The story profiles polycules and CNM couples and gives an
early report on some upcoming research news:
...In another paper, soon to be published in
Archives of Sexual Behavior, [Terri] Conley looks at the ways
different types of ethical nonmonogamy yield different levels of
Polyamorists, those who are in love with more than one person
at a time, have the greatest overall relationship satisfaction. The
next happiest are swingers — couples who together seek out sex
with others. People in open relationships, who seek outside
partners independently with the expectation that these extracurricular
liaisons will not interfere with the primary couple, come in last.
The study doesn’t ultimately draw conclusions about this hierarchy of
contentment, but Conley has theories.
Open relationships ironically involve the least openness, which
can turn them into minefields of blurry parameters and perceived
betrayals. Also, such relationships often open not out of a desire to
expand or enhance an already good thing, but as an attempt to fill a
void. "I think sometimes they would actually prefer to be monogamous,
but circumstances dictate that they're adopting this approach,” says
Conley. “They're in a long-distance relationship, or their partner is
in some way physically not able to do the type of sex they want to
Swingers are happier because their extracurricular encounters are not
just known to their partners, but they constitute a shared hobby that
couples do together. (Golf isn’t for everyone.) Plus, swinging is
associated with the highest sexual satisfaction — the entire activity
is organized around seeking excellent sex — and couples who find
sexual satisfaction together are generally happier. Polyamorists win
because the near-constant open communication and honesty that
polyamory requires is associated with better relationships of any
As for the photo above,
Another of Woolf’s commenters was Kelly Knight, a 39-year-old
marketing executive who lives in a house in the Bay Area with her
spouse, Mike, a software engineering manager; her other partner, Adam;
and Mike’s other partner, Max. Mike and Knight are legal parents to a
daughter Knight gave birth to in 2016. In September, Knight had her
second child, conceived with Adam, who is on the baby’s birth
certificate. All four partners are raising the two kids.
If this sounds complex, it is. ... Parenting by committee can be
especially challenging — all resentments must be talked out at a
weekly meeting, "otherwise the passive aggression can kind of get out
of control” — but Knight has noticed distinct benefits.
Kelly Knight and her partners.
In her household, not only are responsibilities divided between four
trusted adults, but because they are coordinating four work schedules
and eight date nights even before factoring in household chores and
child care, tasks are allocated only according to who is free. “Nobody
can just assume, 'Oh, the moms [Max is non-binary but was assigned
female at birth] are doing this or the dads are doing this.’ It has
allowed my male partners, who have always been really feminist, to
view my work as just as important as theirs and view their involvement
in parenting as just as important, too.”
In the pandemic, when many professional women
have seen their careers vanish
as child care options evaporated, this has been even more valuable to
...Last but definitely not least, Max and Mike (Knight’s partners who
aren’t her younger daughter’s biological parents) take the baby for
three nights a week, giving Knight uninterrupted sleep those nights.
How sexy is that?
Margaret Johnson says she was inspired to write this piece by the huge
popular response to longtime mom-blogger Rebecca Woolf — who
posted on Instagram about how, after her husband died, she embarked on
a life of abundant solo non-monogamy (insulated from her kids) and
realized that this was the life she was meant for. The mail flooded in. Woolf wrote, "After speaking candidly to many
[readers] via DM, I have come to realize how … women are often assumed
to desire monogamy in our relationships when that isn’t necessarily
the case. At all."
...We assume that one great love story is more powerful than a dozen
shorter ones ... But, forming emotional attachment with short-term
partners is actually an incredibly expansive feeling. In fact, I’ve
arguably grown more from the relatively short relationships I have
been in since my husband died than I did in my 13 years of marriage,
because now I can be honest with myself. I can live shamelessly
within the boundaries of my own construction while destroying the
societal boundaries I have always felt uneasy within.
But the study comes with two limitations. It surveyed only single
Americans, omitting those partnered or married, because of the availability of a demographically representative data pool of
3,438 single American adults to work from. In this pool, the number
with a lifetime history of CNM was only about half that reported
elsewhere for Americans generally. That makes sense: After people
leave the singles pool to marry or otherwise partner long-term, some
will go on to have their first CNM experience as the years pass, adding
to the lifetime incidence of CNM overall.
Secondly, the researchers defined "polyamory" in their questionnaire
as merely being "in a committed, sexual and romantic relationship with
multiple people at the same time," leaving out a crucial part of the
standard definition: "with the knowledge and consent of all involved" — even though the authors include that in their definition of polyamory
in the paper's introductory parts. Thus, the questionnaire also
swept up secret cheaters and informal
bigamists: people having two partners with neither aware that the other exists.
That includes quite a bit of what goes on in the world and contaminates the data in the survey about polyamory as commonly defined — even by the authors of the paper. It's surprising to see such
seasoned researchers in this field making such a basic mistake, which is
bound to result in confusion over the results and popular misreporting.
● Next: A gorgeous polyam wedding, and other poly wedding resources.
Group-marriage ceremonies have no legal standing in the US and you can
get in serious trouble if you pretend they do. But that doesn't stop
triads, quads and more from holding their own commitment ceremonies with all the
trappings but the certificate. Offbeat Bride
published another in its long series of these events, with lots of gushing and lavish photography, just in time for the wedding season: How to have a romantic polyamorous triad wedding
David, Jolene, and Stephani had their polyamorous triad wedding in
Austin, TX. The three partners have been together for six years,
functioning as an open triad. This means they have other partners,
and they practice what's known as kitchen table polyamory — the
philosophy that all partners communicate openly, and that everyone
could sit around a kitchen table and get along.
"We always have our other partners and other metamours together,"
The triad's wedding was a celebration of these ideals, with a very
special first look and a carefully designed ceremony….
How was it planning a polyamorous triad wedding? Stephani explains:
It was hard. You can't just Google how to plan a polyamorous
[Sure you can!
After I got past the 'Oh shit, how do I do it," it got better… I
realized I could still plan a 'regular' wedding by just adding a
...The triad's photographer, Jenna Avery from Creatrix Photography,
explains how she coordinated the first look photos:
In order to capture the magic of each separate relationship, each
pairing had their own moments first. Stephanie with David, Stephanie
and Jolene, and then Jolene with David. Finally, all three of them
came together! The same was done for the “couples” portraits and how
they planned the actual ceremony and first dances. As the
photographer, I was very careful to honor each dynamic and shoot
each pairing as uniquely as possible. As a wedding photographer with
a strong polyamorous background, I knew that regardless of their own
chosen dynamic, my job was to make sure I treated every relationship
as equally as possible. It’s tricky, but it all worked out!!
Stephanie: "How do you stand with three people and the person
who is officiating? How can everyone see all of us while sitting?
Where does the wedding party stand? Who walks down first? So many
We decided to have three sections for the guests. My husband walked
down first, then me, and finally our wife. We stood in a triangle
with the officiate off to the side. The bridal party was mixed up
and standing off to the sides. Little details like that stressed me
out! Of course, by the end of the day, it didn't matter.
When we asked Stephani if she had any advice to share with other
polyamorous folks, here were thoughts on how to have a polyamorous
I would say, be open to all ideas. Focus on what you want and just
make it happen. This doesn't happen every day, people won't know the
difference. If you want a traditional feel, you can still have that.
If you want the full wedding experience, hire the DJ, the
photographer, the photo booth, and Bar. Just because it's more than
two people doesn't make it less of a wedding.
And some more readings from elsewhere:
That's all for this time! Next up: the United Church of
Christ opens to polyamory on its national website.