Fighting the tide of crappy "poly": are we winning or losing? Polylegal news roundup, Dear Abby, and more.
Damn right. More than ever.
@polyamfam I am floored at how much awful behavior newly poly people put up with. This is not just how polyamory works. That person sucks.
By David Oliver...Polyamory "usually describes a particular approach to (consensual non-monogamy) that prioritizes ongoing emotional and sexual connections with multiple partners," Sheila Addison, a family and marriage therapist, previously told USA TODAY. ......"With polyamory, I think the main foundation is the freedom to be able to create a relationship style that works for you," Willow Smith said. "I was like, how can I structure the way that I approach relationships with that in mind?"
– The difference between the default state of a new relationship where no one's established the relationship structure, and an explicitly polyamorous one, is the thought and intention that's been put into it.– If you don't have a great track record of honesty with previous partners, or have found that communication is tough for you to initiate, now's the time to really dig into those skills and think about how to apply them in your relationships. It gets easier with practice, and when you're balancing multiple relationships there are usually plenty of opportunities to polish those skills. And communication within poly is sure excellent practice.– When you're opening up an established relationship, keeping that original relationship strong and intact can be a goal that winds up driving a lot of your decisions.... And while it's fine to prioritize one relationship over others in terms of time or emotional energy devoted to it, it's not okay to discount a new partner's feelings or treat them as disposable if problems arise with an established partner.– Especially early on, it's helpful to have some periodic check-ins with your partners, to make sure things are moving smoothly and everyone's still happy with the relationship structure. There may be ongoing conversations, negotiations, or adjustments that need to happen to make sure everyone is feeling comfortable with their individual relationships, and with the larger poly structure as a whole. ... These don't always have to be big, scary conversations; sometimes just saying "I'm feeling pretty good about this, are you?" and hearing an affirmative in response can be a solid reassurance.– You might hear... “I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t tell me" or "my partner doesn’t care what I do as long as they don't hear about it.” This is something we call “information sequestering,” where a partner is suggesting that open communication isn’t necessary.... At best, it suggests that someone involved in the situation may be uncomfortable with opening their relationship, and someone will get hurt. At worst, it could mean that someone is cheating, and keeping their partner out of the loop is a deliberate way to avoid the truth coming out.
No two poly relationships are the same. Polyamory is about opening up your ideas of love, sex, and intimacy – you're not looking for just one person to share a romantic or sexual connection with, but several. Above all, it's about respect, communication, and trust.
By Amara Amaryah...It seems that the ‘wellness generation’ (a wellness-oriented faction within the Millennial and Gen Z generations), is reclaiming healthier dialogues around this alternative relationship structure. Whether you’re curious or ready to love within a polyamorous bond, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind....Polyamorous individuals believe that it is possible to have intimate, romantic desires and love for more than one person at the same time. In a polyamorous relationship, respect and transparency for all involved is key... arguably more than in a traditional monogamous relationship.Polyamorous relationship rulesSome people won’t get into polyamorous relationships without establishing some ground rules. Useful rules to consider include: sexual relationships outside of the relationship, sleeping arrangements (do you all sleep together or do you rotate to give equal quality time?), and regular emotional check-ins for everyone in the relationship.Other ideas include being clear on motivations for the budding relationship with multiple people. Do you feel limited by monogamy? Are you open to giving and receiving more love from more than one person? Do you feel that you and your partner’s love languages could be better honored in polyamory? Understanding this motivation will help make the transition healthier. ...When considering non-monogamous relationships, accept the current reality that society is still designed for couples. There will be hurdles....‘Coming out’ in a polyamorous relationship also shows its challenges and in a society still unprepared for more than couples, it will take effort and lots of expectation management. This non-traditional relationship style isn’t for everyone, but if it aligns with your beliefs and desires, it can be worth it.
By Frances Dean"I think of it almost like a ... relationship menu," Dr. Elisabeth Sheff explained to CBS. "Serial monogamy is at the top of the menu, and probably the most popular dish that people order. But there's all these other things that people can order now."...It's easy to get lost in the sauce when trying to understand the complex world of ENM. Below, we break it all down from what exactly to expect in a non-monogamous relationship to whether or not it's the right choice for you. ...Most importantly, ethical non-monogamy is about trust. [Which, of course, means finding people who are trust-worthy –Ed.]Experts agree it's not one size fits all. ... "Polyamory very much focuses on emotional and romantic connection, whereas other types of non-monogamy are more like casual and sexual endeavors," [says] Leanne Yau, a polyamory expert. ...You'll need to have some serious conversations about how you see [it] playing out and what boundaries you each need to be comfortable. It's of paramount importance to keep your primary partners' (or any of your partners) feelings in mind when making decisions. ......[But] there is a big transition process into the mindset of ENM."...
By Andrew EnglesonWillie Burnley Jr. sits on the city council in Somerville, Massachusetts. What he calls “doing well by his community” looks different from the average municipal legislator voting to expand park space or increase recycling.Burnley, who is openly polyamorous, seeks to reduce discrimination for those who practice polyamory or consensual nonmonogamy. In March, he introduced and passed through the city council three anti-discrimination bills, and expects to pass a fourth in April, focused on protecting housing and employment rights for polyamorous people. They are the first such bills ever passed in the United States.Burnley was in a multipartner relationship when the city council passed a first-in-the-nation ordinance in 2020 expanding domestic partnerships to include relationships with more than two people. After Somerville, two other Boston suburbs, Cambridge and Arlington, also expanded domestic partnerships to polyamorous people in 2021 and 2022, respectively.“I was amazed and a little shocked,” Burnley says of the milestone, which in part inspired him to run for office. “It was one of the proudest moments I’ve had about our government.”Burnley hopes his bills encourage people in nontraditional relationships to register for domestic partnerships and to be more open about their status without fear of retaliation. The expanded domestic partnerships don’t feature all the legal benefits of marriage but do include hospital visitation rights and shared employment benefits.
Polyamory is a slightly narrower form of consensual nonmonogamy in which people agree to have multiple, loving relationships openly and with full consent. Structure and agreements vary widely.
ShutterstockA 2014 Chapman University study found that between 4% and 5% of people in the U.S. are involved in a consensually nonmonogamous relationship, and a 2021 Frontiers in Psychology study estimated that that one in nine Americans have practiced it at some point in their lives....Diana Adams, a New York family law attorney and one of the founders of the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, believes hospital visitation rights and health insurance benefits should extend to nontraditional relationships, whether it’s a romantic triad or a multigenerational household raising a child.“In 2023, when the majority of American children and adults don’t live in a heterosexual nuclear family,” Adams says, we need laws “to protect and value families as they exist.”...Of the Somerville bills passed, one expands the definition of protected class to include people in relationship structures involving multiple partners; the second and third bills amend existing anti-discrimination ordinances regarding city employment and policing to include this new protected class. A fourth bill [still in the works] would prohibit housing discrimination based on that same protected class.The rights of people in nontraditional relationships also got a boost in September when Judge Karen May Bacdayan of the Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County, ruled in favor of petitioner Markyus O’Neill—a third partner to married couple Scott Anderson and Robert Romano—who sought to renew a rent-controlled apartment lease after the tenant of record, Scott Anderson, died. The wording of Bacdayan’s ruling in West 49th St. v. O’Neill—which allows the case simply to proceed—might offer precedent in other higher court cases, according to legal scholars. ...Polyamory in practiceBurnley drew inspiration from the ABA’s October 2022 webinar “Emerging Legal Recognition for Multi-Partner Relationships and Families,” which featured attorneys discussing issues facing their polyamorous clients.Adams, who spoke on the ABA panel and testified at Somerville’s council meeting, has heard countless stories of discrimination. People in the polyamorous community come to her upset about employment discrimination, for example, “and don’t realize that polyamory is not protected,” Adams says....The most influential cases establishing the rights of people who practice polyamory or consensual nonmonogamy, according to Boston-area attorney Kimberly Rhoten, are generally appeals court rulings overturning parental custody rulings.A paper co-authored by Rhoten in the winter 2021 issue of Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy counters the notion that polyamorous people are unable to meet best-interests-of-the-child standards.It references a number of lower court cases against polyamorous parents that were reversed on appeal, including a 2015 case in which the Court of Appeals of Georgia (In the Interest of R. E., 333 Ga. App. 53, 775 S.E.2d 542) overturned a lower court ruling that withheld a mother’s custody because she was polyamorous. The appeals court found no evidence that the children were harmed by their mother’s polyamory.Rhoten notes that polyamorous families are just one type of legally marginalized nontraditional structure. “This includes single-parented families, multigenerational households and stepfamilies that struggle to be treated equally by the law as their married dyadic-couple counterparts.”The Uniform Law Commission—a nonprofit advocacy group—urges passage of the 2017 Uniform Parentage Act in all 50 states, which provides an opening to redefine parent-child relationships. Changes center around the definition of “de facto” parents as contributors to the best interest of a child, opening the door for additional nonbiological or nonlegal parents, so long as they reside with the child, serve as a caretaker and have “established a bonded and dependent parent-child relationship, with at least one legal parent’s approval.”Six states—including California, Maine, Connecticut and Washington—have passed versions of the act, which includes children of same-sex couples in its definitions. ...
By Dr. Kurt Smith...Because there are multiple people, there will be multiple viewpoints and expectations. Without clearly defined rules of engagement, the possibility of misunderstandings and problems is exponential. ...– More partners can lead to more pain. ... Consider this: Sam, Sally, and Syed are in a relationship (throuple). Sam wants to break up with Sally, but Syed doesn’t want to. How does this work?– ...Most ENM relationships begin with a couple who wants to explore new options. This means there’s most often a primary partner that needs or expects to be prioritized, and there’s a commitment to do so. This can become complicated. ...– Managing conflict in a traditional relationship can be tough. But this conflict can become brutal and highly complicated when you add other people, personalities, emotions, and intimate situations. ...– What about family? [of origin]. It’s easy to claim that your life is your own and your family needs to accept your choices. While that’s not untrue, it’s also typically not that simple. ...The Biggest Consideration In An Ethical Non-Monogamous Relationship:There’s one additional consideration that’s a non-negotiable in an ENM – honesty. Not mostly honest or honesty that overlooks small details, but complete and total honesty between all parties. ...What happens if your feelings of love shift from one person to another? Or if one person is becoming emotionally needy or demanding more? What about when someone in [a] throuple wants to introduce a fourth? There’s no way to navigate those waters if there’s any level of dishonesty or emotional withholding.
Dear Abby: Our son “Victor” and his wife have informed us that they are “polyamorous.” They have been married for nine years, and were together for five years before they married. They have agreed to this arrangement, and their partners know they are married. They love each other, own a home together and plan to be together forever.
...Because of their lifestyle, my husband, “Del,” has not communicated with them for more than 16 months. He says if I die first, he’ll make sure they get nothing in his will. I have visited them alone (we live over 800 miles away) and plan to do so in the future. Our other married son, “Mike,” tried to talk to his father about this, but Del still refuses to budge. ...Dear Heartbroken: What you do is continue living your life as you always have, and see your children and other relatives as often as you wish. ... If Del becomes vindictive or punitive to you, consult a legal adviser about whether you want to stay in a marriage like this. If you choose to leave, you will be able to decide independently how your assets should be distributed in the event of your death.
My parents “opened their relationship for the good of their marriage” a few years ago. (They are 60, I’m 40.) I suppose it’s not really any of my business what they want to do in their bedroom, but I have to admit I was happier not knowing about their sexual antics. Mostly, it’s irritating to be introduced to their latest lover du jour, who will inevitably disappear into the ether in a few months and be shortly replaced by another new person or two.
I’d like to put some boundaries in place, at the very least tell my parents that I simply don’t want to meet their new lovers. But whenever I object, they either say that this time is different or they just bulldoze past my objections, and I wind up being cringingly introduced to some new partner of theirs. ...
— This Is RidiculousDear Ridiculous,You have every right not to meet your parents’ casual lovers if you don’t want to, and you don’t even owe them an explanation. After all, most children are understandably not interested in their parents’ sex lives (at any age), and adding polyamory to the mix doesn’t change that. One of the most empowering things I’ve learned as an adult is that “no” is a complete sentence....To set the boundary, you can say something along the lines of, “What you choose to do in personal life is up to you, but going forward, I have no interest in meeting your romantic partners in the early stages of your relationships. I hope you’ll take this seriously, because if you choose to ignore my request, I’ll have no choice but to distance myself from you. However, if you find yourself in a serious relationship after six months [or whatever amount of time is acceptable to you], I may reconsider.” ...
When the war started the Russian family-cartoon
Masyanya turned dissident. Watch. The cartoonist got
out. And his 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.”
The thorns and barbed wire
represent old restrictions
now being cut away.
"Defenders of Bakhmut," by Natasha Le from Mikolaiv. She paints traditional guardian angels
as riot grrls for an upcoming generation.