Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

May 25, 2022

Town expands polyamory partnership benefits. "How to be Friends with Your Lover's Lover." And why Ukraine matters for us.

●  Arlington, Mass., expands its multiple-domestic-partnership law.  Arlington's Representative Town Meeting voted May 2 to expand benefits for town employees in polyamorous or other multiple domestic partnerships, adding new sick leave, bereavement leave, and parental leave provisions. The vote was 162-68.

Arlington Town Hall, site of Town Meeting

The town also dropped the requirement that members of a multiple domestic partnership live together and share basic living expenses, and also removed its requirement that no members of a multiple domestic partnership be married to one another. Article: Domestic-partner measure passes after lengthy debate (Your Arlington, May 5).

Last year Arlington, at the behest of local polyfamilies and their supporters, voted to became the third municipality near Boston to expand registered domestic partnerships to include three or more people.

More information on these developing aspects of poly law: From Harvard Law School, "Working to offer legal protections for people in polyamorous relationships". With link to massive, 10,000-word legal backgrounder.

Want to propose such a measure for your city or town? It has to be drafted right if it's going to 1) pass scrutiny, and 2) meaningfully work for people. Contact the brains at the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC) for their expert help.

●  Words matter. Writing for the Black community, Kiarra Sylvester describes The Different Types Of Nonmonogamous Relationships (xoNicole, May 13). But there's a goof.


These days, relationships can, in fact, be customized to meet your needs.

...I especially find it fascinating that more and more Black women are seemingly opening themselves up to consensual nonmonogamy, or CNM, and not in the way that centers men, but in a way that truly honors their needs and healing journey.

Though I prefer monogamy myself, this is also because I have done the introspective work to know it is truly what I desire for where I am in my life. Meanwhile, it has my good people in a chokehold.

Here are six terms defining nonmonogamous relationship styles that I found to be curious and thought you might too.

1. Free Relationship
A free relationship is a relationship where the structure of the commitment is flexible for one reason or another, perhaps neither of you are quite sure about the relationship style yet....

2. Solo-poly
A solo-poly relationship style is simply one when you’re single or independent, but exploring intimate relationships with others. ...

3. Monogamish 
Monogamish is when a couple has a monogamous base... but the boundaries around flirtation and sexual relations provide wiggle room. ...

4. Moonlighting or Swinging
...Moonlighting is more often than not enjoying and entertaining other singles, couples, or throuples for sex and not an emotional connection. They even have clubs and events to help facilitate moonlighting, er, swinging.

As swingers, you typically play together in some capacity! It doesn’t necessarily have to be a threesome but perhaps swapping partners. But, it’s also okay for one partner to maybe just take on a more voyeur-like role while the other is more hands-on.

5. Open Relationship
An open relationship has little to no boundaries, but please hear me when I say there are still boundaries. ...

6. Polyamory
This term translates to “many loves” and is an umbrella term that can also encompass concepts such as mono-poly, vee relationships, and triads (or a throuple) – which are all also umbrella terms. Polyamory is simply the implication that you are the opposite of monogamous by one of the aforementioned definitions or another.

And that one's off-kilter. The umbrella term is consensual non-monogamy, CNM, as Sylvester says at the beginning. "Polyamory" has always meant multiple serious love relationships, carried out, by definition, "with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned." Poly relationships usually include sex but not always, and the multiple relationships tend to be more intertwined than in other forms of CNM.

In particular, polyamory carries an expectation of, at least, mutual respect and good will among everyone involved, and that everyone will, at minimum, see the others as significant persons whose well-being matters. Think metamours. Polyamory is the only category of CNM that needed to develop that word, or a word like "polycule."

Order the card – but only if it'll be appreciated.
●  Speaking of which, Vice just ran a Metamours 101How To Be Friends With Your Lover’s Lover (May 16). "Experts share tips for consensually non-monogamous people and their 'metamours.' "

The piece gives standard best advice, basically to be open and good-hearted but don't try to force things. If your meta relationship doesn't live up to your hopes and dreams, accept this, be polite, and give it the time and air it needs. 

If you're in this for the long haul, however, know that metamour relations become ever more important. Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff writes,

"For more than 20 years I have been studying polyamorous families with kids, and I have seen them face the usual difficulties that come with life – illness, economic challenges, divorce, disability, and the like. What has stood out to me about these families who remain together in long-term polycules – some of them for 60 or more years – is that the metamour relationships make or break the family over the long term."

From the Vice piece:  

By Romano Santos

...“We are socially conditioned not to share intimacy with anyone other than our partners,” said Zayna Ratty, a United Kingdom-based psychotherapist. “When challenging this internalized rationale, we can begin to see that this brings both challenges and possible joys to the table.”

Every consensually non-monogamous relationship is different, so every person’s relationship with their metamours can be different, too. But why would anybody want to be friends with their lover’s lovers?

“If your partner likes them, chances are you’re going to, too,” said Lori Beth Bisbey, a psychologist and gender, sex, relationship, and diversity therapist, also based in the UK. This means there’s a good chance that you share the same interests with your metamours—like a friend who’s already been pre-screened for you. 

According to Bisbey, if you’re in a healthy consensually non-monogamous relationship with clear boundaries, then making friends with your metamours could mean more support when times are difficult with the partner you share. They’re an addition to your chosen family, with whom you can share life’s highs and lows. 

So how do you turn metamours into friends? 

“The first thing you need to do is have a look at your monogamy hangover,” said Bisbey. ... In particular, thinking that anybody else your partner is dating is automatically competition. Make sure you’re ready to look at your metamour as a friend, family member, supporter, and ally, rather than someone who would take your partner away. 

If that’s the case, the next step is to allow the friendship to form organically. “Don’t force it. Don’t come with the idea that just because your partner is with them, immediately you need to be best friends,” warned Bisbey, as that could be overwhelming.

In other words, don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s not all that different from having other friends. ...

...It’s also important to figure out the specific mechanics of your relationship with your metamours. What exactly do you want? What do they want? Some people want to be friends with their lover’s lover, but don’t exactly want a separate relationship with them. They might call that metamour when there’s an emergency with their shared partner, but don’t necessarily want that metamour as a friend just for themselves. 

The shared partner can help, too. They can make everyone feel secure in the relationship, to avoid resentment or jealousy from everyone involved. 

What if your metamour doesn’t want to be friends?

If your metamour doesn’t want a relationship with you, accept that. Some people just aren’t interested in having more people in their lives. Bisbey said that some people in consensually non-monogamous relationships enjoy having more alone time, which is part of why they’re OK with their partners seeing other people. Meanwhile, others might be cordial with their metamours, but don’t exactly want to be friends. Some people in consensually non-monogamous relationships negotiate this, said Bisbey, but it’s best not to force it. 

...If you find that you’re not ready to be friends with your lover’s lover, own it. Communicate your feelings well so you’re not cutting off the possibility of a relationship in the future. Try to say these things in such a way that the metamour doesn’t feel bad, either.

In other words, keep an open mind. You can be friends with your lover’s lovers, but you don’t have to be. You might not be friends with them right now, but you might be one day. ...

“The polyamory model that you may have discussed with each other to begin with may not be the one you end up with,” said Ratty. “Every relationship has to evolve, so asking and learning as you go along is key.” 

●  On Hypebae: Breakups hurt, but poly breakups hit different (May 17). "The side of polyamory people don’t tell you about." By Gigi Fong.

Every December dating sites submit their trend predictions for the upcoming year, and this year, ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory, was the center of attention. Even several news outlets referred to it as “the future.” As a polyamorous individual, I scoffed and rolled my eyes not realizing I [felt] slighted because I was coming off the tailwinds of my very own toxic, poly drama.

I was a 21 year old college student when realized I was interested in polyamory. ... My soul tribe, as I like to call it, is an inclusive community of like-minded individuals that are sex-positive, queer or allied. I knew my anxious attachment style and past trauma would make this challenging so I sought extra support from my therapist. Within no time, I knew it was the right match for me. But like I intuitively felt, I was in for a whirlwind of toxicity.

Here’s what I learned in my tumultuous introduction to polyamory through the lens of my breakups....

The subsection titles of the article are

Sexual scripts and boundary-less fun.
Balancing queer and straight relationships.
The feeling of failure.

...It took me a while to realize that I was simply learning lessons that every 20-something would come to learn in their own time. Polyamory is a form of connection with endless, beautiful possibilities and it helped mold me into a mature adult. But it can also trigger toxicity and the most underdeveloped sides of you. ... It truly does take a certain level of maturity, trust and communication to succeed at polyamory.

We all learn from experience, but smart people learn from other people's experience.

●  Here, a very primary gay couple open to having secondaries after internal struggle. Nothing unusual here, and prospective secondaries should take warning  but this author has an eye and ear for depths. Worth a read. ‘What if he finds someone better?’: the agony and the ecstasy of an open relationship. (The Observer/Guardian, May 22). By Tom Rasmussen.

Alex Lake/The Observer
...And for that day, everything appeared blissfully normal. But normality can be suffocating. On the way home, in the car, we broke: “Oh my God that was so normal we can’t cope.” So we checked ourselves into a cheap hotel that night, halfway between London and the Cotswolds, got absolutely hammered and defined the rules of our new setup. And at that point, there were no rules. Just communication. ...

...The second person I had sex with approached me in a bar and described what he wanted to do to me. I’d never felt a turn-on like it. Not that I’m not turned on by my partner – because various types of desire, of turn-on, are not mutually exclusive. Desire, as I’m learning, exists on various planes, in various spaces. Herein lay a huge learning curve: in an open relationship, you begin to experience totally varied and different types of desire to the type of desire you feel in a monogamous setup.

...“It’s easier for queer couples,” a heterosexual friend told me, after I told her. And I think, for countless reasons, this is true: like the fact the centre still sees our relationships as fringe; the fact that sex for a lot of queer people is a mode of finding community, touch and family; the fact that we were kept out of normative conventions of relationships until a brutally recent seven years ago. But, at the same time, there is still the same fear, the same worry, the same risk of loss. So easier feels like too easy a word. Perhaps more accepted.

...And, yes, with every new partner ... I’ve experienced the rush of the new. But the rush of the new spills over into my primary partnership, too: new dynamics form, each scenario brings with it something for us to negotiate, and our sex is more adventurous than ever: perhaps because we learned new moves elsewhere or perhaps because we have a reinvigorated sense of desire for each other knowing that someone, elsewhere, has found this body in front of you desirable in new ways, too.

●  More TV:

     – Conversations With Friends, adapted from Sally Rooney's novel and now playing on Hulu, may seem like polyamory but don't be misled, says Gabrielle Smith in Glamour magazine: Reminder: 'Conversations With Friends' Is Not a Show About Polyamory (May 16)

The cast. They don't look happy.

It's understandable why folks would interpret the relationship between the characters as polyamorous as opposed to cheating. ... In many ways, the four of them resemble a subset of polyamory called kitchen table polyamory, where partners are comfortable enough to spend time together sharing a meal, going on group outings, or even taking trips together.

What makes Nick and Frances’s relationship distinctively not polyamorous is the mindset. Polyamorous relationships require disclosure, boundary setting, and a commitment to some sort of relational equity. ...

     – Remember that reality show "Open House: The Great Sex Experiment" on the UK's Channel 4?  Its six episodes, filming couples trying consensual non-monogamy at a swinging retreat, closed on a down note: 'Open House: The Great Sex Experiment' ends in chaos as drunk participant tussled with security then tried to drive home (The Sun, May 20.) Typical aggrieved baby-guy stuff with threat of violence; the story is only mildly popcorn-worthy.

●  On a more global perspective: Among non-Western societies, India seems to be the one where modern egalitarian polyamory seems to have taken the strongest root, as I've reported many times before (pardon some dropped pix). Newly in is How Polyamory is Helping Young Indians Discard Ideas of Finding 'The One' (The Quint, May 15)

By Hazel Gandhi

Bollywood has taught most Indians how to love – right from spontaneous declarations to unrealistic expectations of achievement of a ‘happily ever after’. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that most of what we know about love stems from Bollywood, including the idea of finding “the one”.

Bollywood rides on the do jism ek jaan narrative even today to fuel its overly romanticised version of how relationships are. While real-life monogamous relationships might [now] have a lot more individuality, there is still a very strict boundary when it comes to “sharing” your partner.

The Quint spoke to four young Indians who are changing this narrative and embracing the idea of ethical non-monogamy by practising polyamory. It's a practice that involves engaging with multiple romantic partners, and strongly advocates the idea of open communication and transparency to make the relationship work. ....


And on the larger stage. . . 

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside their worldview, we expose its incompletenesses. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures, and to speak up for ourselves about the truth of ourselves, is just one way we depend on a free and pluralistic society that respects people's dignity to create their own lives, to access facts, and to speak of what they know.

Such a society is only possible where people have the power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to protect the rights of all.

People and communities who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal protections that enable them to do so safely, infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States.

Such rulers and would-be rulers seek to stamp out other people's freedom to choose their own way — by intimidation, repressive laws, inflammatory falsehoods and public incitement, or, eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, this site has received more pagereads from Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in Eastern Europe.

For now, you can donate to Ukrainian relief through this list of organizations, vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. (Avoid scams.)


But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes. And not just because we're witnessing these people's 1776.

The coming times are going to require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

Need a little help bucking up? Play this new release from Pink Floyd. Loud.
Another version.

More, you want? Just some guys near Kharkiv the other day helping to hold onto a free and open society, a shrinking thing in the world. (The grenade seems to have saved them.) Maybe your granddad did this a few yards from Hitler's troops.

Bravery takes other forms too. For instance. And this. Or cartoon animator Oleg Kuvaev. His Masyanya was a popular family series in Russia for years, South Park style. Then, after the start of the war in February, came Episode 160. The raucous, oval-headed mom dumps the "no politics" rule ("So this is the result of your No Politics!" says her partner. "It's our fault.") and toward the end she barges in and offers Putin a hara-kiri sword to solve his problems. No spoilers. English subtitles. Kuvaev is overseas, the series remains up via overseas backups, and Russian authorities have implied they will hunt down the backups and wipe them. Don't drink any polonium, guy.

Remember, these people say they're doing it for us too. They are correct. The situation is going to get worse before it gets better. The global contest for the future that's shaping up, including in our own country, is still in its early stages (start at the 3rd paragraph there).  The outcome is uncertain, and it will determine the 21st century and the handling of all its other problems.


BTW, it's safer to say a thing if people around you say it too. What the audience here is chanting in St. Petersburg a few days ago is Khuy voinyeh, "Fuck the war," potentially worth a 15-year prison sentence.


Some person in that crowd started it. Maybe you can be a first mover too. Or the first reactor to a first mover, just as crucial. When the moment appears, remember not to flinch. We'll have a better idea after the election. Whatever else you do, vote.

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