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

May 1, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup — "Social power and quarantine in polyamorous relationships," Roswell TV series, more.

It's Friday Polynews Roundup time again — for May 1, 2020.

● Lots of pandemic tales this week from polyamorous folks all over. Here's just one. It's a happy one for a change, from the reddit/r/polyamory user YetiYogurt, who started a thread with it: How polyamory looks today (April 29). Reprinted by permission.

Day 47 of my isolation in Chicago, and tonight polyamory looks like me sitting on the living room floor using the coffee table as a dinner table and watching Bosch on Amazon Prime while toking a bowl. The dog is laying on the sofa behind me with her head nestled against my back.

My spouse Boo is in the dining room on a video date with their girlfriend Elin. They both cooked the same recipe for dinner and are playing a connection question game to deepen their understanding of each other. I picked out Boo's earrings and tie for the date (more involved than usual, but I'm really in a Big Mush Mood today.) I love that Boo and Elin made it into a real occasion with intention. I love my spouse so damn much, and Elin is such a wonderful partner for them.

Earlier this afternoon my girlfriend Mila parked outside my apartment building and stood on the sidewalk with a facemask and an umbrella. It's been raining all day. We talked on the phone with my window open. The wind occasionally [blew] the rain in, but we could look at each other and imagine we were giving real eye contact. It lifted my heart to have even ten minutes of her nearby.

My boyfriend Sigma and I used to have weekly dates on Wednesdays, but in isolation that's been falling by the wayside due to mental health. This week we decided we were both too tired [for a virtual meet] and he wanted time to be solo tonight. We will talk on Friday instead.

How does polyamory look in your lives today?

"Social Power and Quarantine in Polyamorous Relationships."  Eli Sheff grapples with this hot topic on her site The Polyamorists Next Door, after seeking the inputs of many polyworld movers and shakers (April 29). This is the second of three poly-and-covid articles coming from her, and it's meatier than her first last week. Here are large excerpts (the emphases are mine), but really, go read the whole thing.

How privilege affects social distancing for people in CNM relationships.

Elisabeth Sheff
Recent [polyam] arguments ... over the appropriateness of continuing to travel (across town or across the country) to see partners during the COVID-19 quarantine prompted a virtual community town hall. Chrissy Holman, polyamory community organizer and Communications Lead for the American Psychological Association Division 44 Task Force on Consensual Non-monogamy, coordinated a panel of health professionals and community activists [on Zoom] to discuss the impact COVID-19 can have on CNM communities, and how to avoid becoming a vector of transmission. To access a wealth of information from 14 experts and community members, you can find a recording of the COVID-19 Polyamory Town Hall here.

Safe to Visit?

[Of course] people want to visit their significant others. ... Confusion from politicians about ... how to end the quarantine only further muddies an already bewildering situation.

One group of people who are not at all confused are the public health officials, who uniformly say it is premature to end the quarantine and return to in-person interactions -- because we have not been able to test enough people to know how widespread the infection is, much less determine if the transmission rate has declined. ...This community of scientists and public health professionals instead encourages people to continue social distancing until it is clearer exactly how the virus is transmitted (current thinking is that it is [sometimes] airborne), testing is more widespread, and infection rates have been tracked long enough to know if they are declining. ... It could make the difference between life and death for the people in your life, and people you don’t know who can be impacted by your choices today.

Social Hierarchy

One of the factors that influences whether people feel safe enough to visit... is their place in the social hierarchy. ... To varying degrees and often reluctantly, polyamorous communities in the United States inevitably recreate the social hierarchies that exist in larger society. For some [young, privileged] poly folks, their conviction in personal well-being and access to material goods ... can also coincide with an individualistic sense of self-determination and refusal to listen to authority. Unfortunately, that impulse towards individualism is counter-productive when it comes to COVID-19 because the choices the individual makes can affect people who get infected from an asymptomatic carrier whose house-mate got it from the visiting poly person three days ago. ...

Relational Hierarchy

...Some CNM relationships have primary partners (who tend to prioritize each other emotionally and materially, probably live together, might be married and/or have kids) and secondary partners. ... Being unable to visit a secondary/non-cohabitational partner can leave the relationship feeling more distant and can feel especially vulnerable for a person who does not have a primary partner and is sheltering alone. ...

Being allowed to visit, or not, comes laden with hierarchical potential. Who is interpreted as important enough to visit? Who has the clout to forbid others to visit? What happens if someone visits impulsively and another partner feels upset over a perceived boundary violation? What if one person thinks it is time to end quarantine and another feels the risk is too high? Or is it using the risk as an excuse to manipulate their partner to go without seeing someone else? ...

Best Practices

Given the possible relationship challenges during this fragile period of quarantine, what are poly people to do? Chrissy Holman summed up with the suggestion that CNM folks “keep visits virtual, or just move in and cohabit until we have a solve for this virus. We're trying very hard to make sure polyams are not visiting houses right now and non-cohabiting partners. All the medical literature says that this is very likely airborne, that many are asymptomatic, and that we'll be experiencing several peaks as pandemics are wont to trend. As Zach Budd and Dirty Lola mentioned in the town hall, there's no real risk assessment, no real consent, because there is no way to do the "informed" part yet, and everyone thinks they're statisticians and risk assessment experts now. Not true. We need to agree that until we understand this virus, in-person visits with non-cohabiting partners are a bad idea.”


And now we return, for the rest of this post at least, to our regularly scheduled poly in the media.

● There was that 3,000-word RealClear Investigations report that I posted about two days ago, Here Comes 'Polyamory': Multi-Partner Sexual-Rights Crusade on the Horizon. Although it may have come from a conservative intention to flag the next culture war, the piece itself was factual and honest.

● Here's another story in the massive "what monogamous couples can learn from polyamory" category. In fact, that's its title: What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamory. It appeared on the platisher Bolde.com, "a platform for single women to express themselves about dating & relationships." (Undated; late April 2020)

By Jazz Meyer

Open relationships are practically the new normal, but while this relationship style isn’t for everyone, there's a lot monogamous couples can learn from their free-loving peers.

Accepting that attraction towards other people is natural.

...Classic romance stories would have us believe that when you find “The One,” you’ll never have eyes for anyone else. Unless you’re a hermit, that’s pretty unlikely. The key to dealing with wandering eyes is accepting it as a totally normal part of the human experience....

Adding ‘compersion’ into your vocabulary

...Ever felt jealous of the joy your partner gets from their friends, hobbies, or career? Practicing compersion is a great exercise in celebrating things that might otherwise incite jealousy for the wonderful reason that they bring your partner happiness.

Developing skills to deal with jealousy. ...

The power of direct and honest communication. ...

Being completely honest with yourselves and each other. ...

Negotiating boundaries. ...

There are alternatives, and every relationship is a choice. ...

We are social creatures. ...

One person can’t fulfill all your needs. ...

Your self-worth doesn’t depend on your partner. ...

Poly in TV series, continued. In the April 20th episode of "Roswell, New Mexico" (broadcast on The CW, a CBS-owned channel), Alex, Maria, and Michael — after a chase drama fleeing a bad guy — passionately kiss together, remove each other's clothes and (offscreen) engage in a threesome. Afterward Alex says he felt "loved." Following that, this appeared on Meaww, Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide: 'Roswell, New Mexico': Will the show bring in a major polyamorous relationship to primetime TV? (April 26).

Michael (Michael Vlamis), Maria (Heather Hemmens), and Alex (Tyler Blackburn) in 'Roswell, New Mexico'

There is a reality to polyamorous relationships and it's time that the immaturity of unwarranted stigmas around it be dissolved.

By Anoush Gomes

'Roswell'... had recently brought to life the possibility of a 'thruple', an actual one that does not have only sex as a precursor or incentive. ... The show has the potential to fall into a polyamory narrative, and if so, would be part of quite a few shows that have decided to shed light on such relationships. The relationship between these characters seems to be genuine. ...

There are no gender restraints whatsoever in a polyamorous relationship, and the involved individuals can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. ... With 'Roswell' there is a potential for the show to shed a kind light on polyamorous relationships, without exploitative measures that include click-bait narrative pushes. ...

Roswell's next episode, on April 27, did not follow up on this theme according to fansite recaps.

Finally... Let's make a game! Here is a typical, accurate little What-is-polyamory? article of the kind we're seeing everywhere these days. This time it's in a source about as random as you can get. Reead.com is a flashy menswear, men's grooming, and airplane-miles blog by a self-described "influencer." I mean, he says that right on the site! To get into the influencer business you create a cool, hip, cosmopolitan image online (no connection to reality required), aggressively build the image and its clicks, then seek commissions from companies to hype their stuff. It works, sometimes, because this cool, hip person seems to be sharing elite insider tips with his lucky friends, including you.

In this piece he's not trying to sell clothes, men's grooming products, or airline-miles deals; he's building clicks with a Google-trending topic and SEO keywords.

The fact that sites like this are now doing our educational work for us — pretty well, and for free! — tells me that we've passed a tipping point and are unstoppable from here on out. The piece is called A lesson in Polyamory? Here’s what you can learn! (April 24).

So here's the game. This short piece makes 52 statements about poly and related topics. I scored 46 of them correct, 3 of them more right than wrong, 1 more wrong than right, and 2 just wrong. What's your score? I'll offer my wrongs at the end, and let's see if we match!

A lesson in Polyamory? Here’s what you can learn!

© Can Stock Photo / popaukropa

Polyamorous people not only have a relationship with one partner but often with several at the same time – and in such a way that all parties involved know about each other. How does that work out?

With the knowledge and consent of all involved, emotional and sexual relationships with several people can be enjoyed at the same time and work out pretty delightfully.

Still, some prejudice and labels against polyamorous relationships are that those who do not commit to a partner struggle with decision issues, are insecure, immature, or just not ready for a deep emotional bond.

Unfortunately, there are many more prejudices about polyamorous relationships. We took a closer look at some of them and clear up some common misconceptions:

1. Lesson: Polyamory is not cheating

Many people believe that polyamorous people have one affair after the other and do not tell their partners about it. That’s far from true. One of the fundamental principles of polyamory is honesty and transparency. In contrast to other forms of non-monogamous concepts, consensus and equality, as well as a long-term orientation, play a fundamental role.

Most people that discovered polyamory were raised to believe that you can only love one person and everything else is cheating. So, many of them discovered poly-love without having heard of it before or knowing it was possible, Datingroo found out in an exclusive interview.

In fact, secrecy is not something to strive for in a polyamorous relationship. Absolute honesty should lead to happier and more stable relationships, according to supporters of polyamory.

2. Lesson: Polyamorous relationships are meant to last

As mentioned above, the basic orientation of a poly-relationship is a long-term one. Both partners are interested in being happy with each other – and with others – in the long term. But, just as every monogamous relationship is different, every polyamorous relationship is also very different.

The concept of polyamory as one of many non-monogamous relationship-concepts is often misunderstood and can be defined differently in many ways, as stated in The Conversation.

There is no such thing as a role-model-relationship. Some have one main partnership and several secondary relationships, others have several equal relationships side by side. What always belongs to it, however, is transparency and a lot of self-reflection.

3. Lesson: Polyamory is not the same as polygamy

In polygamy, only one partner, usually the dominant one, has the right to several other partners. This has nothing to do with the egalitarian concept of polyamory. Equality is fundamental to a polyrelationship, on eye level.

That said, jealousy is not uncommon in polyamory, so how to deal with it? One approach is starting with one’s own attitude and to question negative thoughts. They usually have no plausible foundation. It is important that one doesn’t let jealousy overtake their feelings. In the right measure, it can be a declaration of love to a partner.

Finally, a very important prerequisite for escaping jealousy and leading a polyamorous relationship is also self-confidence.

4. Lesson: Polyamory is not similar to swinging

Swinging is a lifestyle in which couples individually or together enjoy relatively anonymous intercourse with others as a complement to their erotic lives.

It is, so to speak, a kind of “leisure activity”, while polyamory comprises a concept of life that is more integrated into everyday life. Swinging also concentrates primarily on the sexual level, while polyamorous people do indeed form intimate and emotional bonds with other people outside their relationship.

5. Lesson: Polyamory is not the exception

If you look at the figures on divorces and separations, it is clear that the monogamous relationship concept does not work for many. A recent survey by YouGov showed almost half of the men and a third of the women surveyed would like to live a form of non-monogamy.

Of course: Polyamory means constant work on oneself, a lot of communication, and probably some arguments. But on the whole, it might make a relationship more honest and authentic.

Okay. My one  "more wrong than right" was, "Polyamorous people not only have a relationship with one partner...." Some poly people actually have no partner at a given time, but they're still poly — by orientation and/or desired relationship structure. However, the great majority of polyfolks IME do indeed have at least one relationship.

My two "just wrongs" were,

"In the right measure, it [jealousy] can be a declaration of love to a partner." BZZZT! The poly world widely lambastes the notion that jealousy is a "declaration of love" as a pathetic, dangerous spawn of toxic-monogamy culture. It can certainly be a declaration of obsession, or dependence, or ownership, or fear of loss, or personal humiliation, disappointment, hurt and/or entitlement. But none of those things are love.


"Polyamory is not the exception."  Yes it is. Most North Americans, polls consistently find, say they would prefer a monogamous relationship. Even the polling numbers the author cites for wanting "some" form of non-monogamy amount to less than 50%. And those surely include forms of non-monogamy that wouldn't qualify as poly even by his own article's definition.

That's it for now. See you next Friday, unless something comes up sooner!


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