See a good story I've missed? Email me at alan7388(at) gmail(dot)com.
June 21, 2017
Wait for the second date to reveal you're poly?
The last time I reported on a Dan Savage column a furious reader unsubscribed, writing,
I have no quibble with his poly advice. However, Dan is a pretty bigoted dude across multiple axis, and has been known to harrass and denigrate employees that do not meet his standards for attractiveness. One of them devoted a chapter in their memoir to his fuckery. I find as I age (35 years as a poly full adult plus the pre-poly years) I have zero tolerance for people who have something I agree with to say along one axis, while they are affirmatively wishing me dead along another. ...
What's going on here? You can include links in the comments. Savage's Wikipedia entry has a controversies section that reports graphic death-wish fantasies against Republicans and their enablers, but I'm guessing this is something else.
A lesson for polyfolks is in his column just out: Don't wait until the second date for your poly reveal. Else your date may think you're the snake in the cartoon.
Savage Love: Sneakers
Joe Newton / The Stranger
I am a 34-year-old straight woman. I'm monogamous and have an avoidant attachment style. I've been seeing a guy I really like. He's just my type, the kind of person I've been looking for my whole life. Thing is, he's in an open relationship with someone he's been with for most of his adult life. He was sneaky—he didn't reveal he was in an open relationship until the second date, but by then I was infatuated and felt like I wasn't in control of my actions. [Uh-oh! –Ed.] So what I've learned is that poly couples often seek out others to create NRE or "new relationship energy," which may help save their relationship in the long run. I was deeply hurt to learn about NRE. What about the people who are dragged into a situation by some charmer? ... I feel like such a loser.
Sobbing Here And Making Errors
"One of life's hardest lessons is this: Two people can be absolutely crazy in love with each other and still not be good partners," said Franklin Veaux, coauthor of More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory (morethantwo.com). "If you're monogamous and you meet someone you're completely smitten with who isn't, the best thing to do is acknowledge that you're incompatible and go your separate ways. It hurts and it sucks, but there it is."
This perfect, sneaky guy who makes you feel like a loser and a hussy? He told you he was in an open relationship on your second date. You knew he wasn't "your type" or "perfect" for you the second time you laid eyes on him, SHAME, and you needed to go your separate ways at that point. And I'm not buying your excuse ("I was too infatuated!"). ...
Veaux advocates ethical polyamory—it's right there in the title of his book—and he thinks this guy did you wrong by not disclosing his partner's existence right away. "Making a nonmonogamous relationship work requires a commitment to communication, honesty, and transparency," said Veaux. "Concealing the fact that you're in a relationship is a big violation of all three, and no good will come of it."
I have a slightly different take. Straight women in open relationships have an easier time finding men willing to fuck and/or date them; their straight male counterparts have a much more difficult time. Stigma and double standards are at work here—she's sexually adventurous; he's a cheating bastard—and waiting to disclose the fact that you're poly (or kinky or HIV-positive or a cammer) is a reaction to / work-around for that. It's also a violation of poly best practices, like Veaux says, but the stigma is a violation, too. Waiting to disclose your partner, kink, HIV status, etc., can prompt the other person to weigh their assumptions and prejudices about poly/kinky/poz people against the living, breathing person they've come to know. Still, disclosure needs to come early—within a date or two, certainly before anyone gets fucked—so the other person can bail if poly/kinky/poz is a deal breaker.
As for that new relationship energy stuff...
"There are, in truth, polyamorous people who are NRE junkies," said Veaux. "Men and women who chase new relationships in pursuit of that emotional fix. They're not very common, but they do exist, and alas they tend to leave a lot of destruction in their wake."
But your assumptions about how NRE works are wrong, SHAME. Seeing your partner in the throes of NRE doesn't bring the primary couple closer together; it often places a strain on the relationship. Opening up a relationship can certainly save it (if openness is a better fit for both partners), but NRE isn't a log the primary couple tosses on the emotional/erotic fire. ...
I'm with Veaux on the timing. Announce your poly-ness before the first date. If it's a deal-breaker, move on. Only a neurotic or a scumbag would waste time and hurt on guaranteed date failure — and the decent way to find out is to ask.
Three men register their polyamorous marriage in Colombia. That doesn't mean they're legally married.
This story has been going all around the world for the last six days, but much of the reporting has been superficial or misleading.
Here, from Gay Star News, are the basics that you may have seen:
Three men have first polyamorous wedding in Colombia
'We wanted to validate our household... and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family'
Victor Hugo Prada, John Alejandro Rodriguez, Manuel José Bermúdez. (Photo: Facebook / Manuel José Bermúdez Andrade)
By Shannon Power
Three gay men have become the first polyamorous relationship to be officially recognized in Colombia.
Victor Hugo Prada, an actor, ‘married’ sports instructor John Alejandro Rodriguez and journalist Manuel José Bermúdez in Medellin on Saturday. The thruple – three people in a relationship – signed legal documents with a solicitor officially recognizing their relationship.
The men have been in their polyamorous relationship – known as a trieja in Spanish – since 2013. They did have a fourth partner, 25-year-old Alex Esnéider Zabala. But Zabala died from stomach cancer in 2015.
‘When Alex died, we did not have any documents and it was a difficult process to reclaim his social security and assets. So these papers protects us against anyone who wants to make any claims of this kind,’ Prada told W Radio.
‘We are based on a matter of coexistence and solidarity. Here there are no powers, there are no roles, you have to negotiate. Here we all come under the same conditions.’
Bermúdez told Colombian media that they wanted to make their relationship official.
‘We wanted to validate our household… and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family,’ he said.
‘This establishes us as a family, a polyamorous family. It is the first time in Colombia that has been done.’
LGBTI lawyer and advocate, German Rincon Perfetti, said the attention the thruple have received has been important for the visibility of polyamorous relationships. He said while many polyamorous couples [sic] exist in Colombia, the men’s was the first to be made official.
‘It is a recognition that other types of family exist,’ he told AFP.
Here's the catch. As the story reports, but does not explain, the three "officially registered" their relationship. This does not mean they are legally married. It means they swore out a document, and had it notarized and recorded, declaring themselves to be a family unit with shared finances. People can do this in Colombia, as in Brazil where polyfamilies have made world news by swearing out similar documents attesting to their "polyaffective union." These affidavits are intended to carry legal weight in determining rights such as inheritance and government benefits, and in the case of couples, they do.
In other words, the three have made a legal statement. The government has only recorded the statement. How much legal weight it will carry for a group of more than two remains to be tested.
A reporter for Queerty failed to get this:
I do, I do, and I do! These three men just got legally married to each other
By Graham Gremore
Actor Victor Hugo Prada and his two partners, sports instructor John Alejandro Rodriguez and journalist Manuel Jose Bermudez, just signed papers making them a legally married throuple.
...The papers were signed on Monday with a solicitor in the city of Medellin and establish the men as a family unit with inheritance rights.
They are the first legally recognized polyamorous family in Colombia.
Lawyer and gay rights activist German Rincon Perfetti tells the AFP [Agence France-Presse], “It is a recognition that other types of families exist.”
...Now that the papers have been signed, the trio says they’re planning a marriage celebration, which they promise will be an “artistic and cultural event.” Then, of course, comes the honeymoon!
In contrast, the libertarian magazine Reason reported on their actual legal situation:
Colombia Sees First Gay Polygamous Marriage. Sort Of.
Three men declare themselves wed. It’s not clear if the government will recognize it.
By Scott Shackford
...If the authorities legally recognize their marriage, it will be a first for Colombia. But that's a big "if."
Western reporting indicates that the three men have signed legal papers with a lawyer in Medellin in an attempt to establish themselves as a family with inheritance rights. That's not the same as saying they are legally married, and Google Translate's version of the original news coverage from the Columbia-based Semana doesn't clear up the confusion. It's clear they've submitted a notarized document declaring themselves a family. It's unclear whether it's legally enforceable and whether a court will recognize it.
We do know they can't be punished for polyamory, and that may be driving some ambiguous reporting. Colombia struck down its laws criminalizing polygamous relationships in 2001. That's not the same as legally recognizing polyamorous marriages as valid. It just means you can't be arrested and imprisoned for it. ...
Wonder Woman's real-life poly origin movie, "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," to open in theaters October 27
Now that the Wonder Woman movie has turned into a surprise hit, with sequels all but guaranteed, things look mighty good for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, an indie biopic on the polyfamily who created her in 1941. News just came out that Annapurna Pictures will release it via Sony on October 27th.
We may hope that it'll be reasonably true to reality. I'm guessing it will bear about the same relation to the truth as the cartoon above does to actual photos of Wonder Woman's creator triad:
Seated from left are Olive Byrne (note the bracelet), Elizabeth Holloway Marston,
and William Moulton Marston, demonstrating his invention the lie detector in 1938.
Wonder Woman's bracelets were no coincidence.
In case you're not up to speed: Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston was, for his day, a utopian feminist — convinced of women's superiority to rule civilization if they could break the psychological and cultural chains of male bondage. He also had a thing for the liberating power of sex-bondage play, based on a well worked out psychological theory of power and control.
No ordinary college professor, Marston was an outspoken character who had trouble keeping a job. He was also an inventor and promoter with at least a touch of the con. After he married the groundbreaking female academic and lawyer Elizabeth Holloway, they set up a lifelong triad household with a former student of his, Olive Byrne. All three played a role in sneaking Wonder Woman into existence in 1941 — under the guise of civilizing superhero comics to mollify disapproving authorities. Their real mission was to spread the message of women's rights, freedom, power and goodness. Especially to girls.
Marston died in 1947 at the relatively young age of 53. Holloway and Byrne remained partners for the rest of their very long lives.
There are many ways this story could be played wrong, as were many later incarnations of Wonder Woman herself. The whole tale was long swept under the rug, known only to serious comics-history buffs and, of course, parts of the poly community. But growing attention to it in recent years culminated with New Yorker writer Jill Lepore's book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, which was widely reviewed and remarked when it came out in 2014. If Professor Marston and the Wonder Women messes up the story now, it'll never get away with it.
If you've seen Wonder Woman in a theater in the last couple weeks, you may remember this brief teaser for what's coming:
a lesbian filmmaker who previously directed the underrated 2004 movie D.E.B.S. It’s cool that this material is going to be explored from someone who doesn’t come from Hollywood’s default setting: a white male.
● While we're at it, last Sunday (June 11, 2017) National Public Radio's "Sunday Morning" replayed a "Fresh Air" segment that first aired in 2014 when Lepore's book came out. Here's some of the accompanying article. The audio and full transcript are at the link below.
The Man Behind Wonder Woman Was Inspired By Both Suffragists And Centerfolds
..."I got fascinated by this story because I'm a political historian and it seemed to me there was a really important political story that had been missed that's basically as invisible as Wonder Woman's jet," Lepore tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Marston... was interested in the women's suffrage movement and in Margaret Sanger, the birth control and women's rights activist — who was also his mistress's [Olive Byrne's] aunt.
A feminist icon, Wonder Woman was an Amazon who forced people to tell the truth with her magic lasso. She was a controversial figure in the 1940s because of her overt sexuality and her link to bondage. Her costume was inspired by Marston's interest in erotic pin-up art.
"There's no simple story here," Lepore says. "There are a lot of people who get very upset at what Marston was doing. ... 'Is this a feminist project that's supposed to help girls decide to go to college and have careers, or is this just like soft porn?' "
..."It's so bizarre. I think they thought it was very funny. In a certain way it is very funny — like that they're putting one over on everybody. The funniest thing of it all to me is [they have] this really triangular family arrangement, but in the '30s [Marston's mistress] Olive Byrne takes a job as a staff writer at Family Circle magazine writing advice for housewives. Family Circle, which starts in 1932, [is] a giveaway at the grocery store [and] the stories that she writes are sort of a "how to raise your children" in the most conventional possible way.
...Marston has all kinds of ties to the early progressive-era suffrage and feminist and birth control movements ... [They] begin when he, as a Harvard freshman in 1911, is caught up in a big controversy on campus. In the fall of 1911, the Harvard Men's League for Women's Suffrage invites the incredible Emmeline Pankhurst to campus to speak in Sanders Theatre, which is like the largest lecture hall on campus. The Harvard Corporation is terrified — women are not allowed to speak on campus ... so [eventually ] Pankhurst is banned from speaking on campus. And this [is] kind of a big fracas across the country.
...One of the things that's a defining element of Wonder Woman is that if a man binds her in chains, she loses all of her Amazonian strength. So in almost every episode of the early comics, the ones that Marston wrote [Marston stopped writing Wonder Woman in 1947], she's chained up or she's roped up ... and she has to break free of these chains. ... That's [what] Marston would always say — "in order to signify her emancipation from men." But those chains are a really important part of the feminist and suffrage struggles of the 1910s that Marston had a front-row seat for.
...[During the suffrage movement], women chained themselves to the gate outside the White House in protest. There were suffrage parades, women would march in chains — they imported that iconography from the abolitionist campaigns of the 19th century that women had been involved in. ...
Chains become a really important symbol. Women in the wake of emancipation in the aftermath of the Civil War really turn to the imagery of chains and enslavement and the language of enslavement to talk about the ways in which they have not yet been fully emancipated.
The whole article, with the transcript and 45-minute audio (originally aired Oct. 27, 2014).
Comic book fans have been waiting a long time for a Wonder Woman movie. Now it seems they’ll have two as an independent film about the unconventional trio who created Princess Diana of Themyscira heads into production.
In addition to “Wonder Woman,” the 2017 Warner Bros film starring Gal Gadot, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has just bought “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women,” a biopic about William Moulton Marston, the psychologist and inventor who created Wonder Woman for DC Comics in 1941 with the help of his wife, psychologist Elizabeth Marston, and Olive Byrne, a former student with whom the couple shared a polyamorous relationship.
Written and directed by “True Blood” writer Angela Robinson and executive produced by “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway’s Topple Productions, the feature will star Luke Evans as William, Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth, and Bella Heathcote as Olive. The film, which was packaged by WME Global and first reported on by Deadline, will depict how Elizabeth and Olive’s feminism influenced the creation of the iconic character. During his life, Marston was forced to defend his superheroine against charges of 'sexual perversity' while concealing his own unusual home life. After William died in 1947, Elizabeth and Olive remained living together until Olive’s death in 1988, raising the four children he had, two with each of them.
Wonder Woman’s sexuality has long been a matter of speculation among her fans -- after all, she hails from an island paradise free of men. Last month the character’s current writer Greg Rucka confirmed that Wonder Woman is officially queer, telling the website Comicosity, “Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women.”
...It’s time that we in comics stop feeling uncomfortable with the circumstances of her creation, and the lives of her creators....
The era of the obligatory closet is over, even in media traditionally aimed at children. We know that Where the Wild Things Are was created by a gay man, and that Goodnight, Moon was written by a bisexual woman, and we know just as certainly that Wonder Woman was the creation of a polyamorous family.
Perhaps because of a certain immaturity in comics culture, or because polyamory is still more controversial that queer identity, we like to downplay it. We need to stop.
...As more women have become fans of superheroes in recent years, this sexualization has come in for criticism. Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, repeats some of the objections in a recent review of the new all-female Avengers title A-Force. Lepore looks at the A-Force cover, stuffed to the brim with superheroes from She-Hulk to Dazzler, and notices a certain similarity. “They all look like porn stars,” she complains.
...Wonder Woman’s creator, though, had a different take. As Lepore notes, Marston, his wife Elizabeth, and their polyamorous lover Olive Byrne, wrote a letter together in which they explained: “This family believes [pornographic magazines] furnish splendid material with which to teach children that the most lovely and sacred thing in the world is a real woman’s body.” Marston believed that looking at women’s bodies was a healthy, pleasurable and even sacred activity – and not just for men. In that softcore Julius Caesar novel, Marston referred to lesbian love as “perfect” – in his scholarly books he argued that women who slept with other women were superior lovers and mothers. Marston lived in a polyamorous relationship with two almost certainly bisexual women. Eroticized images of women, for him, were never just for men.
Lepore sees eroticized images as ridiculous, unpleasant and opposed to women’s interests. For Marston, though, the problem with comics was not eroticism but “blood-curdling masculinity”. Sex, for Marston, was great; the downside of superhero comics, though, was that they featured lots of men hitting each other.
Wonder Woman was meant, deliberately, to undermine both the masculinity and the violence. Her magic lasso was later downgraded to a lasso of truth, but originally it was a lasso of control – whoever was bound by it had to do what the wielder said. The original Wonder Woman comics (drawn by artist Harry Peter) mostly eschewed fisticuffs; instead, they featured vertiginous bondage romps, in which Wonder Woman tied people up, and then got tied up in turn, and then tied those other folks up again. The lasso itself, Marston explained, was a “symbol of female charm, allure, oomph, attraction” and of the influence that “every woman has … over people of both sexes”. Since the lasso is also a fairly glaring yonic symbol, the message is clear; Wonder Woman battles evil not with violence, but with erotics. She is, literally, super sexy.
...Lepore seems to think that sex and heroism can’t go together; that if women are presented as erotic or attractive, then their heroism is automatically undermined. Allure is not power, Lepore insists, but “the absence of power”. When superheroines are sexy, she says, “their bodies are not their own. They are without force.” But that default assumes that the only kind of force that matters is violence, and that sex or love are automatically less valid, less interesting and less ennobling than hitting people. Superhero stories often present that as truth – but, as you’d think Lepore would know, Wonder Woman had a different vision.
Tabloids can't get enough of polyfamilies — and treat them decently
Tabloid media are ever eager to feature happy polyfamilies for their perhaps incredulous audiences. The UK's Daily Mail published a piece today that it picked up from Daily Mail Australia, which got it from a TV show called "The Project" on Australia's Network Ten. The full video from that show is unviewable outside Australia, but here's a 20-second clip from it:
The blurb on the segment's webpage (June 14, 2017):
A new wave of adventurous Aussies diving into the sex-flavoured waters of 'multiple-partner relationships'. Or, as they're apparently known: Polyamorous Relationships.
Here's the Daily Mail's story. Note that it introduces asexuality to its readers factually and non-judgmentally.
Is this the new face of modern love? Married man reveals what it is like to be in a polyamorous relationship with his wife and her best friend - and insists no one gets jealous
● Man with wife and girlfriend spoke about his life in a polyamorous relationship
● Michael and his wife both have extra partners but still share a loving connection
● They appeared on Project TV alongside Michael's girlfriend to share details
● He insists he does not get 'jealous' and strives to make all his partners happy
By April Glover for Daily Mail Australia
A man in a polyamorous relationship has revealed he enjoys having both a wife and a girlfriend - and insists he never gets jealous of his partner's boyfriend.
Three lovers named Michael, Maddie and Angel shared fascinating details about how the trio live together in polygamy in a revealing interview with Network Ten's The Project.
Michael and Angel, who are husband and wife and have been together for 15 years, appeared alongside Michael's girlfriend, Maddie.
"Maddie (left), Michael (middle) and Angel (right) spoke about their experiences in a polyamorous relationship."
The husband-and-wife duo, who were high-school sweethearts, say they wanted try new experiences but did not want to break up.
The polyamorous lovers claim they are not in a three-person couple, otherwise known as a 'thrupple' [sic], but share sexual and romantic connections with people outside of a traditional relationship.
'But that doesn't mean what Michael and I have is a superior or a primary relationship, it is just an extra relationship,' Angel said of her husband's girlfriend.
Angel's connection with her husband's girlfriend is non-romantic and non-sexual, and calls Maddie her 'best friend'.
Maddie told host Waleed Aly that she and Michael do not have sex and says she is an 'asexual' being, meaning she has no sexual feelings or desires for another person.
'It's just a really intense relationship,' she explained.
When asked the inevitable question about jealousy, Angel told the Project she was initially jealous of her husband's extra partners.
'Early on, I got very jealous, I realised that jealousy is a manifestation of insecurity and for me it was a red flag,' she said.
'I worked through it with Michael and my other partners. I still get jealous sometimes, although certainly nowhere near as much.'
But Michael, who juggles a wife and a girlfriend, says he rarely ever feels jealous of his wife's or other partners' sexual relationships.
'I don't suffer jealousy. I don't feel jealous, typically speaking so I spend most of my time making sure my partners aren't feeling jealous.'
A columnist for Yahoo Lifestyle thinks that Michael's public displays of knee-touch affection looked awkward: Awkward interview with polyamorous trio (June 15, 2017). Does she have a point, or is this just a case of you can't please everybody? I've always advocated public displays of triad affection while on camera, because body language speaks louder than words. But body language is subtle — and the subtleties are totally visible on TV.
"Polyamorous Australian parents juggle lovers with family life"
The tabloidy news treatment of polyfamilies that was the norm a decade ago — the happy, upbeat "look at the weirdos" approach — is still the norm in actual tabloids. This story appeared Saturday in Australian newspapers owned by the Murdochs' News Corp, and it was reprinted in the UK by News Corp's The Sun.
Polyamorous Australian parents juggling lovers with family life
By Winnie Salamon
A TYPICAL morning in Scott and Amy’s house goes something like this: Cook breakfast, make school lunches, yell at the kids to brush their teeth before school. Amy reminds Scott that it’s his turn to watch the kids tonight while she goes on a date with one of her several lovers. Scott gives his wife a kiss before rushing out the door. He needs to get to his girlfriend Ruth’s house so they can ride the train into work together.
If you thought polyamory was for sex-crazed twenty somethings and creepy cult leaders, think again. ... The reality is that most polyamorous people have jobs and bills and chores and perhaps most controversially of all: children.
Meet Pete. A warm, intelligent 57-year-old who works in education IT. ... Pete’s ‘coming out’ to his children wasn’t planned. It just happened. ... “My daughter just shrugged and said, ‘That’s cool. Some of my friends do that.’ She would have been about 15 at the time.”
Pete’s son wasn’t so accepting. “My son joined a fundamentalist Christian church when he was 13. He worried that I was doing the wrong thing by my partners, that both women were getting the short end of the stick. He’s 29 now and 100 per cent supportive,” he said.
Models pose for a stock picture (Getty)
Scott and Amy, in contrast, are in the thick of parenting. Now in their mid-40s, the couple met when they were 16 and have two daughters, aged seven and 10. They also have at least 10 lovers between them, impressive considering they only discovered polyamory three years ago. As Scott wryly puts it, he and his childhood sweetheart are now polysaturated.
“Polyamory was something Amy and I talked about for a long time before we acted on it,” Scott says. “It was a conscious and thought-out decision. Looking back on my life I think I’ve always been poly, but I thought I was just being a stereotypical male. Always wanting more.”
Parenting in a poly family isn’t without its challenges, but Scott and Amy believe being open and honest with their children is crucial.
“Our oldest daughter understands we have sex with other people and she knows it’s not ‘normal’. But a good portion of her friends are from divorced families and their parents have other relationships. There are single parents, blended families. In that context it’s not so different.
“We only introduce the kids to our more serious partners,” Scott continues. “They definitely don’t meet every person we sleep with.” ...
Scott says that answering questions in an age-appropriate way has ensured that his kids are as happy and healthy as any other child with two loving parents.
If you think juggling work, kids and one partner is tough, Scott has some advice:
“You have to be organised. Amy and I make sure we get two date nights a week while the other watches the kids. We swap weekends but also make sure we have every third weekend together as a family,” he says.
“I think our girls are lucky to grow up with an array of amazing, strong adult role models who love them. Sometimes our partners even help with babysitting, and that’s always nice.”
"For a very conservative outlet it was surprisingly nuanced, particularly around families. However once again it was annoyingly couple-focused, and completely disregarded third-party voices (whom I know they interviewed.) As appears to be a growing trend in media, it contributes to the idea that polyamory is a mild extension of white middle-class monogamy. In part that's because many of us (me included) who do polyamory differently declined to be interviewed for this outlet, not trusting we'd be reported accurately."
Last Tuesday the news show Chicago Tonight on WTTW, the city's PBS TV station, featured a thoughtful, 11-minute (!) interview with three fine spokespeople: Chicago Polyamory Connection co-founder Caroline Kearns and poly-friendly therapists Rami Henrich and Jennifer Rafacz. This comes after the first-ever Chicago Non-Monogamy Conference three weeks ago.
It wins my "Show Your Parents" tag.
Caroline Kearns says, "I thought it went fine -- very limited time, was able to get a very basic sum-up of poly in without it being sensationalized. Overall, I feel pretty good about it."
That New York Times Magazine cover story three weeks ago was what prompted the show. Tim of Chicago Polyamory Connection writes, "The PBS station reached out to Rami first, saying that they wanted to do a small-panel segment after [that] article came out. She's pretty visibly poly in Chicago as a part of Lifeworks. Rami asked if any of us at the CPC would want to join her in the panel, and Caroline reached out."
Continues Tim, "The reaction in the local community was really enthusiastic. We also saw a big spike in web traffic at polychicago.com after the segment aired. I wonder if we'll have a bunch of new people at Poly Cocktail night in two weeks."
Here's the segment's webpage at the TV station, including the video and a longer text interview with Henrich and Kearns (May 30, 2017). This extended interview goes into topics that weren't aired on TV.
For instance, the part below caught my eye — what with the ugly history of an abuse/consent crisis in Chicago's BDSM world, which spread to split apart Chicago's poly community a few years back. Kearns was part of the rebuilding from that, with a firm foundation now of consent awareness and an ethic of community enforcement. Did someone tip off the TV host?
Host: When a community is marginalized and its members are afraid to seek help, it can make it easier for predatory people to operate within those communities. [The BDSM crisis in a nutshell.] Do you find that to be the case in the poly community?
Caroline Kearns: Poly ends up being very empowering to women, and that can counteract a lot of that behavior. Being open and transparent is always going to help mitigate abusive behavior, as well as having a strong community. But the immediate reaction I got to talking to people about poly was “of course men would want to sleep with you, and all they’re going to want is to sleep with other women” – the thought is that it’s all about the male partners exhibiting predatory behavior. [That thinking] is based on a lot of outdated assumptions that men are always the most sexual member of a heterosexual couple, or that sexual desire is inherently difficult to control and monitor, or sex is sinful and will always lead to corrupt behavior.
But in the reality of the bubble of the polyamory community, women tend to hold equal power and (often) more options than the men do. The women are sought after, they’re respected, they’re feminist, sure of themselves, committed to a culture of consent, able to identify predatory behavior, empowered to voice accusations of assault, and supportive of one another in more transparent polyamory communities.
Of course people of all genders have to be careful, just like anyone would if they go to a bar on Saturday night or meet strangers on Tinder or OKCupid. ... Polyamory is so much about communication, honesty, and being open — the moment I see someone trying to be dishonest or cagey or like they are hiding something from a partner, huge red flags go off and I run in the opposite direction.
Yes, I know, TW, Dan Savage. Since we've been on the subject lately of the Poly 101s the public is seeing, here is his Savage Love Letter of the Day for yesterday.
Tell me if you see anything out of line with the advice he gives here. I don't.
As for tone, that's his shtick. You take it or leave it.
My S.O. and I recently started a polyamorous relationship with another couple, who have been our friends for some time. We see each other pretty regularly for non-sex encounters and sometimes we get together to just hang out. For the first time we were hanging out and I just wasn't feeling it. I attempted to text my S.O. to let him know ... that I just really wanted to go home, but his phone was off and things had already gotten started in the cuddling dept.
Do you have any suggestions for putting the brakes on a potential evening? I'm GGG in the sense that I am fine with him having fun without me, but he's not interested in a threesome with the other male partner, and I don't want to be the reason someone gets left out.
– Friendly Orgasms Usually Relaxing
Navigating interests and libidos is complicated enough for two people — half the mail most weeks is from couples who quite can't get their feeling-it/not-feeling-it dynamics into a rough semi-synch. So it would be highly unrealistic for four members of a poly quad to expect that all four will be in perfect sync all of the time.
And just as it’s perfectly acceptable to communicate that you’re not feeling it when you're in a relationship with one person, FOUR, it's perfectly acceptable to communicate that you're not feeling when you're in a relationship with multiple partners. So it frankly concerns me, FOUR, that you felt you had to send a secret smoke signal to your your S.O., your primary partner, in the form of a text — a text he didn't see, which presumably resulted in you playing along because things "had already gotten started." If you're in a relationship with this other couple, FOUR, and not just fucking around with them, you should be able to communicate with them too — using your words, not your smartphone. If you don't feel comfortable communicating with this other couple (about sex!), FOUR, you may have slapped the "polyamorous relationship" label on this foursome prematurely.
...If you always play as a group... then your S.O. should be used to being around the other male partner while he's in action. So if you took off or tapped out, FOUR, and the others wanted to mess around, the guys could take turns while one waited on the other bed or in another room. If you're already having the occasional MFF threesome, FOUR, then both guys should be familiar with getting left out taking a powder while the other three play. There are lots of workarounds here — including your S.O. getting over his fear of MMF threesomes.
The next time you all get together and you’re not feeling it, FOUR, you could text your S.O. an S.O.S. or make up a bullshit excuse — early work meeting, headache, bad clams — or, you could tell the truth. The truth is your best option — and it puts the onus on the others to figure out how to proceed without you but with your blessing.
I would urge you, however, to have a conversation with your S.O. and the other couple as soon as possible about the other night. ... Tell them you want to open up the lines of communication, so that the next time someone isn't feeling it (and it might not be you next time), that person feels free to say so, without fear of being shamed or pressured by the others.
If your S.O. and the other couple aren't assholes, FOUR, they'll be mortified to know that you didn't feel comfortable telling them how you were feeling in the moment.
Here's the original at his home paper (May 31, 2017). Possibly NSFW ads.
All kinds of media are now telling the public how to do polyamory right, or so they assume. Gone are the days when most poly advice came from actual poly people.
So it's especially crucial for us to keep supplying our advice and insights, lest we lose control of our own narrative! The media still generally listen to and repeat what we say. So keep your blogs and websites stocked and publicized. They determine what journalists will write when the boss says, "This thing is trending. Go do a piece on it."
Last week I did a brave thing and opted to speak to a large mainstream audience (about 800 people) about polyamory. My goals were to create awareness, bust some myths and help make the idea of polyamory more accessible to those considering it or with friends or relatives practicing it.
I’m not sure if I accomplished those goals, but it was a receptive audience and a fun time! So please watch. And if you find it helpful, please like, share or forward. (5:34)
The title, "8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory Before I Tried and Frakked It Up," is the title of Minx's short, clear, snappy book on the subject. I recommend it for anybody who wants the need-to-know Poly 101 basics in 94 pages, if you're not up for the deeper More Than Two at 490 pages.
...You'll find countless articles on the ways in which millennials are creating a “new” monogamy that is characterized by, ironically, injecting non-monogamy into otherwise traditional-looking relationships and marriages. ...
I asked a number of people who have been in open relationships for years to share their early mistakes, so that you can learn from them without making them on your own.
1. Trying To Keep Everything The Same. ... 2. Attempting To Avoid Jealousy By Dating The Same Person At The Same Time. ... 3. Not Talking Enough. ... 4. Avoiding Your Partner’s Other Partners Like The Plague. ... 5. Thinking It Will Solve Your Problems. ...
Ultimately, your relationship will change, for better or worse. Michael, 30, offered this observation: “...My friends, partners, and I have found that as we explore romantic and sexual niches we didn't even know existed, we can no longer promise that a primary relationship is worth defending at all costs.” [But] “you get to learn more about yourself than you thought possible.”
Compare and contrast such examples with the Poly 101 advice that the wider media are telling the wider world. The good news is that yes, the media still tend to treat us as primary sources and broadcast what we say... more or less... usually.
Get ready for a long read. I'll give my own assessment at the end.
It’s easy to assume that relationship means two people, but in fact, that’s just not true. Relationships can include just as many people as you like (a bit like families). And when it does, it’s called polyamory, or an open relationship, or ethical non-monogamy.
Take a seat, sharpen your pencils, welcome to polyamory 101.
...How does it work?
...Polyamory is a relationship with more than two people in it. It can work in all different combinations. Sometimes all the people in the poly are romantically involved with each other, sometimes they’re only involved with a few. Sometimes there’s no connect at all between some members of the group.
The only universal principle of polyamory is that it’s an honest and transparent relationship. Unlike an affair, everyone is acutely aware of what’s happening, and there’s no deception.
So you can sleep with anyone you want?
Sometimes, but not always. In some poly relationships, it’s perfectly legit to sleep with whoever you want. In others, it needs to be cleared first, and some poly relationships are [sexually exclusive] within themselves.
Isn’t that really complicated?
Yes and no. ... The major complaint you’ll hear in a poly will be about time and organisation.
"Whose night was it supposed to be?"
Don’t you get jealous?
It’s a complicated question (and the question that absolutely everyone will ask you). In short, yes, you do sometimes get jealous. ... The biggest problem is usually about time. While love has no limit, time does.
To make a poly relationship work you need to be committed to being open and honest about your emotional needs, and responsive to your partners when they tell you how they’re feeling.
Is everyone equal?
Again, kind of depends on the specific poly.
It’s common in a poly to have primary and secondary partners. For some people, the titles ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ denote who comes higher up the pecking order. In others, it’s just a reflection of how long you’ve been together.
There are lots of other systems too. Some polys don’t like to put labels on people or give anyone a higher rank than anyone else.
To make it even more complicated, there’s also a relationship structure called ‘relationship anarchy’ or ‘anarchamory’. ...
Why would anyone want to be a secondary partner?
For some people, the part-time nature works incredibly well. If you’re long distance, not a big fan of commitment, or have an extremely busy work life, it can work as a brilliant way. ...
...How do you make it work?
The most important thing is that your partner doesn’t think it’s because things are bad or wrong in your relationship. If your relationship isn’t in a strong and healthy place, then you’re not going to survive the transition.
Poly people are obsessed with communication. Communication isn’t just the number one rule, it’s rules one through 100.
Feeling jealous? Talk. Feeling nervous? Talk. Feeling happy? Talk. Polyamory might involve getting more sex, but trust me, if it’s going to work then you’re going to pay for that sex several times over in conversations about feelings.
Pretty good for a mass-market throwaway on the subway.
...First, learn the terminology. “Consensual non-monogamy” refers to relationships in which partners let each other have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other people. This includes polyamory (relationships that are mostly romantic), swinging (relationships that are mostly sexual) and open relationships (which are a mix of both)....
Polyamorists emphasize that their relationships are egalitarian and consensual. ...
Second, understand the psychology. ... Some research-backed benefits to polyamory include heightened emotional intimacy among partners, improved communication skills, and more financial, physical (like when it comes to getting housework done) and emotional resources to share than your typical two-person household.
Third, make a game plan. From a practical standpoint, you might want to start by asking yourself if you have the time. It’s a myth that poly relationships take less work, or are more casual, than monogamous ones. ...
Fourth, anticipate possible outcomes. Arguably, the biggest landmine of having an open relationship is jealousy. ... Poly relationships can help couples learn how to manage their feelings in ways that are healthy and don’t involve monitoring or restricting each other’s behavior.
...Most of us don’t want to picture our partners having sex with other people when we close our eyes, [but] some choose to instead feel vicarious happiness at the thought, which is known as compersion. And it works. For people in open relationships, compersion has been shown to predict greater relationship satisfaction. But like all decisions around sex, everything needs to be consensual. ...
It can take a good amount of trial and error to figure out what works. Negotiating (and renegotiating) boundaries and rules are necessary to succeed. For example, some couples agree they won’t hook up with new partners unless their primary partners have met them first. The good news is an increasing number of sex therapists are becoming enlightened about non-traditional relationships, and there are also helpful resources like The Ethical Slut and More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory to help you find your way.
Times when non-monogamy might not be the best idea? If you decide that this is what you need, but your partner ultimately wants to stay monogamous. ... Also, don’t pursue non-monogamy if it is being used as a last-ditch effort to salvage a relationship in the final stages of decay. I have yet to see this kind of arrangement work out. ... No matter the curiosity or motivation, a couple needs a strong foundation, with a commitment to honesty, complete transparency and trust, before opening up.
I spoke with sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., who has worked with monogamish couples in his private practice in New York City. ... If you're thinking of having this kind of agreement, Kerner suggests outlining the top principles of what the agreement would be. ...
In some cases, one person in the partnership is curious to try being monogamish while their partner is more hesitant.... "Some people go along for the ride if they love their partner. The problem is when the road is unclear and the ride keeps changing, which often happens...."
In most cases, though, Kerner suggests that monogamish couples [should] have the same interest in having this arrangement.... "My experience is that this works infinitely better when two people are temperamentally suited for it and come into the relationship recognizing that non-monogamy is important to them."
..."Many people across the globe are becoming wise to the [notion] that love is not bound by gender," says Trahan. When that happens, "we begin to question other things that are considered 'normal,' like the idea that the only way to have a healthy, intimate relationship is between only two people."
It's Not Just About Sex....
But Sex Does Come Into Play....
...Protection is also of the utmost importance for the polyamorous, says [Elisabeth] Sheff. "They take a lot of care with testing and knowing their status, being really on top of using [birth control] barriers, and coming up with fun and creative ways to make those barriers sexy and interesting." So protect your sexual health consciously by getting tested and asking your partners to do the same, then show each other your results. This should be done whenever a new partner is introduced for either person, says Sheff, as statuses can change without people being aware.
But Be Warned...
A common mistake people make when opening up their relationship to polyamory is thinking it will fix whatever problems you currently have with your partner. "If the relationship is broken, adding more people will not help," says Sheff. "It's important to know the difference between 'Here's an opportunity for growth and we can come out stronger and happier on the other side,' and 'This relationship is just f—cked and it's not going to get better.' It's hard, but it's something that needs to be done because polyamory rubs your face right in your issues."...
You May Want to Ease Yourself In
Because polyamory is usually an emotional investment, Sheff says it might be smart to instead define yourself more as monogam-ish when you first get started. ...
Some Best Practices
– Figure out what kind of polyamorous relationship you want....
– Get educated....
– Set your boundaries....
– Always be ready to renegotiate....
– Be honest.... All the experts agree that constant, honest communication is necessary for a successful polyamorous relationship. "It's emotionally challenging, and it makes you face your issues," says Sheff. Whether you stick to polyamory or not, forming this habit means there's the potential to grow and have a much more honest, intimate relationship than before.
● Here is what people find on Wikihow, a widely-used source of how-to information. How to Practise Polyamory is just a few paragraphs at this point, but on the right track:
Understand that it is possible to love more than one person at a time....
Understand that polyamory is not always open....
Establish your own set of ethical guidelines....
Be honest and open with your partner(s)....
Respect your partner(s)....
Be aware of jealousy....
Understand that this is often frowned upon by society....
Be open about your lifestyle choice when socializing....
Learn to manage your time....
...But what if there were another way? What if you could open up your relationship so both of you could indulge in your crushes and attractions without compromising your commitment to each other? A growing number of people are coming out nonmonogamous and changing the way we imagine healthy, respectful relationships.
What is ethical nonmonogamy?
An ethically nonmonogamous relationship is a relationship in which the two people agree to have relationships — sexual, romantic and otherwise — with other people. The conditions and rules for outside relationships may differ between couples, but the core ideas remain the same for all of them: honesty, openness and trust.
Ethical nonmonogamy can include relationship modes like swinging, hookups and polyamory.
Their common denominator? Everyone knows what’s going on....
Breaking the ice
For those with the courage, naming the topic directly is probably the best, most effective way to do so. Being direct about your desires and your need to open up the relationship will give your partner the possibility to have all the information they need to pursue the discussion further.
Are you ready for an open relationship?
A common error that many couples make in opening up is believing that it, alone, will solve problems they’re having with sex, communication and trust. To the already troubled couple, opening up will only compound the issues. ... As Franklin Veaux says, “ ‘Relationship Broken, Add More People’ almost never works.”
Think you’re ready to open up? Take a look at some of the books and plentiful resources online to get the discussion going between you and your partner.
...Do not get open relationships mixed up with multiple one-night stands or affairs. Open love requires time, care, consideration; it should make you feel uplifted, cared-for and seen — even if eventually shit hits the fan.
The dynamics of an open relationship are all about checking in, communicating, and constantly adapting. Inwardly, individual participants have to work on possession issues, jealousy, personal insecurities and come to terms with what their idea of ownership in intimacy looks like. ... Part of the balance is about finding a partner or partners who share or want to share a similar vision as you do, as well as recognizing your ability to value your partner’s or partners’ needs, too.
...You have friends that you like to go to bowling with, and you have friends you’d prefer to stay in and watch the latest episode of Atlanta with. You have friends you see once a year, and ones you see every day. Each connection houses its own space in your mental and emotional sphere, right? This perspective can be applied to romantic connections as well. ...
“When you are born in a world you don’t fit in, perhaps it’s because you were born to create a new one.”
If you can read all of this and still think it's not entirely out of the question, this mode of living could possibly be for you.
By Johnathan Bane
...No one model of relationship is the right fit for everyone. The things that seem perfectly fine with one relationship would not be allowed in another. I have found that ultimately, it’s not about finding the right relationship model, but finding someone whose idea of a relationship is compatible with yours.
...For the majority of people I know, polyamory is NOT for them.
...Do you believe in absolute trust and communication to your partner about EVERYTHING? The poly style of living is rooted in a deep love of honest communication. ... The reason being, you are going to run into problems. Jealousy can rear its ugly head, a specific image might not leave your mind, and it’s important to be able to have an honest and loving conversation about that, so that you can navigate any roadblocks. That being said, sharing everything is not necessary. It’s not necessary that you know the entire contents of the book, just that you have access to it if you need to.
Would you be able to know, intellectually, that your spouse/partner is having sex and having an intimate relationship with someone else and be alright with it? ...
Would you feel guilty for getting your emotional/sexual needs met by more than one person?...
Would you feel guilty for double dating (you dating your preferred member of another couple, while your spouse/partner did the same)? This is often the beginner’s way to ease into things. ...
...If you can read all of this and still think it’s not entirely out of the question, then congratulations. This mode of living could possibly be for you. What should follow is an analysis of your relationship on every level to see if it could survive the growing pains necessary to dip your toes in the water. ...
The History Of Polyamory
How Common Is Polyamory Today?
What Are Some Misconceptions About Polyamory?
What Are The Benefits Of Polyamory? – Polyamory Decreases Cheating
– More Needs Are Met
– More Love Has Psychological Benefits
– Polyamory Can Help You Both [sic] To Become Emotionally Stronger
What Should You Consider Before Trying Polyamory In Your Relationship? – What Would The Ramifications Be?
– Is Your Relationship Ready For This?
How Do You Get Started? – Deal With Your Past Ghosts First
Being prepared means reflecting on your past relationships and asking yourself: ‘What have been some of my issues in the past?’ ‘Do I tend to crave a lot of time and attention from my partners, or do I prefer to keep things cool?’ ‘How emotionally invested do I tend to get?’ ‘How can I learn from my past relationships to prepare myself for a polyamorous one?’
– Take It Slow
– Agree On Boundaries
– Enlist Help, When Needed
One hidden gem in this area is going to “pastoral counseling” with a Unitarian clergy member. Most of them are very open-minded, and can bring both psychological and spiritual elements into the discussion. Strange, but true!
...There are plenty of people who live their lives in loving and fulfilling polyamorous relationships. Because polyamorous relationships exist primarily outside of the mainstream, they are something that many people don’t understand. Here are the basics....
There is no evidence that monogamous relationships are better.
This is true across the board, whether we’re talking about longevity, sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy or happiness in general. That being said, there is also no evidence that polyamory is better, either. The important thing is that you do what feels right for you and your partner(s).
The “right one” is a myth.
We are sold a bill of goods that says that there is one soulmate for everyone, just waiting to make you feel complete. ...
Polyamory isn’t only for people who don’t get jealous. ....
Polyamory is more common than you think. ...
Polyamory is not a constant orgy.
Polyamory can involve a range of relationships, from friendships to group sexual situations — and everything in between. ...
Polyamory is not cheating. ...
Children raised in polyamorous families do just as well as other children. ...
What seems to be most important is support, routine and modeling healthy modes of romantic love that features communication and responsibility, honesty and compromise.
Polyamory is not necessarily easy.
It takes emotional intelligence, respect, boundaries and excellent communication skills to make a polyamorous relationship work. However, it’s not necessarily more work than a traditional monogamous relationship.
No relationships complete you.
You are already complete. If you come into any relationship — polyamorous or monogamous — expecting it to make you whole, it will only let you down.
...And so there [my dad and I] sat, watching the final dates Jojo had with the final two bachelors contestants [on Bachelorette];
“So wait, she’s kissing both of them?!” – my dad asked, confused and disoriented.
“So wait, she’s introducing both of them to her parents?” – my dad asked, in utter shock.
“So wait, she’s going to the fantasy suite with him, too?!” – my dad asked, deplorably disgusted.
“So wait, she’s in love with both of them?!” – my dad asked, genuinely confused, shocked and possibly even in awe.
Yes, yes, yes and yes, daddy-o. And she’s not the only one.
...We call this say-what? type of relationship polyamory.
...So why would someone want to do that?
Because for them, it comes naturally. They don’t see relationships in any other way. For them, non-monogomy is a way of being and way of life. It also gives the couple [sic] the certainty and comfort that they’re with their ultimate partner, but still allows them to experience other people and connections.
Polyamory is the reigning authority over all monogamish relationships. Reserved for only the most secure, it enables folks to love freely, forming relationships (sexual, emotional or both) with a multitude of people. ... Instead of telling your partners what they can and can’t do (and vice versa) all parties involved are free agents. [Well, sometimes. What they're really talking about is RA, Relationship Anarchy. –Ed.]
In Morgan Potts’ essay “Polyamory as a Rejection of Capitalism” they suggest that “ethical non-monogamy” not only guarantees the “romantic and sexual autonomy of every person” but also emphasizes the importance of the individual over a pair or a group. To be polyamorous you have to first be secure with yourself. ...
...While millennials might have been the first generation to deal with the so-called divorce epidemic, today’s youth have been raised in an era where “till death do us part” is no longer realistic. Known for their optimism and go-getter attitudes, Gen Z’ers are the perfect people to lead the path to polyamory.
How Does Polyamory Work?
The key is to figure out the terms of your arrangement — if there are any. The most liberal poly folks might not have any limits on their relationships, while others stick to a few hard rules (e.g. the weekends are just for us). Some people use the guise of a monogamish relationship to do shitty things. ... Others are able to manage their jealousy.
Compersion: The Opposite of Jealousy....
Playing the Feeld
Apps like Feeld encourage people to be upfront about both their desires and expectations, and can be a good place to dabble in polyamory — so go play ;)
Whether you’re already monogamish or in the midst of building a designer relationship, make sure to keep checking in with number one: yourself. No one said dismantling centuries-old societal norms would be easy. ... Let go of the notion of people as property and we will all be a little more free.
...You make your own rules in every relationship, but there are some general rules you must keep in mind before you opt for polyamory.
Don’t treat it as competition....
Do have a say in the relationship. The rules need to be mutual, so if you don’t agree to a certain rule or clause, oppose, argue and communicate. The rules must apply to both [sic] partners equally.
Don’t criticize your partner or discuss personal details with others. The two of you [sic] are committed in a unique relationship, respect that.
Do support each other in difficult situations. Since you are committed to one partner [sic], you need to be there for them when they need you.
Don’t compare yourself with your partner’s partners. Just because your partner has gone bungee jumping with them doesn’t mean he/she has to do it with you.
Do express your feelings and needs.... Don’t go searching a new person for every small need....
Don’t use polyamory to fix your relationship. ... Fix your problems and then opt for other partners if you both agree and feel the need to.
Do respect your partner’s choices of people they hang out with. ... If you don’t like the other person, just practice basic courtesy, that’s it.
– Open relationships require thorough consideration and planning – Communication is key – Jealousy will happen – You learn to get creative around "date night" – New partners need to understand the primary dynamic – Every emotion must be dealt with in open relationships – Most people won't understand
Okay, my conclusion, if you haven't guessed it by now:
Although our message continues to get across pretty accurately, there's one clear difference: The wider world immediately thinks in terms of primary couples opening their relationship. The poly community often thinks farther, in terms of whole new paradigms of agency, romance, and family.
In other words: changing the rules of a marriage, versus embracing a broader new view of romantic love and intimate community.
And maybe this is strategically just fine. Michael Rios, activist in the Network for a New Culture, has long said, "This is how you get people to accept a new thing. You show them that it's just like this thing they already know, but with one new twist."