Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



March 31, 2017

"Millennials and polyamory: Will dating ever be the same?"


Avvo, "changing how people get legal help," is a massive legal-services marketplace, founded by Mark Britton of Expedia fame, that provides "detailed information on lawyers and legal issues." Its free portion offers 10 million searchable legal questions and answers, and ratings of essentially every lawyer in the United States.

It's big enough that it also runs a general-interest online magazine. This just appeared on AvvoStories:



Millennials and polyamory: Will dating ever be the same?

By Elizabeth Weiss

A recent edition of The Washington Post Magazine’s Date Lab — pairing two Washingtonians on a blind date — featured two millennials: a polyamorous woman and a woman open to trying something new.

The outing failed to produce fireworks between the women, but the Date Lab write-up did prompt scathing online comments. Total strangers berated the poly dater for broadcasting her lifestyle. Both women were labeled caricatures, members of a confused, experimental generation that needs to mature so they embrace the one true relationship approach — monogamy.

...The truth is that many millennials, whether a factor of generational change or youthful exploration, are open to the unexpected. Polyamory is increasingly considered an opportunity by millennials and, amid the hookup-heavy Tinder scene, some of them embrace the option wholeheartedly.

The new generation of polyamory

“After my divorce, I wanted to start from scratch and relearn how to be in a relationship. The last thing I wanted was to date and start the whole dysfunctional cycle again,” says Lucy Gillespie, creator, writer, and producer of Unicornland, a fictional web series about a woman who unconsciously practices “unicorning” by dating polyamorous couples to explore her own sexuality.

...Heather Claus — aka NookieNotes, owner of online dating site DatingKinky.com — [says] “In non-monogamy, I am exactly me. Every relationship becomes what it can be, without the hindrance of traditional social customs.”

      ● Read more about modern relationship trends in the full Avvo Relationship Study

...Page Turner, who maintains the website Poly.Land, was prompted to explore polyamory when she discovered that the affair she thought her friend’s husband was having was a wife-approved relationship. “They were stable, responsible people. It rocked my world,” says Turner. ... She hasn’t turned back since.

A non-monogamous millennial family

...Gillespie floats another idea: “They say millennials are very tribal. The New York polyamorous/ open relationship/ sex-positive communities are small, tight-knit worlds. I think that appeals to millennials — especially urban ones who moved from somewhere far away — because it becomes like family.”

Hacienda Villa, a sex-positive intentional community in Bushwick, Brooklyn, is one example of a place that promotes that familial feeling. Fourteen full-time members reside together in one space, some monogamous, some “monogamish,” some ethically non-monogamous, and some polyamorous. The Villa was co-founded by Andrew Sparksfire, a real-estate entrepreneur who is building community living environments nationwide that practice responsible hedonism to raise the visibility of the sex-positive movement in mainstream society, and Kenneth Play, a sex-hacking expert and educator and collaborator on The Casual Sex Project.

As Villa’s mission states, and most non-monogamists would agree, the lifestyle is about respecting everyone’s needs and boundaries while still indulging your desires. “Polyamory, open relationships, and sex positivity are ways that true love and emotions can enter the conversation. You can be friends with your lovers. That evolved, chill mentality appeals to millennials. It’s a genuine relationship hack,” says Gillespie.

...The legal ramifications can be daunting. But there are clear feminist implications that, at least for women, might make polyamory a more appealing option. Gillespie, for example, says her personal goal with Unicornland is “to see how a woman handled sexual situations; how she went from being passive, to being more active, in control, and powerful. I’m less interested in making polyamory mainstream, and far more interested in women being more in control of their sex lives.”...

...Are millennials testing out non-monogamy in search of something purer than the relationships they’ve been experiencing? A YouGov study found that only 51 percent of people under age 30 believe their ideal relationship is a completely monogamous one. And a recent Avvo study on relationships found that modern marriages are more romantic than practical.

...These millennials aren’t too concerned about being judged for a polyamorous lifestyle either. “I’m out as polyamorous although, in my day-to-day life, I tend to take an approach of being honest when asked directly about it but not advertising or disclosing electively,” says Turner.

If you’re worried about how a non-monogamous lifestyle could impact your job (and it might) be aware that in most states employees are at-will, meaning an employee may be fired for any reason or no reason. “Being polyamorous is not a protected class, so an employer could fire someone for being polyamorous,” says Robert S. Herbst, an attorney in Larchmont, New York....


Read the whole article (March 30, 2017).

● The same author wrote a brief piece on the same topic for AvvoStories last February 16: Millennials may just have a thing for polyamory.

● And almost a year ago, The legal ramifications of polyamory (May 16, 2016).

● The previous year, Avvo published an interview with a leading sexologist: Q&A with Dr. Pepper Schwartz: The rise of non-monogamy

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Plan your poly 2017 with Alan's List of Polyamory Events!

Twenty-six conventions, retreats, and campouts are scheduled from now through November. See them all, with descriptions, on Alan's List of Polyamory Events (polyevents.blogspot.com).

In April: RelateCon (Boise, Idaho); Rocky Mountain Poly Living (Denver); PolyLove fesztivál (Budapest); First International Solo Poly Conference (Vancouver).

A scene from Polycamp Northeast.

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March 29, 2017

"Love Multiplied": a veteran polyfamily gets a fine profile (it was easy).


Remember Juliette Siegfried and her family? Ten years ago in Barcelona, they started volunteering to be public polys in the media at a time when visible role models were few. Then they got pregnant and bore a daughter, to good notice in Spain's media. Later they moved to the Netherlands. The kid is now 8, centered in the picture below.

An online friend of Juliette's got an idea. She simply did an email interview with her – and has placed it in A News Cafe, "Northern California's Premier Online News Magazine."

Says Juliette, "It was nice to be interviewed by someone who wasn't a journalist and definitely wasn't looking for sensationalism — just a real, down to earth explanation of this way of life."


Love Multiplied: Polyamory Explained

Front, from left: Juliette, Maya, Laurel.
Back: Roland and their housemate friend Barry. 

By Barbara Rice

...I happened to meet Juliette Siegfried online because we had mutual friends and because we both love cats. Juliette was the first person I ever heard the term polyamory from, about which I knew zilch.

...Chicago-born Juliette now lives in the Netherlands and runs a translation business with her British husband Roland. Both are 50 and have been together since 1995. They live with 51-year-old writer/editor Laurel Avery and eight-year-old Maya, who is the daughter of Roland and Laurel, as well as live-in family friend 72-year old Florida native Barry Wright (who is not involved on a romantic basis). Roland, Juliette, and Laurel are all heterosexual so Juliette and Laurel are not involved with each other except as a family unit.

Polyamorous /extended family may sound unusual, but it works well for them. ... Juliette recommended the More Than Two Polyamory FAQ for spelling out the basics of polyamory.

Juliette: ...However, our form of polyamory, living together, seems fairly rare. Many poly people live alone and have open, honest relationships with multiple people. This is known as “solo poly”, when you don’t have a particular primary partner or nesting partner with whom you live.

Some people, particularly couples, do “hierarchical poly”, in which they are primary and everyone else they date is considered secondary. To us, this is a fear-based approach designed to protect the primary couple – however, trying to legislate love is impossible. We have always been open to the idea that perhaps our “primary” status would change, especially as Laurel and Maya came into our lives. But for us, it worked out that we all became primary with each other – and we are still open to other people coming into our lives and becoming more or less important over time than the others. We let each relationship find its “natural resting point.”

...Even when I don’t have any other partners (which has been most of the time), I am so much happier just being able to be myself and not have to hide it when someone interesting comes along that I might want to get to know better.

How did you out yourselves to your families and friends? What were their reactions?

It was tough at first, and we lost a few friends along the way. I think it was tough because a) at first we were unsure, which made everyone else unsure, and b) polyamory is extremely threatening to the status quo. Women used to fear I would steal their boyfriends somehow, because what I was doing must be what their boyfriends really wanted, right? Now I just don’t have any friends who aren’t okay with polyamory. ... Once we were sure of what we were doing, all the naysayers fell away, and a whole new set of friends, both poly and poly-friendly, emerged. We’ve never looked back.

How long have you, Roland, and Laurel been in a poly family? Do you see your family evolving and growing?

We met Laurel in Barcelona in 2007. Our house is pretty full, and we are not actively looking to add anyone else to the house. However I have a boyfriend, and he is seen as family. His daughters play with my daughter and we all get along great. That is our goal with relationships, to have them as extended family rather than separate things on the side. ...

How has having Maya changed your family?

I’m not sure it’s any different from any couple that has a child. We’re just three (and a friend) who have a child. I guess she’s changed us just as anyone would be changed by becoming a parent. It’s a huge challenge and a huge blast at the same time. In terms of parenting, we are all equal, although in some ways I have turned out to be the “primary mom,” which is interesting. Laurel never wanted kids so is slightly less maternal than I am, but we all enjoy the process. I am “Mama” and she is “Mummy” and Roland is “Daddy”. Barry is just Barry.

And having 3 or 4 parents instead of 2 is simply luxurious, for us and for Maya. More love for her, more time for ourselves, more resources, more income.

...Do you have any advice for people who are interested in exploring polyamory?

Yes – Don’t treat it like trying on a hat in a store or a dish in a restaurant. It is extremely difficult to go against the social pressures and conditioning to default to monogamy. You have to really believe another way of living and loving is possible, and really want it for yourself, with or without actually having multiple partners. It’s a way of life and a way of thinking about love as an unlimited resource, unlike the dollars in your wallet. It is not just about having multiple sex partners.

I suggest Googling polyamory and your town and seeing if there is a discussion group near you – there are tons of them. Meet other poly people, ask questions online or in person, and see how you feel. Check out the book and website www.morethantwo.com. ...


Read the whole interview (March 28, 2017).

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March 25, 2017

Poly challenge: "I’m 90 percent honest with my boyfriend. The 10 percent lying is why we work."


Buried by the Washington Post's Trumpcare coverage yesterday was this provocative piece on their website, the latest offering by bi & poly writer Zachary Zane.

A poly mantra has always been "total honesty especially when it's hard." In real life, does that actually make sense? What do you think in this case?


I’m 90 percent honest with my boyfriend. The 10 percent lying is why we work.

By Zachary Zane

...But how honest should we be with our partners? What is the truth, really? And how destructive — or benign — is a lie once in a while?

...Is purposefully not bringing up a topic, because you know is would upset your partner, lying?

...I’m about 90 percent honest with my partner, and it’s the most forthcoming relationship I’ve ever had. Part of this has to do with the fact that we are polyamorous, meaning we carry on multiple close romantic relationships simultaneously. For a polyamorous relationship to thrive, you need to be upfront and honest as much as possible. Bottling up your jealousies and insecurities simply does not work. Lies end up becoming compounded the more people that are involved.

But the other reason I’ve been so honest with my partner is because Jason really does a good job at not only encouraging honest communication, but not being upset when I am brutally honest. I think this is in large part why our 14-month relationship has been so successful and why I’m still so happy to be with him. Nevertheless....

I think the 10 percent lying... is a large part of what keeps us together. I never tell any big lies. I don’t lie when I’ve had unprotected sex with another person. That’s a matter of his physical safety. I do, however, lie about little things when the truth conflicts with other qualities that I value, such as compassion or loyalty.

For example, Jason doesn’t need to know when I’m imagining my ex because I’m having trouble finishing during sex. I think it’s okay to lie when he asks: “What were you thinking about when your eyes were closed?” I will say, though, that when this happened repeatedly, I told him I wanted to spice up our sex life. ... I attacked the root of the issue: sexual satisfaction, in this case. I told him we needed to change how we’re having sex.

Nevertheless, I sometimes do lie to him repeatedly about an issue. I lie when I have fun going out dancing without him. ... I lie about the good times because I know that he has serious fear of missing out. I don’t want to encourage him to go out more when he’s getting sick all the time. If I have to lie to get him to stay home and rest, because I know that’s what he needs, then I’m going to do just that. ... This isn’t something that has to do with the dynamics of our relationship. This has to do with him and only him. His struggles with FOMO. His inability to rest when that’s what his body needs. Since this doesn’t have to do with us, I feel comfortable lying more consistently about it.

Then there’s what my friends and family members think of him. Of course, I don’t tell him their thoughts exactly. I bring up only the insights that affect us both....

...Ironically, this type of lying is founded more on trust than deception. While I know [he] lies to me about certain things, I do, however, trust that Jason knows when it’s appropriate and when he should tell me the truth.

...I trust that he’s lying for me, and not for him. Just as I’m doing for him.


Read the whole article (March 24, 2017).

I honestly can't disagree with this — other than to wonder what he's not telling us readers either, perhaps for our own good but more likely to make a tidy story and make his relationship look a certain way.

Reddit/r/polyamory commenters were often harsh. There you'll find,

"I'm against directly lying to people when they ask you a question. (Which is touted in the article). If you want to know what I'm thinking, ask and I'll tell you. Don't want to know, then don't ask."

"I have real problems with white lies, half truths, and minimizing honesty to save my feelings."

"I find this sort of lying to be a little bit condescending. 'You can't take care of yourself in the real world, so let me reshape it a little bit for you.' "

"Maybe it's just because I've had a lot of bad experiences with situations where someone told 'white' lies, but this would be a huge red flag for me."

"White lies... tend to cause drama in the long term while avoiding pain in the short term, in my experience."

In my own case, my close metamour (he tells people I'm his "boyfriend-in-law") is a bit neuro-atypical and wired for Radical Honesty. When the four of us are together he'll sometimes burst out with "Alan, you're babbling again! Stop babbling!" or "You talk really well when you don't know what you're talking about." He's called me his best friend. Many people would drop him. I find his blurt-it-out honesty only slightly bruising and actually refreshing — because I always know where things stand. I know that if he's not expressing annoyance, I don't have to worry about hidden lurking problems.

Update two weeks later: Well, the article author and Jason just broke up. It was a nice, amicable dropback to friendship (he says), but still a breakup. He writes about it at the end of another autobiographical piece on the Washington Post blogsite: After cheating on my partner, I wondered: Was monogamy right for me? (April 10, 2017).

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March 23, 2017

NPR site: "A Cultural Moment For Polyamory"


On the homepage of National Public Radio today, and on the sites of some member stations, is an article explaining to the unaware that polyamory has become A Serious Thing.


A Cultural Moment For Polyamory

By Barbara J. King

The relevance of this iStock photo goes unexplained
in the article. Photographers, get busy!
The word polyamory, according to this FAQ page maintained by writer and sex educator Franklin Veaux, "is based on the Greek and Latin for 'many loves.' ... A polyamorous person is someone who has or is open to having more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all their partners."

Lately, I'm seeing "polyamory" everywhere. It's not a new word or concept of course, but it seems to be having a cultural moment.

Some of the heightened attention to polyamory may be because philosopher Carrie Jenkins published a book about it early this year.

...Around the same time, an article in Salon magazine profiled people who participate in a monthly event in New York designed for the polyamorous.

And the topic is here, again, in New York magazine this month in an article citing a study that reports polyamory has been practiced by 20 percent of single Americans at some point. [One could dispute this depending on definition.]


It goes on to quote, at length, various notables about the flexible and varied nature of love, the myth of biologically ingrained monogamy, and other basic topics that most readers here know about. But whenever a mainstream-media intro like this appears, I'm surprised at the number of people to whom it's still brand new.

Advertising experts supposedly say that a new concept or product must "touch" people an average of seven times before they remember that they've even heard of it before. I would hope that the polyamorous possibility is arresting enough not to take seven exposures to register, but who knows?

The author concludes,


Polyamory, in other words, is just another expression of the behavioral flexibility that is the true hallmark of our species — and one that, as I have learned from my reading, is predicated centrally on openness and honesty.

Surely that's well worth a cultural moment.

Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary. She often writes about the cognition, emotion and welfare of animals, and about biological anthropology, human evolution and gender issues. ... Twitter: @bjkingape



Read the whole article (March 23, 2017). There's no audio and it wasn't on the air as far as I can tell.

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March 21, 2017

Reviews come in for 'How to Transcend a Happy Marriage'

The morning after opening night, the New York Times reviewer has a mixed opinion of Sarah Ruhl's new polyamory play How to Transcend a Happy Marriage at the Lincoln Center, the subject of my post yesterday.


Plunging Into Polyamory With ‘How to Transcend a Happy Marriage’


By Ben Brantley

In 1969, two married couples took off their clothes and jumped into one accommodatingly wide bed. Thus did Paul Mazursky’s satirical film “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” claim a little piece of cinematic immortality....

Ah, the clumsiness, the tortured soul-searching, the naïveté of those heady, experimental times. People today of course are far more at ease with their bodies and their vast potential for erotic self-expression. Why, just look at Paul and George and Michael and Jane, the uneasily swinging [sic] spouses of Sarah Ruhl’s “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage”....

And marvel at how little has changed. The evidence of this idea-inebriated, unsteady comedy ... is that when it comes to matters of the heart (and the libido), middle-aged married folks are as scared, curious and confused as ever.

...The opening scene, which finds two sets of married friends discussing the idea of polyamory over wine and cheese, has the chipper blitheness of those comedies of middle-class manners that were once the bread and butter of Broadway. Jane (Robin Weigert), a lawyer, is describing a fascinating new temp in her office to an avid audience of three: Jane’s husband, Michael (Brian Hutchinson), and their best friends, George (Ms. Tomei) and Paul (Omar Metwally).

The temp is called Pip, and it seems she not only shares her bed with the two men with whom she lives but also personally kills the animals she eats. ... They decide that they must meet this exotic creature and her companions. A New Year’s Eve gathering is arranged, chez Jane and Michael. “And our lives would change forever,” says George (short for Georgia)....

[Pip and her partners] show up bearing hash brownies, sanctimonious life philosophies and a load of multidirectional sex appeal. After some literate but lubricious conversation about Pythagorean triangles and animal sacrifice, Pip performs a double-entendre karaoke version of “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain.”

The song turns out to be the foreplay for a polymorphous orgy in which identities melt and merge. And just before the first act ends, who should burst in on these intertwined, grown-up bodies but Jane and Michael’s understandably outraged teenage daughter, Jenna (Naian González Norvind).

So far, so formulaic, right? But what follows does not adhere to the rules of standard-issue sex comedies. The walls of Mr. Zinn’s set disappear, for one thing. Then there’s that plot turn that hinges on an Ovidian metamorphosis (appropriately, as George teaches Latin). Or maybe not, given that the people involved were under the influence of psychedelic mushroom tea as well as hashish.

...But the elements never quite coalesce into a single fluid stream of thought or story.... Despite its portrayal of uncommon events, “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage” remains stuck in the conjectural realm of its opening scene, where George and Paul and Jane and Michael are still just trying on daring ideas on for size.


Read the whole review (online March 20; in print March 21 [on the front page of the paper's Section C, New York edition]).


● In this morning's Newsday:


Play questions monogamy

By Linda Winer

What looks alarmingly like a dead, skinned goat hangs upside down from a hook at the start of Sarah Ruhl’s “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.” A willowy woman enters, seems to whisper something to the head of the goat, then tenderly unhooks it and carries it away.

...I admit I’ve have been slow to warm to the prolific [playwright Sarah] Ruhl, twice a Pulitzer finalist and a MacArthur fellow.... But this new play is a subversive enchantment. It is part absurd domestic serio-comedy, part erotic magic realism, unflinching about taboos and about questioning that, just maybe, monogamy isn’t enough.

...Directed without sensationalism but with intrepid good humor by Rebecca Taichman (“Indecent”), the inevitable bacchanalian reveries ensue. But so does heady talk about Pythagorean triangles, the immortality of a Bach minuet, grief, architecture and why women are expected to lose their “animal nature” after childbirth.

But why, why, does the production have to bring a non-domesticated animal, a live dove, onto the stage for the final scene? Everything pales next to the discomfort of a live creature. For a play that toys with ideals of “radical honesty,” either everything else has to be real or, better yet, the bird should be fake.


The whole review (online March 20, in print March 21.)


● Deadline calls it "trippy":


Marisa Tomei Is Dazzled (And Confused) In ‘How To Transcend A Happy Marriage’

By Jeremy Gerard

...Ruhl has one of the liveliest intellects of any playwright today. Her plays ... thrum with ideas and careen between realism and non-realism in a way that I think only finds a parallel in the best work of Christopher Durang. As with Durang, when everything aligns, the work provokes a kind of euphoria.... And when everything doesn’t? What’s the sound of ideas spinning off into the ether?

...Pip is exceptionally beautiful and she’s polyamorous, Jane reports, the word tripping off her tongue as though it is far more common than I’ve noticed. She lives with two men who love her – apparently all the time, as lately she has been coming to work exhausted.

...Not unexpectedly, Pip, Freddie and David upend their hosts’ notions of normalcy, mainly regarding love and sex.... George turns out to be the true seeker in the group, and most of Act II is taken up with the places – oh, the places – Pip takes her, including, at one point, jail, the aftermath of a deer hunt gone all wrong.

...How To Transcend A Happy Marriage reads better than it plays in this production – the fine work of fine actors notwithstanding. The takeaway is more head-scratching than transcendent, as evanescent as Pip herself proves to be.


The whole review (March 20).


● At Vulture.com, Jesse Green enjoys showing how he wields a deft knife:


Typically, Sarah Ruhl’s plays sound like your smartest friend stoned. They unfurl in tendrils of dialogue that are both organic and perseverant, fantastic and philosophical. Because the plots are not especially logical, the characters often seem freaked out by the situations they face and the new thoughts they are hatching. ... The untrammeled play of the imagination as a means of normalizing unfamiliar ideas seems to be her priority, and never has she been as free with her storytelling as in How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, ... Ruhl’s stonedest work yet.

I don’t mean to harsh anyone’s mellow, but that’s not totally a compliment. The demilitarized zone between fanciful and inane is one that’s better left unbreached.

...Pip and David and Freddie, the polyamorists, are presented to the audience, I hope deliberately, as ridiculous caricatures. Pip, with streaks of blue and feathers in her hair, wearing short cut-offs on New Year’s Eve, is a free-spirit cliché; ... David (pronounced Daveed) is a vaguely European poseur spouting unlikely claptrap about Pythagoras, and Freddie is, well, not much of anything except a pretentious stick insect. (Latin, he tells us, is “too beautiful for this world.”)....

Yes, there’s an orgy. Or is there? Though Tomei beautifully pulls off her confused arias of overprivilege and its inchoate longings — she’s the kind of woman whose great embarrassments in life include never having learned Greek — Ruhl does not intend for us to take the story literally. Neither does the production....

Unfortunately this surrealism, however conscious it is as an esthetic choice to support the theme of personality disassociation, undermines the play at every turn. How are we supposed to take seriously its invitations to consider ethical food practices and polyamory when the proponents of those ideas are so absurd and condescending? Nor do we feel like joining the older group in their investigation of these ideas, when they are painted as so neurotic (the women) and shallow (the men).

The method, it turns out, is not as loosey-goosey as it seems. What appear to be discursions and sidetracks in the storytelling are actually (you eventually realize) just further twists of the vise of meaning. The play is littered with symbols Ruhl works very hard to whip into concordance: birds, eggs, children, Latin, meat, music. Even poor Pythagoras is dragged into the polyamory theme; it’s those damned triangles.... The proportion of ideas to people is out-of-whack. As with polyamory, it seems to me, the problem isn’t having too much feeling to share; it’s having too little.


Whole review (March 20).


Entertainment Weekly:


By Breanna L. Heldman

“I just felt bad for the duck.”

That was one theatergoer’s conclusion about How to Transcend a Happy Marriage during intermission. Still, she and her friend were optimistic that the story would come together in its second half, and they would leave feeling enriched as any theatergoer hopes to. But then, the lights went down the second time and one of the eight characters in the play turned into a bird, so they probably didn’t.

...The literary magazine-like Lincoln Center Theater Review accompanying the show features a number of excerpts and writings on the various ideas discussed in Sarah Ruhl’s play. The introduction ... describes the show as operating “on two levels: on the surface, it is a domestic play, whimsical and titillating, but the issues pulsing beneath the surface are profound — identity, sexuality, and an examination between civilization and wild, human nature at its most fundamental and urgent.”

Unfortunately, the story is rather more bewildering than “profound.” Amid a wealth of terrific, clever, laugh-out-loud dialogue — Ruhl is a MacArthur Genius and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, after all — are moments of total realness and others of supernatural wildness, yet none of it quite clicks into place. ... I gave up trying to understand where Pip ended and an egg-laying bird began in the second act.

...How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is funny and filled with great actors giving impressive, vulnerable performances. But ultimately, the lasting impression is less than the sum of its parts.


Whole review (March 20).


Variety:


By Marilyn Stasio

There is abundant sex and nudity in Sarah Ruhl’s new play ... along with some brainy conversation about the ethics of animal slaughter. The setting for this experimental piece is exceptionally handsome, and under the sure directorial hand of Rebecca Taichman, a tip-top cast headed by Marisa Tomei performs with brio. Nonetheless, the show is both baffling and boring.


Whole review (March 21).


The Hollywood Reporter:


By Frank Scheck

First, a confession: I’ve never been to an orgy. But I imagine they probably start out as a great deal of fun before eventually becoming tiresome and exhausting. Such is also the case with the new play by Sarah Ruhl....

...Featuring fast and funny dialogue, the play initially seems to be operating on all cylinders. But the second act, which delves into magical realism, becomes hopelessly murky and confusing.

...Still, the evening is certainly not hard to sit through, thanks especially to its three vital female stars, whose characters register as sexy, smart and strong. Weigert makes the grounded Jane infinitely appealing; Hall vibrantly embodies Pip’s larger-than-life qualities; and Tomei anchors the proceedings with earthy vivacity. Their efforts are nearly, but not quite enough, to transcend the problematical aspects of How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.


Whole review (March 20).


● In contrast to the above, The Wrap's reviewer actually gets the play, or so he thinks:


By Robert Hofler

...When a play begins with a goat, you know you’re in for an evening of heavy lifting. Generally, that’s not a good sign. Two modern dramas, however, show us how engrossing that kind of weighty workout can be....

Equally provocative and enlightening is Sarah Ruhl’s new play, “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.” That one of the eight characters ends up as a dove and lays three eggs on stage should also deter no theatergoer from seeing [it].

...Ruhl definitely knows how to get a play going in its first few minutes. Jane reveals everything she knows about being polyamorous, which has nothing to do with swinging or swapping partners; and soon the two couples are making plans to invite the polyamorous triad over for drinks one night to learn all about loving and having sex among three people.

The operative word here is not “polyamorous” but rather “triad,” and Ruhl conveniently stacks her play with mathematicians, architects, musicians and a teacher of Latin (of all things). Squares and triangles, as well as couples, can be restrictive, but there is also inspiration to be found in those mathematical confines....

“How to Transcend a Happy Marriage” is two hours with intermission, and it abounds with situations that lead its characters to say the most quotable things, all of which should be experienced live in the theater and not in any critic’s review. They’re that memorable.

...It’s a quibble, but “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage” so abounds with ideas and novel situations that Ruhl’s characters occasionally take a backseat. It may be why Ruhl writes plays and not novels. In the theater, actors can fill in with flesh, blood and emotion what is a mere outline in the script, and here the playwright is blessed with a magnificent cast under the always sensitive direction of Rebecca Taichman.... Even though George’s journey is fantastical, the actress makes us believe and empathize with her every awkward step forward.


Whole review (March 20).

And more.

Update: Actress Marisa Tomei from the play appeared in The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (online March 31). Discussion of the play starts at 3:45



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March 20, 2017

Polyamory play opens at Lincoln Center: "How to Transcend a Happy Marriage"


That's Pip in the blue sweater.

Positive polyamory, as a story theme, tonight becomes about as establishment as you can get in the theater world; New York's Lincoln Center calls itself "The world's leading performing arts center" and gets away with it. How to Transcend a Happy Marriage opens there this evening.

The promo blurb:


At a dinner party in the wilds of New Jersey, George (Marisa Tomei) and her husband talk with a fellow married couple about a younger acquaintance — a polyamorous woman (Lena Hall) who also hunts her own meat. Fascinated, they invite this mysterious woman and her two live-in boyfriends to a New Year’s Eve party which alters the course of their lives.

HOW TO TRANSCEND A HAPPY MARRIAGE explores the boundaries of monogamy and the limits of friendship. This new work asks what happens when parents let their wild sides come out of hibernation.


A video-vignette preview (44 seconds):



An interview with the lead actress, at TheaterMania:


Lena Hall Brings Polyamory to Lincoln Center

By Hayley Levitt

...Even more memorable, however, was her [2014 Tony Award] acceptance speech, which ended with the My Little Pony aphorism, "Friendship is magic." In a strange way, that same sentiment captures the essence of Sarah Ruhl's new fantastical play, How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, opening tonight at Lincoln Center....

Hall plays Pip, the linchpin of a polyamorous threesome who shakes up the lives of two traditional married couples.... Pip has plenty of quirks, most notably her insistence on [bow]hunting for her own meat. But her free-minded philosophies draw something almost mystical out of her married disciples who have thus far narrowly defined the kinds of love that are available to them in their various relationships.

...If we abide by Hall's calculations, expanding your circle of love and friendship can only make life more magical.

...Lena Hall: “I love the character, I love the ideas that are being talked about, and I felt like it would be fun to play something that was a little bit more closely related to me.... It's more rooted in who I am — you know, except for the polyamory. [laughs] ...I think maybe because of how I was raised by my hippie parents. It's cool to play a character that is so rooted in her own spirituality....

“We did a lot of research on polyamorous couples. We forget that love is not so one-person-based. There's something about physically being in a community of people that are relating to each other that is completely and utterly fulfilling. Romantic love is not all you're looking for. You're actually getting your fill of love from multiple sources. And a lot of people look — at least I looked, to feel loved and completed by a romantic partner only, and that can be very limiting. If you open up your bubble to include other people — and I'm not talking about sexually, I'm just talking about emotionally connecting to people — then you're not flying in the dark. No one has to be alone.

“There is a community out there for anyone and everyone if they want it. There's this focus on the sex aspect of polyamory because that's what everyone is more curious about. But I feel like the polyamorous movement is not all about sex. It's about having a bigger sense of family — a bigger sense of home.”


The whole interview (March 20, 2017).


More promo material from the theater: pix, interviews, audio with the director — and an interview with the play's writer, Sarah Ruhl. Excerpt:


The final epigraph [at the beginning of the play's script] is the tersest: “Great sluts are made, not born.” It is taken from the 2009 volume The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.

Sarah Ruhl
“A friend gave that book to me,” Ruhl said. “He thought I might be interested in it, and I was.” She went on: “I was fascinated by all the rules you need to construct a polyamorous life. There’s constant negotiation.” Ruhl explained that there are many brands of polyamory as defined by The Ethical Slut “including the free-love movements of the turn of the 20th century or of the 1960s.”

And there are many different cultural expressions of it: “For example, there’s a matriarchal society in Mongolia where the women have sex with as many men as they want. And among some of the nomadic groups in Tibet two brothers will share a wife. And, in the Bible, brothers share wives all the time. The difference with polyamory in the U.S. today is that ours is freely chosen. It’s not a part of a wider cultural norm.”

And how does all this relate to How To Transcend a Happy Marriage? “Audiences will soon see,” Ruhl said.


Update next day: A whole raft of reviews were published overnight. The play sounds... surreal.

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March 17, 2017

On ABC's Nightline, Carrie Jenkins and partners: "People need to see that this is a real way people live."



 
ABC's Nightline ran a 7-minute report last night featuring poly professor Carrie Jenkins, author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be, together with her husband and her boyfriend. Then they switched to footage from two other households who've been on ABC before. The segment does not assume that the audience already knows what polyamory is all about; it takes them from the ground up:



The transcript (machine-generated by ABC):


Introducing your boyfriend to your family can be stressful. Will mom embarrass you? Will dad approve? And will he get along with your husband? Yes, you heard that right, your husband. ABC's Abbie Boudreau introduces us to poly-amory.

"There's a squash." Reporter: Carrie Jenkins is very married. "Potatoes. More potatoes." Reporter: But she's getting ready to spend Saturday night with her boyfriend. Does her husband suspect?

"Hi I'm Carrie, and this is my husband Jonathan, and this is my boyfriend Ray." Reporter: We'd say he's got a pretty, good, idea. "I'm in a relationship with Jonathan, and I'm in a relationship with Ray."

They call it polyamory. Defined as a consensual romantic relationship with multiple partners. You might have thought it was just fringey people on the coast who do this, but these buttoned down Canadians beg to differ.

"We were amazed at the number of people who came to us and said, 'Thank you for saying this. We're also in an open relationship, but we haven't felt secure saying so.'" Reporter: Carrie is a tenured professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She met Jonathan, also a professor there. They fell in love and got married in 2011 in a Scottish castle. "I wore a white dress."

Reporter: But along with the I dos, came the I don'ts. "I don't assume that romantic love and sex are the same." Reporter: And a new set of rules that you won't find in most marriage manuals. "If I were to go and have a secret romantic relationship and not tell Carrie about it, that would be cheating in this relationship too."

Reporter: So tonight, Jonathan gets to stay home while Carrie flirts with Ray in a bar. And holds hands with him at a restaurant. And yes, that's her wedding ring, still on her finger.

"For me, the idea of being able to be with two people at once always seemed like an impossible dream. Now that I get to be with two amazing people at the same time, it feels like a dream come true. I feel like the luckiest person in the world."

Reporter: So what's in it for the men? They get to see other people too, although they admit neither is doing so at the moment.

"I consider myself open to dating people. I'm active on dating websites. I go through the world considering myself romantically or sexually available."

Reporter: Ray says there are plenty of advantages. "It's a loving relationship. I don't know if I were in a non- non-monogamous relationship, how I would answer it any differently."

Reporter: But Carrie says they're not a true triad. "Ray and Jonathan are not in a relationship with each other." Though they're not opposed to the occasional hangout. Any relationship in which all partners agree that each may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other partners, which could range from friends with benefits, to open marriage.

"Nightline" has delved into polyamory before. There was Danny and John. Oh, yes, and Melinda, who unlike Carrie and Jonathan and Ray, actually all live together with their two kids.

So if you're not a couple, what do you call yourself? "We're a triad. Yeah, some people say triple." Reporter: They say the sex is really good. "In the very beginning, there was a lot more three people having sex together often." Reporter: But so is the extra set of hands for childcare. "It's not only about sex, it's about family, it's about working together as a team. It's about accomplishing your dreams."

Reporter: One of their dreams, having children, and they managed to do that all together too. Ella and Oliver are just five weeks apart. It's one thing to have your relationship and have it exactly how you want it. But then to bring kids into your relationship, do you feel like it's a healthy way to raise a family? "A resounding yes for me. More breast feeding, more opportunities, more team work. I can double breast feed while Melinda's making food, and Jon is, whatever it is. There's just more parental support for the children."

Reporter: And then there's John and Ian who also live together with their one child. What do you say to people who believe that your relationship and the way that you're living your life is wrong? " 'Thank you for sharing your opinion.' I mean, what else -- we're not here to convert people and tell people that monogamy and wrong. Totally V totally valid choice."

Reporter: And with the divorce rate hovering around 50%, who's to say these people might not have a point? Carrie Jenkins has written a book, challenging the notion that love requires monogamy. But what about jealousy? "I think every relationship can come with insecurity. We're humans and we're never sure about our standing."

Reporter: We saw this play out again and again in our triads. Jaya has her two lovers, but how do the men feel about each other? Would you two be friends if it wasn't for her? "I don't think we'd be hanguot buddies." "They're very different. What do you think, John?" "Way too chatty."

Reporter: But in this three-headed household, who takes charge? Do you consider yourself more the alpha dog in this family? "Uh, yes. Well, Jaya is kind of the alpha dog too." So what does that make John? "John is somebody who gets fulfillment out of being in service, doing things for people." Reporter: Is it hard to share someone that you love that much? "Ah, it can be. It can be tough."

Reporter: Five years later, Jaya, John and Ian are still together.

And then there's what they say is the social stigma. Carrie's received loads of negative feedback. "There is some sometimes vitriolic and mostly anonymous comments that I get."

Reporter: Despite criticism, Carrie and her partners say they're committed to sharing their story, for other polyamorous people who aren't able to. "People do need to understand and to see that this is a real way that people live."

Reporter: Challenging stereotypes about love. "I would like to be in my relationships forever. That would be my ideal situation." Reporter: One date night at a time. For Nightline, I'm Abbie Boudreau.


The segment's webpage (aired March 16, 2017, online March 17).

The video is also showing on Yahoo News.

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March 14, 2017

Judge's "tri-custody" ruling is a polyfamily precedent


The parents and the 10-year-old

A family-court judge in New York State has granted parental custody rights to all three members of a broken-up triad who raised a 10-year-old son together.

Does this set a precedent? Apparently so, at least in New York State. Here's a report from the New York Law Journal:


In 'Unique' Case, Judge Grants Legal Custody of 1 Child to 3 Adults

By Joel Stashenko

Calling it the logical extension of the legalization of same-sex marriage and the 2016 expansion of unmarried partners' custody rights in New York, a judge has granted "tri-custody" of a boy to a man and two women who have all helped raise the youngster.

...Leis called both Dawn M.'s tri-custody request and the one-time living arrangement that led to the three-way parenting involvement "unique."

But he said he can find nothing that prevents tri-custody in the 2011 Marriage Equality Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in New York, nor in the state Court of Appeals' ruling in 2016 in Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C. , 28 NY3d 1. In Brooke S.B., the court expanded the definition of a "parent" for visitation and custody purposes to the nonmarried, ex-partner of a biological parent in a decision hailed by homosexual rights advocates (NYLJ, Aug. 30, 2016).

"Tri-custody is the logical evolution of the Court of Appeals decision in Brooke S.B., and the passage of the Marriage Equality Act and DRL [Domestic Relations Law] §10-a which permits same-sex couples to marry in New York," Leis wrote from Central Islip.

...Leis called [the father] Michael M.'s opposition [to the ruling] "unconscionable," given the negative effect the judge said that removing Dawn M. from the parenting arrangement would have on the boy.

"J.M.'s best interests cry out for an assurance that he will be allowed a continued relationship with plaintiff," Leis wrote....

...Silverman said in an interview Thursday that based on research she did for this litigation, Leis' decision is the first time a judge in New York has formally given "tri-custody" to three adults for the same child.

"Brooke S.B. opened the door to a lot of people in nontraditional families," she said. "But this is the first decision where, after trial, a judge said, 'We are granting joint custody to three people,'" Silverman said. "That is brand new. And it's time for this decision."

Kenneth Molloy of Central Islip represented the father. He said Leis' ruling is a broad one that could have major significance on future custody cases in New York.

"I am disappointed," Molloy said in a March 10 interview. "It sounds like the judge is creating new law. I think this opens up a can of worms that they are not going to get the cover back on until the Legislature does something."

Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, said in an interview Thursday that the ruling is in keeping with the extension of the custodial and visitation rights that the Court of Appeals identified in the Brooke S.B. ruling last year.

..."The court recognized that contemporary families take many forms," Sommer said in an interview Thursday. "What is most important — as the New York Court of Appeals understood in the Brooke S.B. case — is the best interests of children in secure relationships with their parents, whether or not the family is connected through biology or marriage. The children come first."

Related Decisions: Dawn M. v. Michael M., 00109/2011.


The whole article (March 9, 2017).

● Here's the judge's decision, issued March 8th.

● The story first went widely public in the New York Post (a scum-sucking rag, but never mind):


Historic ruling grants ‘tri-custody’ to trio who had threesome [sic]

By Julia Marsh

A Long Island couple and a neighbor with whom they had a threesome [sic again] have been granted “tri-custody” of their 10-year-old son in a groundbreaking ruling.

...Bay Shore residents Dawn and Michael Marano, who wed in 1994, had a conventional marriage until they befriended downstairs neighbor Audria Garcia in 2001.

Garcia had been living with her boyfriend, but when they split up, she moved upstairs and “began to engage in intimate relations” with the Maranos, Leis’ ruling says.

Because Dawn Marano, 47, was infertile, Michael Marano, 50, fathered the boy, born on Jan. 25, 2007, with Garcia, 48, court papers say.

“It was agreed, before a child was conceived, that [the Maranos and Garcia] would all raise the child together as parents,” the judge said.

Dawn Marano’s insurance covered Garcia’s pregnancy, and the two women attended doctor appointments together, the papers say. They also took turns getting up in the night to feed the baby.

The threesome was one big happy family for 18 months until Garcia and Dawn Marano decided to become a twosome. They moved out and into a new home in nearby Central Islip in 2008.

Then Michael Marano sued Garcia for custody of their son. Dawn Marano then sued her husband for divorce.

Michael Marano and Garcia agreed to joint custody, but Dawn felt left out. As neither a biological nor adoptive mom to the boy, she had no automatic legal right to custody.

Although she still lives with Garcia, Dawn Marano filed another suit “to secure custody rights for [the boy] because she fears that without court-ordered visitation and shared custody, her ability to remain in [the boy’s] life would be solely dependent upon obtaining the consent of either Audria or [Michael],” Judge Leis explained.

Michael Marano opposed his ex-wife’s custody bid and the case went to trial.

Leis chastised him in the ruling Wednesday, noting that no one had told the dad “to conceive a child with his wife’s best friend.”

In awarding Dawn Marano shared custody, Leis cited a ruling by the state’s highest court last summer that allowed nonbiological or adoptive parents to seek custody of a child if they had a prior relationship with that child.

The judge took cues from the boy himself in making the unusual decision.

Asked how he told his two moms apart, the child had explained that one was the “mommy with the orange truck” and the other the “mommy with the gray truck.”

Leis concluded the boy knows the “two women as his mother.”

He also credited all three parents with raising their son “in a loving environment.”

...“They’re thrilled with the ruling, absolutely thrilled,” said Dawn Marano’s attorney, Karen Silverman.

Michael Marano, however, was upset by the decision.

“I am going to appeal,” he told The Post.

...Manhattan family-law expert Nancy Chemtob, who is not involved in the case, said Leis did the right thing by “protecting the child’s best interest.”


The original (March 10). Several outlets basically repeated this story, including the Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, New York magazine, Refinery29, and Jezebel.


Glamour added some editorializing:


A New York Judge Just Granted Child Custody to a Polyamorous Family

Although it's now legal for same-sex couples to adopt children throughout the United States, another group still lags behind when it comes to their families' legal recognition: polyamorous people. With the exception of California, states don't explicitly allow children to have more than two legal parents. But a judge in New York just set the precedent for this to change.

...At least 17 percent of Americans aged 18 to 44 have engaged in consensual non-monogamy, so rulings like these are becoming more and more relevant. As Leis points out, the ability to provide a child with a good upbringing is not contingent upon how many parents are involved — and the law should reflect that. This is a small but important step in making sure the law recognizes how personal and diverse someone's sexuality can truly be.


Whole article (March 13).


● So did Slate:


New York Court Affirms Poly Parenthood With Three-Way Custody Ruling

By Christina Cauterucci

A New York judge granted custody to each of the three once-throupled parents of a 10-year-old boy last week, further cementing the state’s reputation as a place where queer families can grow, thrive, and stay together.

...Leis framed it as a valid application of equal-marriage rights and a 2016 case that expanded the rights of unmarried, non-biological parents to share custody of their children. In that case, Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth C.C., the New York Court of Appeals ruled that a woman who’d raised a child since birth with her longtime partner was still a parent with custody rights, even though she had no biological relationship to the child, wasn’t married to his biological mother, and never formally adopted her son.

The victory of Dawn Marano and her child could set solid legal precedent for future custody claims of parents in queer or polyamorous families, a necessary next step in a vision of parenthood and child-rearing that extends beyond the boundaries of monogamous marriage.

Funnily enough, this is the exact future predicted by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent on the 2015 equal-marriage ruling Obergefell v. Hodges. While arguing that the slippery slope of same-sex marriage could lead to the total breakdown of social norms and family structures, he cited the important legal-theory volume “Married Lesbian Throuple Expecting First Child,” a New York Post article from 2014.

“If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise ‘suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,’ why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children?” Roberts wondered. That's Roberts' dystopia: a world in which children are supported and cared for by three or more loving parents who all want to be involved in their kids’ lives.


Whole article (March 13).

● The Christian News Network ran a straightforward report, then, sure enough, closed with a quote from Daniel Webster: “If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

● Diana Adams, New York attorney specializing in alternative families, writes in her firm's newsletter,


...This decision is groundbreaking for the polyamorous community and for all parents in NY who do not have a biological or legal relationship with their child.

Laws on parental status differ by state, which is one of the challenges for some of our clients, whose parenting status may differ as they travel between states, going in and out like their cell phone service....

The next frontier, which we continue to push, are the rights of parents who have a parental relationship with a child without a legal tie, such as:

– female same-sex partners of birth mothers, who have a parental relationship with the child but did not marry the birth mother or do a second parent adoption, or

– non-biological third parents in polyamorous triads and other three-parent family situations.

Some other states have recognized de facto parents or psychological parents, but NY had not. In this case, a New York court recognized a third parent in a polyamorous triad, who had no biological or legal tie to the child, as a parent! This NY court used the words de facto parent, which is new for our state, and progress.

This is an exciting moment that could be useful for other NY cases, although it is not controlling Appeals Court precedent. The facts in this case are relevant to whether it could be applicable to others. The non-biological third parent was married to one of the biological parents from before the birth, intended by all parties to be a parent to the child from before conception, the child knew her as a second mother for his whole life, and at 10 years old was able to articulate his desires to court, such that the court found that separating him from his non-bio mother would be damaging to him and counter to his best interests.

A third parent who enters a child’s life after the child’s birth might be treated differently, and courts still retain a tremendous amount of discretion as they interpret the subjective standard of “best interests of the child,” which can vary tremendously in more conservative rural areas.

If you have questions or concerns about your parenting rights and would like to make sure you are doing everything you can legally to protect them, contact our office for a consultation.


Updates:

● A short, clear CNN.com story: Judge gives custody of child to 1 dad and 2 moms (March 14). And check for further recent news.

● The poly-focused attorney Benjamin Schenker in Maryland follows up with Poly Custody in Maryland and D.C. (March 16):


​This decision was handed down right around the same time as the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a decision establishing "de facto" parenthood in Maryland. (http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2016/79a15.pdf). Both (actually three cases, because there were two consolidated cases in New York) involved same-sex couples where the non-biological parent did not adopt the child.

​There is a crucial difference between the New York case and the Maryland case. The New York decision specifically rejected a test for determining when de facto parenthood may be applicable. Maryland, on the other hand, adopted a test developed in Wisconsin: 1. a biological or adoptive parent must consent to the establishment and formation of a relationship between the child and the prospective parent; 2. the prospective parent and the child must have lived in the same household; 3. the prospective parent must have voluntarily supported the child, both financially and by taking responsibility for the child's care; and, 4. the prospective parent must have been involved with the child long enough for a parental-type relationship to have formed.

​It is also important to note that while New York and Maryland reached these decisions last year, the District of Columbia has offered such a situation for about a decade! D.C. Code Sec. 16-831.01(1) defines a de facto parent as someone who either: lived in the same household as the child when the child was born or adopted, has taken on full and permanent responsibilities as the parent, and has held himself out as a parent (with the consent of the child's legal parents), or; has lived in the same household as the child for at least 10 of the 12 months preceding the action for custody, has formed a strong bond with the child with the support of the child's parent, has held himself as a parent (with the consent of the child's legal parents), and has taken on full and parental responsibilities of the child.

It is important to note that the father in the New York case might appeal, and then it might be overruled on appeal. Also, while this judge may have made this decision, one cannot expect similar results in every situation.


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March 10, 2017

Poly in your local media

High Plains Reader

Jay Esra is an organizer for the poly community in and around Fargo, North Dakota. "My local poly organization tremendously appreciated the notice your blog gave a local TV feature with members of our community last May," he writes. My point then was that it's easy to get good local visibility for your group — just call the paper or radio or TV station and ask if they'd be interested in what you're doing.

Local media are always desperate for interesting human-interest stories, and they'll almost always treat you well. (Just be prepared to walk away if it begins to feel otherwise.) Alternative weekly papers are an especially good bet. Maybe you can write a piece yourself.

The Fargo folks just did it again. Here's "a feature just published about PolyAware, the education/advocacy/outreach arm of the Fargo area poly organization," Jay writes. "This was in the alternative arts & entertainment weekly the High Plains Reader."


PolyAware

By Faye Seidler

I’m polyamorous and I live with my two girlfriends, who both mean the world to me. They contribute to making me a better person by challenging me when I’m wrong, supporting me when I try something new, and comforting me if I fail. It has been a relationship built on trust, consent, family meetings, and more happiness than I’ve ever had at any other point in my life.

That said, it’s really hard to share any of that with people I meet. It’s easy to talk about my girlfriend, it’s easy to come out as lesbian or trans, because we have narratives for that. Even if someone doesn’t like it, they understand what it is.

But if I come out as poly, I also have to prepare to spend time in a possibly awkward conversation, trying to justify my love and how we live. It’s a conversation I often avoid having with anyone other than those I consider friends, because the frustration just isn’t worth it otherwise.

That is why I am incredibly thankful for PolyAware, an organization in our area dedicated to educating individuals about poly issues. They also provide a plethora of resources and even support for individuals looking to explore what it means to be poly. I had the honor of sitting down with the members of PolyAware, among them Ashton Shepard and Andrew C. Tyson, for questions....


There follows a basic Poly 101 Q&A. It emphasizes the need for a community to provide wisdom and support in the face of widespread misunderstandings. The group is putting on a public talk March 26th and gets a plug for it, along with their Facebook and email addresses. The whole article (March 8, 2017).

Says Jay, "We were very fortunate that an out trans, lesbian, poly writer and member of our community was positioned to do a culture piece for this paper and that the editors chose to make the article a feature (which allowed for a fuller treatment)."

Don't dismiss local as small-time. Among other things, doing local media builds your skills, confidence and contacts for going bigger time. It's how lots of people get their start.

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March 8, 2017

"Brother Husbands," about MFM polyfamily with kids, will apparently become a weekly reality series on TLC

Remember Brother Husbands, TLC's one-hour reality special last month that followed an MFM polyfamily and their new triplets?

Jeremy, Amanda, and Chad

That show was a pilot: a one-off to test whether there'd be enough of an audience for a weekly series. We've seen no official word on whether a series will go ahead. But just out on SheKnows is some unofficial word: apparently yes. This afternoon the online women's mag posted an interview with husband Chad, and it contains this:


SheKnows: TLC has [only] aired a one-hour special about your family. Is there a series in the future?

Chad Ferris: TLC is extremely excited about the show, and they have been busy filming. You will be seeing more of us!


Here's more from the interview:


Everything You Wanted to Know About the Brother Husbands Family

By Sarah Aswell

SheKnows: First of all, I have to know: Do you use the term "brother husbands" around the house?

Chad Ferris: No, we say co-husbands.

SK: I'm guessing it's been some time since the special was filmed. How old are the triplets now, and how is the family managing?

CF: They turned one in December. They are all walking now, they’re all talking and eating real food. When they became mobile, it changed everything. It's crazy.

SK: During the special, your mom came to visit and she was obviously still getting used to the situation. How is your relationship with family now?

CF: That was the first time I'd seen my mom in four or five years. We had talked on the phone and started rebuilding, and that was the first in-person interaction. Since then it’s been good. I've also reconnected with my brother, who had felt kind of betrayed. When we came out as polyamorous to him, we had been doing it secretly for over a year, and he wished we had been honest sooner. We grew up with a conservative, religious background, and he saw our decision as abandoning our traditional family values and our faith.

SK: Are you currently religious?

CF: I'm not religious on any level. I worked at a church, and I had been working in churches for seven or eight years when I met Jeremy. Based on the response we got when we started talking with the community about our family, we left. We had already been moving past that, but the response from the church confirmed a lot of our feelings and we left that part of our life behind....

...SK: What are most of the conflicts about in the household?

CF: The most common conflict is parenting style. I’m more liberal and free-spirited, and Jeremy is more structured, maybe because he has to be with the triplets. I am a hippie and laid-back, we co-slept with the boys and everything like that. Jeremy and Amanda are more structured with bedtime, and the girls have always slept in cribs. Sometimes I need to check myself and respect Jeremy’s boundaries, and sometimes Jeremy needs to realize that he could be a little more flexible. We've gotten to a place where we know to respect one another but also learn from one another.

SK: Do you and Jeremy spend quality time together alone?

CF: Jeremy and I do try to make an effort to do that — bro dates when we go get a beer or play video games, or go see a movie or go shopping to stay connected. It's easy to slip into dad mode, and we both try to keep the house running as smoothly, so it’s easy to forget that we were friends in the first place....


The whole interview, with lots of pix (March 8, 2017).


● Another interview with Chad, on The Ashley's Reality Roundup: ‘Brother Husbands’ Star Chad Liston [sic] Answers Questions About His Family (mid-February):


The recent TLC special Brother Husbands left a lot of viewers in shock.. and with plenty of questions!

The special showcased Amanda Liston, a woman who is married to two men – Chad and Jeremy. The trio raise their kids as siblings and live as one big family unit. ‘Brother Husbands’ did well in the ratings, and started quite the firestorm on social media when it aired on February 5.

While the special touched on the family’s dynamic, it failed to answer many viewers’ questions. ...

“We felt like our family’s story was worth telling,” Chad explained. “We know there are many ‘modern families’ out there, especially ones that aren’t defined by patriarchy and monogamy, and we wanted to be a part of starting those conversations for people who may have never seen a family like this before.”

Chad said that, naturally, most people want to know about the sexual dynamic of his marriage.

“I think it’s easy to over-sexualize our relationship because of the unique makeup of it,” Chad told The Ashley. “We are probably much more boring than you think!”

Chad answered more of the frequently asked questions he’s been getting since ‘Brother Husbands’ aired.

Q: Who’s having sex in the family? Are you and Jeremy having sex together, as well as with Amanda?

Chad: Jeremy and I do not have a sexual relationship with one another! Jeremy has his own relationship with Amanda as do I.

Q: Isn’t it weird to know that some other guy is having sex with your wife?

Chad: When we are all in a good spot and trusting and communicating well, I can honestly say, no it doesn’t [feel weird]. It’s a choice we all made. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy….but I love and trust them. I don’t feel threatened by love.

Q: Do you consider yourself married to both Amanda and Jeremy? Or just Amanda?

Chad: I consider Jeremy my co-husband. We clearly are a family unit and my relationship with him matters just as much to me as my relationship with Amanda. They just are very different relationships. I would recommend the book Sex at Dawn. I especially look to that book as the template for how I operate within my family. ...

In the meantime, you can follow along with Chad and his family on social media at @BrotherHubsChad on Twitter and @brotherhusbandchad on Instagram.



● More backstory, at Independent Review Journal: Man Admits to Best Friend He’s in Love with His Wife. Nothing Could Have Prepared Him for the Reply (Feb. 23):


Amanda Liston and her husband, Chad, both come from conservative and religious families.

The couple has been in a relationship for eight years and they married when Amanda was only 18 and Chad was 21. Together they have two sons, Atreyu and Cassian.

Amanda explained on TLC's new show, “Brother Husbands,” that the pair considered themselves traditional up to that point:

“We went to the same church, our families were friends with each other, so we kind of had that small town Americana love story—boy meets girl, they get married young, they have kids young. My family life was the definition of traditional.”

That all changed four years after they got married, when Chad met a man named Jeremy. Both Chad and Jeremy worked at the church together and they eventually became best friends.

...Then, Jeremy fell in love with Amanda. He admitted on the show:

“When I first realized that I had feeling for my best friend's wife, I knew that it was just something that I had to deal with. The more time I spent with Amanda, the more I realized what an amazing person she is and I just started to fall in love with her.”

Wanting to come clean to his best friend, Jeremy told Chad that he had feelings for his wife.

Chad was not expecting this. He revealed on the show,

“I did not expect what [Jeremy] said to come out of his mouth. He understood what Amanda and I were and what our family was—he wanted to join that. It did feel in a lot of ways that my entire foundation had been out from underneath me.”

Chad's reaction, however, wasn't what anyone expected, and it wasn't what he expected either. Instead of lashing out, he found a way to deal with the new love triangle and formed a relationship that included all three of them....


● Here's the Brother Husbands site, where you can watch for free if you get TLC. Or pay to watch on YouTube (from $1.99).

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March 6, 2017

"Maybe Monogamy Isn’t the Only Way to Love"


New York magazine just picked up on Carrie Jenkins' book What Love Is and What It Could Be, and uses it as the hook to summarize a lot of interesting recent research into consensual non-monogamy (CNM). The writer understands that polyamory is a subset of CNM and treats it correctly as such.


Maybe Monogamy Isn’t the Only Way to Love

By Drake Baer

Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins
...Her book examines the long, sometimes awkward legacy of philosophers’ thinking on romantic love, and compares that with a new subfield in close-relationships research — consensual nonmonogamy, or CNM. While singers and thinkers alike have been riffing on a “one and only” for decades, she argues that space is being made in the cultural conversation to “question the universal norm of monogamous love, just as we previously created space to question the universal norm of hetero love.” ...

Still, CNM faces lots of stigma; even the study of it is stigmatized. Yet in the limited yet rich vein of research out there, the evidence suggests that it’s a style that, in some populations, leads to greater relationship satisfaction than monogamy. In any case, the researchers tell me, the insights into what makes more-than-two relationships work can be applied to any given dyad, given the communicative finesse required when three or more hearts are involved.

In a forthcoming Perspectives in Psychological Science paper, Terri Conley, a University of Michigan psychologist who’s driven the field, defines CNM as “a relational arrangement in which partners agree that it is acceptable to have more than one sexual and/or romantic relationship at the same time.”...

I was surprised to discover how common it is: A 2016 study of two nationally representative samples of single Americans — of 3,905 and 4,813 respondents, respectively — found in each case that about one in five people had practiced it during their lifetime. A 2016 YouGov poll found that 31 percent of women and 38 percent of men thought their ideal relationship would be CNM in some way. Other research indicates that around 4 to 5 percent of Americans in relationships are in some sort of CNM, be it swinging, where partners have sex with people outside their relationship at parties and the like; an open relationship, where it’s cool to have sex with other people but not grow emotionally attached to them; or polyamory, where both partners approve of having close emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships outside of the couple itself. People are curious, too: From 2006 to 2015, Google searches for polyamory and open relationships went up. ...

Jenkins says that as a tenured philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, she’s in a unique, privileged position to openly talk about being in a nonmonogamous marriage. ...

Jenkins met her husband, Jonathan, who’s also a philosopher, back in 2009, at a philosophy workshop that he organized at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland; they later got married in the same hall the conference took place. They took one another’s last names as middle names.

Some New York editor later inserted this standard,
stupid cheating-trope photo into the article.
Now married for almost eight years, they talked about polyamory early on, though defining the relationship that way came later. As philosophers are wont to do, they soon wrote a bit of a manifesto about their arrangement. They observed that even if their wedding guests were woke in any number of ways — not batting an eyelid if a colleague was gay or bi, eschewing heteronormative assumptions, and the like — there’s still the shared assumption that a nonmonogamous relationship is less sexually safe and less committed than a regular ol’ monogamous one. “[E]ven our very liberal pocket of our relatively liberal society is massively — and, to us, surprisingly— mononormative,” they write. “Acquaintances, friends, and colleagues are constantly assuming that our relationship, and indeed every relationship that they think of as ‘serious’, is a sexually monogamous one.”

When I asked her what the biggest struggle to overcome with polyamory has been, she didn’t say that it was anything to do with managing multiple relationships — though Google Calendar is a crucial tool — but rather the strong, sometimes violently negative reactions that she gets, especially online. When I spoke with her by phone, she was struck by a comment to a YouTube interview of hers, where a pseudonymous user invited “everyone” to read her column in the Chronicle of Higher Education about having multiple loves.

“THIS WOMAN IS A DISGUSTING ANIMAL,” the troll wrote. “Every bit as twisted and queer as the Mormons with their multiple lives [sic]. This femme-pig is the spectral opposite of Trump; a far far left-wing freak that desires to completely overthrow Western Christian Civilization.” Jenkins walked me through a deep reading of the bile: Bundling in politics — the “left-wing freak” bit — with the monogamy norms signals to her that there’s a judgment of what it means to be a good person in here, since politics is about living correctly, collectively. Plus “if you’re an animal, you’re out of the range of humanity,” she says. She’s also gets a lot of “get herpes and die, slut” suggestions, she says, which speaks to the hypersexualization of CNM. Nonmonogamy leads to lots of sex, the presumption goes, and with that STIs, and it proceeds from there. The way news articles covering CNM tend to be illustrated with images of three or four people in a bath or bed doesn’t help, either. [Or, one might add, a cheating-guy stock photo that an editor inserts into an article that's explicitly about not-cheating. –Ed.].

“The way we normally think about romantic love, we don’t imagine that it’s entirely about sex,” she says. “For a lot of people sex is a part of it; if we’re just having a hookup or a friend with benefits, we don’t call that romantic love. When it comes to polyamorous relationships, if you’re in love with more than one person, the same applies — to fall in love with someone is not the same as to sleep with them. We’re clear with that distinction in monogamous relationships, but in CNM that distinction between love and sex gets collapsed.”

Researchers who have studied stigma around CNM have found lots. ...

------------------------------

That same paper finds that there were no differences in relationship functioning between monogamous and nonmonogamous couples. ... Polyamorists were more satisfied than people in open relationships, perhaps because it’s hard to block feelings for people you sleep with frequently. Polyamorous people were a special case, with higher satisfaction, commitment, trust, and passionate love than monogamous individuals, though they had lower sexual satisfaction. CNM people also had higher sexual satisfaction with their secondary partners than their primary partners, though that difference fell away when controlling for relationship time, with primary relationships averaging three times the length of secondary relationships.

“Overall, the standard for human responses for relationships is habituation,” Conley says. “That involves a loss of sexual attraction, and we can tell that from stats from therapy. And to the extent that a couple is frustrated sexually, it spills over to other parts of life.” ...

There are other explanations for high satisfaction scores for polyamorous people, she adds. It could be that they’re just acting out a social desirability bias, given that they’re participating in a study about CNM and want the lifestyle to look good; it could also be that people who enter into polyamory have self-selected themselves into a hypercommunicative population — all the poly self-help books emphasize the importance the need to explicitly talk things out. “People interested in polyamory are more relationship-y than the average person,” she says. “They like thinking about relationships, talking about relationships. That’s great in monogamy, but needed in polyamory.”

All this suggests the kind of people that are the right fit for CNM. Beyond being relationship-y, a Portuguese study out this year found that people with a high sociosexuality, or disposal to casual sex, had less relationship satisfaction when in a monogamous relationship, but those effects disappeared if they were in CNM. Still, they were just as committed to their relationships — signaling that exclusivity and commitment may not be one and the same. Harvard sexologist Justin Lehmiller has found that people who are more erotophilic — i.e., that love sex — will be a better fit for CNM; same with if they’re sensation-seeking.

Amy Moors, the Purdue psychologist, has found that people with higher avoidant attachment — where you’re just not that into intimacy — have positive feelings about and a willingness to engage in polyamory, but they were less likely to actually partake of it. While a correlational study, Moors explained that from a subjective perspective, it makes sense: “When you have avoidant attachment, you like a lot of emotional distance, physical distance, time by yourself,” Moors says, which is not a fit for the relationship-y remands of a poly lifestyle. ...

When I asked Jenkins to describe how it feels to have both a husband and a boyfriend — she rejects the “primary relationship” moniker altogether — she said that it’s like having more loving relationships in your life, like a close family member or friend. ...

Two themes stand out in What Love Is: that love is dual-layered, with social scripts overlaying evolutionary, physiological impulses. And that the “romantic mystique,” like the feminine one before it, assumes that love is mysterious and elusive and corrupted [by] examination — a sentiment that protects the status quo. But with investigation, and conversation, the mechanics of love reveal themselves, and norms can change socially, and be tailored locally. Like Jenkins, you can custom-fit your relationships to your life — if you dare to talk about them.


Read the whole article (March 5, 2017).

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