Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



April 15, 2014

Iran: "Open Relationships In A Closed Society"

IranWire

At the online news site "of a group of Iranian journalists in the Diaspora," a reporter looks at open-relationship stirrings among Iranian young people.


Open Relationships In A Closed Society

By Hadis Elmi


When Vahid was honest about his open relationship, friends constantly interrogated him: “You are not jealous? Have you no honor? Do you think this relationship is going anywhere?”

The relationship between Vahid and his wife is different from that of other couples. Both have sexual relationships with other people. They live in Iran, and started having an open relationship when Vahid was required to travel for a year during their engagement....

...For people like Vahid, the motto “One God, One Partner” is both meaningless and impractical. For them, the idea that if a person is in love he or she won’t even think about a third person is totally nonsensical. Though most societies do not approve of sexual relationships that involve more than one partner and often regard such behavior as debauched and deceitful, for some young people who do not accept these rules, it is a way of life. For those who promote free love, commitment to only one person amounts to selfishness.

In an open relationship, two people agree to be with each other, but also allow relationships with others at the same time. The idea of sexual or emotional relationships with others is acceptable to both parties. Unlike a relationship that conforms to traditional rules, an open relationship is unlikely to end on grounds of what would normally be regarded as an act of infidelity.

It might be assumed that an open relationship is more compatible with Western and free societies. But recently it has become more acceptable for some young Iranians....

Maryam is in an open relationship. She now lives in Europe but her first experience was in Iran. She says the idea first appealed to her when she realized she wanted to be involved with women in addition to her relationship with her boyfriend.... Soon after expressing her interest in sleeping with women, Maryam discovered that she wanted to sleep with other men too. Though he could accept that Maryam might have relationships with girls, her boyfriend balked at the idea of her seeing other men. “In his view, this showed that I did not love him. Our relationship died eventually.”

After emigrating to Europe, she formed an open relationship with another man. “What is between us,” she says, “is not only sex. Many people like us live together, socialize together, are in love with each other and rely on each other. We all define what would break up our relationship differently.”...


Read on (February 2014). "IranWire seeks to empower Iranian citizen journalists by creating a forum in which young Iranians can discuss national and local news, providing training modules and putting Iranian citizen journalists inside the country in touch with professional Iranian journalists."

Also see Sexy spring: How group sex will liberate Iran, China, a long excerpt from Katherine Frank's book Plays Well In Groups: A Journey Through The World Of Group Sex that was printed in Salon last July.

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April 14, 2014

Dossie Easton on polyamory community, getting *The Ethical Slut* published, and more

Wag's Revue

Dossie Easton is 70 this year. She's a psychotherapist, co-author of The Ethical Slut and a variety of kink handbooks, and a delightful speaker at poly and other sex-positive gatherings. She just had a 13-page interview published in the quarterly literary magazine Wag's Revue:


Illustration for Dossie Easton interview
Dossie Easton, born in 1944 and a slut since 1969, is dedicated to exploring new paradigms of gender, sexuality, and relationships.... [She] chatted with contributor Abby Koski on the phone about how the Internet has shaped polyamory, modern marriages, radical publishing, the craft of co-authorship, and erotic art.

Easton: I learned to use the word “slut” in an approving manner when I was living with gay men for fifteen years, and you know, the baths were a big deal during that wonderful time in the 70s, and it’s still continuing now, but the opening of sexuality was just gorgeous, it was just amazing, and so we did a lot of reclaiming of language.

...Are there any big differences, or similarities, that you notice when you compare the open community today versus the open community when you became involved in it?

Oh, I laugh. Back in 1971, my daughter was two years old, and I had been non-monogamous since 1969. It was a decision I made three months after my daughter was born, and I found myself a single mother due to circumstances I had not planned, and it was the communal era, there was a lot of living communally and raising children communally. The biggest extended family I joined was in the Bay Area here, and it was a house in The Society for Creative Anachronism. I mean, this is one particular group of people who have established themselves as poly a long time ago, and their institutions continue to be very polyamorous, so it’s one place people can go and find peers who are interested in doing this stuff.

...There’s an enormous amount of prejudice when people open their relationships, still. And so if people don’t have some sort of community, it’s going to be really isolating, and they’ll have no one to talk to when things get difficult. And paying someone like me is only part of the solution.

Right, it’s a community learning process. It’s not about just one couple, or one person, figuring it all out.

Yeah! ...If a couple opens their relationship, is there someone else out there who is experienced and has knowledge about common problems one may run across? You can’t get it all from books!...


Here's page 1 of the interview; click the right arrow to flip the pages. (Spring 2014 issue).

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More than Two: A practical Guide to ethical polyamory
In other book news, Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert's More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory is all done but the publishing! Which will happen with fanfare on May 30th. I like the cover they chose, but I like the content even more — and not just because I edited it. All 480 pages of it, as the finished book will be.

Despite its size, and despite the fact that it's self-published (under their new Thorntree Press imprint), they managed to bring it in at an Amazon price of $17.75. You can pre-order here at that price.

Here's a Chapter 1 excerpt and the table of contents.

As I say on the back cover, this book is going to be an Event. It will set the new standard for realistic, down-to-earth guidance on how to make ethical multi-relationships work, as interest in them becomes more mainstream.

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April 11, 2014

"What Rolling Stone didn't get about 'Millennials’ Sexual Revolution' "

Los Angeles Times website

Remember last week's Rolling Stone article Tales from the Millennials' Sexual Revolution? And remember Emmett Rensin, the young author who on Valentine's Day published a striking literary account of his stormy poly life? Today the latter criticizes the former on the opinion blogs of the Los Angeles Times:


What Rolling Stone didn't get about 'Millennials’ Sexual Revolution'

By Emmett Rensin, guest blogger

Even after reading Rolling Stone’s recent article “Tales From the Millennials’ Sexual Revolution,” you might not have realized it was about polyamory. It was easy to miss. In several thousand words, the term appeared only one time. And no one could be blamed if the phrase that author Alex Morris chose in its stead caused even more confusion: “The New Monogamy.” Huh?

...While well researched and amply quoted, Morris’ article engaged in an old, ugly trend of mischaracterizing polyamory as some kind of newly emerging phenomenon, discovered by Morris while investigating a “new sexual revolution.”

...So, if I may temporarily take the dangerous step of speaking for my community, here are some common misunderstandings that have come out of these stories, and some clarifications for future stories:

Polyamory isn’t [just] a trend among young people....

Polyamory doesn’t entail a particular relationship structure....

Polyamory is not [all] about sex.... Polyamory, at bottom, is about love, and about the idea that love is not a zero-sum game in which one partner’s gain is another’s inevitable loss. If sex comes into that, then it comes into it, but sex as an expression of love isn’t anything unique to us.

Finally: Polyamory is not a revolution. We are not rebels. We are not trying to delegitimize monogamy.

Sorry if all of that is less exciting. But hey, who knows? Maybe once the real stories are out there, this whole polyamory thing won’t seem to be “new” or revolutionary after all.

Emmett Rensin is an author, essayist and political activist in Chicago, Ill. His previous work has appeared in USA Today, Salon and the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Read the whole article (April 11, 2014).

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April 9, 2014

"In Mainstream Media, Polyamory is Getting Attention"

Bitch Media

Just after my last post on poly and feminism, Bitch Media, the website of Bitch magazine ("the feminist response to pop culture"), today published a long article discussing how the mainstream media are treating polyamory:


In Mainstream Media, Polyamory is Getting Attention

By Erica Thomas

Mainstream media appears to suddenly have an appetite for polyamory.... In recent years, I’ve been surprised to find stories about happy people in non-monogamous, non-dyad relationships popping up pretty frequently in major newspapers, magazines, and on news sites.

Our culture’s ideas about what’s a “conventional” relationship has been expanding for decades in many ways.... As part of that shift, non-monogamy appears to have entered the public sphere as something we can casually discuss over breakfast. Suddenly polyamory trend pieces are everywhere....

...After reading through dozens of stories about non-monogamy published in the past few years, I found that three basic stories kept being repeated. I’ll refer to these three groupings as the Comfortable Distance story, the Personal Profile, and the Slippery Slope.

A 2009 Newsweek article exemplifies the “comfortable distance” framing of what they refer to as “the phenomenon.” The article by Jessica Bennett asks whether polyamory is “the next sexual revolution” and lays out a fairly neutral description of non-monogamous relationships for the uninitiated. But it sets off non-monogamy as something that most people would find bizarre....

...[Sierra] Black’s essay nicely illustrates the personal profile. Many of the most complicated and humanist portrayals of non-monogamous relationships are done as interviews or profiles of an actual person who is trying some version of non-monogamy. These are typically compassionate, intimate stories....

...The political right has been identifying non-monogamous relationships as part of a slippery slope that starts with marriage equality and leads not only to polyamory but to polygamy, child abuse, incest, and the right to marry anything.... Even within the slippery slope articles, some are more judicious in their approach than others.

It does seem that non-monogamy is becoming mainstream enough to discuss openly now. It helps that more people in open relationships are coming out and speaking up about their experiences. As coverage increases, reports on non-monogamy seem to be moving to a more positive place — one that dispels myths by encouraging polyamorous people at the center of the stories speak for themselves....

Erica Thomas is an artist, writer, filmmaker, project manager, and feminist (among other things) based in Portland, OR.


Read the whole 2,000-word article (April 9, 2014).

Previous poly articles in Bitch, including several advice columns by Megan Carpentier, "Ms. Opinionated."

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April 7, 2014

For feminists: "So You Want to Try Polyamory"


The modern poly movement has been feminist from the start, in ideology and in most of its leaders — from its founders in the mid-1980s, through the bold new women spokespeople and organizers who continue to emerge year after year.

Factoid: of the 37 nonfiction books about polyamory published in the last 30 years, women authors and co-authors outnumber men 3 to 1.

This morning, the online magazine Everyday Feminism posted a big, thoughtful Poly 101 article by Ginny Brown:


Source: Showtime, Polyamory: Married & Dating
So You Want to Try Polyamory

So you’ve been reading about polyamory and have decided it’s something you want to try. Or maybe you’re still thinking about it, but don’t have a clear sense of where you’d even begin....

Questions to Ask Yourself

Partly because it’s outside of our cultural norm, and partly because it involves coordinating the needs and preferences of so many people, being happily polyamorous pretty much requires the ability to reflect on what you want and communicate it with your partners.

1. Why Do I Want This?

What great things are you expecting polyamory to bring to your life? More sex? Someone to go with you to movies that your partner hates? A warm, loving community of friends and lovers?

...If you’re opening up an existing relationship, it’s good for you to know what your partner is hoping to gain and vice versa.

Articulating why you want to be poly will also help you navigate the times when it’s tough: You can look back at your goals and assess whether you’re moving toward them overall and whether working through the hard stuff is still worth it.

2. What Would an Ideal Situation Look Like?

This will likely change with time, experience, and the people you meet, but it’s still good to set a baseline expectation.

Does the idea of a big house with five or six adults sharing love, sex, and household responsibilities sound awesome or alarming? Would you like to have a lot of partners that you see occasionally, or just two or three that you focus on?... Would you prefer to be friends with your partners’ partners, or keep relationships separate?...

3. What Are My Insecurities and Fears?

Seeing a partner enjoy a loving relationship with someone else has the potential to bring all of your insecurities to the forefront, so it’s helpful to get in some work on addressing them ahead of time.

...Whatever your personal buttons are, polyamory will almost certainly push them....

4. How Will I Handle Jealousy?...

5. What Are My Boundaries Around STIs and Protection?

...The vast majority of the poly community are strict about using condoms for intercourse with new partners, at the very least. Beyond that, it’s a matter of personal comfort.

Do you want to use condoms and dental dams for oral sex? How often will you get tested for STIs?....

6. How Will We Handle Dates and Scheduling?

...If you’re opening up a relationship, you’ll want to set expectations about logistics....

How to Meet People

...OKCupid is overwhelmingly the most popular site for non-monogamous people.... Another good way to meet people is to go to poly meetups....

Mistakes to Avoid

1. Being a Dating Hound

A lot of people decide to be poly, connect with a community, and immediately start flirting with or asking out everyone they think is cute.... By jumping immediately to “Who here can I make out with?” you’re taking the focus off building friendships. And building friendships with other poly folk is helpful on multiple levels.... I recommend giving at least as much energy to making solid friendships and finding the people who will be your poly support network.

2. Getting Swept Up in the NRE....

3. Letting Fear Determine the Course of Your Relationships


Setting rules and boundaries is important, but it’s also important to make sure these are being set for the right reasons.... There will be times when it’s hard and scary, and times when it’s exhilarating and life-giving. It can take some time to figure out how — or even if – polyamory works best in your life.

Embrace the process.

Ginny Brown is a writer, speaker, and educator specializing in sexuality and relationships. She recently completed her M.Ed in Human Sexuality and teaches college courses in health and sexuality. She also writes at www.polyskeptic.com, a blog about polyamory, atheism, and culture....


Read the whole article (April 7, 2014).

Also at Everyday Feminism:

Love Without Boundaries: The Practice of Loving Many by Ichi Vazquez (Aug. 10, 2013; a sweet piece reprinted from The Indypendent).

More Than Two: Examining the Myths and Facts of Polyamory by Laura Kacere (Oct. 15, 2013).

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Elsewhere, some other items:

Why Women Are the Catalyst and Foundation for Polyamory, by Manning Haile (Nov. 18, 2013).

● A 17-minute Mimi Schippers video on polyamory at The Feminist Wire (Sept. 13, 2013).

● Angi Becker Stevens' feminism series at The Radical Poly Agenda. Excerpt (July 25, 2013):


I think that poly without feminism can potentially be a rather dangerous thing. If polyamory is just a means of reproducing traditional sexist dynamics in relationships with multiple partners, then we’re stepping dangerously close to everything that’s wrong with traditional patriarchal “one man-many women” polygamy. I see polyamory veering close to this in relationships with the so-called “one-penis-policy,” for example....


● My previous items tagged "Feminism" (including this one; scroll down).

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In other news:


It's less than three weeks to Loving More's Rocky Mountain Poly Living conference in Denver, April 25–27. This is the first-ever Poly Living in that region, following the growth of Poly Living East that Loving More puts on every February in Philadelphia.

And by the way, each of Loving More's owners/leaders in its 28 years of existence have been women: Ryam Nearing and Deborah Anapol, then Nearing alone, then Mary Wolf, then Robyn Trask.

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April 1, 2014

Rolling Stone: "Tales from the Millennials' Sexual Revolution"


Rolling Stone has published the first half (the cis/hetero half) of a two-part series on how the next generation is not going the way of their parents, relationship-wise. Open non-monogamy is a big focus of the article, and poly gets attention by name near the beginning.

Another interesting point in the article: today's young-uns are having somewhat less sex than past cohorts did. (My guess: it's so quick and easy now to fap to iporn.)


Tales from the Millennials' Sexual Revolution

This generation is radically rethinking straight sex and marriage, but at what cost? In Part One of a two-part series, Rolling Stone goes under the covers in search of new approaches to intimacy, commitment and hooking up.

Getty Images

By Alex Morris

By the end of their dinner at a small Italian restaurant in New York’s West Village, Leah is getting antsy to part ways with her boyfriend Ryan, so that she can go meet up with her boyfriend Jim. It’s not that she means to be rude, it’s just that Jim has been traveling for work, so it’s been a while since she’s seen him. Ryan gets this. As her “primary partner” and the man with whom she lives, he is the recipient of most of Leah’s attention, sexual and otherwise, but he understands her need to seek companionship from other quarters roughly one night a week. Tonight is one of those nights, and soon Leah will head to Jim’s penthouse apartment, where the rest of the evening, she says, will probably entail “hanging out, watching something, having sex.” “She’ll usually spend the night,” Ryan adds nonchalantly, which gives him a chance to enjoy some time alone or even invite another woman over. He doesn’t have a long-standing secondary relationship like Leah (“I’ve actually veered away from doing that”), but he certainly enjoys the company of other women, even sometimes when Leah is home. “I like everyone to meet each other and be friends and stuff,” he explains.

...When Ryan moved to New York and began living with Leah a year and a half later, he assumed they would transition immediately into monogamy.... He was therefore surprised when the first thing Leah gave him after the move was a book called The Ethical Slut, considered to be a primer on how to handle a non-monogamous relationship....

...They see themselves as part of a growing trend of folks who do not view monogamy as any type of ideal. “There’s this huge group of younger people that are involved in these things,” says Ryan — an observation that seemed borne out of a monthly event called “Poly Cocktails,” held at an upstairs bar on the Lower East Side a few weeks later, in which one would have been hard-pressed to realize that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill mixer (a guy who’d wandered in accidentally must have eventually figured it out; he was later seen by the bar grinning widely as he chatted up two women).

In fact, Leah and Ryan are noticing a trend that’s been on the radar of therapists and psychologists for several years now. Termed “The New Monogamy” in the journal Psychotherapy Networker, it’s a type of polyamory in which the goal is to have one long-standing relationship and a willingness to openly acknowledge that the long-standing relationship might not meet each partner’s emotional and sexual needs for all time. Or, more specifically, that going outside the partnership for sex does not necessitate a forfeiture of it. “I was at a practice where we would meet every week, six to eight therapists in a room for teaching purposes and to bring up new things coming into therapy that weren’t there before,” says Lair Torrent, a New York-based marriage and family therapist. One of the things all the therapists had noticed over the past few years was “that couples — and these are younger people, twentysomethings, maybe early thirties — are negotiating what their brand of monogamy can be. They are opening up to having an open relationship, either in totality or for periods of time....

It’s worth noting that their arrangement was ultimately Leah’s idea. Ryan is a young Generation X’er, while she’s an older Millennial....

This story is the first of a two-part series exploring Millennials' sexuality. In Part Two, Rolling Stone will take a close look at the lives of queer Millennials.


Read all of Part 1 (March 31, 2014).

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March 31, 2014

Poly article from Germany goes global


For the last couple years I've hardly mentioned polyamory in the news in non-English-speaking countries. There's too much easier stuff to keep up with! But coming onto the radar last month was an article from Germany (in English) that Agence France-Presse (AFP) distributed around the world.  It was published in the US on Yahoo News (it's now down), and in the English editions of media in France, Japan, Philippines, South Africa (twice), China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Kenya, North Africa, Singapore, Peru (in Spanish), Quebec (in French), at the worldwide site Reporters 365, and probably more.


In Germany, polyamory strives to 'come out'

By Frederic Happe

Berlin (AFP) - Misunderstood, dismissed and often hidden, polyamory, or having several romantic relationships simultaneously, is slowly coming out into the open in Germany aided by the efforts of a counselor and support network.

At the age of 19, Christopher Gottwald decided he didn't want a monogamous relationship and spent the next decade searching for a partner who shared his outlook. He eventually found her and their "open" relationship has lasted 13 years.

With this experience behind him, three years ago he set up his own polyamory advice and information service, offering practical and emotional help to aficionados as well as seeking to dispel myths or misunderstandings.

"I no longer believe in monogamy. For anyone," Gottwald, now in his 40s, told AFP.

"I don't believe we are made to be (faithful). The best thing is to say to yourself 'let's, us two, live together while remaining open to what may happen'," he said.

Gottwald organises conferences, workshops and individual chats on polyamory and helps run the PolyAmore Netzwerk association which has 120 members in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

He insists on the emotional aspect of the practice in which a relationship is conducted with more than one person but with the consent of all. "It is about love. It's not just free sex where you can sleep with whomever you want," he argued....

Gottwald argues it is also simply the natural next step on from serial monogamy....


Read the whole article (Feb. 12, 2014).

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Christopher Gottwald
Gottwald has done a number of media appearances as well as his talks and workshops. I don't know how well he is connected to Germany's larger poly community, which a few years ago was estimated at 10,000 people. Here's his partial collection of press clips.

His website.

He was featured in a different German article around the same date: Liebe ohne Grenzen: Wie polyamore Beziehungen gelingen können (Love Without Limits: How to succeed in polyamorous relationships) (Lampertheimer Zeitung, Feb. 16, 2014).

Here are my past posts regarding Germany (including this one; scroll down).

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In other news, the fourth Atlanta Poly Weekend happens in just two months, June 6 - 8! The registration price goes up a bit tomorrow (April 1). It's held in a nice hotel on Atlanta's northern perimeter. Last year's APW had more than 200 people all told. Here's my writeup of APW 2012, and more from me from APW 2013.

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March 26, 2014

In a far corner of the Earth, representing well in a fancy style mag.

Scoop Magazine (Perth, Australia)

"A local magazine published an article about me and my partners!" writes Madge Carew-Hopkins from Western Australia. "I'm really happy with the way it turned out :) "

She's on the right in the pic below. Scoop is a thick, glossy fashion/consumer/style magazine "showcasing the best of Western Australia." The three-page article is one of a series of four about people living alternative lives "on the edges"; the others are body modifiers, nudists, and a Buddhist nun.


From left: Kitty Byrne, Paul Wright, and Madge Carew-Hopkins.

Madge Carew-Hopkins, an engineer in her mid-twenties with close-cropped hair and a forthright manner, takes out a graph to help explain her love life. It looks like something that might have hung in your high-school chemistry lab. Line thickness denotes relationship significance, it's colour coded for gender, and a web of connecting lines, suggesting chemical bonds, fuse people together. All seven of them, to be precise.

...The people that sit with me around their kitchen table do cross-stitch and collect Dr. Who paraphernalia. They're measured, methodical, and whip-smart. At times, in fact, they tackle love as they would an equation.

Madge tells me that in the Perth polyamorous community, people tend to fall into one of two categories: those who are "a bit hippie" and practice tantra and free love, and "geeks" — "people who have thought about it and said, 'Well, this is really logical.' "...




Read the whole article as online magazine pages you zoom and flip. It's a beauty. (Autumn 2014 issue; March-April-May are autumn in the Southern Hem.) Replies Libertyhawk3 on reddit.com/r/polyamory, "you guys are adorable! Thanks for having the courage to be open and present a good example of the community!"

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March 24, 2014

"Relationship Anarchy Basics," and others


On the radical edge of polyamory is Relationship Anarchy, or RA. It's similar to the free-agent model of poly but in addition, recognizes no privilege for romantic or sexual relationships over friendships, family relationships, or others.

The Good Men Project just published this long, interview-format article about RA:


Relationship Anarchy Basics

By Marie S. Crosswell

What is relationship anarchy?

...A relationship anarchist believes that love is abundant and infinite, that all forms of love are equal, that relationships can and should develop organically with no adherence to rules or expectations from outside sources, [and] that two people in any kind of emotionally salient relationship should have the freedom to do whatever they naturally desire both inside their relationship and outside of it with other people.

When, where, how, and by who did relationship anarchy get started?

It’s unclear.... It’s definitely a philosophy that’s recently evolved out of the polyamorous community.... In the last couple years, more poly individuals have begun to explore the idea of relationship anarchy, but at this point, it’s a very new idea.

How does relationship anarchy differ from polyamory?

...Relationship anarchy goes further than polyamory in its departure from the monogamous norm. Relationship anarchy does share with polyamory an overall rejection of sexual and romantic monogamy, its common rejection of legal/institutional marriage, etc, but it also seeks to completely break down what I like to call the Romantic Sex-Based Relationship Hierarchy by erasing relationship categories determined by the presence or absence of sex and/or romance....
A polyamorous person can be and often is just as much a sex supremacist or a romance supremacist as a monogamous person.... A relationship anarchist does not place an emotional ceiling on nonromantic/nonsexual friendship or on a sexual friendship that’s devoid of “romance.”

...Okay, this sounds really complicated and confusing. Could you give me some concrete examples of relationship anarchy in action?


Read the whole article (March 22, 2014). It originally appeared on The Thinking Asexual blog (May 7, 2013).

Two other articles of hers at The Thinking Asexual, new in the last few days:

The Word “Partner” and Relationship Anarchy (March 24, 2014).
Relationship Anarchy vs. Nonhierarchical Polyamory (March 20, 2014).

She has written for the Good Men Project before, including The Big, Fat Polyamorous Asexual Post (March 10, 2014).

Also,

● An article at Louisa Leontiades's MultipleMatch.com: Relationship Anarchy Is Not Polyamory (Dec. 23, 2013).

● Article by Wes Fenza at Polyskeptic.com: Relationship Anarchy and The Spectrum of Relationship Control (Oct. 12, 2013).

● A thread on RA at the Polyamory.com forum: Anarchy! (Um... Relationship Anarchy, that is.) (Nov. 2013).

● A previous article of mine, with more links: From Monogamish to Relationship Anarchy: a Widening Poly Spectrum (May 18, 2012).

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March 17, 2014

Dear Prudence column: "Poly, Pregnant, and Proud"

Slate, various newspapers

Dear Prudence (Emily Yoffe) has been getting friendlier over the years toward the poly questions she fields. This time she doesn't snark about it at all.


Poly, Pregnant, and Proud

Q. My Sister Is Polyamorous and Pregnant. My sister Julia recently told our family that she and her husband Jake are in a polyamorous triad with their best friend Tony. The three of them have been together for as long as Julia has been with Jake (seven years) and all of their friends know that, essentially, Tony is Julia's other husband. They decided not to tell our more traditional family (with the exception of our brother) until Julia became pregnant, as she is now. She does not know whether the child is Jake's or Tony's, but both men plan to raise the child equally.

Our brother claims they're an amazing set and that Julia has never been this happy. My parents, my husband, and I are more realistic and feel queasy about the arrangement. I cannot imagine how their child will feel, growing up with half siblings (Julia plans to have children by both men) and with their mom sleeping with two men. I don't know how they will provide the children of this "marriage" with stability. My husband doesn't want Tony around our children, even though Julia has asked that we now treat him as her husband in addition to Jake. I love Julia but am nauseated by her lifestyle choice. I think eventually it will end disastrously. How can I support this?

A: You don't have to "support" it, you just have to act like a decent person. Jake, Julia, and Tony are a threesome. Your sister is not asking for your advice or approval, she is just asking to be treated politely. You don't have to say any more to your kids other than Uncle Tony is Aunt Julia and Uncle Jake's good friend. Kids are remarkably flexible about these things. I fail to see how having Uncle Tony—presuming he's a good guy—come along on visits will harm your children in any way. If your kids have questions you answer them honestly in an age appropriate way. Which will mostly consist of, "The three of them are really close friends. I agree it's kind of unusual, but they are happy all living together." Julia is pregnant so she's the one who should be dealing with nausea. Eat a couple of crackers, settle your stomach, and welcome this new addition to the family.


The original (March 17, 2014).

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