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

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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