Friday Polyamory News Roundup – Covid solidarity, the many ethical non-monogamy types, good how-tos, and a Vermont legal ruling
Someday your grandchildren will ask you what you did in 2020. If you want to hold your head up when that question comes, join the phone banks and other campaigns to get out the vote for Democrats in these next five days. There are a zillion opportunities, such as here or here or here.
By Madeline Wells...The Bay Area has a reputation for being particularly poly-friendly, where regular meetups for the community aren't hard to find. ... Before the pandemic, Krista Varela Posell, a 30-year-old who lives in Rodeo, was in a polycule of 10 people (that’s a connected network of people in nonmonogamous relationships). When COVID-19 hit, she hunkered down with just her husband, and found herself unable to see most of her partners for months.“It’s been such a challenge to have people we care about and not be able to do the same things we used to do on a regular basis,” explains Posell. “We were going out and seeing partners two to three times a week, and now to be stuck at home is a very drastic change in our routine.”Stephie Winter and Bex Coffey, both 35, are two friends who both identify as poly and live together in a house of nine people in Brentwood. Winter lives with her husband, but was unable to see her other partner for months due to the inherent risk of having a large social bubble.“My boyfriend and I met a month and a half before COVID started, and his older son is asthmatic, so in the beginning we didn’t see each other for eight weeks,” says Winter. “We eventually made the decision for his mental health that he needed human connection, and we needed to expand to include him in our bubble.”...Some are choosing to suspend dating altogether. One source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that “nesting” with one partner has led them to bond more closely than before, but that not being able to act on the poly facet to her identity has been a little uncomfortable.“Basically ... we have the appearance of monogamy and that has brought some discomfort for me, but we are overall very happy and secure in our relationship itself,” she said via Facebook messenger. “… Like it's so normal to just be assumed mono. But if that's not ‘who you are’ it can just kind of grate on you. It's like being bisexual in a relationship (I'm bisexual btw) where everyone assumes you're either straight or gay based on who you are with. It just makes a key part of who I feel I am kind of invisible.”Others, however, go bravely forth with dating. Miles-Kaleb Raymond, a 19-year-old living in Oakland with one partner, occasionally goes on dates with others — but only those who get tested often and wear masks outside the house. But so far, he says, dating during the pandemic has been all “dead ends.”“It’s affected my partner and I mentally a bit,” says Raymond. “We love each other but it feels lonely at times. The world feels more quiet.”On the other hand, some have found love in the chaos. ...------------------------------There are some advantages, too, to navigating relationships in the pandemic as a poly person. For one: communication skills.“When you’re in the poly community, there’s a certain level of skill you have to already develop in terms of being in touch with what's important for you when it comes to relationships, and knowing how to negotiate needs and working through disappointments,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Gal Szekely of the Couples Center. “I think those skills are really needed right now.”Broaching the subject of risk with partners in regards to the coronavirus also feels familiar, says Posell.“The transition to talking about those kinds of things has felt somewhat easy being poly, because when you see a lot of people, you have to talk about STI safety,” she says. “This has added another layer on to that … we all have to be more up front about levels of risk we take as individuals in order to consider spending time with other people.”And, there’s also the element that unlike with some monogamous couples, there isn’t the same pressure for one person to be your everything in a time of crisis. ...The Bay Area poly community has also gotten creative to stay connected during the pandemic. Lauren Vegter, who lives in Oakland, started a pandemic-era dating app for both ethically non-monogamous and monogamous people called Bloom. The app sets people up on socially-distanced group dates in parks with 6 to 8 people. It’s still in its pilot stage, but Vegter says she’s already seen overwhelming interest.“We created it because I was interested in bringing together ethically non-monogamous communities in a time when we can’t gather in our traditional, often indoor spaces,” says Vegter.For those who aren’t comfortable meeting in person, one Facebook group for Bay Area-based poly people offers a monthly virtual happy hour on Zoom. And it’s not all about dating — the community is also there to help each other through the trials and tribulations of coronavirus. ...
– Are you pursuing ethical non-monogamy for the right reasons?– How do you handle jealousy and insecurity?– Remember that overhauling your entire relationship structure is difficult.– Communication is key.– Give yourself some structure.– Think boundaries, not rules.– Veto power is unethical.
● Similarly, this one appeared in the healthy-living site MindBodyGreen ("connecting soul and science"): What Ethical Non-Monogamy Really Means & Why People Practice It (Oct. 27). Excerpts:
..."When explaining ethical or consensual non-monogamy to my clients, my go-to is the three C's: communication, consideration, and of course, consent," psychotherapist Cheyenne Taylor, LMSW, explains to mbg. "Ethical non-monogamy is based on the concept of using socially acceptable guidelines and ethically motivated tools to cultivate a relationship built on the foundation of non-monogamy. At its core, though, ENM means not cheating or acting without the consent of your partner."What it means to practice ethical non-monogamy:
1. You and your partner(s) agree on what you want and don't want. ...2. Honesty is vital. ...3. You need to care about your partners' feelings. ...4. You can still have a primary partner. ...5. You can also choose to have non-hierarchal relationships. ...6. There will be ups and downs. ...7. Yes, you'll likely be jealous sometimes. ...-----------------------------Ethical non-monogamy vs. polyamory.
Polyamory is one form of ethical non-monogamy, which is an umbrella term that encompasses many other types of relationships. Swinging, casual sex, open relationships, and polyamory are all forms of ethical non-monogamy, and there are many others. Polyamory refers to having multiple romantic partners at once, which not all ethically non-monogamous people do. ...Ethical non-monogamy vs. open relationship.
Open relationships are another form of ethical non-monogamy, with ethical non-monogamy being the umbrella term. ...
No matter how ‘woke’ we think we are, feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, or simply being overwhelmed happen. What’s really the magic wand, so to speak, in any relationship, mono or poly, is fervent communication.My first foray into the poly world is not the Poly 101 course I would want for anyone else, but it did teach me a lot. ...
"When you say 'hey I'm in a poly relationship,' that is overwhelming for some people. Now we are all one big happy family. We all cook together and have family time. We sit around the table and talk about our day and just cherish each other."
● And lastly, we get down in the legal weeds of the poly parental-rights decision just issued in Vermont's Lanfear v. Ruggerio.
Vermont Supreme Court Justice Karen Carroll
The standards employed in this case are a useful example of what poly people may encounter as the basis for a reasoned decision, depending of course on your state and your judge. Bottom line: the non-bio third parent has an opening but has a lot to prove.
offers an interesting illustration. The relationship seems to have been dysfunctional in many ways (as relationships that go to court usually are); and I have no reason to think that it's any more representative of all polyamorous relationships than the "traditional" child custody case is representative of more common heterosexual relationships. Still, it struck me as an interesting story that helps point to issues that will sometimes especially arise when courts deal with polyamorous relationships, as opposed to (say) "de facto parent" claims brought by stepparents or even by grandparents.