Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan

October 20, 2014

Research news: "12 Surprising Facts About Non-Monogamy"


Sex researcher and public educator Zhana Vrangalova has a new research-news article up:

Open Relationships Reduce Jealousy? 12 Surprising Facts About Non-Monogamy

By Zhana Vrangalova

Zhana Vrangalova
Consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships... are slowly gaining visibility in the media.... Here are 12 things that recent research reveals about these relationships and the people involved in them. (Some of this research is so brand new that it hasn’t yet been published, only presented at professional conferences, so you’re getting a sneak preview.)

Here are the article's 12 section leads:

1. People in CNM relationships may be more prevalent than gay people.

2. Up to 40% of men and up to 25% of women might consider CNM.

3. Desire for (non)monogamy exists on a continuum.

4. Stigma against CNM is strong, robust, and incredibly pervasive.

5. This stigma is so pervasive, that even people who are themselves in a CNM relationship think that CNM is inferior to monogamy.

6. Not all CNM types are perceived as equally bad.

7. When having sex with other people, CNM folks are more responsible regarding health than supposedly monogamous people who are cheating.

8. As a result, CNM people do not report more sexually transmitted infections than monogamous folks. As I reported in a recent Playboy article, unpublished data presented at by Justin Lehmiller suggests that people in CNM relationships report virtually identical rates of STIs as those in monogamous relationships – about 20%.

9. Swingers report more exciting and satisfying lives — sexually and otherwise — than the general population.

10. People in CNM relationships experience less jealousy than those in monogamous relationships.

11. CNM couples usually report similar (and sometimes higher) relationship quality than monogamous couples.

12. Perhaps more critically, it may be the lying and hiding that’s linked to worse relationships.

There is so much more to be learned about CNM and the people involved in it, but science is finally starting to ask these questions.

Zhana Vrangalova, PhD, is a NYC-based sex researcher who studies casual sex, nonmonogamy, and sexual orientation, and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at New York University where she teaches Human Sexuality.

Here's the article (Oct. 15, 2014).



October 18, 2014

*Polyamory: Married & Dating* reviewed in its afterlife


Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating reality series remains available for streaming if you're a Showtime subscriber. A year after it disappeared from TV (there was no Season 3), it got a very favorable review this morning on Decider.com, which bills itself as "the first entertainment and pop culture destination site created to help today’s on-demand generation discover the best streaming content."

‘Polyamory': Part Documentary, Part Soap Opera And Part Softcore Porn

By Brooke Moreland

When I first came across the Showtime original series Polyamory (available to stream on the Showtime Anytime app), I didn’t know what to expect.... Pretty much everything I knew about polyamory I learned from the Dan Savage podcast or from a few hippies I knew in Austin in the early aughts, but I was very interested in how a mainstream premium cable network would handle a subject like this. Turns out, it does it very, very well.

The Hollywood triad from Season 2 of Polyamory: Married & Dating

The series is the perfect balance of a fascinating anthropological documentary, a juicy soap opera, and a titillating softcore porn. I’ve never seen anything quite like it anywhere in television and film.... This brand of polyamory — sex-positive, female-empowered, and focusing on honesty above all — includes more than a few “processing” conversations. The emotions and dynamics are nuanced, and the characters are deep, smart and seem like actual humans. Just normal people who happen to be super hot and have very untraditional love and relationship setups.... And the range of emotions we see are just spectacular... makes for great TV.

The whole review (Oct. 18, 2014).

The show's afterlife online and on demand (paid in all cases) may explain why I keep get search hits for the nonexistent Season 3. I covered the series pretty closely in 2012 and 2013, including recaps/spoilers and video clips.



October 17, 2014

Katha Pollitt on Wonder Woman's kinky polyfamily origins

The Atlantic

DC Entertainment

Feminist writer Katha Pollitt delves into the character and household that, in 1941, brewed up Wonder Woman as a utopian feminist power-bondage icon. Pollitt draws from Jill Lepore's new book The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Lepore also wrote the magazine articles about Wonder Woman's background that I posted about last month.

...How the underemployed, emotionally demanding [William Moulton] Marston got to remain the overbearing patriarch is a bit of a puzzle.

It can’t have been an easy life, but their big house in Rye, New York, seems to have been a jolly place, with lots of pets, tipsy parties, and, [wife Elizabeth] Holloway said much later, “love making for all.” Still, it is sad to read of the way both women’s ambitions were slowly squelched. Holloway, as smart and energetic as Marston, got a law degree but couldn’t find work in the field. She and [Olive] Byrne each started on the path to a doctorate in psychology, but saw the handwriting on the wall: It was nearly impossible for a woman to get a good academic job, so why continue? Of the two, Byrne seems to have paid the bigger price for their unconventional arrangement. For decades she pretended to be the widow of a fictitious Mr. Richard, a kind of housekeeper or distant relative; ultimately she even allowed Marston and Holloway to adopt her children. The heavy bracelets she wore, so like Wonder Woman’s “bracelets of submission,” were all very well, but socially, a wedding ring was what really counted.

...Marston died in 1947, and though Wonder Woman forged on, she was soon shorn of her feminism.... Holloway and Byrne, on the other hand, lived together happily for 43 more years, raising their children and working, Holloway for Metropolitan Life, Byrne, eventually, as [Margaret] Sanger’s personal secretary. When they visited Sanger in Tucson, they slept in the same room. Perhaps they found their Paradise Island in the end.

Read the whole article: Wonder Woman’s Kinky Feminist Roots (Oct. 14, 2014).

Update Oct. 19: That article is in the print Atlantic. This more penetrating examination of the Marston menage has appeared on the Atlantic's website: The Free Love Experiment That Created Wonder Woman, by Noah Berlatsky.



October 16, 2014

Poly Problems as seen by Dan Savage

Many alternative media

This week Dan Savage devotes his Savage Love column to readers' poly messes. Aside from his almost impossibly strict definition of "triad," I don't see much to disagree with. How about you?

Joe Newton
...And now the real problem: His desire to bring another woman into our relationship borders on obsession.... I have this fervent wish that he doesn't find someone. So do I sit back and hope that he doesn't find another woman, or should I be upfront with him and tell him that I'm not interested in threesomes anymore? I'm afraid that if he finds someone, my jealousy — which I work very hard to hide from him — will break us up.

Just Wants To Be Monogamous

Ask yourself which conversation will be more difficult:

A. After a frustrating and protracted search, your boyfriend finally manages to find a woman who's interested in being your "friend and lover," JWTBM. At that point you tell him you're no longer interested and he needn't have bothered.

B. You tell your boyfriend today — now — that you're not interested in bringing a third into the relationship.

...I would argue that having the conversation now would be preferable.... And who knows? An honest and open conversation about the state of your relationship — including the fact that you're dissatisfied with the once-a-week routine and the waning of D/s — may [reignite your] interest in a third. Would you feel differently if it turned out she wasn't for him, but for you?...

I'm not telling you that you have to agree to the third — if it's monogamy you want, then it's monogamy you should ask for — but keep your mind, your options, and those lines of communication all open.

I'm a middle-aged, fat, and happy gay man. My partner has a best friend, and they share everything — including our bed. Most weekends, we tromp through town together, watch TV together, and share waking and sleeping moments together. Recently I referred to us as "poly and in a triad," and I was shocked by my partner's response. He claims that we aren't a triad; I say that if we're sharing home, heart, and bed, we're in a poly relationship. Sign me...

Honest Accidentally Poly Person, Yep

Perhaps it's the triad designation that makes your partner uncomfortable. That particular label implies that you're all equal partners — not just equally attracted to each other and in love with each other (which three people rarely are), but equals on the emotional, social, and financial fronts as well, i.e., equally obligated to one another....

I'm a married 28-year-old male. My partner and I are conflicted over the level of openness in our relationship. She describes herself as "post-mononormative." I consider myself GGG....

I reject the polyamorous notion that love is limitless — when she has misinterpreted conversations and transgressed boundaries, it has always coincided with the neglect of our own relationship. I have given up seeking the moral high ground and just want to find a solution. Should I have polyamorous relationships of my own? Or should I focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences with my partner? And do her transgressions mean that the boundaries we've set are not explicit or generous enough?

Non-Normative Problems

I don't think retaliatory polyamory is healthy or sustainable.... And while you can focus on cultivating shared erotic experiences, NNP, your partner has made it clear that she needs — and intends to have — novel experiences that don't include you. And while her transgressions may mean the boundaries you've set aren't explicit or generous enough, NNP, it's likelier that your partner gets off on transgression. Some people do.

I think you're confused, NNP, and your confusion stems from the fact that your partner is negotiating with you about her nonnegotiable terms.... Accept her terms or divorce her ass, but stop deluding yourself.

Read the whole column, which is more nuanced than these excerpts. (Oct. 15, 2015).


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October 11, 2014

*More Than Two* in the media: new roundup

Cat with book *More Than Two* by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert
More shameless cat-pic promo
I'm still waiting to see reviews of More Than Two in mainstream media by book reviewers outside the polyworld bubble. Within the bubble, people are raving about it. But a month and a half since its official publication date, I'm not seeing a breakout yet.

Meanwhile, authors Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert have reached the desert southwest in their cross-country book tour, driving a 22-year-old vehicle with an unplanned new radiator. This evening (Saturday the 11th) they're appearing at Santa Fe's Op Cit Books.

*More Than Two* book authors Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert at the Grand Canyon
Eve, Franklin, and the #nerdsexploitingsharks mascot at the Grand Canyon.

Here's a roundup of the latest non-major-media coverage.

● Rave review by Cross at xcBDSM:

I began reading the book expecting it to be good. I expected to read a lot of things that I already knew, though perhaps articulated better than I had read before.... I planned to highlight a few passages to quote in the review and say some nice things about it.

But I was wrong.

Yes, at first, much of what I read was familiar to me. But the amazing thing about this book, and why I am ready to buy a couple dozen copies to hand out to my friends, is that it truly does break new ground. There were ideas that I had never considered before, approaches that were new and interesting.

...The book could be accurately described as a tool box. Unlike previous books on the subject which focus very heavily on establishing the shape and structure of your open relationship, this book begins and ends with two very important tenets: “1. The people in the relationship are more important than the relationship, and 2. Don’t Treat People as Things.” These two axioms are repeated throughout, and the authors give special attention to all of the individuals involved. With these things in mind, they provide a wealth of tools, techniques and strategies for successfully navigating the (still) largely uncharted waters of polyamory.

The book revolves around five central themes: Trust, Courage, Abundance, Ethics, and Empowerment. These themes provide the heartbeat for the book, and while they aren’t discussed individually or explicitly... the authors [made] sure that everything they wrote reflected them....

Read the whole article (Aug. 25, 2014).

● Jessica Burde published an article on the book, including how it came about, in the unconventional-lifestyle online magazine The Plaid Zebra:

...The authors advise that couples shouldn’t go into polyamory intending to “try” it. The book lays out some solid logic in opposition [to this] — it isn’t fair to use your new partners as guinea pigs for your relationship experiments, and polyamory is a lot like skydiving. You can’t ease out of the plane, sit on the wing for a while, cling to the landing gear until you feel safe....

“When you leave that plane,” Franklin says, “there is no going back. Even if you decide poly is not for you, you may go back to monogamy, but you’re probably going to approach your relationship differently after that, and that is okay.”


As Eve puts it,

“The early stages of a poly relationship are very hard if you are not prepared to confront that struggle and move through it. When you hit that struggle, which is going to happen, you are going to put other people at risk. And it is really worth it to sit down beforehand and discuss [how you will handle the struggle].”...

Read the whole article (undated; September 2014).

Review in the student newspaper of the University of Texas/ Austin:

...Any time we try to create relationships outside of traditional cultural scripts, we can expect to face problems we are unprepared to solve. But what I really appreciated about More Than Two is the authors' insistence that all the tools necessary to be successful at poly are actually just relationship tools more generally....

● An audio interview at Kinxr Podcast (with the mic going live way too soon, IMO. The interview proper begins around 11:45). Length 1 hour 16 mins. Skip ahead; it gets more solid later:

● In the Santa Fe Reporter, in advance of tonight's stop on their book tour:

Three Questions (Oct. 9, 2014):

Q: Personally, what was the most enlightening part of writing this book?

A: ...For a long, long time I had written about polyamory, but I’d never actually written my own story. I had always written about the conclusions that I have drawn about how to do poly well, but I’d never written the story of my poly experiences personally. My partner Eve decided that was an important part of this book, and that was kind of an awesome experience.

● And a nice callout in the weekend arts & culture section of the Santa Fe New Mexican: Two is the loneliest number: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory (Oct. 10, 2014):

...Poly is a relationship style, not a sexual practice, and many configurations exist within it. Being poly doesn’t necessarily involve group sex or anything particularly adventurous in the bedroom, although for some people it does. Poly people are also not all pagan or into New Age spirituality, and many dislike the assumption that they are naturally more emotionally evolved or open-minded than monogamous people. Successful polyamory requires that everyone in a given relationship be willing to listen, learn, and grow to sustain long-term commitments to one another — the same as in any happy, lasting relationship....

● Eve and Franklin were interviewed from Brazil for the new magazine Revista Mandala: Amor Multiplicado – Para Quem Ama Do Um (October 2014).

● A review in Russia, by a writer who must stay anonymous, on the Russian poly site polyamory.progressor.ru. Open it in Chrome, and Google Translate will offer to turn it into machine English. As cleaned up a bit by me:

Non-monogamy for normal people

Dear friends! I know that many of you, one way or another, are involved in relationships that do not fit traditional notions of monogamy — having read Heinlein, or hiked in Sinton, or under the influence of alcohol or friends, or even maybe you came to the idea independently.

I know that many of you have not just been or are involved in non-monogamous relationships, but also that you prefer not to discuss it. Or even studiously ignore it. I have often noticed from the corner of my eye (and a couple of times not the corner) an attitude toward me among friends and acquaintances as to being an abnormal pervert, because I talk about this topic, and look for information....

So, I suggest you at least think about how to read a book that was written for normal people who just consider some conventions to be limitations....


Moreover, the second section of this book and, in part, the third, I would recommend to all people who want their relationships to be happy, even if the relationship is strictly monogamous. What it says about the obstacles to healthy communication between people and what contributes to it, I have not seen expressed in such a systematic and concise way anywhere in literature addressed to married couples, although at one time I read a lot of it....

This book, however, has a very significant drawback: it is thick and it is written in English. And it is unlikely to be translated into Russian in the coming years, especially in light of the current struggle against spiritual buckles....

Past coverage.


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September 30, 2014

"5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists"

Psychology Today blogs

Here's a new article by Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door and the forthcoming Stories from the Polycule:

5 Lessons Monogamous Families can Learn from Polyamorists

Because polyamorous relationships can be intense and complicated, the people who engage in them over the long term put a lot of time, effort, and thought into developing strategies to help their relationships last and survive hardship. While polyamory itself is certainly not for everyone, these strategies can be useful for people in all sorts of relationships. Divorced parents and others in blended families will find them especially relevant.

1. Communicate Honestly

...Even when communicating about difficult things that feel less positive, polys use the strategies of telling the truth and being willing to tolerate the conflict in order to work through the problem as tools to sustain their relationships over time.

2. Don’t Leave Too Soon....

3. Don’t Stay Too Long....

...People can choose to view their relationships as good for what worked for whatever period of time that was, and then [it was] time to move on when they no longer met the needs of the people involved. In other words, the end can just be an end, or even transition to a new kind of relationship.

4. Be Flexible, Allow for Change....

...If the ways in which the relationship has been going so far are not working, then trying something else can be quite effective. This can mean shifting expectations and letting go of former patterns, which can be both invigorating and frightening....

5. De-Emphasize Sexuality

...The end of sex does not have to mean end of relationship. Remaining friends is a real choice, and especially important when people have had children together....

Read the whole article (Sept. 29, 2014).

P. S.: Sheff and her new publishers (the Thorntree Press folks) are still seeking your polyfamily's true stories — long or short, text or art — for Stories from the Polycule. The deadline for submissions is October 15. More info.

Her previous article at the Psychology Today site was Seven Forms of Non-Monogamy.