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

August 21, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup – Poly as training for parenting, best polyam dating apps, Kimchi and Vajra reconcile, when 2+2 = 3+1, and more.

Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for August 21, 2020.

●  We start off with a two-fer. This one hits the categories of "what the poly community can teach anyone" and poly parenting. Here’s How Being Polyamorous Prepared Me For Parenting, from HuffPost Personal (Aug. 15). It was immediately written about on the new-mom site BabyGaga and was reprinted elsewhere.

“I’ve had lots of different kinds of relationships with lots of different people and all of those experiences taught me how to be the best mom I can be.”

By Marea Goodman

The author (left) and her family in Oakland, California, in March.

In my early 20s, I was passionate about polyamory.... There were times I had one “primary” partner and other more casual, “secondary” relationships. I was in a triad relationship where the three of us went on dates together and slept in the same bed. There was a year during which I maintained three serious relationships at once, where all people involved knew about each other, and two of them were also dating each other. It was like a self-studied master’s course in human dynamics.

At the time, it was the most liberating lifestyle I could imagine. But five years later, after navigating my fair share of dramatic break ups and having a time-intensive, full-time job, I found monogamy to be the approach to my romantic, sexual and family life that worked and felt best for me.

Even though I am no longer practicing polyamory, I look back happily at that part of my life, and, what’s more, I’ve come to realize that being polyamorous actually prepared me to successfully be a parent.

Here’s what it taught me.

1. How to balance (and schedule) multiple people’s needs at a time.

...In my family now, I have conversations with my partner and 10-year-old daughter that are similar to those I had with my romantic partners a decade ago. We’ve learned that my daughter needs a daily routine to feel calm and grounded, so we write her a list beginning with “brush your teeth” and ending with “get in bed.” My partner, the free spirit, appreciates having one full day per week when we don’t have anything scheduled so that we can do whatever we want as a family (and, ironically, we plan when that day will be). Our toddler needs to play outside every day or else it’s impossible to put him to sleep. And I need regular alone time to maintain my sanity.

The process of distilling our needs into practical, schedule-able pieces helps each person get what they need, and overall increases our family harmony.

2. How to be in touch with my own feelings and prioritize them

...I’ve learned that my primary relationship is with myself ― when I am taken care of, I can take care of others, and everyone in my family benefits.

3. It’s OK to have different feelings for different people ...

4. How to communicate effectively

Knowing how you feel is not always enough. During my years of polyamory, I practiced the art of communication with studious rigor. Healthy communication is not monolithic. Each of us carries traumas and stories from our past, and we often filter our experience through our baggage. For some, saying “I need a little space” feels like a clearly stated need. For others, it feels like a heartbreaking rejection.

...The same skills apply to my relationships with my partner and children. They are all different people with varied ways of taking in information. ...

5. Jealousy is an onion

Understanding jealousy as a [multilayered] onion is enormously helpful in navigating sibling dynamics. I recognize that when my daughter gets jealous of the attention we give to our toddler, that it’s not about him or about us as parents. I try to help her peel off the layers of the onion so we can get to the core of her pain and work to heal what’s motivating her feelings of jealousy in the first place.

6. The need to understand oppression dynamics 

7. How to navigate different love languages

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The 5 Love Languages” which describes five fundamental ways that people in Western societies give and receive love. These love languages include: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. While there are many variations and nuances to how we love, I’ve found this framework profoundly helpful in both polyamory and parenting.

...I used to think polyamory was the greatest adventure in intimacy. Now I understand that it was, for me, a training ground for the 24-7, full-contact sport of parenting. 

We speak to our 10-year-old about different relationship dynamics including polyamory. With two moms and a sperm donor, she already knows that families look all kinds of ways. When my kids are ready, I will encourage them to explore whatever kinds of relationships they are called to. ...

●  From Cosmopolitan, The Best Dating Apps for Those Who Identify as Non-Monogamous, by Gabrielle Smith (Aug. 17). Smith also wrote that nice article at Self  magazine last week, 9 Ways Non-Monogamous People Are Dealing With the Pandemic.

By Gabrielle Smith

...For starters, there are so! many! ways! to identify under the umbrella term of non-monogamy. But the one thing everyone has in common if they do: no expectation of exclusivity. ...

Now as an ethically non-monogamous person, I’ve always used dating apps—from my first open relationship at 19 to my solo-polyamory today. Through Tinder, I’ve found two of my long-term partners. Via Hinge, I had my first relationship with another woman. And while on Feeld, I’ve met all sorts of wonderful ethically non-monogamous folks.

In general, it's been a pretty positive experience. Dating apps help people like me represent ourselves properly. We can usually state directly in our profiles "I am ethically non-monogamous" [and describe your variety of it.]

Despite meeting my first romantic female partner on Hinge, this app is one of the least amenable for ethical non-monogamy. It is, after all, coined as “designed to be deleted,” which perpetuates monogamy, so it’s not surprising that I found it difficult to be ENM on this app. ...

Tinder and Bumble, while not perfect, are pretty decent options for ENM folks. Their benefits have to do with numbers and simplicity. In the United States, Tinder and Bumble are the dating apps with the largest user base. ...

The winners for non-monogamous dating, though: Feeld and OkCupid. ... I mean, Feeld was made for ENM, and OkCupid has survived due to its willingness to adapt. ...

I [also] spoke with seven other folks who identify as non-monogamous about their favorites and definitely-not-favorites. ...

●  The online women's magazine SheKnows presents a long, solid ENM 101 that, in my opinion, covers the basic bases without fumbles or errors: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ethical Non-Monogamy  (Aug. 20). And it quotes people I've never heard of before. It was reprinted the same day by Yahoo News/ Life. Pieces:

Good Studio / AdobeStock
By Gina Escandon

...While a key tenet is freedom to explore and have affection with different people, there’s a lot behind the scenes that make these relationships successful. So, let’s chart the waters for everything you always wanted to know about ENM, including how to open your relationship while making everyone involved feel safe and loved. 

...“Ethically non-monogamous relationships are ones in which all people involved have negotiated the terms of and enthusiastically consented to non-monogamy, without feeling coerced into it,” explains Dr. Dulcinea Pitagora, NYC-based psychotherapist and sex therapist.

Heather McPherson, licensed supervisor of couples and sex therapy, owner of Respark Therapy, and owner of Sexual Health Alliance, which provides certification programs for therapists, coaches and healthcare providers, emphasizes that if participants aren’t feeling 100 percent on board, or they see it as a way to repair a broken relationship, it can put the arrangement in jeopardy. “It should be noted that if one partner has consented under coercion,” she says, “or because they are afraid they will lose the relationship, the agreement may be compromised.”

What are the different kinds of ethical non-monogamy?

...Think of it an umbrella term for all the ways you can, with consent, explore love and sex with multiple people. If someone says they’re non-monogamous, don’t assume you know what that means; instead respectfully ask them for more information.

...Says Hannah, who’s polyamorous and shares an apartment in Brooklyn with their primary and secondary partners, “ENM means you’re ‘opening up’ your relationship in some way. I think the only distinction is that people who identify as poly tend to have more romantic connections and significant others, where ENM can be casual, or just about sexual connections, depending on who’s defining it.” 

Common misconceptions 

To chip away at the taboos, let’s talk about what ENM is not. ...

Does consensual non-monogamy work for everyone? 

[The tl;dr: No.  To continue,] People in ENM relationships tend to have heightened communication skills, a sophisticated understanding of boundaries, and tons of empathy — because you have to do so much talking to make sure everyone involved feels safe, special, and loved. McPherson says to expect to work on your relationship and communicate twice as much as you once did, “at least for the first few years.” 

Keep in mind that you’re not going to figure it out overnight. ... [Nevertheless] a 2020 study conducted by Western University, York University and the University of Utah actually found that people with consensually non-monogamous connections had increased life satisfaction, relationship quality, and sexual contentment. 

Communication is the key to a successful ENM 

...Communication is hard and terrifying, but it’s super important to get on the same page about boundaries and limitations early on....

[Says Dr. Pitagora,] “Especially for people who are new to ethical and consensual non-monogamy, it can feel awkward to have conversations about new partners, so I always advise having conversations about conversations.” 

[And,] “Whenever there are new partners/romantic interests/sexual partners, I suggest that each dyad/triad/etc. has a conversation about what level of detail they want from their partners about who they’re seeing and what they’ll be doing with whom, and also when they would like to have that information... g. Figuring out and agreeing on how to have conversations makes it easier to have those conversations.” 

Having the courage to say what you feel takes a lot of practice! But boundaries are there to keep you safe — that’s why it’s better to set your tenets in the beginning....

●  Some Covid closure? In the poly-comics gossip department, remember those sad Kimchi Cuddles strips a couple weeks ago about a covid-boundary crisis between real-life Kim and real-life Vajra, and their little kid being fed covid-denialist crap by her friend's knucklehead mom?

"Kimchi" and "Vajra" have apparently worked it out using those, you know, communication skills. He's moving back to a nearby apartment and things are looking good, and of course she cartooned about it, to the cheers and likes of thousands of fans.

Fact is, I gather that she has not been entirely pristine in the boundary-agreement department herself, and real-life Vajra handled the kerfuffle pretty well, so no villains here please except for the kid's friend's knucklehead mom.

What's more, real-life Rajeev may finally, after all these years, be moving in next door too. The middle panel is a reference to Brokeback Mountain.

●  Not-quite-so-happy poly in the tabloids. The Daily Mail and others published the tale (Aug. 19) of two couples in Perth, Australia, who fell in love and "formed an almost-quadruple, where everyone dated each other except Rob and Simon." It was wonderful all around until it wasn't, and following a disagreement between the two women, they broke up as a quad late last year. Three continue as a triad, and their kids call the extra guy their "sparent." (Get it?) The other woman has dropped the other two and maintains a relationship with only her original guy.

I am reminded of Deborah Anapol's observation in the poly movement's early days that often, 2+2 = 3+1, as in this case. Or worse, 2+2 = 3–1. Some say that quads are the easiest polyfamily configuration, others say they're the hardest. At least everyone here seems amicable and settled... if you can believe anything in the tabloids.

That's it for Friday Polynews Roundup. Stay well, dear people, don't be a knucklehead, and don't breathe their aerosols.

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