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

September 6, 2021

Polyamory life stories newly in the media

●  Erez Benari is an enthusiastic poly activist, highly accomplished in the tech industry and a former stand-up comedian. He was instrumental in getting poly domestic partnerships formally recognized for the 182,000 employees of Microsoft and, more recently, for the 18,000 employees of Nvidia. We'll be hearing more about him; he's in plans for an upcoming project that will benefit the poly movement as a whole. News coming fairly soon.

Meanwhile the Bellevue Chronicle, of Bellevue next to Seattle, just ran a long profile of his lifelong journey into polyamory, and his discovery of the word and the movement by way of Seattle's Center for Sex Positive Culture: Erez’s Journey to a Polyamorous Lifestyle (Sept. 3).

By Elizabeth Katona

Growing up as an outcast in Israel and showing no interest in traditional “boy” activities like sports and guns, Erez Benari preferred the company of the fictional characters he read about in science fiction novels to his classmates. ... Battling with self-esteem issues and living with neglectful parents, Erez found comfort in frequenting his local library, where he discovered and devoured any book written by [science fiction] author Robert Heinlein.... As Erez grew into a teenager in a society dominated by monogamistic values, Heinlein’s ideas shaped Erez’s personality and he began to embrace the notion that love is not something that should be limited to one person.

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. – Robert Heinlein

Commentary here by me: These days you find few polyfolks who were set on their path by Heinlein, but a generation ago they formed a significant part of the then-tiny movement. Heinlein's seminal book launching poly ideas into the science-fiction world was Stranger in a Strange Land, mostly written in the 1950s and published in 1961. The book has aged poorly IMO, with its casual sexism and its wildly wrong science-fiction assumptions about the late 20th century. Nor was it ever useful as a model for real-world poly among humans; its group of multi-loving initiates rely for nearly everything on magic psychic superpowers learned from Martians. But the central ideas in Stranger seized the hearts of countless readers, including me at 17, with almost religious conversions, and it became one of the books credited with making the Sixties happen — to the extent that in 2012, the Library of Congress included it in an exhibition of Books That Shaped America. See my 2010 article Polyamory, Robert Heinlein, and his definitive new biography.

In his late teens, Erez conformed to society’s monogamist notions, dating only one person at a time and entering a relationship where he would feel unfulfilled, but too shy to disrupt the social norms, until he met Dalit. ... His relationship with Dalit helped him to explore the world of non-monogamy and open relationships outside of what he read in Heinlein’s books. This exploration also allowed him to look internally at his own values and the type of relationships he wanted in life.

During his relationship with Dalit, Erez had already been forming a friendship with the woman who would later become his wife. ... Several years into the marriage, Erez met and became close friends with a lesbian woman. She introduced Erez to the world of LGBTQ and the spectrum of sexuality. It was then that Erez realized he was likely bisexual.

...[Later after they moved to America] he found an event called “Kink Lab”. ... During [an] event, Erez was able to get to know other participants, and many of them would speak to him or each other about visiting the “CSPC”.... Erez looked up what the “CSPC” was, and found that it’s short for The Center for Sex Positive Culture, a non-profit organization that has a club in Seattle.

...To Erez, the CSPC felt like home; a place where for the first time in his life he could feel free in his element, interact and talk with people in the community about any topic, and explore himself and his desires safely. His regular attendance at the club over the next year was filled with non-sexual group cuddle sessions and socializing with others in the community about the different types of relationships they had with each other and outside the CSPC.

In 2016, at the age of 42, Erez Benari finally begun to explore the possibility of having polyamorous relationships.

Another profile of Benari in the area, focusing on how his wife left him after deciding she wanted monogamy: Dissolution of Marriage Opens the Road to a New Life (Northwest Magazine, Sept. 7). 

●  Perhaps your relatives were watching a few days ago when local TV news programs around the country (for example ABC News 7 in Denver and CBS 6 News in Richmond, Virginia) aired this four-minute report: Study finds consensual non-monogamy is more common than people realize (Sept. 1).

It mostly centers on a happy FFM closed triad. Yes, the stereotyped couple-finds-bi-woman triad sometimes works out just fine for everyone — if all of them are right for it, and if all of them go into it clear-eyed and know what they are doing, the unicorn especially. Watch here:

If that video fails you can watch it on the page of this accompanying article, which is mostly a transcript of the video. Portions:

Reported by Elizabeth Ruiz
Aaron Meir, Rachael Meir, and Kasey Kershner are in a closed poly triad. The Meirs are married and Kershner is their girlfriend. They call themselves Triad and True on social media. The three of them have been in a consensual non-monogamous relationship for more than two years.

“A triad specifically is three people who are in a relationship where we are all connected," Kershner said. "So we each have relationships in addition to our relationship altogether.”

Rachel, Kasey, Aaron

The three are exclusive with each other, which is why they call themselves a "closed poly triad."

Their story starts with the Meirs who got married 14 years ago. They say they had a very happy and healthy relationship. However, Rachael is bisexual, so they decided to search for another partner.

“If there was any void or anything that was missing, it was simply because Aaron isn’t a girl," Rachael said. "He can’t change that.”

They ultimately decided they wanted to have a deep, emotional connection with a third person in their relationship. They found Kershner on a dating app. After some serious conversations, they formed a triad.

“Rachael and I are very different people, and it’s great that Kasey is almost in the middle like from a day-to-day perspective," Aaron said. "Kasey and I love sports, Rachael hates sports, Rachael and Kasey like rom-coms, I don’t like rom-coms. It’s really nice to have that dynamic.”

Just recently, they started sharing their story with family, friends, and the world.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t get to see what relationships like ours look like because so many people hide it and it’s all very behind closed doors, smoke and mirror type of things, and it really is so much more common than people know,” Kershner said.

Researchers conducted a study to find out how common it really is. Dr. Amy Moors is a co-chair on the Committee of Consensual Non-Monogamy with the American Psychological Association.

“In this study, we found that about one out of five people in the U.S. have engaged in a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point during their life," Dr. Moors said. "And to help put that into perspective, that’s as common as how many people own a cat in the U.S.”

Dr. Moors says her study found that one in 20 people in current relationships are engaged in a non-monogamous relationship, and one out of nine people say a non-monogamous relationship would be ideal for them.

“People engaged in consensually non-monogamous relationships [often] have really satisfying and committed and trusting relationships," Dr. Moors said. "Yet people believe that they don’t so that’s part of why the stigma is so robust surrounding these relationships.”

Kershner says she experienced the negative mental health impacts of being secretive about their triad until they finally came out. ... Now, the three say they feel a sense of relief being their true, authentic selves and they’re able to cast the hatred and misunderstandings from other people aside.

“There are fears around ‘Kasey’s 10 years younger, is she just going to replace me, is Aaron just ready for something new, is she going to come to take our money... and we’re just very open to say ‘Those are all fair, legitimate, valid questions and no, we’re just three individuals created a unique, different, non-traditional lifestyle because we have different sets of interests or different wants,” Rachael said. ...

The study discussed in the report has no particularly new news for readers here. Its sample was large (= 3,438) and was derived from the US Census to be demographically representative, but it was limited to single people. And unfortunately, the questionnaire for the subjects defined polyamory as being "in a committed, sexual and romantic relationship with multiple people at the same time" — inexplicably leaving out a key definition of all form of consensual non-monogamy, even as stated in the body of the paper itself: with the knowledge and consent of all partners. This lapse in the questionnaire muddies the results by including secret cheaters and livers of double lives.

I don't know all the research literature, but the best attempt I have seen to determine the prevalence of actual polyamory, as sharply defined in several different ways, is this one by Alicia Rubel and Tyler Burleigh. It used data gathered in 2013 but wasn't published until 2018. I'm sure the numbers in a 2021 repeat would be greater, especially the number of Americans who self-identify as poly by the standard full-knowledge-and-consent definition. Someone ought to replicate that study today (hopefully with a larger sample).

● In New York magazine's "The Cut," a time-of-covid quint didn't (spoiler here... ) survive the reopening that was afforded by them all getting vaxxed. I Dated My Entire Quarantine Pod (Sept. 3). "Our polyamorous fivesome kept me sane during the pandemic. Then the world opened up again."

By Rachel Cromidas

Plenty of other people developed pods, tight-knit groups of two to ten people who exclusively gathered together before there was a vaccine. But ours was different. Over the course of 2020, my pod became a committed, closed, polyamorous fivesome — a relationship structure that implies some exclusivity, like monogamy, except with more than two people involved. I don’t just mean a fivesome as in just sex between five people, but a full relationship, with agreements, expectations, and regular date nights that formed a protective shell against the apocalyptic world around us. It was as unlikely as anything else about 2020. ...

Read on

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