Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

March 27, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Safer sex in the pandemic. Move a metamour in for the duration? Skills for bottled-together partners, and more.

It's Friday Polynews Roundup again — for March 27, 2020.

So when I said that Moose and I were isolating from most of the world but not from our close couple? Well, that was then and this is now. This morning we wrote them, "Sadly, we have decided we shouldn't come this weekend. [Moose] tells me, 'I would never forgive myself if I gave either of them the illness.' I agree."

And I noted that, judging from the growth of known cases in our state, "any random contact now is 7 times more likely to pass the infection than a week ago," the last time we were together.

It turned out that they were also just about to call off the date. We happened to email first.

There hasn't been much poly in the news this week, with the pandemic pushing most other news aside. However,

● Cunning Minx's Polyamory Weekly podcast this week, episode 587, is Love in the Time of Coronavirus (March 24). Here's some of what she discusses:

How do we practice poly responsibly during a pandemic? Is it OK to move my metamour in with me rather than not see her for the duration of enforced social isolation?

If you’re considering cohabitation that you wouldn’t have considered [until the] coronavirus social isolation requirements, some advice:

– As always, make sure your existing relationships are relatively healthy first.
– Ask everyone involved what they need to be happy and healthy in a communal space; consider personal space, alone time, sexual, and physical needs.
– Discuss how finances will work in terms of rent, groceries, and other bills.
– Discuss expectations for chores and other responsibilities.
– Ask your kids how they feel about your metamour moving in.
– Have the pets been introduced? Is there a danger that they might attack each other?
– Set up regular check-ins after the move-in. These provide opportunities to bring up what it working well, what isn’t, to express gratitude and appreciations, and to bring up issues before they become bigger.
– Take a break from news coverage if it increases anxiety or feelings of depression.

● Here's Sex and the Coronavirus Disease, a two-page flyer from the New York City Department of Health at the epicenter (PDF download). It's clear and very frank. For instance,

2. Have sex with people close to you.

    You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
    • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19. Have sex only with consenting partners.
    • You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible.
    • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.

And while kissing transmits the disease readily, "COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid." But it is in feces. The flyer is continuously updated.

Go read it. You've got time now, right? When it first appeared the wave of downloads was said to have crashed the site, but now it comes up fine.

● As many of us become more tightly bottled up with partners than we're used to, and will be for many weeks to come, Cosmopolitan offers a few simple but advanced communication skills and annoyance-resolvers used by HR departments everywhere: Is your partner annoying you? Here's how to tell them"These women share how they let their partner know something they're doing irritates them. Take. Notes." (March 25. Also reprinted by Yahoo News.)

They give a nod to polyfolks at the start:

...Even those in healthy relationships can get wound up by their partner(s) every now and then, and that is totally normal. You are, after all, two (or more, if you're polyamorous) humans trying to enmesh your lives despite being separate entities....

Here are the first two of the eight paragraphs. Go read the whole thing and save it for reference.

1. The good ol’ sandwich method: a nice remark, the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, and then a thank/love you. Here’s a recent example between me and my husband: 'I appreciate everything you do around this house after a hard day at work, but can I make a suggestion? Can you please put your dish in the sink instead of right next to it? Thank you babe, I love you dearly'. I mention it the minute it happens. If I can't do that, I'm with the wrong person.

2. The keys here are to: validate first, give the constructive criticism second, and then show some manners at the end. ...

This might also be a good time to make a project of learning and practicing the deeper communication skills that the poly movement has long been pushing: nonviolent-communication tricks (NVC), "I" statements, active listening with mirroring for clarity, etc. I recommend Robert McGarey's classic little book, the Polyamory Communication Survival Kit. Available in paperback or as a cheaper PDF download.

● Tiffany muses on her Poly Mama blog, The Pros and Cons of Being Poly during COVID-19 (March 17-22). Excerpts:

Harry Tenant / Quartz

...This is written from my perspective as a stay-at-home mom with two live-in partners, one of whom works at home and the other who works outside the home but not on the frontlines of this pandemic. I do understand that not everyone is in my position and most have it harder during this time.)...


Deepen relationships (if that’s what you’re into)

So, here we are, quarantined in our homes, stuck with our partners, kids, pets, etc., and let me tell you, I think this is a great thing. It’s only been a couple of days into the call to stay home and I already feel like I’m bonding more with my partners and my children. I feel like life has slowed down; there is less to worry about in terms of ‘am I taking my kids enough places to enrich their lives?’ and ‘am I spending enough time with each partner?’ ...

More time to get things done....

More income in uncertain times.

...One of the pros of living polyamorously is having increased household income. So, naturally, that extends to a time like this. And in an uncertain economic and social climate like we are in now, it is even nicer than normal to have that extra stability.


Can’t see partners you don’t live with in person (but, hey, you can still video chat, right?)

I feel bad because my husband just officially started dating his girlfriend a few days before this whole thing started, and now they will not be able to hang out for quite a while (we both have multiple adults and children in our households, so there’s no point in increasing our exposure risk just for them to hang out). ...

More people home to make messes

So, I talked in the pros section about more people being home to help clean and do chores. On the flip side, more people being home also means more... garbage, more spills, more food dropped on the floor. ...The mere fact that my toddler is not at his morning school program....

Contamination risks go up

The more adults you have in your household that must work outside the home, the more risk you have of contracting the virus. It’s just simple statistics. ...

More people to support if some lose jobs

...If one partner is out of work, the other(s) may have to support that person for a while. This can cause economic hardships that you may not have been expecting when you entered into this type of relationship. ...

Of course, these are just a snippet of the pros and cons that exist during this interesting time we live in. Feel free to email me (tiffany   @   polymama.blog) or comment any other ideas you have, and I’ll incorporate them into a follow-up article as we get deeper into this time of limited interaction.

● And, how about a poly relationship-exploration board game? Tikva Wolf (of Kimchi Cuddles) is offering, for these times, her board game Polycule Orbit for free. It's not a manufactured product yet; you download it as a PDF, print it out (must be able to print two-sided), cut out the cards, set up the papers, and you're off. I got to try it at a polycon where she demonstrated it, and it does get a group of people going deep quick. She writes,

In light of the recent pandemic, families being separated, and general weird times worldwide, I am currently making this resource available as a FREE digital download. POLYCULE ORBIT is a creative communication tool that can be used to connect over distance as well as in the same house, or you can play in Solo Mode to gain deeper insight and clarity on a specific topic!

Thanks to tosii2 for the tip.

That's it for now. See you next Friday, unless some big poly in the media pops up sooner.

Take care.


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March 20, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Polyfolks cope with coronavirus, LDRing across town, 'Trigonometry' and other TV, and a happy quad is spotlighted

It's Friday Polynews Roundup again — for March 20, 2020.

● We'll all need plenty of light-hearted diversion to get through the coming months, so a locked-down cartoonist who goes by the handle ELS_COMICS posts on Reddit, "I’m in Italy. We are in home isolation. The lockdown is little bit lonely, so I made this out." Here are two.

They've done a bunch more. Okay they're not Kimchi Cuddles, and Kimchi isn't Calvin & Hobbes, but we're a community, right?

Speaking of Kimchi, this is just up. Some people self-isolating for healthy reasons now may have done it for unhealthy reasons before:

Let's get through the rest of the poly-and-coronavirus stuff first:

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Polyamorous Relationships. Short basics from Bustle that IMO don't do justice to the scope of the topic (March 16, 2020).

By Griffin Wynne

...A well-meaning elbow bump can be as a heartfelt as a big, bear hug. ... And for those participating in non-monogamy or currently seeing more than one person, coronavirus is impacting polyamorous relationships in a multitude of ways....

According to Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, MD at One Medical, any extended contact with others can increase the risk of contracting or spreading the virus for everyone....

But for Viv, 27, an office admin from Atlanta who is in a long-term relationship with a nesting partner (aka a partner they live with) and dating another partner, self-quarantining may provide a little much-appreciated time to focus on [the relationships]. "Now that virtually all group gatherings are canceled, I may have more time for my partners," they tell Bustle. "I like long phone calls and texting convos, and sexting is something that has been a lot of fun in the past, so I imagine I'll be doing more of that."

...If you're currently living with multiple partners, experts say it's important to practice general safety precautions (like you would if you lived with roommates, family members, or literally anyone else). In addition to washing your hands frequently, not touching your face, and limiting non-essential travel, if you or the people you live with are showing symptoms, Dr. Bhuyan stresses the importance of self-isolating within your home. "For those who are in a home with someone who might have coronavirus, the person with symptoms should wear a mask to limit droplet transmission," Dr. Bhuyan says. "Additionally, if they ever cough, they should use a tissue and immediately discard it in the trash."

...If one person is more at risk to contract the virus than you or your other partners, Dr. Bhuyan suggests practicing greater social-distancing from them specifically. For Charlie, 31, a polyamorous filmmaker from Ohio, that might mean limiting contact with one of his partners, who has been traveling in the UK, for the time being. ...

● A deeper piece from Business Insider, Australia edition, worthy of more attention. How a polyamorous relationship expert is dating during the coronavirus, and what she advises non-monogamous clients (March 19).

Westend61 / Getty Images

By Canela Lopez

...Rachel Wright, a New York City-based relationship expert who is polyamorous, told Insider she is changing the way she dates to stop the spread of coronavirus, and has noticed concerns from her non-monogamous clients about how social distancing will impact their love lives.

“It’s no question that social distancing and polyamory are very challenging to pair together,” Wright told Insider. “Setting up in-person first dates are on hold for me because I’m committed to stopping the spread of this and doing whatever I can to help.”

Wright gave Insider some of the best tips for maintaining polyamorous love in the time of coronavirus.

Talk to your partners about what their needs are during the pandemic.

According to Wright, the first step to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partners during the time of social distancing is having a conversation about needs.

“Everyone has different needs, wants, and concerns during times like this – especially since this is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes,” Wright said. “We have to communicate with each other about what we’re feeling, thinking, needing, and wanting – and ask the people we care about how they’re doing, what they’re feeling, thinking, needing, and wanting.”

Asking your partner what kind of communication they need to feel supported and loved, even when physical touch is no longer an option, is crucial. That way you can develop a plan to keep everyone feeling cared for – even if you can’t be there in person.

Making an effort to also communicate your needs will help give your partners an idea of what would make you feel cared for and seen during the pandemic.

Use technology to stay connected – schedule cute phone calls and video-chat dates

...“Some of my clients and friends who struggle with texting, ‘don’t like’ technology, or have been resistant to communicate via text or video chat are feeling frustrated and disconnected,” Wright said.

While adjusting to dating completely online can be difficult, Wright said it’s important for people to maintain contact with other human beings – and once you get the hang of it, the dates can be fun.

...“While I can’t meet up with people right now, there’s definitely time and space to meet new people online and connect with them via text or video chat.”

Instead of a typical dinner date, have a box of wine sent to their house and FaceTime them. If you can’t go on a walk together in person, take them with you on your daily walk via FaceTime.

Virtual dating also means the opportunity to possibly perfect your phone and video sex technique.

“Phone sex is a good time to actually talk to your partners about what they want sexually or what they fantasize about,” phone sex operator Stephanie Cathcart told Refinery29.

If you live with one partner but have other partners, it’s important to set boundaries and make virtual time for your other partners

...Wright said establishing boundaries around time and dates for your partner not living with you is important to set up clear guidelines on how dating multiple people will work without necessarily having physical space from your other partner.

● Then again, you may find yourselves more together than you planned. From New York magazine's "The Cut": What It’s Like to Isolate With Your Girlfriend and Her Other Boyfriend (March 18)

The Cut

By Madeleine Aggeler

...Relationships are being put to the test. ... The situation is even more complicated when you’re staying inside not just with your partner, but with your partner’s partner as well.

For the past few days, comedian Billy Procida, host of The Manwhore Podcast, has been hunkered down at his girlfriend Megan’s house in Jersey City, where she lives with her other boyfriend, Kyle (a pseudonym). This is Billy’s first polyamorous relationship, and while he doesn’t know his metamour Kyle that well, he says he’s doing his best to respect his space. Here’s how he’s holding up so far, in his own words. ...

...Can you tell me a little bit about your current living situation?

I live in Brooklyn, and my girlfriend and metamour live in Jersey City. ... I was only going to spend a couple of nights here, but I’m feeling like we’re moving closer and closer to an actual shutdown of New York City, and I don’t want to be stuck there if they close the bridges and tunnels. I have a car and I brought a bunch of stuff, so I am temporarily hunkering down here.

What’s the setup? Where are you sleeping? What are you all doing during the day?

They have a two-bedroom apartment here, so I have been staying in the guest room. For the last couple of nights Megan’s slept in bed with me. But then last night, she fell asleep with me, and I woke up alone. I guess at some point in the night she went to Kyle’s room and slept with him. We’re on day four of me being here. ... This is probably the most he and I will have exchanged words. So, it is interesting, I’m getting to interact with him more. But I am personally approaching everything with a lot of caution, and trying to be as polite as possible. Because I’m in their space, I’m in his space, and I don’t wanna be encroaching on that. So if he’s like, “You need to open a window to smoke weed,” I’m like, okay, I will make sure to do that.

...I also don’t want any romantic strains on anybody. They’ve also been going through some relationship difficulties themselves, and I don’t want to exacerbate that by being a dick, or being entitled. But so far, it’s going okay. I’m trying to be polite without being too much. He’s kind of a somber, quiet fella, and I am ready to burst with energy at any moment.

And with Megan it’s been good. She manages who she spends her time with how she does. I can take as much or as little as she gives, so I keep reminding her that if she wants to spend a couple of nights sleeping in bed with Kyle, that’s great. I’m very flexible.

What has been the biggest adjustment for you with this situation?

Trying to be as self-aware as possible. ...

...There’s a part of me that’s relieved that Megan has another person here, because then I don’t have to be everything to her. I don’t have to give her all the attention that’s needed, I don’t have to give her all of the cuddles that are needed, because she has another partner. In general, that’s the really cool thing about polyamory: I don’t feel the pressure of being everything for someone. And in a more stressful time like this, it is a relief to know that if I need to have alone time, she’s good with that, and if she does have a need, she can tap somebody else, so to speak.

● An advice columnist for a local biweekly in Iowa City suggests some caution criteria: Is it irresponsible to date around during a pandemic? in Little Village (March 19):

Dear Kiki,

My partner and I have recently opened up our marriage and TBH I’ve been super excited about getting started after pushing the idea for years. ... Should we consider closing up shop till the CDC says the coast is clear?

—Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Dear Love in the Time,

...I have yet to see specific recommendations against casual dating, and that’s all the typical open marriage entails. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I’d still recommend against going out on a first date (or a date night with your spouse, for that matter) if you were feeling under the weather. This should be no different. ...

There are some caveats, of course. ...

1) If you’re on the apps, you’re talking about someone you might not even know. [But where to meet? Many public places are closed, but,] whether it’s your place or theirs in consideration, I’m gonna have to ask you to NOPE right out of that situation, pandemic or no.

...Are you or your partner over the age of 60? Immunocompromised? Please, don’t open yourself up to risk. ...

She then gives a "hard no" to crowded swing parties, or if anyone's "been to a high-risk [area] in the last few weeks," etc. "And remember: Chatting online or on the phone can be quite pleasurable as well, and (if you’re looking to develop relationships, not just find sex partners) a great way to get to know someone better."


On to other topics! Let's do the developments on TV.

● The BBC's new series "Trigonometry" about a poly triad premiered last Sunday, March 15, and it's supposed to air on HBO in North America at some future date. A few days ago I posted about three reviews: in the Guardian ("Bracing TV to make you sit up on your sofa"), the Telegraph ("Less a controversial drama about polyamory than a lovely study of relationships.... Disarming in its moments of sweetness"), and Radio Times ("Trigonometry lives up to its name in the sense that it can be confusing and sometimes a bit dull.... A very slow burn.") Plus my scenario for the kind of polyfamily dramedy that might achieve "Big Bang Theory" success.

Since then another review is in, from the UK's iNews: A touching love triangle that gets under the skin of modern London life (March 15)

What could have been a flashy trash-fest was a sensitive and funny study of modern relationships between likeable, believable characters

BBC / House Productions / Mark Johnson

By Jeff Robson

...Writers Duncan Macmillan and Effie Woods have crafted a sensitive, funny and perceptive low-key study of modern relationships that gets under the skin of big-city life and leaves the viewer simply hoping that three likeable characters will find happiness.

Kieran is an Army veteran addicted to “doing something” all the time, whose remedy for insomnia (or avoiding difficult conversations) is to go on a long, punishing run. Gemma is beginning to realise she’s not as young and trendy as she used to be and has trouble adjusting to being the boss in the café and the adult in the relationship, while Ray is a self-confessed “nerd” struggling to get the hang of the “normal life” thing after a lifetime of over-achievement and parental pressure.

...The triangle's development should provide enough dramatic meat during the rest of the eight-episode run.... The incidental details and dialogue – drag nights at the revamped local boozer, a rant against “cashew milk” – gave it the air of a This Life for the 2020s.

● On ABC primetime, "The Connors" left off in Episode 14 with a storyline teaser about middle-aged Jackie getting invited for a hot threesome date with a couple. It turns out nothing comes of it; on Episode 15 Jackie arrives at the home of the eager unicorn-seekers, who within seconds have such a jealousy spat that they break up on the spot. (Video clip if you really want it.) Then later we see Jackie working her waitress job and getting hit on by a strange-looking couple at a table (a cameo by strange-looking Ozzy Osbourne), now that the gossip about her supposed threesome is all over town.

● Some shows delight in ugly. "Fatal Vows" is a specialty murder-of-spouses show (on the Investigation Discovery true-crime channel) that describes itself thusly: "When marriages fail, divorce can turn ugly and even deadly. What was once a passionate union becomes spite, greed, backstabbing, and betrayal. 'Fatal Vows' explores tumultuous, shocking, and high-stake divorces and the deadly murders linked to them."

The March 13th show (season 7, episode 6) was titled "No Harmony in Polyamory". The blurb: "When an open-minded foursome soon discovers that there is no harmony in polyamory, someone must pay the ultimate price for free love."

● In the UK's Independent, 'Five Guys a Week' flirts with polyamory but doesn’t have the guts to go all the way (March 17). "Five Guys a Week" is a new show on the UK's Channel Four that tries to take "The Bachelorette" one step beyond. " 'While initially the format allows contestants to flirt with the concept of polyamory, a ‘happy ending’ still means finding The One,' writes Annie Lord":

Over the course of each episode, one chosen lady gets to know five men simultaneously. That means a coronavirus hellscape wherein she talks, snogs, cooks, parties, slobs on sofas, drinks tea, introduces parents and friends, with all the guys, all at the same time. Each day, she ejects a man from her house until only the winner is left.

Talk about missing the concept.


On to other matters.

● In the alt-weekly Valley Advocate of Western Massachusetts, from therapist and sex educator Yana Tallon-Hicks: V-Spot: The non-monogamous rumor mill and me (March 17):

After 16 years of monogamy, my wife and I decided to try polyamory a few years ago. It’s going well and we’ve grown a lot. Our marriage is truly stronger than ever. ... The thing is, we live in a small town... and it’s become pretty obvious that our marriage has been a topic of conversation around town. ...

I can imagine people thinking “He must not really satisfy his wife” or “He’s a fool for letting her sleep with other guys,” etc. I’m aware these are very patriarchal and outdated criticisms but damn, it’s hard to shake them. Maybe people are jealous of the freedom that we have. I just feel embarrassed sometimes and really can’t figure out how to move past these feelings.

I also worry that once our kids are teens they might be subjected to ridicule about this. As progressive as The Valley is, polyamory isn’t exactly accepted by society.

How do I stop giving a fuck?

Signed, Proud to Be Polyam?

Dear Proud?,

Personally, I feel a lot of power in being as out as possible. Not only does being out signal my own confidence in who I am, it also makes the socially taboo aspects of my life more visible for others who may be struggling to accept those same aspects about themselves in their own lives. If I ever had to hire a public relations professional, I’d opt for the one that was all about “get ahead of and control the message,” meaning if you write the story, other people are less likely to write it for you.

...The other reality is that we are social pack animals, biologically hardwired to do what it takes to stay in our peers’ good graces for survival. And, importantly, being able to be out without serious employment, social, religious, and even legal ramifications is a giant privilege.

We are fortunate to live in a place where the politics are liberal, non-monogamous families grace the cover of our local alt newspaper, and polyamorous meet-up groups are commonplace. And, that certainly won’t protect you from the darling rumor mill.

My direct advice is to speak openly about your happy non-monogamous life to the people who are already gossiping about you (and therefore already know). You’ve got kids, so you’re probably familiar with the ol’ if your kid falls down in the playground and you react calmly, so will they. Same idea — you have the power to set the tone here whether that’s one of “You’re right, I’m so ashamed” or “I feel totally good about this and maybe you should, too.”

Connect to other non-monogamous families who are undoubtedly grappling with the same worries and can offer support, advice, and empathy. Personally, I can certainly imagine a future where our children are all so done with monogamy that they’ll roll our eyes when we attempt to reassure them that all relationship styles are valid but, of course, we can never be sure nor protect our children from ridicule whether we remain monogamous or not. ...

● The lesbian online magazine Autostraddle suggests 11 Books for Getting Started with Polyamory and Non-Monogamy, with one-paragraph summary reviews (March 19).

● And to close, this time the British tabloids spotlight a quad: Married couple 'in love' and plan to have children – despite having other partners (the Mirror, March 19). Lotsa pix and a video.

Married couple Bettina and Tavish say they are deeply in love and plan to have children together who will also be brought up by Bettina's boyfriend Adam, and Tavish's girlfriend Ellie. (Barcroft Media)

Bettina and Tavish live in Massachusetts, along with Bettina's boyfriend Adam and Tavish’s girlfriend Ellie.

The polyamorous quad say their decision to open up their relationships has been met with disapproval and bafflement from outsiders – although all their family have been supportive of their multi-love approach.

Bettina and Tavish first considered opening up their marriage because of Bettina’s agoraphobia, which made it difficult for her to socialise as much as Tavish liked.

“He wants to go to clubs, he wants to go on road trips, I can't do that. So it was a way for me to encourage him to explore his hobbies and interests with other people who shared them without pressuring me into stepping out of my comfort zone.”

...Tavish said: “All my life I had always kind of had a hard time only liking one person at once, so keeping my crushes to myself was kind of hard, even though Bettina could totally pick up on it. So, I don’t know, when we decided to officially be poly, it just kind of felt like a weight was lifted off of me.”

...Tavish’s girlfriend Ellie is also married. Her husband and childhood sweetheart is currently living in a different state while he finishes grad school. She said: “My husband and I, we decided to be poly, openly started dating other people, about five or six years ago.

“And then a couple months later I met Tavish and, it was a whirlwind kind of thing.”

By this time Bettina had also met her boyfriend Adam and he’d already moved in with Tavish and Bettina.

...Adam is the only one of the four to be dating one person (Bettina) exclusively. And while the four adults all live together under one roof, they are not all in relationship with one another. There is nothing physical or romantic between the same sexes.

Tavish said: “Adam and I have a very bro relationship with without being bromantic.”

Ellie describes hers and Bettina’s relationship: “like non-romantic partners”, with Bettina joking they are “sister wives, without the religious connotations of sister wives.”

...In many ways, the challenges of being in a polyamorous relationship are no different to a monogamous one, says Tavish. ...

That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now! See you next Friday, unless there's big news sooner.


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March 16, 2020

Reviews are in for new polyam TV series 'Trigonometry'

Gary Carr, Thalissa Teixeira, and Ariane Labed play Trigonometry's Kieran, Gemma, and Ray.

Reviews are arriving for the BBC's new 8-part TV series "Trigonometry," which premiered last night in the UK. It's due to air in North America on HBO, start date not yet announced.

● The Telegraph, a Conservative paper, gives the show a four-out-of-five-star rating: Trigonometry review: less a controversial drama about polyamory than a lovely study of relationships (March 16, 2020. Paywalled.)

By Anita Singh

To begin with, you think you know what Trigonometry (BBC Two) is going to be. There’s what we might term a solo sex scene in the first 10 minutes, with Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira) watching porn while waiting for boyfriend Kieran (Gary Carr) to get home. ...

But what we got was something unexpected: a quite lovely study of relationships and all the messiness that real life entails, disarming in its moments of sweetness. There was one lyrical scene, in which the camera tracked Gemma and Kieran as they walked through the flat, that played out like a piece of modern dance.

I don’t mean to make it sound pretentious. The drama is very much grounded in reality, albeit a hipster kind of reality where Gemma and Kieran hang out with drag queens and live in a flat with 1970s styling. She has opened a café, he is a paramedic. Gemma is the impulsive one who jokingly refers to their relationship as a “six-year hetero-blip”, Kieran is more laid-back and conventional. I’m not sure they’d make it this far outside the confines of a fictional drama. They needed to rent out the spare room to help pay the mortgage and so into their lives came Ray (Ariana Labed), a former Olympian synchronised swimmer whose career was wrecked by an accident. Soon all three were making eyes at each other.

It would have been easy to take a subject like this and go down the salacious route, but by the end of the second episode the trio hadn’t even kissed. Instead, we’re given time to get acquainted with the characters. The three leads gave natural performances that at times felt semi-improvised – Labed in particular draws you in – and the chemistry between them crackles. It feels like a show you can slowly fall in love with.

● The liberal Guardian had an interview with the actress who plays Ray: 'It's not just "We’ll watch them having sex"': Trigonometry's Ariane Labed on the polyamory drama (March 15)

By Ammar Kalia

Sunday nights on the BBC are usually the time for easy viewing.... This weekend, though, there is an altogether different type of entertainment on offer. Trigonometry is the sex-laden tale of a thrupple which develops when Ray, a Frenchwoman who is a newcomer to London, moves into the cramped flat of cash-strapped couple Gemma and Kieran.

The series begins with a Black Swan-style synchronised swimming contest gone wrong, an interrupted bout of masturbation and an argument. And that’s all in the first five minutes. This is bracing TV to make you sit up on your sofa.

“The show isn’t us just going, ‘Here’s a thrupple and we’ll watch them having sex together’,” says Trigonometry’s star Ariane Labed, who plays the French interloper in her first TV role. “There’s no judgment here – we want the audience to just be accepting of their love and not questioning morality because it’s clearly love first.”

No fit for the bureaucracy: a scene from episode 7

...Filming eight episodes of Trigonometry over four months, Labed had to adjust to the snappy pace of television. “It was so fast I remember thinking: ‘I don’t have time to learn my lines, since they’re all in English,’” she laughs. “...We had to adapt – that’s why the camera is always moving, so [filmmaker Athina] could shoot up close and give a sense of our growing closeness, as well as film multiple takes together.” One of the most striking examples of this is used in a bathroom scene where the three lovers are trying to wash glitter off themselves after a night out; the camera continually cuts to their longing gazes for each other’s bodies, honing in on the tense intimacy that develops in this least romantic of locations.

“We don’t see enough portrayals of authentic female desire on screen,” Labed says. “What I love about Trigonometry is that sexuality and sex is seen as light, cheerful and clumsy. It’s not like suddenly the light changes and now it’s a sex scene and everything starts to be weird and serious.”

...“We all had a great connection on Trignometry,” Labed says. “It was easy to be generous with each other as Athina has this wonderful approach to the sex scenes where she doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but it’s always very choreographed. Everybody involved is respectful and everybody cares; when it’s like that, it’s very easy. We didn’t need an intimacy coordinator, because of that....”

● The reviewer at RadioTimes (which has paid attention to this series since it was announced) was disappointed, perhaps because of his being glaringly couple-centric: BBC Two’s polyamory drama doesn’t measure up (March 15)

By David Craig

BBC Two’s Trigonometry lives up to its name in the sense that it can be confusing and sometimes a bit dull. The series explores the friendship between three thirty-somethings as it gradually evolves into a polyamorous romance. Emphasis on gradually.

This eight-part series is a very slow burn and from a certain perspective you can understand why. After all, it would be easy to jump straight in and tell this story with all the subtlety of a tabloid exposé. Admirably, Trigonometry goes in the opposite direction.

The show spends a lot of time setting up its three central characters and putting them on their plodding collision course. There’s a palpable sense that the filmmakers want this relationship to feel truly authentic, like something that could happen to anyone in the right circumstances. But it doesn’t.

Gemma and Kieran
...The issue with this arrangement is twofold. First, while Ray is a kind and thoughtful person, it’s hard to imagine why a couple would completely upheave their life for her. For one thing she’s unbearably naive, frequently displaying an almost childlike innocence that you would think might get tedious.

Second, the crucial element of this arrangement is that Kieran, Gemma and Ray all love each other completely equally. Except it doesn’t really feel that way. From the outset, Gemma shows significantly more interest in Ray than Kieran does. It seems to contradict the idea that the addition of a third party doesn’t detract from their long-standing connection. ... The script goes round in circles trying to explain this issue away, but only succeeds in deteriorating Gemma and Kieran’s individuality. ...

It isn’t much more entertaining than scrolling through Instagram posts from your coupled-up friends. Sure, you’re happy for them but you don’t need to know every tiny detail.

My diagnosis of that problem, and also of the slowness of Season 1 in the US polyamory series "You Me Her": Each show thinks the audience needs way too much explaining of how such a relationship could possibly even come to exist, dragging on for way too many episodes. Get over it, TV producers! If you're going to do a polyfamily series, dive right in and present the family as a given from day one. People get that now.

And if you guys don't grasp how successful nesting polycules naturally work — with their joys and dramas and failings and their endless talky processing (a gold mine for humor if there ever was one; think "Big Bang Theory") — then get the eff out of the way and hire writers who do.

What could make a mass-market smash of a polyfamily dramedy?

Picture a big old Victorian house in a fairly hip city, full of clutter and cats and six adults embroiled in an ever-morphing constellation of mutual relationships, with lots of kitchen-table angst and hilarity and oversharing among metamours. Add a couple of super-precocious kids and a baby, weirded-out (or over-eager) friends and neighbors, older relatives visiting from Peoria in various states of cluelessness that requires impromptu closeting (and here come the kid-blurts) — make them quirky and mostly-lovable, and hey, you'd have the makings of "Big Bang Theory"-level success.


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March 13, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Polyamory in the time of coronavirus, 'Trigonometry' and 'Open' begin on TV, research on ethics in the poly community, and more

It's Friday Polynews Roundup again — for March 13, 2020.

Updated March 15.

Polyamory in the time of coronavirus. What a difference in a week. And next week is likely to change even more than this one, and then the week after, and that's still only March. Think exponential for maybe a couple more months, according to what seem to be the most honest, reality-grounded current estimates, and a return to normalcy maybe in summer or fall.

For now, two things of particular concern to the poly community:

1) How close do we draw our circles of social distancing?

2) What happens to the schedule of polyamory conferences — which often run on the personal financial shoestrings of their organizers, who may have already put down big hotel deposits?

As for the first, Moose and I are not distancing ourselves much from each other or the couple we are close with, though of course we're all really serious about the frequent handwashing thing, stopping saliva and sneeze-droplet contact, etc. In the coming times of stress, people will need closeness with those closest to them. But think in terms of a very few people, not crowds. Prepare to live a lot of your life on video Skype (replacing voice calls) and Zoom (replacing in-person meetings). The video makes a lot of difference.

Beyond that? It is crucial to start radical public infection control right now, not in a day or two, in order to flatten the curve of what comes later. Think exponential. I'm on the governing board of our local Unitarian Universalist church. Early in the week we set up to livestream services from the church, put out only single-packaged snacks at coffee hour, etc. etc. On Thursday the church scrapped that approach. No physical gatherings, period. Our minister points out that there are also measurable health costs to social isolation, especially isolation from places of community in time of trouble, so every effort will be made for our UU community to hold each other online. Did I say flatten the curve? BTW, it's a hashtag: #flattenthecurve. Because, exponential. Update Sunday afternoon: Our first Zoom-conference service and sharing of community was surprisingly powerful and effective, with 100+ at once by video and/or audio. Wow.

As for the upcoming poly conferences? Such as Southwest Love Fest, SoloPoly Con, Relate Con Boise, and Rocky Mountain Poly Living in April, and Polytopia, New Culture Spring Camp, PolyamQ, and OpenCon Catalonia in May?

As of this afternoon (March 13), SoloPoly Con will Zoom-conference its proceedings from a Manhattan workspace for those who want to stay away.  Southwest Love Fest in Tucson, RelateCon Boise, and Polytopia in Portland have postponed indefinitely. Loving More has succeeded in postponing Rocky Mountain Poly Living in Denver to September 11-13 (tentative dates, depending on the situation then) without sacrificing any of its hotel deposit. I will post all updates ASAP on Alan's List of Polyamory Events.

Some good news for organizers: Hotels and other public venues are in even worse straits than the conferences they host, so remember, you're in a good negotiating position! The press is saying the hotel industry is "in free fall."

Other conferences farther out seem to be, for the moment, in a state of wait and see. There is talk on the Polyamory Leadership Network of what the community might do to help with organizers' possible major losses, in order to keep our conferences solvent for the future.


Meanwhile, let's get on to this week's polyamory in the news.

● "Trigonometry," BBC's new series about a triad living and loving as three, premieres its first two episodes this Sunday, March 15, on BBC2.


All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer after the first one airs. You probably can't watch unless you're in the UK or spoof a UK address with your VPN. No word yet on when Trigonometry will air in North America on HBO, as is promised.

Watch the one-minute trailer.

From WhatsOnTV in the UK: Trigonometry on BBC2 – Start date, cast, plot and everything you need to know (March 9)

...The series follows cash-strapped couple Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira) and Kieran (Gary Carr), after they decide to open their small [London] apartment up to a third resident.

Surprisingly, new resident Ray (Ariane Labed) seems to make things easier for the couple.

She makes the apartment feel bigger, not smaller, and the extra pair of hands makes life easier.

But they soon enter a polyamorous relationship and each resident finds themselves learning to navigate love and relationships in an entirely new way.


According to the BBC, the drama is “funny and full of sexual tension”.

They add, “ 'Trigonometry' has emotional and psychological truthfulness at its heart. This is a world of consequences, in which the characters have everything to lose.

“As this unusual relationship becomes unavoidable, the trio approach it with the prudence of people in their 30s, and overthink it in a way only this generation can.

“But even when common sense, friends and family is telling them that this relationship is doomed, they simply cannot be apart.”

...The eight-part drama series was created by “The Crown” writer Duncan Macmillan and former “Emmerdale” actress Effie Woods.

Speaking about the project, they said, “We’re thrilled to be working with House Productions and the BBC to bring this unconventional and very adult romcom to life.

“ 'Trigonometry' is about negotiating new relationships with compassion and humour. Set in a city that can feel cold and unfriendly, at a time when we’re more divided than ever, this is a show about love.”

● A report on BET's new movie "Open," which premieres tomorrow, Saturday March 14, at 8pm ET, appeared in Atlanta's major newspaper the Journal-Constitution: Atlanta is the backdrop for BET’s new film, ‘Open’ (March 11).

Keith Robinson as Cam and Essence
Atkins as Wren in “Open.”
Billed as “a romantic drama that showcases the alternative perspective of open relationships,” “Open” stars Essence Atkins, recently of the Atlanta-based drama “Ambitions” on OWN, and Keith Robinson, who plays Miles in “Saints & Sinners” on Atlanta-based Bounce TV. Set in Atlanta, whose high female to male ratio among African Americans has been well-documented and discussed, Atkins’s character, Wren, a successful entrepreneur who owns her own bakery business, takes a preemptive strike against the heartbreak of infidelity, which, as a child of divorce, she sees as inevitable. So, in hopes of guarding herself emotionally, she asks her architect husband, Cam, played by Robinson, for an open marriage. The arrangement truly gets complicated, however, when Wren breaks one of the main rules....

Seated with Robinson in a secluded location inside the W Hotel Midtown days before the film’s BET premiere, Atkins, a divorced mother of one, explained that the story itself resonated with her. “I just really identified with the rationale of Wren and why she would propose such a thing and why she would think that this is the way to go to somehow keep her marriage from falling apart, opening it up to allow them to be with other people,” she said. “I just had a real appreciation for her journey. I also thought that it was important to talk about this because this is something that does occur, and I think, if you haven’t done it, which I believe that most people probably haven’t, you’ve at least considered what the benefits might be.”

...The married Robinson shared that “getting over my judgment about the character and situation of open marriage” was a challenge at first, especially given his deep Southern, religious and family background. “I’m a church Bible Belt kind of guy who comes from a two-parent home,” explained the Augusta grad of Lakeside High School and one-time UGA student.... Cam and Wren’s open marriage “is just an honest effort of trying to make something last beyond the normal parameters, so to speak.”

Atkins: “In talking about this kind of taboo subject, I wanted to discuss it in a way that wasn’t sensationalist, but that was actually real and grounded and [explore] what it might look like, and what the pitfalls might be and what the seeming benefits would be.” ...

● More press for author Susan Wenzel and her new book A Happy Life in an Open Relationship: The Essential Guide to a Healthy and Fulfilling Nonmonogamous Love Life: Why this sex therapist says you should be in an open marriage (New York Post and elsewhere, March 9):

Cheryl, Susan Wenzel, and Denys. (Roger LeMoyne)

Susan Wenzel had just stuffed a pile of dirty laundry into the washer when she discovered it wouldn’t start. Wenzel knew her husband, Denys, couldn’t fix it, but she had someone else in mind: Her lover, Richard.

“I told him what happened and he gladly offered to come over and help,” Wenzel tells The Post. ... “After he fixed it, we all sat on the patio and drank cold beers and ate chicken salad together,” Wenzel, 40, recalls. “I loved the feeling of knowing that they both cared about me and I cared about them as well.”

...Throughout the how-to guide, the sexually liberated mother of two uses her personal experiences (names of her partners have been changed), interactions with clients, and therapeutic exercises to help those who are curious about trying out the relationship style.

In fact, Wenzel believes millions of people would improve and strengthen their marriages and relationships if they weren’t so obsessed with being with only one partner. ...

...Wenzel wasn’t always into extramarital hookups. The pair had dated for one year and were living together in Winnipeg when Denys, who’s a nonprofit executive director, first admitted that he wanted to have sex with other women. The revelation left her in “complete shock.”

“I felt like I was going to have a panic attack,” she recalls. “I felt dizzy and wondered, ‘Am I dreaming?’ ”

Heartbroken and defeated, Wenzel swiftly kicked Denys out. ...

The Greatist ran a long, basic Poly 101 by a writer who seems new to the subject and spends too much time, IMO, dwelling on what poly is not. It gets better when it turns to submissions by actual poly people, who were apparently asked to supply free content in bulk. Polyamory: Setting the Record Straight on Ethical Non-Monogamy (March 10).

● Interesting research report, written up on PsyPost: Study sheds light on the roots of moral stigma against consensual non-monogamy (March 6):

People in consensually non-monogamous relationships tend be more willing to take risks, have less aversion to germs, and exhibit a greater interest in short-term mating compared to those in monogamous relationships, according to new research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The findings may help explain why consensual non-monogamy is often the target of moral condemnation.

“Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is an increasingly popular romantic relationship practice in societies historically predominated by monogamy. CNM refers to any romantic relationship where people form consensually non-exclusive romantic or sexual partnerships,” said lead researcher Justin K. Mogilski of the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie.

“Research documents that those who pursue CNM are the target of significantly greater moral condemnation than those in monogamous relationships. However, people’s perceptions of CNM tend to be discordant with its actual practices and outcomes. For example, CNM individuals are presumed to have worse sexual health than monogamous individuals yet report similar or better sexual health practices compared to those in monogamous relationships.”

“They also report unique benefits from forming multiple intimate relationships such as diversified need fulfillment, more frequent social opportunities, and more fluid sexual expression. And these benefits are associated with relatively greater relationship satisfaction, particularly when an individual’s personality is matched to their relationship structure (e.g., when someone with greater interest in casual sex pursues CNM),” Mogilski told PsyPost.

“We became interested in this topic to address why these negative beliefs about CNM exist despite evidence to the contrary. In our study, my colleagues and I tested a novel explanation for why moral stigma against CNM exists: individuals who habitually form multiple romantic or sexual partnerships may be predisposed to engage in riskier, more competitive behaviors that strain social cooperation.”

...The researchers surveyed 783 individuals who were currently in a romantic relationship of some type. Most of the participants were in a monogamous relationship, but 149 were in a multi-partner relationship and 96 were in an open relationship. ...

...We propose a model explaining how modern CNM communities regulate negative outcomes within multi-partner relationships. Most modern CNM communities have well-developed guidelines for pursuing non-exclusive relationships safely and ethically. These guidelines, including effective birth control, open communication and honesty, and consent-seeking, may help manage and diminish the risks common to competitive, promiscuous mating environments.”

“In other words – CNM’s culture of compassionate sexual ethics may help risk-prone people pursue multi-partner mating in a manner that doesn’t endanger other people’s physical or mental health,” Mogilski said.

The researchers emphasized that the findings should not be mistaken as a justification of the condemnation of consensual non-monogamy. In fact, they hope the research will help to reduce the moral stigma surrounding the topic. ...

“Our data highlight how those with a proclivity toward CNM may possess personality traits that predispose them to take risks, pursue multi-partner mating, and disregard pathogens. CNM practices may therefore not foster these traits, but rather provide an environment where people can ethically express them,” Mogilski said.

“If this is true, CNM may improve, rather than threaten, cooperation and well-being within certain communities – a feature that should be valued by those who fear how public acceptance of CNM might affect social order or the stability of romantic relationships.” ...

The study, >Life History and Multi-Partner Mating: A Novel Explanation for Moral Stigma Against Consensual Non-monogamy, was authored by Justin K. Mogilski, Virginia E. Mitchell, Simon D. Reeve, Sarah H. Donaldson, Sylis C. A. Nicolas and Lisa L. M. Welling.

● Elsewhere in academia, the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships has published a special issue titled Polyamory and other Relational Constellations, edited by Ruby Bouie Johnson (vol. 6 no. 2, dated Fall 2019). The abstracts are free; the rest of each paper is paywalled.

Dating guide. I've posted about surveys of poly dating apps three times in the last year: 1, 2, 3. This new overview, on a site called Daterboy (for women too), widens the category to include ways to look for poly dates or hookups on more mainstream sites and in real life. The "ultimate guide" title is ridiculous, but headline writers are paid to insert SEO words. How To Find Polyamorous Partners: The Ultimate Guide (March 9).

● An interesting little poly reference by the Washington Post's advice columnist Carolyn Hax, syndicated nationwide. What's interesting is that she just tosses it out assuming readers will get it. She's fielding a letter from a guy who is mystified why his older brother won't let him visit their house anymore — supposedly it's not "presentable" — though other relatives can visit: A sibling withdraws, rolling up the welcome mat for family (March 5)

...There was no fight, no falling-out to precipitate this that I'm aware of.... We get along fine, for the most part — except we're just not allowed to come to their house.

...Our house is always open to them, of course, and they visit a couple of times a year. ... It's time for me to get past this, but how? I'm really hurt and struggling with it.

— Hurt

Hurt: ...You’re so sure the exclusion is about you! Isn’t it more likely that, given the facts you’ve presented here, the exclusion is about them?

As in, maybe they’re. . . hoarders? Or they’re poly and don’t want you to know that, and the third partner lives with them. Or they have something in their house they don’t want you to see — say, an heirloom they aren’t supposed to have....

That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. See you next Friday, unless something big happens sooner.


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March 6, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — Not all polyfamilies are FMF throuples, upcoming in TV and film, and a future of extended chosen family.

It's Friday Polynews Roundup time, for March 6, 2020.

First up are some items from the TV and pop-culture fronts and a new book. Next, not all polyfamily profiles are of FMF triads. And then, a long and important piece by a major, conservative-ish columnist on the need for, and the growing future of, alternative chosen-family structures (like some of ours!) to replace the "failed nuclear family."

● For the record: The first media item about about poly and the coronavirus that's crossed my screen — it surely won't be the last — is this humor piece in Northern Star, a small regional newspaper in Australia: 7 very Northern Rivers ways to stop coronavirus spread. "...2. Dear free spirits, stay within the confines of your polyamorous list of four mainstay partners please. If you can." (March 4, paywalled.)

● BET (Black Entertainment Television) will air its original movie Open on March 14th. From BlackFilm: Trailer To BET Original Movie “Open” (March 1)

...As a child of divorce and a woman noticing the infidelities in the world, main character Wren (Essence Atkins) decides to ask her husband Cameron (Keith Robinson) for an open marriage, after eight years, to avoid the pain of him cheating behind her back. Navigating the struggles of her bakery business, social life and marriage, Wren finally thinks she has it all figured out until she reconnects with a childhood friend. Looking through the lens of polygamy [sic], ‘Open’ teaches viewers the full scope of these oftentimes taboo relationships.

The film will premiere on Saturday, March 14th at 8PM on BET & BET HER.

The trailer:

● The fifth and last season of You Me Her will premiere June 1st. You Me Her is TV's first self-described "polyromantic comedy." A couple hired an escort to try to revive their sex lives, and by the end of Season 1 they had become a solid triad facing the world as three. Reviewers have called it a gem of a show limited by the small reach of the Audience network, but Season 5 will reportedly be on Netflix.

The entertainment-biz site Deadline wrote last year,

Season 4 sees them settling back into the ‘burbs to live a tweaked version of the conventional “married with children” life. The scenario begs the questions: Are “the accidental polyamorists” trying to jam a triangular peg into a round-hole world? Will they break the neighborhood, their peculiar romance, or both?

You Me Her's official site. There you can watch the first two episodes of seasons 1 through 4 for free; for the rest you have to subscribe.

● How often do comic-book storylines get attention outside the hot nests of fandom? Vice reports, Wolverine Might Be a Sexually Fluid Mutant in a Throuple — Deal With It (March 3)

A new issue of 'X-Men' suggests the thicc-clawed Marvel superhero is hitting the sheets with Cyclops, and fans are losing it.

by Alex Zaragoza

There's drama afoot in the X-Men world.... Marvel has created a major stir that the X-Men hero is gay or bisexual and possibly even in a polyamorous relationship with Cyclops (aka Scott Summers), as insinuated in a scene from the latest issue of the comic, X-Men #7, released on February 26. ...

In the book, the X-Men are hanging in their retreat on the lunar island of Krakoa, where readers see Logan's bedroom is attached to Scott's and Jean Grey's boudoir via a connecting door, like adjoining hotel rooms. The two have a suggestive exchange about Logan's body hair — and how it makes it "too hot for [the] covers" when he sleeps, as Scott says — while gazing into space. As they continue to muse about the beautiful 'scenery,' Logan mentions Jean Grey in a bikini, to which Scott replies "Scott in a Speedo." To this, Logan flirtatiously responds, “Heh. Well, who could say no to that?” ...

Another report on this breaking news, illustrated. Representation or trendsploitation? Surely a line exists.

Meanwhile in the DC universe, from BleedingCool.com, "Advocating for Space-Age Wiccan Polyamory in Green Lantern Season 2 #2".

● Speaking of trendsploitation, the British tabloids, in their endless fascination for profiling polyfamilies, are not entirely stuck on FMF triads. For instance on February 29 the Daily Star put up this nice, homey vid of a very gay MMF triad:

They're in New York. Turns out the vid is republished from November 2017, when Barcroft Media added it to its offerings. Barcroft is one of the major content suppliers to the tabloids.

● And here's an MFM family with kids in the Mirror: Polyamorous 'thruple' raising kids but won't reveal father to avoid favouritism (June 13, 2019)

Doug, Alexia, and Jacob with their three kids. (Grayson Beras/ Barcroft Media)

...They've shared the same bed in Maumee, Ohio, since a binding ceremony in July 2016.

"It was a wedding without the legal marriage certificate.

"A lot of males when they find out that I have two husbands, they always say: 'do you want a third?'

...Alexia [also] has a one-year-old daughter, Tegan, but she would not tell reporters who her biological father is.

The mother said: "We don't want any favouritism. We want all of our children and dads to be equal.

"Our kids were older when Jake came into our lives. So they just call Jake by his first name. Doug is their biological father so obviously he is called Dad.

"Tegan will be calling both of them 'Dad'. They were both there in the delivery room while I was giving birth."

...Doug, 33, said: "When you have the people that are with you as long as we have been together, I mean honestly we always ask where that person’s at. Where’s Doug at? Where’s Alexia at? When are they going to get home? So is three a crowd?

"It’s not a crowd for us, it’s comfortable."

● And an MFFM quad in the Daily Star: Woman who shares a bed with two boyfriends and girlfriend gushes about 'amazing' love life (June 14, 2019)

Jeremy, Amelia, Laurel, and Doug (HotSpot Media)

[Says Amelia,] "I asked her if she was bisexual as I had an instant attraction to her. "Thankfully she said she was - I was so excited!

"Eventually we invited Laurel into the relationship and our feelings just grew. The three of us became intimate and would share a bed. It was an amazing experience."

Everything was going swimmingly until Laurel started dating Jeremy Lankenau, 35, in March 2018.

After a brief moment of jealousy, Amelia decided to start dating Jeremy too – making the foursome a quad.

She confessed: "At first I was really jealous that Laurel had a new boyfriend. They were spending all their time together and I felt left out. But I was open about my feelings and we all agreed we needed to balance our time with each other better.

"And when I met him, and spent time with him, I realised how lovely he was...."

The foursome have sex together – although Jeremy and Billy aren’t intimate with each other.

They function as a quad, which is hard for some to get their heads around.

Amelia said: "Being intimate with three people feels completely natural. I am so in love with them all - it's a lovely feeling.

..."We all hold hands and kiss when we go out, you can tell how in love we are.

"We do get funny looks sometimes, but we just laugh it off.

"We are used to it."

New book out: Susan Wenzel's A Happy Life in an Open Relationship: The Essential Guide to a Healthy and Fulfilling Nonmonogamous Love Life officially publishes March 10 and is now available from Amazon. Wenzel, at right, is a certified sex therapist in Winnipeg. She was just interviewed in Daily Xtra, a major Canadian queer paper: Yes, you can have a healthy, happy open relationship. Here’s how (March 2).

Wenzel, who is bipoly — a person who is bisexual and polyamorous — was featured alongside her husband in a 2017 New York Times article titled, “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” While her book provides skillful advice and exercises for how to navigate the world of open relationships, she also shares her own experience: One year into dating her now-husband, he asked if she’d consider an open relationship. Wenzel, who had been monogamous until that point, agreed, and says it’s positively changed her life—and strengthened her relationship. ...

● Last we come to the cover story in the March issue of The Atlantic, one of America's big-thought magazines for well over a century: The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake, by New York Times columnist David Brooks. Although Brooks does not mention polyamory among his alternatives, he examines many of the social ills, and growing efforts to beat them by forming extended chosen families, that make poly households an attractive way of life for many of us. Brooks is a prominent conservative-ish writer who is not afraid to stray across ideological lines.

These excerpts summarize the piece, but really, go read it all.

The family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many. It’s time to figure out better ways to live together.

Weronika Gęsicka; Alamy
The scene is one many of us have somewhere in our family history: Dozens of people celebrating Thanksgiving or some other holiday around a makeshift stretch of family tables — siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-aunts. The grandparents are telling the old family stories for the 37th time. ...

...The family, once a dense cluster of many siblings and extended kin, [has been] fragmenting into ever smaller and more fragile forms. The initial result of that fragmentation, the nuclear family, didn’t seem so bad. But then, because the nuclear family is so brittle, the fragmentation continued. In many sectors of society, nuclear families fragmented into single-parent families, single-parent families into chaotic families or no families.

...This article is about that process, and the devastation it has wrought — and about how Americans are now groping to build new kinds of family and find better ways to live.

Part I
The Era of Extended Clans

Through the early parts of American history, most people lived in what, by today’s standards, were big, sprawling households. In 1800, three-quarters of American workers were farmers. Most of the other quarter worked in small family businesses, like dry-goods stores. People needed a lot of labor to run these enterprises. It was not uncommon for married couples to have seven or eight children. In addition, there might be stray aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as unrelated servants, apprentices, and farmhands. ...

Extended families have two great strengths. The first is resilience. ... Your spouse and children come first, but there are also cousins, in-laws, grandparents — a complex web of relationships among, say, seven, 10, or 20 people. If a mother dies, siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents are there to step in. If a relationship between a father and a child ruptures, others can fill the breach. ...

A detached nuclear family, by contrast, is an intense set of relationships among, say, four people. If one relationship breaks, there are no shock absorbers. In a nuclear family, the end of the marriage means the end of the family as it was previously understood.

The second great strength of extended families is their socializing force. Multiple adults teach children right from wrong, how to behave toward others, how to be kind. ...

But while extended families have strengths, they can also be exhausting and stifling. They allow little privacy; you are forced to be in daily intimate contact with people you didn’t choose. There’s more stability but less mobility. Family bonds are thicker, but individual choice is diminished. ...

The Short, Happy Life of the Nuclear Family

For a time, it all seemed to work. From 1950 to 1965, divorce rates dropped, fertility rates rose, and the American nuclear family seemed to be in wonderful shape. ... When we think of the American family, many of us still revert to this ideal. When we have debates about how to strengthen the family, we are thinking of the two-parent nuclear family ... even though this wasn’t the way most humans lived during the tens of thousands of years before 1950, and it isn’t the way most humans have lived during the 55 years since 1965.

...The period from 1950 to 1965 demonstrated that a stable society can be built around nuclear families — so long as women are relegated to the household, nuclear families are so intertwined [with others] that they are basically extended families by another name, and every economic and sociological condition in society is working together to support the institution.

But these conditions did not last.... Some of the strains were economic.... The major strains were cultural. Society became more individualistic and more self-oriented.... This cultural shift was very good for some adults, but it was not so good for families generally.

... Finally, over the past two generations, families have grown more unequal. America now has two entirely different family regimes. Among the highly educated, family patterns are almost as stable as they were in the 1950s; among the less fortunate, family life is often utter chaos. There’s a reason for that divide: Affluent people have the resources to effectively buy extended family, in order to shore themselves up. Think of all the child-rearing labor affluent parents now buy that used to be done by extended kin.... In 1970, the family structures of the rich and poor did not differ that greatly. Now there is a chasm between them.

...The period when the nuclear family flourished was not normal. It was a freakish historical moment when all of society conspired to obscure its essential fragility.

...The good news is that human beings adapt, even if politics are slow to do so. When one family form stops working, people cast about for something new—sometimes finding it in something very old.

Part II
Redefining Kinship

...For vast stretches of human history people lived in extended families consisting of not just people they were related to but people they chose to cooperate with. ...

Recent signs suggest at least the possibility that a new family paradigm is emerging. ... In reaction to family chaos, accumulating evidence suggests, the prioritization of family is beginning to make a comeback. Americans are experimenting with new forms of kinship and extended family in search of stability.

...The revival of the extended family has largely been driven by young adults moving back home. ... Another chunk of the revival is attributable to seniors moving in with their children.

...[But] the most interesting extended families are those that stretch across kinship lines. The past several years have seen the rise of new living arrangements that bring nonbiological kin into family or familylike relationships. On the website CoAbode, single mothers can find other single mothers interested in sharing a home. All across the country, you can find co-housing projects, in which groups of adults live as members of an extended family, with separate sleeping quarters and shared communal areas. Common, a real-estate-development company that launched in 2015, operates more than 25 co-housing communities, in six cities, where young singles can live this way. Common also recently teamed up with another developer, Tishman Speyer, to launch Kin, a co-housing community for young parents. 

And I'll add that in the co-housing communities I'm familiar with around Greater Boston, poly households are common and accepted.

At a co-housing community in Oakland, California, called Temescal Commons, the 23 members, ranging in age from 1 to 83, live in a complex with nine housing units. This is not some rich Bay Area hipster commune. The apartments are small, and the residents are middle- and working-class. They have a shared courtyard and a shared industrial-size kitchen where residents prepare a communal dinner on Thursday and Sunday nights. Upkeep is a shared responsibility. The adults babysit one another’s children, and members borrow sugar and milk from one another. The older parents counsel the younger ones. When members of this extended family have suffered bouts of unemployment or major health crises, the whole clan has rallied together.

...As Martin was talking, I was struck by one crucial difference between the old extended families... and the new ones of today: the role of women. ... Today’s extended-family living arrangements have much more diverse gender roles. And yet in at least one respect, the new families Americans are forming would look familiar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors from eons ago. That’s because they are chosen families — they transcend traditional kinship lines.

The modern chosen-family movement came to prominence in San Francisco in the 1980s among gay men and lesbians, many of whom had become estranged from their biological families and had only one another for support in coping with the trauma of the AIDS crisis. In her book, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, the anthropologist Kath Weston writes, “The families I saw gay men and lesbians creating in the Bay Area tended to have extremely fluid boundaries, not unlike kinship organization among sectors of the African-American, American Indian, and white working class.”

...Over the past several decades, the decline of the nuclear family has created an epidemic of trauma — millions have been set adrift because what should have been the most loving and secure relationship in their life broke. Slowly, but with increasing frequency, these drifting individuals are coming together to create forged families. These forged families have a feeling of determined commitment. The members of your chosen family are the people who will show up for you no matter what. ...

Two years ago, I started something called Weave: The Social Fabric Project. Weave exists to support and draw attention to people and organizations around the country who are building community. Over time, my colleagues and I have realized that one thing most of the Weavers have in common is this: They provide the kind of care to nonkin that many of us provide only to kin....

You may be part of a forged family yourself. I am. In 2015, I was invited to the house of a couple named Kathy and David, who had created an extended-family-like group in D.C. called All Our Kids, or AOK-DC. ... By the time I joined them, roughly 25 kids were having dinner every Thursday night, and several of them were sleeping in the basement.

I joined the community and never left — they became my chosen family. We have dinner together on Thursday nights, celebrate holidays together, and vacation together. The kids call Kathy and David Mom and Dad. In the early days, the adults in our clan served as parental figures for the young people — replacing their broken cellphones, supporting them when depression struck, raising money for their college tuition. When a young woman in our group needed a new kidney, David gave her one of his.

...The experience has convinced me that everybody should have membership in a forged family with people completely unlike themselves.

Ever since I started working on this article, a chart has been haunting me. It plots the percentage of people living alone in a country against that nation’s GDP. There’s a strong correlation. ... That chart suggests two things, especially in the American context. First, the market wants us to live alone or with just a few people. That way we are mobile, unattached, and uncommitted, able to devote an enormous number of hours to our jobs. Second, when people who are raised in developed countries get money, they buy privacy.

For the privileged, this sort of works. ... For those who are not privileged, the era of the isolated nuclear family has been a catastrophe. ... Many of our other problems — with education, mental health, addiction, the quality of the labor force—stem from that crumbling. We’ve left behind the nuclear-family paradigm of 1955. For most people it’s not coming back. Americans are hungering to live in extended and forged families, in ways that are new and ancient at the same time. ...

And that's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. See you next Friday, unless something big comes up sooner.


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