Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

October 21, 2021

"8 Books With Love Triangles That End In Polyamory," the poly movement in today's Hong Kong, a cartoonist's cute message, and more

●  About the tragic love triangle trope in everything from Shakespeare to Gone with the Wind to Titanic? Most of us have thought countless times, "Jeezum, why don't they just go poly?"

Well, now from BookRiot ("the largest independent literary site in North America") comes Why Not Both? 8 Books With Love Triangles That End In Polyamory (Oct. 11).

By Addison Rizer

...Recently, though, tastes have shifted away from the love triangle, with some readers declaring it the worst trope in literature.... Readers cite a long list of irritants that come along with the trope. One suitor obviously being a better match, for example, while the other is rude or cruel or downright abusive. Some cite an unlikable main character, making it hard to believe them having more than one love interest at the same time. Others say it’s rude to string two people along like that and end up with a distaste for all involved.

If you’re one of those love-triangle avoiders, you’ll be delighted to hear about a new take on the trope that’s hitting the shelves: love triangles that end in polyamory. While the beginning of many of these novels echo the typical love triangle rivalry-and-indecision storyline, in the end, the characters shrug and say, “Why not both?” Which makes for super fun, interesting character dynamics and adds a freshness to the oft-done trope.

Each book gets a short description/review and a look at the cover. All of the author's picks are recent, and most or all are YA (Young Adult) genre. They are: 

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao...
Adaptation and Inheritance series by Malinda Lo... 
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin...
Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy...
Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton...
This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin...
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston...
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman...

...Regardless of your interests, I hope you jump on the polyamory reading train and enjoy one of these books with love triangles that end in polyamory.

Click through for the book links.

Added November 20: Laura Boyle, on her Ready for Polyamory blog, posts a list of the poly fiction books that, based on recommendations and reputation, she has put onto her to-read list: Polyamory in Fiction.

●  Book Karnjanakit is an artist from Thailand now in Baltimore; that's a self-portrait at right. She just got a graphic story published in The Lily, an online magazine for women's voices that's owned by the Washington Post: I used to think there was one way to have a relationship. Then I discovered polyamory (Oct. 10).

Below is the first frame. It has a happy ending.

Last month she posted a longer autobio comic on her Instagram about getting through the pandemic while poly. (Click on the grayed arrow at right of the first panel there.)

●  Hong Kong has fallen under hostile authoritarian rule, and the Hong Kong Free Press is readying to relocate offshore if shut down by the Chinese authorities. It just published a look into a bit of the city's private sphere: Loving one and many: the world of Hong Kong polyamorists (Oct. 10). Bits:

By Selina Cheng

...“But I didn’t feel jealous,” Leonard said. “That for me was a turning point, because I realised that I could be okay.”

Leonard and Salome are among a growing number of Hongkongers experimenting with polyamory – couples who give each other permission to simultaneously pursue other romantic or even sexual relationships outside their own.

...In Hong Kong’s “public story about marriage,” the abolition of polygyny [in 1971] is viewed as a rejection of repression against women and a step towards equality, said Joseph Cho, a gender studies lecturer at Chinese University of Hong Kong. He added, however, that although contemporary Hongkongers have become more relaxed about public displays of desire, and accepting of people who identify themselves as sexual minorities, the city’s values about love and sex remain conservative.

...Polyamorous Hongkongers, however, argue that it is possible to love more than one person at a time, and to do this ethically – if consent, equality and honesty are respected scrupulously by all parties in the relationship.

We visited a few of the city’s polyamorists to learn more about how they are creating an alternative lifestyle of loving. ...


Salome and Leonard are the picture of a typical Hong Kong thirty-something couple on the way up. Salome is petite, her skin dramatically tan against a slim, bright pink dress. Leonard sports a smart, corporate blue shirt, a chrome Apple watch, and speaks with a crisp, British-inflected accent. We met one evening in their blond wood panelled Mid-Levels flat to chat about their alternative romantic lifestyle. ...


...Neiko, a thirty-something with a curvy figure and a bottom lip piercing, identifies as non-binary gendered and prefers the pronoun “they.”  ...What is very clear to Neiko is that they reject “the relationship escalator.”...

Neiko and E's home

...Victor and his wife Angeline are struggling to relocate their mutual partner, Anastasia, to Hong Kong, so the lovers can finally settle down together as a threesome. ...

Victor started dating Angeline about 10 years ago when they both attended the University of Hong Kong. Angeline met and fell in love with Anastasia on a trip, and eventually the three began dating as a trio. ... Victor, Angeline and Anastasia are working to create a household together, in a committed relationship with children – a polyamorous take on family. ...

...Love, in a triad, is a complex affair where sentiments and attractions shift and evolve over time. Victor said the closest relationship in the trio now is in fact the one between the two women.


...Monogamy, said [psychiatrist Dr. Emil] Ng, maintains the social order by allocating a woman to every man and by providing a basic framework for the division of wealth, property and status in society. By contrast, the polyamorous lifestyle is not merely a non-traditional way to experience love – it’s a direct challenge to the existing economic and social order. For Hong Kong polyamorists, open relationships are a simple, albeit unconventional, lifestyle choice. But others outside the circle may see polyamory as threatening, even dangerous. ...


...Neiko, Leonard and Salome want to help people in the polyamorous community connect with others like themselves, so they might feel less alone. Together they created the “Hong Kong Polyamory and Non-Monogamy Meetup Group” on meetup.com, a social networking website. Their last offline meeting attracted around 80 people, Neiko said, and added that polyamorists may be even more closeted and stigmatised than members of LGBTIQ communities.

For Salome, the path forward is clear. “It is difficult to imagine going back, once you have seen the nice garden behind the backdoor,” she said. “It’s so liberating – you don’t need to follow the prescription.”

And perhaps, she added hopefully, one day those who find themselves in love with more than one person need not be condemned by society. 

“Maybe things can be different, in another world.”

The polyamorists interviewed for this story spoke to HKFP under pseudonyms, citing fear of repercussion from family, friends, and employers.

● From PopSugar/ Latina, also reprinted several other places: Why More Latinas Should Consider Questioning Monogamy (Sept. 30)

By Yvette Montoya

Even though we're well into the 21st century, romantic relationships are still tangled up in rigid notions about loyalty, obedience, ownership, and, of course, monogamy. ... Add in all the religious dogmas that underlie those beliefs — "God will strike you down" and "you'll go straight to hell" (if you waver in your chastity) — and it's terrifying. The idea that we are either virgins or "wh*res" doesn't give us a lot of options.

...And God forbid you have children from more than one partner. Or are over the age of 25 with no marriage prospects or even a novio? Dios mio! What will your family's acquaintances and complete strangers think? How many of our fathers, uncles, brothers, and grandfathers have second families and kids all over the place? Can someone please tell me what kind of monogamy that is?

...If we want to identify and deconstruct damaging power structures, we should start with monogamy. Why? Because it is not something we actively choose; it's something we've been conditioned and coerced to accept. ... We also forget that we're the first generation of women to enjoy this much self-determination. And yet, we unconsciously end up in relationship structures that feed into our oppression, and we continue to espouse traditional beliefs about womanhood and family life that harm our self-worth. I'm not suggesting that monogamy is wrong, but like Dr. Kim Tallbear (aka the critical polyamorist), an associate professor and faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta in Canada, has said, "Until you have worked hard for your monogamy in a non-monogamous society, don't tell me it was your choice."

Consider Exploring Ethical Nonmonogamy....

Figure Out Your Needs....

What do you actually need — sexually, emotionally, and mentally — to be fulfilled? If someone asked what you needed to achieve an orgasm, or feel safe, what kind of direction would you give them? If you have never considered what your own needs are, that's a good place to begin. Reflect on your current and past relationships, and ask yourself why you configured them the way you did.

For Latinas, first-generation kids, and children of immigrants, there is a lot to unpack. ... As Latinas grappling with Catholic guilt, machismo, and cultural shaming, many of us actively avoid oversexualizing ourselves. In a society that brands us "spicy" and assumes we're all sexy Sofia Vergara-like baby makers, we make choices related to our sexualities to avoid criticism and being stereotyped. 

...Don't get me wrong, it's not all about sex, but it is about self-understanding and acceptance. Like it or not, our negative beliefs and practices around sex impact other areas of our lives and prevent us from authentically showing up for ourselves and others. ...

● The headline writer here went for the clickbait: 'My husband gives me sex tips.' What it's really like to be in a polyamorous marriage, but it's actually a nice profile of life at the poly/ open-marriage boundary. It appeared in MamaMia! Oct. 19. 

..."After getting married and being very honest about our queer identities and open relationship, we got hit up all the time! Mostly by single men and women who are sick of Tinder and the dating world and just want sex. People know we are in a secure and loving marriage, so we can offer them something quite simple and safe.

While the couple have had plenty of casual hook ups since getting married, the idea of polyamory was initially, as Luke says, "too complicated".

"It felt like we barely had enough time for our relationship, let alone another one! Then Cindra began casually dating Lou and it sort of just naturally happened. I could see how it might work and so we began to read and learn more about polyamory.

"I can't lie though, it was a big transition." ...

Cindra says that there is a lot of talking between all three parties about how their relationship can continue to work. ... "There is so much talking! ... We see a counsellor and we check in with each other regularly to navigate all our emotions."...

"We are open with other people about our marriage but when Lou and I bumped into my parents at the beach, that felt strange," Cindra says. "Lou knows all our friends and has joined our gym. So this was very overwhelming, especially for Luke. ..."

●  In the Poly 101 department, Yahoo!Life presents Here's What You Should Know About Fluid Bonding (Oct. 19).

●  And a brief Negotiating The Relationship 101: How I Negotiated Non-Monogamy In My Monogamous Relationship (Refinery29, Oct. 20).  Spoiler: Communication, communication, communication.

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October 8, 2021

Poly 101s keep popping up everywhere

● The UK's Evening Standard, a Conservative sheet, takes a long and generally positive look at what it claims is a trend: Is London ready for the new wave of polyamory? (Sept. 23)

By Emily Phillips

When Ruby Rare, 28, spotted the pictures of Rita Ora and boyfriend, film director Taika Waititi, both kissing co-star Tessa Thompson a little while ago, she felt elated at seeing a sweet, happy representation of her own relationships at last. ‘It wasn’t this sordid, sexualised thing. But I thought it was interesting how suddenly everyone jumped to, “Oh my God, they’re in a polyamorous relationship.” ’

Rare, a sex educator and author of Sex Ed: A Guide For Adults, has identified as ethically non-monogamous for five years. ...

After arduous lockdowns for many in monogamous relationships, a general sense of openness in the world is reflecting our interest in new ways of doing things: be that ethical non-monogamy (romantic relationships that are not completely exclusive between two people), polyamory (more than one open romantic relationship at a time) or even just being a little bit ‘monogamish’ (testing the boundaries of your coupling with flirtation and sometimes more). ...

Dating app Feeld, the go-to fixer for couples and singles, has witnessed a dramatic surge in this interest. Search terms such as ‘ethical non-monogamy’ and ‘polyamory’ have seen an almost 400 per cent increase among women, while with men they were 500 per cent up in the past year. ...

Ana Kirova of Feeld

The app’s remit has grown organically from its home city, London, across the rest of Europe, the United States and Brazil. But now, [cofounder Ana] Kirova can see that Londoners’ appetites for something else is having a bump. ‘The data shows that there is a clear increase in interest in alternative relationship structures after a lockdown with one partner,’ she says. ... ‘ There’s been a rise in virtual three-ways — people get very creative. They connect on Feeld and then they just make it work.’

...Anita Cassidy, 45... says the Covid crisis has, for everyone, been ‘a big chance to reassess what we’re doing, how we do it, why we’re making the choices we make, in terms of structures and ideas about how relationships should look and how they could look’.

...Rare agrees that the key to a successful open relationship is taking it slow and being honest, both in your primary relationship and with other potential matches. ‘It might make the pool of potential people to date smaller,’ she notes, ‘because there’ll be lots of people who are actually not into that. But I think using dating apps where there is more of a culture of ethical non-monogamy is really good. Feeld is a space where you’re going to find less people who are completely shocked by these concepts.’

The experience may be a slower burn — and potentially time-consuming, contrary to the misconception that switching to polyamory will suddenly mean you’re having sex all the time, Rare laughs. ‘There’s a lot of admin involved in it. I don’t have the capacity to date loads of people. So, when newer people enter the fold, it’s on the basis of friendship that then can have romantic and sexual elements to it.’ ...

...Cassidy just welcomes the normalisation of these feelings and needs. ‘It doesn’t mean we have to act on them, but it’s finding a safe space in your relationship to talk about these things without fear, without judgement.’ It’s time to get out on the scene and get to grips with the monogam-issue at hand.

● Speaking of conservative publications getting on board...

During the Cold War the Reader's Digest was the number-one vehicle showcasing white-picket-fence American life and values around the globe. My Mom was the Digest's personnel director at its Pleasantville, NY, address through the 1950s when I was a little boy. The Digest had grown from a tiny mom & pop startup (she was hired by founders DeWitt and Lila Wallace and worked directly under them) to become America's best-selling magazine.

And it was translated into 21 languages and distributed overseas, by up to 17 million copies a month, with quiet government help from, it turned out, a US anti-communist agency; Mom thought it was the CIA. Every month's issue had one international propaganda article, which sometimes seemed out of place with the rest of the magazine, in exchange for help in enabling this extraordinary global circulation. Mom was friends for a while with the Digest's government liaison who was in charge of these articles. He took her sailing on the Chesapeake.

Yes, the bad guys in those articles sometimes deserved to be kicked — but the Digest also smeared Nelson Mandela about the same way it had treated Stalin.

Post Cold War the Digest got smaller and thinner, and when I skim it at the grocery store checkout it seems like a shadow of its old self, struggling to be relevant in a new era. (Joann Sharp wrote a book; her condensed-book article is titled Rise and fall of Reader's Digest.)

Perhaps a sign of such struggling is this literal Poly 101 just out, not in the Digest but in its subsidiary magazine Best Health in Canada: Polyamory 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started (undated; online Sept. 30). It presents excellent basic advice for brand-newbies, and its perky, optimistic attitude is pure Digest from my childhood.

By Sadaf Ahsan

...If polyamory is something you’ve been considering, where do you begin? Consider this [as] Polyamory 101, your guide to the polyamory basics.

Well, first, what is polyamory?

...A common misconception is that polyamory is synonymous with being in an open relationship, where individuals can take on and can involve however many partners at any time. Both are types of consensual non-monogamy, but in open relationships, individuals are free to have sexual partners outside of their relationship while polyamory involves having more than one intimate relationship with the consent of all involved. ...

Ok, so you want to give it a try. Where do you start?

Amanda Luterman, psychotherapist and founder of the Montreal-based Centre for Erotic Empathy, recommends that everyone involved be on the same page from the very beginning.

...“You want all involved to be open to exploring and pausing the exploration based on how you’re doing. You want to make sure, before you do anything, you have enthusiastic consent moving forward.”

What does that conversation sound like?

It’s an honest and open one, and it’s about establishing your satisfaction within the relationship and interest in discovering a new part of yourself—or a different version altogether.

“The key to both bringing it up to a partner and having a positive experience is seeking what you’re seeking in yourself,” says Luterman. “For example, you can say, ‘I love us, I’m satisfied with us. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t present in this relationship, that I’m looking to experience in my life, and I believe that the best way to do that is to pursue a relationship so that part of me feels active.”...

Great! Now, how do we set boundaries?

The most important thing is ensuring all parties in a polyamorous relationship are practicing safe sex, and that means open communication between all partners and operating in absolutes. For example, always using protection. ... Says Luterman, “Remember: in all sexual encounters, sex is only as good as you are relaxed.”

How do you approach bigger commitments?

Polyamorous relationships can get as serious as traditional relationships when it comes to everything from finances to starting a family. But with several voices involved, things can get complicated. So, the key—as with all relationships—is direct and open communication.

Thanks to the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, up to three parents can be listed on birth certificates. However, since much of the legal and financial world views couples as dyadic, it can be useful to work with a lawyer and draw up official documents recognizing the way finances and parenting are being handled—and to spare potential heartache down the road.

So how do you handle that and all the other tough parts?

...Luterman advises firming up your emotional regulation skills and considering therapy to help guide you. It can also be helpful to join peer groups for individuals in polyamorous relationships. ...

Ultimately, the best place to start is with a relationship based on love and growth—no matter the label and how many partners are involved.

The whole article. Maybe your elderly aunt, who doesn't believe what you're doing is real, will see it too.

●  More TV that I'm no longer trying to keep up with: 

– Jessica M. writes, "Yet another prime time TV show has featured polyamory.  This time it’s a medical drama called New Amsterdam, on NBC.  In S03 E10 ("Radical"), one of the patients is in a poly quad, and two of the doctors discuss polyamory. It’s just a single episode, but the more it shows up in the mainstream, in a responsible way, the better."

– On CelebratingTheSoaps.com, The Bold And The Beautiful Spoilers: Open Marriage Continues, Eric Insists ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ (Oct. 5): "Eric defended Quinn [his wife] and told Ridge that their bedroom activities – with each other or other people – are none of his business. Eric is tired of having to explain himself and being told how to live his life."

–  In a thread on reddit/r/polyamory, people got going about CNM themes showing up on TV. Bits:

"I recently discovered Wanderlust (TV show starring Toni Collette) on Netflix and although the characters are very clumsy, it does portray a more authentic version of polyamory than is typically shown in the media."

"Scenes from a Marriage [HBO], the new one with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, has poly supporting characters... Their relationship isn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not a caricature either."

"While not strictly romantic relationships, Sense8 does an interesting way of expressing larger than triad relationships without being closed."

"Does Falsettos count as a media depiction of polyamory?"

"Motherland: Fort Salem...is really a decent show... They don't directly name anything, but it's pretty obvious."

"The Freeform show Good Trouble explores a Z-type relationship in the third season."

"The Politician has a MMF throuple and they’re all older people."

"Both Rick and Morty and Bob's Burgers went the MMF route."

"The Expanse (sci-fi drama on Amazon Prime) has a small poly ship crew of maybe 8 people, male and female, and they love each other, sleep together [at least Drummer and her partners]. Also, one of the main characters has 8 parents that live together on the commune, and he is a mix of all of their DNA."

"Parks and Rec had a closed MMF triad" [or at least a V].

"I'm going to say House of Cards had a pretty good representation of a poly relationship.
The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold has an MMF triad in the supporting cast."

Many commented on the cluelessness of many of these portrayals. "Wish we generally had better representation in the media. Maybe the high variety within polyamory gives non-poly folks a harder times to get into the nuances? As in, they don't even necessarily perceive what parts of the story are missing?"

● Our jargon keeps going mainstream... and is often misstated. From a Poly 101 in Cosmopolitan titled Everything to Know About the Term 'Polycule' (Sept. 28)

By Eliza Dumais

...Take my polycule, for example. My boyfriend sits firmly at the center of the thing—but as an ethically non-monogamous couple, we both see other people. So my polycule unit consists of me, my boyfriend, and each of our separate, secondary partners.

No, we don’t all share a bedroom, nor do we all gather around the same dinner table to eat vats of Sunday pasta sauce. In fact, I haven’t actually met any of my partner’s second-degree partners IRL. But still, there are key, romantic threads that connect us. We exist under the same “intimacy umbrella” purely because we have a partner in common. ... 

So far so good. But she goes on to say a polycule can extend through links of links of links "to infinity and beyond," and that's just wrong. That would be a "network" or a "web." Polycule in common use means a limited number who feel together to some degree, even if indirectly.

So to get all wordish, polycule exists in the space between the tighter polyfamily (who may live together, raise kids, etc.) and the looser intimate network.

●  Another Poly 101, from MindBodyGreen: A Beginner's Guide To Polyamory: How It Works & How To Know If It's For You, by Stephanie Barnes (Sept. 29). Just the section heads, 'cause this is getting long.

    What is polyamory?
    Polyamory vs. polygamy
    How does polyamory work?
    Polyamory terms to know
    Is it illegal?
    Can polyamory be bad or toxic? [Hint: yes]
    How to know if  polyamory is right for you [12 checkpoints]
    How to know if polyamory is not right for you: [4 checkpoints]
    Explaining polyamory to partners
    The bottom line
    Books to read

●  One sample from the recent British tabs: THRICE AS NICE ‘Throuple’ cut off from family for being ‘ungodly’ are now planning to have a baby together (Sept. 25). They're Gen Z-ers in in Rhode Island.

Joel, Mickey, Jaida
...But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

Despite their love for one another, Jaida and Joel have lost contact with members of their families over the relationship.

Jaida’s mother no longer speaks to her and Jaida says she feels like she’s been disowned.

Joel’s mother also stopped talking to him, however he says the younger members of his family have been much more supportive. ...

[But] Mickey said: “Thankfully my mum is very open and accepting, she says that she has four children now --  she always used to call Joel her son and now she calls Jaida her daughter. ...

“Being in a triad is like having two best friends and life partners instead of one. We’re never alone and there’s always someone else to talk to.”

●  More book news: Jonathan Kent, a former international reporter for the BBC, Reuters, and other outlets in in the UK, has finished a book reporting on consensual non-monogamy around the world today: A World Beyond Monogamy: How people make polyamory and open relationships work and what we can all learn from them. Kent comes at this as a sympathetic journalist rather than an insider advocate, and he lets his 51 interviewees from many different countries (especially in South and Southeast Asia where he was stationed) do a great deal of the talking.

He's running an indiegogo to help raise money for the first printing. You can get the usual range of perks: the book itself (when it comes out next February) and other stuff.

The book is noteworthy not only for the independence of its reporting and its outsider's insights into us, but for its relentlessly global scope. From the pitch:

For this book, Jonathan spent years interviewing people from all over the world. You'll find tremendous diversity of experiences here, with many voices that aren't normally represented in works about consensual non-monogamy. ... [The book] managed to break free of the limitations of previous books on the subject -- many of them very personal accounts, overwhelmingly from liberal enclaves in North America, that offer a narrow window onto a much wider world.

 A World Beyond Monogamy doesn't evangelise for CNM and has little truck with those who claim that consensual non-monogamy is somehow more 'enlightened'. Nor does it suggest that there is a 'right' way to do it. What it does evangelise for is consent, choice, and a willingness to rethink the way we're told to do relationships, both monogamous and non-monogamous.

It has some things I disagree with. But with its global voices, it should be a perspective-broadener at a time when many white Westerners imagine that they invented consensual non-monogamy.

●  Finally, this just in at the ever-growing Non-Monogamous Birds Department: Superb Fairywren crowned 2021 Australian bird of the year winner in hotly contested vote (Guardian, Oct. 8). "Beloved small bird known for its polyamory and shared household labour narrowly beats tawny frogmouth and gang-gang cockatoo."

The male birds are recognisable by their blue feathers, and the species has become famous for its polyamory and passion for sharing household labour.

Males leave the territory during the day and perform courtship displays to other females, but it is the females that ultimately control mate choice as well as the nest.

Holly Parsons is BirdLife Australia’s urban birds program manager and a superb fairywren supporter. “It’s really exciting to see a bird that so many people love and appreciate take out the top prize,” she said.

Holly Parsons/Birdlife Australia

Paternity testing of offspring by ANU researchers in the late 1980s found that almost all (95%) broods contained chicks fathered by males outside the territory. Basically, most of the chicks are not related to the “dad”. What’s more, mating does not happen during those elaborate daytime dance parties; females leave their territories before dawn to find the male with the best moves.... They control mate choice (both their social pair-bond male and their extra-pair dalliances), build their nest alone and sit on the eggs.

So much for natural law. Wherever you look in nature — I'm married to a biologist — you're likely to find natural creatures living and thriving by breaking any law of God or man that anyone has ever imagined.

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