Polyamory is all over the news. Two reasons why so much of it is about polyfamilies.
By Danielle CampoamorAs society's idea of what constitutes a family continues to expand, some parents are living in 'polyfamory' households, where multiple partners birth and care for all of their children under one roof.Alysia Rodgers, 34, says her and her husband, Tyler, were not looking for polyamory — the term for when a person has one or more romantic partners at the same time, with the enthusiastic consent of everyone involved — when they met Sean Hartless, 46, and his wife, Taya."We didn't even know what polyamory was, until we started getting feelings for each other," Alysia tells TODAY.com.Soon, Sean and Taya, 28, were driving nearly two hours to see Alysia and Tyler, 35, in their home in Oregon. Exhausted by the commute and fueled by a desire to see everyone more frequently, the couples moved into a new house together in February, 2020.And that's how polyamory became polyfamory.Tyler and Alysia were already parents to two children, now 7 and 8. Tyler says explaining their new living situation to the kids was "really easy.""Our kids already knew we were dating Sean and Taya," Tyler tells TODAY.com. "We told them: 'You know mom has a boyfriend and dad had a girlfriend and we're going to move in together, and we're all going to be a big family and they're going to help parent you, so we're going to need you to treat them like you treat us — like parents.'"Since living together under one roof, the family has added two children."I birthed one and Taya birthed the other," Alysia says. "We did not regulate the biology" — meaning Alysia, Taya, Tyler and Sean do not know who their 22-month-old's and 15-month-old's biological fathers are."We're all equal parents to all of the children and it's not up for debate or discussion," Alysia says. "It's not something that we're trying to hide from the children either. If they want to know where their DNA comes from, we will absolutely go down that path with them. But at this point in their lives, it doesn't matter.""We wanted to do everything we could to make sure that everybody feels like an equal parent," Taya adds. "At this point, finding out their genetics would change nothing."A rise in polyamorous relationships
Polyamorous relationships have gained popularity in recent years. One 2021 study of 3,438 single adults in the United States found that one in six respondents "wanted to be polyamorous;" one in nine have been at some point, and one in 15 said they "knew someone who was or is polyamorous."Still, shows like "Sister Wives" — which depict polygamy, in which one person is married to multiple partners — have caused confusion and even created negative stereotypes about polyamorous families, Sean says."'Sister Wives' references always make us laugh, because that's practicing polygamy versus polyamory," he explains. "I think people hear the 'poly' lead in and think that it's the same thing — that's not us. We don't have a hierarchal situation here — we're all trying to be equals and not have the 'patriarch' lead the family."
Jennifer Martin, 34, agrees [about the religious "patriarch" comment by the other family above]. "It's missing autonomy," Jennifer says, who lives Virginia with her husband Daniel, 35, partner Ty Simpson, 32, and their two children.Jennifer and Daniel both grew up in conservative, evangelical households, where, Jennifer says, "if you fall in love with somebody, you get married." The couple were engaged at 19, married at 20 and had two kids by the time Jennifer was 25."I don't even think I ever heard the word 'polyamory,'" Jennifer says. "I didn't know anybody who was non-monogamous. I didn't think that existed."At 27, after reconsidering what she believed, Jennifer told Daniel she was feeling sexually attracted to and even in love with other people, but was not falling out of love with him, either."We took things really slow — we saw a counselor, read books and we went to a polyamory group," she says. "He started dating somebody before I did."In 2018, Jennifer met Ty. In 2020, he moved in with Jennifer and Daniel and their family grew."One of the things that was hard for me in the beginning, was kind of shaking off the mentality that I was taking something away from Daniel and his experiences with the kids," Ty tells TODAY.com. "But it's a community. ... We all have our own roles to play, and at the end of the day, the main goal is to ensure that the kids are being raised to be kind and loving."Both families say there are both pros and cons to a polyfamory household."We have four sets of adult hands to work on things," Tyler says. "It's very rare, I think, for people to have that kind of help."Alysia, Tyler and Sean all work full time, while Taya is a stay-at-home mom. Sean says knowing the children are always being cared for by at least one parent "is a big sigh of relief" because everyone knows "your kids are for sure taken care of by the right people."They say their children also learn valuable lessons as a result of their family dynamic — lessons like, "relationships don't have to look a certain way," Sean says, and that however they choose to live is "100% their choice" and that their parents will "love them and support them no matter what," Alysia adds.Jennifer says she's glad her sons are learning about "autonomy," to question traditional gender roles and how to tap into the power of community."We make everything in the house a communal effort," she explains. "They realize that everybody puts their weight in and has a role to play. I hope that that will form a mindset of mutual aid and community when they grow up."Of course, polyfamory comes with some challenges: scheduling, for one."We have to meet weekly and our Google calendars are so chaotic," Daniel tells TODAY.com. "We have to make sure that not only can we coordinate schedules, but that people's needs are met." ......Despite the challenges — including moments of jealousy, strangers sexualizing their polyamorous relationships and not being completely accepted by family members — both families say the pros outweigh the cons because their children benefit from having so many trusting, loving adults in their lives."At the end of the day, we're just like any other monogamous family — there's just four of us," Tyler says. "Being a parent is so much more than just biology, and that's what we're about."
"The Celtic ritual has become a popular commitment ceremony for some polyamorous couples" [sic]By Jenny Block [who presumably didn't write that tagline]....Handfasting is an ancient practice that “has become more popular across the board,” said Scarlett Mullikin, an officiant based in Kankakee County, Ill., and the founder of Natural Element Ceremonies. And because it involves binding partners’ hands together — symbolizing the binding of two, three, four (or more) lives — it’s “the easiest way to connect multi-partners” or those who are polyamorous, she said....The benefits of a committed relationship are the same whether monogamous, polyamorous, legally recognized or not. “There’s a safety and a security to crossing this threshold of marriage,” [Houston counselor Ty David] Lerman said. “Polyam relationships are still just relationships.”And with a handfasting ceremony, Ms. Mullikin said, partners can “experience the joy and the energy and the bliss that goes into a wedding day.”
“Call us a throuple,” Selena Gomez recently captioned an Instagram photo showing her embracing Brooklyn Beckham and his wife Nicola Peltz. She was apparently joking, but that’s perhaps part of the problem. While various celebrities seem to be vaguely alluding to polyamory lately, everyone’s being decidedly coy about coming right out and talking about it....There are countless ways a triad can look. Grace, a 41-year-old civil servant from Bristol, recalls her first throuple experience being a bit of an accident. “We had some really good times and there was genuine desire and intent between both my partners to be together as well as with me, but they were both quite shy with each other and their relationship went slowly,” she explains....Many of the hierarchical problems that arise in throuples, though, are down to the way they’re formed: often an established couple who then meet a “third”, with all the problems that arise from that kind of language.“If two people out of three had a pre-existing relationship that was already well established, those two people have couple’s privilege,” Grace explains, adding that it can impact everything – from “big decisions [that] always prioritise the stability of one of the relationships in the triad, to small things like language that minimises or separates the most recent partner.” Saying to the newest partner “Wanna come with us to the gig Friday night?”, or even “We love you, we’re so happy we met you” reinforces an unequal “us” and “you” dynamic that can lead to pain in the long term. ...Winter, a 28-year-old from Bristol, says it’s not an uncommon set-up: all her throuple experiences were with herself, the same established partner, and a third. “My aim was always to create distinct and separate relationships between each of us, thinking of it as three pairs rather than one throuple,” she says. ... “I felt the frame-of-mind was important to how things were viewed.”While it’s great to see more conversations being had around ethical non-monogamy, there’s also a keen awareness among everyone I spoke to that media representation is usually a massive let-down. Anne Hodder-Smith, a sex expert based in the US, says that the well-worn cliché of one man and two women enjoying a string of threesomes is a cis-normative trope that very rarely reflects reality....“Stop using the word ‘third’. Nothing says you want to devalue a human being by adding them onto your relationship like that word.”Winter also recommends taking time and allowing space for it to work. “Go slowly, and make sure everybody has figured each other out and the dynamic has reached stability before really committing to any labels,” she says. “This involves the general relationship advice of strong, open and honest communication from all parties, and turned up to 10. ...”
Why should we think it shocking for someone to love multiple others? We don’t restrict any other relationship to a binary.
By Andrew Solomon
"Among polyamorists, erotic pleasure and commitment
are shared rather than narrowed." (iStock)
...I have spent several years interviewing people in polygamous and polyamorous relationships, and while I started my research feeling suspicious of these arrangements, I ended by thinking they may make perfect sense to the people living them – and that their ideas of affective commitment were ultimately all that mattered.Why should we think it shocking for someone to love multiple others? We don’t restrict any other relationship to a binary; most people have multiple friends. If some people want to be in multiple sexual relationships, or to make a commitment to one another that is sustaining and defining even in the absence of eros, then why should those arrangements be denied legal status? In fact, there is a social and political interest in sustaining these models, because people who marry one another – in any arrangement – usually take care of one another. This can relieve the state of enormous costs and burdens. ......I write as someone whose own marriage would have seemed scandalous when I was growing up, and was illegal until I was in my 40s. ... In his excellent new novel The New Life, the London Review of Books' Tom Crewe describes the struggle that set the stage for my marriage, and I could not read his words without feeling anew how vulnerable we remain to the shifting tides of chauvinism. My finest book has been banned in three American states lest the story of my joyful marriage infect young readers. ...
Quebec's minister responsible for LGBTQ2S+ issues, Martine Biron, says she's open to developing some form of recognition for families with more than two parents....Groups like the Coalition des familles LGBT+ have called upon the Legault government to provide legal recognition for multi-parent families. ...
By Abby MossMy partners and I are at IKEA, in the middle of the kitchen section, arguing about Kilner jars. I’m saying we’ve got enough jars and that everything in our kitchen doesn’t need to be stored in jars anyway. Andrea*, on the other hand, thinks we need jars for everything—rice, pasta, lentils, and so on. Paul* doesn’t care about the jars but is getting hungry and wants to go get meatballs. We’re attracting a few odd glances from the couples passing by. They’re trying to figure out our dynamic. There are three of us, but we’re arguing like a couple. We clearly live together, but we don’t seem like roommates—that’s for sure. ...
The APA "does not have a policy with respect to consensual non-monogamous relationships," a spokesperson said. ...The APA Division 44 Committee on Consensual Non-Monogamy "focuses on research, practice, and education about consensually non-monogamous relationships," according to its website.The committee said that it "seeks to address the needs of people who practice consensual non-monogamy, including needs that may arise from the intersection of [consensually non-monogamous relationships] with their other marginalized identities."The "five primary purposes" of APA 44 include research, psychological practice, education and training, social justice and public awareness.A Feb. 10 article by Dr. Melissa Martin in The Published Reporter that noted the committee is "circulating a survey and a petition seeking to secure legally protected class status for individuals with multiple sex partners," and the former child therapist also speculated that APA 44 shows the APA "wants bigamy and polygamy to be legalized as group marriage."APA Public Affairs Director Kim I. Mills pushed back against any claims that the organization supports polyamory, according to The Christian Post."APA divisions are quasi-independent organizations that are free to establish committees to represent and promote their specialties within psychology, using the best empirical evidence," Mills told the outlet."As such, they do not speak for the American Psychological Association, which does not have a policy with respect to consensual non-monogamous relationships," Mills continued. "The only official APA policies are those that are adopted by the APA Council of Representatives, the APA's governing body of nearly 200 of the nation's leading psychologists, which meets twice a year. ...
...“Students are much more likely now, than 10 years ago, to say they’re open to polyamory, or that they are in fact polyamorous,” says Dr Samuel Shpall, a senior lecturer at The University of Sydney who teaches The Philosophy Of Sex. ...QT Hotels and Resorts ... is launching its upcoming ‘You, Plus Two’ Valentine’s Day deal, aimed at celebrating “love that comes in three”. QT’s Australian hotels and resorts will offer free martinis and oysters for bookings of three this February 14. ...“I find, clinically, often couples come in saying, ‘We want to explore non-monogamy as a way of spicing up our [sex] life’,” says Sydney sex therapist Jacqueline Hellyer.... “It’s often seen as a bit of a quick fix to a bored or jaded relationship.” ...But her clients often don’t go forward and pursue being part of a throuple, or another consensual non-monogamous arrangement, after she walks them through what they really want from their relationship, and how having multiple partners can play out. ...
Trio in ‘Y tu mamá también’ (Shutterstock)
By Divine Ikpe...I spoke to two different polyamorous queer people: Opal, who is just starting to consider polyamory as a viable option for herself, and Fay, who is in a long-term polyamorous throuple. ...
In the last months of 2022, the ethically non-monogamous (ENM) community celebrated a huge win. Dating app Hinge launched their 'Relationship Types' feature, allowing their users to mark if they identified as ethically non-monogamous (ENM) or monogamous. Undoubtedly a landmark event, this marked the first mainstream ‘traditional’ dating app to make conscious strides towards inclusivity for the ENM community since OkCupid allowed polyamorous couples to link their profiles in 2016. Speaking to Mashable, a Hinge spokesperson commented: "We believe that everyone looking for love should be able to find it which is why we’re constantly looking at new ways to support daters' needs."
Ashley VargasHowever, the move sparked an increase in anti-ENM discourse on social media and brought up new questions asked about the virtual future and place for ENM people. ...
...“I have seen many straight couples open their relationship at the woman’s initiative,” said Diane Gleim, a certified sex therapist (CST) based in Sonoma County. “[The common] assumption is that it’s mostly men who seek polyamory because they want multiple sexual partners. There is research that shows that monogamous, heterosexual women actually desire novel sex and novel sexual partners more than heterosexual, monogamous men.” Several other counselors interviewed agreed.Even when women are not the instigators, they often become champions of the way of life. ...
The Russian family-cartoon series Masyanya
turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist got out.
Update: a brilliant sequel of turnabout, with a
coda of empathy in wartime.
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.”
"Defenders of Bakhmut," where soldiers at
the front line gave Zelensky the signed battle flag he
presented to Nancy Pelosi. Art by Natasha Le in Mikolaiv; she reinterprets traditional
guardian angels as riot grrls for an upcoming
🇺🇦Witch tells the story of the Bakhmut Asphalt Plant❤️ pic.twitter.com/UC3y0NsDjQ— Sofia Ukraini (@SlavaUk30722777) February 22, 2023