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

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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