Friday Polynews Roundup: New novel "Poly." Open-relationship therapist in the news. "I moved my lover in with my man," and more
Author and book
Chris Flood – a married father of two with plummeting self-esteem and questionable guitar skills – suddenly finds himself in the depths of polyamory after years of a near-sexless marriage. His wife, Sarah – a lover of the arts, avid quoter of Rumi, and always oozing confidence – wants to rediscover her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity.
Their new life of polyamory features late nights, love affairs and rotating childcare duties. While Sarah enjoys flings with handsome men, Chris, much to his astonishment, falls for a polydactylous actor and musician, Biddy.
Then there’s Zac Batista. When Chris and Sarah welcome the Uruguayan child prodigy and successful twenty-two-year-old into their lives they gratefully hand over school pick-up and babysitting duties. But as tensions grow between family and lovers, Chris begins to wonder if it’s just jealousy, or something more sinister brewing…
A searing and utterly engrossing debut, Poly is a raw, hilarious, and moving portrait of contemporary relationships in all their diversity, and an intimate exploration of the fragility of love and identity.
Paul Dalgarno has had a wife for 15 years, and another partner for four. He gets asked the same questions a lot
‘Polyamorous relationships are as varied as any other straight, gay, lesbian, asexual or wholly platonic relationship.’ (nadia_bormotova/Getty/iStockphoto)
Tell people you’re polyamorous and a few common questions will almost certainly be coming your way. I know this because I’m polyamorous – by default, if I’m honest, rather than by some deeply held philosophy. My wife of 15 years, in addition to being my wife, has other partners. I also have another partner, of four years, who (to date) seems to have no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone other than me. Go me!Which segues nicely into the first thing non-polyamorous people are likely to ask you:
What are the rules?Easy. There are none, except for those set by the people involved. “How-to” books such as More Than Two and The Ethical Slut offer some valuable frameworks and considerations for polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships, but that’s about as far as it goes. And even if there were pre-existing rules, who wants to be the person trying to enforce them?... I’ve read as widely as I can on the subject and the advice I’ve found most useful comes not from the literature on polyamory but from the motto for the annual Meredith music festival: Don’t be a dickhead.Do you get jealous?No, never. OK, I’m lying. But the fact we have the word “compersion” – for the joyful sensation associated with seeing your partner enjoying a happy romantic or sexual connection with someone else – suggests that, in fact, some people can operate with only minimal or passing feelings of jealousy. In my case, jealousy has triggered everything from spontaneously smashing the tiles on my bathroom wall with my fist to panic attacks that haven’t just given the impression I’m dying – I’ve been convinced I really am dying, my lungs collapsing under the heavy existential fear that I’m going to be left alone....Multiple partners … so you think you’re really hot, then?Um, see above.Polyamory, unlike consecutive monogamous relationships and their hidden affairs, gives a unique opportunity for real-time, in-your-face A/B testing. While your new partner or partners, high on new relationship energy, may be primed to respond to your carefully crafted selfies enthusiastically, your longer-term partner or partners may not. They’ve seen you, they know you and, miraculously, they still want to be with you.What about STIs?Yes, they exist – with problems ranging from all sorts of undesirable genital conditions to Aids to infertility. But condoms can definitely assist, in much the same way as wearing a face mask and washing your hands for 20 seconds can help amid a deadly pandemic. Are any of those precautions foolproof? No. But they help.Do you split your time equally between partners?More accurately, in my experience, you split your time completely between partners. Forget about those quiet moments to yourself and the good old days of feeling bored to tears by your own company. ...Do you feel in control?OK, nobody’s ever actually asked me this, but I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions. And the answer every time is no. Because the hard-to-swallow truth is that none of us, in any meaningful way, has any control over anything. You might disagree but you’d be wrong – you really don’t.And that’s maybe the toughest and most beautiful lesson polyamory has to offer. If you truly love somebody and choose to set them free, they may not come back to you, but the reality of it is liberating: they were never yours in the first place.
It is a wild ride for the reader as they are thrown into observing the chaos generated when multiple partners are mixed with multiple drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Dalgarno also includes mental health issues that impact on contemporary relationships as several of the male characters are suffering anxiety and/or depression along with questioning their masculinity.Just when Chris and Sarah decide to rent a larger house so Zac can live with them, their lives are further thrown into turmoil when they discover that Zac may have been lying to them about a whole lot of things. Well, actually, all the characters are doing a certain amount of lying, but Zac’s motivations might be more sinister than the rest.
By Jen ZorattiBefore she literally wrote a book on open relationships, Winnipeg sex and relationship therapist Susan Wenzel was in a monogamous marriage with her husband Denys.That is, until, he came to her wanting to discuss opening their marriage."It was a very scary time for me, because I had that idea of monogamy," she recalls. "I remember feeling very dizzy, very confused, very hurt. All that anxiety kicks in." She even kicked him out.That was eight years ago. Now, Wenzel, 41, and her husband, also 41, are in a consensual non-monogamous open marriage, which means they are free to pursue relationships with other people — and she’s never been happier.Her book, A Happy Life in an Open Relationship: The Essential Guide to a Healthy and Fulfilling Nonmonogamous Love Life, came out in March via Chronicle Books.
Susan Wenzel and her husband, Denys Volkov
"I wanted something for people who are considering opening their relationship, so they could have a guide," says Wenzel, who has worked with many couples who are either curious about open relationships or are currently in one through her therapy practice. Their struggles and challenges were familiar to her, and she shares her own story in the book."(The book) doesn’t advocate, it doesn’t say, ‘non-monogamy is the way to go’ — it just says, ‘if you are in a non-monogamous relationship or you’re considering opening up your relationship, this is a book that will help you maintain and navigate that relationship well.’"..."Hearing a different story can really throw people off. People get very triggered when they hear about open relationships because of their own fears. ... It’s like, ‘How come you guys are so happy and you’re living this lifestyle that is not the norm to many people?’ But then they see we haven’t changed, we’re still relatable....At first, Wenzel’s newly opened relationship was fraught, governed by control, fear and jealousy. Wenzel began to look inward in order to answer a question that both scared and excited her: "What would happen if I embraced this?" Through her own personal growth, she was able to pinpoint that a large source of her anxiety related to a childhood-rooted fear of abandonment."But that’s a story I tell myself because my partner is there for me in so many ways," she says. "I know he’s reliable and dependable — that doesn’t change because he’s seeing someone else."...Wenzel and her husband have two kids, a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old-daughter. The idea of a different family unit wasn’t completely unfamiliar to them: their Kenyan grandfather, Wenzel’s father, has two wives. "My son says, ‘No, that’s not for me’ and my daughter says, "It makes sense, sometimes I like different people,’" Wenzel says.The couple maintains boundaries with their children: general questions only; their sex lives are not up for discussion...."One belief system I changed is, ‘My husband is not the source of my happiness. I am the source of my happiness.’ ... And also to know that he came into this life to do his life, and for me to do my life — and maybe we can walk alongside each other and do that life together."Wenzel views her open relationship as a gift that has allowed her to grow in all areas of her life."It’s not the open relationship that brought me happiness," she says. "It’s the work around it."
With two boyfriends, Sunny Saap admits that her relationships are far from conventional.
Now, with the three adults living under one roof together, she's adamant that they've become one big, happy family!As told to Candice Fernandez, Hotspot MediaMy eldest daughter shrieked with laughter as she jumped onto the swings.Then, her dad, Matt, 34, pushed her up into the air.‘Higher, Daddy!’ London, three, squealed.Beside me, my boyfriend Kody, 27, held our daughter Thea, two months.I’d been in a polyamorous relationship with Matt and Kody for two years, which meant we all consented to non-monogamy.I loved them both, while they loved me, but to each other they were just friends.I’d met Matt first, four years earlier, when we lived in the same apartment building. ...Eventually, I plucked up the courage to [ask] Matt.‘What if we opened up our relationship?’ I asked. ‘It doesn’t mean I don’t love you,’ I added.We chatted for hours and Matt understood.‘We can try it,’ he smiled.----------------------------...He was tall and handsome with muscular arms.As we chatted, I pointed to Matt in the distance.‘That’s my partner,’ I said.Kody’s face dropped.‘You’re not single,’ he muttered.‘We’re open,’ I explained.Kody looked confused, even more so when Matt appeared and shook his hand!...They need to become friends, I thought, texting Kody to come over.When Kody arrived, Matt made us coffee and soon we were all laughing.From then on, Kody came around for dinner once a week and he and Matt bonded further....One day, Matt and I were cleaning the spare room.‘Why doesn’t Kody come and live with us?’ he asked. ‘He could stay in this room with you, then we can swap around,’ he offered....It felt so normal to live with them both. And from then on, I swapped between bedrooms each night.It was perfect.We even broke the news to our parents, and after the initial shock, they gave us their blessing.Soon after that, Kody and I sat down with Matt.‘Kody and I want to have a child,’ I said.‘I’d love to be a dad too,’ Kody added.‘That’s amazing,’ Matt said.
----------------------------...In March 2019, Matt and Kody were both by my side when I gave birth to a little girl named Thea.With our new addition, our family has gone from strength to strength.Matt and Kody have since become like brothers.‘Mummy, Daddy, Kody!’ London squeals when she runs into a room.Whenever we go out together, I swap between holding Matt and Kody’s hands.Sometimes strangers give us funny looks, but we don’t care.Both Matt and Kody love me very much. And I love them.Now, I can’t imagine being in a conventional couple.I’m so lucky and grateful to have two wonderful men in my life.