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

November 7, 2022

A spate of first-person polyamory stories in the media. Two more books. And, VOTE!

First: One thing is more important right now than anything else. VOTE! Don't let anything stop you.

If you're reading this site, you have at least one very personal reason why.

We polyfolks are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Increasingly powerful people call us a threat to society that must be dealt with: part of the whole mix of sex and relationship non-normals who should be marginalized and stripped of rights. Yes, read that link.

This is because by living successfully outside of their worldview, we expose its incompleteness. Our freedom to choose our relationship structures without fear, 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 (even in libraries!) and to speak of what they know.

People and communities outside the norm infuriate and terrify the authoritarians who are growing in power around the world and in our own United States. It's no exaggeration; a world fascist trend is building. But tomorrow, you get a vote on that. Use it, or don't complain later.


The last week or so brought a slew of first-person polyamory stories in the media.

●  Yes, be brave. Liliana Bakhtiari, that nonbinary queer poly Iranian-born Atlanta city councilor who made news with her triad a month ago, has written a "My Turn" column in Newsweek: 'I'm a Non-Monogamous American Politician' (Oct. 28). 

To come out publicly as non-monogamous as an elected official—especially a queer, brown, non-binary, Muslim elected official in the South—is not a small thing. I was elected to the Atlanta City Council in December 2021. My partners, Kris and Sarah, and I spent almost a year planning how we would come out before we did so in September 2022.

...We are a triad. Everyone has permission to see other people if they would like, but that's not something that any of us are currently doing. This is a family, so there has to be a lot of communication around that because we've worked really hard to build what we have.

On vacation.
Kris and Sarah are both the best partners you could ask for. I enjoy our relationship because I get to live with and love my two best friends. We can do everything from a cross-country road trip to sitting at home in complete silence, in our pajamas, watching Schitts Creek, and be completely happy.

I also love that the three of us are very ambitious in our own ways and balance each other out really well. They make me a better person, and make me more equipped to do the work that I want to do.

When the three of us first went into the relationship, we didn't know what was going to happen. But when we realized we had the depth, the substance, the connection, for us to be a family and to build a life together, that's when we started making plans to come out.

Being non-monogamous as a politician

We came out to our friends, family and our immediate circles. But for almost two years, I did not go public with my relationship with Sarah. We wanted to be intentional about the story and how we came out. Kris and I didn't want Sarah to get hurt.

It wasn't easy, and it wasn't fun. It took some getting used to, especially for Sarah. At political events, I would introduce them as Kris and Sarah, and it was hard not being able to say who Sarah was. ... It's a hard thing to feel like you're devaluing someone you love in the public eye. ... 

Kris and I wanted to come out because we felt we had found the person with whom we were going to spend the rest of our lives. We want to have children, too—Sarah is planning on carrying, and we also want to adopt.

We also wanted people to know about our relationship because we feel we have nothing to be ashamed of. We're super proud of our relationship. It's a completely valid way of living: it's loving, it takes a village to raise a child anyway, and it is very possible to be in love with more than one person. We want to de-stigmatize non-monogamy for other people as well. Whether you recognize it or not, many people are involved in non-monogamous relationships. It has been a practice for thousands of years....

Life after "coming out"

We "came out" in an article with NBC, in September, 2022. On that day, I feel like everything played out exactly as it needed to. I honestly couldn't be happier with how it happened.

I've since received so many text messages, emails, social media messages and comments. A lot of people have said they had to move out of Georgia in order to practice their polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships, and they were really glad to see the public representation.

...My colleagues and everybody at the district and City Hall have been super supportive. Atlanta is very different from rural parts of Georgia. The response here has been great. If somebody has an issue, they're not saying anything!

Before we came out, I remember acquaintances saying, "You're never going to be able to come out," and I was like, "Just watch me." ...

Sage Agee and child.
By Sage Agee

Since I was young, crushes have often developed between me and my friends, and I always found it hard to discern the line between platonic and romantic feelings. ... 

In 2016, I met the person that would eventually become my coparent. I brought up non-monogamy a number of times to him, and he was curious to try it but needed more time to build trust and get comfortable with the idea. I thought that was a fair request and wasn't fully convinced that I was ready for it, either. So I kept my interest in polyamory where it had lived the majority of my adult life — buried. 

Occasionally, we would flirt with another couple or single person together and fantasize what it would be like to have sex with them. It was exciting when those moments came, but when we would start to consider developing an actual relationship with someone else, the communication would break down and insecurities would stop us from bringing a third person into our relationship. 

Then, in March 2020, we were living in a small studio apartment when the pandemic lockdown hit. The same week we began working from home together, I took a pregnancy test — and it was positive. Over the next two years, our life circumstances changed drastically. We ended up moving into a small farmhouse in a rural town, and I quit my nonprofit job to stay home with our baby full time. 

...I daydreamed of having a network of care for both my child and myself that monogamy and the nuclear-family model couldn't offer. I knew I wanted different partners who could fulfill different needs, instead of putting all my expectations onto one person and fighting for support. 

So, like many neurodivergent people, I did an endless amount of research. I compiled a document filled with resources, testimonies, frequently asked questions, and even relevant terminology that might make my desires more understandable. In a moment of bravery, I emailed it to my partner.

To my surprise, he agreed that it sounded exciting and we decided to try it out slowly. ...

●  In the New York Times Style section's "Modern Love" department, a heartfelt tale of summer love. A Throuple’s Tricky Geometry (Oct. 28) Did it end well? That's a judgment call. The writer seems to think so.

In a couple, a straight line connects two points. With three people in a relationship, many more configurations emerge. 

Brian Rea / NYT
By Evan Sterrett

A queen-size bed can sleep two adult men comfortably. It can fit three if you don’t mind cuddling — or waking up to strange noises in the dark.

One early July morning, I opened my eyes to my boyfriend making out with the guy who had been living with us for the past month. Not really a fan of sex before tooth-brushing, I smiled, mumbled “hot” and turned over.

This had become our sleeping arrangement that summer: my boyfriend, our new lover and me. Add our Chihuahua at the foot of the bed and it was a tight squeeze. It’s a miracle we weren’t sleep deprived. In fact, we felt the opposite. After six turbulent years together, my boyfriend and I were falling in love all over again. Not with each other, exactly, but with this Third. ...

Long before meeting the Third, our relationship had downgraded into reruns of the same drama, our fights rehearsed through years of repetition. But now we had a guest star. With a new script in our hands, we wondered, could this be our comeback?

...It was a sweaty June day and we were at a pool party for the gay dating app I work for. ... My co-worker introduced me to his friend.... I thought there was something special about the way he held my gaze. Well that, and he was adorable. My boyfriend agreed. That night, he came home with us.

...Before long, he was spending every night with us. My boyfriend would drive him to his internship in the mornings and we would reunite in the evenings for dinner. On the weekends, we would take spin classes together, swim in the Pacific, eat ice cream, dance at warehouse parties. With all his youthful energy and optimism, the Third had resuscitated our joie de vivre. This was our summer of love.

The rules were loosely defined, which is to say, there were none. My boyfriend and I didn’t discuss what was happening, other than a breathless, “Isn’t this incredible?” We knew the Third’s internship would end in August regardless, so why fret? There was no time to waste.

In mid-July, I realized we were falling in love. ...We were at a tapas restaurant downtown and the Third was telling a story from his childhood. I looked over to see my boyfriend smiling and staring intently at him. His expression was so smitten that for a moment I wanted to smack his grin away, thinking, “You don’t look at me like that anymore.” But then I blinked and realized that I was wearing the same, doofy expression.

...The geometry of a throuple is complex. With a couple, there’s only a straight line connecting two dots. But introduce a third point, and so many more possibilities emerge — only one of which is an equilateral triangle.

Although the Third slept between us in bed, sat across from us at dinner and walked between us holding both of our hands, the angles in our throuple kept shifting.


...Gradually, our conflicts from seasons past started to replay themselves. By early August, our fighting escalated so much that we had to take things outside one night. “We’re embarrassing ourselves,” I said in a hiss. My boyfriend paced the sidewalk, steaming with rage, while I badgered him with questions. The nighttime dog walkers had stopped to stare by the time my boyfriend said, “He makes me feel the way you used to!”

It was one of those ugly sentences that slips out during a fight and shocks both parties with its precision. We both knew it was true, and I understood it completely because I felt the same way.

Summer ended. It was time for the Third to fly home. ... 

The Third brought a light into the dark, dusty room of our relationship. That light woke us up, energized us, made us vulnerable again. But it also illuminated some boxes we had tried, for years, to keep tucked away. Boxes stuffed so full of resentments that they would make even a hoarder blush. Before the throuple, we could ignore our issues, file them away. But once we had a witness, we could no longer deny the evidence. ...

By Aliyah Moore

When my ex first floated the idea of polyamory to me, I didn’t know how to feel. Was I not enough for her? Was she not as committed to the relationship as I was? What would other people think, and how would I explain it to them?

Savannah Ruedy
I’ve struggled with jealousy before. We all have, especially when it comes to the people we love. Polyamory — the practice of having multiple consensual romantic partners — doesn’t make jealousy any easier to deal with, and that’s not the only emotion I’ve had to juggle in my non-monogamous relationships. 

Still, I had to admit that part of me had feelings for a friend of ours that I didn’t want to miss out on. It started with me and her, but I wanted him in my life too -- as more than a friend -- and so did she. So I decided to give it a shot.

When I started practicing polyamory, I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be like. I mean, one in five Americans have at least tried it, so there has to be some kind of formula or typical setup, right? Well… sort of. Every relationship is so different that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all picture of polyamory. For me, it was shaped by my sexuality, emotional needs, and even race. 

A poly relationship isn’t just about sex. It’s about breaking the perspective that a lifelong romantic bond can only exist exclusively between two people. Instead of having a deep emotional and sexual connection with one person, I had it with two. 

We all had ground rules about using protection outside our triangle, making time for each other, and who was or was not okay to sleep with. With some trial and error, we forged a beautiful relationship that lasted nearly three years. 

Usually, the worst part of polyamory wasn’t my relationship with my partners — it was how other people viewed and reacted to it. People (especially men) seemed to think that being polyamorous meant I was down to sleep with them all the time, and that my girlfriend and I wanted a threesome. Others made comments about how lucky our boyfriend was to be dating two girls at once, effectively reducing us to his sexual playthings with their words.

...I never introduced them to my family. Maybe if I had it would have helped normalize things, but I didn’t think they were ever going to get past the perception that a hypersexual Black man had tricked me into being his glorified sidepiece. 

My Polyamory “Rules”

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to make a poly relationship work, but there are ways to keep it healthy. 

1. The first step is to think about what you want. Polyamory isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. ... If you’re sure polyamory is for you, then do your research. ... Experienced poly people can warn you about common issues or answer common questions. 

2. Every relationship needs boundaries. You and your partner(s) will need to make some ground rules about sex and emotional connection. ...

3. Manage your expectations. Some people expect polyamory to solve the problems in their existing relationships, but this isn’t usually the case. You and your partner(s) still need to communicate, devote time to each other, and nurture your emotional bonds.

4. Talk about everything!  ...

5. Don’t be afraid to adapt. For many of us, polyamory is uncharted territory. The rules you set at the beginning of the relationship might not work as you and your partner(s) grow and have more experiences. If you need to change the rules, that’s okay. It’s always better to talk about the relationship than to suffer in silence or violate the emotional bond.
6. Make time for your partner(s). ...

7. Be respectful toward everyone involved. ...

8. You should practice safe sex outside your relationship. ...

9. Respect yourself and your feelings. If you feel like you’re being edged out by other partners, you need to say something. If nothing changes, then it might be time to move on from the relationship. 

10. All in all, a poly relationship can be whatever you and your partner(s) want it to be. It can be an exclusive emotional bond between more than two people, or any number of people that are open to sexual encounters outside their relationship. 

Negative feelings are unavoidable, but they don’t define polyamory any more than they define monogamy. If you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with your partner(s), you can find a way to make it work.

● Dedeker Winston of the big, successful Multiamory podcast has a new book coming out: Multiamory: Essential Tools for Modern Relationships. It's due in March. This is her second book; the first was The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory (2017). 

In what looks like the start of the new book's publicity rush, the Daily Mail online ran a long, positive story about Winston and her partners: Polyamorous woman, 34, who was once in a 'quad' with two boyfriends and a girlfriend now hosts a podcast on non-monogamy... (October 8).

396-episode podcast team: Dedeker (left), Emily, Jase

By William Holmes

A polyamorous woman who was once part of a love 'quad' has revealed she used to think polyamory was just for 'sex addicts' as a result of her religious upbringing.

Dedeker Winston, 35, from Seattle, hosts the Multiamory Podcast with her former lover and her current partner. But before embracing open relationships 10 years ago, she was raised in a conservative household that taught her trysts should be monogamous.

She said: 'I was raised in a very conservative, evangelical environment and therefore inherited certain ideas about sex and relationships. It was extremely monogamy and marriage focused.' 

She said: 'When I got into high school and first explored relationships, I found myself being attracted to more than one person very early on. At that time, no one ever told me it's normal a thing that can happen. ...When I finally got introduced to the term 'polyamory', it blew my mind.

...She now hosts her podcast with her ex-partner Emily Matlack, 34, and her current partner Jase Lindgren, with whom she was once in a 'quad', which also included her once-monogamous ex-boyfriend.

'We were a quad together,' she added. 'My partner that I was living with found Emily on a dating site. I then separately matched with Jase, who at the time was Emily's partner and they were living with each other. 

'Emily and I hit it off and we essentially became a four-strong relationship which was fantastic. We discussed creating a podcast to talk about our experiences as we were so sick of answering everyone's questions. ... 'We want to be giving people accurate, evidence-based advice and suggestions on how to make any and all relationships better. It's a labour of love.'

The quad itself broke up, but Dedeker, Emily and Jase continued to host the Multiamory podcast together, for which they record a new episode every week. 

...'Fast forward to today, Jase and I are still together and we both date other people. Emily has been in a monogamous relationship for the past seven years. Our experiences have made the podcast more relatable for the listeners.

'We can create our own scripts for any and all relationships. It's not just about sexual relationships but also friendships and business relationships. Our bond is far more robust and healthier as a result. We are an emotional triad that is co-parenting a podcast baby.'

'My first experience practicing polyamory failed spectacularly,' she said. 'It was so painful and difficult, but I still came away thinking this is who I'm meant to be. This made me want to reduce the shame and stigma and help more people to feel more at ease and empowered within themselves.'

Branching into new ventures, the podcast hosts are releasing a book titled Multiamory: Essential Tools for a Modern Relationships. Due for release on March 14, 2023, it is a communication guide for people in both monogamous and polyamorous partnerships.

The Daily Mail also made a startling claim:

A human's desire for many intimate relationships depends on the size of the neocortex in the brain, the professor [Oxford's Robin I. M. Dunbar, of Dunbar's number fame] says -- those in polyamorous circles tend to be larger as a consequence.

I could not find any such research. So I wrote to Dunbar himself. He immediately replied that he has never studied human neocortex size vs. polyamory and has never heard of such work. Even though neocortex size in primates has long been a specialty of his.

So that's the Daily Mail. The tabloids just make stuff up. Or they word things weasely so you think they're reporting a sourced fact, rather than just supposing that something maybe ought to be true ("opinion"). Their lawyers are skilled.

●  Another new book on the way: Polyamorous Elders: Aging in Open Relationships, by decades-long polyamory relationship counselor Kathy Labriola. It's due out December 15 from Rowman & Littlefield. You can preorder now. The publisher's blurb:

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

Drawing from her extensive clinical and personal experience working with this population, Kathy Labriola provides anecdotes from polyamorous elders’ lives, including the constellation of relationships surrounding each individual, couple, or triad. This guide will help health care and mental health clinicians, researchers, and professionals, as well as polyamorous elders and their loved ones, better understand the concerns and diverse lifestyles of this population to better represent and support them.

Labriola has posted,

There are chapters on poly elders care taking for spouses, lovers, and aging relatives, as well as mourning partners -- and metamours in a poly context. There is also a chapter on end of life planning, wills, advanced directives, etc., for poly people.

Her previous books are Love in Abundance (2010), The Jealousy Workbook (2013), and The Polyamory Breakup Book (2019). 

BTW, Some interesting elder research:  The association of an open relationship orientation with health and happiness in a sample of older US adults (Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 30(1), January 2015), by James Fleckenstein and Derrell Cox II. From the abstract:

...The authors collected 502 responses via an online survey from individuals aged 55 and older residing in the United States who engage in consensually non-exclusive sexual relationships. Self-reported health and happiness, number of sexual partners, and sexual frequency were compared with 723 similar respondents from the nationally-representative 2012 United States (US) General Social Survey.

Key findings were: Irrespective of formal relationship status, the non-exclusive sample reported significantly more sexual partners, more sexual frequency, better health, and were much more likely to have had an HIV test than the general US population; the non-exclusive sample also reported being significantly happier than the general population, with the exception of married men, who reported being as happy as the general population sample.... 


And to repeat...

Why have I been ending posts to this polyamory news site with Ukraine?

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

We polyamorous people are a small, weird minority of social-rule breakers. Some increasingly powerful  people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside 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.

The Russian family-cartoon series Masyanya
turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist has fled.
Update: a sequel of turnabout, and a
message of empathy in wartime. 
Such a society is only possible where people have power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

People, communities, and societies who create their own lives, and who insist on the democratic structures and legal rights 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, 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.


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

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 thisAnother version, on the streets of Kherson after its liberation November 11. More? Just some guys in 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.

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 likely 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.


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. And the country had quite a 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 candidate. So they're working on that.

Now, writes US war correspondent George Packer in The Atlantic (Sept. 7),   

Here was a country with a tragic history that had at last begun to build, with great effort, a better society. What made Ukraine different from any other country I had ever seen—certainly from my own—was its spirit of constant self-improvement, which included frank self-criticism. For example, there’s no cult of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine—a number of Ukrainians told me that he had made mistakes, that they’d vote against him after the war was won. Maxim Prykupenko, a hospital director in Lviv, called Ukraine “a free country aspiring to be better all the time.” The Russians, he added, “are destroying a beautiful country for no logical reason to do it. Maybe they are destroying us just because we have a better life.”

They have a word there, with a deep history, for the horizontal, self-organized mutual get-it-done that grows from community social trust: hromada. Learn that word. It's getting them through as well as they've been able. We polyfolks often dream of creating something like that community spirit in miniature, in our polycules and networks. Occasionally we succeed.

Social attitudes in Ukraine are generally traditional, but not bitterly so like often in the US; the ideal of modern European civil society is widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. More than 40,000 women volunteers reportedly serve all roles in the armed forces, including as combat officers, platoon leadersartillery gunners, tankers, and snipers. LGBT folx in the armed forces openly wear symbols of LGBT pride on their uniforms, whereas in Russia it can be a crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin. 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 on the well-documented plight of abused gay Russian draftees:

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

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