Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

February 21, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup – The Val's Day polyamory media surge, more upcoming TV, polygroups are "all in this together," and more

Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for February 21, 2020!

The big polynews of the week was the remarkable burst of national media attention to the episode of HGTV's House Hunters in which an MFF triad went looking to buy a house. I reported on that flood yesterday, so that's out of the way. Whew.

Next up, we start with a piece of other TV news:

● Premiering March 14 on BET (Black Entertainment Television) is a new series titled "Open." Posts WCLK in Atlanta, First Look Images from ‘Open’ featuring Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson and Matt Cedeño (Feb. 16)

Keith Robinson and Essence Atkins in "Open" (Nina Holiday Entertainment)

'Open' explores the complications of the open marriage of Cameron (Keith Robinson, “Saints & Sinners,” “Dreamgirls”) and Wren (Essence Atkins, “Ambitions,” “Marlon”), who have been married for eight years, although the last two years of their matrimony have been open. They set rules as boundaries to assure a healthy open relationship, however they quickly learn that rules applied to the art of emotion will often be broken.

...“I'm so honored that my directorial feature has been a story about love, forgiveness and communication,” said [writer-director Cas] Sigers-Beedles in a statement. “The gems about honesty within this story are much needed today, as marriage and love expectations climb higher than what we can often achieve."...

No trailer yet. No telling where this one might go.

Valentine's Day, that beloved, oversugared, fraught symbol of very traditional romance, always provokes media attention to nontraditional relationship forms.

For instance Pittsburgh Magazine, a glossy, upscale city monthly, chose Val's Day to post a long, positive feature from its March print issue online: Polyamorous: Changing Stereotypes about a Non-Monogamous Lifestyle.

Pittsburghers pursuing relationships with multiple partners want to change the stereotypes about their lifestyle.

The hands of (from left) Whiskey, Dom, and Pete.

By Justin Vellucci, Photos by David Kelly

This is a Pittsburgh family — three adults of different ages, races and backgrounds, lounging in a Squirrel Hill teahouse, laughing and sharing each other’s drinks and finger-food on a winter night.

Pete Oddi is 37, white, and blue-collared, a welder and a delivery driver who wears his clothes loose, his beard untrimmed and his queer identity like a badge of honor; jokes always are fermenting behind his rictus of a mouth. Oddi is dating and living in the South Hills with Whiskey Hill, a gender non-binary 28-year-old African American who finds levity in even the most knotted life situations. And Whiskey dates Dom Alexander, a Youngstown, Ohio, native transplanted here three years ago who works at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and easily unfurls observations about love and sex. ...

...“People think polyamory is very free-wheeling – you know, ’60s-style free love. It’s really about connection,” says A., 25, of the East End, a bisexual African American woman whose bleached-blonde braids highlight a face framed by a silver ring in her nose. “People on the outside who haven’t done it would be surprised. You have to talk to people. And you have to respect boundaries. It’s a messy and complicated galaxy of emotions – but it is also very fun.”

...About 26 percent of individuals who practice polyamory reported some form of discrimination based on their lifestyle, according to a 2012 study by the nonprofit group Loving More, which supports polyamorous people.

...The group Poly In Pittsburgh had nearly 1,000 members in 2019. Its monthly meet-ups at city hot-spots – social engagements where people not interested in solo-partner ventures connect – draw upwards of 75 or 100 people. And hundreds gathered in Pennsylvania recently for a conference on consensual non-monogamy.

...“It’s a large population that exists but is closeted,” says Dr. Heath Schechinger, Counseling Psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley and private practitioner, who co-founded, but does not speak on behalf of, the American Psychological Association [CNM] task force. “All we know is this population is highly stigmatized. We need to take steps to protect these people, these relationships. [Research] tells us this is common and normal and not a big deal. This is as common as owning a house cat.”

It’s also, to crib from the modern parlance, trending.

“I see relationship structure to be the next wave we’re about to address, following sexual orientation and gender identity,” Schechinger says. “We’re starting to realize that the ‘One size fits all’ model isn’t working for everyone.”


...Hawkins spoke with Pittsburgh Magazine on the condition that editors not accompany her story with the frequently used photo of three anonymous pairs of feet intertwined under a blanket.

“People always envision these non-stop orgies,” Hawkins laughs. “What it is really is a lot of Google Calendaring, figuring out when you can be with your partners, your family. The most important thing I like to stress about polyamory is that I don’t limit myself.”

...Robyn Trask became executive director of the nonprofit Loving More in 2004. (It is based, yes, in Loveland, Colorado.) She says the organization, which promotes awareness and education around consensual non-monogamy, holds an annual conference “to create a safe space for people to explore polyamory, relationships and other points of sexuality.”

The 2020 conference took place Feb. 7-9 in Philadelphia. The first Poly Living Conference was held in 2005 but Loving More has been having conferences since 1986.

“Our goal, our mission, is to educate people about polyamory and to discuss that there are many kinds of love – it comes in many forms,” says Trask, who is married and has been polyamorous for 30 years. “People [used to be] shocked by what we’re teaching, but that doesn’t happen as much anymore.”


...All three have found camaraderie in Pittsburgh’s polyamorous communities.

“There’s a real sense of, ‘We’re all in this together,’” Hill says. “That, more than anything, is what consensual non-monogamy is at its core. It’s about caring for other people. And I think in humanity, and in American society, that’s something we’ve lost.”

Go click through to the whole article. It's a good read and a fine intro for the many who, believe it or not, still haven't heard of this thing we do.

USA Today, one day after enthusing all over the "House Hunters" triad, presented a long Val's Day poly-101 intro for people new to the concept: What you need to know about polyamory — including throuples — but were too afraid to ask (Feb. 14). It comes with a 1-minute slide show:

By Joshua Bote

Romantic relationships aren't always just between two people. Sometimes, these relationships may involve three or four — or even more people. This is known as polyamory.

...It's part of the broader umbrella of consensual non-monogamy, said Crystal Byrd Farmer, a writer based in Gastonia, North Carolina and the online editor of the magazine and forum Black & Poly.

In short, polyamory is when people are "in consenting relationships with multiple people," Farmer told USA TODAY. There are plenty of varying perspectives on how polyamorous relationships work, she said, but ultimately, all polyamorous relationships are different and based on the needs and wants of the people involved.

Polyamory comes with its own set of guidelines and issues. And to be clear, people in the polyamory community say not everyone should pursue it, even if it sounds appealing.

Below are a few questions you may have had about polyamory, but were too afraid to ask.

A throuple is a relationship in which all three people are involved with each other intimately.... There are also quads, which are similar to triads except they involve four people.

Polyamorous relationships can be as simple as a throuple that is only connected to each other, or as complicated as a network of people who can be involved or not involved with each other.

In these relationships, there are metamours, which are people who your partner is seeing but you are not involved in.

Everyone in the network is commonly known as a polycule, no matter how many people are in it. ...

...Polyamory is not just about sex, both Farmer and [Mimi] Schippers point out, whereas open marriages, open relationships and swinging tend to emphasize the sexual parts of a relationship.

"If it's mostly sexual, it may not be considered polyamory," Farmer said. "Polyamorous people try to emphasize that there's a romantic love element to it."

Schippers agrees, but notes that it may not always be a romantic facet to polyamory either.

"Like with monogamous couples, (polyamorous relationships have) a sense of mutual interdependency and responsibility to each other," she said. "That's what distinguishes polyamory from other forms of consensual non-monogamy."

...Polyamory is absolutely not an excuse to cheat, both Farmer and Schippers say. ... "If you're not ethical in a monogamous relationship, how are you going to be ethical in a non-monogamous relationship?" Farmer said. "We don't like cheaters in polyamory."

If anything, Farmer says, a polyamorous relationship can amplify the issues that you may have already in a monogamous relationship. Communication and boundaries are just as vital in monogamous relationships as they are in polyamorous ones.

"If you didn't realize you were bad at relationships, you'll realize it after you start dating more than one person," Farmer said.

The USA Today headline indicates that "throuple" has become a hot search term compared to the community's own "triad." And maybe editors are assuming that, whatever the term, three is the characteristic poly number? Can we disabuse them of that, you guys?

But the fact is, threes are the most common form of group relationships, if only because three is the structurally simplest number beyond two. Therefore threes provide the most interview subjects. As I've pointed out, the more complicated the poly bond, the less often it "occurs in nature." Which is why I think couples will always be the most common relationship structure, even in the far science-fiction future.

Meanwhile, unstructured solopolys, RA's, and loose, extended poly networks look too much like ordinary dating to attract much media interest.

● From Cosmopolitan magazine came How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day When You’re In a Polyamorous Relationship (Feb. 12)

Katie Buckleitner/ Cosmopolitan
By Kat Jercich

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day.... So when I started seriously dating more than one person at once, Valentine’s Day instead became an opportunity to worry about letting my loved ones down. ... What if they each wanted to go out to a fancy dinner on Valentine’s evening? ...What if they compared notes and my girlfriend thought the flowers I’d gotten my boyfriend were nicer than the candy I’d gotten for her? (This is not in character for either of them, but welcome to the carnival haunted house that is my brain.)

...I asked a few friends and acquaintances who are dating multiple people what they were doing for the holiday.

Emily, 27, ... plans to see a Valentine’s Day-themed show on the 14th with her foundational partner, “but that's because Fridays are my date night with him,” she explains. “The following day, I'm going to do some sort of cute date with my new partner — probably ax throwing or going to queer contra dancing. ... I probably will get them a card or candy or something since they recently got me cute socks with my dog's face on them.”

...For Amber, 32, “What I'm really excited about this year is that I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful polycule. B. and I are committed. I'm committed to R. And R. is committed to M. But all of us get along fantastically well and enjoy spending time with one another. I've never felt the level of trust and comfort that I do with these three other humans. To celebrate Valentine's Day, we're getting couples’ massages together, then going to R.'s apartment and cooking a big dinner.” ...

And on it goes with more such stories. To the end:

My takeaway: Just like in any relationship, the best way to address my concerns about Valentine’s Day with multiple partners is to talk about it head-on like an adult.

Well, yeah? But so many people need to hear that. Over and over. And over.

● This long piece, in English, flew in from the Buenos Aries Times in Argentina: Love in the time of polyamory (Feb. 13):

Polyamorous, and other non-traditional relationships, are coming to the fore in Latin America, as subject matter for books, series and articles.

Polyamory, defined as the affective-sexual relations of more than two people; relational anarchy, which refuses to pigeonhole the bonds of love into categories; and open relationships, forms of "free love"; are more honest and consensual, according to those who practise them.

..."It is not a war against monogamy, but against the mono norm, which is the imposition of that mandate," says Deb Barreiro, 29, an activist with Amor Libre Argentina. ...

● The Daily Mail in full-on celebrity mode: Bella Thorne asks followers 'who wants to be our third?' as she shares flirty Valentine's Day photos with beau Benjamin Mascolo (Feb. 14):

She's been open about her experiences with polyamory.

And it seems like Bella Thorne is ready to find another person to join her relationship with beau Benjamin Mascolo. ...

● From Vancouver's venerable alternative weekly The Georgia Straight, more than a half century old: 'Poly Queer Love Ballad' creators to discuss love and art at Valentine's weekend event (Feb. 14):

The play follows a polyamorous bisexual poet and a monogamous lesbian songwriter as they attempt to balance their attraction to each other with their differing views on love, amid a mix of pop-folk tunes and poetry.

● From The Bold Italic, "an online magazine that celebrates the character and free-wheeling spirit of San Francisco and the Bay Area": Why I’m Polyamorous (Feb. 13). Why? "Learning to care for and support the people I love, not control them."

Labels matter. On The Greatest, How a Polyamorous Relationship Taught Me Labels Don't Matter (approx. Feb. 14)

...Lynn was up-front about who she was: pansexual, poly, and married. And as we became friends, I began to like her more and more.

...Before Lynn, I thought poly people were just swingers with big eyes, high sex drives, and commitment issues. But as we dated and my short misadventures in the world of polyamory began, I began to notice misconceptions I had about labels and the way I existed in relationships.

1. People misuse the “poly” label — a lot

In the past, I’d dated people who claimed to be polyamorous, but really, they were just cheating. ...

...Another term that’s used interchangeably is “ethical non-monogamy” or “consensual nonmonogamy.” [No, polyamory is just one type of those. –Ed.]

2. Feeling secure is about attachment styles, not monogamy vs. polyamory

Attachment theory is a [label-filled] psychological model describing how the dynamics between humans work. ... My attachment style is anxious and shaky at best. ... A secure attachment style means the person is confident in their relationships. ... Insecure attachment styles can vary, although they’re mainly separated into anxious (low confidence in self but high trust in others) and avoidant (high confidence in self but low trust in others).

3. Polyamory doesn’t mean you’ll get less attention or affection

...To my surprise, whoever else Lynn was with didn’t matter so much. What mattered was the amount of affection she gave me when we were together. ...

4. Don’t assume dating someone with more experience will solve issues. ...

5. Listen to your discomfort and honor your need for respect. ...

And in other news,

The #open logo
● New developments in Facebook's ban on open-dating apps (another reason to hate Facebook). Remember that well-meaning couple who created the poly dating app #open, then had their ads refused by Facebook because #open is for polyfolks and other open types?

The petition the couple launched two weeks ago (go sign it) is catching wider attention. From Insider: Facebook has blocked a queer and polyamorous-friendly dating app from posting ads, saying there isn't a global appetite for it (Feb. 14):

By Julia Naftulin

Communities of queer, polyamorous, and other marginalized people are making dating apps to cater to their long-underserved communities, but Facebook’s advertising policy could drive a wedge in their efforts to reach others.

[Says #open co-founder Amanda Wilson,] “Facebook has decided that sexuality is only acceptable on their platform if it pleases their ‘global audience’ who, according to them, isn’t quite ready to accept the idea of ‘casual dating.’ ”

The company’s view, Wilson said, seems at odds with the fact [that Facebook has] “hundreds of polyamory, ethical/consensual non-monogamy, kink, and swinger discussion groups with over 350 thousand active users seeking to engage with those online communities.”

Wilson sees Facebook as the most influential platform to reach the marginalized communities their app is made for. ...

Wilson and #open’s director of operations, Maile Manliguis, told Insider that they attempted twice to advertise on Facebook. ... “Within two hours of submitting just the general application, we got kickback from Facebook saying that we were not approved because we offer couple and group options, and that puts an emphasis on sex,” Manliguis said.

Reviewing the advertising policies, they saw that Facebook does not have a ban on couple or group sex apps, so they decided to change the wording.

This time, Manliguis dropped the “sex-positive” tag line, removed the word “kink,” and all imagery of groups or couples. Still, the ad was rejected.

That time, Facebook said their “advertising policies are informed by detailed global user sentiment analysis to reflect the global audience on our platform,” according to a message the company sent to #open. The message continued, saying Facebook couldn’t onboard #open as a dating advertiser because “we do not allow dating services that promote hookups or sites with ‘couple’ or ‘group’ options.” ...

However, The Next Web (TNW) points out that Facebook's moralistic stance is likely just a diversion from the real reason. Its article is titled: Facebook uses its ad policies to block apps that compete with its dating service (Feb. 18).

...Ashley Madison, #Open, and other dating sites are direct competition with Facebook Dating.

If you want to cheat on your spouse, Facebook Dating’s there to make things easy for you. It’ll hide your relationship status so you can pretend to be single, and the algorithm makes sure that nobody in your friend-sphere will see your dating profile, thus lowering the odds that someone will tip off your significant other.

In the past, Facebook let sites such as OKCupid – which has options for couple dating, polyamory, and open relationships – advertise on its platform. Even going so far as to allow for what the social network deems “sexually suggestive” campaigns that gave direct mention to “foreplay” and sex.

But now that it’s launched its own dating service, we weren’t able to find any ads running from the likes of Tinder, OKCupid, or #Open.

It’s beyond disingenuous to build a dating service that takes great pains to make cheating easy while snubbing apps that offer romance options for those in nontraditional and consensual non-monogamous relationships.

If Facebook wants to inflict its morality on billions of users, maybe it shouldn’t develop services directly for them that don’t meet the bar it sets for companies wishing to advertise similar products on its platform.

With this going on I wish I could endorse #open. But despite its creators' best intentions, a reviewer says it's still frustratingly buggy: There's still no good dating app for non-monogamous people (Mashable, Feb. 6).

BTW, Facebook Dating may be turning into a flop. See more.

Remember, Metamour Day is next Friday, February 28! "Honoring Polyamory’s Most Distinctive Relationships." Download cards and browse swag. More on Metamour Day to come.

That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. See you next Friday unless stuff comes up sooner. (Did I mention that it'll be Metamour Day?)


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