Friday Polynews Roundup — Kids of polyfamilies, more TV, by 2030 "a growing market for ‘polymoons’" after multi-weddings, and more
It's Friday Polynews Roundup again, for February 7, 2020.
● 'There’s zero evidence that it’s worse for children': parenting in a polyamorous relationship. That's the title of a personal piece by Lucy Fry in the Weekend Magazine of the UK-based Guardian, one of the world's major progressive newspapers (Feb. 1)
‘We won’t know the impact of our choices until our son can articulate it.’
Illustration: Mikel Jaso
By Lucy Fry
Almost three years ago, my partner and I decided to experiment with opening up our relationship. More recently, we’ve “come out” as polyamorous, meaning we are free to be involved with more than one person at a time, physically and/or emotionally, in a transparent, consensual way.
In practice, this means that I currently have a wife, who I live with, along with our two-year-old son. I also have a girlfriend, who lives elsewhere and has a daughter. I love both my wife and my girlfriend deeply, in different ways. My wife has a new male love interest, also living elsewhere, also with children.
...When I tell people about the recent change to our 11-year relationship, I’m usually met with fear and confusion. ... The biggest anxiety our situation raises, it seems, is that we’re parents. The overwhelming suspicion seems to be that our child will either be exposed to a dangerous level of eroticism, or somehow miss out on attention, stability and love.
...Children need consistency, right? But does consistency have to mean monogamy?
“There’s no reason to believe that monogamy is any better [or worse] than other family structures – of which poly families are just one,” says British psychotherapist, academic and author of The Psychology Of Sex, Dr Meg-John Barker. “Structures with more adults involved, and more community support around them, may well work better for many people. Of course, conscious non-monogamy isn’t necessarily any better than other models: there are problematic parenting behaviours across all relationship styles. But there’s certainly zero evidence that it is worse as a basis for childrearing than monogamy.”
...Mancub, 16, is the child of polyamorous parents living in Northamptonshire, whom he quite simply calls “my adults”: Cassie (his mum), Josh (his dad) and Amanda (their partner). “Even at a young age, I was able to grasp the concept that my mum and dad could love more than one person,” he says. “The only thing I’ve found challenging about having three adults in my family is getting away with things, because it means more people to check up on you, to make sure you did your chores. But I also have more people around to give me lifts here and there, to help with homework and to come to my lacrosse games. The saying ‘raised by a village’ definitely applies to me. I feel like a completely normal teenager, just with polyamorous parents.”
This kind of positive response is not uncommon. Researcher and relationship coach Dr Eli Sheff is author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships And Families, which details 15 years of studying polyamorous families. This includes interviews with 206 people in polyamorous families in the US, 37 of them children.
“Looking at these kids overall, I would say that they are equally – if not more – emotionally healthy than their peers,” Sheff says. “The kids from poly families are pros at establishing new relationships. They’ve been growing up marinated in personal growth and honesty, and exposed to a wide range of ideas. They don’t necessarily think they’ll be polyamorous themselves, particularly since most grow up in an environment designed to foster independent thought.”
Though my wife and I have no plans to live with any other partner, we will continue to be cautious about how and when we introduce our son to significant others. In my view, he has certainly benefited from the presence of my girlfriend: the pair have a touchingly close relationship; she was the first person ever to babysit him. ...
One frequent criticism of blended families is that children lose important people when relationships atrophy. ... At the moment, it isn’t a pressing concern; the things that matter most to him right now are ice-cream, trains, and refusing to wear pyjamas. As he grows, however, it will become important to answer his questions in an age-appropriate way....
...We won’t know the impact of our choices until our son can articulate it. When the time comes, I intend to listen, allowing him to express his ideas or complaints. ...
Once he is old enough to understand, I’ll also tell him this: my relationship with his mother has strengthened since we allowed each other to be attracted to, or fall in love with, other people. That’s not to say it has been easy (hell no: the opposite). But ultimately it has been worth it, because the freer we are to look elsewhere, the freer we are to choose each other. My wife and I are more honest and less co-dependent than we have ever been in our 11 years together. I believe our son is more likely to grow up with two parents who love one another, and are committed to one another. Which is surely what matters most.
Lucy Fry just published her memoir Easier Ways to Say I Love You, "one woman's remarkable and candid account of transforming a difficult and uncomfortable love triangle into an honest polyamorous relationship."
While we're on about kids of polyamory, this 30-minute documentary appeared in September: It Takes A Village: Polyamory in the Family, "an Ethnographic Documentary by Maleia Mikesell and Richard Rocha." It's a click-through from here:
Also, last September I posted a big roundup of poly parenting and poly kids in the news. See also from November, "Polyamorous parents chart their own course".
● We still need stories like this one because many people have still not heard. In Montreal, The Link serving Concordia University and the surrounding area published a 2,000-word piece that will surely give some of its readers a shock of recognition and change some lives: How Non-Monogamy in Montreal Challenges Us to Look Inside Ourselves (Feb. 4)
When Juniper Cupressaceae, 23, told their mother they were seeing two men, she didn’t take it well.
“She started crying and saying that she was a bad mother […] and that she failed as a parent,” said Cupressaceae. “She said things like, ‘You don’t actually care about these people.’”
Over time, their mother’s grief shifted to grudging tolerance. ...
Cupressaceae’s preferred form [of CNM] is called relationship anarchy: “You meet someone and you get to define exactly what you want your expectations and limits to be with that person, and that’s worked out pretty well for me.”
...MJ first discovered ethical non-monogamy on a date three years ago. ... For MJ, who struggled with faithfulness all her life, the lifestyle was a revelation. ... “For me, growing up and early adulthood, into my thirties, I thought there was something wrong with me.”
She insists sexual desire is not at the centre of her lifestyle. Rather, she relishes the freedom to allow connections with others to grow organically, without the need to pigeonhole people into certain roles in her life.
“That’s what it’s about for me,” she said. “It’s about connection.”
While many non-monogamous people report having to work through feelings of jealousy, many polyamorous people describe an inverse emotional experience known as compersion.
“The British call it feeling frubbly, which I think is a little bit cuter,” said Nathan Rambukkana, an assistant professor of communication studies at Wilfrid Laurier University whose doctoral studies at Concordia helped inform his book, Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere.
...Roxanne Maltais, 25, described how she and her boyfriend discovered ethical non-monogamy three years ago [when he] heard ethical non-monogamy discussed on a podcast. ... Maltais believes non-monogamy has enriched her relationship, in large part because of the level of communication it demands. ... She credits her sexology education, feminism, and interest in psychedelic drugs with the critical mindset that equipped her to revisit the parameters of her relationship.
...Al Hendrickson, 57, co-organizes two polyamory meetup groups, including Black and Poly Montreal. He said there are particular challenges involved in being non-monogamous and Black.
Hendrickson pointed to the conviction some hold that the family unit is key to improving the prospects of the Black community as a whole, making its subversion that much more sensitive. “That’s what our recent generations have been taught,” he said.
There are also stigmas in the community around masculinity, he said, which are challenged by a polyamorous lifestyle.
These, of course, are in addition to judgments coming from outside the Black community that are informed by racism. ...
...Non-monogamy has the advantage of spurring reflections about one’s desires and boundaries—hard questions that monogamous people, to whom society provides a script, can more easily avoid or defer.
But Cupressaceae doesn’t think polyamory is inherently better.
“My favourite monogamous friends […] questioned themselves, and they asked themselves if they would do non-monogamy, and if that’s something that they wanted, and it turned out that it wasn’t, and that was OK,” they said.
“My friend who grew up with four moms had a coming out,” said Gabriel. “They said, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom: I’m monogamous.’”
● Another like that: Polyamory works wonders for one Cedar Rapids couple appeared in Little Village, a biweekly newspaper for Iowa City and Cedar Rapids (Feb. 5).
By Emma McClatchey
Julia DeSpain/Little Village
When Cinna Lewis’s husband gets home from a date, she’s the first one to ask how it went. It bolsters the friendship side of their marriage, she says, a marriage that has flourished for 10 years, this May. ...
Beau and Cinna got hitched with no playbook, she said. They’ve been figuring out what being married means to them as they go along. And for the Lewises, polyamory — opening their marriage to other partners — has been the secret sauce.
“I’m very stubborn; I don’t want to be told what to do. I don’t want to tell somebody else what to do,” Cinna said. “I think being in love is the most amazing feeling in the whole world, I really do. The rush we get or the pleasure we get from being a part of a partnership — whatever that looks like, there’s nothing like it.”
If there’s a gene that makes the average person prone to romantic or sexual jealousy, Cinna thinks she was born without it. Growing up, if she sensed a boyfriend had a crush on another girl, she’d encourage him to flirt with her.
“It just didn’t bother me, where my friends were like, ‘you’re insane.’ I was always far more injured by dishonesty, secrecy, things like that. I’d rather know what you’re thinking and feeling.” ...
...“I think it’s a part of how I’m wired,” she said. “My husband really identifies as polyamorous. He can just feel that in his bones.”
...When they decided to introduce it into their marriage, it wasn’t because monogamy wasn’t working out for them, Cinna said, but because it was working. With such a strong foundation, why not build on it?
...It can be hard to be an “out” poly person. Their immediate family and friends have been accepting, and Cinna even brought a girlfriend to a work function once without conflict. But no legal protections exist to protect polyamorists from discrimination.
“There’s a lot of threat to it. People can lose their job. If there’s a custody situation, people have to worry about it being brought up in court,” Cinna said. “It’s hard to be out, and maybe that’s part of the problem. I think there’s probably way more of us out there than what any of us know.”...
● In Aeon magazine, a thoughtful clash of worlds as a monogamist reacts to a friend's coming out: The joy of intimacy, by British author Lily Dunn (3,700 words, Feb. 4)
...‘I could never do that,’ I [told my friend, failing to keep the defensiveness from my voice. ... I told him about my upbringing with a father who had multiple partners, kept secret during my parents’ marriage; the shocking nature of some of his transgressions. My father was long dead – a protracted suicide through alcohol poisoning – and yet, in that moment, I felt his presence beside me, taking up most of the passenger seat.
‘That’s a lot to contend with,’ my friend said, holding my gaze. There was a knowing look in his eyes that shouted: And it sounds like you’re still pretty hung up about all this! ...
The article does show some confusion with an over-broad definition of "polyamory."
● I thought this was a satire, but no. It's in an advertorial article on the chic Harper's Bazaar site, How romance will change the way we travel in 2030 (Feb. 5):
Polyamorous couples will drive the rise of ‘co-romantic breaks’ which suit the requirements of all parties, and there will be a growing market for ‘polymoons,’ with many hotels adding triple beds to the standard double and twin offering.
That comes from a report by a London consultancy firm called The Future Laboratory, "in collaboration with" the high-end travel company for which Harper's Bazaar published the advertorial.
● The Café Poly in Paris, a monthly discussion gathering that's been running since 2009, got a writeup in The Local for English speakers: Paris 'polyamory' café to launch English-language group to help foreign residents embrace the joys of multiple love (Feb. 3).
...The room was packed. Around fifty people sat around, sipping wine. Latecomers had to ask for extra chairs to be brought in.
...[First-time visitor] Alexandra moved from Washington DC to Paris “for love” more than 20 years ago. Twenty-five years and three children later she and her husband were “still happily married.” As veterans of monogamy, they decided to open up their relationship to include a third person.
“I was skeptical at first, but my daughters talked me into it,” Alexandra said. ... “When my daughters explained it to me it made so much sense.”...
Avenue 5, Hugh Laurie captains a luxury space cruise ship full of troublesome passengers. Writes Erez Benari from Seattle, "In Episode 3 (11:30 mins in), we see the captain skype with a woman and man "back home." The woman says "Oh, look, our husband is in space... awwww...." We also get a glimpse of their wedding picture; Erez sent the screenshot at right. "Avenue 5" is supposed to be happening only 40 years in the future.
● Meredith C. writes, "I just wanted to share this poly-in-the-news relevant podcast with you. It's on the Diversity podcast put out for Cornell University's staff and faculty: Welcoming Polyamory. I don't think it's great, but I'm happy that it appeared at all!"
● Metamour Day is February 28. A few days ago the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), which originated Metamour Day last year, sent out a press release about it to the wider news media via PRWire. The Associated Press picked it up. It popped up on my radar when Yahoo Finance ran it. A nice item to send people new to the concept is Eli Sheff's piece for last year's Metamour Day, Delighting in Your Beloveds’ Other Lovers (Feb. 26, 2019).
● If you missed the thing about the new YouGov poll I posted a few days go, here it is: Millennials are less likely to want a monogamous relationship (Jan. 31). With interesting data breakdowns. There were significant shifts across all age groups except the elderly since YouGov asked the same questions in 2016.
● Another reason to hate Facebook: The good-hearted couple who created the #open consensual-nonmonogamy dating app say Facebook is refusing to sell them ads, "specifically denying us based on #open offering partnered dating options (https://hashtagopen.com/fb). We've created a petition to tell them that this discrimination is wrong." The petition link tells more. Go sign it.
● And if you're near Philadelphia, the annual Poly Living Convention is under way this very weekend, Feb. 7–9, at the Embassy Suites near the airport. Come on down! Day passes available.
That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. If you spot a newsworthy item, send it to me at alan7388 (at) gmail (dot) com. See you next Friday, unless something big comes up sooner.