Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 13, 2022

Five new polyamory books, normalization rushes on, and other poly in the news.

More than 62 nonfiction books about polyamory have been published since Ryam Nearing, co-founder of Loving More magazine and the modern poly movement itself, brought out the first edition of her Polyfidelity Primer in 1984. (The word "polyamory" had not yet been invented.) Only five more books appeared in the next 15 years, then the numbers began to pick up — slowly at first, and now so fast I can't keep track.

I maintained a guide to all these books, with descriptions, until June 2015 when the tally stood at 42 and the job got too big. Here's the guide as it stood then. Here are 11 posts I've made since then about 17 more polyam/CNM books: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Now five new ones are out or soon will be:

●  The Anxious Person’s Guide to Non-Monogamy by Lola Phoenix, a well-known non-monogamy advice columnist and podcaster. This'll be an important one.

When I first found out about poly, I decided this thing was only for low-problem people with super-together heads. Then I saw real-world people with all the normal problems and wounds and neuroses  making it work too, though maybe with special struggles and attention to issues along the way.

Lola Phoenix, and many others, feel that such understandings haven't shown up properly in many poly guidebooks. So Phoenix has just published an explicitly trauma-informed guide to poly and CNM. It's an eye-opener.

From their introduction:

I came to non-monogamy by way of sex-positive communities when I was trying to reconnect with my body and sexuality after finally really coming to terms with the sexual abuse I'd been through as a child. A lot of what sex-positive communities did was encourage questioning things society had taught me.

...The first couple of times the [standard poly] advice I gathered didn't work, I thought it was my fault. So much of what I learned was encouraging distrust of my own judgment, a reinforcement of the same denial I had of my emotions my entire life....

It's no surprise then that my first experiences with polyamory were extremely sketchy, and I only managed to escape them by reading literature about abusive relationships and abusive patterns. I wouldn't until much later learn that my negative emotions weren't inherently a sign of my own insecurity. I grew frustrated with problems I and others had that I saw constantly crop up that weren't really talked about. I felt that so much of the polyamory advice offered me either didn't address mental health or just didn't work for someone who had the anxiety or the experiences I had growing up. So I did what I usually do when I have thoughts: I wrote them down.

...I found out I wasn't the only one....

Read the whole introduction at the "Look Inside" box on the book's Amazon page. Also there is the table of contents.

From the foreword by Kathy Slaughter, LCSW: 

Years ago, as I began my journey into polyamory and working with polyamorous clients, I found most of the 'starter' books available inadequate. [The missing perspective] was an understanding of trauma, queer identities, and disability. Developmental trauma — being abused as a child — was my first professional specialty. 

...Now, after years of working with polyamorous clients, I've noticed that jumping into a non-monogamous relationship style can bring old pain and anxiety screaming to the surface. Often my clients worry that they're not 'cut out' for polyamory because their emotional reactions are so intense. And when I looked at the available resources for support, I understood where this fear came from. ...

Again, read on at the Amazon look-inside box.

In short: This is a needed book and a sign of our movement's growing maturity.

●  The Polyamory Workbook: An Interactive Guide to Setting Boundaries, Communicating Your Needs, and Building Secure, Healthy Open Relationships, by Sara Youngblood Gregory. The official publication date is November 8 but it may be available earlier. From the publisher's description:

Successfully navigate nonmonogamous relationships with this practical workbook filled with activities, journal prompts, interviews, and more activities.... Helps you determine what you really want when it comes to your life, your relationships, and the community you build — and how to get it.

...The Polyamory Workbook draws key information from real polyamorous people and relationship experts to help you expand your emotional and relational toolbox, better preparing you for the dive into nonmonogamy. This workbook focuses on the foundational knowledge everyone interested in or already practicing polyamory should know, including:
–  Types of nonmonogamy
–  Communication styles
–  Boundary setting
–  Consent
–  Metamours and jealousy
–  Pitfalls and red flags
–  Breakups
–  And more!

Compare with Kate Kincaid's similar recent workbook, Polyamory Journal:  Prompts and Practices for Navigating Non-Monogamy

● Another workbook: Based on the continuing success of her 2020 book Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy, Jessica Fern will soon come out with The Polysecure Workbook: Healing Your Attachment and Creating Security in Loving RelationshipsPublication date November 25, but you can preorder now. Publisher's blurb:

The Polysecure Workbook encourages examination of any attachment challenges you may have experienced in your opening up process and offers insights into how to build secure relationships. Through practical exercises, you will explore your own attachment history, examine your reasons for practicing nonmonogamy and the different styles of nonmonogamy that you relate to, and consider whether you rely on relationship structure for your attachment security. The Polysecure Workbook provides the tools needed to navigate the complexities of multiple loving relationships and to build personal security.

Thanks to Tracie Winslow for the tip.

●  Mono in a Poly World: What to Do When Your Partner Is Polyamorous and You Aren't, by Tazmyn Ozga. A small book, 60 pages. From the introduction:  

In 2014, after 25 years of marriage, my husband told me he was polyamorous and needed to be able to explore and live this part of himself, as a man free to have multiple intimate relationships. ... This new chapter in our relationship was a sometimes traumatic, sometimes exciting time for us. ...

We had a whole life together — three young-adult kids, a home, our long history. While we had our share of struggles and rough spots. for the most part we were friends and lovers who got along well. Could we stay together and make this work?

The last five-plus years were our grand experiment in seeing if we could make our mono-poly relationship work for both of us. Our path was a winding one, with lots of talking, therapy, trying different things, wrong turns, feelings, learning and discerning. It hasn't been easy.

...We monogamous folks with poly partners have our own perspectives, challenges, and issues to deal with, This book is for us. ... 

●  And a fifth: Kathy Labriola's Polyamorous Elders: Aging in Open Relationships is due to be published December 15 by the academic publisher Rowman & Littlefield:

This book explores the unique group of elders, age 55 and older, who practice some form of consensual non-monogamy. It covers both the joys and challenges of multiple relationships for elders. Poly elders have the complexities of juggling multiple relationships, as well as managing all the issues of aging: managing medical conditions and disabilities (their own and/or their partners’), caregiving responsibilities for aging relatives, grieving the deaths of parents, siblings, and partners, retiring from careers and starting new lives, and/or moving into some form of senior living. 


In other news, a roundup of stuff:

●  More signs of mainstreaming. In Bloomberg BusinessWeek, What Nonmonogamy Can Teach Moonlighters and Job Jugglers  (July 28). "Handling multiple bosses isn’t that different from managing multiple lovers."

For example,

...A key tenet of polyamory is compersion—the ability to find joy in your partners’ happiness, even if they’re finding happiness with other people. This can be tough for rookie polyamorists, who learn that when romantic partners lash out about other activities, it’s often because they’re not getting enough attention of one kind or another. The same dynamic happens in the workplace: Bosses who are anxious about underperforming employees will inevitably start blaming [their] other jobs. ...

●  In the family-friendly Health Digest, What Is A Polyamorous Relationship And Is It Right For You? (Aug. 2)

Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

By Niko Vercelletto

...One form of consensual non-monogamy is a polyamorous relationship. This type of relationship can be defined as a person, or people, who are in committed relationships with multiple people at the same time, with the consent of all parties.... Polyamory has seemingly gained interest in the last few years, and you may be wondering if opening up a future or current relationship is right for you.

In some ways, polyamorous relationships may seem a lot like monogamous ones in that they require strong conflict resolution skills and good communication. And every relationship is built on a good foundation, including polyamorous relationships, according to Psychology Today. But what are some key differences between the two?

For starters, polyamorous relationships involve defining your own relationship rules and understanding the boundaries and limits of you and your partner. Asking yourself and your partner some important questions from the get-go could help define relationship terms. ...

...A 2018 study published in the journal Psychology showed that there was no difference in satisfaction, both relational or sexual, between monogamous and polyamorous relationships. However, the level of satisfaction does depend on how well all parties communicate about boundaries and needs before and during the relationships.

Polyamorous relationships are most successful when people can satisfy and fulfill each of their relationship partners equally, both emotionally and sexually, according to Psychology Today. Additionally, there are certain personality traits that may be better suited for polyamorous relationships, like extroversion, agreeableness, and low levels of jealousy and neuroticism.

If that all sounds far out of your comfort zone, don't be afraid to stick with monogamy, particularly if you become easily jealous, anxious, or need clear and consistent boundaries from a single partner....

Lastly, you don't want to start a polyamorous relationship for the wrong reasons. ...

●  Another. Erez Benari writes, "Voice actor Justin Rupple came on America's Got Talent recently (season 17, ep 4) and presented his wife AND his girlfriend, and even said the P word to wild applause! Howie Mandell said, 'I wanna give you the golden buzzer right now.' 

"Oh, he's also got a solid 330k followers on TikTok."

More about this from Meeaww (June 21):

...Justin Rupple's 'throuple' marriage

Aside from his steadily growing career in showbiz, Rupple's "throuple" relationship is also making headlines. Rupple and his wife, Katy Rupple, are in a polyamorous relationship with Claire Thornhill. Rupple met his wife, Katy, in 2006 while performing at one of his comedy shows. The couple started dating and got married in 2013. A few years after their marriage, Katie expressed an interest in exploring her bisexual side. After a lot of discussions, the couple approached Rupple's college friend Claire. In an interview with The Mirror, Claire shared, "At first, it was a surprise as I had never been approached like this before." Despite this, the surprise was welcomed "as I had always had feelings for both men and women."

...The 'throuple' claims that they are happy together. They credited teamwork and communication, as well as sharing goals, personality traits, and hobbies.... Claire explained, "As humans, we're capable of loving multiple people completely without diminishing the love we have for any one individual, and we're extremely lucky to have found each other. We are proud of our partnership and want others to know that you don't have to feel shame for simply loving people."

You can catch more of the trio's adventures and relationship milestones on their Instagram page The Thrupples.

●  Nice little Poly 101 on, of all places, Marriage.com, a platisher that bills itself as "The World's Best Marriage Resource: Building healthy, happy marriages and relationships." Differences: Ethical Non-Monogamy, Polyamory, Open Relationships (Aug. 1). The piece is very basic but mostly on-target as far as it goes.

 By Anne Duvaux

...Are you perhaps curious about the way society’s views seem to be changing? We all know relationships take work but perhaps we can help ourselves in how we structure them? 

Moreover, maybe we can learn something by understanding more about non-monogamous vs. polyamorous relationships?...

She found this nearly half-century-old quote, new to me:

In the timeless book The Road Less Traveled [1978], the psychiatrist M Scott Peck states in a footnote that all his years of couples-work led him to the “stark conclusion that open marriage is the only kind of mature marriage that is healthy”.

Most of us would disagree strongly with that, but I can see how Peck got there.

Dr. Peck goes on to imply that a monogamous marriage often leads to destroyed mental health and lack of growth. Does that mean that a polyamorous relationship is automatically ethical? 

On the contrary, it means that due to their nature, these types of relationships contribute to growth. This involves effort from all parties.

Which is indeed necessary for any long-term partnership.

● Newsweek puts up another 101, Mistakes To Avoid in an Open Relationship, From Couples Who've Been There (July 28). 

...These include:

  • Failing to communicate
  • Being inconsiderate of your partner's feelings
  • Expecting too much
  • Not setting boundaries
  • Failing to keep jealousy in check
  • Choosing the wrong people.

Tyler, Sam, Angel

●  The British tabloids continue their flood of (obviously profitable) happy polyfamily stories. Latest example: Polyamorous couple who asked their girlfriend to serve as their BRIDESMAID open up about the ups and downs of life in a throuple -- from dealing with jealousy over sex to handling outrage from family (Daily Mail August 10, and elsewhere). They're an MFF equilateral triad in Memphis. It wasn't easy for them to get the relationship fully worked out, and some of their family boycotted the wedding of two of them, but the story makes it sound like a happily-ever-after. With a video and many pics. Follow them on TikTok as @dailythrouple.

Once again: You wonder how the tabs get dozens and dozens of polyfamilies to share their lives in these rags? They pay you. These story packages — text, photos, sometimes videos — are created by tabloid-content companies including MDW Features, Barcroft Media, HotSpot Media, and Triangle News. The companies are based in the UK, but most of their featured polyfamilies have been in the US.

They're called the red tops.

Want to see if they're interested in you and yours? Well....

Don't accept their first offer; it may be a lowball. And I'm told this is not the easy money you may imagine; expect to put in a fair amount of time, energy, and perhaps stress. They may give you editorial control over how you're portrayed if you ask for it, so put that in the contract: require the right to review and remove anything in the final product. Even so, as with any media, say or show nothing that you don't want used. During the interview and photo shoots, be prepared to confer and refuse any requests that you feel are off (trick questions, sketchy photo setups), and to resist any amount of cajoling, which they are experts at. If you're ready to walk away from the deal, especially after they've committed resources to show up, you hold the upper hand. Remember, the tabloids are not journalism.

●  Are you a woman, transfem, or nonbinary? Buzzfeed News wants your poly story. "We're looking to speak with women and transfeminine or nonbinary people for an upcoming BuzzFeed News story" to be titled "Why Women Are Deciding To Become Nonmonogamous." I assume  short items are what they want.

As Jessica Fern, psychotherapist and author of Polysecure, has pointed out, it’s often women who initiate nonmonogamy.

If you’re a woman, transfeminine, or nonbinary person in a nonmonogamous relationship, BuzzFeed News wants to hear from you. We may reach out to you for an upcoming story.

They ask you to fill out a form. I doubt they pay sources; even Buzzfeed has standards.


Looking wider, the struggle deepens. 

Why, some of you ask, have I been ending posts to this polyamory news site with the Ukraine war? With links like this one?

Because in my life I've seen many socially progressive movements become irrelevant and die out by failing to scan the wider world accurately and understand their position in it strategically.

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some people feel we're a threat to society — because by living successfully outside of their worldview, we expose its incompleteness. 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 guarantee the rights of all.

People, communities, and societies that 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 lives — by intimidation, repressive laws, inflammatory disinformation 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 Ukraine relief through this list of organizations vetted by the Washington Post, or many others. We're giving to a big one, Razom, and to a little one, Pizza for Ukraine in Kharkiv, a project of an old friend of my wife Sparkle Moose.


But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetimes.

(See also, among others, Tom Friedman's I Thought Putin Invaded Only Ukraine. I Was Wrong.)

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. Loud.

More, you want? Just some guys near Kharkiv (our Pizza for Ukraine town) helping to hold onto a free and open society, a shrinking thing in the world. The tossed grenade seems to have saved them. Maybe your granddad did this across a trench from Hitler's troops, for you, and for us — because a world fascist movement was successfully defeated that time, opening the way for the rest of the 2oth century. Although the outcome didn't look good for a couple of years there.

Bravery takes other forms. For instance. Or cartoon animator Oleg Kuvaev. His Masyanya was a popular family webseries in Russia for years, South Park style, and made it onto TV. Then, after the start of the war, he put out Episode 160. The raucous, oval-headed mom ditches the show's no-politics rule, and toward the end she barges in on Putin and presents him a blistering lecture and a hara-kiri sword to solve his problems. No spoilers what comes next. English subtitles. Kuvaev got out of Russia in time, the series remains up via overseas backups, and Russian authorities have implied they will hunt down the backups and wipe them.

Remember, these people say they're doing it for us too. They are correct.  The global struggle between a free, open future and a fearful revival of the dark past that's shaping up, including in our own country, is still in its early stages. The situation is going to get worse before it gets better. The outcome is again uncertain, and it will determine the 21st century and the handling of all its other problems.

We'll have a better idea after the election. Whatever else you do, vote.


PS: Ukraine should not be idealized as the paragon of an open democratic society. For instance, see If Ukraine Wants To Stand for Liberty and Democracy, It Should Rethink Some of Its Wartime Policies (Reason, July 19). And the country has a long history of being run by corrupt oligarchs — until the Maidan Uprising of 2013, the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, and Zelensky's overwhelming election in 2019 as the anti-corruption guy. So they've been working on that.

Social attitudes tend traditional, but not bitterly so like in the US; the ideal of modern European civil society is widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. Some 40,000 women reportedly volunteer in military roles, and LGBT folx in the armed forces openly display symbols of LGBT pride. (Whereas in Russia, it's a criminal offense for even a civilian to so much as wear a tiny rainbow.) Writes kos in the big lefty news site Daily Kos (July 29),

I find [this] particularly salient given American conservative hostility toward women serving in our military. People like Ted Cruz praising the supposed manliness of the Russian army, while claiming ours is weak because of “woke culture.” Ukraine puts that bullshit to bed, not just with the women serving in its ranks, but with gay soldiers very publicly sewing unicorn patches on their uniforms to denote their pride.

He retweets a meme from a military blogger commenting on the plight of the abused gay Russian draftee:

To hell with any conservatives who impugn anyone’s service as somehow less effective or honorable than white straight men. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the item on Ukraine. It is very useful in countering the propaganda that it is Ukraine that is oppressive and fascist, when in matters of gender, sexuality and relationships, and in general, it is actually Putin’s Russia.

I agree with every word, except that there have, unfortunately, been several equally consequential wars for those born after World War Two. Vietnam for instance.

Keep up the great work for the community.

August 13, 2022 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Eve said...

While it’s not explicitly a CNM book, polyamorous philosopher Carrie Jenkins (author of What Love Is) also has a new CNM-adjacent book out, and it’s excellent: https://www.carriejenkins.net/sad-love

August 14, 2022 11:44 AM  

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