Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 23, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: More poly TV coming. Why so many triads? New space for platonic romantic friendship, and more

●  A trend continues in TV land:  From the Los Angeles Times comes Open relationships are 'common' in Hollywood. ’Soulmates’ is helping TV catch up (Oct. 19). Soulmates is a new series on AMC that uses a science-fiction gimmick to explore "whether love is destiny or a choice." The show's creators tell how they were dazzled by the concept of poly.

By Sonaiya Kelley

AMC's new anthology series "Soulmates" imagines a world in which knowing one's fated love is only a test away. ...

...The show's third episode, "Little Adventures," which aired Monday [Oct. 19], follows Libby and Adam, a happily married couple.... After Libby's test results pair her with Miranda, she has to figure out which partner to choose — or if there's a possibility of making it work with both.

"It felt like a very relevant story to tell now about how relationships are changing," said [series co-creator Will] Bridges. "We wanted... an honest look on how (polyamory) affects the characters within that relationship."

...The writers drew on the experiences of people they know to inform their characters.

"I had a lot of friends, particularly in L.A., who [were a part of] throuples and dealt with all the different politics of open relationships," said [the show's other co-creator,  Brett] Goldstein. ... "I think there's something weird about how we always say 'It takes a village to raise a child,' but when it comes to our relationships, we believe in only one person to do everything," he added. "When you put it like that, that's mad."

"Remember like 20 years ago yoga was really weird? Now everyone does yoga and there's nothing weird about it," said Bridges. "And I feel like there's a world maybe where open relationships, or at least untraditional non-monogamous relationships, are much more acceptable and an option rather than, 'Oh, that's a weird thing you're up to.' "...

[Lead actor Shamier Anderson says,] "I did a bit of research but not too much, because my character was unfamiliar with it." ... 

"I think [open relationships] work when people are being open to the possibilities of it," said Bridges. ... "With the research that we did and all the people we spoke to, it becomes clear that it's not about sex," he added. "It's not about the tantalizing idea of what it's like to have another person to have a sexual relationship with. It becomes about what each person brings to the relationship and how that affects what you give to each person."

It's been 14 years since the very first polyamory-themed series was pitched to a TV studio, to the best of my knowledge. HBO "almost bought" Reid Mihalko's "Polly and Marie" series in 2006 after he and others filmed a pilot, he told the 2009 Poly Living conference, but HBO thought advertisers would be too scared of the topic. Now everyone in TV land seems to be trying to hitch a pull from this moving train, advertisers included.

●  However, a lot of the entertainment world's poly and CNM representation remains naive or superficial and fails to grasp the lived life. So of course there is a Facebook group: This IS the polyamory exposure I wanted. With 9,900 members. Have fun. 

Relationship Anarchy logo

●  The profoundly deep platonic romantic friendship flourished as a relationship style from the 1700s to the early 1900s, especially between women but also sometimes between men. It surely provided respectable cover for many closeted lesbians and gays. But at least as often, by all evidence, it was exactly what it seemed to be: a passionate romance entirely of soul to soul.

The passing of the romantic friendship as an understood thing has been a tragic loss for the modern world. Today "romantic" and "intimate" are so synonymous with "sexual" that many people can't imagine a working alternative. Unless they know about asexuals (aces) in their various varieties, who have self-identified and found each other only recently, or the very modern philosophy of relationship anarchy — the younger, wilder, overlapping sibling of polyamory.

And polyamory itself, with its freedom from rigid sexual assumptions and requirements, is giving old-fashioned romantic friendships new space to grow and thrive, as many have discovered and remarked. 

The Atlantic just published a long essay on the forgotten power of the platonic romantic friendship and its history in the western world: What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life? by Rhaina Cohen (online Oct. 20). “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1. Our worlds are backward.”

Go read it. It ends on a hopeful note of rediscovery:

Polyamory and asexuality, both of which push back against the notion that a monogamous sexual relationship is the key to a fulfilling adult life, are rapidly gaining visibility. Expanding the possible roles that friends can play in one another’s lives could be the next frontier.

●  New book on the history of monogamy and its alternatives. Luke Brunning, a UK philosopher, published a shortish book this week Does Monogamy Work? A Primer for the 21st CenturyHe is interviewed in Mashable: Does monogamy work? This new book explores the controversial question (Oct 20). The interview ends with this:

...You discuss the concept of jealousy and compersion.... Is jealousy an inevitable part of non-monogamy, or if it's possible to get to a place of full compersion?

I've written about this recently [Imagine There's No JealousyAeon, Feb. 27, 2019] and tried to think about it in more detail. What I've put in the book [is] based on this academic article I published [Compersion: An Alternative to Jealousy?Journal of the American Philosophical Association, Summer 2020] where I'm thinking through those questions. 

...[Some] people think jealousy is inevitable and you can never get rid of it. Other people take a completely different view and think it's easy. The emotion is linked to two things. One is our sense of personal vulnerability. The other is our beliefs about what we're entitled to, what we expect from other people, what we deserve....

Luke Brunning

It's relatively easy... to change your beliefs about relationships. You might think, 'Well, I've had all these dodgy beliefs about what I can expect from a partner or what I'm entitled to or how they should behave.' And so, change your kind of attitudes in that way. 

At the same time, the fact that you've changed those beliefs — you feel less entitled, you don't think that you possess your partner, you don't think can claim their attention — doesn't necessarily mean that you can alter — or alter quickly — your personal vulnerability ... [or] the way you get attached to people. ...

I know lots of people who've thought about this a lot, and they've got a clear sense of what they think is justified or not justified, and they think jealousy is not justified ... but nonetheless they feel horrifically insecure and vulnerable. 

●  Speaking of books, remember Paul Dalgarno, author of the novel Poly that came out last summer?  He writes about his own poly life, and the competing plusses and minuses of both polyamory and monogamy, in Archer magazine in his native Australia: Polyamory and the mirror on the wall (Oct. 15)

Mirror on wall, by Suhyeon Choi

...For monogamy, some of the bad press comes from the assumption it’s the natural way of things, as opposed to a practice that’s long been promulgated and bolstered by patriarchy and land (read ownership over other people) rights.

But monogamy also has plenty going for it.

Even though the “one-and-only” approach to love is prone to abuse through hush-hush affairs and their fallout, even though it’s vulnerable, as we all are, to the monotony of life and the law of entropy, having an “other half” provides a reliable data point – a mirror, as it were....

In my case... polyamory has providing me with, at best, a glorious infinity mirror, at worst a nightmarish funhouse of reflections in which my sense of who I really am becomes as stretched and distorted as the bedsheets in a cheap motel.

...Of all the benefits of polyamory, the one I’ve found most invaluable is the growing awareness that my relationships and the self-esteem I derive from them are chiefly my responsibility. There actually is no house of mirrors, no magic mirror on the wall – it’s you and what you bring to those around you that matters.

●  The Independent, one of the UK's major papers, just republished online a basic, longish Poly 101 from 2017:  7 things people with multiple partners want you to know about what it's really like (Oct 19). Its main source is Elisabeth Sheff. The 7 things it lists are,

1. They don't really get jealous [some don't, anyway, or at least not so much]
2. It's not all about sex
3. Sometimes people just fall into the lifestyle
4. It involves a lot of communication
5. It's not always easy
6. Kids don't complicate things as much as you might think
7. It doesn't always work

●  People complain: Among those happy polyfamilies so relentlessly featured in the British tabloids, why always so many triads?? A fresh example: Woman in polyamorous 'throuple' explains how they organise bedtime (Daily Mirror, Oct. 12, among others. With video.)

Janie, Cody, Maggie (TriAdventures / Instagram)

...Maggie and Cody first met on Tinder in February 2016, but became a throuple after meeting Janie in November that year.

In a video on TikTok, Janie says that while they weren't planning to end up in a relationship "it just sort of happened."

Cody and Maggie married in January 2018 at a courthouse and held a ceremony in May, where Janie was the maid of honour....

Now they share their life on social media on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, from their home in Chattanooga, southeastern Tennessee.

In a video, Janie says that meeting their pair was the "best thing that ever happened to me."

In one video, which has been seen three million times, she explains how they manage the bedroom dynamic.

Janie shows off their king-size bed and says that sometimes the couple do all sleep there together sometimes.

She adds: "I sleep in the middle and Maggie and Cody sleep on either end.

"But its not actually normal for all three of us to sleep together."

"And we don't have a sleep schedule. Usually we just decide whoever sleeps in the King by whoever hasn't been sleeping the best recently goes to sleep by themself."...

So why do the tabs seem crazy for "throuples" over other poly family structures?  

Surely it's just because triads are the most abundant. There are more triads than quads, more quads than quints, and polyfamilies of six haven't even earned a special name yet. The pattern is clear: The more complex the structure, the less often it "occurs in nature." 1  

So when the tabloids' content agencies go beating the bushes for polyfamilies to hire and exhibit, triads are mostly what they find.

And maybe another factor: The bigger the family, the more people have to agree to tabloid exposure. And, the paycheck will be divided more ways.


1.  The exception to this rule is the extended poly network. Network poly seems to be the commonest form today, at least in densely populated areas. A large network can absorb and damp out perturbations among its links, to continue through internal breakups, re-formations, new additions, and dropouts. A poly network is an intimate form of community. But within a network you almost always see, again, tighter sub-units forming: primary-ish couples, triads and quads, in that same decreasing order of abundance.

This is why I predict that even in a future society that's totally poly-friendly and -accepting, couples of two will be the relationship that most people are in for most of the time. Couples are just the simplest structure.

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Blogger John U said...

The term "line marriage" as outlined in a number of mid 20th Century novels by Robert Heinlein, might be used for open group relationships of more than six. Any open, stable, large group relationship will eventually become multi-generational.

Another word that has been in use for the past decade or so is polycule. It lacks the formality of line marriage, and implies a large group with no particular membership requirements.

October 23, 2020 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Richard Gilmore said...

We are approaching 6 kind of sideways. There are the four of us who have been together 20 years this month. Then there are two longtime relationships outside the core family that have been going on a bit more than 10 years.

October 24, 2020 11:50 PM  

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