Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 22, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — The changing safe-distancing debate, poly in more TV series, an accidental triad, podcasts, more

It's Friday Polynews Roundup time again — for May 22, 2020.

●  The changing safety and distancing debate.  Currently going around the poly world is a framework for coronavirus group-risk management called the COVID C.A.R.E. model, created by Dr. Evelin Dacker, a physician and former president of Sex Positive Portland. Among other things it uses current knowledge of the virus (which is changing weekly) to define six levels of caution from "Very Strict" to "Very Open" and to help you determine if someone lands on this scale where you do.

But wait a minute, is this a good idea?

The C.A.R.E. approach draws from the older S.T.A.R.S. model for safer-sex conversations and agreements. S.T.A.R.S. acknowledges that in the real world, people have different levels of STI risk tolerance whether they ought to or not, and that you can't count on changing someone else's risk tolerance reliably. But you can gain clarity about the specifics of your own level and have a frank conversation to discover a potential partner's level.

Thing is, Covid-19 is really, seriously, totally different from an STI. You don't typically get it from sharing deep bodily intimacy in bed with a close personal partner, you typically get it from some unknown person in public. Nor can you have a thoughtful, searching conversation with a gas station's bathroom doorknob about its past involvement with someone who picks their nose.

Nor can the strangers who breathe your air in the grocery-store aisle have searching conversations with you about your doorknob history during the last week or two, the time it may take for you to show signs of infection. So where's the agreement and consent in that?

A poly activist in the thick of the pandemic in New York is calling the C.A.R.E.S. approach "wildly irresponsible."  A grad student in Boston who is tracking the polyworld's response to the pandemic says,

More generally, this type of discourse (relying heavily on STI verbage/risk management tools) appears prevalent across all polyam social sites I participate in as well as organizations I manage here in Boston. It has been nearly impossible to shift this conversation away from the toolkit polyamorous folks apply in regards to STIs to a new type of infection.

More on this coming soon. Stay tuned.

In non-Covid news,

Yet more poly in TV series!  The Politician, which was a Netflix hit in Season 1, joins the poly trend in Season 2, which will launch June 19, with a key plot element. From Entertainment Weekly, Judith Light teases The Politician' Season 2: 'You're going to see sparks fly' (May 18):

Judith Light (left) and Bette Midler

...The 71-year-old [actress Light] returns to TV on Netflix’s The Politician as New York state senator Dede Standish, and she’s proud to portray a complex woman in office. ... The career politician has crafted a careful political image alongside her chief of staff Hadassah Gold (Bette Midler), keeping her polyamorous marriage a secret. But Season 2 will put the pain in campaign, pitting her against young Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) [the star of Season 1], as she fights to keep her Senate seat. ...

...Light’s character is in a throuple, as revealed in Season 1, and [Light] did a lot of reading on those in polyamorous relationships. “It’s a choice that a lot more people make than we know,” she adds. “A throuple is about the relationship among them, not just the sexuality. It isn’t just about the sexual dynamic with these people.” ...

In The Oprah Magazine, from Season 2 of The Politician Has A Premiere Date (published May 18):

Rich kid with ugly weapon facing a serious moral choice

[In Season 1 the show followed] Payton Hobart, a super anxious and super rich high school student [the "politician" of the title] who’s obsessed with becoming student body president at Saint Sebastian High School in order to one day attend Harvard and eventually get elected President of the United States. Wacky, right?

...In the Season 1 finale, we saw Payton and the rest of the gang decide that he would face off against New York's established Senate Majority Leader Dede Standish (Judith Light), vying for [her] seat while continuing on his path to becoming President of the United States. But why does he think he can beat her? She's in a secret thruple, which if exposed, could better his chances. So we'll for sure see that play out in an incredibly dramatic fashion. ...

Update: A 3-minute trailer is now out:

● Next up, there's Avocado Toast, a new Amazon Prime series from Canada in which two bi-discovering millennial women are, among other things, shocked to learn of mom and dad's swinging and polyamory. ‘Avocado Toast The Series’ creator Heidi Lynch says she outlined the queer show based on her own life (on Meaww, Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide, May 21)

Co-creators and stars Heidi Lynch and Perrie Voss

...Avocado Toast the collection is a considerate coming-of-age comedy that highlights sexual politics via the tales of a close-knit circle. By way of ten 15-minute-long neat episodes, creators Voss and Lynch inform the story of what occurs when two 30-somethings uncover extra about their dad and mom’s intercourse lives.

Molly (Lynch) and Elle (Voss) are childhood associates each coping with a disaster. After a lifetime of relationship males, Molly comes to find that she is bisexual after she falls for a girl. The character is based on Lynch’s private life.

Whilst Molly’s dad and mom are supportive of her sexuality, [she] finds herself fairly stunned by her dad and mom’s life-style. She refuses to speak to them and even shames them. ...

...There is a coming out story for almost every generation — Molly coming out to her mother Meredith (Mag Ruffman), who in turn comes out to Molly about her and her husband Francis' (Jefferson Mappin) poly lifestyle. Patricia, in a way, comes out too of the ageist closet that she has been confined to for the longest time. ...

And in Her magazine, Ireland edition, Creators of Avocado Toast the series talk sex, sexuality, and swinging (early May, undated)

..."We received an education from the bi community who said they felt invisible and unseen. They said: 'If you're going to make a show about this, could you at least say the word?' "

...As the series unfolds, Molly learns that her mother and father are actually swingers who throw sex parties, while Elle discovers that her own parents are getting a divorce — and are, unfortunately for her, ready to start dating again. ...

"Nobody wants to think about their parents having sex," adds Heidi. ...

The series' Facebook page. And trailer:


With a title like this it ought to end badly, but no.... I Accidentally Ended Up In a Polyamorous Triad — Here's What I Learned from It (May 20). This sprightly piece appears in Shape, a women's magazine mostly about fitness and eating.

The beauty of non-monogamy is that you can tear down the social and emotional constructs you've been fed and DIY a unique dynamic that ebbs and flows and works for you. Here's how that went for me.

three women in a polyamorous triad on a bicycle built for 3, at a beach
Hello World / Getty

By Charyn Pfeuffer

...As a solo polyamorous woman, I was already involved in a handful of concurrent consensual non-monogamy (CNM) relationships when I met John* on Tinder. We met for brunch, drank a bunch of old fashioneds, then went back to my place and had sex (even though he adamantly prefaced and punctuated the date by saying that he did not have sex on first dates). ... I found his sweetness endearing. We started dating.

...I was a patient partner as he and Lynn worked through the many first-time hurdles of having an open marriage. I prefer to practice kitchen table polyamory (KTP), a dynamic where partners and metamours (a partner's partner — in this case, Lynn) all know each other, and in theory, would feel comfortable sharing space together for coffee or a meal. It entails a certain "we're all in this together" mentality.... KTP isn't a requirement in my relationships, but it sure does make life easier. ... [But Lynn] was standoffish at best.

(Accidentally) Becoming a Triad

Two months later, I had tickets for a local burlesque show and decided to invite John and Lynn. The invitation was an olive branch of sorts. I wanted to get to know her and for us to spend some time together. If we didn't click, I wasn't going to push it any further. I've learned that if I meet my metamours, it makes them less scary, less of a threat, and I can appreciate that we're all dating the same person.

All dressed up, we grabbed dinner at a local Caribbean spot. Everything was copacetic and convivial, and as we left, John grabbed both of our hands as we headed to the show. I was happy; it seemed like progress.

John sat between us during the performance, but there was palpable chemistry between Lynn and I. When he got up to get us drinks, I got my flirt on. Hard. After the performance, Lynn and I kissed in the hallway of the venue. We all ended up going back to my place and had a threesome. And that's how I accidentally ended up in a triad, aka a "throuple" or a three-way relationship.... Essentially, a triad requires managing four individual relationships: those between each partner, and the group dynamic as well.

[Who Created Your Rules of Love — You or Others?]

There was really no discussion amongst us — it just kinda happened. ... In hindsight, I realize that Lynn isn't the type of woman I typically date. But she was sweet and sexy, and I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt bad she was having a hard time dating outside her marriage. She was bi-curious and hadn't been with a woman before, and I've been known to readily assume the role of sex sherpa for other people's "firsts."

Immediately, John started keeping score. He'd report on whether Lynn was pleased with the quantity and quality of communication I was giving her. I'm not a big fan of sleepovers with partners but somehow managed to have peaceful nights with John. Slumbering with Lynn was a hit or miss scenario, but time was divided fairly equally, and although it was never spoken, sleepovers were no exception. I loved snuggling with Lynn. It just didn't need to be an all-night event every time.

Don't get me wrong. I loved John and cared about Lynn immensely. But planning and dividing time between two people, then trying to schedule time with all of us (because remember, a triad requires managing four individual relationships), was overwhelming. Not to mention expensive. They rarely paid for anything, and that's my fault for not setting a firm financial boundary. ...

The good outweighed the bad, though. We had some great adventures, and there was a lot of love and respect between the three of us. And for six months, we had regular, mind-blowingly good threesomes.

Spoiler: It ended. ...

In retrospect, I took on too many "firsts." It's challenging to be a couple's first polyamorous experience, first threesome experience, first kink experience, and someone's first same-sex experience. Any one of those aspects would be a lot to navigate, in and of itself. I took them all on with a couple who'd just opened their marriage and had no experience in CNM.

...Nowadays, I screen dates way more carefully. I steer clear of newly-divorced people and just-opened relationships. I have a lot of sexual and dating experience; I'm not a 101-level partner. I get that everyone needs to start somewhere, but I'm tired of being part of the prerequisite learning curve on non-monogamy (or queerness or kink).

My Tinder profile now reads: "If you're not experienced with consensual non-monogamy, we're probably not a good fit."

Writer's Note: For people curious about learning more about CNM relationship models, Amory is a beautifully raw and frank podcast on exploring polyamory. Also, Opening Up by Tristan Taormino is my go-to guide for beginners.

Some people like audio more than text, and you can't read while driving. Two months ago contributor Bailey on Autostraddle suggested 11 Books for Getting Started with Polyamory and Non-Monogamy. Now they're back with 8 Podcasts to Get Started With Polyamory and Non-Monogamy (May 19). Actually, these are 8 particular podcast episodes:

Adulting #51
“When Does Monogamy Fail?

All My Relations #5
“Decolonizing Sex”

Bi Any Means Podcast #152
“Polyamory Panel”

Black Radical Queer #17
“I Gotta Be A Sister Wife?!”

I Said What I Said #20
“Polyamory vs. Longevity”

Loving Without Boundaries #64
“Psychologist, Professor, LGBTQ+ Researcher”

Multiamory Podcast #181
“Settler Sexuality”

Polyamory Weekly #558
“When to Give Up on Polyamory”

Click to the Autostraddle page for the links and paragraph descriptions.

● Our British tabloid happy-poly story of the week. As usual the polyfam is actually in the USA, this time in Nashville: Polyamorous parents who have been together for a decade invite dance teacher couple to join their relationship and live in their home – and their children even see them as 'godparents' (Daily Mail, May 14). With piles of pix and a well-produced 8-minute video:

Matt and Carmen, from Nashville, Tennessee, who share a six-year-old and a three-year-old, appear to have a conventional-looking family setup, but had often talked about opening up their marriage.

When they started swing dancing lessons they instantly clicked with their teachers, Brooklyn and Keith, and after broaching the subject of an open relationship with the pair, the foursome, who have been dating as a quad for eight months, now live together.

One summer evening, while having some drinks round their pool, conversation came around to open relationships and the fact that Brooklyn and Matt and Keith and Carmen were attracted to each other.

...'We all hung out a couple of times, [and] it happened pretty quickly and very organically, too,' Carmen added.

...Brooklyn and Keith officially moved into Matt and Carmen's family home just a few months after they all started dating.

The foursome split their time between their original relationships, which they dub 'OG', and the new partnerships, now describing themselves as a closed heterosexual quad.

Carmen and Matt's children think of Brooklyn and Keith as 'godparents that lived with them', and the two couples enjoyed hanging out as an extended family of six, as well as double dating.

'Kieran and Ellie know that Brooklyn and Keith are part of the family and that we all love them very much,' Carmen said of her children's reaction to their parents' polyamorous relationship. ...

...They believe polyamory is the way forward in modern living, and hope their relationship is a testament to this. ... 'I've seen a lot of monogamous relationships [where] they just make it work and that's not something that me and Carmen wanted to do,' Matt said. 'We didn't want to just make it work for 20 years, 30 years. 'We wanted to actually live a loving life.'...

● On a different plane, a Science Direct notice of a report in the journal Cell Systems is titled Neural Polyamory: One Cell Forms Meaningful Connections with Hundreds of Partners (May 20). "Reconstruction of one thalamic neuron, mapping hundreds of presynaptic inputs and postsynaptic outputs, reveals diverse types of interaction in a neural microcircuit." Postsynaptic readers are presumed to get it.

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

Oh, and I'll have something you're probably not expecting on Monday the 25th, Memorial Day.


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