Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

September 27, 2023

Surfing your crazy love-intoxication successfully, polyamory and neurodiversity, kids who grew up in polyfamilies speak, and more

Celebrating our community    (IllustratedJai/ Deviant Art)

A bunch of stuff:

●  First, Buzzfeed collected 14 stories from people who grew up as kids in polyfamiliesChildren Of Polyamorous Relationships Are Sharing What It Was Like Growing Up, And It's Super Insightful (Sept. 9). They picked up the stories from an AskReddit thread.

The kids sound alright. For instance,

"Honestly I think it's waaaay more boring than most people would think. Most of the time, my mom wouldn't introduce a partner to me unless it was a long-term relationship, so most of the time I got the single mom experience. For the most part, it was so completely average other than knowing my mom had two girlfriends and eventually I also got a stepdad. The worst part was around 6–8th grade when kids found out and started bullying me for it. They asked all kinds of disgusting sexual questions about my parents.

"Eventually, I learned to just not tell anyone unless we were close and I knew they were cool. I only ever had one person I trusted enough to actually come to a family picnic where my mom's partners would all be there. My mom's partners aren't my parents but they are part of my life and my family. They're wonderful and supportive and have helped me through some horrible dark times in my life. I'm grateful to have such a wonderful, loving family."

●  Poly and neurodiversity: How come? Hang with a self-identified poly herd for any length of time, and you may notice that more than a few of us are geeky or techy, into board games, fandoms and hobbies, and maybe a bit neuroatypical — with perhaps at least a glimmer of what used to be called Asperger's syndrome, now called "on the spectrum," meaning the autism spectrum. Everybody is subclinical something, and this is often our something. We certainly have an abundance of IT professionals, sciencey types, and makers of collections, and in the movement's early years we were known for neo-pagans, science fiction fans, folk music people, Ren Faire larpers, librarians, and knitters.

But why?

thread on neurodiversity in polyamory is under way on reddit/r/polyamory (with its 331,000 members); many give their stories and insights. Here's a Multiamory podcast on the topic. Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff's take. And here's an article I just ran across by Neurodivergent Rebel, aka Lyric Rivera, an autistic queer educator, consultant and "self-advocate from Texas," examining their poly nature: NeuroDivergent Polyamory – Autistic NonConformity in My Relationships (June 23, 2021).

Leanne Yau
Two main reasons for the poly/neurodiverse overlap usually get cited. Leanne Yau, a.k.a. Poly Philia — an indefatigable poly educator and influencer on social media  — succinctly sums them up in her reel "In many ways, I'm polyamorous because I'm autistic": 

There are so many social norms and rules that neurotypical people take for granted, and just don’t make sense to neurodivergent people. ... Polyamory is all about throwing the existing rules out the window and writing your own, so you can customize and tailor them to your own needs.

...Another thing that polyamory really champions is direct communication. There’s no kind of assumptions of what the other person is feeling or thinking, you just say it out loud and state your boundaries and make everything extremely clear. And this really works well for me, again as an autistic person. So overall, I think that polyamory really benefits neurodivergent people.

Here's my own previous coverage of the topic.

Do I fit into this picture? Well... I look around and not one other human out of 8 billion has taken it on to track, collect, excerpt, and comment on more than 4,000 polyamory newspaper, magazine, and new-media articles, radio shows and TV broadcasts for the last 18 years — with an archival copy for future scholars kept at the Kinsey Institute no less. Talk about collections and hobbies. For the first 8 or 10 years of this project, when the movement was still small, I think my coverage of English-language news media worldwide was nearly complete (thank you readers, and thank you Google News Alerts).

So... yes.

●  NRE 101s.  If you think sex education in this country is pathetic, don't get me going about love and romance education.

For instance, how many of us were told in high school about the actual biochemical division between the dazzling transcendence of falling in love ("limerence," what polyfolks call NRE, new-relationship energy) — and its later replacement, if all goes well, with more ordinary, back-to-Earth, comfortable steadiness? That shift is not "falling out of love." It's not failure. It's a normal, well-defined biochemical transition that can be actually tracked by sampling your blood for the shift from one specific batch of hormones to their follow-ons.

You are merely coming down from a psychedelic drug. That doesn't mean your insights during the trip were necessarily invalid.

How many people go through needless shame and assumption of failure, needless breakups and broken engagements/marriages, because no one ever told them this?

Nowadays there's more public education about this topic (John Gottman and Helen Fisher get a lot of credit). Quite a bit of this education comes by way of the poly community — where a good grasp on how romantic love works is kinda critical.

  For instance Well+Good, a health and wellness magazine, just ran an article about this transition, and all the experts it quotes are poly-education figures: Emily Matlack, Leanne Yau, Gigi Engle, and Zachary Zane: Are You Falling Out of Love, or Has New Relationship Energy Just Faded? (originally titled "Am I Falling Out of Love or Just Comfortable?") We polyfolks often find ourselves in live-fire training about this kind of stuff. 

  Similarly, here's the magazine Women.com on how to live in NRE transcendence without screwing up your other relationships: How To Embrace New Relationship Energy While Still Being Realistic (Sept. 20)

YuriA / Shutterstock

By Amanda Chatel

When we first start dating a person with whom we truly connect, it can feel like someone set off a bunch of fireworks in a dark tunnel. You're not just smitten; you're infatuated. You feel like you're floating on a cloud and the only thing that matters is spending time with that person. ... You are in the midst of what's called new relationship energy (NRE) and you're loving it.

...[It's] kind of like being high all the time and feeling all the feels.

But while this honeymoon phase is amazing, if you get ahead of yourself, your unrealistic expectations can sabotage your relationship. At some point you have to take off the rose-colored glasses and protect what you have. That means embracing your NRE but doing so in a realistic way.

Take it slow

When it comes to new love, taking it slow can feel impossible. You want to be inseparable, and during this first stage of falling in love you don't care about being realistic. You feel this way because your hormones are going nuts.

According to a 2016 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, love is "an emergent property of an ancient cocktail of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters." This cocktail is comprised of testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, and norepinephrine cortisol all doing their thing to kick lust and attraction into high gear [they forgot phenylethylamine –ed.], while leaving any rational thoughts behind. As much as this feeling can make anyone feel intoxicated, it's important to take time and enjoy the present as opposed to rushing into things. It may feel good and even right to think about a future together, but you're really putting the cart before the horse when you do. Instead, try your best to revel in the present, as opposed to picturing your dream wedding with them.

Create boundaries

Boundaries exist so we can both respect and protect ourselves. But when we're feeling the hot heaviness of NRE, it can be hard to stand our ground and sometimes that means letting people get away with things we normally wouldn't. 

"When we're nervous about holding onto someone else's approval we can compromise on boundaries," relationship expert at eHarmony Rachael Lloyd told Mashable. "But once you start doing that, your own sense of self can erode and you can soon lose yourself in the relationship. You'll know when a boundary is overstepped because you're likely to suddenly feel triggered emotionally, within your body." When you're in the midst of NRE, the last thing you want to feel is a trigger that shakes you to your core. You can prevent it from getting to this point by slowing things down, being true to yourself, and expressing your boundaries.

Don't ignore the other people in your life

One of the worst things someone can do when experiencing NRE is to ignore the relationships they already have. In the moment it can feel like everyone is secondary to this new person. But putting friends, family, and other lovers on hold is never a good idea. It's also unfair to everyone involved.

Although 2010 research by Oxford University found that everyone loses two friends on average every time they enter into a new relationship, you still want to do your best to maintain what you have. ...

As a 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found, no matter one's culture, friendships are paramount to having healthy lives, both mentally and emotionally. People feel less alone, more supported, and have higher levels of self-esteem thanks to friendships. Also, the people we've known for years are the ones who ground us — something we all need when feeling the intensity of the NRE.

Spend time solo

It's so easy to get caught up in new love that we can forget who we are. Suddenly "me" becomes "we," and then you're a shadow of yourself. While it's normal to give parts of yourself to a partner, it should never be at the expense of who you are and what you believe. You can help minimize this by making sure you're championing your independence by spending time alone and doing things you enjoy so as to not lose yourself in the NRE.

...It may feel like torture to be away from the person you're seeing when you're in the throes of NRE, but let yourself feel that and embrace it.

Learn to recognize your NRE behavior

..."Part of the connotation with NRE is that there can be a sort of tunnel vision..."

You are absolutely allowed to immerse yourself in NRE as long as you're able to come up for air from time to time. ...

●  Speaking of reddit/r/polyamory, I was struck by this bittersweet snark/wisdom from user Eating Peanutt: Polyamory is only for Good People (Sept. 14)

Any relationship exposes different sides of people. A wonderful manager could be a horrible husband. A great friend could be a horrible skydiving partner. Every person contains multitudes....

But holy shit -- romantic and sexual relationships, especially polyamory, really show a lot of someone. Polyamory gives a unique setting to demonstrate people's attitudes and priorities in ways that almost no other setting allows. I've seen sides of my friends that I would never had guessed existed....

N.B.: Every person contains multitudes.

So much of my exploration has been outrageously positive. I had no idea how much love could be contained in a single body, extended to several people at once, until I really started getting involved in polyamory. So many of my friends who I already respected then commanded adoration and personal growth after they showed me just how beautiful kindness and compassion could be.

I've also seen selfishness and insecurity lash out from the same people. Feelings almost contradictory to their benevolence, integrated with their core, stare at me with a ferocity that scares me. ...  

● This thoughtful account of a healthy triad comes from John Pucay, a young writer and novelist in the Philippines. The Good Men Project picked it up from his site on Medium: What Being in a Throuple Taught Me About Healthy Relationships (Sept. 9)

I’ve been openly polyamorous since mid-2020 (though I could sense I was poly since high school).

Usually, I have 3–4 ethically non-monogamous partners at a time. But none of my previous partners really “vibed” with each other — they all had very different personalities. ...

...Then my partner of three years, D— , started going out with J— .

...J and I [had] met at a cafe by chance, and we decided to have a date that night. But J and D met beforehand, and since they were together by the time I met them, we all decided to have a beer at a nearby pub.
We talked all night, vibing, transferring to D’s apartment to talk more and drink less, and the rest is throuple history.


...How does the dynamic work? Freedom with structures of ambiguity. And honesty. That’s how it works.

...A lot of folks assume we use some kind of complex rubric that handles our attention/ time/ compersion as a throuple. But nope. Aside from having three people involved, we function pretty much like every other normal, non-toxic, not-super-PDA couple. We only have one constant: Be honest with everything.

    – You had sex with someone outside of the throuple? Say so. And be honest about your level of protection so everyone knows what to do.

    – You didn’t actually come? Don’t fake it. Let your partner learn your buttons. Tell me what you actually like.

    – You feel underappreciated or need assurance? Say it. This is a safe space. There is no need for passive-aggressiveness or double meanings (unless we’re exchanging snarky, sarcastic jokes).

The beauty of being in an ethically non-monogamous setup is that there are no real incentives to being dishonest. What would you be dishonest for? ... One can honestly say things like, “I have a date on that weekend so I’m not available. How about another day?” Or “That person looks really hot! I want to fuck them!”

The “forbidden fruit” concept likely factors in, too. Since many “taboo” things in monogamous setups are not “banned” in our relationship — we find ourselves rarely doing them. And the result is that we focus on each other more. ...


Whenever we experience conflict or negative emotions, we always try to go back to the idea that whatever the other person says only comes from two places: A place of genuineness, or a place of weakness.

...This assures us that no one is doing or saying anything out of malice. We care about each other and we know that. So if there are misunderstandings — that’s what they are. Misunderstandings.

Which can be corrected with honesty. And being self-aware enough to recognize that certain negative emotions often come from one’s insecurity.

I [was] in a 5-year monogamous relationship. And various mono relationships that didn’t last a year. I’ve also been single. ... So far, the healthiest relationship I’ve had is the dynamic I’m experiencing now.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of truly healthy relationships. When there are no templates or expectations, we can put our focus more on ourselves: Our dreams, our goals, our preferences in food, experiences, sex. Us.

By focusing growth on ourselves as individuals, instead of trying to grow the relationship itself, we make the relationship healthier. And it grows organically as a result.

New Book department:  Jessica and Joe Daylover, poly since 2015, launched their popular Remodeled Love podcast in 2020. They sought in particular "to normalize healthy and ordinary expressions of polyamory and the fruits it can bring when children enter the picture."

Now they've written Polyamory and Parenthood: Navigating Non-Monogamy as Parents of Young Children (May 2023, 136 pages, self-published). From their description of it:

Part personal narrative, part guidebook, this book shares the Daylovers’ polyamorous journey, pregnancy, and the difficulties and triumphs of raising small children while non-monogamous. They also tackle current topics within the world of polyamory such as hierarchy, couple's privilege, mononormativity, and more.

This book speaks to the newly polyamorous, the poly-curious, as well as the experienced, and also contains a workbook section with journaling prompts for boundary-setting for those embarking upon the amazing path of polyamorous parenting. ... 15+ chapters of navigational tools for those who are curious about this journey so many folks deem impossible.

●  Watch for developments: Mexican Supreme Court of Justice analyzes legally recognizing polyamorous and multiple unions (Yucatan Times, Sept. 22) 

The Presidency of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation [will hear] an appeal regarding a ruling by a federal judge for limiting marriage and cohabitation between more than two people. This opens the door to the possible recognition of multiple unions in Mexico....

●  Lastly, you knew it would happen. All the Sloths found the poly heart flag.

IllustratedJai / Deviant Art



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

Because I've seen many progressive movements die out because they failed 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. Increasingly powerful people call us a threat to society — because by living successfully outside of their worldview, we expose its incompleteness.

One couple, many hands. "A new mural painting in Kyiv dedicated
to Ukrainian volunteers. If you have helped Ukrainians during this
year and a half, you may consider yourself to be one of them."

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 possible only where people have power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

Innovative 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. Now with direct mutual support.

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 power, or eventually, artillery.

For what it's worth, Polyamory in the News received more pagereads from pre-invasion Ukraine over the years (56,400) than from any other country in eastern Europe.

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, the project of an old friend of my wife (story).

But that is only the start. For those of us born since World War II, we are seeing the most consequential war of our lifetime. Because we have entered another time when calculating fascism, at home and abroad, is rising and sees freedom and liberalism and social tolerance as weak, degenerate, delusional  inviting easy pushovers. As Russia thought it saw in Ukraine. Now the whole world is watching what we will do about it.

The coming times may require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we are born into; we do get to choose how we respond to it. Buck up and be ready.

Need a little help bucking up? Take perspective. Play thisAnother version. More? Some people on the eastern front helping to hold onto an open society, a shrinking thing in the world. Maybe your granddad did this across a trench from Hitler's troops — for you, and 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 are 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 — leading to 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 thatMore; "Ukraine shows that real development happens when people believe they have an ownership stake in their own societies."

Now, writes US war correspondent George Packer in The Atlantic, 

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 been getting them through  to the extent 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 tend traditional, rooted in a thousand years of the Orthodox Church, 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. The status of women is fast advancing, especially since the 2022 invasion (pre-invasion article). And a reported 57,000 women volunteer in the armed forces, flooding traditionally male bastions, including as combat officers, artillery gunners, tankers, battlefield medics, and snipers. (Intimidating video: "Thus the Witch has Spoken".)
Ukraine's LGBT military unicorn emblem
Ukraine's LGBT military unicorn.
The thorns and barbed wire
represent old restrictions
now being cut away. 
Some LGBT folx in the armed forces display symbols of LGBT pride on their uniforms, with official approval, whereas in Russia it's a prison-worthy crime for even a civilian to show a rainbow pin or "say gay." A report on Ukraine's current LGBT+ and feminist acceptance revolutionsAnotherAnotherAnother. War changes things.

And in December 2022, Russia made it a crime not just to speak for LGBT recognition, but to speak for "non-traditional sexual relations." Until last year Russia had a polyamory education and awareness movement.

Polyfolks are like one ten-thousandth of what's at stake globally. Ukraine must have our continued material aid for however long as it takes to win. Speak out for it.

A Russian writer grieves: "My country has fallen out of time."

Ukrainian women soldiers in dense undergrowth
Women fighters in a trench in the Donetsk region

PPS:  US authoritarians (such as Sen. Ted Cruz) are saying that allowing women in front-line roles is a woke plot to weaken America's armed forces. Ukraine puts that shit to bed. Do you have a relative who talks like that? Send them this video link to Vidma, who commands a mortar platoon, recounting the tale of one of their battles in Bakhmut – the Verdun of this war.

Don't miss Polyamory in the News!

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