Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 3, 2024

Green flags to watch for in poly dating. The great poly/queer overlap. Co-living. And, a total heartwarmer.

Pride Month has just passed. But not pride.

By Charles Trepany

...According to a survey on relationships published online in 2018, 2% of heterosexual participants reported being in open relationships, as opposed to 32% of gay participants, 5% of lesbian participants and 22% of bisexual participants.

...Experts cite a few reasons why LGBTQ+ people might be more drawn to non-monogamy.

[For generations] many gay people likely became accustomed to defining and organizing relationships on their own terms, rather than by societal norms. This led more gay people to challenge monogamy, as well as other standards traditionally associated with long-term relationships.

"There is a stereotype that queer couples are, at very least, open to being open," says Leanne Yau, a polyamory educator who has been non-monogamous for eight years. "I think that, if you are queer, that means that you are already rejecting the societal norm of being heterosexual. And, if that is the case, then people who are queer are much more likely to think about in what other ways they might live their lives that are unconventional, or which might suit them better."

...Philip Lewis, a therapist specializing in gay men's mental health, says stereotypes around the ways gay people date and fall in love do LGBTQ+ people no favors. One stereotype gay men in particular face, he says, is that their sex and romantic lives must involve either promiscuity or non-monogamy.

That isn't the case, Lewis says − but a young gay person who grows up thinking it is may believe those are the only ways to have relationships as a gay person.

"I don't think that just because you're queer, you necessarily need to abandon everything else," Yau says. "Question and explore your identity and your choices and things like that, but the point is having freedom of choice. The point is not to do all the radical things all the time.... What's radical is the choice."

●  Another reason is because many people don't recognize (or admit) their sexual orientation until they're already adults and hitched to the opposite sex. For serious sexual incompatibility in couples, an open relationship is a common work-around.

Or sometimes a work-apart, as Jason Bilbrey describes in the Modern Love column of the New York Times's Style section. I Was Content With Monogamy. I Shouldn’t Have Been (June 21).

The story takes a surprise backflip toward the end. Spoiler: The answer to the subtitle, "Can exploring polyamory both break you and make you?", is yes.

Brian Rea / NYT

...One night, seven years into our marriage, she said, “Do you ever wish we had slept around a bunch in college before getting married?” Corrie was a fiery social worker whose face could never hide what she felt — annoyance, attraction, embarrassment. Behind this question was an expression of excitement.

I stared at her in disbelief. By “college” she meant the Bible college where we met, both of us in student leadership. It was the kind of Christian university that prohibited dancing.

...It was after an episode of “Orange is the New Black,” the Netflix show featuring incarcerated women — many of them lesbians — that Corrie said, “I wish we hadn’t gotten married so young. I don’t regret marrying you, but I regret that I never got the chance to explore first. What if we had that chance now? Both of us.”

It hurt. It was the first time we talked about divorce. Neither of us wanted to end our marriage. But the idea of opening it also felt wrong — or it did to me. ...

...My reintroduction to dating was a disaster. I spent the moments before my first date dry heaving in an alley behind the restaurant. ...

●  BTW, that New York Times tale was served to me with the same ad repeated in all of its ad slots: Cartier, the high-end jeweler, advertising multi-partner wedding rings.

Here it is (45 seconds). It suggests multi-relationships that look more like RA than triads stereotypically do:

Times ads are super-expensive. Cartier is super-establishment. Capitalism adapts.

●  My last post led with Peacock's new documentary Queer Planet laying waste to the Catholic legal doctrine of "natural law," originating from Thomas Aquinas. Remember, 13th-century biology is to modern biology as 13th-century astronomy is to modern astronomy.

Now a new meta-analysis widens the picture by 38%.


By Jude Cramer

From humpback whales to manatees, there’s been no shortage of queer representation in the animal kingdom lately. But according to a new survey, there’s still more queerness to the natural world than meets the eye — because scientists haven’t been accurately reporting their findings.

The study, published in PLOS One, surveyed 65 animal researchers on their experience seeing same-sex behavior among animals in the wild. Those researchers were studying 52 different species across various orders, from primates to rodents to elephants. Of the survey respondents, more than three quarters (76.7%) reported observing same-sex activity in their species, but less than half actually collected that data (48.2%) and even fewer included same-sex behavior in their publications (18.5%). ...

By Bob Yirka

A team of anthropologists and biologists from Canada, Poland, and the U.S., working with researchers at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, has found via meta-analysis of data from prior research efforts that homosexual behavior is far more common in other animals than previously thought. 

For many years, the biology community has accepted the notion that homosexuality is less common in animals than in humans, despite a lack of research on the topic. In this new effort, the researchers sought to find out if such assumptions are true.

The work involved study of 65 studies into the behavior of multiple species of animals, mostly mammals, such as elephants, squirrels, monkeys, rats and raccoons.

The researchers found that 76% of the studies mentioned observations of homosexual behavior, though they also noted that only 46% had collected data surrounding such behavior.... They noted that homosexual behavior observed in other species included mounting, intromission and oral contact—and that researchers who identified as LGBTQ+ were no more or less likely to study the topic than other researchers. ...

...Of the unique species identified as engaging in SSSB [same-sex sexual behavior] in the survey, 38.6% (N = 17) have no existing reports of SSSB to the knowledge of the authors. In both the survey questions and freeform responses, most respondents indicated that their lack of data collection or publication on SSSB was because the behaviours were rare, or because it was not a research priority of their lab. ... No respondents reported discomfort or sociopolitical concerns at their university or field site as a reason for why they did not collect data or publish on SSSB. ... These results provide preliminary evidence that SSSB occurs more frequently than what is available in the published record and suggest that this may be due to a publishing bias against anecdotal evidence.

●  In Gay Times, Non-ethical non-monogamy? What cinema can – and can’t – teach us about polyamory (June 18).  "Non-monogamy is notoriously based on open communication and healthy dialogue, but where’s the fun in that?"

All kinds of movie fun could be in that. But the industry mostly can't see past its old standly the love triangle.
A movie exception, writes Megan Wallace, is Passages (Ira Sachs, 2003). 

Most of the films which depict forms of non-monogamy circumvent the culture around it (no-one in these films has read Polysecure, that’s for sure) and certainly don’t affirm the idea that non-monogamy can be an identity or orientation in and of itself. 

This is what makes Passages so refreshing. ...Things don’t exactly end well and there is plenty of emotional suffering to go around. However, Passages takes genuine steps forward in depicting the relationship between Agathe and Martin as metamours – the partners of a shared partner. While Tomas flagrantly flouts boundaries and has a passion for withholding key information, Agathe and Martin’s scenes together are filled with transparent conversation and respect. These two might not be romantically involved, but they offer one another far more consideration than the man who supposedly loves them both. 

In this way, Passages breaks new ground by authentically depicting the overlaps and new formations which can spring from polyamory – and it does so with a quiet understanding, rather than the sensationalism which still abounds.... As non-monogamy becomes increasingly visible in popular culture, we can only hope that other filmmakers follow suit.


●  You've heard lots about red flags when dating. But what about the opposite?

Here's Green Flags in Polyamory (Medium, June 24, registration walled). "Society doesn’t teach us how to build healthy relationships, so look for people who seek to learn by themselves." It's adapted from the author's Discovering Polyamory website. 

How to tell if someone is ready for polyamory, and has your best interests in mind

By Thomas H. Brand

...Green Flag: Learning on their own accord.
[Which means] When someone is actively working on learning how polyamory works and how to be the best polyamorous partner. 

The truth is, it's simply not possible to take the skills we learn for monogamous relationships and transfer them to polyamory. ...

Green Flag: Spending time alone.

... And why is this a Green Flag? Because it shows that they are not using their partners to avoid themselves. Alone time is important for all of us. ...

Green Flag: Doing their best to communicate.
When someone is actively trying to be open and honest in their communication.

The importance of communication is obviously universal across all types of relationships. But I consider it to be a specific Green Flag when it comes to polyamory. ... We can no longer rely on the assumptions that we have all too often fallen back on in monogamous relationships. And this means breaking out of our communication comfort zones.

...The Green Flag is when someone recognises they need to try harder with their communication, strive to be better, and listen when they are told where they can improve. 

Green Flag: Openly listening to criticism.
Someone who doesn't get upset them they are told they can improve, but instead actively takes it onboard.

Green Flag: Knowing and communicating what they want.
Someone who knows what they are looking for in their relationships and isn't afraid or uncomfortable being honest about it. 

One of the things about polyamory that can be hard to grasp is that everything is on the table. ...The only problem is when we're dishonest with what we're looking for. ... 
Green Flag: You feel good telling people about them.
Someone you are comfortable talking about without having to hide, or avoid talking about certain parts of their personality or life.

...If you're not prepared to tell people about something, there's always a reason. It could be because [it's] not your business to tell. But if it's because you know it's a Red Flag and you don't want people to point this out to you, that's another matter entirely. ...

●  Monogamy? In this economy?  Actually, housing and childcare costs, plus pervasive loneliness, are prompting more monogamous and single people to explore group living as long-term close friends. The mommune phenomenon, for instance. The search for good chosen family is growing in many spheres, as financial precarity looks to become permanent in American life.

The results can be very happy. Valuable group-living assets to cultivate, and look for in others, include communication skills, honesty, forthrightness, flexibility, high emotional intelligence, readiness to stand up for one's needs, and a generous heart. Sound familiar?

Time magazine takes note: Meet the Friends Buying Houses Together (June 10).

TIME / Getty Images

By Simmone Shahjune

...Eve Ettinger realized something needed to change. Stuck working remotely in a rented farmhouse in rural Virginia, they felt isolated and yearned for community and support.

...A friend of Ettinger’s had recently divorced and was looking to start over, and the two began to toy with the idea of purchasing a house together. “We wanted to divest from the compulsive heteronormative idea that you make your family and your stability out of romantic relationships,” says Ettinger. “We wanted to make an intentional community living situation where we could be there for each other in a bigger-picture way.”

They purchased a home in northern Virginia in 2021 that they now share with a few friends. The move has allowed Ettinger, a writer who also works at a nonprofit, to build financial stability that had long felt out of reach.  

...Many millennials and members of Gen Z no longer view the traditional markers of stability—marriage, children, and a white picket fence— as an inevitable or even desirable goal. ... Many increasingly believe that the benefits of homeownership—the number one driver of wealth in the United States—should not be limited to those in romantic relationships. That’s why more people are choosing to purchase a home with close friends instead.

...It’s hardly a new concept in the queer community. “It’s something that people have been doing for a long time because they had to,” says AnnieRose Shapiro, a real estate agent in Portland, Oregon. ... Now the practice is catching on with others out of financial necessity. ...

Poly people too have been ahead of this curve.

...Unique challenges come with buying a house with a friend instead of with a spouse. Heath Schechinger saw that for himself when he chose to co-buy a home with friends in Northern California in 2021. “We all had our own reservations about the nuclear family model of moving to the suburbs and feeling isolated and trying to raise a family by ourselves,” says Schechinger, 40, adding that regular rent hikes made them eager to purchase instead. “We all wanted to be able to eventually be a homeowner, so that we had the autonomy of making choices for our own, but living in the Bay Area that just seems so financially out of reach for all of us.” 

But Schechinger and his friends, who used CoBuy to help navigate the home-buying process, quickly learned that the process was not designed for multiple, unrelated buyers.... Many cities in the U.S. prohibit three or more unrelated adults from living together. ...

Andy Sirkin, a lawyer who specializes in real estate co-ownership, says that he encourages co-buyers to draft up an operating agreement that breaks down what the agreement will look like from start to finish—including an exit strategy, property management, and default. 

Sometimes the obstacles remain too great to overcome. Schechinger and his friends recently decided to sell their home, in part because their mortgage agreement prohibited them from transferring the mortgage to a non-family member when someone was hoping to transition out of the arrangement. 

Still, Schechinger is determined to try again. He describes his ideal home: a house with separate wings to allow for privacy, with shared spaces that foster connection. He views it as an antidote to the loneliness epidemic, a world in which friends might share the responsibilities of raising children or household responsibilities. “In the past, there were clear structures where people could rely on each other for support, whether it was caring for aging parents or helping with child rearing, or even finding a partner,” says Schechinger, a psychologist and co-founder of the Modern Family Institute, a research-based organization focused on expanding legal and social definitions of family. ...

He believes living situations that prioritize friendship and community will only continue to grow in popularity—especially as people look to build their own safety net in the absence of larger societal protections. “The social and economic pressures,” he says, “are too high for people to not consider it.”

●  I've saved the best for last. This just came in from the Valley Advocate of western Massachusetts, the half-century-old alternative newspaper where I once worked 16-hour days and slept on a couch. Summer of loves: Polyamory in the Valley isn’t what you think (June 27 print issue).

What poly there is, the writer seems surprised to find, is networks of support, community, and loving chosen family. I'm warmed to see that the Pioneer Valley, at least parts of it, continues to foster our early vision.

Partners LC, Ryan and Erin embrace in Northampton’s Look Park.
(Photos by Christopher Evans / Valley Advocate)

By Melissa Karen Sances

“You know what goes on behind closed doors in a polyamorous household?” Fox asks, and I lean in closer. We’re on the phone and he is 800 miles away, so I am leaning toward — nothing. I am on the precipice of something, I know I am, but all I can see is my broken phone screen over a black background, his name, white like sunlight, filtered through the cracks.

“What?” I ask, as the seconds tick by. “What goes on?”

Josie and Tasha Metley at last year’s Hampshire
Pride Fest. Metley, who is married to Josie, also
has a relationship with Jimmy, who
is married to Liv.

“Board games,” the 45-year-old says with a laugh. “Like Dungeons & Dragons. A polycule makes for a readymade D&D group. I’ve never run across the bacchanalias that conservative folks are worried about, because our life revolves around board games and Google Calendar. It’s soccer mom times 50.”

It sounds so … wholesome.

It also sounds familiar. In 15 interviews across 5 polycules, almost everyone will share that, for them, polyamory has very little to do with sex. And, a few days after my call with Fox, when representatives of each polycule gather for a photo shoot and join hands, I will be touched by their gentle circle, and I will see exactly what everyone has described: shared joy in shared love.

Terri and Gus. “It was helpful to have my first poly
relationship with someone who had so much
experience in the community,” he says.
“It was like going to a foreign country
with a native language speaker.”

Let’s be real

But even in our liberal, queer-friendly Pioneer Valley, polyamory isn’t easy. Everyone who shared their story with me acknowledged a level of risk, from being “outed” to their family, workplace or community, to facing social or legal danger. Some chose to use pseudonyms or first names only to protect their privacy. I spoke with people from Springfield, Greenfield, Westfield, Chesterfield, Easthampton and Northampton, ranging in age from 29 to 55. I consulted with a therapist whose clientele is 80% non-monogamous and an expert witness whose own fear of polyamory drove her to research its benefits. Here are their stories. ...

Polyamorous partners Jennifer Rahner, center, and Sean Rahner, right,
with Jennifer’s boyfriend, left.

Read on. It's long and, like life, not always happy. It ends,

I stare at my black iPhone 7 and disconnect the call. When I turn it over and examine the multicolored case, it assures me, somehow, that nothing is black-and-white, that in between lies promise and danger, and that there is something beautiful about a smudged but sturdy rainbow.



Here is why I've been ending posts to this polyamory news site with Ukraine: I've seen too many progressive movements die out, or get 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.

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 reasonably good power to govern themselves, combined with legal structures that are at least supposed to guarantee the rights of all.

Vote for Ukraine Aid protest signs outside the US Capitol
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, which is increasingly proclaimed out loud.

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, weaponizing police abuse and stacking courts, 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.

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, linking up 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. Starting with China, with its eyes on Taiwan.

The coming times may require hard things of us. We don't get to choose the time and place in history we find ourselves born into. We do get to choose how we respond to it. 

Need a little help bucking up? Play thisAnother version. More? Some people on the eastern front trying to hold onto an open society. (TW: war is awful.) Maybe your own granddad did this from a trench facing Hitler's tanks — 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 then, either. Popular history remembers the 1945 victory over the Nazis and the joyous homecoming. Less remembered are the defeats and grim prospects 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, ‘A Big Step Back’: In Ukraine, Concerns Mount Over Narrowing Press Freedoms (New York Times, June 18, 2024). 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 stamping hard on the old culture of everyday, petty corruption.  More on that.  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. It's been keeping them going  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 are mostly traditional, rooted in a thousand years of the Orthodox Church. But in the last generation the ideal of modern European civil society has become widely treasured. The status of women has fast advanced, especially post-invasion. More than 43,000 women volunteer in the armed forces, flooding traditionally male bastions — including as combat officers, artillery gunners, tankers, battlefield medics, snipers, and infantry. 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.

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. Continue to speak up for it.
A Russian writer grieves: "My country has fallen out of time."

Ukrainian women soldiers in dense undergrowth
Women defenders on the world's eastern front

PPS:  U.S. authori-tarians, such as Sen. Ted Cruz, say 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 June 17, 2024: Almost two years later Vidma is still alive, still with her mortar unit, and posting TikToks. They are now at the front in, it looks like, the battle to hold Chasiv Yar, an afternoon's hike east of Bakhmut. A young girl who looks high-school age showed up to join themAnother vid. Their lives, and their promising society, depend on us. 

And maybe our own? Says Maine's independent Senator Angus King (Jan. 31, 2024),

Whenever people write to my office [asking why we are supporting Ukraine,] I answer, 'Google Sudetenland, 1938.' We could have stopped a murderous dictator who was bent on geographic expansion…at a relatively low cost. The result of not doing so was 55 million deaths.


Labels: , , , , , ,