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

December 31, 2015

Minx's Top 5 Poly Trends of 2015

The indefatigable Cunning Minx wraps up the year with her Polyamory Weekly podcast episode #460 (yes, four hundred and sixty), asking "How did the polyamory movement change in 2015?"

Here's her outline of the episode's main section, from its webpage:

Topic: Top five poly trends of 2015

  1. More nonfiction books gave us more poly voices to relate to.
  1. More poly news snuck into the mainstream, including being satirized in The Onion.
  1. Political pundits gave us air space in the wake of the same-sex marriage legalization announcement over the summer, and dissenting Supreme Court judges and political pundits wondered whether the polyamorists would want marriage rights next, which brought polyamory as a topic to the dinner table.
  1. The poly movement saw more diversification, including gay polyamorists, over-60 polyamorists and trans folks. Additionally, the issue of emotional abuse inside our community was brought to light, and relationship anarchy gained momentum.
  1. Poly Weekly kicked butt! OK, maybe this is only #1 for me, but LustyGuy and I spoke at more events than ever before; we exceeded 50,000 downloads a month; we launched an email newsletter, and we even made the Buzzfeed list of top 40 places to learn everything you never learned in sex ed class!

Go have a listen, and put something in the tip jar. She deserves it. Happy New Year.



December 24, 2015

The poly movement gets wide cred for the relationship insights it offers everyone. Part 1.

I've been saving up poly-in-the-news of a particular kind: articles that treat our movement as a broad social advance for the lessons it offers people in any kind of relationship. I've done two data dumps of such articles in the last year or so (#1, #2). It's way past time for another.

Here are excerpts. Click the titles for the full stories.

● Appearing last week at the much-read women's magazine xoJane: Three Ways Polyamory Has Helped Me Have Healthier Relationships (December 16, 2015).

Polyamory has helped me rethink some of my unhealthy and unrealistic ideas about relationships.

By Lore Graham

...But to the surprise of some of my friends, I came out of that crappy poly relationship not swearing off open relationships, but instead identifying as polyamorous.... I realized that polyamorous relationships, just like monogamous ones, could be healthy or unhealthy.... Polyamory itself actually forced me to mature and re-examine my views about relationships in a way that worked well for me.... [It] was key to realizing these elements of healthy relationships:

1. Discuss Rather Than Assume Boundaries

If you’re in an exclusive relationship, is looking at porn cheating? Is sleeping in the same bed as your friend? How about forming a deep, committed, but non-sexual relationship with someone you’re attracted to? The only way to actually know is to ask your partner. I’ve seen plenty of arguments either way on all these issues....

Equally important are assumptions about your relationship with each other. For example, I have had a couple of relationships that were barely or not at all sexual. They were definitely romantic, since I had an emotional connection, we cuddled and kissed, and we went out on dates. But one or both of us weren’t interested in sex, and we communicated about it....

Communication, including discussing and setting boundaries, is emphasized in most polyamorous resources, and by much of the poly community. Growing up I saw virtually no healthy models for this....

2. Relationships Require Compromise and Effort

Throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I absorbed the idea that healthy relationships are effortless. You shouldn’t have to talk about anything, and if you and your partner disagree, well, either someone has made a mistake and needs to fix it, or else the relationship is doomed.

My college boyfriend, even though he identified as polyamorous, agreed with this sentiment. He told me that he believed he shouldn’t have to compromise, that if he had to put in work it must be a crappy relationship.

Through dating him, I realized that we had bought into a mainstream myth that relationships should be easy. Now I recognize that they aren’t necessarily supposed to be “easy”; they’re supposed to be worthwhile and fulfilling. There’s a difference between a relationship where you put in all the effort and compromise and end up feeling drained, and a relationship where you both put in effort and sometimes compromise while sticking to your core values and valuing yourself, and you feel loved, fulfilled, and satisfied.

3. Don’t Expect One Person to be Everything

Dating multiple people at once helped me break down this idea in a way that serial monogamy wouldn’t have....

If you think polyamory might be a good fit for you, you could end up learning a lot about yourself and about relationships by trying it, if only because you’re approaching things from a different perspective....

● Last week on Newsy: a flip piece with a lot of couple-assumption, but what a positive attitude: The More, The Merrier? The Perks Of Being Polyamorous (December 18, 2015). With video (warning, it autoplays).

Some experts say having a sexual partner outside of a committed relationship allows for more honest communication among those involved.

By Cody LaGrow

Did you know we're in a sexual revolution? Well, strap up, soldier. You actually may need to since we're talking about satisfying the needs of several sexual partners.

At the forefront of this revolution: Polyamory, where men and women are seen as equals and are romantically involved with multiple people with the consent of all parties involved.

"We all want to do it and are interested in it and are excited about it, and yet we place so many restrictions," Dr. Zhana Vrangalova said....

For one, some psychologists say when a couple brings in an outsider it forces all involved to be more open and honest, and it allows them to communicate their feelings and desires further.

And if you're at home screaming at the screen saying, "Hell, no! Everyone else can keep their hands off my man!" some therapists say polyamory could help with that type of jealousy.

That's because polyamorous couples get jealous, too, but they tend to learn and discuss boundaries much more than other couples to identify those triggers. It's a messy, meticulous management of emotions.

And health-wise, it could be safer. The Journal of Sexual Medicine found individuals who had permission to sleep with someone else were more likely to use condoms than those who were "cheating."

Some have even gone on to call it "the new monogamy....

But before you think it's all foreplay and three-ways, experts say polyamorous relationships are more complicated, high-maintenance and potentially painful than being a conventional couple. So, think twice before it turns into a thrice.

● This thoughtful piece first appeared on Connections.Mic and has been reprinted several places: 4 Lessons Even a Serial Monogamist Can Learn From Polyamory (July 24, 2015).

By Britany Robinson

...My brief foray into the world of polyamory did not convince me to give up on monogamy. But it did prompt the question: If I was the only one in this relationship who felt miserable... What could I learn from them?

I decided to dive in for answers, attending meetups and talking to couples and individuals within the poly community....
I discovered that we can all learn something from the honesty and emotional intelligence required to open our hearts and our lives to love (or, in this case, loves).

1. Jealousy is not caused by others. It comes from within. With social media injecting itself into every corner of our romantic lives, jealousy triggers abound.... It helps to ask yourself, "What am I really feeling that's making me experience jealousy?"

..."Let jealousy be your teacher," author Deborah Anapol suggests in Love Without Limits. "Jealousy can lead you to the very places where you need healing."

2. Don't expect your relationship to always stay the same. Your partner is constantly changing, and so are you. A lasting relationship requires a constant willingness to address change within ourselves and each other. It's a good thing that we're always growing, and if that means growing apart, then honesty and openness will hopefully help us cope with that shift.

3. One person will never check all the boxes.... I love to be outdoors, but a previous partner of mine preferred air conditioning.... Filmmaker Julia Maryanska, who is currently working on a documentary about alternative models for relationships, told me that I was being unrealistic....

4. It's OK to keep an open mind when defining your relationship. The rise of polyamory might make dating more complicated, but it also has a clear upside: We're seeing more and more examples of alternative approaches to love and dating.

Polyamory doesn't work for everyone. It didn't work for me. But if we can't share lovers....

● Just up Monday on the men's magazine Maxim: Are Non-Monogamous Couples Happier? (December 21, 2015):

They've got more traditional couples beat in one key area.

By Ali Drucker

...More Americans than ever are accepting of the practice (although a majority still oppose it) and psychologists estimate that up to 5% of Americans are in consensual, poly relationships.

This is potentially for good reason. A recent study published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior... compared "mate retention behaviors" between monogamous and consensually non-monogamous (CNM) couples. [It] discovered that when it came to satisfaction with the primary partner, both types of relationships reported equal levels of happiness. But non-monogamous couples did express a notable difference in one key area: communication.

According to the study, "...Monogamous participants reported less satisfaction with the amount of communication and openness they had with their partner compared to CNM participants’ reports of their primary partner."... Polyamorous couples tend to be more open and sharing....

Another study this year, from The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, shows that casual sex relationships, or friends with benefits, reported equal (if not greater) satisfaction with their relationship than married couples....

● On Bustle: 5 Ways Non-Monogamy Can Strengthen A Relationship, If You're Looking To Explore Something New (July 29, 2015).

By Kristen Sollee

...If you're satisfied with one partner, that's great, but for the rest of us who can't work within the system, there are ways to engage in consensual non-monogamy that can be awesome for your relationship....

1. It Encourages Communication. Strong, silent types need not apply to the consensual non-monogamy game. If you and your partner(s) want to remove some of the restrictions in your relationship, you'll need to be totally dialed in to an open dialogue at all times. Secrets and lies are for cheaters, thank you very much.

2. It Forces You To Focus On Your Individual Desires. It's common knowledge that losing yourself in a conventional relationship doesn't help you or your partner....

3. It Allows You To Bring New Experiences To The Table. Opening up your relationship means you can share some of the electric new experiences you're having....

4. It Decreases Sexual Frustration....

5. It Makes You Appreciate Your Partner For Who They Are. Comparing your significant other to someone else is supposedly the worst thing you can do, according to experts. However, when your partnership allows you to experience other people in the flesh, it can help you stop fetishizing what you don't have, and start appreciating what you do.

● That article probably did well for Bustle, because it soon followed up with this: 36 Polyamorous People Share Their Best Relationship Advice, Because Even If You're Monogamous There's A Lot To Learn (Aug. 19).

I reached out to a couple of polyamorous communities to see what lessons they think monogamous people could learn from polyamorous people in order to make relationshipping just a little bit easier....

● On RoleReboot: Why Having A Lover Makes Me A Better Wife (July 23):

By Savannah Whitman

...He brings toe-curling excitement to my life and I get to turn around and bring that high-octane sexual energy back home to my husband. Everyone wins.

Polyamory and non-monogamy seem to be all the rage these days. Everyone is talking about the fun new forms relationships can take and the excitement that comes from doing something non-traditional and edgy. But very few articles I’ve read explain exactly why having a relationship with someone other than your husband or wife may actually help you be a better wife or husband....

There’s no sneaking, no cheating, and no funny business here. Just good old-fashioned dates, conversations, and sheet-tangling sex....

So why do I gleefully indulge in these occasional overnight romps with Jay instead of sticking to the model of monogamy most of my 40-something friends desperately embrace while quietly withering inside?

...When Austin and I first started exploring the idea of opening up our relationship to include additional lovers, we had to do an extraordinary amount of additional communicating. We had to try extra hard to make sure we were actively listening, holding each other in compassion, and seeking what was best for our relationship....

...As the saying goes, I was poly when poly wasn’t cool.

The article was also reprinted on Alternet (Sept. 3).

● On the Dating Skills Review podcast, sociologist Elisabeth Sheff (author of The Polyamorists Next Door and editor of the anthology Stories From the Polycule) talks about importing relationship skills from others: Successful Polyamory Strategies (that Can Make Monogamy Better Too). From the host:

We're going to look at the most successful polyamory strategies. That means what leads to the greatest satisfaction in relationships, the healthiest relationships for us, our partners, and our children and families... taking these learnings from successful polyamory complex situations and applying to monogamy also.

In the text, an index divides the 64-minute podcast into 19 topics with time markers.

That's enough for now. More to come!


Labels: ,

December 22, 2015

Ask Amy returns: "Three's no longer a crowd: Polyamory hires a press agent"

Many newspapers

Advice columnist Ask Amy had a bit of a tiff with the poly world last month (see We Get a Rise out of Ask Amy), during which she sent me a note saying, "You need a proofreader for your little newsletter [there was a typo] but otherwise I am tickled to have pissed-off the pollies."

Give her credit, though — she may be snippy to us, but in her column out this morning, her advice to a concerned reader is thoughtful and sound. Her central doubt in this case is one that we might express in the language of couple privilege:

Dear Amy: I recently learned that a relative, a young woman in her 20s, is involved in a polyamorous relationship — a menage a trois consisting of two women and one man.

I understand how the 20s can be a time of sexual experimentation. Of concern to me is that the man and woman she is involved with are married to each other. Given that my relative is involved with a married couple, what good can come of it for her? When I asked her mother about it, her response was that her daughter will have to figure it out for herself and that she can’t tell her daughter how to live.

When I expressed concern about her daughter getting hurt, she reminded me that no one is exempt from experiencing hurt in relationships. Both of these statements are true. Still, as an elder, I feel that there must be something between casting judgment and doing nothing.

I can only imagine how confusing the situation must be — as being involved with one person can be a challenge in and of itself. I have told her directly that I love her dearly, want the best for her and that my door is always open should she ever wish my support or advice on this or any matter.

Is there anything else you’d recommend? — Concerned Relative

Dear Concerned: Polyamory has stepped out of the shadows and is a relationship choice being made more often. Either that or it has a new press agent. Whichever it is, the sort of group comingling, partner sharing and swapping upends our notion of what romantic attachment is “supposed” to be like. This relationship model certainly makes us question what marriage is all about.

You sound very wise. We live in an era where expressing any opinion on someone else’s behavior smacks of “judgment,” and yet why are we here, if not to make choices and judgments and to gently guide our younger loved ones? I understand your instinct and double down on your concern.

However, my basic point of view is that consenting adults will do what consenting adults will do, and they have a right to their choices, unless they harm children or scare the horses. In the case you outline, all three are mutually consenting adults. Your young relative is not (apparently) having a secret affair with one of the spouses. Rather, the married couple has invited in the new partner, which makes her not an interloper but a guest — or perhaps a temporary amusement.

Yes, someone is going to get hurt. But hurt happens in most relationships. Your harshest judgment would be reserved for the married couple who are presumably older and who (I assume) hold the power....

Read on in the Tulsa World, one of the first papers to run the column (December 22, 2015). The headline about press agents also appears in the Chicago Tribune online, her home paper (behind a paywall). It's also in many other papers running the column today.

P.S., later in the day: Regarding polyamory hiring a press agent, on reddit/r/polyamory someone tossed off the comment, "I'll kick in for one if anyone wants to join me."

To which I replied,

"Okay. What we have that fills that role is the Loving More nonprofit, www.lovemore.com. They're in a fund drive right now and are struggling with it. I've donated to them for years, most recently a couple weeks ago. This is tax-deductible; they're a 501(c)3. They've had a lot to do with getting polyamory known to the world, including to many of us, directly or indirectly through their conferences and their excellent media representation over the years."

His bluff called, he said he will send them something. Maybe you can to.



December 19, 2015

Poly holiday issues, strategies, advice

It's that time of year when family-of-origin problems, and also chosen-family problems, that were quietly sleeping may awake.

Should you come out to your relatives? You don't have to, so think carefully. Is it possible they'll disinherit you? Might they go to court to declare you unfit parents and get custody of your children? It happens. In any case, the big traditional family gathering is almost certainly not the time and place.

Other issues may bubble up within your own intimate group.

● If you do decide to come out to parents, aunts and uncles, Ginny Brown at Everyday Feminism offers well-considered responses to 7 Questions to Brace Yourself For When You Explain Polyamory to Your Family (Nov. 10, 2015). Worth memorizing.

My metamour has the best coming-out-polyamorous story.

She and her family were out for brunch; our shared partner and I were on a date to celebrate six months of dating. They were stopped at a stop sign, when my partner and I obliviously crossed the street right in front of them.

Inside the car, my metamour’s mom said, “Isn’t that [Partner]? Who’s that holding his hand?”

My metamour burst out into only-slightly-hysterical laughter, gave them the one-sentence definition of polyamory, and then said she didn’t want to talk about it any more right then. Later that day, she sent them an e-mail explaining polyamory in more detail, telling them her own history, and telling them who I was....

One difference between coming out as polyamorous and coming out as queer is that families are less likely to be familiar with what that means, for them and for you. That means they may have a lot of questions.

Be prepared to do some explaining, defining, and answering.... Thinking through how you’d respond to each of these may help you prepare for the conversation:

1. ‘Aren’t You Being Exploited? / Aren’t You Exploiting Your Partner?’...

2. ‘Isn’t This Immoral and Wrong?’...

3. ‘But What About Our Grandchildren?’...

4. ‘Do We Have to Meet Your Other Partners?’...

5. ‘Is This Just About Sex and Perversion?’...

6. ‘When Will You Grow Out of It?’...

7. ‘How Will I Explain This to [extended family, co-workers, whoever else]?’....

● By Billy Holder, a very out poly-community organizer in Atlanta: Here come holidays, here comes family…. UGH! (Oct. 20, 2015).

I get asked every year many times over, “How do I tell my family that I am poly?” and “Should I come out at family holiday gatherings?”

The answer to the second one is an easy one for me…. No. There is so much stress and so many opinions at holiday dinners that most families won’t have the emotional reserves to process all the information they will need to to fully accept you for who you are. So standing up and making this huge announcement, admirable as your intentions may be, can backfire and be a horrid disaster.

I suggest that IF you want to tell your family that you are poly, you follow these few steps. And do it well before or a few days after the holiday gathering.

Step 1. Gather information that will help each family member relate to you and not to your relationship. Include things that they know you hold as core values. Be it family, kids, self acceptance, whatever defines you as a person in their eyes, focus on that in your discussion. Have flyers, definitions and sources of scientific research and mainstream media articles and maybe even videos available to share... just have it available to leave with them.

Step 2. Know what you are talking about.... Note cards or sticky notes or draw it on a white board, whatever can help you say focused and on point.

Step 3. Start with the most accepting family member first....

Step 4. Never start with, “Family Member, I know you love me/support me, but I need to talk to you.” This can immediately put whoever you are talking to into a mindset that you have done something they will not approve of. Instead try, “Family Member, I have something new in my life I would like to share with you.” And IF they are open to hearing about it… that’s when you can set up the rules of the conversation.

Step 5. Setting conversational boundaries.... Like, “The thing I am going to tell you is a personal decision. I will be open to any questions but please let me finish first.” Most people are actually willing to do this.

Step 6. Start talking. “I’m Polyamorous” can be sort of a shock/stinging moment for most people who are unfamiliar with the concept. Try a softer approach....

Step 7. You can explain a little of how your dynamic works, dating, time sharing, coping with jealousy, whatever you want to share about your relationship.

Step 8. Q&A... If they ask a question that is off the table (”What about Sex? DO you sleep with both of them?”), politely remind them that that is outside the scope of the conversation.

There will be some tough questions. If you have children, they will ask about the interaction with the kids....

If they are unaccepting and want to bash your choice, you have every right to get up and walk away. You don’t need to argue with them … leave the resources on the table and tell them “thank you for your time… This is my decision. If you have any questions Ill be happy to talk.” The politely walk away.

Step 9. Remind them that you aren’t trying to convert anyone nor are you judging monogamy, that this is your decision to manage your life.

...When we came out to our family, we didn’t have the choice to wait. My father-in-law had passed away and our partner, J, then of 2 years, insisted that he was coming to the funeral. We had to talk to my mother-in-law the day before she laid her husband of 30 years to rest….. Luckily her response was positive. And J was accepted as part of the family. The family even asked him to participate in the flag ceremony.

● Jessica Burde offers three approaches at Polyamory on Purpose: Explaining Polyamory: The Conversation (Oct. 2, 2014):

Lead in...
Oblique approach...
Straightforward bluntness...

● Also by Burde, Four Holiday Tips (Sept. 28, 2014).

Host the Party Yourself...
Rotate Holidays...
Each Visit Your Own Family...
Create Your Own Thing...

● Suppose you're a secondary and you choose, or have to put up with, social erasure? Noël Figart, the Polyamorous Misanthrope, presents Polyamorous holidays: When you’re the secondary (Dec. 3, 2015).

My only current partner is married, and also lives very close to his biological family, whom he is also very close to emotionally. He’s told at least his mother that he’s dating someone, but she has essentially bent over backwards to ignore our relationship. Although we don’t subscribe to an emotional hierarchy, there’s still the functional/social hierarchy of him living with her, being accepted by his family, etc., and holidays really seem to heighten that glitch in the matrix.... I’d like to know how other people have dealt with similar feelings of being the Invisible Partner during a very rough part of the year to be alone.

...One of the problems with polyamory is that in general they are very much “roll your own” relationships, which means that while we’re reared to specific social expectations, the realities of our relationships often don’t follow that social expectation.

In my perfect world, families of origin would be accepting of the people who are close to their members and welcome them into family celebrations. I’m sorry that it doesn’t work that way all the time. It hurts like crazy.

That doesn’t mean you’re totally helpless in the face of the situation, though.

Let’s break this down in terms of relationship skill sets. I’m sure you’ve run across the idea before that it’s important to ask for what you want....

● On the Oklahoma Polyamory Network, Holiday Headaches (Nov. 14, 2014).

I met and fell in love with a wonderful guy, his wife is becoming a great friend, and as the holidays approach, I feel like celebrating. Problem is, holidays are full of traditions, and family, and as a secondary partner, I’m sort of the outsider, not sure what it’s fair to ask for, but don’t want to spend the holidays alone. Help?


Dear Hope,

...All partners have rights, and the desire to celebrate with those you love is a valid and important issue to address.

Of course, my first suggestion is communication, with your partner and if possible, with your metamour. Share your thoughts about being included in celebrations, and your hopes for a solution that works for everyone....

In my traditional family, we have four Christmas celebrations, my children bring the grandkids for an overnight in mid-December, and we have “1st Christmas”, just the thirteen of us. On Christmas Eve, we celebrate “2nd Christmas” with my in-laws, on Christmas Day, “3rd Christmas” with my mom, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins, and on the day or weekend after Christmas, “4th Christmas” with my Dad and his family.

This year, we’ll host an additional Christmas celebration, with our current poly-partners. Though that new event is still in the planning stages, we will likely make it simple, but meaningful, with dinner and gifts, maybe a show.

It’s as important to be flexible as it is to speak up and ask for the inclusion....

● Is it really a holiday if you're obliged? From Maria Padilha on Planet Waves, How Not To Take a Polyamorous Vacation (May 24, 2014).

...With the bit of time left, I made a bold declaration to Issac:

“I have been working since I was 14. I have worked when I was bleeding from miscarriages, I have worked 30-hour-straight shifts, I have worked when I was grieving, sick, broke....

“From now on, when I have a vacation, it is going to be a vacation. It is not going to be an obligation. It is not going to involve seeing anyone I don’t want to see or staying with anyone I wouldn’t choose to or who I’m not comfortable with. I don’t care how nice their house is or what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. If I don’t want to go, I won’t go. I deserve to have a true vacation or no vacation at all.”

Like most of my bold declarations, it had little chance of becoming reality, but I have a crumb of belief that intention matters....

● On a happier note, on Auntie Bellum.com ("an honest, unapologetic voice for Southern women"): A Southern Baptist Polyamorous Thanksgiving (Nov. 25, 2015).

I’m a bisexual, progressive, southern, agnostic, feminist who comes from a long line of baptist ministers. My parents were both ministers throughout my childhood; my dad’s brother remains the pastor of one of the biggest and oldest baptist churches in Richmond, Virginia.... I grew up in a family that seemed about as baptist as they come — except for that one polyamorous Unitarian cousin and his queer partners....

...Kathy and Greg had another partner, Barbara. I remember my mom trying to work out in her head what that meant in terms of Kathy’s sexuality — ”Wait. So is Kathy a lesbian? But I liked her so much.”... But on that Thanksgiving day, my very Baptist, very traditional, very straight (and occasionally homophobic) family broke bread with our polyamorous cousin and his probably-queer partner....

● And as she often does, Kimchi Cuddles has a happy, perfectly logical solution — in this case, to secondary-stranding:

Full-size original.

Lots & lots more poly-and-the-holidays stuff.

● And it wouldn't be Christmas without another reprise of....

Anne Hunter and partners, of PolyVic in Australia, made this Christmas classic in 2007.

Happy hols!



December 18, 2015

Brooklyn's poly housing project: video doc looks at how it's turned out

Remember Leon Feingold's poly-friendly redevelopment of an apartment building in Brooklyn last year that made runaway news across New York?

Bushwick filmmaker Brian Vines, of BRIC-TV, just released a video documentary on the people now filling Hacienda Villa and how this idea has worked out. Spoiler: mighty well, thank you.

It's in two parts (12 minutes total):

This afternoon The Gothamist put up a short article about the documentary, with pix. Excerpts:

Step Inside This Bushwick Polyamory House

What is there to say about this BRIC TV video on Bushwick's polyamory house that wasn't already said with lingering shots of curved faucets and supple hands wrapped around goblets of wine?

"What's the garbage situation?" the embedded reporter asks the group, comprised of comely 30-somethings all lounging on a mattress covered in fake (?) furs. It's collected on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but look! Poly houses: They're just like us.

"I thought it was going to be like a bad MTV reality show," says housemate Deniz Akyurek, who said he first became acquainted with the place as a subletter. "It was better than any roommate situation I've ever been with."

The buried lede is that the inhabitants of the home — called Hacienda Villa — don't actually sleep with each other, which actually makes perfect sense and shame on us (fine, me) for making the snap judgment that "polyamorous" is just a euphemism for "relentless sex parade." The Bushwick abode is simply a community of people who practice non-monogamous relationships, within whatever context that fits into their particular lives.

...In all seriousness, everyone seems very sane and well-adjusted and happy. Who knew that anything so positive could exist in rat-infested Bushwick?

And since it's Friday, ditch your spreadsheet and give in to the allure of the Casual Sex Project. It's all you get for now: Hacienda Villa is full and has a waiting list.

The backstory is that a creative developer gutted an old building and rebuilt the interior to a more communal plan with polyfolks in mind. The private spaces are small but spiffy, the community spaces are large, and residents select new members from applicants. I haven't learned the economics of the project, but if it filled immediately and has a waiting list even when priced to make a New York profit, it must be a financial success.

So will the Hacienda Villa model spread? There must be a hundred thousand people in New York pining to live like this.


Labels: , ,

December 13, 2015

Unitarian poly leader speaks out

This isn't big media here — but Valerie White, an outspoken stalwart of polyactivism since the 1990s and the founding president of Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness, just appeared on a weekly podcast called UU Perspectives ("UUs are changing the world.... Meet the people making a difference in the communities around them"). She chairs the worship committee of her church and lives in a 21-year open triad that's raising twins.

From the blurb:

Polyamory: The idea that you can love more than one person as long as you’re doing it openly, honestly and with the full consent and participation of all involved.

Bio: Valerie White has been a Unitarian Universalist for 53 years. A lawyer and director of Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, Valerie White has spoken on polyamory at many national and regional conferences. She has written for many periodicals, including Loving More, The World and The Humanist, and served on the boards of Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness (their first president), Interweave, and UUs for Jewish Awareness. She has been president of the Unitarian Church of Sharon, MA and currently chairs the worship committee. A long-time sexual rights activist, she was president of the Vermont Civil Liberties Union.

Favorite Quote: “My feeling about technique in art is that it has about the same value as technique in lovemaking. Heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill; but what you want is passionate virtuosity.” —John Barth, Giles Goat Boy

Listen here. The episode's home page (December 11, 2015).


Labels: ,

December 8, 2015

Advice column: "My girlfriend practiced polyamory"

For her "Love Letters" column in the Boston Globe, Meredith Goldstein posts questions and her answers to them on the paper's website, then adds reader comments in the version that goes to print. This showed up on the site today:

My girlfriend practiced polyamory

...She's a 9 or a 10 in every way. But her past lifestyle experience is vastly different from mine. She left an abusive husband five years ago and began a polyamorous lifestyle with "friends."...

I am not judgmental in any way, nor am I ever jealous. At the same time, in a love affair, I do not share my intimacy, so her lifestyle is in contrast to mine. Simply, if she wishes other men to be intimate with her, I cannot be involved with her. I made my feelings clear, and after a few days she committed herself to our monogamous relationship. Since then, the relationship has intensified wonderfully.

She still remains in contact with some of her "friends," and occasionally goes to lunch or dinner with them – but only as a friend and not a lover (as far as I know).... However, I have not been able to relieve my concern about the situation. I have not had to change my lifestyle for this relationship, whereas she has. And in conversation about this, she freely admits that this is a vast change for her.

...I am about to bring her deeper into my life (financially and emotionally) but I could not stand for her to fall back into her past lifestyle, even briefly, as I would end the relationship over it. Am I setting myself up for an emotional disaster?...

— As far as I know

"She freely admits that this is a vast change for her." Your follow-up question for her should be, "Is this a change you can live with?" That's what you need to discuss before you combine your lives.... She's been transparent about her past and open about her present. She tells you when she sees these "friends," making it clear that she has nothing to hide....

All you can do is listen to your girlfriend and go with your gut. Also remember that a different woman – someone who's only dated one guy at a time – could break your heart and leave you in emotional ruins. Relationships have no guarantee....

Readers? Can this woman maintain a monogamous lifestyle? Are there ever any guarantees?

— Meredith

Read the whole piece (Dec. 8, 2015). As of this afternoon it was the third most-read item on the Globe's local site, boston.com. Already it has 814 comments. Mine is buried in there somewhere.

Update Dec. 11: And here it is in today's print edition.


Labels: ,

December 7, 2015

And *another* civil union of three registers in Brazil

This is Brazil's third união poliafetiva — a poly family becoming officially registered as a civil union — that seems to have made the news. (Here are the first and the recent second.)

This does not mean multi-marriage is legalized in Brazil. As with the previous groups, the three swore out a document at a city clerk's office saying they meet the legal criteria for a civil union, including living together long-term and intermingling finances. The statement was notarized to establish that the civil union exists. This entitles them to some marriage-like rights.

Here's the story in (to pick one of many papers) the Jornal Meio Norte: Homem oficializa união com duas mulheres em cartório no Brasil.

With a lot of help from Google Translate,

Man officializes union with two women at Brazil notary office

Klinger de Souza, 31 and heterosexual, and bisexuals Paula Gracielly, 31, and Angelica Tedesco, 24, are living in an unusual relationship of three. On Monday [November 23, 2015] they managed to record their polyaffective union at the clerk's office in Jundiaí [São Paolo state], where they live.

This would be the third time that a union of three has been notarized in Brazil along the lines of a Domestic Partnership. Eventually they hope to celebrate a marriage....

The three are from Mato Grosso but live in Jundiaí, which ensures that they can lead normal lives, work, and also think about having a baby, which "Paulinha" expects to carry within about two years.

In addition to the child, another project that the trisal [triad] plans is to write a book about this broader way of relating — which still frightens, but, they assure, can be natural, ethical, truthful, honest and loving. That's poliamor.

Recognition of their atypical romance matters, they said, not only for division of inheritance, but also so they are not excluded from the civil rights afforded to any citizens. In addition, they're already thinking of the child's record and that it include all three parents: a father and two mothers.

To register the document, Klinger explained, he wrote it out in his own hand with the personal data for Paula and Angelica. The three signed the document, which had to be validated by two witnesses. After the signatures, everything takes around 30 minutes at any city clerk's office.

If any of the three leaves the relationship, he or she is entitled to 33% of the equity. As Klinger sees it the world has changed, and many people are still frightened by this way of relating. But the diversity of family types is irreversible fact.

Read the whole article (November 29, 2015). It appeared in many other outlets; for example on the news site Terra.com.br, as Poliamor: homem e 2 mulheres registram em cartório união a 3 (Nov. 24).

Here's the family's own Marriage of 3 (Casala3) Facebook page: Poliamor "Trisal" Angélica, Paulinha & Klinger. They explain (again with thanks to Google Translate):

Hi lovelies! We're here to show our day-to-day and to demystify a relationship of three, and to take questions from all you guys. We have already done some interviews with academics, newspapers and TV. Showing the form of love called polyamory in our everyday lives.

They and other polyfolks appeared two weeks earlier on Globo TV on September 30th, in a documentary series called Amores Livres (Free Loves); the episode is titled Amores Múltiplos (season 1 episode 9,  22 minutes). You can watch the whole episode on their Facebook page here, or watch the trailer below:

More coverage:

● Two weeks after that TV appearance, they were in Rio de Janeiro's O Dia: Homem namora duas mulheres: 'Ela quis outra pessoa na relação. Eu aceitei' (Oct. 16; also printed in Tribuna da Bahia and probably elsewhere.) This was still before they got their union registered. The article tells how they met and fell for each other.

● In Belém's Diário do Pará, "Trisal" mostra em página como é casamento a três (Nov. 21).

● In another news chain,  Relacionamento a três: união de "trisal" é reconhecida por lei (Nov. 24).

Lots more about the three. Love their attitude!

Update, December 16: The legal status of these documents has not yet been tested in Brazilian courts. Daniel Cardoso, a longtime polyactivist in Portugal, offers this assessment of what they may actually mean:

My understanding is that through the legal paths [the triads] chose, anything against which there is no law can be lawfully notarized. So, the public notaries have been using the ruling that the [Brazilian] Supreme Court made on same-sex unions to contend that Stable Polyaffectionate Unions (that's the best translation I can come up with) are equally encompassed and deserving of specific familial rights.

Now, some things you can already regulate without any fancy human-rights issues - three or more people could establish a commercial relationship that involved sharing costs, property, etc. Some of these can be considered "marriage-like".

What these documents are trying to do is to lawfully assert that they form a family, a stable union. Since there is no law against that, they may assert it freely and see it notarized. This is *not* the same as filing an application for a civil union, because in the case of a civil union you're asking the State to recognize that you fit into a State-created category, and the State ascertains that you do when the application is approved.

Things like social-security provisions and so on are *not* at the moment encompassed in any way.

What's basically happening, as far as I understand it, is that they're working to take advantage of a void in the legislation to set up the basis for future judicial [paths] to get their rights recognized. So, yes, in a way they HOPE those documents will grant them those rights that they, themselves, cannot reclaim (social security, parenting rights, fiscal framings), by having proof that they have a claim at being considered a family. But there is *no jurisprudence* whatsoever on this, and the Supreme Court, if eventually pressed for a decision (like them wanting to have parenting rights over one child, or wanting to file their taxes all together as a non-commercial entity), might or might not decide that they are, indeed, a 'civil union'. At this moment in time, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex (mono) families are civil unions, but has not ruled on this.

Again - I am not a lawyer and not a Brazilian, so some of the details might be off or unclear, but from my hours of reading and talking, this is what I get out of it.

So, technically, the fact that they have this notarized should, for instance, grant them rights to deal with social security as a family unit - meaning, that two people who did this exact same thing would see those rights recognized without any issue. Whether those rights will actually be recognized is still up in the air.


Labels: , , , ,

December 6, 2015

"Non-monogamy showed me what it really means to be with someone"

One of the great world newspapers is The Guardian, based in the UK, with US, Australian, and international editions. It's progressive to boot. On Friday it published this piece by its regular culture writer Kate Iselin of Sydney, Australia:

Non-monogamy showed me what it really means to be with someone

By Kate Iselin

Being in an open relationship flies in the face of everything we are brought up to believe about ‘loose’ women being undesirables

Non­-monogamy, polyamory, open relationships: whatever your preferred term, it can be a heavy word to drop at the dinner table....

‘Who am I to demand a partner never again indulge a crush, share a kiss at a party, or take someone to bed? And who are they to demand the same of me?’
(Photo: stone / getty)

For most of my life I was as monogamous as it was possible to be, almost to a fault. I found that jealousy would frequently rear its head if my partner or crush du jour was so much as spotted in the same room as someone who might chance at a flirt.

Only when I was in my mid­-20s did I meet a man who tipped that attitude on its head and told me that although he was as interested in me as I was in him, he was already in a successful open relationship and monogamy was not an option.

My choice was clear: I could either give it a chance and try dating someone who already had a partner, or risk losing them for good.

What I experienced surprised me in the best possible way. While I initially feared I would become a quivering nervous wreck at the thought of my partner with someone else, the openness and honesty we developed assuaged my fears and rid me of my worry of being a “back­-up girlfriend”.

At no point did I feel neglected or envious; indeed, I found non-­monogamy worked for me better than any relationship formula I’d seen in the past. I got to know my partner’s partner, and we got along well, and while they shared romantic weekends away and dinner dates together I was free to date and hook­-up as much as I wanted.

And spoiler alert: I did.

Once I let go of the fears and insecurities I had previously held around relationships, I was granted a fresh perspective on what it meant to be with someone.

Even more important than any of this, non-­monogamy helped me to reassess and redefine the values I sought in — and brought to — a relationship....

Read on (December 3, 2015).

The article was also reprinted at Alternet the next day.