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

December 11, 2020

Friday Polyamory News Roundup: Breaking the unicorn stereotype, facing down reality TV, Western polyam in Asia, happy polydays, and more

It's Friday Polyamory News Roundup time for December 11, 2020! I skipped last week, so we've got a lot.

●  The wedding-industrial complex, that 600-pound money-sucking gorilla that too many about-to-be-weds and their families fail to chase away, seems to be picking up on our ideas. But boy can it fumble them. Brides magazine ran a reasonably decent article in September, How To Know if an Open Marriage Is Right for YouThat must have done well for them, because now they're back with What Is Polyamory and Why Is it Having a Moment? by a different author (Dec. 7). Nearly every paragraph in this one is either wrong or just eye-rollingly misguided.


By Anka Radakovich

Polyamorous marriage is having a moment. The spike in this alternative marriage arrangement is happening with young, married couples who have been married for a few years, yet long for “something more.” ... 

“Consensual Polyamory and open relationships are booming as the Covid pandemic has put a strain on many traditional relationships,” says Sexologist Dr. Ava Cadell.

That's odd, everyone I know tells of Covid putting a lid on their lives. Cadell goes on:

“Divorce has spiked and even newlyweds are calling it quits, but an alternative to separation and divorce is adding new relationship energy,” she says. “The benefits of adding one or more partners for a couple include avoiding cheating, getting additional attention, satisfying a natural curiosity, exploring bisexuality, and learning to love in new ways.” 

...[The Ashley Madison cheating site] recently published a study called “Love Beyond Lockdown: A Report on Navigating Marriage and Infidelity Through A Pandemic And A New Normal.”...  “Lack of sexual initiation is the primary complaint of married people during lockdown,” the study found. Seventy five percent of cheaters don’t look to their partner in times of uncertainty and stress, so they go outside the marriage. The pandemic has not decreased the desire or ability to cheat, in fact it has fueled it.

...The downside of all of this is jealousy. ... But the hippies [in the 1970s Kerista commune] figured this poly dilemma out by using the concept of “Compersion,” which is a “feeling of pleasure or deep emotion arising from your partner being with another partner. Often referred to as the opposite of jealousy.

Simple, huh?

...“When the pandemic is lifted we may see that some marriages didn’t make it,” says Dr. [Tammy] Nelson. “...One thing that the pandemic has taught couples was to be more honest with each other about their needs and desires. ... Couples may occasionally need to find an outside relationship to fill in the gaps,” says Dr. Nelson.

Got a gap? Find a body to patch it with!

Will somebody please pitch a decent article on polyam to Brides? It looks like they're in the market. 

●  Speaking of toxic couple-centrism, Elisabeth Sheff, longtime researcher on the sociology of polyamory, has posted a research-based series of items about unicorn relationships and their problems — and sometimes their surprising successes for everyone involved — on her Psychology Today blog The Polyamorists Next Door. The latest in this series is Unicorns in Their Own Words (Nov. 29). She finds that, as usual, stereotypes capture only some of the people being stereotyped.
Pixabay, bouette782
Pixabay, bouette782

My findings indicate that [unicorns'] experiences in consensual non-monogamy (CNM) are incredibly diverse and range from hideously exploitative to joyously liberating.

She also writes,

The previous two blog posts in this unicorn series covered the reasons why it is so hard for couples to date and provided some tips on how couples can improve their dating lives — both of which got a big reaction from some readers.

She's being diplomatic. As we all know after this happy, rationality-filled year 2020, humans will often fly into a fury when informed that research finds that some people in a stereotyped group don't fit the stereotype.

Both folks who say that polyamory is evil and those who say that unicorn hunting is evil are basing their responses on their individual experiences. This is not to say that those experiences are wrong, invalid, or false. Those experiences are real and legitimate — and they are not the only experiences. ... Research with humans involves sampling as broad a range of people as possible, including non-monogamists who identify as something else than polyamorous or manage their polyamorous relationships differently than the group that opposes unicorn hunting on principle.

●  Dunno about you, but I could use some holiday cheer.  

–  The MFM polyfamily raising a toddler who run the RealPolylife site have put together an Instagram-of-the-day series — 31 of them for the 31 days of December — of many different people's polyam Instagrams. It feels like those childhood Advent calendars for the Christmas season, where you open a little paper door onto a scene for each date in December leading up to the biggie. We're a third of the way through the month, but you're welcome to start at the beginning. #HappyPolydays: A Group of polyamourous people raising awareness in the month of December

–  Kimchi Cuddles offers a free print-it-yourself holiday card. Open the jpg file there for the card. For best results print it on card stock, cut and fold.

–  In past years I've run big roundups of holiday-season tales, tips, and advice. Start here. More.

●  Other topics: On the Black women writer's site Zora (53,000 followers) hosted by Medium, Gabrielle Smith refuses to be shamed for her poly relationships across racial lines: My Dating Life Does Not Determine My Blackness (Dec 7)

This past August, I started making resources on Instagram for folks interested in practicing ethical non-monogamy (ENM). The face of polyamory and ENM is overwhelmingly White and typically displays structures that replicate monogamy or coupledom. In this, I wasn’t really represented as a queer Black person who practices solo polyamory (meaning I am essentially my own primary partner). So I began working on ways to expand that. I’ve cultivated a humble following, but with that, naturally, comes the trolls....

●  In Men's Health, from prolific bi & poly writer Zachary Zane, I'm in a Loving, Committed Relationship. I'm Also Polyamorous (Dec. 9). "My monogamous friends don't get it, so allow me to explain." 

Last week, the person I’ve been dating for the past four months and I had The Talk™ (you know the one: “So what are we?”) and arrived at "partners." Official romantic partners! This may not seem like that big of a deal because I'm polyamorous, but it was still a huge moment for me. It signaled to the person I was dating that I'm in this for the long-haul. This isn't just a COVID cuff or whatnot.

I was excited, so I told my friends and family. They were happy for me but also slightly confused. In fact, I had a friend ask me, “Is there really any difference between what you were doing and what you’re doing now, since you’re polyamorous? You can still date and sleep with other people.”

...In a poly relationship, as with a monogamous relationship, commitment means you will be there for that person. You'll support them. You'll take care of them. You’ll love them. 

We also have rules, and agreeing and abiding to these rules is the poly form of commitment. ... 

●  Our ideas are increasingly getting around. Far around. What non-Western country has most picked up on the current Western movement for gender-equal, consent-based polyamory?

I might guess India, but that's only from English-language news feeds. India, of course, is a former English colony, and in a country of 427 languages English is second only to Hindi if you include people's second and third languages. That still amounts to only about 11% of the population. Does anyone have better information on the globalization, or not, of Western-flavored polyam?

A new article in the Deccan Herald prompts this small, very fragmentary data dump from India's English-language media:
In Bengaluru, many couples are exploring polyamory

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/metrolife/metrolife-your-bond-with-bengaluru/in-bengaluru-many-couples-are-exploring-polyamory-920842.html
In Bengaluru, many couples are exploring polyamory, Theres Sudeep, Deccan Herald, Nov. 28, 2020. “It’s like having a network of friends versus just one friend” [Treesa explains]. “You have different people who you can relate to and share different facets of your personality with and it’s the same for your partner.”

Polyamory is a reality in Kolkata!, Zinia Sen & Shamayita Chakraborty, Times of India, Feb. 13, 2019. ''The word has been around on the internet for a dozen years now. But that three or more people can live happily ever after is still a thought that makes our society cringe collectively"

Is polyamory finally ready to become an open secret in India?, Jayanthi Madhukar, The Hindu, Dec. 9, 2017. "Polyamory is about equity and egality: any person in a relationship has the same rights, no matter their gender, sexual orientation or age."

When three is not a crowd, Tariq Engineer, Mumbai Mirror, June 3, 2017. "Polyamory warrants full disclosure, honest communication and self-awareness. Here’s understanding what it is all about."

Dos and don’ts of polyamorous relationships, Bhakti Paun Sharma, The Health Site, Jan 20, 2017. Article on a large, mainstream medical news site for the public, with the graphic at right.

Polyamory isn't 'sleeping around', monogamy isn't natural: Meet Indians who are 'poly', Sowmya Rajendran, The News Minute, July 20, 2017. "Outliers to the 'system' do exist, even if they may not be in a position to proclaim their decisions and choices to everyone. One such group is those who practise polyamory, which is engaging in multiple intimate relationships with the consent of all the partners involved." 

Too many chefs don’t spoil the broth: Polyamory 101, Omaiha Walajahi, December 2020, on a psychological counseling website in Hyderabad. "This very idea [of only one possible True Love] is being questioned by a lot of people since time immemorial. Why do we have to contain love in these societal boxes? And who says we can’t love more than one person? People have been asking these questions and stepping away from the monogamous style of living."

More of my posts referencing India (including this one; scroll down).

●  Elsewhere in Asia,

–  Rice in Singapore bills itself as "Asia, Unfiltered. Rice is Asia’s alternative voice. From sex workers to politicians, contemporary art to street food, we bring fresh perspectives and bold commentary on everyday life in Asia." It just posted a long profile of a free-spirited Singaporean polyam lady, Janice Leong, and her tale of how she got where she is today: On Honesty and Uncertainty: What A Polyamorist Has To Teach Us About Relationships (Dec. 4) 

–  VOI in Indonesia is running many stories, each in Indonesian, English, Chinese, and Japanese, about US and British polyfamilies picked up from the British tabloids. For instance, A Polyamorous Husband And Wife Fall In Love With The Same Woman On Tinder (Dec. 3). See the bottom of that for links to a half dozen more. Say what you will about the tabs, they have reach.

–  Also in IndonesiaIn defense of open relationships, Sebastian Partogi, The Jakarta Post, Dec. 12. "Having observed some close friends who practice the open-relationship model, however, I begin to question whether the configuration is as negative as people have thought, compared with the much more privileged exclusive heterosexual monogamy."

–  Articles from Vietnam are showing up in my feeds, but Google Translate leaves me confused about the kind of media they're from. This one is from a child-care-services company that also presents magazine-style articles on its site: Just Exactly What Polyamory Dating, per Google Translate (Nov 27). Another seems to be in an overseas-employment magazine that also runs general-interest articles. 

    Tayla Means, 25, and Philip Barr, 27, met Tia Burt, 21, online when they had been dating for a year, and were trying to make new friends as a couple. 

    They met in person at the couple's home just a few days later and quickly bonded.

    After just three months of friendship, Tia confessed that she had feelings for both Tayla and Philip, and they revealed that they had fallen for her too.

    Tia had only been in monogamous relationships before, but happily moved into their home just five months after meeting them.
    They invested in a king size bed so they can all sleep together every night.
    Despite facing confused stares from strangers, the trio, from Florida, says they are happier than ever - and insist that jealousy is never an issue.

●  Lastly, about that casting call from Jupiter Entertainment for a reality TV series about polyfolks, apparently to be themed around Somerville, Mass.

A warning/advisory about this that I posted to the New England Polyamory facebook group set off an illuminating thread among local people. Some have investigated further and talked to the casting director, and others have come in with professional knowledge of the reality-TV industry and how it works. It's great to see the community coming together to share information and discuss how to present at least a partial united front. Some have reached out to educate the poorly informed people behind the show, who have adjusted the casting call accordingly and seem open to learning how to work with us.

Way too early to claim any success; as one insider posted, "the entertainment industry is brutal. It's why we have unions and agents and managers and definitely people still get screwed over." But it's heartening to see a community that can organize itself to deal with what looks like trash TV.

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Blogger https://www.facebook.com/POLYAMORY.LWOH/ said...

Unfortunately, Sheff is still expressing inaccuracies and continuing to demonstrate how profoundly out of touch she is with the culture she writes about.

A unicorn is not *just* a bisexual person who dates couples. It is WAY more than that. Also, we no longer "gender" the term "unicorn". It applies to *people*....not just women now.

Maybe she should start actually reading the posts in poly groups she is a member of so she can become more familiar with the culture at its root level.

In her article, she defends calling herself an expert while simultaneously discrediting the perspectives of the people who are actually *in* polyamorous culture. That is basically the equivalent of saying, "I'm not gay but I study gay culture so I'm more of an expert on being gay than gay people are."

Our perspectives are NOT just out of "personal experience" they are also out of DECADES OF BEING PARTICIPANTS IN THE CULTURE and having interactions both closely personal and more distantly in discussion groups with THOUSANDS OF OTHER POLYAMOROUS PEOPLE.

We also really need her to stop calling all women willing to date 2 other people also in relationship with each other "unicorns". We are not. Unicorn is reserved for people who are willing to bow to a couple's centrism. It DOES NOT APPLY TO SELF-POSSESSED WOMEN WHO ARE MERELY DATING A COUPLE. There is a massive difference between unicorn triads and ethical triads.....MASSIVE.

It looks like Sheff has turned off comments because she couldn't take all the weather she got from her last contribution to misinformation about polyculture. It's a shame she has chosen to discredit, ignore, and ultimately block feedback from the people who actually are polyamorous. A little humility and openness to feedback would go a long way toward perceptions of her credibility.

For a more accurate understanding of how the term "unicorn" is actually used in the culture BY polyamorous people themselves and what the problematic issues are I recommend this reading and all the links it leads to:


December 14, 2020 8:55 AM  

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