Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

December 23, 2021

Good polyamory in a TV series, Kwanzaa in a poly home, finding family, a holiday podcast marathon, and more

Happy holidays, dear people! In recent polyamory news,

● Teen Vogue comes through for us again, this time regarding one of the better plotlines on TV: The “Gossip Girl” Approach to Polyamory Is a Refreshing Step Forward (Dec. 9). Excerpts:

The relationship between Audrey, Aki, and Max is nuanced and evolving.

Evan Mock, Thomas Doherty, and Emily Alyn Lind embrace in Gossip Girl.

By Elly Belle

Polyamory is a complex relationship style that can be practiced many different ways to suit people’s needs and lifestyles, but thanks to poorly written plotlines in television and movies, it often gets a bad reputation.

Those who practice polyamory in our own lives have often begrudged shows and movies for representing non-monogamy explicitly as a sexual kink, or as something to try when you wish to “fix” your relationship. ...

While it will look different for each person who practices it, polyamory has almost exclusively been portrayed in media in a very limited way, showing disastrous throuple experiments and people with poor communication skills lying to each other or betraying one another. But that’s not actually polyamory, or at least not polyamory done intentionally. The new Gossip Girl takes a different approach with the evolving, dynamic relationship between Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind), Aki (Evan Mock), and Max (Thomas Doherty).

In the show, Audrey and Aki are a longtime couple. We meet them when Aki is only beginning to understand that he is bisexual; enter Max, a pansexual alpha type who is confident and sexually experienced... though, like many of us, reluctant to explore an actual relationship for fear of getting hurt. ...He’s emotionally intuitive and honest enough to be able to admit this, and communicates his feelings to Audrey and Aki. ... The show allows the characters to be vulnerable enough to ask for what they truly want and need. And the final episodes of the first season pleasantly prove my initial worries wrong....

...As sexually charged as Gossip Girl is even in the reboot, it still moves the needle of polyamorous representation towards one that shows the relationship style is not about sex but about powerful emotional connections. ...

Gabrielle Alexa Noel, a 29-year-old polyamorous woman, tells Teen Vogue “I am rarely, if ever, impressed by polyamory representation because it always ends up being used to uplift monogamy in the finale (like in The L Word reboot)” ...

The Gossip Girl reboot shows us what’s possible if we continue to speak up.... It shows that love triangles don’t have to be triangles, and no one has to “lose.” Connections that people feel don’t have to be purely sexual, but are often about deep emotional bonds. And last but certainly not least, it makes room for the truth that many of us live out in our lives each day: it’s absolutely possible to love multiple people at once without diminishing any of the relationships you hold. In fact, allowing yourself to ethically and honestly love and be with multiple people at once can and does strengthen your relationships — if you put the work in, and show up vulnerably, again and again, and again.

● In Newsweek comes a "My Turn" first-person story about a typical opening-up: My Partner and I Became Polyamorous After 8 Years Together (Dec. 19). Remember, a majority of adults in the whole Western world are coupled, so most people entering polyamory will be couples opening up. Help them get it right with good advice rather than just dissing them, please.

By Dana Hobson | As told to Jenny Haward

...Then, around eight years into our relationship, Daniel started asking more questions about why I believed we should be able to love other people as well as each other. He ended up really liking what I was picturing for our future.... I hadn't read about polyamory, it was just what made sense to me, and it started to make sense to him.

Daniel and I started exploring non-monogamy together in 2015, but it happened very slowly. For example, we agreed that if I met someone on a girl's trip to Vegas, I was allowed to do what I wanted. And I did kiss someone. That was as far as I wanted to go. It was fun telling Daniel about it and it didn't hurt our relationship. After that, little things would occur. We've had some level of relationship with at least three close friends and that's because I feel that friendships can go in that direction. ...

There are various different versions of non-monogamy and the ones I feel people are most aware of are swingers or open relationships where the agreement is centered around allowing sex with people outside the relationship. For us, polyamory is focused on falling in love with other people. It might end in sex or sex might become a big part, but it's more about caring, loving and being in a committed second or third relationship.

Something I have never liked about monogamous relationships is that when people find their "person" they don't seem to explore as much anymore. There are couples out there who are monogamous and still go out and socialise, but when I talk to them, it feels a little like a wall is up. ... It feels like a fear; that people are afraid of connecting with a new person because there may be a spark. That's sad to me, I feel like sparks are the best part of life.

Most people think Daniel and I are having lots of sex with other people, which is funny because we are both very slow moving when it comes to that. You could call it being demisexual; above all we're both attracted to people's personality, intelligence and the way they care about others.

...Daniel and I started out with a hierarchy; we were the primary relationship and any other person was secondary. Then I met a guy I wanted to be with and when we started a relationship, it was uncomfortable to call him my "secondary" partner. It took Daniel and I a while to figure out that a hierarchy didn't feel right. We didn't like making anyone feel that they weren't equal to us.

...Daniel and I started reading books about polyamory. That's when we started to understand why we felt the hierarchical scenario was wrong for us. It took us educating ourselves that way to realize, rather than doing something and seeing if it worked.

We have decided to be relatively autonomous but ultimately, we are looking for "kitchen table polyamory" which is where you're friends with your metamours—your partner's partners. We've been in a wide range of situations, but for the most part we've all been friends.

...We're also in a band together, Dana and The Wolf. ... He wrote an entire album about my relationship with my ex; about my polyamorous experience with another guy. It was beautiful. When he showed me each song, one by one, I couldn't believe that he was able to capture what I felt inside and hadn't been able to put into words.

I understand how people may see polyamory as an orientation, but I don't necessarily think that's it. It is a belief to me.

Dana Hobson is a musician living in LA with her partner, Daniel Wolf. You can follow them  @danaandthewolf or find out more at danaandthewolf.com.

● The Sunday Times in London ran a "Special Report" titled The rise of polyamory: sex parties, throuples and open relationships ("The pandemic has aroused a wave of sexual exploration"; Dec. 19). The story then appeared the next day in the Daily Mail under the title Kate Middleton's school friend behind sex club Killing Kittens says business has boomed because people want a distraction from pandemic gloom and more women than ever are seeking out threesomes (Dec. 20).

Turns out the story is not about polyamory (a Times headline writer apparently added it as an SEO word), but about a flood of newly adventurous people who seem to imagine they're living post-pandemic. Interesting bit:

[Kate Lister, author of The Curious History of Sex,] explained that people are turning to sex to celebrate life after experiencing a drop of libido due to Covid-19. 

She said that historically, the aftermaths of traumatic events such as the two World Wars, the Spanish flu and the Black Death have led to bouts of sexual Carpe Diem.

...As examples, she revealed that more soldiers caught venereal diseases during the first World War than any other ailment apart from the Spanish flu, and that religious [writers] denounced mass orgies and public sex happening during the plague in the Middle Ages.   

● In the Salt Lake Tribune, Utahns share why they have chosen polyamory over monogamy (Dec. 23)

Salt Lake Community College filmmaker explores people who have more than one partner.
Emery, Ben Gallegos, Allie Bullock, and Sabrina Gallegos

By Matt Didisheim

This story is jointly published by nonprofits Amplify Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune, in collaboration with Salt Lake Community College, to elevate diverse perspectives in local media through student journalism.

Sabrina and Ben Gallegos had been married for a year when they met Allie Bullock in July 2014. The women were co-workers and became friends, so when Bullock and her boyfriend broke up, the Gallegoses offered her a place to stay while she sorted things out.

The three grew close, and over a period of about seven months, the Gallegoses both decided they wanted Bullock to be more than a friend. As Utahns, their polyamorous “throuple” has been mistaken for polygamy on more than one occasion, but they are part of a growing number of Americans who practice this relationship style.

“I started to see this relationship blossom between the two of them,” Ben Gallegos said. “It was a deep friendship, it was a different kind of connection. I couldn’t help but admire [it], and seeing Sabrina fall in love with Allie, I kind of started to fall in love with Allie through her eyes.”

The concept of a relationship like this was new to him.

“I had no idea that ‘polyamory’ was even a term,” he said. “Looking stuff up online, there’s other people like us, there’s a whole community.”...

...Amy Peterson, a film major at Salt Lake Community College, made a documentary about polyamory this fall called “Love One Another: Polyamory in Utah.”

In her film, Utahns — including the Gallegoses and Bullock — share what polyamory can look like and how they believe it has helped them have healthier, more fulfilling relationships. ...

...Not long into their throuple relationship, Sabrina Gallegos gave birth to a daughter, Emery, in 2015. The new baby helped some family members to overcome their initial problems with their relationship.

“It’s just taken [them] a lot of time, a lot of years, a lot of interactions, a lot of opportunities ... to see our daughter and appreciate the young lady that she’s becoming,” Ben Gallegos said. “The person that [Emery] is today, [Allie] is one-third equally responsible for everything that that little girl is. ...Sshe’s just always had three parents.”

For Berk Forbes and Daley Yoshimura, both in their 30s and living in Salt Lake City, polyamory has been a deliberate lifestyle. They live together and have been together romantically since 2019, but they are non-hierarchical and do not call each other their primary partner. For them, the appeal of polyamory is the freedom to love and experience others outside the traditional boundaries of monogamy.

“Daley and I get to come together and be like, OK, this is what we want our relationship to be,’” Forbes said. ...

...For Peterson, whose film attempts to demystify polyamory and who identifies as polyamorous herself, it’s just as important that people understand what it is as what it is not. ... “It’s not something that’s trying to tear society apart,” she said. “So much of [polyamory] is about community and supporting one another. It’s about having this network of care and love and the capacity and the availability to love people. From a polyamorous standpoint, there is no limit to the amount of love that we can give.”

Read the whole thing. It's long. With a video.

●  Beyond the English-speaking world there's way too much happening for me to try to keep up. Just so we don't forget, here a sample: a 46-minute (!) TV interview from Argentina, Poliamor en Mendoza: "La trieja mendocina conformada por Nazareno Fernandez, Eliana Cuchietti y Maira Fernandez ha causado un revuelo inesperado a nivel nacional. Visitaron el estudio de No Culpes a la Noche para hablar de este tema sin tabúes. Recibieron también al sexólogo Germán Gregorio Morasutti."

Also while we're there, on El Nueve Argentina is Fuego Amigo: ¿Se puede querer a más de una persona? – Parte  1

 And Parte 2:

●  As we hunker down toward the holidays, How I Celebrated My First Polyamorous Kwanzaa (Your Tango, Dec. 22)

By Chanize Thorpe

When I joined my boyfriend and his wife to become part of their polyamorous family, I was delighted to be invited to celebrate Kwanzaa in their home with their children, friends, and family.

The experience was both educational and heart-warming.

I met the male hinge of what was to become a relationship with his common-law wife during a business trip to the West Coast. ... He told me he had a partner at home, and wanted to know me better and perhaps introduce me to her. I was taken aback at his honesty about practicing what he described as ethical non-monogamy.

...A few months from that first trip I was deeply in love with this couple. I’d already traveled back to their city and met most of their six combined children. It was during that visit that I was invited to come back in December to celebrate Kwanzaa. 

I was to join my couple, their family, and various friends, some of whom were also part of the polyamorous lovestyle, to officially welcome me as a “mama” in their home. I was honored to be asked to participate, but I had a few reservations. 

Unfortunately, the only real background knowledge I had about Kwanzaa was a few mentions here and there. ...

What I now know is that Kwanzaa is a week-long African-American holiday that begins on December 26th and lasts until January 1st.

Kwanzaa was created in the 1960s in America for Black and African-American people to pay homage to their African ancestors, values, and harvest festivals held across the continent.

Ungvar / Shutterstock
...On the first day of Kwanzaa, called Umoja (unity), we all gathered in the small living room. Each day, when everyone is gathered, someone greets the guests with the Swahili question “Habari gani?” meaning “What’s the news?” and all would answer aloud the day’s Kwanzaa principles.

For example,  “Nia,” the fifth day, signifies “purpose'' and happens to be the name of my partner’s daughter. The first of seven-colored candles (black, red, and green) called Mishumaa Saba, is placed in a holder called a kinara and then lit. ... We all talked about how we’d incorporated the principle in our lives. Then, one of the elder sons played the bongos with a riveting rhythm I felt through my soul. ...

...I came back with a new perspective about how I wanted to live my life. ... It’s finding family where you least expect it, learning there are many ways to love, and becoming open to continuing my education on the many lifestyles and traditions celebrated around the world.

●  And Poly Philia (Leanne Yau) writes us,

Happy Polydays -- podcast project

Over the last two weeks, I've been running a podcast project called the Happy Polydays series. For 14 days I spoke with a different non-monogamous public figure every day, and we had a lot of really interesting conversations and polyamory and race, religion, anticapitalism, cults, compersion, toxic masculinity, kink, relationship anarchy, and abuse. I covered some controversial and hard-hitting topics that the polyamorous community doesn't talk about often enough, so a boost would be great!

I'm still uncertain if this will be a festive event I'll bring back next year, but at any rate, Season 1 is complete so here it is. 

My favourites: episode 13 (from a closed cult to open love), episode 14 (polyamory and blackness), and episode 7 (queering compersion).

Links to all the episodes: https://anchor.fm/polyphiliablog

Transcripts (most of them are still being transcribed, but I really encourage you to read the one for Episode 13 on cults): https://www.polyphilia.blog/podcast

Video versions-- 

Leanne @polyphiliablog

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December 18, 2021

A "Metamours 101" in Cosmopolitan, Forbes opens the door on Feeld, and more polyamory in the news

Cafe Press

Welcome back for another roundup of polyamory in the news.

●  Cosmopolitan continues on its roll with a "Metamours 101" piece: Metamours: Everything to Know About Your Lover's Lover (Dec. 14)

By Ali Wunderman

...In ethical non-monogamy, however, having metamours is part of the goal. Multiple people come with the territory, and they too may bring even more people into the mix....

There is a misunderstanding that your partner’s lover must share an intimate relationship with you too. But a metamour is first and foremost your partner’s partner, not yours. It’s true that sometimes the relationship can evolve to bring you all together, but that happens circumstantially. In fact, it’s a red flag if the central partner tries to force a friendship or romantic connection between their lovers where one would not exist naturally. ... Whatever connection you end up forming with a metamour should be on your terms. But when your shared characteristic with a metamour is loving the same person, it can actually be really easy to get along. ...

Writing professor Patricia Fancher, author of this essay on building a queer, polyamorous family, says she got along so well with her husband’s girlfriend—her metamour—that the girlfriend became more like her husband’s metamour instead. “We just liked each other so much that the relationship shifted,” she says.

...It’s worth examining your motivation in making [metamour-closeness decisions] either way: Is avoiding meeting them a way to pretend they don’t exist? Is getting together for coffee at the beginning of the relationship a way to exert control? Do you subconsciously want to ensure your partner’s connection with them involves you on some level?

...If this relationship construct is by design based on the wholehearted consent of yourself and your partner(s), then there is nothing to fear. ...

●  Yet more from Cosmopolitan: 8 Open Relationship Questions, Answered by Someone Actually In One (Nov. 30), also by Ali Wunderman.

I first dipped my toe into the world beyond monogamy by opening my relationship with my husband more than a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been asked a million and one questions. ...

They're very basic and handled reasonably okay, such as this one:

What happens when you catch feelings?

[Many] couples design an open relationship with the agreement that no new romantic bonds will be formed. But, humans gonna human, and catching feelings can be inevitable. “It’s important to understand your biology when exploring sexually,” says Saynt. “When you meet someone new and form a connection you may experience a spark. This ‘new love energy’ may feel like something more than intended as your brain pushes serotonin and oxytocin into your body, creating a high we may not always feel with our core partner.”

Also known as ‘new relationship energy,’ it can be intoxicating, but it is also avoidable. ... However, if it is something you are struggling with and you are navigating a monogamish relationship, you may need to discuss the options of polyamory with your partner.”...

●  Right next to Cosmo at your grocery-store checkout is Men's Health. Both are published by Hearst, have huge circulations, and are more alike than their gender split suggests. Appeared on the Men's Health site the same day as the Cosmo story above was 20 Questions With Open Relationships Sex Therapist Dulcinea Alex Pitagora (Nov 30). It's longer and presents better answers, IMO. 

By Sophie Saint Thomas

...Q: How did you become interested in ENM enough to make it your specialty?

Dulcinea Pitagora

Pitagora: I focus on working with the communities I’m personally connected to and identify with, which also happen to be among the most underserved and misunderstood groups. As a polyamorous person, my own life experience provided a foundation for and dovetails with the specialized training I received in clinical sexology.

...Q: What are the most common misconceptions about ENM?

Pitagora: The most common things I hear are that:

  – ENM people have extremely high libidos.
  – They are at higher risk for STIs and get them more frequently.
  – They're just experimenting until they find "the right person to settle down with."

None of these misconceptions are based on anything related to common practice or scientific data. ...

...Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about polyamory in particular?

Pitagora: The misconceptions I often hear about polyamory are:

  – Polyamorous relationships are harder than other relationships.
  – They’re expensive and only for people with money. [??  We're talking about life relationships, not dinner-and-a-movie.  –Ed.]
  – That it’s not possible to have deep connections and love feelings for multiple people.

The truth is that no one relationship structure is harder than any other, and all relationships take communication and work to be sustainable, satisfying, and enjoyable. The only thing finite is time... and spending time together doesn’t have to cost anything.

...Q: Are there some people who truly are monogamous and not built for ENM?

Pitagora: Definitely, though I believe this is always a combination of nature and nurture.... 

Or as I've heard that expressed, "It can be very difficult to tell hard wiring from installed wiring." But the difference doesn't matter in respecting someone's preference. Read on.

●  More in the Poly 101 department: From PsychCentral, Throuple, Quad, and Vee: All About Polyamorous Relationships (Nov. 23), with much about the definitions of words.

●  Speaking of words, poliamor is making news across the Spanish-speaking world this week for its entry into the Royal Spanish Academy's quasi-official Diccionario de la Lengua Española (Dictionary of the Spanish Language). It's defined there as a "relación erótica y estable entre varias personas con el consentimiento de todas ellas."

This parallels the news wave in 2006 when polyamory entered the Oxford English Dictionary, the closest thing that English has to a final authority. An article in Spain's El País: Bitcóin... poliamor, transgénero y quinoa, nuevas palabras en el diccionario de la RAE (Dec. 16).  An article in English: The new words of the RAE Dictionary: polyamory, transgender, quinoa, bitcoin. Interesting that of the 3,836 new terms that were introduced, poliamor is one of the few making the news. 

●  Of all the attempts to create the go-to polyamory-specific dating site since PolyMatchMaker launched in 2001, Feeld has come closest to capturing the market. Its founders and owners are, by all accounts, good-hearted believers in the concept, unlike some dating-industry businesses that spotted a trend, tried, and failed because they didn't get it.

So the business magazine Forbes takes a look at Feeld and its workplace culture: Ethical Non-Monogamy— Exploration Of All Types Of Relationships—Dating App Will Pay Employees An $80,000 Salary (Nov. 26)

By Jack Kelly

In a heartwarming wholesome holiday season story, Feeld—the world’s most progressive dating app with over 20 sexuality and gender options—will offer all its workers a baseline salary of $80,000.  

The platform is built for the sexually curious. The unique site champions ethical non-monogamy and the openness to explore non-mainstream types of relationships. You can seek out members of the site who are into threesomes, domination and submission, quirky kinks, polyamorous relationships, bi-curious, swingers and anything else you might be interested in. It's a smorgasbord for sexual exploration.

Feeld was founded in 2014 by a couple, who like other startup founders, sought to find a solution to a problem. Bulgarian-born software designer Dimo Trifonov, founder of Feeld and Ana Kirova, who is now the CEO of Feeld, had been in a relationship for a couple of years. Ana realized that she had feelings for another woman. She shared this with her partner, and he was understanding. 

This gave birth to the idea of creating a space in which people could be open to sharing their sexual interests and finding like-minded people. Feeld’s mission is to normalize a wide array of sexual desires. ...
Kirova’s action [in setting high baseline salaries] is a masterclass in showing appreciation and respect for her workers. It's also a smart recruitment and retention tool for this currently tight job market, characterized by a Great Resignation and all out war-for-talent.

Kirova initiated other important changes including forming a “leadership team of 60% female-identifying members, over 50% female-identifying newly hired engineers,” ... Her management style includes offering ‘transparency’ so that everyone knows what is going on at the company and feels like an integral part of the team. ...

●  Advice columnist Dear Prudence at Slate turns this one over to readers: Help! My Girlfriend and I Can’t Do Anything Together Without Our Partner Getting Jealous. (Nov. 26, paywalled)

I live with my longtime girlfriend, “April.” About a year ago we started seeing someone together, who I’ll call “Jamie.” We had many wonderful months as a triad, until last summer when Jamie had to move back in with their family in another city due to financial matters. We have been long-distance since then, with Jamie promising to move back to our town this summer.

A major problem right now is that Jamie is very jealous of seemingly everything April and I do together. They’re jealous if we get takeout, go on a hike, hang out with friends, or just spend the evening watching TV. While I fully understand their jealousy ... it feels like everything we tell Jamie upsets them, and if we don’t tell them what we’ve been up to, Jamie is still upset because we aren’t sharing about our day with them!

We talk to Jamie about it and are very sympathetic. ...

●  Marty Klein, sex therapist, researcher and author, may have done as much as anyone to advance sex positivity as a concept after Wilhelm Reich invented the term in the early-mid 20th century. Klein himself got going almost 50 years ago. I didn't know he was still practicing and preaching, until up popped this piece he just wrote: Mistakes When Pursuing Poly & Non-Monogamy (Nov. 20).

...Here are some of the fundamental mistakes my patients have recently made in choosing or implementing poly. While there’s nothing wrong with non-monogamy, each vignette provides a cautionary tale. ...

...In fact, an increasing number of my patients turn to non-monogamy as a way of fixing broken relationships. This is a strategy that almost never succeeds: “Our relationship doesn’t work? Let’s add more people!”

[Also common:]

Grandfathering in an affair...

Imposing [poly] on a partner...

Doing it without clarifying the rules...

Underestimating the maintenance that non-monogamy requires...

●  One small step for legal recognition. Remember the sad court case in New Zealand of a 15-year triad who broke up while owning a home and farm? A family-court judge threw up her hands and said she couldn't adjudicate property distribution among them because three wasn't a family relationship under the law.

An appeals court has overruled her, saying that just because they were three doesn't mean it wasn't indeed a family relationship, and the court ordered her to go back and adjudicate it as such. Family Court will hear case of farm owners who were in three-way relationship (Dec. 3).

● Lastly, researchers at Canada's Simon Fraser University have put out a call for interview subjects involved in consensual non-monogamy. They'll pay for your time:

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