Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan

February 11, 2016

Washington Post: "To be young and polyamorous in the age of OkCupid"

The Washington Post put up a feature article this morning that will be printed in the Love issue of the paper's Sunday Magazine. Sunday is Valentine's day.

The story profiles a local polyweb of young twenties. They seem remarkably wise, emotionally intelligent, and poly-intelligent. Thank you for representing us extraordinarily well.

To be young and polyamorous in the age of OkCupid

Clockwise, from top left: Rachel Ruvinsky, 22; Sam Brehm, 21; Bennett Marschner, 26; and Hannah Schott, 22. The group of friends carry on multiple relationships simultaneously. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

By Lisa Bonos

...Ruvinsky didn’t want anything super-casual, so she figured that would be it. But Marschner persuaded her to keep seeing him, reassuring her that it wouldn’t be a booty-call thing. They could both see other people. “I was like, ‘Okay, I like hanging out with you,’ ” she remembers saying.

The next time they discussed their relationship status was a few months later. Marschner told her his other relationships, with two other women, weren’t so casual; there was an emotional attachment. He’d been reading about polyamory, he said, and he thought it applied to their situation.

Ruvinsky did, too: “We knew it was more than casual, but we didn’t have a word for it.” Since then, the two go out with other people separately or hang in a group. “A lot of times,” Marschner says, “if you get more than one of us together, we’re going to sit on a couch and cuddle and make out.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines polyamory as: “The fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, esp. in regard to matters of sexual fidelity; the custom or practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved.”

Polyamory in the United States has roots in the 19th-century Oneida Community in Upstate New York, where all members were considered married to one other, according to Deborah Anapol, author of “Polyamory in the 21st Century.” Modern versions came out of the free-love movement of the 1960s, but the term “polyamorous,” combining the Greek and Latin words for “many” and “love,” wasn’t coined until 1990 and was added to the OED in 2006. It draws adults of all ages, and online dating has made it easier for the polyamorous and poly-curious to find one another.

...Ruvinsky and Marschner keep each other in the loop on their other dates and relationships. Sometimes Marschner will screen OkCupid messages for Ruvinsky, deleting anything unwelcomingly vulgar, prompting her to jokingly call him her “sexcretary.”

...If one of them feels jealous, they try to pinpoint what insecurity or self-esteem issue might be to blame. “It’s important to realize that it’s valid” to be jealous or envious of another partner, Ruvinsky says, “but not necessarily true.”

More than jealousy, though, the emotion they talk about is “compersion,” a feeling of joy when one’s partner finds happiness with another. Ruvinsky says she feels it when Marschner texts her after a good date with someone else. He says he feels it when he meets women he thinks Ruvinsky might like and those instincts turn out to be right.

Marschner has a couple of primary partners, including Ruvinsky, and several secondary ones. He sometimes introduces his partners to one another and is happy for them to date each other as well. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Over a year ago, Marschner introduced Ruvinsky and Hannah Schott. They gathered for a night of figure-drawing, each taking a turn as a nude model. Schott now lives in New Zealand, but Ruvinsky still has the picture Schott drew hanging in her bedroom.

Within the “web” of partners, one-on-ones, threesomes and orgies have been known to happen. (They test for sexually transmitted diseases every three months or when a new person joins the mix.) But Marschner says “polyamory isn’t necessarily about sex. Polyamory is about being in love with multiple people.”

Marschner and Ruvinsky say they are thrilled to be free of the constraints that can come with monogamy: They don’t have to be everything, sexually or emotionally, to each other; they can be open about their attraction to others. It might be fueled by youthful idealism that will crash and burn as she and Marschner get older, but for now they seem happy.

Ruvinsky’s eyes light up as she describes having so much love to give, and receiving it, too. “Even the love you feel, feels different,” she says, “not in terms of quantity or quality, just in how it feels.”


Asked to map it out for a reporter, Marschner drew a diagram of dozens of people. Straight lines connected people with ongoing relationships; long dotted lines for former relationships; short dotted lines for people who have “sexy times,” as Marschner put it, but aren’t in a relationship.

The connections are fluid, too. An ex of one of Marschner’s former partners is now housemates with one of his current partners.

When members of the web get together, it’s as if a group of high school or college friends is reuniting. Primary, secondary and past partners piled into a booth at Bar Louie in Rockville Town Square in late December.

Some are meeting for the first time. “Are you a hugger?” Zia Frazier asks, and waits for the go-ahead before embracing Sam Brehm, a 21-year-old model and fire performer who met Marschner at a medieval camping trip. (The poly community is big on consent, starting with something as simple as a hug.) At different times throughout the night, Marschner keeps a hand on Brehm’s leg while deep in conversation with Ruvinsky.

...Marschner asks Frazier, who is 23 and just finished her first semester of grad school in San Francisco, about a new guy she is dating who’s poly and straight.

“Is he pretty?” he asks.

“He’s tall as s---,” she says.

...They order extra cocktails before happy hour ends, eat off each other’s plates and offer one another sips and cherries out of their drinks.

When Frazier complains about having to write so many papers and the long lines at the DMV, Marschner says: “That’s what you get for going to California and leaving us all behind.”...

Lisa Bonos is the lead writer and editor for Solo-ish, a Washington Post blog about unmarried life. You can reach her at lisa.bonos@washpost.com.

Read the whole article (online February 11, 2015).


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February 9, 2016

Fusion: "Seriously, though: What’s so great about monogamy?"

Fusion is an online magazine from Univision and Disney/ABC designed to reach "today’s young and diverse audience," it tells advertisers. It claims 10 million visitors a month. This morning it published a long nonmonogamy thought piece (4,000 words), further evidence that we're considered trendy. Excerpts:

Seriously, though: What’s so great about monogamy?

Bill Rebholz
By Molly Osberg

...They got hitched at 18.

“I thought it was happily ever after,” she says. “I wanted to go with him anywhere he went.”

Fast-forward three years: their marriage is no longer, and Britt’s OkCupid profile acts as a one-two punch of invitation and warning. If you’re into hiking, Little Miss Sunshine, or The Bible, message her. If you’re into one-night stands or want to be monogamous, please don’t. ...Polyamory is making a cameo even in the conversations of otherwise straitlaced young people like Britt.

The old rules certainly felt applicable to Britt and John. Shortly after the wedding, going anywhere with him meant an army base in another Texan town. Britt happily followed her husband, only to find out what couples often do: that people change....

...According to Britt, the “swinger culture in the military is insane,” with vast numbers of people swapping partners for the night or the weekend. But the ideas about sex and relationships Britt talks about valuing—communication, honestly, fluidity, sexual freedom—don’t come from that tradition.

...Nowadays, Rob is in a committed relationship with a woman he loves; they’re moving in together soon, and he still goes on dates with other people occasionally. “It’s not really about the sex even,” he tells me, though making out is pretty great. “There’s a measure of independence” in non-monogamy, he says; he thinks abandoning the idea that he and his lady have to be responsible for each other’s’ every need ultimately makes their life together more sustainable. You can go off and do your own thing sometimes, says Rob, and “still come back to the person you love.”

...Night Nurse—red-haired and tattooed, working the graveyard shift at a hospital—is how Rob got the specter of monogamy out of his system. The two met through mutual friends at a ball game. When they started sleeping together, they kept it intentionally casual—just about the sex. But as any human who has ever attempted such a balancing act knows, intimacy has a way of developing between people who spend a lot of time pressing their naked bodies together, particularly if their fuck buddies are nice people to spend time with.

...Conventional poly talking points will tell you that every relationship is a unique snowflake, that love isn’t a zero-sum game. That doesn’t mean navigating a lover’s level of emotional commitment to another person can’t be absolutely brutal. So, I imagine, is 50 years spent wondering about every flirtation you could have acted on. So is being taken for granted. So is feeling trapped.


...Sit on that for a second: “Love is a decision.” If that sounds crazy, think about the fact that all committed relationships, monogamous or not, require all types of choices. Sometimes it’s whether you can accept your partner’s level of financial stability. Perhaps it’s whether helping them wrestle with their various neuroses feels like a worthwhile endeavor. For Night Nurse, it was whether she was into Rob enough to keep dating him, bar guy or no.

That all might come off as overly pragmatic, even a little harsh. But being ethically non-monogamous requires muting some of the most seductive ideas we have about romantic love.

Polyamorists have invented a language to describe ideas not often in currency in modern-day America. One is “compersion,” a feeling of satisfaction and empathy while seeing one’s partner happily fucking or enjoying someone else’s company. NRE—“new relationship energy”—is a topic that blazes across poly communities on the internet, where longstanding couples wrestle with the reality that what’s mysterious and new has a fundamentally different quality than the familiar. Which doesn’t make it better, they say, just different.

Concepts like these can appear hokey or cultish to outsiders. Rob wasn’t the only person I spoke to who felt alienated by the trappings of the “poly scene.” Britt, too, told me she sometimes had trouble finding so-called “normal” people who understood what she was going for. And when I ask 28-year-old Kaela about the poly meet-up she and her dude, Riley, went to recently in Kansas City, her voice drops to a mock whisper. “Oh my god,” she giggles. “It was weeeiiiirdddd.”

...When Kaela and Riley first met a few years ago, it was Riley who initiated what Kaela calls the “relationship conversation” after they’d only been dating a few weeks.

“It really freaked me out,” she says. “I was like, oh god, this guy is gonna try to tie me down.” Actually, though, Riley wanted to talk about them being in a relationship—but also seeing other people. “So I put on my research hat,” says Kaela. “I thought, ‘there has to be books on this.’”...

None of these ideas are particular to 2016. The fact that they’re becoming more legible to mainstream culture, among heterosexual people in liberal islands of conservative states like Kansas, might be.

Read the whole story (February 9, 2016).

Update: At the right-wing site Newsbusters, writer Mairead McArdle is upset: Depraved New World: Fusion Asks “What’s So Great About Monogamy?” (Feb. 10).



February 8, 2016

Planning the Polyamorous Agenda, at the Creating Change conference and elsewhere

Yesterday, here in the Boston suburbs, the 27-year-old poly support group Family Tree held its monthly discussion at our house. The topic was what today's poly community wants, and what can we do to help? The group settled on three suggestions:

● Come out, if you can. The power of this was the central discovery of the LGBT movement.

● Represent in the media if you can. (To get coached on how, and to be added to Loving More's list of people available for media referrals, write to Robyn Trask, robyn@lovemore.com, or better, call her at the number at www.lovemore.com.)

● Call out misuses of the word "polyamory" that refer to cheating or other unethical forms of nonmonogamy: those that lack honesty, transparency, and mutual respect/concern for all involved. Be proactive about correcting newspaper stories, journalists, bloggers, etc.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Creating Change conference brought an estimated 4,000 people to Chicago two weeks ago. Put on by the National LGBTQ Task Force, Creating Change is billed as "the nation's pre-eminent leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBT social justice movement." Four poly sessions were on the program. One of them discussed where poly activism should go. The editor of Unicorn Booty, an online gay magazine, reported on it:

Revealed: The Polyamorous Agenda (And Yes, It Includes Marriage)

By Daniel Villarreal

...A polyamorous session at this year’s national conference... said that anti-poly stigma includes the inability to bring more than one partner to company events, the awkwardness of mentioning multiple partners to other potentially judgmental people, the lack of healthy poly relationships on TV or film and the dangers of being labelled a pervert, getting rejected from jobs or having your children taken away in a custody battle just for being polyamorous.

Seriously. The struggle is real.

...To change that, polyamorous attendees at Creating Change sought to lay out a social and political agenda for the modern polyamory movement. Some of the goals they came up with:

● Changing zoning laws so that multiple parent families aren’t kicked out of “single family homes.”

● Creating a comprehensive website with legal info about parenting/employment/tax/healthcare for quick, easy reference. This site should include information about legally and emotionally dissolving polyamrous relationships too.

● Providing information about non-monogamous relationship styles in sex education classes.

● Training workers in the childcare, family services and domestic violence fields about the existence of poly families so that they’re not viewed as a threat to child safety.

● A push for governments to recognize polyamorous marriage and to ensure non-discrimination protections for polyamorous people.

● A push for employers to start providing multiple-spousal benefits.

● A push for polyamory workshops during local Pride events that teach (among other things) that polyamory is not cheating but that cheating can occur within polyamorous relationships.

● Educating counselors and therapists about polyamorous relationships so they can effectively counsel clients. [You can point them to the booklet What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory –Ed.]

● Pushing for positive representations of polyamorous relationships in the media.

● Protests and awareness campaigns to teach people about anti-poly stigma and polyamorous political aims.

Now that they’ve defined a concrete agenda, it’s up to poly-activists and educators to start doing the hard work for social change....

See the whole article (February 5, 2016).

So, who will bell the cat? Many activists are doing things individually, here and there, to advance nearly every one of the points above. Especially the people communicating with each other in the Polyamory Leadership Network.

But it's way past time that we had a formal activist organization with the know-how, decision-making ability, and budget to start making big projects toward these goals really happen. There have been attempts. Who is capable of stepping up and building our equivalent of the National LGBTQ Task Force? It too started small. . . .


Speaking of conferences, I'm really looking forward to Loving More's Poly Living conference in Philadelphia coming up February 19-21. Come join us!


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February 6, 2016

Mainstream reporters on poly need to get it right.

OkCupid's new setting that basically lets couples seek dates as a pair continues to serve as the hook for mainstream articles and broadcasts about polyamory.

Usually they're fairly accurate, but not always.

For instance, a writer at the The Independent, one of the U.K.'s leading newspapers, says "Polyamory is an umbrella term for intimate relationships that involve more than two people. The expression covers everything from swinging to triad relationships."

Well, no. At minimum polyamory means "multiples loves." Swingers tend to be more about play parties and often guard their emotional monogamy. And, there's that crucial bit about "with the knowledge and consent of everyone concerned." And despite what the article goes on to imply, it's not all about couples.

Otherwise, this piece is rather sweet:

Polyamory: Vaults' lead singer Blythe Pepino and her partner reveal why monogamy wasn't doing it for them

Whole lotta love: Blythe Pepino and Tom Jacob see other people (Micha Theiner)

Last month, dating website OkCupid added a function which allows couples to search the website for people to join their relationships. Chloe Hamilton meets a polyamorous pair to see how it works.

By Chloe Hamilton

I meet Blythe and Tom in a bar in Clapham. Blythe's pastel-pink hair is easy to spot from a distance. Slim, sandy-haired Tom sits beside her. As I approach, their heads are together and they're giggling softly. They look every inch the loved-up couple. I introduce myself and slide on to the sofa next to them, hoping three won't be a crowd. I needn't have worried.

The pair have been polyamorous from the beginning of their relationship after both realising, separately, that monogamy wasn't doing it for them. Polyamory is an umbrella term for intimate relationships that involve more than two people. The expression covers everything from swinging to triad relationships. Typically, these encounters involve sex, although it's not a prerequisite.

...The lead singer of the British band Vaults, Blythe Pepino, 29, and her partner, Tom Jacob, 27, agree to meet me to shed some light on what it's like to be non-monogamous.

...They have been an item for two years and live together in south London. Blythe also has a girlfriend, Alice, whom she's been with for over a year. Alice – an artist – lives in Bristol, so they don't get to see each other that often. Tom is seeing another girl, Sian, whom he met on Tinder. In addition to this, Tom and Blythe recently started dating a couple, Nich and Sonya, whom they met at a specialist club night in London. Blythe tells me they "fell in love with them as a couple" and now hang out regularly. Sometimes they go to the movies, sometimes they have group sex. Blythe and Tom also have one-night stands with people, although these happen less frequently. "I'm just not that good at them," Tom says.

A common misconception, they tell me right off the bat, is that people in polyamorous relationships don't get jealous. Both Tom and Blythe readily admit to having experienced feelings of jealousy at some stage in their relationship. The trick, they say, lies is how they deal with that emotion. Namely, through talking. Open and honest communication is essential to polyamory. Blythe and Tom tell me that whenever one of them sleeps with someone new, they schedule a meeting the following day to discuss what the latest tryst means for their relationship.

My eyes must widen at this point because they start to chuckle again. It all seems so well-organised. I'd imagined multiple-partner relationships to be driven by red-blooded lust and a desire to sleep with as many people as possible, but Blythe and Tom's account suggests there's quite a lot of admin involved, too. "It would be very disingenuous if I said it wasn't a lot of work," says Tom. "But it's so worth it."...

Read on (February 4, 2016).

The article has only 9 comments, some of them already calling out the author for her definition. Go add a comment, and/or tweet her: @chloehamilton.


● Here's another story to add to the list of those inspired by the OkCupid news: What It's Like To Look For Love On Tinder When You're Polyamorous (Mic.com, Jan. 15, 2015).

Getty Images

By Nayomi Reghay

When Marcus*, 37, messages someone on OkCupid, he always asks one question: "Did you read my profile?" Usually, the answer is no. "Then they'll say, 'Wait, you're MARRIED?!?!'," Marcus told Mic.

..."[One person said] 'I'm not going to help you cheat,'" Marcus told Mic. "And then there was a guy who was convinced if he went on a date with me it would break up my marriage."

From Marcus's point of view, that isn't likely. He's been with his wife for eight years. They have two children, and as of one year ago, when they agreed to open up their relationship, they are also polyamorous....



January 31, 2016

More Brazil stories: "Polyamory practitioner teaches how to bring a third person into a relationship"

Following up on my last post, today's O Globo newspaper in Brazil features a young poly educator spreading the word. O Globo is part of the media company that owns GNT TV, which last year featured the ten-part, poly-heavy series "Free Loves", Amores Libres.

Some excerpts, courtesy of Google Translate:

RIO - How to introduce her boyfriend to her husband without hurting them? When your spouse goes out with someone new, is it okay to be jealous? If my girlfriend from another city is here at home, can she can sleep with me and my wife? Or simply: can you love more than one person at a time?

Sharlenn Carvalho

These are inconvenient questions in a monogamous marriage, but everyday for those who are (or want to be) in polyamory. Sharlenn Carvalho, 32, activist and practitioner of this model of simultaneous, consensual multiple relationships, specializes in answering them....

...'There is a dictatorship of monogamy, which we call "polifobia". It's hard to face in a natural, public, open way. Many need help on that path.'

...Sharlenn is thinking about professionalizing her project this year: 'It is an activity that I consider essential and don't want to stop doing. But I do it for love. If I could support myself as a "polyamory consultant" that would be ideal.'

The whole article, in the original Portuguese: Adepta do poliamor ensina como introduzir terceira pessoa na relação (January 31, 2016). Thanks to Claudia Domingues for the tip. Domingues is the notary who recorded Brazil's first certificate of polyaffective union; she tracks related news on her Facebook page.


And on the news site UOL, the bestselling sex-and-relationship author and speaker Regina Navarro Lins writes,

Our ways of love and sex are evolving

Ilustração: Lumi Mae

I believe that in time fewer people will want a closed couple relationship, and most will opt for multiple relationships. Attentive to the signs, we see that to love and be loved by more than one person at the same time, so-called Polyamory, is gaining ground.

Regina Navarro Lins
The definition of poliamoristas: "This loving practice advocates relations rejecting monogamy as a principle or requirement. Polyamory, as an option or way of life, advocates practical and sustainable opportunities to be responsibly involved in intimate deep relationships, possibly long-term, with several partners simultaneously. "

No doubt, love is a social construction. If we analyze the various periods of our history, we find that it evolves. It is impossible not to ask the question: in a few decades will Polyamory prevail?

Her whole article: O comportamento amoroso e sexual está em evolução (January 19, 2016).


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January 28, 2016

More poly developments from Brazil, as word spreads

At least eight certificates of triad unions have now been issued in Brazil, says the newspaper Folha de São Paulo:

"Couples" of Three or More May Obtain Civil Partnerships in Brazil

Audhrey loved Eustáquio, who loved Rita, who loved Audhrey. The three decided to live together eight years ago, and today they are a family.

A family from Belo Horizonte obtained a year ago a polyamorous civil partnership — official recognition of their situation. (Bruno Figueiredo / Folhapress)

...This is the story of a family from Belo Horizonte that a year ago obtained a polyamorous civil partnership — official recognition of their situation. At least eight such documents have been issued in Brazil.

Audhrey Drummond, 49, and Eustáquio Generoso, 57, got married in 1988 and had an on-off relationship until 1997. During that time they had a son, Iago, who is 23.

A year after they split up, Eustáquio began seeing Rita Carvalho, 45. But when Audhrey and Eustáquio met again in 2003, Audhrey admitted that she was still in love with him. "I told him that I didn't mind if Rita was in the picture," she says.

This is not a triangle relationship, but a ménage à trois, with Eustáquio living with both his wife and his mistress. He has his own room, with the women sleeping with him for a week at a time.

As well as obtaining rights to health insurance, polyamorous families also try to obtain recognition for their situation in order to add third (or fourth, or fifth) party to pensions and inheritance plans, for example.

Specialists are divided as to the validity of polyamorous civil partnerships. The public notary Fernanda Leitão believes that they are supported by a 2011 Supreme Court decision which equated homosexual civil partnerships with heterosexual marriage.

The lawyer Luiz Kignel disagrees. He says that the number of polyamorous unions is negligible in comparison to the number of heterosexual and homosexual couples, and as such, there is no indication of social change on this issue.

The original: PortugueseEnglish (January 26, 2016).

Once again, these "certificates of polyaffective union" are not legally recognized multi-marriages; they are the people's own notarized declarations that they meet the qualifications for being in a civil union. Normally in Brazil this creates a civil union on the spot. But whether this is true for multi-unions has not been tested in court.


If Brazil is becoming more aware of such relationship possibilities, some credit goes to GNT TV and its documentary series "Free Loves" ("Amores Livres") that began last August. Here's an article about it that appeared in an end-of-year roundup on December 30th, on the news-and-entertainment site Catraca Livre. With help from Google Translate:

Polyamory: series tells the story of non-monogamous relationships

To portray different types of relationships that go beyond the standard "romantic love", GNT launched in August of this year a documentary series about polyamory, directed by João Jardim. Titled "Amores Livres", the program tells the story of non-monogamous relationships. It is available to watch online.

The 10 episodes of the series bring thinkers on the subject to give their testimony, as well as reports from people in various types of amorous setups.

The program's goal is to show that any form of love is worthy, whether polyamory, open relationships, polygamy, relationships virtual or long-distance, group sex, abstinence, and even the option of monogamy.

The original: Poliamor: série online conta a história de relacionamentos não monogâmicos (Dec. 30, 2016).

Carolina writes, "I'm a Brazilian reader of your blog. GNT is a Brazilian channel [associated with the O Globo newspaper] and I've found it interesting that they did this, considering that poly is not a big thing here and that most people are very traditional when it comes to relationship configuration."

You can watch a long video clip from each of the ten episodes for free at GNT: Amores Livres. The full 20-minute episodes are available for pay online.

Note: When you open a foreign-language site in Chrome, look for the tiny Translate icon (two squares) that appears in the very top-right corner.


Also: At the end of the Catraca Livre article above are links to some poly docu-videos hosted on that site:

Documentaries talk about polyamory and its endless ways to say 'I love you'

Documentary shows day-to-day polyamory practitioners


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January 26, 2016

"Harmful Myths the Ethically Non-Monogamous Community Needs to Address," and more

Earlier this month, in a roundup of mostly super-sweet stories extolling the poly movement, I promised another side of the picture.

First, here's a bread-and-butter account of standard problems you're likely to face in the best of circumstances: Polyamory is Hard (Aug. 16, 2014), by Russell of Polytripod.

I was talking to my therapist the other day.

Actually, it was couples therapy.

And, actually, I brought this up twice because, in all honesty, I have two sets of therapists: one I see with my partner/girlfriend and the other I see with my wife.

Polyamory is hard. Which, I think, should be pretty obvious in that I'm seeing two therapists but that's not the point.

...There's the routine stuff:

– Constant (endless) communication
– Questioning assumptions that you have about love and relationships
– Calendaring and scheduling
– Expectations management
– Emotional processing — sex, love, jealousy, guilt, regret, etc.

Then there's the long-term, extended stuff:

The legal differentiation between partners (example: a "wife" affords a legal distinction over a "partner"), leading to a whole rat's nest of issues concerning wills/probate, medical care, rights over your assets, etc.

Re-thinking the roles of "husband, wife, partner" — and the promises those titles imply....

Breakups and ending/transitioning relationships that've lasted for years.

Challenges surrounding space, distance, travel, and cohabitation. Not everyone wants to live together; not everyone likes the same kinds of personal space. Those are some tough compromises.

Embracing inequity. Poly's inherently unfair. My wife has made sacrifices that enable me to spend time, energy, and resources on my partner, which often excludes her. Meanwhile, my partner isn't around me as often as my wife, and, doesn't attend family travel, and I'm not always around, which excludes her, creating her own set of sacrifices. Resolving those inequities is a full-time preoccupation.

Retirement and security....

Combining or separating the finances of multiple people, how to communicate and work with cash flow shortages, new financial expectations, etc.

Realizing that you can't ever make everyone happy. Instead, poly is a lifestyle of compromises where everyone doesn't get exactly what they want: there's only so much time, so much space, and so much of you to go around.

...It hurts that I can't give everything to both of my partners and make both of them 100 percent happy at the same time. It's a constant process of compromise, learning, re-tooling my skillets, and managing expectations.

And I think anyone just getting into polyamory should know that it's hard. In fact, just last week, I was at a bar on Mississippi Avenue with a bunch of enthusiastic poly-newcomers. I was kind of a Debbie-downer in that crowd, but I think it's real. Poly looks pretty good on paper, especially if perceived in the context of short-run, but everyone should be prepared for the long-game, and what that means in their lives.


However, I was thinking more of this grimmer piece by Michón Neal on harshness that polys with minority identities face: 5 Harmful Myths the Ethically Non-Monogamous Community Needs to Address. It appeared at Everyday Feminism last November 11th.


...But there’s also a bit of a problem. In my experiences with the polyamorous community, I have encountered very little that strikes me as ethical.

And I’m not alone in this.

I’ve known people and seen articles about people who are so fed up with the lack of ethics in non-monogamy that they no longer identify with it — and I’m tempted to be one of them.

For a community that prides itself on offering healthier solutions regardless of relationship orientation, the practice of it seems to be more of a burden than a blessing when it comes to certain marginalized people, as pointed out by the article linked above.

There are some deeply ingrained myths about non-monogamy that actually exclude many people with varied experiences — especially those of us who have intersecting marginalized identities (minorities of minorities, as I like to call myself).

I am a genderqueer black person who practices relationship anarchy. I have been non-monogamous all my life, even before I knew the terms for it. I am aromantic, pansexual, left-handed, synesthetic, kinky, atheist, and sapiosexual. I have invisible mental and physical illnesses, am neurodiverse, a survivor, poor, and a parent.

...So when I critique make these criticism of the lack of ethics in ethical non-monogamy, I am coming from 27 years of personal experience, education, and intersection.

Having been at the center of assumptions... I’d like to help unpack those that make the non-monogamous community a rather unethical place to be.

1. Not Everyone Transitions into Non-Monogamy

I very strongly believe polyamory is inherent to my nature.... Yet, to this day, pretty much all of the community’s stories focus on romantic, white, cis people who’ve transitioned into non-monogamy.

Instead of feeling like I’m part of the community, I ended up feeling more alien than ever.

...When I recently stated that, due to several men in the poly community explicitly ignoring my gender, sexual preferences, and desire for friendship by immediately asking for sex or to explore their fetish with me (and in one case actually being raped by one of these men — who then claimed it couldn’t be rape since I was poly), I would pretty much avoid cis and straight men, I was told that my experiences were too political to be shared in that group.

It exploded as others who’d been fetishized empathized and the rest simply wanted to return to talking about how awesome it was to feel compersion for the first time....

2. Disastrous First Relationships Are Considered Normal, But Aren’t

...Many popular poly stories and guides, like More Than Two, The Game Changer, The Husband Swap — reference at least one non-monogamous experience that either ended in disaster or was extremely unhealthy. This is usually regarded as a problem arising from non-monogamy rather than the influence of monogamous and romantic culture on our practices, as well as arising from the transition.

Even Franklin [Veaux], who has always been non-monogamous, felt so guilty about his needs and desires that he allowed many of his relationships to end prematurely due to insecurities, veto power, and couple privilege. He remained with his wife far too long in an attempt to cater to her desires and it wasn’t until decades later that his relationships were able to be built on a healthier foundation.

Actual ethics starts at the root and that is where we should begin. These problems need to be addressed before deciding to be non-monogamous instead of afterwards....

3. The Reality Behind the Statistic

Most people in the polyamorous community may only be familiar with other minorities via statistics rather than actually listening to us.

People like me seem to only exist as shadows or impossibilities in the community. The thought leaders like Franklin Veaux, Aggie Sez, and Elizabeth Sheff can really only give information based on broad generalizations....

...The books in The Cuil Effect Project, my writings on Postmodern Woman, the site Queer Black Voices, and the site Polyamory on Purpose are good places to start if you want to get a feel for the actual experiences of intersectional marginalized identities, emotional intelligence, and healthy relationships versus toxic ones....

4. ‘Drama-Free’ Polyamory Excludes Me

And speaking of health and options: I’d be considered one of those “drama-filled” people polyamorous folks try to avoid, not because I cause drama, but because I encounter so much trouble by nature of my marginalized identities. Being with me requires one to deal with heavy issues every single day.

I’m not the fun type of polyamorous and so am usually avoided.

In practice, “drama free” polyamory ends up meaning that the new person doesn’t come between the established couple, it means they don’t rock the boat, and it usually means parents, differently-abled, and other races are off limits....

5. There’s Community Support Unless You’re Invisible

Those I’ve talked to who feel that they were born polyamorous or who are in minority categories often feel they have nowhere to turn to for advice or information on their experiences....

...And if our partners are abusive, it’s much harder to leave because we have fewer resources.

...Polyamorous people say it’s not about the sex and that polyamorous people don’t face discrimination, but that’s just not true if you’re not white and straight. Those of us most likely to face legal or dire situations are also those least likely to receive help.

6. Abuse Isn’t a Personal Problem — It’s an Epidemic....

Go read the whole article (November 11, 2015). She has a Patreon campaign to support her queer and poly fiction writing.


From a different place, counselor and popular YouTube advice-giver JP Sears delivers a warning about the potential of an open relationship to wreck a couple (16:05). I have obvious answers to some of his assumptions, but he's often on target, and he's representative of much opinion that's out there. Short version: "You have to be a master at your first relationship"; it needs be rock solid before opening it, and he's never seen one that is.

Here he falls into into the dumb therapist's mistake — therapists who were gazing out the window during the class about sample bias — by assuming his clients represent everybody. In reality, all of his clients showed up because they had a problem serious enough for them to seek paid help.



January 23, 2016

Poly blizzard decisions, in the Washington Post

In its blizzard coverage, the Washington Post publishes a story about the burst of dating behavior that, data indicate, happens as people get snowed in. Polyamory comes up.


...For Jack*, 29, it’s a little bit of both. He’s in a polyamorous relationship, and his primary partner, Kate*, whom he’s been seeing for nearly two years, is out of town for the weekend. While she’s away, he has options.

There’s the polyamorous woman he hooked up with Wednesday night. She lives two blocks from him in Washington, an easy trudge even in two feet of snow, and is the likeliest candidate to keep him warm over the weekend. Then there’s the other woman he’s dating — but she lives in Arlington. “She and I have been talking about how we want to spend the weekend playing around in the snow, but seeing as how bad it is, she’s going to stay in Arlington,” he said. “I would have loved to spend this awesome weekend with someone who I am much more close to emotionally, than someone I just met.”

Still, he’s bummed, because he likes spending snow days with Kate. “I built my very first snowman with her,” he said.

And having to make this decision is raising even bigger questions for Jack, who has been worrying about his relationship with Kate and “whether or not this is something I even want to be doing — whether I’m seeing these other partners because I have the opportunity to, and not because I want to.”...

The whole article: Milk, bread, and 7 boxes of condoms: How D.C. prepares for a blizzard (Jan. 21, 2016).

If you're wondering, couldn't those three have just gotten together?, yeah me too. In my opinion, the defining thing about "polyamory" — as opposed to the broader category of open relationships or just free dating — is an understanding that to some greater or lesser degree, we're all in this together.