an easy city in which to be honest about being open; Seattle’s sizable art and Burning Man communities often go hand in hand with CNM. ...
Pfeuffer is active on the PNW Polyamory Facebook group where she participates in a wide variety of discussions. ... Administrators approve participation and oversee strict codes of conduct regarding posts and comments. “It’s a safe place to explore love and sex and consent. Conversations that are pretty much mainstream, now. And I’m seeing more families who are coming out and raising children while being openly poly.”
...Another woman I corresponded with, who chose to remain anonymous because she runs a business in a small town between Seattle and Tacoma, is active in a Seattle group that has grown to over a thousand members through connections made on OKCupid. They started out as a game night gathering of self-proclaimed “nerds” and have since morphed into multiple subgroups, such as poly parents or movie lovers. She writes, “It’s not like we’re recruiting new members, they just come in as they’re invited by existing members. ...Once they’re invited, they’re required to attend at least one in-person event. This ensures everyone has at least a little skin in the game, and because our focus is on actual real-life events [rather than just online discussions] we hope that this will discourage contentious online interactions. It’s harder to be rude to someone online when you think you might see them at the barbecue, right?”
...“I never felt I had my own tribe,” this woman tells me when we speak by phone. “This is the first time in my life I’ve had this kind of community. If I broke down on the side of the road, there’s at least a dozen people I know [through this group] who would come to my rescue.” ...
Though Portland is the smallest of Cascadia’s big cities, most of the people I spoke with agree that the City of Roses has a reputation as the most nonmonogamy-friendly place in the Pacific Northwest.
A quick discussion search on Reddit uncovered these gems:
A friend who lives in Portland says you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting part of a triad there. As someone that lives in Portland, we frown on swinging dead cats because that’s not very vegan-friendly, but otherwise the statement is true.
...The 2018 Sex Survey by the Portland Mercury reports 13 percent of respondents identify as non-monogamous whereas 38 percent say they consider themselves “monogam-ish”.
“Portland, more than Seattle or Vancouver, has more active non-monogamous communities per capita,” says John Sickler, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) psychotherapist living in Portland since 2004. “In Oregon you have deeply held beliefs in the politics of personal freedom, personal expression, sexuality, and libertarianism.” ...
A pullquote in big print, which I second:
It’s easier to learn from other’s mistakes. We’re finally getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t. A lot of mistakes will be made along the way if you don’t engage with a community.
The whole article (September 2, 2019).
● Speaking of Poly 101s, this nice one just appeared in Women's Health, a mainstream magazine that's been doing good public poly education for a while: 8 Rules You Should Be Following If You're In A Polyamorous Relationship, by assistant editor Aryelle Siclait (Sept. 7).
The title says Rules. Does the author grasp rules versus agreements and boundaries? She's getting there; right at the top she writes,
I put "rules" in quotes because, let's be real, no one wants to be held to strict expectations or standards in matters of love. These rules are more like guidelines for you and your partners to go over at the start of and throughout your relationship, and they ensure that you’ll have the necessary measures in place to set and stick to boundaries across all parties.
Here are her 8 section titles. And yes, they're couple-centric.
1. Establish how much you want to share with each other.
2. Make time for just the two of you.
3. Set boundaries.
4. Respect your partner’s partners.
5. Keep your expectations realistic.
6. Maintain constant and open communication.
7. Make the most of your me-time.
8. Consider your motivations and your partner’s.