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

December 12, 2022

We were a top "dating trend of 2022." Six polyam workbooks! Black women's stories. And, polyamory & neurodiversity: how come?

●  Quite a few of us are geeks, sometimes to the point of being neuroatypical.This was more true in the past when the polyamory movement was small and definitely farther out of the mainstream. But why? We've always had ideas, such as for instance in my Poly and neurodiversity: How come?

Now Elisabeth Sheff, in her Psychology Today blog "The Polyamorists Next Door", posts Neurodiversity and Relationship Variation: Why some with autism or ADHD are drawn to consensual nonmonogamy and/or BDSM. (Nov. 28)

...As social experiences, both BDSM and CNM relationships emphasize honesty, negotiation, and communication.

Eli Sheff

In the past 20 years society has become increasingly aware of neurodiversity, especially in the fields of education, psychology, social work, therapy, and counseling. This greater understanding of the many ways in which brains work and how that impacts social interaction has permeated into kinky subcultures and polyamorous and other consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) populations.

...Author and educator John Elder Robinson classifies neurodiversity as the “result of normal, natural variation in the human genome” that can be supported and celebrated without pathology. Some academic researchers, psychologists, and neurodiverse folks argue that autism and related forms of diversity can be advantageous forms of “cognitive specialization” that provide benefits that “aid group survival.”

...There is some controversy over whether neurodiversity is increasing or if it is simply diagnosed more often now that people are more aware of it. ...

...What unites all forms of CNM [consensual non-monogamy] is the consensual nature of the relationships, which involves informed negotiation among adults who structure their “designer relationships” to suit their individual needs. 

Why the Overlap?

...As social experiences, both BDSM and CNM relationships emphasize honesty, negotiation, and communication. ... This expectation of explicit boundaries and the ability to negotiate relationships with boundaries that differ from conventional relationships can benefit folx who have autism or ADHD in several ways. Negotiation in both CNM and BDSM means that people can establish very clear expectations that do not require intuiting underlying meanings or intentions. ... Sometimes this involves explicit permission to ask for help or clarification if a situation seems to rely on unspoken social expectations. This can both relieve fears of bluntness being misinterpreted, and foster self-acceptance. ...

By Jenn Jackson

“How can you let her just sleep with other people like that?” a Black woman once asked my husband. He laughed in response. “I don’t let her do anything,” he replied. “She is her (own) person, and her body and time belong to her. Just as mine belong to me.”

The woman scowled, disappointed in his response. It wasn’t the first time we’d received this reaction. The woman’s incredulous tone, deep disgust, and feeling that I was just a person who couldn’t commit or wasn’t clear about my needs were familiar to me. I’ve also experienced assumptions that I was sexually lascivious and incapable of containing my urges. We’ve heard it all.

...For many Black people, especially women, compulsory monogamy, the idea that we have to be monogamous to be honorable and respectable, has also resulted in greater pressure to marry and have kids on frequently sexist timelines. The long-held racist and sexist ideas about the Black Family, many stemming from the 1965 Moynihan Report, have contributed to the pressure that many Black women feel to get married early and have children with straight men.

...Instead of considering polyamory as an issue, we should reframe our thought process. ... For Black women, who have long had their sexual and reproductive choices owned by patriarchal institutions – polyamory is a way to reclaim our bodies and choices from a male-centered world that stigmatizes sex, love, and all things feminine. The practice encourages us to explore our desires on our terms. ...

Closeup of three black women leaning their heads together with eyes closed

●  That's coming from an American context. Here's a Black polyamory activist in Johannesburg, South Africa, appearing on that country's ShowMax Stories: Interview: South African polyamory activist Muvumbi Ndzalama (online Dec. 5). The video-on-demand is not available in the US but is viewable from much of Africa and parts of Europe. The episode is from the UK-based queer-positive series "Planet Sex With Cara Delevingne."

From the transcript:

Muvumbi Ndzalama

...Cara’s globe-crossing journey to speak to scientists, artists and activists includes a visit to Johannesburg polyamory activist and “self-love sangoma”, Muvumbi Ndzalama, who features in episode 5 of the six-part series, entitled “Monogamish”.

Although polygamy is an accepted practice in South Africa, it still mostly only extends to polygyny, where a man has several wives. In contrast, polyandry, where a woman has multiple husbands, remains the subject of much heated debate [in South Africa, where it's up for government recognition –Ed.], making female polyamorist Muvumbi a unique voice in the conversation.

Tell us your story and why you decided to take part in Planet Sex With Cara Delevingne?

I think I’m one of the few African women that’s polyamorous and open to sharing my story with the world. I’m a pleasure activist, so it’s important to me that people see how other people are living so that they can reimagine their own lives. I’m very open and willing to talk about the relationship dynamics in my life.

Growing up, did you assume that you were going to get married to a man and have children?

Definitely. That’s the narrative we’ve all been fed, no matter where in the world you are. But as we grow, and we see what the world really is, we realise that’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

At what point did you realise that narrative was not for you and there were other options?

I think that’s when I first had a child. My first child opened my eyes to how much more love was expanding within me. During that time I felt not just the love of my child, but also the love of my community. During a very difficult relationship, people really pulled in and loved me in a way that I didn’t think was possible, in a way that I thought was only reserved for certain kinds of people in your life.

There are different sorts of love, aren’t there?

Yes, and I felt those different sorts of love, whether that be from the community around me, the love from my mother, love from friends. But I guess I also realised that I can love people in the same way I love my intimate partner, just adding more people to that kind of love that’s meant to be reserved for one person, those kinds of “I’m in love with you” relationships. ...

...Do they get jealous of each other?

Not really. There might be a bit of envy here and there but, actually, I’m usually the one that experiences jealousy around the partners. When you’ve been polyamorous for eleven years, you learn to deal with the jealousy monster. We get excited for each other and each other’s partners and each other’s happiness, even if that’s not something that we are causing or contributing to.

...What sort of reaction do you get from people?

We live in a world of duality. There’s definitely a lot of “slut-shaming” and a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of making fun, but I also get a lot of people that resonate with me, a lot of people that say they’re grateful that I’m out here telling and sharing my story, and other people who say they want to experiment with creating polyamorous lives for themselves.

What is your hope for the future?

My hope is that people catch up to change collectively. If we can all just be a bit more tolerant and accepting of each other’s differences, there would be more peace.

●  Another in the spate of new polyam self-help books is just out: The Polysecure Workbook, by Jessica Fern.

It's a follow-on to Fern's hugely successful Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy (2020). From the publisher's blurb:

...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.

The self-help workbook format, where you work through questions and exercises and maybe write answers in, has become a thing in the poly world (as elsewhere). Five others:  

–  Rainbow Wellness Workbook: Polyamory Polycules, by Marlena Baker (2022)

Any more?

●  More short Poly/ENM 101's keep popping up in the mediaverse that, even when slapdash and derivative, tell the public the essentials mostly right — thanks to the years of effort by you speakers, writers, educators and activists to bring our powerful idea into the wider world.

– In Women's Health, Ethical Non Monogamy: What Is It And How Do You Actually Do It? (Nov 28). The section heads:

1. Communication is key.... 
2. Honesty, at every step of the way....
3. Find a safe space to explore ENM....

–  An especially good one, IMO: The Healthiest Thing You Can Do When You’re In Love With Two Men At Once (Your Tango, Dec. 8) 

...“Is there something wrong with me? Am I a bad person?” No and no.

It may be that it's time to consider ethical non-monogamy (also known as consensual non-monogamy)....

Before you say, "No way!", take a moment to consider that, despite stereotypes about polyamory or other types of non-monogamy, it's not about a free pass to cheat or trying to "have your cake and eat it, too". It's about finding an honest system of relationships that works for you and your partner or partners.

Of course, this comes with a big caveat: All partners should be aware of this relationship dynamic and are in agreement with it. ...

Non-monogamy isn't for everyone

If polyamory is not a viable option for you, for whatever reason, that is okay. 

...I would recommend getting your thoughts out: write them down on paper, type them in your notes app, speak them into a voice memo, etc. ... Just get these out in some fashion. Because sometimes when ruminating, we do not process the full thought, or we are so focused on the emotion behind the thought that we lose perspective. ...

Not all polyamory looks the same 

Under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy (or ENM), we have:
– Polyamory
– Open relationships
– Swinging
– Casual sex
This is not an exhaustive list. ... All relationships are different. As such, sometimes commitment levels differ.

...Jealousy is a normal, valid, human emotion – one that is not solely reserved for monogamous relationship dynamics.

As an aside, with jealousy, it is necessary to consider where this emotion stems from: Is it from the relationship itself? Is it from within you?

Either way, it is worth communicating to your partner(s). If your jealousy stems from an unmet need in your relationship(s), this needs to be communicated.

However, if this is some internal insecurity or anxiety, it is important to acknowledge this within yourself, perhaps to your partner(s) as well, and then make efforts to address this insecurity.


...Falling in love with more than one person can be terrifying and agonizing. But know that this does not reflect poorly on your character.

If anything, it shows that you have much love in your heart.

● We're one of Mashable's 8 dating trends of 2022: "Daters were more open this year — and not just about nonmonogamy." (Dec. 7)

By Anna Iovine
...An increased openness — in multiple areas — has been burgeoning since 2021, where sexual exploration has been on the rise.

...Furthermore, open relationships are also becoming more acceptable. Thirty percent of singles on OkCupid — around 8.5 million singles — said they'd be interested in such a relationship. The dating app Hinge embraced different relationship styles by adding labels for monogamy and nonmonogamy. ...

Just 15 years ago, who woulda thought it?

Now as this movement goes mainstream let's work for what, IMO, has become our main task: "Keep the ethics in ethical non-monogamy." When any idealistic movement goes mass-market it goes downhill. Just look at some of the dating profiles using the "polyamory" or "ENM" buzzwords.

But so far, compared to what I feared, I think we're doing a pretty good job. At least for any newbie who goes looking into the concept seriously.

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And again, because our future is at stake:

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. 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 brilliant 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, abusive police powers, 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 vetted 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 (story).


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 the night 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. It's 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 it has quite the 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 trusthromada. 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. Some 57,000 women volunteer in all roles in the armed forces, flooding a traditionally male bastion, 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's a crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin or "say gay."

These people must receive our long-continued support. Speak up to demand it.

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