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



August 14, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – Finding community during covid, healthy kids of poly, resources for therapists, and a triad triumph

Tetra Images / Getty



Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for August 14, 2020.

● After last week's tales of poly pandemic hell choices, let's start with this nice, bright, rational and enlightened piece that appeared in Self magazine: 9 Ways Non-Monogamous People Are Dealing With the Pandemic (Aug. 7).  Self, from publishing giant Condé Nast, bills itself as "wellness you can trust."

Here are excerpts, but really, go read the whole thing.


Communication, communication, communication.

By Gabrielle Smith

So. This pandemic thing sucks. ...
I’m polyamorous, falling under the incredibly wide umbrella of ethical non-monogamy (ENM). ... So how are non-monogamous folks dealing in these unprecedented times? Here's how various people in the ENM community are dealing with some of the many challenges COVID-19 has created.

1. We’re now discussing COVID-19 concerns as part of our normal safety precautions.

Discussion about safety and risk, especially around transmittable diseases, isn’t new to the ENM community. Research has found that compared to monogamous folk, ethically non-monogamous people tend to be more likely to be responsible concerning condom usage and STI screening. And we talk about it with each other. ...

Admittedly, it can feel more intrusive than usual, but it’s worth it. ... Sharon R., 26, from Long Island, tells SELF, “I’d rather be safe than sorry. ... The way someone responds tells me a lot about them.”...

2. Some folks are forming poly-bubbles.

Those who already practiced “kitchen table” polyamory—where partners and metamours are all friendly and spend time together—are particularly well-suited for this.

I ended up forming a poly-bubble of sorts with my polycule, simply because it made sense for us logistically. With a collective understanding of each individual’s boundaries, we make sure to address what we jokingly call “the committee” before making moves that may put others at risk. Our rules are mostly to lower exposure: wearing masks when we are in public, riding in car shares with the windows open, and requiring new partners to get COVID-19 tested before swapping spit, just to name a few examples.

3. Many are feeling the emotional toll of supporting multiple partners.

...“For someone who already plays a compassionate role, there’s a lot of compassion fatigue,” Alex V., a 34-year-old, from New York, tells SELF. “The way I cope is to remind myself and others that this is only temporary.”...

4. We’ve had to recalibrate our relationships in response to COVID-19.

...Incompatible lifestyles, at-risk activity, and different levels of vulnerability to the disease are keeping partners apart. ...

That said, one of the nice things about non-monogamy is that relationships can be fluid more easily. It’s not uncommon for relationships to transition from serious to casual, or from romantic to platonic. ...

5. Folks are getting creative due to long-term separation. ...

6. Many are putting emotional connection in the front seat. ...

7. We’re asking new questions while cohabitating for pandemic purposes. ...

8. More of us are connecting in online polyam communities.

Not only is this great for social distancing needs, but it’s also helping people find polyam communities who otherwise might have had a harder time [especially if far from big cities.] ... 

9. Unsurprisingly, communication is still paramount....

...“If we want our relationships to survive, proactive communication is a must,” [Morgan] says. “We have to tell the people we love how we feel, what we're scared about, and what we need. This is not the time to shrink, to make assumptions, or to hope they can read our minds. When radical honesty is part of our daily lives, it helps us stay solution-oriented. It offers relief and healing.” ...



●  As I've said for years, to thrive in polyamory you need community. In The Bold Italic ("celebrating the character and free-wheeling spirit of the Bay Area") comes How Porn Helped Me Find My Community (Aug. 11)


Finding a supportive polyamorous network has been life-changing.

By Krista Varela Posell

As I got ready to go watch porn in public with my husband and a dozen other people, I felt electrified — a combination of anticipation and eagerness. New to polyamory, this was a big step for us.

Dan Savage’s 15th annual Hump! Film Festival, which showcases amateur porn videos under five minutes, took place at San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre [last fall]. ... I was surprised at just how natural it felt to be going with such a large group that included several people my husband and I were dating.

As the videos rolled, the way we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed and laughed at the same moments was a bonding unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It turned out that this group porn-watching experience was just what my husband and I needed to shepherd us into finding a polyamorous community we felt loved by and connected to.

Sex drew us in, but in the end, love and affection have been the most important ingredients in creating a supportive network.

Tetra Images / Getty
...I started to date a man who was already part of a well-established polycule.... He told me about how they did things as a group — movie nights, birthday celebrations, vacations. ... He invited Brendan and me to a barbecue with his polycule, and we watched their dynamic in admiration — the friendly and playful banter between metamours, the ease with which they all enjoyed each other’s company without awkwardness.

“This is amazing,” I thought. “I want that.” But how?

The idea behind a polycule comes down to “kitchen table poly” — the concept that everyone can sit around the kitchen table comfortably together regardless of whether the people are sexually or romantically involved with one another. This felt like the elusive model that Brendan and I wanted from the beginning of opening our relationship. ... Being inexperienced, we didn’t have the language to communicate exactly what we wanted to our outside partners, and they didn’t share the same investment in a kitchen table poly model. 

...Our first taste of success at kitchen table poly came when we took a couple of our partners to the Folsom Street Fair. The four of us spent the afternoon wandering the streets, intrigued by all the different forms of kink on display, watching people get spit on from second-story windows, and seeing others sneak off into alleyways to have sex. Then we all went to dinner and ended the evening at a Bawdy Storytelling show, a sex and storytelling series that’s often described as “the Moth for perverts.”

It was titillating to see Brendan put his arm around his partner while I was holding our girlfriend’s hand. It also felt organic, being able to share affection with multiple people in public in a space that is welcoming of people from all kinds of alternative lifestyles. ...

...After the festival, we all walked a couple of blocks to Gestalt for beers. On the way to the bar, one of our partners who we’d been seeing for a few months turned to me and said, “I can see why you like this. It’s like we all have this big secret.” ...

...At the bar, we claimed a table for all of us, and after a round of official introductions, people broke off into smaller groups. These folks who had been total strangers just a few hours before were already laughing and talking like old friends. As the evening went on, Brendan and I were buzzing with energy seeing that there truly was something special about the chemistry of this crowd. I found myself bouncing from one conversation to the next.... We’ve maintained an active group chat over the last eight months....

Since the pandemic started... it’s been 135 days since I have touched anyone but my husband.... Most of our relationships have shifted into a more companionate place while we try to figure out what’s next. ...

While porn may have brought us together, what has kept us all together isn’t the sex — it’s genuine love and devotion for one another, even if that has to take on a different shape right now. Eight of us still get together on Zoom every Saturday night, and these weekly meetups for the past three months have resulted in the creation of Poly in Place, a space to share our experiences as a polycule living through a pandemic and invite other people to share theirs. We want to provide a sense of community for others the same way that our polycule has for us.... It’s what’s getting us through until the next time we can all gather to watch porn in person again.


You need community. Good community. Keep working at it until you find, or create, yours.


●  Eli Sheff has published a new guide for getting therapists properly trained up in poly and other forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM): Where Therapists and Counselors Can Learn About Polyamory (Aug. 11).


...Interest in CNM has grown rapidly in the last decade, and far more people are considering or attempting CNM relationships than in the past. This means that more therapists are seeing clients with issues related to CNM, and these therapists might not have had any training in CNM-related issues at all. ...

This post provides therapists and counselors with resources to build their knowledge base about CNM relationships and more effectively serve their clients.

...A brief note before we examine the organizations, books, podcasts, and training programs where counselors and therapists can gain information and skills to serve CNM clients. Because therapeutic bias against any form of nonmonogamy (which is commonly equated with cheating) is foundational to many marriage and family counseling training programs, most counselors will have been indoctrinated with prejudice against CNM in graduate school. ...



●  On a parenting site, Moms.com: How Does A Polyamorous Relationship Affect Children? (Aug. 13)


The most commonly asked question when it comes to polyamorous relationships is how children are affected, so we investigated.


By Renee Barrett

Polyamory is often mistakenly considered the same as an open relationship — which is not always the case, although it is defined as loving more than one person. ...

The rules of polyamory differ from the construct of mainstream relationships, which often cause confusion for outsiders who don't understand how these unions can work.  Boundaries, which are necessary for any relationship to survive, must be negotiated among partners.  While boundaries in polyamorous relationships may differ from those in monogamous relationships, they do exist, and for a reason. ...

How Does A Polyamorous Relationship Affect The Children?

...Geography plays a role in the extent to which children of polyamorous families might suffer prejudice. ... Children of polyamorous unions may experience confusion if they don't understand why they are being discriminated against, which can happen when parents aren't honest about the nature of their relationship. If children aren't exposed to the fact that love can be expressed in a multitude of ways, they'll become confused. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to explaining relationships to children, especially since the adults in their lives have been entrusted to protect them from harm.

...Being raised by multiple parents, or parents with multiple partners can be enriching not only for the child but also for the parents. Children benefit from having multiple interests, experiences and energy levels to support various stages of the child's growth and development while a child's endless needs can be met by multiple adults without the risk of burn-out. Multiple partners can pick up where another parent or caregiver left off, whether it's providing emotional, financial, or physical support.

...While traditional, nuclear families are considered normal, poly families believe that arrangement is limiting because children aren't exposed to the multi-faceted adult personalities they will soon face (and have to challenge) in the real world. Studies have shown that children in polyamorous families tend to be more mature, self-confident, and better equipped to relate to people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

While break-ups are a reality within any relationship, in polyamorous ones, kids tend to part with beloved caregivers more frequently than in traditional, monogamous relationships. As one parent put it, "the challenge is an opportunity to model good break-up behavior. In the poly community, break-ups are seen as transitions." Poly relationships tend to be fluid and flexible, with exes helping out in various capacities as partners or friends to maintain a sense of normalcy.

The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is the mantra of polyamorous families.

...In the words of one polyamorous parent: "Once he's old enough to understand, I’ll tell him my relationship with his mother has strengthened since we allowed each other to be attracted to, or fall in love with, other people."

Honesty is key in any relationship whether it's between parent and child or the adults in the relationship.  Commitment will always be the determining factor of a successful relationship, regardless of the number of parents in the relationship. What matters most is the love the child grows up with.


That's certainly a sunny picture representative of healthy, responsible poly families. But remember, not-so-healthy households with multiple adults, especially when there is significant turnover, can shade into what child-welfare advocates call "chaotic" households, which are terrible for kids. Children thrive on order and predictability.

And, care must be taken to make sure that an adult who might endanger the kids never gets in. Of course this also applies in traditional families to the traditional "Uncle Ernie" (as sung by The Who), who is likely to be much harder to see, or to exclude, due to traditional family bonds and loyalties. Remember, the great thing about chosen family is that it's chosen.


●  This week in the British tabloids. These three people in Oregon break several "rules" for bringing in what might be called a unicorn. (It's not to fix the marriage. It's not for help with child care.) But remember, there is no Conventional Poly Wisdom that some group, somewhere, is not breaking and thriving. People are different.



"Eli (right) and Mikey (center) soon realised that Alida (left)  would be the perfect fit to join their relationship and may be the 'something' they needed to change to be happy."

A couple who were married for 17 years formed a throuple with a woman they met on a camping trip to help get through a 'rough patch'.

Technician Eli Titus, 36, and health services coordinator Mikey Titus, 37, from Beaverton, Oregon, met Alida Gibson, 31, in July 2018, forming a triad in the hope of rekindling their rocky marriage.

The insurance rep, who they met through a mutual friend,  had also been going through a hard time and was recently divorced.  

Eli and Mikey had three children — Linkoln, 12, Maddox, 7, and Lennox, 5, — before they met Alida, but they now consider her another parent to their brood. 

The group met a camping festival and began chatting and instantly bonded with each other, sharing their love of the outdoors, crafting and music. 

Eli and Mikey soon realized that Alida would be the perfect fit to join their relationship.

But while the triad have openly spoken to the children about what makes polyamory different, other people aren't so understanding. ... 'Sometimes, it feels that looks could kill,' Mikey said.

...'We live in the Pacific Northwest so "weird" is a regular occurrence here, but even still, people say, "I couldn't do that," or "it's just a phase."

...Mikey and Eli were aware of polyamory but never thought it would be something they would explore themselves, until they met Alida. 

All of them say they have never felt as complete in a previous relationships as they do now. 

[Says Mikey,] 'The children are aware that our family is special. As the eldest, Linkoln was aware of "normal" relationships but we talked with him openly and honestly. We encourage our kids to be themselves no matter what others think.

'Linkoln has had a friend ask if it was a good or bad thing to have three parents. He said it's only bad if he's in trouble.

--------------------------

'We recognise that there are four relationships within our triad — those with each and also as a whole. We do everything we can to avoid couples' privilege,' Mikey added.

'We check in with each other on a regular basis. It's a constant learning experience. We're constantly improving our communication — learning how to be engaged and present with each partner in the hard times as well as the good.'

The throuple feel that being together has made each of them a better person — particularly when it comes to being in a relationship.

'Me and Eli had been married for fifteen years before we met Alida.

'Being in a relationship since we were basically kids meant that we'd done things we weren't proud of,' Mikey said.

'We'd do dumb things young kids do when they're trying to figure out how to be adults — argue, break up, and spending money we didn't have.

'When we met Alida, something felt different. We felt this need to be better. We've been able to work through some things and create a stronger connection between us all.

'Alida has brought a different perspective and understanding.

'We weren't actually looking for a poly relationship but we just knew that as a group, we wanted to be together.'

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...'Our families are amazingly supportive. We don't think our mums truly understand but as long as we're happy, they are,' Alida said.

'We're just like everyone else. We all want to grow old together — raise our kids, buy a home, travel, retire, and drive Eli crazy until the end.

...'Our relationship requires a lot of communication, dedication, self-reflection, and compromise. It isn't always easy, but it is always worth it.

'We are a team and we believe that each of us are equally important.. One day, we'd like being in a polyamorous triad to be more widely accepted.'


That's Friday Polynews Roundup for now. See you next week! 

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