Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

January 22, 2024

The polyamory bandwagon races on, and not downhill this time

The last three weeks have seen an unprecedented burst of mainstream reporting on polyamory and ethical non-monogamy of all kinds. No single thing prompted it. Some kind of tipping point seems to have passed.

In the last week much of it originated in New York. Let's start with the big, flashy cover package in the current New York Magazine.

New York Magazine cover: four cats looking at the camera with paws on each other, under headline "Polyamory / A Guide for Curious Couples":

Above is the
magazine's cover for the issue of January 15-28, now hitting the eyes of those glancing at newsstands or magazine racks. New York is best city magazine in the country and circulates far beyond its domain. It presents three long articles that are on its website as of January 16.

The first is, I think, both the longest and best-crafted Poly 101 for the wide public that I've ever seen  if you overlook that it's almost totally couple-centric (more on that later). A Practical Guide to Modern Polyamory: How to open things up, for the curious couple.

The next is a perceptive, if snarky, look into the lives of a complicated and busy modern urban polycule. Definitely worth reading; it's a reminder to the starry-eyed of what you may be getting into.  What Does a Polycule Actually Look Like? Meet Nick and Sarah and Anna and Alex …

The third is a profile of our iconic Dossie Easton, who's now living among the California redwoods and about to turn 80. Dossie co-authored The Ethical Slut, first published in 1997 and selling well in its much-expanded third edition (2017). Dossie is one of the movement's founding mothers and is as good-hearted as ever. The story is Ethical Sluthood at 79. I don't know whether it's in the print issue.

You can only read a couple of articles before you hit New York's paywall; copy-paste them out so you won't have to reload them. Or switch to a different browser to start the count fresh. Or test-subscribe for $4, then don't forget to cancel as soon as you're done for a $3 refund.

●  From the first article, the "Practical Guide":

"From left, Cleo, Tony, Kiki, and Atom."
Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari

Reporting by Allison P. Davis, Alistair Kitchen, Alyssa Shelasky, Anya Kamenetz, and Bindu Bansinath

If you live in New York, it’s very possible you’ve recently found yourself chatting with a co-worker, or listening to the table next to you at a restaurant, and heard some variation of “They just opened up, and they’re so much happier.” Or “My partner’s partner truly sucks.” Ethical non-monogamy isn’t new... and it isn’t exactly mainstream, but it isn’t so fringe either (or reserved for those who live in the Bay Area). A curious person might be tempted to download Feeld or let their partner know over salmon they’re ready to let in a third.

But though people don’t talk about it in hushed tones anymore — Riverdale just ended with Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica in a quad, after all — it isn’t such a simple thing to do well. There are a million things that can go awry, from the small and awkward (oversharing about a date) to the enormous and life-imploding (ending an otherwise fine relationship). The poly-curious among you likely have questions about the day-to-day operations — how do you tell your kids about it? Where do you find people to date? What if your partner gets way more matches than you do? What if their new partner is way hotter than you? ...

We talked to nearly 40 people — some who’ve had open relationships for decades, others who only recently opened things up — to figure out how to capably, or at least less messily, date non-monogamously.

It's long. Here are the subheads, then some samples.

1. Is There Only One Way to Do It?

2. Wait, What Is a ‘Metamour’?

3. How Do I Broach This With My Partner?

4. Should We Come Up With Some Rules?

5. Where Do I Meet People?

6. Does My Wife Want to Hear About My Night?

7. Should We Sleep With Them on the First Date?

8. How Much Time Does This All Take?

9. Am I Being Nice Enough to My Boyfriend’s Girlfriend?

10. Should We Tell Our Kids?

11. And What About Co-workers?

12. What Can Go Wrong?

Is There Only One Way to Do It?

There are many, and choosing which one suits you depends on a lot of factors: Are you currently in a relationship? If you are, do you want other relationships to take equal priority? Do you want to fall in love with other people or just have sex with them? A non-exhaustive taxonomy: ...

– Open Relationship: In a strictly technical sense, this is when you and your partner can have sexual, but not romantic, relationships with other people.

– Swinging: A couple who have sex or dates with other people as a duo.

– Hierarchical polyamory: When you and your partner can have relationships — romantic or sexual — with other people but have agreed to remain each other’s primary partner. You might pursue these relationships as a couple or separately.

– Nonhierarchical polyamory: There are no primary partners in this scenario — everyone is on an equal footing.

– Solo-poly: A single person pursuing multiple intimate or sexual relationships while trying to avoid riding the Relationship Escalator. This means you’re not particularly interested in, say, sharing a home or bank account with any one person.

Illustrations: Jim Stoten / New York Magazine

Wait, What Is a ‘Metamour’?

Becoming non-monogamous doesn’t mean you have to join a ten-person polycule or memorize ‘The Ethical Slut.’ Still, there are terms that many non-monogamous people will use while discussing their arrangements, and it’ll make things easier to familiarize yourself with at least a few.

– Comet partner...

– Compersion...

– Kitchen-table polyamory...

– Metamour...

– Monogamish...

– New-relationship energy (NRE)...

– Nesting partners...

– One-penis policy (OPP)...

– Polysaturated...

– Primary partners...

– Relationship escalator... 

– Vee structure...

– Veto Power...

How Do I Broach This With My Partner?

There are so many ways this conversation could go wrong. So we asked three couples who handled it well — and one who might have handled it better — to tell us how they first proposed it. ...

Should We Come Up With Some Rules?

When couples start being non-monogamous, there are, in general, two kinds of rules they tend to set. The first is about the structure of the arrangement. Are you seeing new people as a duo, or is it okay to pursue an outside relationship on your own? Are you remaining each other’s primary partners, or are you eliminating the hierarchy entirely? Breaking these kinds of rules can feel like a violation or at least require serious negotiation.

...The second kind of rules are of the more tactical, logistics-y variety. Keep your wedding ring on always, for example, or no sleepovers at home, or no more than two dates with other people per week. Nearly every couple we spoke to said that these types of rules are more like training wheels: important to set up and follow in the beginning to make everyone feel safe but likely to fall off as people get more comfortable. ...

 A lot of the responsibility lies with the hinge, or mutual partner, in making sure nobody feels neglected. ... “When you are the middle person, you need to make sure that you’re giving equal amounts of attention to those two people,” Alejandra says. “It can be mental gymnastics: Okay, I held this person’s hand. So I have to hold this person’s hand. Oh, I gave this person a kiss. Oh, fuck, I want to make sure that everyone feels loved.”

... Alejandra describes the situation: “I’m like, I’ve gained about 20 pounds, so I do not feel super-comfortable in my skin, and Ivy’s gorgeous. As soon as I felt that, I just started talking about it in front of everyone, and Diego told me some nice things, that I’m superhot and fuckable, and that’s what I needed. He did a great job. I would love to go on a little trip with them all again.”

But if your metamour is giving you a genuinely bad feeling, don’t ignore it.

Ali recalls a former metamour who grew angry after she and her husband tried to set boundaries. “She told him she had HPV, which is not a scary thing to most people, but I have a family history of cancer,” Ali says. “I said that certain sex acts are off the table, and she ended up exploding on him on his birthday while he was with his family, just keeping him on the phone for hours and hours.” The relationship ended on its own, but if it hadn’t, Ali would’ve intervened. “The language would have been, ‘I noticed so-and-so is treating you in this way, and I feel like you deserve better.’”

How Much Time Does This All Take?

...Right now, I feel at capacity with one secondary partner and my husband. If my one secondary partner were way more casual, then maybe I could date two people. In order to keep my nuclear family my priority, the amount of time I put toward this other relationship has a maximum. 

I think I’ve ended up sacrificing my more introverted hobbies. So I’ve done less reading. The gardening and yard work and just a lot of home-improvement stuff I let go to the wayside. I’ve done less crafts. I think Matt has too. I know he’s put aside house projects because he needs time to go on dates. He used to do a lot more woodworking. ...


...What Can Go Wrong?

More people means more interpersonal dynamics — double or triple the giddiness, maybe, but also double or triple the jealousy, anxiety, abandonment, and painful breakups.

– The hierarchy might shift. ...

– You might become a third wheel. ...

– Your partner might date someone who wants you gone. ...

– They might realize they’d rather be monogamous. ...

– You might tire of your secondary status. ...

– They might leave you behind. ...

– You two might drift apart. ...

– Or it might just break your relationship. ...

Read the whole thing.

About the how-to being so couple centric: The fact is, a majority of American adults are married or living together (58% according to the US Census Bureau, 2021) and a good fraction of the rest would like to be. So this is where most new poly people come from. But New York should have made a better nod to this not being the only way; there's just one quick mention of solo poly, and none of RA (relationship anarchy). 


●  The next of the three articles is What Does a Polycule Actually Look Like? Meet Nick and Sarah and Anna and Alex … It's a deep dive into a messy, complicated polycule with other attachments, by a skeptical observer. Her many snarks at things like Burning Man, psychedelics, and "advanced therapyspeak" suggest some cultural hostility. But it's a useful portrayal of what you may be getting into, depending on who is in the group, including yourself. Poly is not for everyone.

By Allison P. Davis
features writer for New York Magazine and the Cut [part of New York]

...For Nick and Sarah, the relationship design looks like this: Nick and Sarah are married. Sarah has had multiple other committed relationships while married to Nick. Currently, Nick has a girlfriend, Anna, who has a husband, Alex — all the names in this story have been changed to protect their privacy — and Alex has other people with whom he explores his desires.

In terms of the (frankly alienating) ethical non-monogamy glossary, these two couples are part of a polycule. ... They are part of the same friend group and sometimes wind up at the same parties and have semi-regular one-on-one hangs.

The easiest way to explain all of this might be in the love language of most ethically non-monogamous people: Google Calendar. Sarah and Nick share a calendar. Nick and Anna share a calendar. Alex and Anna share a calendar. Sarah and Anna do not share a calendar but are aware of who has Nick’s time on any given day; same for Nick and Alex. They are Sarah and Nick and Anna and Alex, a modern polycule, living, laughing, loving, and doing a lot of therapy.

...In the modern era of ethical non-monogamy, in which Jessica Fern’s 2020 book, Polysecure, has become this generation’s The Ethical Slut... polyamory feels less like a caricature (horny Park Slope parents or Bushwick Gen-Zers in a commune) and more like just another way to date.... At least from the outside. On the inside, achieving a successful polycule isn’t always so simple. Just ask Sarah and Nick and Anna and Alex.


...In Nick’s previous relationship, there had been clear-cut rules: “You can hang out with your other partner once a week; always use condoms.” At first, he tried to impose the same rules when setting up guardrails for his dynamics with Sarah. “From the beginning,” said Nick, “Sarah resisted that. She was like, ‘I don’t understand why we would set a one-day-a-week max,’ or she would push it and be like, ‘Can we do two days a week?’ And then I would be like, ‘Whoa, what does that mean?’”

...When a polycule is well oiled and running smoothly, even the stickier situations are part of what makes it good. Some time after the polycule coalesced, Nick and Sarah had a wedding — well, less a “wedding” and more a party that was an expression of love and community and what they stood for in their relationship. Alex and Anna were there. Over the course of the party, Anna recalls feeling like everyone was checking on her — wondering how she felt about Nick getting married, wondering if it was awkward or painful for her. In reality, she and Alex were supporting one of Sarah’s partners, she recalls. “I was really the only one at the wedding who understood the challenge around the dynamic and tried to support them through visible sadness and the angst and discomfort. I think a lot of people then perceived, because another partner was going through it, that I must also be going through it, but I honestly was just having a great time.”

Celebrating your lover while they marry their partner while supporting your lover’s lover’s lover while they go through it is an example of what Anna calls “living life on hard mode.” “There’s a real sense of connection that I think comes from doing hard things, and I’m someone who likes to do hard things,” 

Sarah explains further. “Some people like to run marathons. We like to do polyamory, complex relationship stuff.”  “Sarah’s favorite activity for the two of us to do is couples therapy,” Nick says, smiling. “Navigating the relationship dynamics is kind of generally a fun thing for us. It’s like for relationship nerds.”

...The polycule soon fell into a groove. Nick felt comfortable if Sarah wanted to have up to three overnights a week with her partner, though it normalized into one or two — she found she was actually too busy for any more than that. Nick and Anna have one date night a week, but sometimes he sees her every day, just for little bits. Nick and Anna have been able to take a weekend trip to Nick’s place outside of the city after negotiations and scheduling conversations with Alex and Sarah. At this stage, Nick has told his parents about Anna, and Anna, though she’s not out to her parents, has told her brother, who is mostly supportive.

...“In my best times, I see it as an amazing opportunity to confront things and work through them,” Nick says. “In my worst times, I’m like, Oh God, why didn’t I choose a normal relationship, where, yes, I’m sure I would’ve felt claustrophobic and domestic and boring and not fully expressed. But it would’ve been stable and comfortable and maybe would’ve allowed me to go explore other things instead of having to spend so much of my energy navigating relationship stuff.”

Meanwhile, in her sublet, Sarah is reading books and making art and writing poetry. ... Sarah is more reserved, especially when it comes to sharing details about “tender” situations, and she’s also protective of the other members of her polycule. ... There are specific moments she cherishes: sitting between two partners on the couch, being at an event and holding her two partners’ hands at the same time. “Even though life isn’t the smoothest, when you can feel multiple people loving on you at the same time, I think that’s one of the greatest joys in life,” she says.

She thinks about the way her mother has aged and gotten sick, all without a strong support system. Then she remembers how last year Nick’s birthday and her grad-school graduation fell on the same day. She was so stressed out, but Anna stepped in to make his birthday cake and throw his party. “I’m just horrible at making birthday cakes! It’s like if my entire identity hinged on I have to be the perfect birthday-cake-maker — now I can recognize that’s not my love language.” If there’s any jealousy about Nick and Anna, it’s overshadowed by the realization that Nick, in being with Anna, is a fuller version of himself. ...

The third article is Ethical Sluthood at 79,

Dossie Easton is standing on the porch of her cottage tucked in the trees. “Over here,” she shouts — useful instruction, as the redwoods of western Marin, California, occlude just about everything.

...[The Ethical Slut], known as the poly bible, is sort of a cross between Joy of Cooking, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and The Official Preppy Handbook — part instruction manual, part physical guide, part totem of a growing subculture. It’s sold hundreds of thousands of copies since the first of its three editions was published in 1997. “Who would think,” Easton asks, “you could fund your retirement with a book about being a slut?”

...Easton lives alone and her kitchen is the magic hippie haven you want it to be: prints of mushrooms on the walls, a cabinet full of tea, dreamy black-and-white photographs of her daughter, now in her mid-50s, when she was a free-range gay-commune-dwelling child. A wooden bookholder rests astride Easton’s claw-foot bathtub. Her living room is filled with shrines: feathers, rocks, candles, and alters to goddesses, including Mercy and Severity. Last year, Easton tells me, she fell and shattered her elbow. Would I mind cutting these apples and that persimmon for us to snack on with the “slightly interesting” local cheese? She moves slowly, carefully. The years of exuberant physicality are gone. She would like to be well enough to hike in the lush mountains around her home again.

“Would you mind slicing the bread?”

She is adept at asking for what she wants.


How to love without possessing? How to free yourself of shame? How to find liberation, transcendence, even community through the body? These are the questions that have animated Easton’s life. She grew up in Andover, Massachusetts...

On an acid trip in 1969, after her daughter was born, Easton had an epiphany: Sexual liberation — practicing it, educating others about it — was her life’s work. She vowed never to be monogamous again. “I could not figure out how it was ever going to benefit me in any way to be some guy’s territory,” she tells me. “It was too dangerous.” She realized we had a right to enjoy sex — we all had a right to enjoy sex — with whomever we pleased as long as we treated everyone involved well. This, for Easton, like many others, was explicitly linked to feminism. She came out as bisexual. Who would she be if she wasn’t “trying to behave like a wife,” if she instead was “working to complete myself as a human being on an individual basis, not by being someone else’s other half.” ...

...Easton hoped, in The Ethical Slut, people would find not just a lexicon, not just a way to start dismantling the boxes in your brain, but a community. “Nothing builds intimacy like shared vulnerability, right?” she says. “And what could be more vulnerable than taking all your clothes off at a party?” You also learn “if you look around that everybody looks gorgeous when they’re having an orgasm. Awkward positions and waving the feet in the air, making outrageous noises, screaming, grimacing faces, and they look great.”...

Among Easton’s favorite ideas in The Ethical Slut is that relationships, like water, seek their own natural level, if we let them flow. ...


●  Elsewhere, further mainstream media are spotlighting Molly Roden Winter's new memoir More (see my previous post), which was also published on January 16.

–   The UK's Financial Times: A memoir of open marriage — the joy of extramarital sex (paywalled) 

While it’s easy to mock open marriage — and Roden Winter does plenty of this herself — it’s also clear that she and her husband are engaged in something profound. They are giving each other the gift of freedom at the same time that they are holding each other totally responsible for honesty and commitment to the core relationship with each other. That’s big. The couple has to struggle with massive amounts of jealousy on both sides in exchange for freedom. But, as the author comes to realise, quoting a line from “The Ethical Slut,” a polyamory handbook, “jealousy is often the mask worn by the most difficult inner conflict you have going on right now”.

–  The Washington Post: This book about open marriage is going to blow up your group chat (Jan 14)

Let’s get this out of the way right now: This book is a scorcher.

“More: A Memoir of Open Marriage” is bound to be passed furtively from friend to friend and gobbled up after the kids go to bed. It will make for an electrifying book club pick, inciting debate over what marriage means. Is monogamy the entire point? Is love? Does wanting your partner to be happy include finding happiness in the arms (and bed) of another person? Where does loyalty come into play — not just loyalty to a relationship or a partner, but loyalty to one’s self?

Winter is 10 years into her relationship with her husband, Stewart, when she storms out after he returns from work “early,” at almost 9 p.m., when she’s been home with their two kids all day. ... Winter meets Matt, a younger, deep-voiced, green-eyed temptation to stray. One, we find out later, who is cheating on his girlfriend. Eventually, Winter branches out to hookups via Ashley Madison, a dating app with the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.” Dedicated ethical nonmongamists will no doubt take issue with the unethical start to this open relationship, but sex is messy in all the ways, and Winter’s experience is no different.

...Winter and her husband don’t open their marriage as a way to fix it, and throughout the book, they profess their love for each other. Stewart had told Winter, before they were engaged, that one day, she would be attracted to and want to have sex with another man. He told her that this would be fine with him, as long as she told him everything. And now here they are.

Winter also opens a floodgate of self-questioning [that is, only about herself Ed.]: Is she a good daughter? A good mother? As she walks into bars she once passed while pushing her kids in strollers, Winter gets a taste of fresh attraction, desire and the potential for sexual freedom. Is this less an opening of a relationship than a desperate return to the self?

...Winter feels the need to detail how much she loves her children and loves being a mother, even on the worst days. I’ve come to think of this as the Mother Tax of memoir writing, a levy that never seems to come due for men. She goes on: “I can hardly remember the Before Times, when I wasn’t caught in a constant swirl of secret lust and mother’s guilt.”

The American aversion to allowing mothers any sort of basic sexual existence, never mind a multi-partner, boundary-pushing one, challenges the author and will challenge the reader, too. In contrast, it would be impossible to miss that her husband seems to glide through the experience of an open marriage like an alligator in still waters. ... He never seems to suffer from jealousy, self-doubt or anything remotely akin to “father’s guilt.”

The primary relationship that feels turned inside out is the author’s relationship with herself. To be clear, this is a good thing. Many readers will see themselves in Winter’s doubts and fury, even if they don’t quite see themselves in her shoes otherwise. ...

   Time, in its "Ideas" section, gives Roden Winters a platform of her own: Why I Love My Open Marriage (Jan. 18). As the title suggests, it's indeed almost all about herself; no hint of community.

Back in 2016, on one of the bleached-out days that fuse winter with early spring, my husband Stewart and I sat on an oversized couch in front of Evelyn, our couple’s therapist. Therapy had been my idea—or more accurately, my ultimatum. We were several years into our open marriage journey, and what had initially felt like a short-term experiment was evolving into something else, a graft that was becoming part of our marital flesh. What’s more, rules we had initially established to protect ourselves from the inherent uncertainty of non-monogamy were proving increasingly difficult to follow. (Our cardinal rule—"no falling in love"—became particularly sticky.) ... So I threw down the gauntlet: agree to therapy, or we would close the marriage.

...The language of marriage and the language of captivity have a long history of overlap, but that language has often been reserved for men. Referring to a wife as “the old ball and chain” is part of the lexicon. Bachelor parties are held in the spirit of giving a groom “one last night of freedom.” When I was growing up, however, little girls were supposed to dream of their weddings as the climax of their lives. ...

...Over time, I came to realize the central fallacy of my original approach to finding freedom through sex. What I needed to do was to set myself free. For years, I marched from one “relationship” to the next, thinking that a variety of partners was the point, my ticket to the freedom I desired. But it turns out, they were simply distracting me from the core that was being fortified within myself. Every time I became intimate with someone new, I saw myself with fresh eyes. Every time a relationship ended, I spent time nurturing the innermost me that had been hurt. And so, over the years, my sense of self blossomed because of the space that open marriage had created.

...I now see the landscape of my adventures in non-monogamy as a place of great beauty, splendid in its lack of societal constructs, a place that is purely my own. I carry this wilderness and a solid sense of home—my own True North—within me. There is plenty of space for both. And if I remember this, I will never be lost.

●  The same day, in the Wall Street Journal: You’re Looking for ‘The One.’ These Dating-App Users Are Looking for ‘Another One’ (Jan. 18, registration-walled). The subhead: "Open-relationship enthusiasts crash mainstream romance apps, creating confusion among those who prefer monogamy; ‘I do not want to be an accouterment.’"

Quite recently, polyfolks were complaining there was no good way for them to identify themselves and their interests clearly on mainstream dating apps. Now, claims the WSJ, that burden has shifted to the monogamous side.

By Katherine Bindley

Many people using dating apps are on them looking for “the one.” Increasingly, they’re running into profiles of people looking for a second, third or fourth. 

The monogamists say mainstream dating apps like Hinge and Bumble are being inundated with users who are in consensual open relationships, and they’d like them to go find their own app.

Others say the apps are for people of all relationship styles and, as long as they’re up front about it, what’s the problem? The profiles clearly state: “ENM.” 

The letters stand for ethical nonmonogamy and more often than not, aren’t spelled out. 

“I had to Google that,” says Natalie Broussard, who lives in southeast Texas.

...As if online dating wasn’t hard enough—having to worry if someone is lying about their age, or will ghost you, or is actually a bot catfishing you—now users have to sift through profiles looking for land mine nonstarters and grapple with increasingly expansive definitions of what it means to be in a committed relationship.     

...More-niche apps exist: Feeld markets itself as for those interested in polyamory, consensual nonmonogamy, homo- and heteroflexibility, pansexuality, asexuality, aromanticism and voyeurism, among other things. But increasingly, the most popular apps are trying to appeal to more-diverse groups of users. 

In late 2022, Hinge rolled out the ability for users to designate their “relationship type” at the top of their profile and whether they are monogamous or not, which the company says was a response to the needs of Gen Z. ... 

Update: Four days later the WSJ followed that item with this:  Polyamory: Lots of Sex, Even More Scheduling. "Open relationships are having a moment. Who has time for this?" (Jan. 22)

Kitty Chambliss is already planning her Valentine’s Day. Her husband will make ravioli and roasted vegetables. She’ll bake a cheesecake.

Then she’ll set a table for three: her husband, herself and her boyfriend. 

You may have noticed that polyamory is having a moment. ...

●  And simultaneously in another New York paper, Is your relationship ready for polyamory? 6 signs that point to yes (New York Post, Jan. 18. Both the Post and the WSJ are Murdoch properties.)

The supposed six signs are,

-- One-on-one is the loneliest number...

-- Your mind is a curious one...

-- Other people give you ‘energy’...

-- The connection is strong with your partner...

-- There’s a distance in the bedroom...

-- You don’t think of it as a problem-solver...

●  In the UK's major liberal paper The Guardian: Still searching for The One when polyamory is more fun? (Jan. 21). "Whether sparked by dating apps or our narcissistic culture, group love is, well, on the rise"

By Hephzibah Anderson

Polyamorous relationships are having a moment. Or at least they are across the Atlantic, where New York magazine last week sought to distract its readers from the January blues with an extensive feature devoted to the trending lifestyle choice. With a cover featuring a cuddling quad (that’s a foursome) of cats, it offered “a practical guide for the curious couple” and even got Whoopi Goldberg hinting at her own non-monogamous experiences on US talkshow The View.

It’s just the latest in a steady trickle of articles, books, films and TV shows whose narratives have been drawing ethical non-monogamy in from the hippie fringes (“Polyamory isn’t just for liberals”, preached a Time headline a couple of months ago), making a YouGov poll less surprising: roughly a third of Americans, it found, prefer some degree of non-exclusivity in their relationships.

We’re not quite so forthcoming in the UK, despite our reputation for being less socially conservative. Only 10% of us are ready to consider a polyamorous relationship and just 1% admit to being in one. Yet as anybody who’s used a dating app lately will tell you, folk searching for not The One but The Several seem to be everywhere. ...

...The polyamory movement has spawned its own lexicon, which seems pretty prescriptive. This is not your mother’s free love. ...

The timing of the New York feature does solidify one key change in the positioning of consensual non-monogamy: what was once seen as a threat to the bourgeois institution of marriage is now being presented as its saviour. It’s no coincidence that the article dropped in peak divorce month. ...

● On the influential Black site The Grio: Why is everyone, including Whoopi Goldberg, talking about polyamory? (Jan. 19). "Whoopi Goldberg hinted at past polyamory experiences as buzz around the relationship style builds."

By Kay Wicker

...From Amazon Prime’s “Harlem” and BET’s “The First Wives Club” to the failed “Gossip Girl” reboot, depictions of polyamory and open relationships have been cropping up in Black pop culture. Fans of HBO Max’s “Insecure” may recall when beloved character Molly had a tryst with a married man who claimed to be in an open marriage.

TLC’s “Seeking Brother Husband,” a spinoff of the network’s longer-running “Seeking Sister Wife,” broke the internet when the network began teasing the reality show that follows multiple women in polyamorous relationships. The show prominently featured a memorable Black throuple (with room to grow) and caught many viewers’ attention because, for a change, it showed the relationship style from the perspective of women having multiple partners rather than the more familiar arrangement of a man with many partners. 

Several Black celebrities and influencers have also been open about their open or polyamorous relationships in recent years. ...

● A day later, on HuffPost: 12 Questions People In Polyamorous Relationships Are Sick Of Hearing (Jan. 20). Well-known poly authors, bloggers, podcasters, and the movement's favorite cartoonist (most of them with lovely closeup pix) list theirs.

1. Isn’t that sort of like cheating?
2. How do you do it? I’m way too in love to do that.
3. Who’s your primary or favorite partner?
4. What happens if...?
5. Don’t you get jealous of each other’s relationships?
6. Are you concerned about STIs?
7. How do you plan to settle down one day and have kids?
8. What does your family think?
9. Do you have orgies?
10. Once you find the right person, you’ll settle down, right?
11. What do you tell the kids?
12. What if your partner falls in love with someone else?

●  Trend-watch sites are noticing. One called The Skimm ("breaking down the news, trends, policies, and politics that impact women") posts Open relationships are getting a bit more, well, open (Jan. 21).

Polycules, throuples, quads, moresomes — you name it. That may be easier than ever, since convos about consensual or ethical non-monogamy (which includes everything from polyamory to swingers) are popping up seemingly everywhere. Maybe your group chats have been flooded with buzzy headlines, in-depth guides, and extremely candid books. Or, you’ve seen it on shows like “Riverdale” and “Succession” (don’t miss Peacock’s upcoming “Couple To Throuple”). Not to mention, everyone from TikTokers to celebs like Whoopi Goldberg and Janelle Monáe are talking about it. 
Why now?

For starters, it’s become less taboo. ...

I wonder what next week will bring?

PS: Poly Living convention, February 9-11.  It's not too late to register and get a room at Poly Living, coming up in Philadelphia in less than three weeks. The deets.


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 blunder 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 everyday, petty 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 them 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. A young girl has joined her in a logistics role. Their lives and their promising society depend on us.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger tosii2 said...

Am amazing summary that I wouldn't have anticipated 10 years ago.
I so appreciate all you do putting these together!


January 22, 2024 5:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home