Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 16, 2024

It's official: The poly bandwagon is bounding out of control. (In happier news, the Poly Living convention is back!)

Dear Ryam Nearing, dear (departed) Deborah Anapol, dear Even Eve, Joan Constantine, Morning Glory and Oberon, Robyn Trask, Michael Rios and Sarah Taub and our other early founders and builders, I don't think this is quite what you had in mind. The polyamory bandwagon now outruns us and careens downhill. Witness,

The entertainment-industry press this last week has been full of the Couple to Throuple announcement. The show will debut February 8 on the Peacock streaming network, owned  by NBCUniversal/ Comcast. Newsweek reports that the "steamy trailer" had more than 180,000 views on Twitter (X) alone in its first day or two. 

Image: Four young couples of various identities pose on scene for a promo pic for Peacock Network's reality show "Couiple to Throuple"
The four anxious couples . . .

Peacock's official blurb:

Hosted by Scott Evans and guided by Sex and Relationship Expert Shamyra Howard, Peacock’s new Original series Couple to Throuple follows four curious couples through the world of polyamory as they experiment with bringing a third partner into their relationship.

Set at a remote tropical resort, the couples will meet, mingle, and date a group of singles, many of whom are experienced in polyamory. With three times the fun, the feelings, and drama, these relationships are put through the ultimate test to see if they are the perfect match. At the end of their time in paradise, the couples will decide if their hearts have room for more than just “the one” and commit as a throuple, go home as they arrived, or leave separately.

The 10-episode season will roll out in weekly batches of three beginning Thursday, Feb 8. The season finale will stream separately.

Here's that trailer (probably NSFW). No, I'm not going to embed it here. It's got uniformly gorgeous people black, brown and white, queerish and straight; quick poly bed-scene glimpses, lots of anticipatory anxiety, some genuine loving kindness, and of course crying and drama including a chair thrown into a pool. I bet you could have written most of that before even seeing it.

. . . And the many awaiting singles.

Most of the entertainment press is repeating what Variety said based on the same press kit. More interesting, I think, is this from the LGBTQ+ and genderqueer site Them: New Polyamory Reality Series Couple to Throuple Promises to Bring Unchecked Chaos (Jan. 9)

By Abby Monteil

...Am I confident this horny beachside competition will bring polyamory to the screen in a responsible way? Not exactly! Am I intrigued? Oh, absolutely.

The newly released trailer opens with a provocative proposition from host Scott Evans: “If you were given the chance at non-monogamy in paradise, what would you do?”

That’s the question that awaits four “curious” couples. The contestants consist of three seemingly straight couples, plus one couple made up of a bisexual guy with a male partner who calls him a “don’t-knock-it-til-you-try-it-sexual.”

Over the course of the series, the lovebirds spend a month mingling with and dating a group of singles — “many of whom are experienced in polyamory,” according to the official logline — at a tropical resort.

It sounds like a recipe for unchecked chaos. But at least they have a professional on hand: Licensed clinical social worker, sexologist, and AASECT-certified sex expert Shamyra Howard. I can only hope that her work will extend beyond the drama-inciting instruction she gives in the trailer, for one half of each couple to watch their partner hook up with a “third.”

Drama certainly ensues in any case, from contestants who grow suspicious that their partner has been intimate with a third without telling them to nascent throuples negotiating group decisions and insecurities surrounding sex.

...The spectrum of polyamory is infinite, and its ability to provide people in non-monogamous relationships with abundant support, resources, and love is sorely misrepresented in most mainstream media. Hopefully the messy antics of Couple to Throuple can introduce the concept of multiple partners to more people without totally shitting the three-person bed.

That says it for me.

Though it’s practically a widdle baby in comparison to its peers, Peacock has low-key become one of my favorite streaming platforms. But I sometimes feel like it’s missing … something. The trailer for Peacock’s newest reality show, Couple to Throuple, has offered a possible answer.

And the answer is: UNCONTROLLABLE BONERS. Oh we’ll get to it, but first, let’s admire that title. Couple to Throuple! Genius. It’s alliterative, it’s suggestive, it advertises exactly what’s inside the package. (Uncontrollable boners? I SAID WE’LL GET TO IT.)

...And like any good reality show about hot people hooking up, no one ever changes out of their swimwear. (I shouldn’t have to explain why this is troubling. Ask a mom.) 

...What sets this series apart—uncontrollable boners aside—from the likes of Love Island, Too Hot to Handle, and all the others in a genre I like to call “Fuck Island,” is the participation of an actual therapist.

...Shamyra Howard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Sex Therapist from New Orleans who specializes in sex-positive therapy. On her website, Howard says, “Those who identify as straight, bisexual, transgender, gay, lesbian, poly, pan, BDSM/Kinky, or otherwise, will find a safe, nonjudgmental, sex positive space to discover areas in which you would like to grow, which may or may not have anything to do with your sexuality.” I already love her.

More reality shows should have experienced therapists on board. As you can see in the trailer for Couple to Throuple, Howard’s involvement actually seems to make things more compelling by pushing the couples to interrogate their feelings and address challenges in their relationships. ...

So could the show maybe, actually, turn out a little better than it sounds?

...unsurprisingly, insanely problematic. Unicorn hunting, couples privilege, people who haven’t done any work ahead of opening, a “therapist” who “tests” people’s jealousy, all of it. And now this horrible representation of nonmonogamy will be the new hit reality show.

●  Meanwhile, the New York Times reviews a likely new bestsellerToday (January 16) is the publication date for Molly Roden Winter’s More: A Memoir of Open Marriage. It's getting lots of mainstream attention, including that long writeup in The New Yorker three weeks ago titled How Did Polyamory Become So Popular?
The cover of this book is rust orange, with the title, “More” in all-caps dark blue letters. Below it is a stylized lilac flower, with some bees hovering. Below that is the subtitle, “A Memoir of Open Marriage.” in white. The author’s name, Molly Roden Winter, is below that.

In that article, writer Jennifer Wilson noted that many mainstream couples are exploring consensual non-monogamy not out of any expanded vision for the potential nature of love itself, but as a pressure release valve to keep a closed marriage from exploding. "Thereby helping to preserve the traditional institution of marriage." 

This is quite at odds with the communal relationship radicalism of the original poly movement, especially the heady utopian visions that, in the 1980s and 1990s, infused the young movement with its power and zest. Instead, I commented, the pressure-relief model is "an individualistic, old-culture, community-less version of what so many of us are trying to do."

The Times review tells more about the book itself: How a Polyamorous Mom Had ‘a Big Sexual Adventure’ and Found Herself (Jan. 13)

By Alexandra Alter

...“More” ...documents Winter’s often turbulent experience of open marriage — the resentment and jealousy she felt toward her husband’s girlfriends, the flashes of guilt and shame, and the challenges of juggling her obligations as a wife and mother with her pursuit of sexual and romantic fulfillment.

Winter is keenly aware that people may judge her for the behavior she describes in “More.” But she also said she felt compelled to write about her experience, in part because she felt that non-monogamy is so often depicted as something happening on the fringes, not as a lifestyle that married moms pursue.

...“More” is landing at a moment when polyamory is drifting from the margins to the mainstream. About a third of Americans surveyed in a YouGov poll in February of 2023 said they preferred some form of non-monogamy in relationships. ...

Stewart Winter is standing behind his wife, Roden Winter, and embracing her.
Molly Roden Winter and
husband Stewart Winter

...Opening the marriage wasn’t just about doing whatever — and whoever — she wanted, she said. She had to cast off internalized sexism and her tendency to put others’ needs before her own, issues she worked through in therapy. What began as sexual thrill-seeking led unexpectedly to self-discovery.

“I thought non-monogamy was going to be all about the sex,” she said. “I thought I was going on a big sexual adventure, and it was going to be super exciting. And it was, until it wasn’t.”

To be clear: “More” is also about the sex. Winter recounts her experiments with butt plugs, fisting and anal intercourse, and catalogs her extramarital relationships — which range from brief encounters in seedy hotel rooms to romantic partnerships that last for years — in meticulous detail. 

...In the early years, many of her sexual exploits proved unsatisfying. At the time, most online dating sites didn’t cater to polyamorous people, so she sometimes resorted to dating men who were cheating on their wives and girlfriends. “Not my finest hour,” she said.

...Eventually, Winter swore off men who were cheating and began seeing people who were also in open relationships, a demographic that became easier to find when online dating services added non-monogamous to their menus.

...“The bad sex taught me a lot more about what makes sex good,” Roden Winter said. “I also wanted to tell the truth about how hard it was.”

...Winter and her husband struggled with when and how to tell their sons about their arrangement, and wanted to wait until their children were mature enough to handle it. That plan failed....

“More” ends in 2018, when Winter’s boyfriend, whose wife had recently divorced him, broke up with her after she turned down his ultimatum to end her own marriage. Winter was heartbroken, but moved on, and has had other serious romances since.

She’s grown more confident that her marriage of 24 years has benefited from their outside relationships. She’s mulling another book about her open marriage — which will in part explore the surprising connections she’s formed with the “other women” in her life, including Stewart’s girlfriends and the wives of the men she dates. [Yes, metamour relations are  or can be  the great hidden treasure of polyamory. Took her long enough to find out. -Ed.]

For now, Winter is bracing herself for the impact the book will inevitably have on her and those around her — but she seemed undaunted.

“I’ve been spending a lot of my time calming everybody else down,” she said. “This doesn’t feel like something I need to be afraid of.”

●  Meanwhile, in actual poly community news, the Poly Living Conference is back!

After a three-year pandemic gap, Poly Living East returns to Philadelphia February 9 - 11 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, same as before, near the airport and a rail stop. Here are the presentations and workshops. It's put on by the Loving More nonprofit, which is still run by Robyn Trask and friends.

The conference's block of hotel rooms has already sold out, but you can still get a room at the hotel's regular rate, not much higher. For the conference itself, the regular registration price ends January 20th in four days. After that, late registration is $26 extra. If money is a real problem, ask if any scholarship funds are left at this point. The Polyamory Foundation donated $5,000 toward low-income registration discounts and presenter expenses.

Loving More, the visionary project that got the polyamory movement so far toward where we are today, is now 40 years old. Robyn reflected on her long history with it in a New Year's letter. Excerpt:

It was almost twenty years ago in the fall of 2004 that I took on the task of running Loving More Magazine, an organization with the goal of bringing polyamory out of the shadows. Some of what I imagined when I made the decision to save Loving More from shutting down [at that time] has become a reality.... What has happened with Polyamory Awareness is so much more than I imagined in 2004. ...

In 2004, most polyamorous people were closeted and lived in fear of losing their children, jobs, and families. When you told someone outside the community you were polyamorous, they either had no idea what it was, thought you were part of a polygamy cult, or you had wife-swapping key parties. It was very rare to meet someone who even knew the term, much less had any basic understanding of what polyamory or ethical non-monogamy was. ...

I thought it would take much longer to reach this point. This is not to say that polyamory is completely safe or accepted. But I now know more people who are out about their relationship choice, to children, to family, to friends, and even to work, than those who are closeted. While we still have a long way to go for protections and safety, we have come very far in awareness and a world were people can at least consider the choices. ...We have changed the landscape of loving relationships in a truly revolutionary way!

Visionaries: Deborah Anapol and founder Ryam Nearing
Loving More, like so many organizations, has gone through many transformations. In 1984 (a year after I graduated high school), Ryam Nearing published her book The Polyfidelity Primer and later that same year formed an organization dedicated to non-monogamy called Polyfidelitous Educational Productions (PEP) with a newsletter, PEPtalk for the Polyfidelitous. PEP hosted their first conference in 1985; in 1991 the organization became Loving More, and in 1995 published the first Loving More magazine issue. ...

2024 is our forty year anniversary as an organization and major influence on polyamory/ethical non-monogamy around the world. It has been an amazing journey and an amazing accomplishment for such a small underfunded organization, and I am honored to have played a role in bringing us as a community to where we are today.

The future of Loving More Nonprofit is uncertain. The financial challenges of the pandemic, two years of no events followed by a year of financial losses in 2022, have taken their toll. In an effort to keep things going we closed our office and pared down some programs. It was only through the business goodwill we have built up over the years that the Embassy Suites offered us an opportunity to produce Poly Living again in 2024. I have a great relationship with the staff and was able to negotiate a contract that, although at a higher cost than in the past, was low enough to make it work. I honestly do not know if it will be enough to make up the losses or enough to save this great organization. So our future, Loving More's future, is uncertain.

What is not uncertain is what we have accomplished. We have literally helped to change the world, and the ripples will continue to be felt no matter what the future holds. We should all be proud of that!

In my imagining of the future, I see another transformation of Loving More to serve what the community has grown into, and to foster real change in acceptance and safety for those who choose to love more. It is exciting and I look forward to witnessing that future.

Robyn Trask



And still...

“History is coming at us fast right now.
 The geopolitical snow globe has been well and truly shaken.”
– Dominic Nichols, UK

Here again is why I've been ending posts to this polyamory news site with Ukraine: I've seen many progressive movements die out (or walk into getting wiped 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.

Late night in Kiev on a piece of good news
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 updated list of vetted organizations (Nov. 2023) or elsewhere. We're giving to a big one, Razom, and to a little informal 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, this is 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. 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. 

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 20th century.

But the outcome didn't look good for a couple of years there, either. Popular history remembers the 1945 victory over the Nazis and the joyous homecoming. Less remembered are the defeats and grim outlook from 1941 through early 1943.

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 that. And they're also stamping hard on the old culture of petty, everyday corruption.  More.  More; "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; in the last generation the ideal of modern European civil society has become widely treasured, and social progressivism has room to thrive. The status of women is fast advancing, especially post-invasion (pre-invasion article). More than 43,000 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 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." Pre-invasion, Russia had a visible polyamory education and awareness movement.

Polyfolks are like one ten-thousandth of what's at stake globally. Ukraine must have our full material backing for as long as it takes to win their security, freedom, and future. Speak up for it.

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

Ukrainian women soldiers in dense undergrowth
Women defenders 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 story of one of their battles near Bakhmut.

Update January 2024: More than a year later Vidma is still alive, still directing the mortar unit (now from muddy trenches), and posting TikToks (this one's from scary minutes exposed in the open; sunrise caught three of them out). She flaunts her sense of humor after nearly two years of this. Her young daughter has enlisted and joined her in a supply role. Their lives and their society depend on us.

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